There is a paradox usually associated with Zen where the diligent monk attempts to sweep the floor of every speck of dust, totally conscious that this is an impossible task, but nevertheless, is devotedly attempted. The same can be said for the beer doctor, who vainly pursues sampling as many different beers as possible, fully aware that this task is also beyond the infinite.
But what a remarkable time to be alive! An astounding display of the brewer’s art and culinary skill can be found in creations from all over the world. Take for example, Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout , what could easily take the claim as the definitive chocolate desert beer, with a layered richness that is astonishingly nuanced.
This is a stout to give someone who normally does not drink beer, but would not mind taking a trip to chocolate paradise.
It was a bit of a surprise to obtain for the first time, Kona Brewing Company’s Pipeline Porter a very delicious coffee porter, made with 100% Kona beans, grown on the Big Island’s Cornwell Estate. A recipe with a remarkably drinkable balance.
It has also been a few years since I had Redhook’s Winterhook the 28th variation of their recipe, created under the supervision of master brewster Jennifer Talley. A dark copper coloured pour with hops in the foreground, but not in the west coast IPA range. There is ample malt support here, providing a solid 6% abv wintertime brew.
With the upcoming of winter the annual return of brewing legends can be found. This includes Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Avery Old Jubilation Ale, Great Divide Hibernation Ale, Saranac Season’s Best, Breckenridge Christmas Ale, Anchor “Our Special Ale“, to name just a few.
A new edition to this illustrious lineup is Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout 2012. A bit of a surprise from the hop-centric brewery in Chico, California, for this is a pull-out-all-the stops showcase for the complex density of malts, where layer after layer of flavour notes reveal themselves: from dark chocolate to caramel to a black currant fruitiness. This is a wonderful and blessed meditation on the Imperial Stout style.
Last, but certainly not least, there is the magnificent gingerbread stout, from the Samuel Adams Small Batch Series, Merry Mischief. A 9% Holiday Stout that is truly one for the ages. The balance achieved with the combination of spices is astonishing. Proof that alchemy, can sometimes mysteriously manifest its own reality.
Cheers! So many beers, so little time. Thank you. Thank you very much.