Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Stout vs. Narwhal Imperial Stout

Getting back on track with The Winter of my dark-content I built my own 6-pack of stouts & porters at Belmont Party Supply in Dayton. I had Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout last night and the mouth feel was insanely awesome, but otherwise not to amazing. It left me a little disappointed with stouts in general. Tonight however that all changes as I compare Sierra Nevada’s Stout to their Narwhal Imperial Stout.

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Beer Review: Guinness Extra Stout

Guinness doesn’t make many styles of beer, at least compared to most American craft Brewers. Making just the Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout regularly and then a small spattering of others which are mostly one offs. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the Draught, it’s a decent beer but not a good or great beer. I’ve heard amazing things about the Foreign Extra Stout but tonight I’m drinking the Extra Stout.

The Extra Stout has an interesting story behind it. Seems this is the original recipe for what we now think of as Guinness, according to Wikipedia the beer was toned down in the 70s to make it more marketable. That is why this same beer is the called Guinness Original across the pond. The other interesting, and far more important, thing is that this is brewed in Canada. That much is known from the label on the bottle, the following is a bit of varying info from the Internet. According to some sites Guinness exports the unfermented wort from Ireland to Canada to be brewed there. While that is all fun to know drinking is better!
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Beer Review: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti

So far my excursion into dark beers has been less than stunning especially this week with cans of Guinness Draught and Murphy’s. I expect this beer to radically change all that, at the very least in terms of getting me drunk since this is more than double the ABV of either of those two.

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Beer Review: Murphy’s Irish Stout

While I was at the store picking up the Guinness Draught for Monday’s review (here) I noticed another can of Irish stout that I wasn’t familiar with. That can is Murphy’s Irish Stout, usually just referred to as Murphy’s and is what I’ll be drinking tonight. Murphy’s has always been a second runner up to Guinness in sales but lets see how it compares in taste.

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Beer Review: Stone Smoked Porter

The “winter” of my dark-content begins now, for more info on that see this post oh and keep the suggestions rolling in! I’m only starting now and with the Smoked Porter because they sent it to me free… well in exchange for a review, so I suppose it’s not REALLY free. From the book, the review of which will be finished soon, we learn this was their second beer brewed and originally released in December 1996 as Winter Stone. The plan was for it to be seasonal but it sold so well and everyone loved it so much they decided to make it year round. Right, enough of all that junk, time for my first serious review of a Porter (and only the 3rd porter I can ever remember having).

Brewery: Stone
Beer: Smoked Porter
Style: American porter
Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%
IBUs: 53
Hops: Columbus & Mt. Hood

Yep… that’s dark. It looks pitch black until you hold it directly in front of a bright light when you can see it’s actually a nice dark mahogany shade of brown. The head is a thick light brown that is not going anywhere fast and is lingering on the side of the glass as it does go down. Definitely doesn’t look like my typical kind of beer, but that’s why I’m drinking it… breaking out into new styles!

Smells strongly of roasted malts, some coffee (I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t nail that smell down to well), a fair amount of smoke and only a slight tinge of hops.

Normally I put the taste before the mouth feel, but this beer is something different so I’m switching it up. This is a heavier-medium bodied mouth feel that is smooth and creamy. There is also a dryness and a slightly unpleasant “coating” of the tongue.

OK, so back to the taste. First off there is almost no hop flavor and  just the slightest balance of bitterness, which is a little weird for me. For anyone who doesn’t like smokey beers you can relax, the smoke flavor is present but it’s a small part of a complex palate. The roasted malt and coffee flavors take the lead along with some chocolate as well. It’s certainly an interesting taste, I’m not crazy about it but I have no issues with it.

Overall I’m not blown away or about to run out and buy every porter I see. Am I interested to try more? Certainly, but I was even before having this beer. I’d like it to be stronger but c’est la vie I’ll just have to wait till I hit the Imerpials. I like the Stone Smoked Porter, I’m not gonna pour it out, but I’m not gonna add it to my regular rotation anytime soon.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This beer was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free beer impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.

Now is the winter of my dark-content

OK, it’s not winter hell it’s not even fall. But I have a porter in my fridge which will be drank and reviewed soon and I want this to go up before that review. This was previously titled “Now is the winter of my Stout-content” but I decided that was too limiting as I plan on diving into both stouts and porters. Also “Now is the winter of my dark-content” plays better on Shakespeare’s “now is the winter of my discontent” line. Anyway, time to get to the point.

Serious confession, there is a significant flaw and failing in my beer nerd qualifications. I have only had 3 stouts/porters in my life and have never given them a thorough review or a significant amount of thought. These 3 are Guinness, Rivertown Roebling, and Heavy Seas Peg Leg which I just had only because a friend left one in the fridge after a recent party. I’ve probably taken a taste or two of others a few times but I know that those are the only 3 I’ve actually drank an entire bottle/glass of.

I’ve been planning this post and idea since July and since then I’ve been contemplating why I’ve never gotten into stouts/porters. The best reason I can figure is two fold:

  1. I entered the craft beer world through Belgian ales which held my attention for quite a year or so. I then progressed around through Irish reds, IPAs, pale ales, and all variety of other “lighter” ales. Eventually I dove into lagers and started mixing those into my ale rotation. The big conclusion here is that these styles represent enough beer to keep one drunk for decades. This is the main reason I’ve never gotten into them.
  2. Dark beers are somewhat of a “scary” concept in the color department alone. Most other beers range from completely transparent pale yellow to dark brown and reds. Darks on the other hand are black as the night and topped off with this thick brown head. My contemplation has resulted in this being a far second compared to my quest to try different ales.

Neither of these are great reasons for avoiding a major category of beer but alas so it is. I plan to rectify this mistake this fall and winter. Why fall and winter? Because dark beers are generally perceived as being better for this season. Also, why the hell not, it’s a good a time as any right?

So there it is. Through out this fall and winter, beginning this week with Stone’s Smoked Porter, I am going to focus on darker beers specifically stouts and porters. I’ll still throw a couple “lighter” beers in here and there probably and maybe a few winter/Christmas styles as well. You can also expect to see posts about stouts and porters detailing their histories as well as aspects of their style.

I’m open to suggestions on what to try first though I plan on, as always, trying everything I can get my hands on.