Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Stone

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, "Beers you've never heard of" for a review of the Stone 12th anniversary ale. First, why do breweries call these anniversary ales? Shouldn't it be a birthday ale? I guess we'll just agree to disagree. That issue aside, I picked up a bomber (aka deuce-deuce) of this years Stone anniversary ale at Norm's in Vienna for 6.99.

To start I really like almost every beer that Stone puts out. Every year I try to pick up a couple of the anniversary ales b/c they tend to do something a little different every year and its usually spectacular. The last couple of anniversary ales, if memory serves, have been Belgian-style ales. This year they decided to go in another direction and came out with Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I heard a few months ago before this beer even came out that the intention was to highlight alternative bitter agents for beer, because of the current hop shortage. The idea was that unsweetened cocoa could be used in place of a lot of the hops. Kind of a cool idea, considering the times we are in.

Now lets get down to the tasting. Last night I decided not to have this beer during dinner b/c we were having chicken parmesan and I thought that would be a weird combination. When your talking about Imperial Stouts people usually advise that you pair it with some sort of sweet desert. I personally feel that Imperial Stouts are so big and viscous that usually they are desert enough by themselves, and that's what I did. I had this bad boy for desert. You'll notice from the picture up (sorry for the poor quality of the picture, I like to use my camera phone) above that this beer pours with little head. In fact the beer on the right was poured first and most of the head dissipated by the time I poured the second glass just seconds later. The aroma bursts of chocolate and roasted malts. The immediate impression upon imbibing is that your dealing with a big velvety beer here. I suspect this beer gets some of the big mouth feel from the oatmeal that is referenced in its name. The beer tastes quite chocolaty, but as the name states it finishes brutally bitter. The chocolate is so bitter that it was hard for me to pick up much in the way of hops. I know they are there b/c we are talking about a beer brewed by Stone, but the chocolate is the overwhelming bitter agent here. There are also lots of roasted, smoked, and burnt flavors throughout this beer. Last, topping the scales at over 9% ABV the beer is quite boozy, I was actually flush for about an hour after drinking this one.

All in all I'd have to give this imperial stout a blue-collar B (not a B-, not a B+). I give it style points because its uniquely different from other imperial stouts because of the massive chocolate flavor, but there are better American imperial stouts out there. My personal favorites include North Coast Old Rasputin and Victory Storm King Stout. If your not sure about buying this beer, try the chocolate stout brewed by Rogue, if you like that then this beer is that beer on steroids. Also worth mentioning, I appear to be in the minority in that the average rating for this beer on beeradvocate.com I believe is an A-.

Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be back and posting another entry in the "Beers you've Never Heard Of" series, but until then Cheers!


No comments: