Top 5 Non-Barrel Aged Stouts

Like the title says, this will be a list of my top five non-barrel aged stouts.  I would love to hear from other people with their lists too.  The only criteria being obvious enough, so I won’t be repeating for a third time.  Making this made me realize how many barrel aged stouts I love.  That list will happen at some point and probably be a top ten.  Enough Jibba Jabba, on with the great American tradition of ranking things!

1.  Founder’s - Breakfast Stout

2.  Cigar City - Marshal Zhukov

3.  Half Acre - Big Hugs

4.  Dark horse - Plead The Fifth

5.  Pipeworks - Abduction 

Don’t forget November 8th is Stout Day!  www.stoutday.com

Founders - Frangelic Mountain Brown

image    This is the fourth beer to be released in Founders backstage series.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the previous three, and based on those I was excited to get to try Frangelic Mountain Brown.  Many people’s reactions to this are along the lines of, “A brown?  That’s lame I’ll pass.”  I understand that sentiment to a point because brown ales are not exactly the most exciting or refreshing style of beer; however, this particular brown is brewed with a very interesting extra ingredient, hazelnut coffee flavoring. One mistake many people will make with this one, as they have with CBS, is aging it.  Founders has stated that this beer should be enjoyed fresh and I agree.  There is no reason to age this and let the coffee and hazelnut fall off, if it even could, and end up with a generic brown ale.  With that said I cracked mine open a day after purchase to make sure I give it a fair shake.  It pours very thin, as to be expected from a brown ale. After pouring, a huge hazelnut note flows off the glass into your nose.  I read a review yesterday that compared the aroma to walking into a Dunkin Donuts.  This is a perfect description.  It’s not a true coffee smell, but more of a hazelnut aroma.  It’s hard to pick up much else other than hazelnut coffee, this isn’t a subtle beer by any means.  When I took my first sip I was immediately assaulted with a hazelnut taste that finished very light with coffee notes underlying the whole thing.  There isn’t really much complexity to be enjoyed, but that’s not the point of this one.  You do get some nuttiness in there and some of the sweet malts usually found in a brown ale.  Mostly though this is all out hazelnut coffee.  If you like this flavor you will love this beer, if not you may want to skip this one.  Frangelic borders on being a novelty beer to be honest.  I would recommend it if you realize what you’re getting into.  As I hinted at earlier, I don’t think aging would mellow these flavors, it would probably just muddle them and make this a mess of sticky brown goo.  The good thing too is that it’s the least expensive of the backstage series so far.  This could be a fun beer for someone to introduce to the non beer drinkers of their group.  It will help them realize how varied beer can be and the extent at which breweries are turning the old notions of what beer is on its head.  I applaud Founders for brewing this as brown ale.  If it were a stout the coffee and hazelnut flavors would be drown out by roasted or sweet notes commonly associate with heavier dark beers.  Let me know what you think on this one, it’s already proven to be divisive  among the hardcore.  Let’s be honest though, the only backstage beer that will be CBS is CBS.  Cheers!

Founders Breakfast Stout observation

image   I must say Founders Breakfast Stout ranks as one of my favorite stouts I’ve had.  I’m happy at how much they ship out in the fall/winter months making it so I can get it often and easily.  This said, I did put a few in the cellar this winter to see how they taste with some age on them.  I decided to crack one open last night and see how it’s come along.  The beer wasn’t bad, but the mouth feel has definitely dropped off to where it’s a tad flat instead of its usual silky creamy greatness.  Also where as the coffee had been a great compliment to the dark chocolate and oat flavors, it now dominates the back end a bit too much for my liking.  I love coffee stouts, especially ones that finish as bitter as this is right now; however, I really enjoyed the many flavors Breakfast Stout showcases fresh.  Either way this is still a fantastic world class beer.  I just wanted to share my observations on cellaring it.  I have two more that I will sit on and see how they change over time.  I now know that I will drink this fresh when given the chance.  If anyone else wants to chime in with their experiences with this amazing beer please do.  Cheers!