Thursday, November 15, 2012

Southern Tier Double Milk Stout

As the weather outside begins to chill, it's time to warm up to a good stout. Tonight, my choice is Southern Tier's Double Milk Stout. The stout is not a beer style I have always enjoyed, but I find that I'm liking them more and more. This is my first milk stout, and I'd say it was good choice.

For anyone not familiar with milk stouts, it's essentially a stout that contains lactose. The lactose (sugar from milk which does not ferment in the beer) adds body and sweetness to the beer.

Double Milk Stout, or 2X Stout as it's labeled, is very dark with a slight amber tint. My pour had minimal head and lacing, but I'm willing to chalk that up to user error. I don't exactly pride myself on exceptional pouring skills. There is a lot going on in the aroma, and if I had to describe it in one word, it would be "chewy." It smells very robust with lots of chocolate and coffee, but there is also a roastiness present.

One of the features that attracts me stouts is the smoothness, and Southern Tier has nailed it with this milk stout. It feels thicker than it looks and it goes down silky smooth. The aroma does not betray the flavor either; there is plenty of chocolate and coffee present. However, the flavors are very well balanced and I don't feel overwhelmed by any one flavor in particular. It is very malty and lightly hopped, and I detect a very slight alcohol warmth on the finish.

I don't have a fireplace, but I imagine this would be a great beer for a cold night in front of the fire. I plan to pair my next bottle with dark chocolate. If you're fan of stouts and have not tried Southern Tier's Double Milk Stout, I recommend giving it a shot. If you have, what did you think?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bison Brewing Gingerbread Ale

We are well into November, which means the Winter seasonal beers have begun to hit the shelves. It's still a bit early in season for my tastes considering the weather is still considerably mild, but I love Winter seasonals so I'm not going to pass them up. My first purchase of the season included Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewing.

This beer is really dark and pours relatively heavy with a ton of head. The aroma is dark and roasty with some hints of chocolate and caramel. There are also some spicy notes as well, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It is a full and festive aroma that makes me eager to dive in for a sip.

The first thing I noticed about this beer is how incredibly smooth it is. It does not feel quite as thick as it looks, and in fact, it feels a bit watery. There is plenty of flavor, though, to distract me from this shortcoming. The dark malts take center stage here, but there is a bit of spiciness. The cinnamon and nutmeg give this beer the festive, seasonal flavor that I enjoy, and the ginger is very subtle and not at all overpowering. The first bottle I had tasted a bit boring, but I drank it directly from the refrigerator. The second bottle I drank at slightly above refrigerated temperature and the flavor was much more full and exciting.

This is the first offering from Bison Brewing that I've tired, so I do have a benchmark by which to judge this beer, but it is a solid seasonal. Also, it's USDA certified organic, if you're into that sort of thing. I mention this last because this is a good beer that happens to be organic rather than a beer that is good despite begin organic. While it won't top my list of Winter seasonal beers, it is certainly worth another drink.