Beer Review: Mephistopheles’ Stout – Avery Brewing Co.

Beer Name: Mephistopheles’ Stout

Brewery: Avery Brewing Co
Beer style: Double/Imperial Stout
ABV: November ‘11 Batch, 16.43%
IBU: N/A
Size: 12 oz ($8.49)
Beer Advocate Score: 90 (Brothers: 100)
Ratebeer: 100

After a fairly successful weekend in Vegas, I had no reason to sell my liver to the devil, but I did. Before we get into all that, I want to apologize for not reviewing any Ohio beers in a while. I keep lucking out on hard-to-find brews when visiting Kentucky and want to share those experiences with you so that you can be on the lookout for craft beer gems.

Back to Mephistopheles, this beer is basically like posting a “for sale by owner” sign on your liver and getting a single response from Dave Grohl (single best representation of the devil on screen).  The 2011 batch rang in at 16.43% ABV, which is the highest I have had in a stout. I am being as humble as I can be when I say initially this beer was too much for me. I like my stouts with a big bite on the back end, but this is more like a megalodon-size bite. Knowing that this beer is meant to shock the palate, I was confident that my palate would adjust and it did. I am going to do a first and break this beer review into two parts: the first half of the glass and the second.

Act One:

As soon as I popped the cap, the age of the beer let its presence known by emitting an amazing caramel and dark chocolate smell. The pour is extremely easy and carries almost zero head. The smell continues to jump out of the glass and caused me to stand in my kitchen huffing the scent for a few minutes. The first half of the glass can be described in two words: CHOCOLATE HELLFIRE.

Act Two:

Once my palate remembered where its daddy pants were, this beer became extremely tasty.

Taking a big whiff before each drink helped to deliver a big time buttery caramel malt taste on the front end.  That malt begins to warm up and flush your cheeks. It slowly fades and bitter cocoa replaces it with what I would describe as a “baker’s chocolate” flavor. The bitter overwhelms every corner of your mouth before finishing with an alcohol bite. My mouth remained warm and full of bitter chocolate flavor between each sip. I savored each sip and it took me an hour to finish this beer.

Ratings:

Sessionability: 1-pack. After being forced to visit to Georgia, the devil bottled all his rage in this beer. One bottle will suffice.

Overall: 5-pack. This is a beer that should be tried by all, but is just a bit too harsh for me to hand out a golden 6-pack.

Would be best consumed: Normally I would say this is the type of beer that should be consumed alone, but I think a really good steak – and I stress the “really good” – would play off the flavor.

Beer Review: Black Rat Imperial Stout – Cellar Rats Brewing

Beer Name: Black Rat

Brewery: Cellar Rats Brewery (Madison, OH)
Beer style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 9.2
IBU: N/A
Size: 12 oz bottle from a 4-pack ($10.99)
Beer Advocate Score: 87
Untappd Score: 4 caps

Sometimes after a long day of working, a workout, and mountains of homework, I find my mind racing. 10:00 P.M. rolls around and all I can think about is what I didn’t get done today and what I will have to do tomorrow. I know that if I attempt sleep in this state, I will roll around for hours and wake up more tired than when I went to bed. Some people drink warm milk before bed; I prefer the brain-numbing nirvana of a good imperial stout. Seriously, clubbing your brain with a beer packing 9% or higher (better) will help your brain realize that it needs to fall in line with your body’s tiredness. With this thought in mind, I wandered over to my fridge to see what offering I could make to the sleep gods tonight.

A few weeks back I reviewed the Rat Tail. At the end of that review I said that I wanted to try the Black Rat Imperial Milk Stout. I finally found some at Anderson’s, which seems to be the “go-to place” if you are looking for Ohio craft beer. As you may have conjectured from my picture, this beer is kind of a prick to poor. I usually do not mind this, but I was really thirsty (#craftbeerproblems, I know). As I was impatiently waiting, I stuck my nose in the glass and caught a very faint caramel malt scent. I have noticed that the lack of smell is a recurring theme of the Ohio imperial stouts. The other theme is that they really make up for the lack of nose with tons of flavor. Black Rat falls into this category. The higher than usual carbonation for this style really helps to deliver a very strong caramel malt flavor on the front end. This is followed by subtle, but present milk chocolate notes. The mouthfeel is as heavy as one would expect for this style. The beer finishes well balanced and with the lactose sweetness we all love in a milk stout. The fact that this is a milk stout really changes up the chocolate taste. I prefer dark chocolate notes in imperial stouts, but the lactose sugar really brings out the sweet side of the chocolate. If you like a sweeter stout that still throws haymakers, the Black Rat may become your Splinter.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 2-pack. (It is sweet for my taste and 9.2%.)
Overall: I give it a 4-pack (4 out of 6). This would be more toward a 5 than a 3. It is too sweet for me, but I suspect a lot of you will really enjoy it.
Would be best consumed: Winter months, when trying to sleep, would make a good breakfast beer paired with some cinnamon toast…or poured over Cinnamon Toast Crunch (alcoholic alert).

Beer Review: Buckeye Brewing – Zatek 2011-A

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Beer Name: Zatek 

Brewery: Buckeye Brewing (Cleveland)
Beer style: Foreign Extra Stout
ABV: 8.0%
IBU: Unknown
Size: 22 oz bottle
Beer Advocate Score: 86
Untappd Score: 4 caps

Ahhh, stouts. Not the beer most sane people would turn to after a long day in the sun doing yard work, but then again I have never been accused of being sane. I love stouts, the bigger the better, no matter the weather. When I was younger, but still over 21 of course, I would simply find myself craving a beer and just about anything would do. I’m sure it was the alcohol I wanted, and as long as the liquid sharing its container wasn’t appalling, it would do. Now that I am older [read: more mature], I find that when I am truly craving a beer, it is one of three beer tastes that I am truly craving: hops, banana notes, and dark roasted malts.  Regardless of the season, sometimes I just have to have a big, bold stout.

I was talking about how I needed to find some new Ohio beers to fill out my collection, and BubOhioBeer was nice enough, last time that I talked to him, to tell me that The Anderson’s off Sawmill in Columbus has a small section devoted to beers brewed in “The Heart of It All.”  We were in the area on Friday after visiting the zoo, so I stopped in. While there, I spotted the odd-looking beer pictured above. I went to their website for some intel, but their “Our Beers” section has not yet been created, so I have no idea what that thing on the bottle is supposed to be. I assume it’s a silver Eskimo or a fever dream of a glam Care Bear or something, but the label totally worked because I picked it up and took it to the register.

The beer pours dark-dark black, with a perfect stout head that never completely goes away - like a brown spiral galaxy slowly spinning in a moonless sky. The beer smells of toffee and caramel with maybe a hint of dark roast coffee. The sweetness on the nose is not as prevalent when tasting it, and although it starts off malty-sweet, that sweetness is quickly drowned out by a very heavy coffee taste. This coffee taste is very pleasant, especially if you enjoy European coffees or espressos. This beer almost has that straight shot-of-espresso bitterness at the end that sucks your mouth in; it works very well in this beer because the bitter makes you want to go back in for the upfront sweetness again, and the cycle repeats until the bomber is gone and you have a bit of a buzz.

Overall I am very impressed with this beer and this brewery. I would absolutely drink this again if I found it again, and greatly look forward to trying more of their beers in the future.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 2-pack. This beer is all the stout you are going to want without some palate cleanser in between.
Overall: I give it a 5-pack, one of the better stouts I have had. Between this and Siberian Night by Thirsty Dog, northeast Ohio makes some serious stouts.
Would be best consumed: Most sane people would prefer this on a cold, snowy Ohio evening, maybe with a raspberry clafouti.

Beer Review: Siberian Night – Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

Beer Name: Siberian Night
Brewery: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron, OH)
Beer style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.7
IBU: 58
Size: 12 oz bottle in a 4-pack ($10.99)
Beer Advocate Score: 93
Untapped Rank: 4 Caps

I just finished my last final for the semester, and I did it stone-face sober. This is not my typical forte, but I was supposed to go on a date tonight. She cancelled at the last minute so I turned to the one relationship that never fails: the one between beer and me.

With the weight of finals relieved and the fact that I am now playing catch up, I decided to go big. Siberian Night is just that: Big in alcohol, big in flavor, and big in after-taste. This beer does not disappoint.

It pours very smooth and has a very small tan head. The aroma is barely present for a beer that has so much flavor, but it smells slightly boozy and chocolatey.

When it first hits your tongue, you will notice it has a bit more carbonation than your standard stout. Immediately you can taste the alcohol. I rather enjoy this quality, but some may find it harsh. Things smooth out very quickly though. Chocolate notes are present for a brief time and then things turn toward more of a roasted caramel malt flavor. The more you drink, the more dark chocolate and malt flavors invade your palate and linger for quite sometime. The alcohol taste fades away and you are left with a smooth stout. It is so smooth and delicious that you will want to drink more than one, but be careful. Too many and you may actually turn into a wild Siberian dog, ravaging through the night, humping anything that moves and eating anything that appears to be edible. If you like black coffee and/or dark chocolate, you cannot go wrong with this beer.

Ratings:

Sessionability: I give it a 4-pack ( I could drink it all night, but it would be a short night)
Overall: I give it a 5-pack (5 out of 6)
Would be best consumed: On a snowy Ohio evening with friends or as the first beer of the day to take the edge off last night’s hangover.