Beer of The Week: Belhaven Scottish Stout

Posted on August 16th, 2011

About this beer: Scotland’s Belhaven brewery is known for a.) being around almost literally forever. and b.) for making simply stunning beers that exemplify Scottish brewing. Their beers are usually nothing short of stunning, I have yet to have a bad beer on draft. I decided to see if their beers bottled would be as fine an example of good beers. I was far from right. I chose the Scottish stout, which when on draft ranks in my top ten of beers, it’s chocolaty,sweet and creamy. It has one of the most amazing mouth-feels ever. In the bottle? not so much.

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Beer of the Week: Battle of the Porters

Posted on August 9th, 2011

My all time favorite style is the sour ale, but I often find that I cycle through the “other style” I second-most enjoy, much like the turning of the seasons, although often out of sync with them. These days, I’ve been all about porters. A category of beer associated with bold flavors, complex notes of fruits and chocolates, and a certain smoothness and richness to the character under the right circumstances, the porter is a very versatile beer and, if you’re drinking the right one, can be an absolute treat to the discerning taster. To mark my reverence of the style, I decided to look at not one but two porters this week.

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Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout

Posted on July 19th, 2011

Souther Tier Brewery Sign

Every trip I take begins with the mapping out of local breweries. This week I am vacationing in Chautauqua Lake, located in Western New York, with my fiancée’s family. Along the road-trip from Boston to Chautauqua lie two of the east coast’s greatest breweries Southern Tier and Ommegang. This week I will focus on the prior.

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Beer of The Week: Harpoon Island Creek Oyster Stout

Posted on April 26th, 2011

About the Beer: Oyster stouts are a very rare style of beer, but they’re more than worth your while if you can get your hands on one. The dark, grainy texture of stouts are a perfect pairing with oysters and other shellfish so it was only natural to bring the two together in a beer. The Harpoon Brewery in Boston uses real oysters from nearby Island Creek oyster bar for their take on the style.

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Style Profile: Russian Imperial Stout

Posted on February 25th, 2010

Russian Imperial Stout is one of the heaviest styles of beer around, often ranging from 7 to 10% ABV. Much like Baltic porters it’s named not for who made it but who it was made for. Russian imperial stouts were first brewed in the 18th century by brewers in Burton, England to be shipped to the court of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Catherine apparently became quite smitten by stouts during a visit to England and demanded some be sent back to her when she returned home; unfortunately the first few batches did not survive the long trip to Russia. Catherine demanded that the English find some way to get her beloved porter to her, and being empress, she got what she wanted. To accomplish this goal the Barclay Perkins brewery crafted a stout to survive the trek much sweeter and stronger than anything available in England at the time and a new style was born.

Today, many years after Catherine’s passing, Russian imperial stouts continue to be brewed not just in England, but around the world. In particular the style has caught on among bold and adventuresome American craft brewers, who see the style as an opportunity to flex their brewing muscle and a chance to brew the heaviest, sweetest beer they can. Due to the styles popularity craft brewers in the US the term ‘imperial’ has come to signify any style that’s especially strong in flavor, alcohol or both. The double, or ‘imperial’ IPA is perhaps the most common example of this phenomenon

This style shares much in common with other heavy stouts and porters, like the Baltic porter. They are both sweet and strong, with bold flavors of dark chocolate, roasted coffee and toffee. That being said, there are some key differences between the two styles. The imperial stout tends be much sweeter than the Baltic porter, and it is usually not nearly as dry. Still, don’t feel bad if you have trouble telling the two apart, they are similar.

The are numerous absolutely delicious versions of this style from many different brewers. Perhaps the best known in America is Old Rasputin, from North Coast brewing. Other notable examples include Storm King from Victory and Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues. Rogue, Stone, and Samuel Smith also have great takes on the style as well.

What’s your favorite version? Next time you try it, let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag.