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Timperial Stout’s Guide to Brouwer’s Back in Black Stout Night

No, the other type of stout.

I have been dubbed Timperial Stout for one simple reason: I love my beers deep, dark and mysterious. Lucky for me, the people over at Brouwer’s Cafe have created a night to honor that holy opaque beverage we call stout.  I’d be remiss to not mention it and provide my take on how one would work up a game plan for such an event. I’ve posted the list below, that was so thoughtfully provided by the folks over at Seattle Beer Week.  In this case, it has proven very helpful that two members of the SBW collective get a paycheck from Brouwer’s.  After each selection I have provided some commentary.  I’ve tried to be brief, but you know…I love this stuff.

Allagash Black is delicious and unique, but it’s not all that rare so I’d skip it here and get a bottle at the bottleshop if you’ve never tried it.

Avery Black Tot on the other hand…pretty damn rare.  This is the third release in Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series and is an imperial oatmeal stout aged in Gosling’s rum barrels.  I’m sure this wont be cheap, but I’d bet it’s worth every penny.

Avery Czar is, in my opinion, one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there, but for this event, “regularly available” = “skip it”.

Avery Meph Addict is Avery Mephistopheles with coffee added.  I have never had (or seen for that matter) this one, so rare…yes.  The original Meph is a beast of a brew.  I recommend you tread lightly with these fellas, they are over 15% abv.

Avery Mephistopheles – See above

Beer Valley Black Madness – I’m either unaware of this beer or this is a mix up on words.  Beer Valley makes Black Flag Imperial Stout and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale, but I’m not so sure about Black Madness.  The SBW site lists “Black Madness” again for the Firkin-Firkin event at Elysian, so I could be misinformed, or not informed at all as the case may be.

Big Sky Bottleworks 11 is going to be showing up at special events at Brouwer’s for a few years to come now I’d assume, considering the beer was made and kegged exclusively for them (Bottleworks, Brouwer’s, same difference).  Never-the-less, it’s a very intriguing beer with some intense sour and vinous notes.  Worth a taste if you missed out on the bottles.

Big Time Old Rip – Bill Jenkins knows how to make a beer folks.  If you don’t make it to the U-district with much regularity, you may have never had this one.  Go for it, drink local.

Boulevard Nitro Dry Stout – Boulevard out of Kansas City, MO has been doing a lot of experimenting lately.  They seem to be really making things happen, and everything that I have had of theirs so far has been quality.  They are still fairly new to the Seattle market…I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot a kegs come through.  I would never get this because I don’t like dry stouts, but if you are into Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish, Moylan’s Dragoons, etc, check it out.

Chuckanut Export Foreign Stout – The words “Export Foreign Stout” are not very commonly used, but they basically indicate a “bigger” stout, built for long journeys on boats and such.  Considering the many recent accolades being tossed in Chuckanut’s direction, when I see that brewery name on something I want to try it.  Seems like a great starter to the evening to me.

Dick’s Woodford BBN Oak Cream Stout – I, sadly, don’t know a lot about this one, but the words “oak” and “cream stout” get me excited.  Worth a try, and possibly a bit more manageable in the abv category.

Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout – This one is extremely high on my list of best beers on planet Earth.  ‘Nuff said.  Oh, except beware of the strength – 18%.

Double Mountain Imperial Chaos is a draft only imperial stout from the impressive folks down in Hood River, OR.  I’ve never had this one, but I have continually been impressed by 2x Mountain.  I think I’ll be trying this one.

Elysian Dragonstooth Stout – One of the best single stouts in Washington, if not the country.  Very underrated in this area, possibly due to its permanent availability and therefore lack of hype.  Even still, I wouldn’t get it at an event like this.  Get a bottle at Whole Foods and take it home.

Firestone Walker Parabola 10 is my number one on this list.  I will scratch and claw to get it.  It is a 13% imperial stout that was blended from all sorts of different barrels, vintages, what-have-you.  It’s probably least rare this year then ever before in its existence, but still, very rare.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin is a fairly traditional oatmeal stout with a really great name.  Decent beer by one of the premier breweries in America.  I’d look for it on another day.

Full Sail Imperial Stout – Full Sail might be one of the largest breweries in the North West, but they still make really good beer, especially those in the Brewmaster Reserve series.  This is not Black Gold, so it’s not barrel aged, but it’s a great beer.  Worth getting on any other day, but there are better choices on this list.

Glacier Jack Daniels Impy Stout – Glacier is without a doubt one of Alaska’s finest.  Sadly, even though we are the closest neighboring state, we don’t see all that much of their work.  If this is in any way even close to matching the quality of their Big Woody Barleywine, this will be amazing.  Get it!

Great Divide Espresso Yeti – Yeti, like Avery Czar, is one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there.  The espresso version is not as good in my opinion, but it’s a must try for all coffee junkies.

Green Flash Espresso Stout – I think this might be a keg only one-off brew.  Sounds rare.  Green Flash makes great beer.  I’d go for it!

Hales Machete – This puppy is brewed right down the street from Brouwer’s.  I give them a big “f%&@ yeah!” for the name but I think I’ll have to skip this one, only because of better options.

Hitachino Espresso Stout – This is the best espresso stout I have ever had, but you can get it in the bottle pretty easily.  Not appropriate for this event.

Laughing Dog Dogfather – This is one of the best beers to come out of Idaho.  I will skip it only because I still have a few bottles in the cellar, but it’s worthy of a purchase.

Left Hand Oak Aged Imperial Stout – This one is released annually in the bottle, and can sometimes be found during the “off-season” at local bottle shops.  This beer is really freaking good, but get a bottle.

Lost Abbey Serpents Stout is Tomme Arthur’s idea of a Belgian stout.  If there is an actual Belgian brewed stout out there that is this rich and delicious, I have yet to find it.  Alvinne Podge is about as close as I can think of.  If you have never had this beer you need to get it.  This is fairly commonly available in bottles so I’d skip it here.

Mad River BBN Export Stout – A quality California brew, but not up to par with some of the competition.

Moylan’s Ryan O’Sullivan – I don’t often think of this beer when I ponder the great impy stouts of America, but I should.  It is a high quality brew, but yet again, a bit too common for this event.

Odin Sour Stout – believe it or not, I have yet to taste the nectars produced by Odin.  I know, it’s crazy.  I don’t know much about the sour stout but I must admit I’m intrigued.  This night just might be my first dance with Odin.

Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy – One of the very few, if not only imperial stouts released in a can.  That’s pretty damn cool, and it’s delicious to boot.  If I was at Brouwer’s on a regular day, I’d get it, but not tonight.

Port Brewing Old Viscosity – This beer is great, but not as good as its older brother.  Go with the older.

Port Brewing Older Viscosity – Regular readers will know that I’m mildly obsessed with this beer.  It’s chocolate covered pretzels to a T.  Get this and be like the stout fella above…meditate for a bit – you will go places.  I will most likely only get this one late in the evening, well after my better judgment has evaded me.  This is only because I have had it a bunch of times already.

Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper is a good impy stout, but it’s a bit thin for my liking.  I’d skip it.

Porterhouse Nitro Oyster Stout – This is a low abv dry Irish stout.  Sorry but…not interested.

Porterhouse Nitro Wrasslers 5x stout – Sorry Ireland, your stouts are boring.

Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken – This was recently reviewed glowingly on this site by yours truly.  It’s a damn good beer with a damn good story to tell.

Southern Tier Jahva – This is a member of the ST Imperial series, which should read “AMAZING”!  Easily one of Beer Blotter’s favorite breweries in the world.  Their stouts are impeccable.  This one is just slightly less impeccable than the Oat below, so get that one.

Southern Tier Oat – See above.

Stone I.R.S. – This beer is very unique.  I have never had an impy stout with such a strong tobacco flavor, which is a good thing in my opinion.  Like Ten Fiddy, I’d order this in almost any other situation, but not tonight.

Victory Storm King – You might have heard that this was the first impy stout I ever tasted.  I owe it a lot.  Luckily for me, it’s one of the country’s best, so I started off on the right foot.  I’d get it if I didn’t already have a bunch in the cellar.

Walking Man Black Cherry Stout – Beer Blotter finds this beer to be like soda.  If that sounds good to you, hop on board.  Not so much for me, but I do love Walking Man.

Waterstreet Stout – Skip is gone.  I have little faith.

In summary, since that was probably a bit of a task to read, I offer my top 5, in order of importance.

5) Double Mountain Imperial Chaos

4) Avery Meph Addict

3) Glacier Jack Daniels

2) Avery Black Tot

1) Firestone Walker Parabola

Give me!

Beer Blotter Belgium 2010: One Week Line Pops Up; The Gang Views In Bruges and Bottleworks 11th Anniversary

Big Sky's Matt Long raises above the faithful at Bottleworks to unveil 11th Anniversary

We leave in 7 days from the time this article goes to post. Wow. Its been quite a preparation and we are all ready to head out. Belgium – here we come.

With so much on the horizon, this past week kind of got the shaft. Traditionally we have celebrated the Belgium trip countdown with a bounty of posts about get togethers where we celebrate Belgian grub and grog in the Seattle area (mostly at home). But last week, we were sidetracked by our paying jobs and other wondrous beer celebrations. So, Belgian week took a hit.

It was not all a loss. We had two great docket items: Bottleworks 11th Anniversary release party and a home viewing of In Bruges (for the 10th time).

First, Bottleworks hit the nail on the head. Its newest release, 11th Anniversary was an explosion of the full gamut of bottle aged flavor.

We arrived at the event at 4:30, early enough to grab a glass of the imperial cauldron of stout that was hand-crafted by Big Sky Brewing’s Matt Long.

Bottleworks had a nice size supply of about a dozen cases of the 750 ml bottles of the new ale when we arrived at 4:30. By the time we had left at 6:00 – they were down to two cases. I’m fairly certain that supply was kicked by the end of the evening.

Matt Long presented the beer while standing atop the Bottleworks bartop. Long informed the crowd that he instructed to grab as many bottle age beers that he had laying around the brewery to blend this masterpeice. He did not disappoint Bottleworks’ owners, and certainly not their drinkers.

Bottleworks 11th Anniversary pours incredibly thick and oily. The immediate scent is that of cooked butter and crushed pretzels. The beer has an immense amount of flavor in its initial sip, including a surprising tartness that likely comes from the wine barrels that produced some of the ales blended into this monster.

While drank, the beer transforms several times. Its main ingredient, Big Sky’s Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout is prevalent but it comes and goes, hidden at times by the other flavors blended into the finished product.

Each of our three samplers would give the beer a big thumbs up – kudos to you Matt Long.

The next evening, Beer Blotter grabbed a nice meal and dug in to dive back into a little Belgium culture for the evening. Now, we understand that In Bruges is probably the furthest thing from an actual Belgium experience, but there is little on the market that roundly succeeds at both entertainment and education – we’ll stick with this tale of assassins hiding out in Bruges.

In Bruges stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. The movie begins as Farrell, a young assassin, kills a minor while attaching a priest. A big no-no in the assassin trade, Farrell is told to get out of dodge and is sent to Bruges to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, Farrell is not so much a fan.

This movie reminds me of how much I love Brendan Gleeson. Ever since he showed up in Braveheart, and then mastered the role of “Monk” in one of my favorites of all time – Gangs of New York – I had hoped for more in depth roles from Gleeson. In Bruges is his film.

I tend to believe that both Gleeson and Farrell were asked to be themselves in this film. Farrell’s intolerance and humorous disrespect for all things makes him quite the counter to the old wise, sensible and caring Gleeson.

Gleeson also gives us our only shot at real culture in the film. His desire to visit the historical landmarks of this amazing town gives you a reason to watch if planning a trip on your own.

During the stay in Bruges, the two visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, to view the blood of Jesus Christ; the Groeningmuseum (art history) to view Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgment; the Belfry Tower to have a gun fight; and the meticulous canal system of the city’s center.

Of yes – and they drink the beer. Gleeson’s clamoring for the “gay beer” of Belgium, as Farrell so eloquently puts it, allows us to get a view of some of the taverns of the town. Now, we do not expect that the two visited ‘t Brugs Beertje (Beer Advocate and Rate Beer’s Top Bar in Bruges) or Bierbrasserie Cambrinus (Ratebeer 93), but the venues certainly had the feel of a bar on the square in Bruges.

In any event, regardless of the drama, it got our hearts pumping for a little time off in Bruges. The movie has a great finish and we do not want to deprive you of that glory.

We are thinking about some flemish art, a westy at ‘t Brugs Beertje and a ride along the canals. That ought to do us right.

If you have anything to share about Bruges – or about Matt Long’s amazing 11th Anniversary beer – please shoot a comment below.

UP NEXT: exBEERience in Woodinville and Timperial's Review of Barleywine Bacchanal 2010 (above)

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