Stone Pour it Black 2014

Pour it Black
Pour it Black

Every autumn, Stone Brewing hosts a little festival devoted to the thickest, strongest, and gnarliest dark beers on the planet. They call this event, Pour It Black. On October 19, 2014, I attended for the very first time.

Thus begins my “live” blog of the intense, oily, dark, and downright delicious.

1. Amager/Mikkeller/Hr. Frederikson Væsel Brunch Barrel Aged – 10.7%

A barrel aged version of this collaboration between two Danish breweries (although Mikkeller technically isn’t a brewery) – A complex, espresso-centric brew

2. The Bruery/Beachwood BBQ Mrs Stoutfire – 9.5%

Thinner mouthfeel and heavier on the wood smoke flavor than Smoking Wood (what my wife affectionately refers to as the, “hotdog beer”) in my opinion

3. Avery Tweak – 16%

Like drinking cake and ice cream mixed with incredible, robust coffee beans. This beer used to be known alternatively as Mephaddict or Coffeestopheles.

4. Belching Beaver Horchata Imperial Milk Stout – 5.4%

Sweet and spiced, like a pleasant chai tea. A very enjoyable milk stout.

5. Firestone Walker Winter Wookey – 10%

Blended Black IPA and Barleywine yields a robust, sweet, caramelized flavor that’s unobtrusive and pleasant.

6. Stone Imperial Russian Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels – 11.5%

An immutable benchmark in the world of barrel-aged beers. Stone’s IRS is already something special, but they do a heckuva job aging it to boot.

7. Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels – 9.6%

This was perhaps the most special of the brews I was able to try (2001 IRS was gone by the time I got to the bar, alas). Stone’s 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout was and remains a fan favorite. Trying a variation of it aged in bourbon barrels was just an unexpected extra.

8. Stone Mikhail’s Odd (2013 Espresso Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels) -13.9%

My first time trying this one, which was released as a special 500ml bottle earlier in the year. The 2013 “Odd Year” release of Espresso Imperial Russian Stout is pitch-perfect. I cannot heap enough adulation upon the barrel aged version.

9. Midnight Sun Moscow Rye Russian Imperial Stout – 11%

A deceptively-strong oatmeal stout. Thin mouthfeel and roasted, burnt sugar flavors aplenty.

10. Bear Republic Cognac Barrel aged Old Baba Yaga – 11.5%

Aroma of cognac. Flavors redolent of cognac and peaty peat smoke. Overall not bad, just very full-frontal with the cognac.

11. Deschutes Black Butte XXV – 11%

Aroma like wholesome bran cereal, flavor like a potpourri dish of dried stone fruits. Tremendously gratifying.

12. Avery Mephistopheles Stout – 15.43%

The penultimate beer! Only slightly-less booze-tastic than the Tweak. Every bit a towering Imp Stout.

13. Great Divide Belgian Yeti – 9.5%

Yeti is a great beer. Making a Belgian version of it = good. Not as awesome as Espresso Oak Aged, but solid through and through.

I still had two tasters left to go… however, time ran out and they closed down all of the stations 😦

The Line for Pour It Black 2014
The Line for Pour It Black 2014

Beer Diary #1

Medley of Beers
Some of my recent tries.

One of my hobbies over the years has been tasting new craft beers. This was a sometime indulgence of mine, where I would make a trip up to The Anderson’s (arguably the best place to discover and acquire fine beers and wines in Ohio) and see what there was to see. A visit to other local watering holes might yield a few brews from Stone, Sierra Nevada, or Bell’s. The state of Ohio’s premier craft brewery was, and still is, the Great Lakes Brewing Company, based out of Cleveland. They have a number of memorable brews, bearing names like Dortmunder Gold, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, and Holy Moses White Ale.

When I became a married fellow, I moved down to Texas, itself a haven for home brewers and some upstart craft breweries (The Foam Rangers and Jester King, for example). However, my fortunes were cut short by the cold, hard fact that the area of the Lone Star State into which I had relocated was peppered with ‘dry’ counties. This meant that there were no places to legally purchase alcoholic beverages to take home. There were plenty of restaurants with bars, but none of them served anything remotely unique. Budweiser, anyone? Best of all, many grocery stores carried non-alcoholic ‘brews’. Any Bavarian purist acquainted with the Reinheitsgebot would scoff at any such beverage’s existence.

What really kicked my hobby into high gear was our subsequent move out west, beyond El Paso, beyond the Rockies, beyond the Mojave, to southern California. San Diego, to be more precise. Imagine my surprise upon arriving and inadvertently discovering that the one and only Stone Brewery was situated just a few miles across town from where I now live, in Escondido, CA. I visited and went on a free guided tour of the brewery, followed by a flight of free tasters. Our tour was conducted by none other than Ken Wright, the self-described Minister of Evangelism and Indoctrination at Stone. He described, in no uncertain terms, the many reasons why San Diego is among the most vibrant and exciting craft-brewing hotspots in the entire world.

And lo, I was baptized into the richly abundant culture of home brewers, nano-breweries, micros and macros and local pubs with flowing taps, dispensing some of the tastiest, hoppiest, and most-decidedly different beers. Leave it up to Californians to be as contrarian as possible when it comes to the status quo (we’ll leave out the miserably-failed state budget plan).

And so begins, in a way, my beer diary. I will update biweekly to describe the most recent brews I have had the pleasure of tasting. Below is a minor accounting of some delicious libations I tried over the course of May and June, 2012.