Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

I like beer from Anderson Valley. I like stout. I like the bourbon barrel aging concept. What could possibly be wrong with all three together in one beer? It turns out, nothing. I really liked this beer a lot. Unlike many other bourbon barrel aged beers, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout comes to mind, this one isn’t overly proofed and also doesn’t hit you over the head with the bourbon flavor. Some beers in this style taste more like bourbon than bourbon. As my wife said, “if I wanted a bourbon, I’d have a bourbon.” This one pours nearly black with a small off white head. The aroma is slightly bready. The taste is a combination of vanilla, bourbon, and malt. The ABV is only 6.9% (while not low, it is not high for the style). You can taste a little of the alcohol, which is probably enhanced by the bourbon. The body is creamy, but on the light side. As it warms, the bourbon comes out a little more and it gives you a slightly warming feeling, just like drinking actual bourbon. I would have this beer again. I give it four out of five proper pints.

Avery "The Kaiser" Imperial Oktoberfest

I’m not normally a huge fan of the Oktoberfest style, but I make an exception for this beer. Of course, making it an Imperial Oktoberfest changes the game a little. Ordinarily the caramelized malts are little overpowering for my tastes, but the difference with this one is the alcohol, which is not hidden. You can smell it as soon as you pour it into the glass. At 10%, I’m not totally surprised. So the caramel, malt flavor is still there, but there is also a hint of citrus from the hops and the booziness brought by the 10% ABV. The mixture makes for a very nice blend. It is also still not heavy, but has the light body of a lager. It’s not weighed down with sweetness like some Imperial beers. It made for a nice refreshment on a hot, late summer day. I like this beer a lot. I would give it 5 out of 5 proper pints.

B. Nektar Cherry Chipotle Mead

Cherry Chipotle…Mead. I missed the Mead part on the label and thought it was a cherry chipotle stout when I saw it at Norm’s Beer and Wine in Vienna. I got it home and saw that it was Mead, which I am generally not fond of and decided to try it anyway. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. It tasted a little more like a wine. It was a tad sweet up front with the cherry being very noticeable, but after a second or two you get a feeling of increasing heat from the chipotle. It’s intriguing to have the sweet and the heat competing in your mouth at same time. My wife decided dark chocolate would be a good complement and, boy was she right. We added some Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate with Almonds and the two together were quite a treat. I would probably only get this for a certain mood, or to accompany dessert. It does carry a bit of an alcohol punch and alcohol is noticeable in the flavor. I would definitely drink it more like a wine. I give it three out of five proper pints.

Flying Dog Rarities Green Tea Imperial Stout

I managed to snag the last one at the Whole Foods in Vienna, VA. I have never seen this one in a store anywhere before. I was very excited to try it and see how the green tea would come through. The beer poured black with a small mocha colored head that dissipated quickly. The aroma was roastly malt, as you would expect from a stout, with a little fresh bread mixed in. I didn’t detect any green tea. The flavor was smooth with distinct roasted malt and some caramel notes. There was a little something other than that. I wouldn’t say it was distinctly green tea, but more like a slight mint aftertaste. It was medium bodied with light carbonation. It felt silky on the tongue. I liked this beer, though I was a little disappointed that there was no real detectable green tea flavor to it. I would still give it three out of five proper pints though.

Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast

Mississippi was one of the last two states to allow homebrewing, but somehow the folks at Lazy Magnolia have really perfected their craft. I really enjoyed the Jeff Stout and now the Timber Beast Imperial Rye Ale is also a happy surprise. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen either for sale in my neck of the woods, except by Letspour. Hopefully, that will change soon. I would probably call this beer a Rye IPA rather than just an Imperial Rye Ale. It benefits from the combination of the rye spiciness with the piney, slightly grapefruit-y hop bite of Zythos hops. I carries a 9% ABV punch, so watch out. You can tell it is a higher ABV beer…it’s not as well masked as some I’ve seen. However, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment. I can tell you it was very refreshing on a hot summer evening. If I saw this again, I would definitely get it. I give it four out of five proper pints.

Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout (Sweet Potato Stout)

I tried this beer with some actual grilled sweet potatoes and lamb burger. I have to say I really enjoyed the complex flavor. It seemed to change as I continued to drink it. My first impression, which may turn some people off, but I don’t mean to, is that it was like a root beer float. It had a creamy, sweet chocolate and vanilla flavor at the start that literally tasted like a root beer float. Later, some light sweet potato came out joined by some coffee tones. As I continued to drink it, it began to taste like pancakes with maple syrup. It was a tad sweet, but not overly so. It was very creamy and easy to drink. I would love to have this one again. Unfortunately it’s not sold in my area. I ordered it by Letspour. It was a fantastic accompaniment to grilled sweet potatoes with a spicy salt added. The lamb burger also went well with it. I would say either greasy, spicy food or dessert would be a great accompaniment. I give it four out of five proper pints.

Port City Oktoberfest

I came here specifically for the release of Port City’s Oktoberfest. I liked the serving of the beer in a stein glass. The beer itself was decent, but didn’t make a special impression. The beer pours a clean copper color with a large white head. It has a clean lager-y flavor with some malty caramels. It’s a tad on the sweet side. It is very drinkable. I would say it’s a decent interpretation of the classic German style, though I feel I’ve had better. I give it two out of five proper pints.

Port City Porter

If you read my review of the Port City Maniacal Double IPA, you know I am not always super impressed by Port City, but this one is a stand out. This may have become one of my favorite Porters. It poured very dark, almost black. The head was off-white, but evaporated quickly. Very chocolatey flavor and nose. A nice espresso after taste. Slight nutty flavor on the tongue. Smooth and very drinkable. I would seek this one out for sure. Five out of five proper pints.

Port City Maniacal Double IPA

I had this one at the Port City Brewery while I was there for their Oktoberfest release. Some of the beers I’ve had from Port City in the past have been a tad middle of the road. Good craft, but not exciting. This one rolled my socks up and down. I haven’t seen it bottled, but I hope they do. It poured a nice, slightly orange-y color with a nice thick white head. There were nice, yet subtle tropical notes, most notably grapefruit and maybe mango. It had a strong, malty backbone typical of double IPAs, but the booze was well masked. It was not overly bitter, but the malt balanced it nicely. I would have this one again and would definitely have it the next time I’m here. Four out of five proper pints.