December 21, 2015

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2015

Brewed By: Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago, Illinois
Purchased: 16.9oz bottle bought at Jewel-Osco in Chicago, IL; 2015 (bottled on 11/06/2015)
Style/ABV: Barrel-Aged Stout, 14.3% 
Reported IBUs: 60

Far be it from me to revive this blog to just make a post with my Bourbon Countries 2015 tasting notes. 

I have to say, I was ready to take the ideological position and jump ship after the 2014 release of Bourbon County. It was a little too fruity, had not nearly enough alcohol, and didn't stand out compared to the 2012 and 2013 vintages. I thought the coffee was the standout of the 2014 bunch, but it played into the beer's shortcomings. That was then, this is now. This year's release featured above-average Thanksgiving day temps, and people setting up tents (yes, tents) in front of Binny's two days in advance. This was followed by another wave of Bourbon County distro to the city (presumably Georgia's supply, suckers) with cases of this beer, including Rare, sitting on shelves at Jewel-Osco and the like. 

Anyway, who cares about politics and beer drama...
with filter...

Bourbon County pours opaque and black like every other fucking Imperial Stout, and especially those in the wheelhouse of barrel-aged. That dark brown head gives way to a mostly tepid and anti-carbed beer, all is well in the land of appearances. 

This has sick nose, bruh, with liquid brownie sweetness, macaroons, coconut, raisins and dark fruits, coffee, Muscovado sugar, biscotti, and chocolate-dipped churros. The barrel and bourbon and alcohol come through on the nose -- all in moderation. 

I really wanted to write this review to simply say that who needs variants when the regular is so good this year. This is insanely tasty and rich, and drops insta-liquid-brownie on the palate from the onset. The back end hits you with lingering chocolate thickness, chocolate-dipped churros, and growing bourbon heat and lovely spirit and barrel character. This is a wild ride of bourbon, brownie batter, dark fruits/raisins, macaroons, coconut, coffee, and Muscovado.

No Filter!
The 14.3% feels DIALED IN. This is a thick beer, but by comparison and in 2015 is also incredibly smooth and balanced and maybe even lighter compared to other comparable beers. What I like here is the presence of bourbon, and the presence of alcohol. For bourbon lovers, this is where beer is at. The 16.9oz bottle format is something I strongly oppose because I like 4-packs; but the format is growing on me. It means you get a little more beer to push this experience over-the-top if you are flying solo, and it means you'll have 8oz to yourself if you decide to share. 

Rating: Divine Brew (5.0/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong 
Divine Brew on this. This is the best Bourbon County vintage in a long time, and surpasses the 2014, 2013, and 2012 releases. Also, in terms of the diminishing price versus beer returns, I find the regular Bourbon County 2015 to be a better investment than Rare. Rare was different, and offered something that you can't find here, but at $60+ a pop the price per ounce is so hard to justify. 

Random Thought: Where to go from here?

August 28, 2015

One Well Brewing Sweet Water Street

One Well Brewing Sweet Water Street
Brewed By: One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Purchased: 32oz Howler from One Well Brewing; 2015 (poured on 08/26/15)
Style/ABV: American Adjunct Imperial Porter, 7.1%
Reported IBUs: ???

This was, by far, the second best Porter/Stout I had on my trip to Kalamazoo. This beer deserves a nod and shot out, because it is really fucking good. The brewery isn't too shabby either. About One Well Brewing
One Well Brewing is a nano/micro brewery based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The brewery was founded by home brewers Chris O’Neill and T.J. Waldofsky, and currently features a 3-barrel brewing system. The tap house is warm and cozy, with board games and a bar. The place was packed an hour before closing, and the staff was friendly. My biggest regret is that I discovered this place during my last day in Kalamazoo...
The Sweet Water Street is an Imperial Porter brewed with donut holes from Sweetwater's Donut Mill, and coffee from Water Street Coffee Roaster. Coffee is my life force, so while in Kalamazoo I had a chance to visit Water Street Coffee Roaster twice. The coffee is solid, and is locally roasted. 

So good...
The Sweet Water Street itself pours into a dark body kicking up a couple of fingers of dense, tan-brown head. It looks like every other genero-Porter until you dig into the aroma and get that rich chocolate coffee cake smell. This kicks up espresso and hazelnut and lots of fresh coffee, but the coffee stays grounded in the cakey malt base. This hints at macaroons and candy bars, and suggests so much more than a straightforward coffee beer. 

And the taste lives up to the aroma's hype, and then some and more so. At whatever percentage this clocks in at (7.1%???), the malt body stands up to the strong coffee flavors. This has a cake-like body with chocolate malts, trailing malt balls on the back end, rich espresso, hazelnut, and liquid coffee cake. 

The mouthfeel on this is full and expansive, and this beer has depth and density. This squeezes all the money's worth out of the 7.1%, and the malt body does not go to waste. The palate is full-bodied, and this has enough layers to beckon complexity. It has good duration too...each sip lingers. You get a lot of straight Porter in the front, but by the mid palate this drops coffee and chocolate. The back end rounds out with earthy coffee notes, hints of macaroons, and malt balls. This cleans up nicely would expect loads of residual sugars and you really get none of that here. 

Rating: Divine Brew (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Divine Brew on this. This is one of the best beers currently on tap in Kalamazoo, and you owe it to yourself to check this beer out. On top of that, One Well Brewing's other beers were good, and the vibe of their little bar is fantastic. Would definitely stop in again. 

Random Thought: The number one dark beer on my trip goes out to 18th Street Brewing...maybe more on that later. 

July 14, 2015

Pipeworks Cherry Murderous "The Lookout" English Barleywine Style Ale brewed with Cherries

Brewed By: Pipeworks Brewing in Chicago, IL  
Purchased: 22oz bottle (Batch #755) bought at Bottles & Cans in Chicago, IL; 2015 (bottled 07.02.2015)
Style/ABV: English-Style Barleywine/Fruit Beer, 9.5%
Reported IBUs: ?

Pipeworks has arrived...and it's been a while since I have reviewed anything from them. So here we go. I've previously reviewed the regular Murderous, as well as the barrel-aged Murderous. I think this is a pretty average beer, so I'm curious to see how the cherries work out. A
bout Pipeworks:
Pipeworks has humble roots. The brewery was founded in Chicago in 2011 by Beejay Oslon and Gerrit Lewis. The duo were both homebrewers that met while while working at West Lakeview Liquors. In 2011, they began to raise money for their brewery using the online Internet site, Kickstarter. Olson and Lewis were both educated at De Struise Brewery in Oostvleteren, Belgium. With that knowledge, and the money from their kickstarter, Olson and Lewis created a unique brewery that is smaller in size, and intended to brew smaller batches of beer. The company's motto is "small batches, big beers." And indeed, since the brewery has been around, they've been releasing a lot of one-offs and small batch releases. The goal is to release a new beer every week. You can read more about the brewery at their website HERE.
The Cherry Murderous "The Lookout" bottle reads: 

"Rejoice in the return of your best friend! Your trusty lookout had not been completely lost, although different now from time spent apart, he still sees all through midworld. Albeit with a tinge of red washing over his view. Rest him on pommel or table, and let The Lookout guide you on your journey. "
Pipeworks Cherry Murderous

This is a thick, slow-pouring, hazy beer. It's unfiltered and riding some line between brown/orange/red, with a thick orange head that doesn't last for very long. Overall though, it looks good, and it looks the part for the style. 

Oh man, that aroma. This doesn't really smell the part of an English-style Barleywine. It smells like a malty bock mixed with Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. I'm actually a fan of the Cherry Wheat, but that comment is going to read like a slap in the face for many. The cherry aroma does leave you with the impression of cherry skins, some cherry fruits, and some cherry pits. It drifts into medicinal territory at some point, and there's a lot of toasty and caramelized Bock-esque malt notes. If you handed this to me in a blind tasting, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with Barleywine.

This is a mess, but it is less of a mess than I expected. The cherries actually add a nice layer of complexity to the otherwise lackluster base beer. This is sweet and heavy, and you feel like it needs a few years to thin out. But the good news is the cherries add some nice, deep fruity notes. I'm getting cherries, cherry pits, cherry skins, cherry pastries, cherry candies, and some nice Quad-like stone fruits. This almost veers into the land of Belgium, but is grounded with a malt base that is toast, toffee, toasted nuts, and caramelized sugars. The cherries stand out as a counterpoint to the otherwise sweet and one-dimensional base. I think this is the best take on The Murderous I have had.

At 9.5%, I'm not getting much in the way of alcohol. This is full-bodied, and fairly thick stuff. This isn't overly complex, and the sweetness is only barely offset by the cherries. Still, this has great depth, with each sip lasting for quite some time. You get a nice two-dimensional blast of cherry flavors, followed by that malty base. It dabbles in Quad land but is strictly pseudo-English. It feels kind of Bock-like to me, actually. So I guess we can go to Germany on this wild ride.  

Rating: Average (3.25/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light 
Average on this. This is by far the best take on The Murderous, and I really have no reason to pick up the base beer after drinking this. I'd love to grab another bottle of this Cherry Murderous to age, but the demand is still too high. I'd like to see Pipeworks brew this again. I think they can clean up the base a bit, attenuate the beer a little more (get this up to 11%+), and maybe throw in some hops or something. I don't know. 

Random Thought: I'm really happy to see Pipeworks doing as well as they are. I know I am slacking in my reviews, but focusing on graduate school for the betterment of myself takes precedence over beer reviews. Having said that, I cracked into the most recent batch of Pipeworks' Blue Lady and it was fan-freaking-tastic. This brewery is going places, and I am happy to have had a chance to watch them grow up over the past couple of years.