So I haven’t updated this blog in the longest time partially due to the fact that I have been busy with work and other things. I have actually had some amazing beer experiences sandwiched between my last post and this one, and I am excited to share them all with you. I attended Octoberfest in Munich and I have managed to chase down a number of fantastic rare beers. I plan on writing all of this down but the rare beers really got me thinking about the subtle differences between some of these great beers. A lot of the concepts are the same for example bourbon aging or putting pumpkin beers in rum barrels, but, the magic is in the execution. So, I decided to do a vertical tasting of a group of beers fitting in a certain style so that I can compare and contrast them for you. Keep in mind that people these are my opinions and none of this is meant to put any of these beers down. These beers were all chosen because they are fantastic in their own right, this just for fun. But anyway, here we go…
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2012
This is the original bourbon stout. The beer is rich bite of bourbon in the tip of the tongue, it has a nice rich malty chocolate middle which isn’t too robust and is surprisingly light considering the alcohol content. The beer finishes with a nice bourbon warmth that allows you to really feel the alcohol and you get some nice oak caramel notes. It’s a nice beer to drink on this cold stormy day and I really am looking forward to trying the new line of Bourbon County beers they are coming out with. The flavors are pronounced and clean but don’t overpower each other. This allows them to blend to give you those blended flavors of caramel and smoked oak. Some drinkers are scared off by these big beers because high alcohol content requires high malt sugar content in most cases. This one is definitely not overly sweet which may be due to my choice of an aged bottle. This would be a reason for aging these beers because that allows the sweetness to subside and the bourbon notes to intesify. This is really a fantastic treat to enjoy in a snifter, I only wish that they would bring back the Vanilla brand because I am partial to all vanilla stouts.
Avery Uncle Jacob’s Stout Batch #2
I love Avery small batch brews so much it borders on obsession. Usually I am a considerate beer buyer; if I see a beer I really like in the store and I want to stock up, I don’t buy ALL of them… I leave 1 for someone else. I usually hate the people who buy out stores and I am an advocate for stores setting bottle limits of rare beers so everyone can try them. But not when it comes to Avery. I will buy out every Rumpkin and not think anything of it. Uncle Jacob is credited as the first distiller to label his whiskey “Bourbon.” I love when breweries put fun back stories to beers and it helps when the beer is awesome This beer has a nice candy sugar marshmallow flavor at first that melts into a rich chocolate and coffee flavor. At the end, you get a nice rich burning bourbon finish that leaves you with a great warming sensation. This is definitely on the sweeter side. It is only a about 6 months old instead of a year old; aging may help mellow the sweetness if that is off-putting to you.
The Verdict: I like Uncle Jacob better. The Bourbon County is light and complex and isn’t too overpowering. I really enjoy it and I will certainly never pass it by at a bar, but I just like when these beers are bolder. Uncle Jacob has a lot of strong flavors which some drinkers might find a little overwhelming and unbalanced but I really enjoy being able to get some strong sweetness in one sip followed by a strong hit of the bourbon. Some might call it unbalanced, but there are some situations where I want a rich bold in your face beer. Both beers are fun and always worth trying, but if the store is out where you are, it wasn’t me. They also would be great to cellar for even longer.
Anyway I hope this will start a string of catchup blog posts. I have some more beers to vertically taste and I want to share my guide to attending Octoberfest in Germany. It is definitely a great drinking event any beer lover should try to attend.