Over a Barrel with Maine Stout


Last week's tasting of Barrel Aged Stout was supposed to mark the dark climax of a month-long exploration of darker beers. Then, a blast of frigid air descended, weakening my resolve, and the combined opportunity to taste local stouts, and use the phrase “dark climax,” proved too much. This week, I'll be sipping several local barrel aged stouts. These intensely aromatic beers benefit from a wide -mouthed glass (like a snifter, or a chalice) and a  warmer serving temperature. This encourages the evaporation of the volatile chemicals that create the potent aroma of this style.

Rising Tide Polaris

Format Sampled: 375 ml corked bottle
ABV: 8.0%
Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market & Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours a glossy black with a fizzy tan head that rapidly fades. Aroma is bright with sour cherry, oak, and vinegar. The initial flavor is a puzzle of contrasting flavors. First, there is brisk, sour stone fruit — sparkling, acidic and piquant. Simultaneously, there's a brooding toffee flavor, accented with some cocoa. It's as if a Lambic was blended with a stout, and lovingly aged in bourbon barrel. Speaking of which, after the contradictory opening, there's a smooth, strong burn that trails down my throat – like a finely aged dark rum. Zang! The Polaris has a supernova of flavor hiding underneath a complex nebula of contrasting acid and sweet flavors. The aftertaste has plum, raisin and tobacco, a suitably complex finish to a unique beer.

Allagash Brewing Company St. Klippenstein

Format Sampled: 750 ml corked bottle
ABV: 11%
Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market & Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours a flat black with a compact tan head. Aroma mixes sweet chocolate, floral notes, and a fruity Belgian character. The first sip has dense, concentrated chocolate, fruity esters,  Madeira and a soaring note of floral alcohol. There is a balanced bitterness in the first sip,  providing a tart contrast to the chocolate. As the beer warms, the “Belgian” character of the yeast predominates, evolving into something reminiscent of a dessert wine. There's clove, coconut, vanilla and a  hint of sour cider. The body is almost syrupy. The fruited, cocoa flavor coats my palate, and lingers pleasantly, mixing with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste.  This is a profound beer, but the fruity Belgian character keeps it light and playful.

Geary's Smoke Show*

Format Sampled: 8 oz. serving in a tulip glass
ABV: 11%
Availability: On tap at Foulmouthed Brewing Company

Tasting Notes: Pours an opaque black with a huge, thick tan head. Aroma has apple, cherry and a wisp of whiskey. The initial flavor is sweet, like a compote of sour fruit, dry cocoa, and a lively burst of acid. There's a distinct alcohol flavor, but it's more fruity than hot. As it warms, raisin, dried plum, and sweet espresso flavors arise and mingle. The body is light, fluid and playful, and the flavor profile is remarkably smooth and light for a beer of such strength. The smoke show is dangerously easy to drink, but, oddly, there is no discernible smoke flavor or aroma.

*Brewed in collaboration with Foulmouthed Brewing staff.

Last modified onTuesday, 14 March 2017 15:00