Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brooklyn Brewing Black Chocolate Stout 06-07


I'm not sure that I've ever written up what is perhaps not only my favourite go to stout, but also one of the best balanced and most ageable stouts out there. Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout is actually not brewed with chocolate, but rather with copious amounts of chocolate malts. One can certainly taste and smell all levels of dark chocolate in this wonderfully made beer. Further, as part of an ongoing debate on twitter about chocolate and wine, I want to come out on my blog to say that in my opinion no alcohol pairs better with chocolate than stouts. The huge range of stouts is versatile and able to pair with the huge range of chocolate styles, which is precisely what I did with this amazing stout that I aged for 3 years before consuming.

The nose on the stout has vanilla, caramel, loads of chocolate and heavy roasted coffee. The palate is ridiculously smooth after 3 years in the bottle, and tasted like cigar, caramel, sugar, wood, dark roasted coffee and bitter cacao. These high alcohol stouts really only show their full potential when stored away for at least a year, many improving well beyond that. For me, big imperial stouts are the perfect dessert drink, much more so than sweet wines. 10% ABV.

$2.75/375ml at BCLDB (for the current release 08-09)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brasserie d'Ecaussinnes La Penneffoise


British Columbia has recently begun to improve its selection of craft beers, which is nice to see. However, most of them are merely solid but not overly exciting examples of a particular style. Perhaps I was spoiled by spending 5 months embroiled in California's thriving micro-brew culture, but my exposure to fine beers in the U.S. changed my perception of what is truly great.

This is all the more reason why I think this Belgian 'prune' beer is super. It has a level of complexity and experimentation that you rarely find in the BC market, and, well, it's just really darn tasty. Being a fruit beer, some might expect this to be based on a weisse style or on the lambic style. It's not really either of those - instead being a hybrid between a belgian strong ale and a wild ale.The nose on this is fantastic: similar to a geueze lambic or a beer made with brettanomyces yeast, this also has a nice wet forest/cellar smell while pushing subtle belgian fruit esters forward. The prune aromas is subtle but present.

Best of all, this beer is not made with added sugar or in a sickly fruity sweet style. You can still taste the prune and the fruit, but the beer actually finishes dry and wonderful. There is a degree of complex malting going on here that is similar to what Allagash or Lost Abbey do with their beers and something you don't taste very much in BC. This is very full and robust while being light and creamy in the mouth. The 8% ABV is completely unnoticeable. I'm sipping on this right now and thinking "I love this beer". If you want to taste a real beer in Vancouver, do not pass this by.

Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$15 / 750ml at Viti