1 Year Bourbon Barrel Aged Real Ale 15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout. One of the longest names of any beers I’ve tried, but also one of the best. While the regular 15th anniversary can be found in bottle at some Spec’s, the just released 1 year barrel aged on tap is quite elusive in Houston. It has been spotted at Petrol Station (sold out!), Flying Saucer downtown (sold out), and currently at Hay Merchant (on tap as of today). If you see it, get it – because it wont be there for much longer. Though it will be $8-10 for a pint or less, but you are getting something that borders more on a whiskey than a beer.
I’ve had bourbon barrel aged beers before, but nothing that took on the flavor like this one. Though called a stout, you will mainly taste a strong whiskey flavor with hints of roasted grain and raisin. The experience is more like enjoying a fine liquor than a beer. Very unique. The ABV has been listed anywhere from 9 – 14%, so this definitely a sipper, but would also make a perfect dessert beer to finish a meal.
Great job Real Ale! The year wait was worth it.
What’s the difference between a stout and porter beer? I have been asked many times.
Here’s the technical definition: Porters were a dark beer enjoyed by London river porters. Stouts were a stronger porter, or stout porter. Fast forward a couple hundred years later, through the many rises and falls of dark beer popularity, and the names are now acceptably interchangeable with no text book definitions other than dark beer. You can find that answer all over the place.
What you wont find anywhere but here is the Suit’s answer. He is the stout fan of Crooked 3 and over the years has come to his own conclusion.
[This is a worldwide Crooked 3 exclusive.]
Put simply, stouts are more thick and flavorful while porters are lighter and more watery tasting. This is a good rule of thumb that proves true most of the time. You want a dark beer to sip and enjoy – have a stout. You want a dark beer that is easier to drink – have a porter. So while the original definitions of the two words are viewed as no longer valid, in the real world they still seem to be true.
A great place to experience this is at BJ’s where they brew both – so you have minimal variables. Get tasters of the Tatonka Stout and the PM Porter. The stout tastes dark, thick and creamy. The porter also tastes dark but watery.
There’s also a few other interesting trends. Porters tend to get flavored. You can readily find smoked, coffee, vanilla, pecan and other varieties. Possibly their lighter flavor makes them easier to alter. Stouts tend to just grow stronger with imperial variations.
So that’s my answer. While technically there is no difference, in the real world there are definite trends.
One of the bottled beers I picked up at the store in Colorado was Left Hand‘s Milk Stout Nitro. This beer is fairly easy to find on tap in Houston, but Left Hand bottles have yet to make it here, so I was curious to try.
The bottle had a very striking design. Simple and dark, with a nice bright red hand logo. Really stood out among other beers at the store. Good job Left Hand on design! Also on the bottles were instructions for how to pour the beer,: “1. Open, 2.Pour hard, 3. Admire 4. Enjoy.” If that’s too hard for you there is also a QR code that shows an instructional video online.
So I opened it up, poured hard… and it came out flat. Suddenly the entire glass turned into tan foam and gradually separated into beer and foam from the bottom up. Pretty cool to watch. I understand the “admire” in step 3 now.
Taste-wise, this is a very creamy stout. Very similar in taste to BJ’s Tatonka Stout. Also, with most nitro beers, there is very little carbonation. Only bubbles you will really get is in the head. And I might be crazy, but this seemed to have more flavor than when I’ve got it on tap in Houston before.
Doing a little research reveals that besides being tasty, this is also a historic beer. With the Milk Stout Nitro, Left Hand became the first American brewery to get a nitrogen beer in a bottle – without the use of a widget – that thing you sometimes hear rattle in a nitro beer can or bottle. Way to go Left Hand!
Overall, this is one of the better stouts out there. While you wont find the bottles here in Houston, give Left Hand’s Milk Stout a try on tap next time you see it.
Beware! This stout is not for the faint of heart. “Motor oil in a can” is what my buddies call it. I call it deliciousness in a can. This monstrously thick Russian Imperial Stout is one of my favorites.
As soon as you pour it, you can’t help but see that it does closely resemble car oil, even the head is extremely dark. Yet, the taste is so good you won’t care. The chocolate and coffee tastes really complement each other, and if you ask me, there’s a little smoky flavor hiding in there. This stout is extremely filling, so it is meant to be sipped. That’s ok though, as you’ll want to savor this one, just enjoying the rich, full taste. This one register’s in a 10.5 % abv, so be careful!
My hat’s off to Oskar Blues, as Ten Fidy is one of my favorites. Be ready to pay for this one though, as a 4 pack at Spec’s is rather pricey. It’s worth it though, especially if you’ve never experienced it. This one definitely get’s the Uncle Leroy Seal of approval! And as we say at Crooked 3 Brewing, ” If you can only have one, make sure it’s a good one.”