Barrel-Aged Snowed In
Funky Buddha Brewery
Funky Buddha’s 6.4%, coconut- and coffee-flavored Last Snow porter makes an appearance twice a year—in February and August—to give sweaty Floridians some small sense of the flavors of winter. Snowed In is the bourbon-aged version of that decadent brew, and accordingly adds dashes of sugary whiskey to an aroma of sweet, sticky coconut (like the inside of a Mounds bar), dark chocolate-coated macaroons, smooth Graham cracker, nougat and ashy peanut skins. On the tongue, a roasted, coffee ice creamlike note rises mid-sip, but the finish is chocolate-sweet, a big pull from a squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup. Overall, it’s a little sweet for our tastes, but still delectable. Plus, it’s 104 degrees outside our office. We’ll take what we can get.
Hawaiian Speedway Stout
Alesmith Brewing Co.
Two imperial coconut stouts in the same week? Yes, indeed. And where Snowed In went heavy on the coconut and sweet cocoa, this variant of Alesmith’s beloved Speedway Stout puts the focus on coffee. Roasted chicory coffee layers smokiness atop milk chocolate before soft, warm coconut flakes and malted milkshake richness emerges. As the brew warms, fresh vanilla bean tickles the nose, backed by smooth, toasty nuttiness. Speedway is known for its massive roasty palate, and its fans will be rejoice that this isn’t lost in the sip, which leads giant bittersweet chocolate into oily coffee beans and malted milk balls. Coconut remains a background player throughout, arriving at the finish just as the coffee becomes spicy. It’s quite similar to the unadulterated Speedway, with just enough coconut to round off the stout’s sharper edges.
2200 Lbs of Sin 2015
Lost Rhino Brewing Co.
Pulled from the depths of our cellar, this barleywine from Ashburn, Virginia, has been slumbering since January of last year. Time has treated it well. Raisins, vanilla, plum, dry oak and several strips of leather meld in the aroma when the brew’s cool; more stone fruits appear as it nears room temp. The sip is a bite of Fig Newton, a shot of amaretto and a nibble of craisin. Sweet bread arrives at the swallow, along with a flash of oak that lingers on the sides of the tongue long after. It’s like settling into a leather chair, surrounded with wood panels, ready to smoke a cigar filled with fresh tobacco.
We’ll admit we’re enamored with the cloudy, juicy versions of IPAs being produced by many breweries in the Northeast, and seeing them done well in places like Lafayette, Colorado, (Odd13’s home) delights us. Hopperella exhibits all the smooth, juicy aroma we love in these beers, though here the bright lemon and tangerine of the hops are met with soft, sweet vanilla and pastry that’s a dead ringer for fluffy angel food cake. Take a sip and full-pulp orange juice washes over the tongue, fading to sticky cannabis at the swallow with hardly any initial bitterness. As it warms, sweet peach, pineapple and cannabis surface together. Bitterness builds over successive sips, but is not clean or snappy, leaving peach and marijuana flavors to ricochet around the mouth, which we will not complain about.
Walking Away Slowly While the Car Explodes Behind You
Kent Falls Brewing Co.
Our current front-runner for Best Beer Name of the Year is also a damn fine brew that combines mango and lime zest inside an “imperial gose” (it’s 7% ABV), then dry-hops the concoction with fruity Nelson Sauvin hops. The resulting nose is like a funky mojito, heavy on the lime, with sugary mango syrup above and a slightly burpy stomach acidity below. As it sits, a sticky-sweet, warm vanilla note arises. It’s even more unique on the tongue, where mango flesh chases salty limes and rise through the sip; big citrus acidity grips the throat at the swallow while minty and basily herbal hops shoot off from the sides. It’s a little heavy on the tartness, but the mango really helps temper that.
Bottle Logic Brewing
We’ve seen our fair share of so-called “Mexican chocolate stouts” this year, but none exhibit the depth—and, more impressively, the restraint—of Leche Borracho, AKA Drunk Milk. The tequila- and bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout combines ancho peppers, cinnamon, cocoa nibs and lactose so deftly that each ingredient overlaps the other; you could spend an afternoon trying to separate the cinnamon from the graham cracker, the chilies from the chocolate, the vanilla from the oak and whiskey. One hundred percent of the tequila character is present in the front of the flavor, in fumes that permeate the mouth as it sits on the tongue, but these quickly fade into cola/brown sugar notes that occur mid-sip and a toasted marshmallow character that arrives at the finish. Gentle, tingly chile heat is absolutely perfect, and the nearly complete absence of alcohol burn is, too.