Monday, July 11, 2016


Stone's Citrusy Wit is is that rare Stone brew that I don’t enjoy at all. It pours cloudy, dark yellow with a lot of foam. The aroma is strong citrus, grapefruit and lemon, etc, with a little bit of banana/yeast Belgian quality. The flavor is dry, with heavy citrus zest notes that just don’t work for me. It’s artificial tasting, and the finish is just off.

Clown Shoes Rexx is an American Strong Ale aged in bourbon barrels. This beer is a dark, cloudy brown, lighter around the edges, with an average amount of creamy head. The bourbon barrel aging comes through strong on the aroma. Vanilla, some spice, apples, brown sugar, crackers, caramel... it smells really good. The flavor is rich and smooth and a little sweet. Really rich, bourbon/vanilla comes through strong on the finish. Dense, chewy mouthfeel. This is exactly my kind of thing. Strong, rich, uncompromising. It plays the bourbon barrel card all up in your face with no apologies.

Apocalypse Ale Works Heavy Red Horseman is a wee heavy style Scotish ale. It's not the best thing I’ve had from Apocalypse, but it isn’t horrible. It pours copper color with a quickly fading head. The aroma is caramel, walnuts, a little spice and ginger, and the flavor also has a molasses quality. Very malty, but mild. No, mild isn't really the word. Limp is the word. This beer is limp.

I should have tried Apocalypse Ale Work's Winter Snack Stout when it came out at the end of last year, but to be honest, I was turned off by the name. The word "snack" makes the beer sound like a crowd pleaser, something insubstantial. When I visited the taproom recently I saw that they still had some bombers, and the label says this beer comes in at 10.1% ABV rather than the 7.6% listed at RateBeer. I figured a ten-percenter could stand up to some aging, so I picked up a bottle. I'm glad I did. This beer tastes pretty darn good. It pours dark brown with average foam that fades eventually. The aroma is sweet, rich, slightly fruity and malty. Coffee and carrot cake qualities. The flavor delivers the rich oatmeal malt, chocolate, and sweet citrus. Chewy, substantial mouth-feel. I really liked this. I wish I’d tried it sooner so I could have picked up a few more bottles.

Godamighty, now, this is a beer. Avery Brewing never lets me down when it comes to these gigantic, barrel aged malt-monsters. Tweak is a barrel aged imperial stout that boasts a ridiculous ABV, north of 17.5%. This beer pours jet black with a quickly fading and very minimal head. The aroma is really big and rich. Coffee, chocolate, dark liquor, candied fruit, vanilla, creamy caramel, the kind of sweet/rich complexity I expected from the brewery behind the humongous Mephistopheles stout. Although the ABV here is slightly higher than Mephistopheles, alcohol is not an overpowering presence on the tongue. Yeah, it's there. You're gonna taste the alcohol at this level, and this beer is boozy, for sure. But coffee and a chocolate/caramel nut-cream sweet richness are the main notes on the tongue. Wow. I hope I can find a couple more bottles of this. Avery Brewingn consistently delivers. I wish everything in life were as reliable as this brewery.

Ninkasi's Vanilla Oatis stout is decent, if maybe a little underwhelming. Pours very dark brown, no real head. The aroma is bitter baker’s chocolate, but it’s very restrained. The flavor is restrained, too. I don’t pick up on the usual rich, cereal malt thing that I enjoy about oatmeal stouts. The front of the tongue is watery, but the finish is a little better. A little bitter, roasted malt, and just the slightest hint of vanilla show up on the back end.

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