It’s been difficult to find time to do reviews lately- sitting down at the computer normally results in the almost 1 year old trying to climb something and the almost 3 year old going off and being quiet somewhere- you know, writing on the bathroom mirror with my deodorant, squeezing out all of the dish soap into a bowl in the sink, or “folding” a (already folded) basket of laundry. So we’re squeezing this one in here and let’s hope they stay entertained for at least 20 minutes with a new episode of Paw Patrol (at long last).
Today’s review is the second in the Blackwater Series by Southern Tier. The previous review being Choklat, which was a thoroughly enjoyable chocolate stout scoring an overall 4.3. Southern Tier is quickly becoming one of my new favorite craft breweries, with a wide range of styles available in 22oz bottles (at least it is in northern MD). Click here for previous Southern Tier reviews.
Since today’s review is a Crème brûlée Stout, let’s get on the same page about the dessert. From the wikis:
Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served at room temperature.
The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but can also be flavored with lemon or orange (zest), rosemary, lavender, chocolate, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, cinnamon, coffee, liqueurs, green tea, pistachio, hazelnut, coconut, or other fruit.
This is sounding delicious. Let’s get started.
Style: Imperial Stout
Produced by: Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, New York, USA
From Southern Tier:
“a stout of great contention”We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.9.6% abv • 25º plato • 195º L
Ingredients:1/6 keg 2-row pale maltdark caramel maltvanilla beanlactose sugarkettle hops: columbusaroma hops: horizon
These Southern Tier guys (and girls) are a crazy bunch. Where else would you see words like “tantamount,” “bellicose,” and “labyrinthine” on the bottle describing their brew?
Appearance – 3.5
Try as I might, I was barely able to raise more than a 1/4″ to 1/3″ head from this bottle. What I did produce was light brown in color- lighter and much less apparent than I recall Choklat being. The head is made up of small to tiny bubbles, with the small ones originating from the bottom of the glass and slowly stacking up around the glass edge. Tilting the glass results in a good deal of tiny bubble cling, but those bubbles slide right back down into the liquid leaving barely a trace of lacing. All of these signs hint to a lesser carbonated, smoother, creamier stout, and that is exactly what I am looking for.
Color is like cola but darker. It’s black with hints of brown and orange. It is completely opaque- I can’t even see light through the edges of the glass when held directly in front of a light.
Aroma – 5
I’m not joking when I say that you can evaluate this aroma from about 6″ away from the glass (much farther than you normally would). The smell is intoxicating (see what I did there?) like walking into a candy shop where they are making fudge on the giant marble slab, and dipping caramel apples. Vanilla extract. Toffee. BIG Butterscotch. Peanut Brittle. It is amazing how much this stout smells like theses dessert treats, and not at all like a stout.
It’s not often that I ponder breaking the rules to award a score higher than the maximum, but this is certainly one of those cases. Come to think of it, two of the most prominent examples of this came from two previous Southern Tier reviews… Of course, this always worries me that the aroma, and not the flavor, will be the high point of the beverage. Let’s hope that’s not the case today.
Taste – 8.5
I’d first like to note that due to circumstances related to what I described during the intro, I had to take a break from the review for a while…so the tasting is at least 30 minutes (if not closer to 45) from pouring it in the glass. That probably puts it a bit above the suggested temperature of 42°F, which will tend to emphasize the alcohol flavors. Thankfully, it’s a 22oz bottle, and a chilled refill awaits when this glass is done.
Even with the time spent sitting and the warmer temperature, the taste is just as wonderful as I had hoped. It definitely lives up to the aroma. In fact, it pretty much mirrors the aroma: caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee, slight chocolate, but adds a mild to medium bitter finish and alcohol sharpness. It’s pretty sweet- I don’t notice much of a hop presence, though we know they are there. They definitely remain in the background behind all of the caramelized goodness.
Dark malt is present, but presents itself in the chocolate flavor rather than the smoky flavor. This is a good thing, as everyone who has tried candy making knows that burnt chocolate is a very bad thing.
Palate – 4.5
Palate is excellent. Medium body is surprising for such a dark and flavorful stout. Mouth feel is kind of oily and definitely sticky sweet. Carbonation is mild (when left out while dealing with children threatening to harm each other) and creamy. Alcohol is apparent, but not overpowering even when warm.
If there ever was a dessert beer category…this would be in it. I feel like you really could categorize it “dessert beverage” and it would be more accurate than imperial stout. It’s hard to say if I preferred the straight “Choklat” version or this one better. I guess I’d have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them both (they did get the same score after all).
And just like that, my time is up. If you are a stout fan, and are looking for something on the sweeter side, but not your ordinary chocolate stout, I highly recommend giving this a shot.