In my experience, the Bourbon County Stouts are actually a little better a year after they come out. Some of the heat mellows, and the tastes mingle. So, in response, I promptly went out and drank all my Bourbon County Stouts this past weekend. Restraint is not my best attribute.
Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout
One sip of the rye and I immediately remembered why I've considered the BCBS a bit of a hot mess in the past -- because it's a bit of a hot mess. The Rye had a nice cherry body, but so much alcohol. And maybe even the cherries were too much. The vanilla wasn't too much, just right really, but the alcohol just burned. It works as a sipper, since it's so big, but even then... it takes a lot of sips for the alcohol burn to subside and for the best aspects of this beer to shine through.
This also made me think about the ideal amount for tasting. I know the festivals keep it to four ounces, but that may have something to do with keeping their tasters on their feet. I don't think I fully appreciate the complexity of the BCBS suite after just three or four ounces. My mouth is still on fire.
Deschutes Black Butte XXVII
Bourbon County Stout
Russian River Consecration
I can't actually get into the first two beers too much, since they were consumed on the set of Drinking With Shirt, and I don't want to spoil the BeerSport outcome. Let's just say I love the Black Butte very much -- all that apricot, and molasses, and whatever spicing they put into just combines for a terrifically long taste. The BCBS regular is a heavy weight with a two-punch combo, or a closer with top-shelf velocity and a wicked slider. It's not about nuance.
Also, back to the ideal amount conversation, two bombers of double-digit ABV stouts, for one man, alone in his garage... that was a bit beyond ideal.
Went to a party afterwards with a scorched palate and there was only one thing I could do. Reach for a top-shelf sour to cut through the pain. All that wood and fruit and tart and effervescence was about the only thing that would have registered, I think. Sorry to the people that I may have promised Consecration to. I am a bad person without restraint. See the above paragraphs for more proof. Also, I recorded something for the podcast at this party, surreptiously in a side room. I don't think it was any good. I was roiling, but for no good reason.
Stone Enjoy By 12/25/15
Pliny the Elder
Bourbon County Coffee Stout
Saturday morning was for pain. Not only because the baby was of no help the night before, but also because of the stouts. So it was water all day, until suddenly we had an impromptu Stanford football game viewing party and, well, when people come over, you put out the good china.
Lagunitas provided the backbone, but the Enjoy By took it up a notch. It's actually interesting to have them in a row, because there isn't *that* much separating them. Yes, Enjoy By is probably fresher, and so it has more aroma and a bit more complexity in the hops. But they are both fruit juice, new-school IPAs. Which is weird, because Lagunitas has been around since the first craft beer wave.
There have probably been some changes to the recipe over time, and that's something I would say about Pliny too. It seems fresher, brighter, and fruitier than I remember it the first few times I had it. Maybe it's memory, maybe it's freshness -- this last batch didn't make it two weeks out of the brewery -- but I can't find it in my heart to poo-poo Pliny. It's a really good beer. I'll take it over Heady Topper, myself.
And we finished with the coffee. One friend said that you could smell it the moment you opened it up in the room. It was a good show-stopper because none of us had the heart or liver to go anywhere after we had our share of this one. I'll rate it the best of the three variants I had -- after liking the rye better in previous years, I just felt the coffee was the best-blended of the three this time around. I don't think I gave it five stars, though. These beers are really heavy-handed in my estimation.
Tocayo Hominy White Ale
Travel day means you get whatever you can whenever you can. The Tocayo had great head and retained it well. The White also had a nice mouthfeel and paired well with a Rick Bayless sandwich, a pepito with picked jalapenos and all that. It was nice, except the plane was delayed and I got into a long work week, late. Cheers!