Saturday, March 27, 2010

Goose Island Night Stalker Imperial Stout

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Goose Island has always made a decent beer. Some are better than others, but we wouldn't call it one of our favorite breweries. Sure, Matilda, Bourbon County Stout & Pere Jacques were great but their year round brews are just a bit weak. When we got word that they had just released a "heavily-hopped imperial stout," our jinies tingled. A 11.7% ABV hoppy imperial stout was something we could not pass up.

Night Stalker pours black with a carmel head and has a strong citrus smell. This is by far the strangest tasting imperial stout we have ever tried. It has medium body with an alcohol burn as it leaves the mouth. When it hits the pallet- citrus, fruit, toffee and chocolate dance on the tongue. This beer has us just about stumped. At first we didn't even want to finish our glasses but the following sips got better so we let the beer warm up to get a better effect. There is a fruity sweetness to Night Stalker that some would welcome with open arms but we would call a nuisance.

The beer lets its alcohol presence be known unlike a good stalker. You have to give credit to Goose Island for creating an imperial stout that taste NOTHING like what is typically associated with that style. This brew is a true sipper meant best to be shared with a friend or two but you have to have the right palette for this one. Mike and Oz can both agree on its originality, the flavors just don't come together well and the alcohol ruins what was a good concept. We are going to file a restraining order.

Oz Scale: 6.0
Mike Scale: 5.8

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Fritz And Ken's Ale

Sierra Nevada has always been one of our choices for transitional beers. Their pale ale has helped many consumers into the world of craft brewing. Also, many of their beers stand up with the best (see our 12 Beers of Christmas.) Once any company hits 30 years, it's an great accomplishment so it's time to celebrate. To commemorate their achievement, they have collaborated with many pioneers of brewing to release four 30th anniversary ales. Having been a huge fan of their previous collaboration with Dogfish Head, Life & Limb, we couldn't resist picking up their first offering, Fritz and Ken's ale. Ken Grossman, owner of Sierra Nevada brewed this beer with the help of Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Brewing Company. Since this is all about working with others we have our friend and bass player Johnny V to help out with this review.

Fritz and Ken's Ale is an imperial stout weighing in at 9.2% ABV. It pours jet black with a nice carmel colored head. It smells of alcohol, roasted malts, cocoa and carmel. It has strong punch in the beginning and flows down extremely smooth. You are left with a serious alcohol warmth with nice malt and chocolate flavors lingering on the tonge. The body is a bit weak with as the alcohol finishes up the back end. It must be notated that this beer in best drank at around 50 degrees. We tried this as originally around 40-42 degrees but decided to let the beer warm up. As the beer became warm, more and more flavors awoke from behind this black beauty.

If this is any indication of what the other beers in this series will bring, then we will be sure to pick up the next three in the series. It would be great if Sierra Nevada released a year round "big" beer to introduce many others to the world of imperials. Their Torpedo is a step in the right direction and let's hope if they do decide to make a yearly four pack, they taste something like Fritz And Ken's Ale.

Oz Scale: 8.3
Mike Scale: 8.3
John Scale: 8.5

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great Lakes Brewing Company The Wright Pils

Every so often, GLBC makes one of their brewpub exclusives available in bottle at their gift shop. The Wright Pils does not appear to be the wright choice. Great Lakes seems to make a great beer but they already have a Dortmunder, which is very similar in style to a pilsner. Also- what craft drinker really wants to spend the nine dollars on a pilsner? Not us but it's GLBC (we'll forgive them for Glockenspiel and Farmhouse) and we are faithful followers so here it goes:

The color and smell is typical of the style except for a light floral and sweet scent almost reminiscent of their Grassroots Ale. When the brew hits the tongue, you get a malt taste that is not so common in the style. The Wright Pils is well balanced but still has that pilsner fizziness that you'd expect. This medium bodied brew leaves you with a finish that thirsts you for more.

For a regular pilsner, you aren't going to find many beers better than this. It has all the characteristics of a great pilsner plus some malt happiness thrown in there for good measure. However, it is a pilsner- and pilsners are middle of the road and made for your average beer drinker. The craft spirit is alive in The Wright Pils so let's hope this keeps them on the wright track. How about Imperial Black and Wright Pilsner? Just a suggestion....

Oz Scale: 6.7
Mike Scale: 6.6