Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beers on Little Christmas Eve

For the past two years (that's this year and last since Christmas is over now), I've been sharing some of my cellared (okay, it's just a basement) beers with my wife's family over Christmas. It may only be a two year tradition but it certainly feels like it's going to stick. Besides forcing my hand into drinking things out of the cellar, it's also fun to share the beers with people that aren't as into the beer scene as me. Gives a new perspective on things and such. This year I decided to do theme nights starting with Imperial Stouts.

The first one I opened was the pretty rare Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS).
Previous to this release, CBS was only available on draft in very limited appearances (like once or twice a year). However, with the Backstage series, Founders has been releasing their rarer stuff in 750s. CBS is an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolate and then aged in maple bourbon barrels. Sounds pretty delicious right? Even though I only had one bottle of it, I decided because of the coffee in it, drinking it sooner was a good idea. Plus I'm trying to get past the "collecting" portion of beer and actually drink more of it.

Started off with a huge coffee nose, overpowering everything. At least it smelled like tasty coffee. Super thick body with a very minimal amount of carbonation. The first sip was still almost entirely coffee with just a hint of sweetness underneath. And, honestly, at first I wasn't super impressed just because there was so little complexity. My thoughts changed as the coffee began fading and tons of other flavors began appearing. Chocolate, hints of maple sweetness, and a wonderful, mouth-coating vanilla finish. At that point I understood what people saw in it. Quite awesome and glad I opened it. I think the way the flavors developed it also showed that 2oz isn't enough to find the proper complexities in some beers. I would not have been impressed with this if that was all I had available to try.

The other stout I opened was Hoppin' Frog Doris the Destroyer. Doris stands for Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout.
Chocolate nose with a bit of alcohol in it. Luckily the beer itself was quite tasty. Chocolate, some hoppy bitterness, a little coffee, and some more slight bitterness in the finish. After the sweeter CBS the hoppiness in Doris was a nice change as it kept it from being too sweet. Maybe a little more bitter than I'm usually looking for in a stout, but nothing like Storm King for example.

So that was Little Christmas Eve (which apparently is a Swedish thing and just means the night before Christmas Eve). I'm so glad I opened the CBS and got to try a big glass of it in a nice, calm environment. I haven't written about Bell's Black Note yet, but I can see why people prefer it over CBS. There is a much heavier bourbon presence in Black Note and some people prefer that in the style so they'd like it more. Regardless, to me they are two very different beers and there isn't really a reason to compare them. The Doris was quite good and way more readily available than CBS so you should search that out and give it a try. CBS may be bottled again, but who really knows. Not sure what I'll write about tomorrow seeing as how I have Christmas Eve beers, Bell's Darkest Day (or Darkest Night, I forget) event, and a couple of other random beers I drank last Thursday. We'll see!

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