Many Ingredients but only one winner!
Bourbon County Cherry Wood Stout
Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels
Every year, the Bourbon County Stouts roll out, and with them come at least a few new variations. 2020 saw the Midnight Orange (which will be mentioned on a future podcast), and this year sees a few new tastes with Cherry Wood being one of the more reasonable ones. It pours Stuart Semple black and immediately smells like someone dunked a loaf of bread in alcohol. Great start! Let’s find out if you wood or wood not like it, though.
Hops – 2.0 Like a bear lost in the forest (loose wood pun, I’ll try again later).
Malt – 9.1 It’s huge. It’s Malt of America. It’s King of Prussia Malt big. Roasted, toasted, chocolatey, sweet and deep.
Carbonation – 6.1 It’s not going to foam over like a belgian, but the noticeable bubbles break up what might have been a cloying sweetness with the heavy syrupy malt.
Character – 7.5 I don’t think I’ve eaten cherry wood on purpose before, so I’m not sure if there’s a largely noticeable difference from an oak barrel but the intense malt, booze, and fruit are here in droves. Groves?
Palate – 8.5 It all comes together to, I’m sure, make something slightly different than the normal BCBS, which is usually a fantastic product anyway.
Overall – 8.7 If you want a big bourbon barrel stout with something a little neat done to it for a conversation point, this is great.
Straight from the source, since I am not a Cherry Wood flavor expert: “The versatility of the cherry wood and honeycomb shape allowed for maximum flavor extraction, revealing complex characteristics like red fruit, ripe cherry, and light toffee, which are not found in the original oak barrel itself. The result is an amazing elevation and a notable difference from our Original Bourbon County Stout.” Without a regular BCBS to try back to back, it’s almost impossible to verify those claims, but it is really quite good.
6.1 % Saison
Here’s another I had been saving, and then funny enough someone gifted me a 4-pack of this, so now I can drink it without needing a good excuse. I TRUST it’ll be worth the wait. It pours a normal (though on the light side) color for a saison, but sadly no yeast/fermentation leftovers, which makes me think it’ll be less of a hidden gem than expected.
Hops – 4.3 Nothing to write home about, but it won’t leave you Angry Again.
Malt – 5.7 A good saison is more about the esters, yeast, and other notes and this one is just that. No malt really shines through but it is there, albeit thin.
Carbonation – 7.9 It’s pretty lively, and I think that breaks up some flavors that you end up missing out on.
Character – 6.3 It gets the name from the “13 carefully selected ingredients” but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what those Chones Ones were.
Palate – 8.2 There’s nothing wrong with it, I just wish it had more to it.
Overall – 6.66 I Ain’t Superstitious enough to worry about giving away that score.
It says there are 13 carefully selected ingredients but unless some of them are “water, some other water, yeast, a different yeast, and hops. Then the same hops again. And then different hops” I’m not sure I believe it. I had expected a little more from both of these brands, but with Megadeth watering down their musical offerings lately, it’s an appropriate beer/metaphor. I enjoyed it but more so for the opportunity to include jokes than it being a delicious beer.
Blueberry Coffee Porter
5% 12 oz Can
We’re working through the backlog, folks. The Caps lost, let’s move on to this from Waynesville NC. It’s a blueberry coffee porter. It is old (2018) and pours very dark. It smells like coffee and malt and slightly berry, and the head disappears immediately. Like the Caps desire. And from the can, it says they take their classic brown, and add fresh coffee and blueberry. I hope I’m not berry (trotz) disappointed.
Hops – 3.1 It is a little balanced.
Malts – 6.3 Also it’s not that roasty. Or malty. It’s getting weird.
Carbonation – 7.4 Despite the head going away like a Capitals lead, it’s very bubbly. Think soda.
Character – 4.6 This is where they’ve let me down. It’s halfway through the 2nd, and they did not deliver as promised. The coffee is there… barely. It’s like you got to take a sip of someone’s leftover iced coffee from yesterday. And the blueberry is slightly acidic. This may be from aging, but I’m just reporting what’s happening.
Palate – 5.8 It’s not… Bad. Not great. It’s the Capitals Powerplay right now. You have potential! But you did not deliver on it.
Overall – 5.9 It’s not very bad but it’s not good. It’s super bubbly, the flavors and mouthfeel are really thin.
I didn’t know this was going to be exactly how I felt after tonight’s loss, but this beer is exactly like their performance. Sounds great, but you need to actually execute! It was thin, lackluster, and overall left me wanting. 2 Minutes for disappointment, Boojum.
You know these. They’re cold, yellow, cheap, readily available and that’s about all the nice stuff you can say. Macro beers, adjuncts, college beer, lawn beer. They have more nicknames than kids can think of a way to chug them but they’re here. You may notice a glaring omission or two but those are planned.
How it works:
I was joined by my friends and rock band Goliathies Josh and Tuomas from Burn The Ballroom. The test was conducted blind, where we would sample the given beer from a cup, rate it and try to guess which one it was. Originally, the plan was to only guess each one once, but as it turned from fun experiment to painful science, we became less precise. So without having to suffer for yourself, here are our results!
Elephant in the room: We didn’t have PBR. But they don’t just hand out blue ribbons, that would be unfair.
Nearing the end, we gave up on the rules, gave up on all hope to ever taste anything nice ever again, and really phoned it in. Surprisingly, the only unanimous vote was for Steel Reserve, and I think anyone growing up drinking it can conjure up that nightmare flavor immediately. Of the actual beers, the only other correct guesses were Budweiser (Curry) and Miller (Tuomas). The fruit beer/malt drink round was easy but really scorched our taste buds and by the end of that, we were beaten down.
What did we learn?
THEY ARE BASICALLY THE SAME. And that Mango is the king of the Rita. So when you’re debating over the next Coors, Miller, etc. Don’t bother, close your eyes, and grab the coldest one. You can tell people it’s whatever they really wanted, and you’ll get the fun satisfaction of knowing it’s not. Also, don’t blast your mouth with back to back Rita drinks and expect to maintain a decent palate, it’s just not possible.
There you have it, we suffered so you wouldn’t have to. The results are inconclusive at best, and really just drink whatever you have. They’re all the same, they’re all bad, and they’re all cheap.
Stone and Jagermeister
Jagermeister and Arrogant Bastard Ale8.5%
I’ll preface this by saying I found this bottle having no idea it even existed. Reading up, it’s from the Stone installation in Germany, called Arrogant Consorita[sic](from their website). Pretty sure it’s Consortia but I am not a word doctor. It has aged (obviously) even though there was a big “DRINK FRESH, NUMBSKULL” on the side of it. However, the release date was Sep 2019 so it’s not SO far off and coming from Berlin it wouldn’t be super fresh to begin with. I think my apprehension was not wanting to 1) waste something exotic and 2) not destroy something beautiful. But here’s that Fight Club moment, so PROST!
I can’t keep typing out JAGERMEISTER AND ARROGANT BASTARD ALE so it will be known as JAB. The JAB, once uncorked, immediately had a very herbal smell like juniper punching me in the nose. Once poured, it didn’t go away. I get the licorice most people associate with Jager. It has a slightly higher ABV than the regular Bastard but I’m not sure I pick up any more booze. I have also prepared a cold shot of Jager, to intermittently sip. For research purposes.
Hops – 6.7 It is still Arrogant Bastard, but the initial hop bite/flavor/aroma really gets knocked out by JAB’s herbals. Some of the way into this glass and all I get at first is juniper, citrus, anise, licorice and then I’m left with the pungent bitterness of a stone IPA. It’s an odd transition from sweet to floral, to herbal and then a lingering bitter finish that really doesn’t showcase any of the flavors that they have separately. I would say it’s more resiny than hoppy.
Malts – Maybe. It’s sweet but that’s more from the addition of Jager and its ingredients. It would be tough to pick up any of the traditional caramel, roasted, wheat flavors you might find in a normal beer.
Carbonation – 5.5 It doesn’t pour flat, you can feel it in the mouth, but it’s not super lively. It’s a decent balance.
Character – 8.9 It’s tough to remain subjective when so many worlds collide. I like Jager. I like Arrogant Bastard. I like the flavors both of those things have. I like the flavors they have brought together, but it’s so weird. Like the guy that still drives a Pontiac Aztek but hasn’t even seen Breaking Bad, they just like it for the space and it was a graduation gift and that sort of makes sense on paper. There are so many things going on, and you get to taste all of them.
Palate – 4.1 This beer is exactly like when you’re cooking, and you under/overspice something and you keep adding stuff to it to balance it out until you’re left with a Katamari roll up ball of almost everything in your kitchen when you really just started out making a chicken parm. While the flavors are great separately, nothing here is cohesive. It’s a boozed up version of a 4 year-old’s story where you heard about one hundred details but none of them were pertinent.
Overall – 6.9 I figure they would like that number.
It’s the COOL LIQUOR PEOPLE coming together with the EXTREME BEER GUYS to make COOL EXTREME LIQUORBEER but that’s never been a niche. No one orders boilermakers outside of extras in movies, and this is like the worst parts of dropping a shot of Jager into an Arrogant Bastard. You can tell exactly what it is, but the one thing it wasn’t was necessary. I would say it was a neat marketing trick but I only found it a nice gas station that has all kinds of great beers. I’ve never seen it before or after, and hadn’t heard of it at all so it wasn’t marketing. If it was just an experiment, then now everyone knows. Not that it’s bad, it isn’t. But everything that makes Jager good and Arrogant Bastard good get lost in the mix here and you end up with a distorted version of both.
The Federal Reserve is a special edition of the Squatch from Chaos Mountain. While it’s their flagship, they also have better and more well received options so I was hesitant at first. The story goes, Fifth and Federal needed a beer, and turned to the great guys at Chaos Mountain to get it done. So they aged their Squatch Ale in Bowman bourbon barrels, and this mythical beast came out. It pours a beautiful muddy brown color (not sarcasm) and smells like a proper wee heavy with awesome woody notes.
Disclaimer: I have had this particular one sitting in the batcave since January. At some point, you just gotta drink the beer. It was, however, fantastic on tap at the source.
Hops – 2 It’s a wee heavy.
Malts – 5.5 I’m surprised but then I remember that the squatch wasn’t huge on traditional malt flavors (as best as I can recall).
Carbonation – 7.3 It’s unusually bubbly for a barrel aged wee heavy but that’s not such a bad thing. Breaks up the monotony.
Character – 6.5 There’s malts and some of the usual barrel aged notes in it but there’s nothing here to separate it from anything in the class. I’m fuzzy on how it remained so sweet without picking up major boozy notes to back it up.
Palate – 8.5 The high score here is just because there’s nothing wrong. If you like Squatch, this adds a little extra to it.
Overall – 7.1 Squatch might be A yeti, but it is not THE Yeti.
There’s nothing wrong here, but there’s nothing that would make you need to seek this out. I am excited, however, for another Chaos beer that’s in the lineup. I won’t spoil anything but it’s a huge one.
Earned Run Ale
4.2% Session Pale
I’ll try about as hard in this summary as the Nats did this season. It pours a decent pale ale color and smells exactly like beer.
Hops – 6.1 They’re not going to blow your socks off and it’s not particularly delicious, either.
Malts – 4.20 There’s some there.
Carbonation – 7.5 Yes. Very.
Character – 2.5 It’s exactly an overpriced, under-delivering baseball beer.
Palate – 5.4 Are these arbitrary? Maybe.
Overall – When is hockey back on? I can’t wait. I guess the Redskins are about to start their regular season too. But hockey is soon, that’s the most important part. The good news is that it’s available for under $3 off the shelves, probably about $12 at the park.
Bourbon Barrel Cru
12% 22oz Bomber
Let me get this out of the way: HOT DAMN. This one is on the Wild Side. I didn’t mean to do yet another fantastic VA beer, but this one was lurking in the fridge and the Caps just won, so
let’s do it. You get a hefty malt, yeast, roast smell and then bourbon comes in like Hell on High Heels. But enough about the puns, let’s kickstart this review.
Hops – 2.2 It’s a quad. The label says 18 IBU and I believe them.
Malts – 7.4 Yeah, its sweet and roasty.
Carbonation – 4.3 It’s not that bubbly. Pretty pleasant, really.
Character – 8.9 There’s so much going on that someone that wasn’t me probably couldn’t describe it. But I will. There’s the sweet maltyness and yeast profiles you get from a Quad-style
beer and then there’s an entire box truck full of savory, driven by a big punch of bourbon character. If you had an Uncle Daryl that won the lottery, it’s like he is this beer and he used
his winnings to go on a sophisticated tour of Europe, and then came home and spent the rest on Old Crow and cigarettes. Just wild.
Palate – 9.4 It’s a rollercoaster of awesome that’ll guarantee you won’t Go Away Mad.
Overall – 9.2 That’s not to say you could drink 12 of these in a row (go ahead, prove it) but just the one is great. It’s a really big beer.
I didn’t know what to expect with this one. Hardywood usually puts out great stuff, but I have had some terrible luck with bourbon barrel beers. They either forget to imbue it with the
bourbon flavors, or they get the bourbon and booze in there and forget to make a good beer around it. It’s a veritable Rodeo of flavor, and If I Die Tomorrow, I’ll be glad I had it.
Because Cru. You’ll get it.
Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout
It pours dark, but not as…viscous(?) as some imperial stouts. You can immediately smell the bourbon barrel aging and the tasty notes it left, as if it were christmas. And this beer has
been a very, very good boy. It looks like I’m keeping the Virginia beer review streak alive, so let’s just get into it.
Hops – 2.7 Not much to say here, moving along.
Malts – 7.4 Not overwhelming. There’s a sweetness, like the smell of grandma’s house after she had been baking cookies. Looks like I’m going to keep with the holiday theme even though
it’s a beautiful day in April.
Carbonation – 3.4 It pours milky, rather than bubbly. Which is nice because there’s no carbonation to cut through all the delicious flavor. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass and drink
it real quick, like a thirsy Santa and this is your milk and cookies.
Character – 7.2 There aren’t any crazy flavors here to ambush you or knock you off course like a patch of black ice. You have the sweetness from the lactose (hence milk stout) which
compliments the malts, bourbon characteristics, and other dark aromatic flavors.
Palate – 9.1 It’s a caroling chorus of delicious. Everyone is doing their part, except for Joan. She’s a little flat.
Overall – 8.6 It’s pourable, drinkable, it smells great, and it hides its alcohol wallop better than your parents with christmas gifts.
To be fair I’m only drinking this early to ease the battered and bruised ego from a small motorcycle wreck. I’ve been meaning to get to this beer in particular as it was gifted to me, and
I finally have a great excuse. Not that you’d need one, this thing is richer and sweeter than a Capitals playoff win. Which are starting today, btw. THE LOFFS! It’s that time of year
where I drink a lot because I’m happy, and then I drink a lot because I’m sad again. But not this year. This year is different. This year is special. Like CAPSized from Ocelot Brewing. And now I’m ready to get all settled in for a Caps sized victory. LGC!