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
Here, in the third installment of the collaborative brewing article, we present a bit of a list of some of the most notable collaboration projects of the past, present and future.
This write up would be remiss to not mention the prolific Danish brewer with no brewery, Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Mikkeller. If brewing beer at someone else’s brewery were criteria enough to evoke the collaboration moniker, every Mikkeller beer to hit the shelves would be just that. Even still, Mikkel has, over the years, joined forces with Stone, Brew Dog, Three Floyds, Struise, Alesmith, Nogne O, and others to make some really exciting beers.
A collaboration that us Seattleites are very familiar with is that of Elysian Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. The ‘Trip’ series allows Elysian to brew with more volume on the New Belgium system and New Belgium to brew more experimental, small batches on the Elysian system. Lucky for us, these beers are only available on draft in the Northwest.
The first brew was Trippel (not triple) IPA, a Belgian-inspired Indian Pale Ale. Trip II was a unique hoppy Belgian Golden Ale spiced with lemongrass and grains of paradise. Trip III was a sour brown ale and Trip IV, a Finnish style sahti brewed with juniper. Beer Blotter will be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of each subsequent release.
The darlings of the Florida scene, Cigar City Brewing, just may be sending a bit of their art in Seattle’s direction when they collaborate with The Bruery in what will be the most anticipated collaboration release for yours truly. Keep your eyes peeled in July or August of this year.
Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, GA and Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO have actually decided to make a somewhat regular go at collaborating together with the ‘Midnight Project’ series. Brew One in 2008 produced Terra-Rye’zd, a black rye lager. Last year’s Brew Two saw Depth Charge, an espresso milk stout. Sadly, WA is not amongst the 6 states that receive these beers, but if you are in TN, NC, SC, GA, FL or CO, we will gladly offer you our address and some packaging materials.
Quite possibly the biggest (in terms of brewery size) collaboration yet sees Boston Beer Co. and Weihenstephan join forces. The largest American craft brewery and the oldest brewery in the world, that’s pretty monumental! The uncharacterized style will come at the intersection of brewing innovation and the old German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. According to Realbeer.com, “their yet-to-be-named beer will be released in both the United States and Germany next spring in cork-finished bottles. Effervescent and Champagne-like beer it will weigh in at more than 10 percent alcohol by volume.”
Another fairly sizeable collaborative effort came at the hands of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. These two have been quite active lately, in fact, on the collaborative front. Life and Limb came when Sam Calagione and Ken Grossman, two monumental names in American craft brewing, decided to cook up a beer together after sharing a pint or two at the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Their concoction ended up being a 10% strong ale brewed with maple syrup, fermented with a combination of both breweries house yeast strains and naturally carbonated with birch syrup. Limb and Life was also created in this session, a small beer made from the second runnings of Life and Limb.
Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, MO just recently made its first mark on the collaboration scene with a very unlikely cohort, the Belgian Trappist brewery Orval. Using an old recipe that Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock had, an Imperial Pilsner was made using only one kind of malt, Saaz hops, water, and a lager yeast. Beer Blotter has never wanted to try a pilsner so bad. This beer is available in Seattle so look for it, we will be.
The final collaboration to be discussed in this round will be another America-meets-Belgium pairing that, well…I’m sure you can all imagine just how much that concept gets our blood pumping. Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego County and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium have teamed up to make Bière De L’Amitié, or “Beer of Friendship”. Beernews.org reports that this 9.5% blonde Belgian strong ale will be released in June of 2010. Rye and wheat malts were used, along with Amarillo hops, St. Feuillien’s yeast strain, “secret” spices, and the whole mess was dry hopped with Amarillo. Sounds stupid good.
Any thoughts on collaborations? Know any good ones we missed? Join the conversation with a comment.