Brew Rebellion–John Paul Jones Chocolate Strawberry Stout

This beer is from the same brewer as the beer I talked about last night, hence the similar name.  Instead of a peanut butter Stout, this is a chocolate strawberry Stout.

This Stout comes dressed in a dark black body with a reddish hue around the edges.  There’s almost no head with the pour, but a swirl does bring about some small brown bubbles.  Retention is slight and instead of last night’s lack of lacing, you’ll see some very tiny spots of left over head.

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You can guess the nose, though its more strawberry than chocolate.  That scares me a little as I’m afraid they may have included fake juice instead of the real thing.  We’ll see soon enough.  The malt and hop varieties aren’t giving any hints as to what they might be, as this beer is dominted by the strawberry scent.

I think I’m right about the fake strawberry juice.  It tasted a bit TOO fruity and the finish was like a strawberry soda.  Just a bit too much of the flavor to be the real stuff.  Notes of chocolate were mostly obvious, but again, it tastes strongly of artificial strawberry juice.

This Stout started off with high hopes as the creaminess told me real chocolate or chocolate malt was used.  Very pleasant.  Then the fruitiness came through and it was a letdown.  Some tartness brought a bit of crisp carbonation to the mouthfeel, but that lingering feeling of fake juice just kind of ruined everything.

The only positive thing I can say about this beer is that the brewing process created 10.1% ABV.  This was a swing and a miss for the lack of head, the over fruity taste, and the fake fruit feel.

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Brew Rebellion–John Paul Jones Peanut Butter Stout

I can only remember once before having a peanut butter Stout and while it was unusual, it was tasty.  Other than standing in at 10.1% ABV, I don’t know a thing about this beer or Brewery other than the Brewery is in Cali.

The beer shows as it should, a really dark body with a khaki colored head.  That said, the head resembles the bubbles on a Coke, though they live a bit longer.  A swirl brings about more lively action and the smallest of lacing.

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As you might guess, peanut butter dominates the nose.  It smells just like a jar of peanut butter.  There is a hint of chocolate that plays a supporting role, giving this beer the admirable quality of smelling like a peanut butter cup.  Points for that in my book.

Whereas peanut butter overwhelms the nose, it presents a more subtle taste.  Still, it’s the dominant flavor, just not quite as aggressive as the scent.  Chocolate again is noticeable, while caramel eventually comes through.  In the swallow, a touch of vanilla finishes each sip.

Complexity teases the palate with a variety of sensations.  Being a buttery stout, it begins smooth and creamy.  There’s no hop presence, but a bit off coffee provides some bitterness.  The finish is surprisingly crisp and acidic, giving the beer a lighter feel than you originally assume.  The peanut butter leaves you with a smoky feel.

After reading some reviews on this beer, I was a bit worried as others picked up on some sourness that didn’t really fit the style.  I did find the acidity others didn’t care for, but it was more cleansing and gave the beer a freshness.  I would happily try this again.

Fifty-Fifty Brewing–Totality Imperial Stout

I know nothing about this Brewery, hadn’t heard of it before making an online beer purchase a couple months back.  They’re out of Cali, their website is lacking, and this is their imperial stout, made with honey.  Never heard of such a thing.

It pours a bit thin for an imperial stout.  The body is fairly dark, but with some lighter, redder, brown notes.  A dirty yellow head, maybe a couple fingers thick, builds up top leaving a nice looking beer.

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Caramel and coffee fill the nose.  There is something else present, that’s a bit unusual for the style, I’m guessing the honey.  There’s also a bit of molasses and something brown sugar-like (though that could be the molasses).  In the back end, an oaky scent evolves, likely some hop variety.

Totality tastes really nice.  The caramel mixes well with the coffee.  I’m struggling to pick up anything resembling honey in the scent or taste.  At 9.5% ABV, there is a bit of alcohol but it doesn’t start to appear until the finish.

This beer starts off pretty smooth, and like the appearance, a bit on the thin side.  However, there’s a nice transition from a malty sweet beginning to the slightly bitter finish, with the two different feels balancing each other.  In the swallow, the medium bodied beer ultimately finishes with a light lingering bitterness.

I’m impressed with this and hope I can get another bottle in the future.  I enjoy sweet and bitter beers and this is so easy to drink that it makes for an enjoyable nightcap.

Victory Brewing–Jubilee

This is the Anniversary beer for Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania.  Celebrating their 21st anniversary, they created this kind of hybrid style beer that I’m guessing to be the result of a threesome between a beer, a wine, and a champagne.  Theoretically, it’s a beer.  However, this beer incorporates a sparkling wine yeast, high carbonation, and German hops giving off notes of pear, apple, and white grape.

Your eyes immediately tell you to start thinking wine or champagne.  The body is a golden straw color and very lively.  A brilliant white head, several fingers thick, forms and never fully dissipates…bubbles are continuously rising from the bottom of the beer.  As the sides of the head fall, a really thick lace says behind.

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It doesn’t smell like many beers I’ve had, instead it reminds of a white wine.  You can really pick up the white grapes and the savory German hops.  The scent of green apples almost commands a puckering of your lips as a precursor to the anticipated tartness from the first sip.  Despite 12% ABV, there isn’t even a hint of alcohol in the nose.

It tastes amazingly good.  The combination of the different fruit flavors from the yeast and the hops mix well together with real fruit flavors.  Only in the finish does the alcohol display any characteristics.

The mouthfeel is where the beer clearly gets its name.  A legit party takes place on the palate with each sip.  Carbonation always livens the way a beer feels and in this case it really announces the sweetness, the tartness, the crispness, and the heat.  It isn’t as tart as I expected, likely due to some citrus fruits added; nor is it all that bitter.  The hops seem to bring more aroma than bitterness.  Only a lingering heat indicates the beer is so high in alcohol.  That carbonation keeps things fresh and relatively light.

I am enjoying this beer.  As I mentioned, it’s a bit of a hybrid but everything works well together for a wonderful drinking experience.

Hoppin’ Frog–Extended Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher

The name is a mouthful.  Hoppin’ Frog makes a regular BORIS beer and then modifies them slightly to create other beers.  BORIS stands for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout.  This Crusher version was aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for 5 times longer than normal, hence the ‘Extended’ portion of the name.

It resembles a typical Russian Imperial Stout (RIS) with an extremely dark and very thick body.  There is almost no head to speak of as any bubbles struggle to live in the thick abyss of beer.  For what it’s worth, the bubbles that were strong enough to make it alive were a lovely shade of brown.  A swirl brings a few more bubbles to life and the beer actually coats the glass because it’s so thick.

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Bourbon is front and center in the nose.  Be careful with each whiff because you’ve got nose hairs to think about.  While chocolate, oak, and tobacco are also there for your smelling enjoyment, The Crusher will remind you of a shot more than a beer.

Fortunately, it more resembles an RIS beer than a spirit when it comes to taste.  Espresso takes the lead role, with chocolate and Oatmeal more bit players than anything.

Oatmeal typically gives a creaminess to the beer and that really comes through in the palate…super smooth and creamy.  This beer brings 9.4% ABV to the party so it’s fairly pleasant to drink, though it is heavy.  Due to the thickness and the addition of oatmeal, there is a butteriness in the finish as there is no carbonation to cleanse the palate and it more or less coats your tongue in coffee-like pleasantness.

Hoppin’ Frog created an exceptionally easy sipping beer.  There’s just the right amount of sweetness and bitterness to keep each other in check.

Founders–Backwoods Bastard

Kind of an odd pour. It’s extremely thick and murky looking.  Very brown with a slow cascading head. However, as it sits, the beer darkens to an extremely dark ruby brown and the head lightens to a creamy white. Moderate retention, but once it starts to die, it dies quickly. Each sip produces an attractive spotty lace.

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There isn’t much scent, it’s very subdued. What’s there is a combination of rye and caramel. As the beer warms, you start to pick up the oaky, smokey notes from the barrels.

A lot of depth in the flavor from the barrels. Bourbon is very present, the alcohol shining in this beer. Oak, vanilla, caramel, some dark fruits, and spicy rye made appearances at different times. Spirit drinkers would like this.

This beer packs some heat, literally and figuratively. It starts off sweet, but heat is growing as the beer works its way from the front of the tongue to the throat. There’s an almost number effect on my gums and throat. Sweetness is dominant early on before a spiciness begins and transitions to the warming finish. It’s a heavy beer and very warm.

Overall this is another great beer from Founders. This one means business. It’s very strong, but if you sip it, it’s a great nightcap.

Avery Brewing–Vanilla Bean Stout

Avery is one of my favorite Brewers, always seeming to tempt me with one of their highly alcoholic and tasty offerings.  This imperial stout comes with vanilla beans from three different countries added before it was aged in Bourbon barrels.

Coming out of the bottle you’d be hard-pressed to find a beer with a darker body.  While not quite pitch black, there are some lighter areas around the edges, at least if you hold up a light.  It’s fairly thick and comes with about a half finger of beige colored head.  Surprisingly, the head has nice legs and when the sides finally do fall, it leaves a sexy lacing behind.

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Once the cap is popped, the area near the beer is filled with with vanilla.  A deeper investigation shows brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, coffee, and some smoke.  A half dozen different malts were used, but only one hop variety–Bravo.  Bravo has a high alpha acid rating, indicating bitterness, but it seems to have plenty of beta acids as well (used for aroma) because there is an earthy, floral scent as well.  Maybe the beer is still a bit cold, but early on I can’t pick up an Bourbon.

It tastes like a mishmash of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, molasses, and finally, Bourbon. After several sips, I find myself still trying to figure out if the flavors work well together.  I’m not sure they do, but the bourbon characteristic is strong.  Also, I’m struggling to decide if I’m tasting more Oak or smoke.  I guess complexity defines the taste better than anything.

Complex could also be used to describe the mouthfeel.  With so many different flavors and scents, there’s a lot going on and it happens in stages.  In the beginning, this Stout is smooth and creamy, like a chocolate beer should be.  As the full-bodied beer works its way back, it starts to take on a more alcoholic and smoky feel.  As it approaches the finish, the bitterness evolves and it begins to warm the palate.  There is a lingering bitterness in the swallow with almost no carbonation to cleanse.

I did eventually pick up the bourbon scent, but I’m not sure the different sensations and flavors work well together…I’m leaning towards them not.  The taste is strange and there is an aftertaste of vanilla that doesn’t work for me.  Regardless, I appreciate the 11.1% ABV they stuffed into the beer.

Epic Brewing–Brainless On Peaches

This is a take on Epic’s normal Belgian-style Ale, Brainless, with peach purée added.  In addition, it’s aged in oak barrels that formerly held French Chardonnay wine.  Seems to be more of a hybrid beer as it’s brewed with champagne yeast, is aged in wine barrels, and is supposed to be a beer.  Let’s see.

For a beer, it brings little joy to my eyes.  It’s very pale in body, you can almost see through it despite a bit of chill haze early on.  Despite champagne yeast, almost no bubbles form even though there is a loud pop when you crack open the top.  Without bubbles, the head is mediocre at best and there isn’t any lacing.

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Even the scent is hybrid-like.  While I don’t know much about wine or champagne, this clearly has the nose of the two.  You can practically smell dry and tart.  In the background is the peach purée and it adds a refreshing lightness to the drink.  Larger whiffs will queue a little note of alcohol.

Following the smell, the taste is what you would expect.  There are hints of peach, but Earthy German noble hops, pale malt, candied sugar, bark, and white wine display more aggressiveness.  Peach, candied sugar, and alcohol grow as they reach the finish.

Very complex mouthfeel.  Sweet then tart then crisp and dry.  The 11.3% ABV brings some warmth to the swallow, with the champagne yeast providing a crisp, cleansing feel.  In seeming opposition to the high ABV, Brainless On Peaches is only light- to medium-bodied.

Epic brews a couple similar Brainless beers, one with cherries and another with raspberries.  I don’t expect this beer to score very high on the BeerAdvocate website I use due mostly to the look and mouthfeel, but I’d like to try both those other beers as this peach version was a good beer to sit back and relax with.  Sadly, it’s too wine- and champagne-like to score well on a beer site.

New Holland–Dragon’s Milk Reserve

There are a handful of different ‘Reserve’ beers carrying the Dragon’s Milk Reserve name.  There’s one with raspberry and lemon, one with vanilla chai, and others, but this is the Triple Mashed beer.  It’s an absolute monster with 17% ABV that really does a number on one’s palate.  According to the bottle, this beer pairs well with the stinkiest cheeses, the darkest chocolates, and a day off.  Roger that.

Pouring into a New Belgium tulip glass, the body is dark as night and fairly thick.  You should receive a spoon so you can spoon the beer into the glass.  For a short time, a head about a finger thick can be seen.  It’s a very light brown, but before you know it, the bubbles recede into a thin foamy film, mostly around the edge of the beer.  For a beer with such a high alcohol content, it’s surprising to see much of a head, and more surprising to see any lacing.  Also, you can see my dog, Monty, photobombing the picture.

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The nose is like you would expect from a dark beer with high alcohol that’s aged in barrels that formerly housed spirits.  There’s a strong roasty note, along with some earthy scent (oak from the barrels), and a punch of Bourbon.  Get too close or sniff too long, you’ll feel the burn in your nose.

Your first sip starts off innocently enough…a gentle chocolatey taste.  As the beer works it’s way black, a bit of coffee begins to emerge.  Finally, the Bourbon shows up in the swallow.  Not too bad you think.  You wait a second and the warming turns to full blown heat.  When the fire tapers, hints of licorice appear.

Dragon’s Milk Reserve is a syrupy feeling beer.  With all that malt that went into making a beer have 17% ABV, it’s fairly sweet and early on smooth and creamy are words that come to mind.  However, that’s simply to tease you because soon enough the Bourbon brings the heat and bitterness to combat that sweetness.  This beer is quite full-bodied and filling.  I don’t know that I would want a second bottle of this because I’m afraid of losing all feel in my mouth and I don’t want my teeth to disintegrate.

Through it all, it’s a really good beer with lots of flavor.  If you take your time to sip it, it goes down relatively easily.  Unlike the regular Dragon’s Milk that only rings in with 11% ABV, I can’t drink a handful of these in a night.  The alcohol and heat forces you to slow down, and enjoy/savor this beer.

Stone–Tangerine Express IPA

In the past, Stone has put out an Enjoy By… with tangerine and it’s amazing.  Hopefully this will be more of the same.  This is much lower in ABV, only 6.7%, and has tangerine in addition to puréed pineapple.  Sounds amazing, so let’s see.

For the most part, the appearance is standard issue.  A bit of chill haze while the beer is still cold gives the golden orange color a cloudy look.  As the beer warms it should be a bit clearer.  The head starts off a couple fingers thick, but lacks the long retention of most IPAs, the peaks and valleys in the bubbles, and the sticky lacking.

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This IPA smells like a basket of citrus fruits…grapefruit, tangerines, and pineapple.  It’s glorious.  Subtle hints of pine and crackers take care of the pale malt and handful of hops.

The taste has these same ingredients, only on a less aggressive scale than the scent.  However, these flavors do come alive near the finish, particularly those handful of hops.

With 75 IBUs, the bitter quality is pretty intense and that translates into the mouthfeel as well.  The finish is somewhat dry and the carbonation magnifies the bitterness.  It’s fairly light-bodied, while the bitterness really lingers.

This beer is definitely not the same beer as their Enjoy By…beer.  It’s a good drinking beer, especially on a warm day.