Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Evening of Dark Beer

This week's "Steal the Glass" event at Capital Ale House featured the beers of Founders Brewing Company, served in an etched snifter. I'd been looking forward to the event, and based on the crowded bar, so had others. After perusing the offerings, I started out with Breakfast Stout, Colleen ordered the Oatmeal Stout served on nitro, while our friend Checkered Flag went big with the Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale. To accompany the beers we put in an order for a couple of appetizers too while we decided on our dinner choices. The Fried Pierogies and Sausage Fritters went quite well with the dark and roasty beers.

Breakfast Stout & Oatmeal Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout pours pitch black with a thin head. Dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee aromas wafted up as soon as the beer was set in front of me. The taste of bitter dark chocolate and rich espresso predominates. As the beer warms, hints of vanilla and smoke come into play. At 8.3% ABV it's a moderate sipper, but still my glass was emptied much too quickly. Now I had a decision to make, order another or try something else?

I stole a few sips of my generous wife's Oatmeal Stout. The creamy, soft mouthfeel of the nitro-pushed beer is a treat. The flavor is similar to the Breakfast Stout though with more of a nuttier, burnt lean. The nitro does tend to soften the harder roasted edges. At a reported low 4.5% ABV, it's definitely an option for my second beer.

Next I turned to our friend's glass of Backwoods Bastard. I've always had an affection for a good Wee Heavy/Scotch Ale. Dark like the others, with a reddish tint, the beer gives off a strong aroma of bourbon. The taste is woody bourbon, brown sugar, and hints of vanilla with roasted malt. Did I mention bourbon? At 10.2% ABV it's a sipper for a full meal, but I think not as my second beer.

Back to the beer menu, I finally settled on a glass of Red's Rye IPA. I've seen this one recently on the CAH list. I've not been a fan of some "rye beers" I've tried, so have shied away from ordering this previously, despite my fondness for IPA. My mistake. This had to be one of the best IPAs I've had in some time, and my favorite drink of the evening.  The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a persistent head of sticky foam. The aroma is that of grapefruit citrus and resinous pine. The flavor boasts juicy citrus goodness. There's a sweetness that keeps iy all somewhat balanced. Although this is a citrus-forward beer, it's not overwhelming and the tastebuds are left unaccosted to continue enjoying the delightful flavors. As the beer warms, the rye imparts some bready aspects. At 6.6% ABV this is a richly flavored beer that is easy to enjoy, especially with my Ale House classic Bacon, Black and Blue burger.

A friend stopped to talk and offered the advice that I needed to try the Founders Porter as well. And many folks at the bar were also enjoying the Pale Ale being poured. So many beers yet to try, but alas, it was time to go. It was a "school night" after all. Perhaps a return trip soon is in order.

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