Had a great day this past Saturday hanging with friends and eating massive amounts of homemade pulled pork and our favorite Slow Oven Cooked Ribs. And even though the Beer Snob wasn't in attendance, I made sure the beer selection ran the gamut from the light and refreshing (Yuengling Lager and Natty Boh) to heavier, more complex brews.
Frankly, I had ulterior motives. Ever since my local liquor store stopped carrying six packs of Lancaster Valley Milk Stout I've been on a hunt for another dark, delicious beer that goes well with anything from BBQ and steaks to dessert or just sitting around the fire pit.
One beer that I can definitely say will not be taking its place is the Retro 60s Formula of Schlitz or as it's also known, Schlitz Gusto. Good pal David Zuzelo grabbed some as a lark, thinking that we could compare its taste to 7-11's Game Day which we tried last year. Well, somebody call the good folks at 7-11 because the 60s Schlitz makes Game Day taste like Pilsner Urquell!
There were a couple coffee stouts in contention because, well, it's coffee and it's beer. What's not to like? I didn't get a chance to try the Long Trail Coffee Stout but the comments I heard and reviews I've read suggest that this one might be a little too strong on the coffee taste and aroma for me. I probably don't want that so I'm not sorry I missed out.
The Lagunitas Cappucino Stout, on the other hand, was not just a subtle, creamy and slightly sweet brew, but at only about $5 for a large bottle – about half of the cost of Long Trail or most other high end brews – it's also a lot easier on the wallet. I dug this one and it was definitely true to the name. The beer was a little sweet and a little creamy, perfect for drinking after dinner with a piece of chocolate cake or maybe some fudge brownies.
I'd had Great Divide Yeti Oak Aged Imperial Stout before... back in the fall, I believe. The high alcohol content gave it a little bit of a metallic aftertaste at that time, sort of like sucking the blood out of a pricked finger. I don't know if it was because I'd been eating and drinking various things all afternoon or because I was sampling a much smaller amount – no surprise that everybody wants to try a beer with a yeti on the label – but this time the beer was just perfect for a relaxing after dinner chat about trashy movies while sitting around a nice fire. It's potent and packs a wallop, but worth splurging on.
I didn't have enough of the Samuel Adams Longshot Blackened Hops to really judge. The three Longshot winners come packed two per six-pack, which is nice but I really didn't want to try the beer that was brewed with lavender petals. Wish I could have gotten a full six-pack of this, though, as I thoroughly liked what I tried. The beer is dark with just enough carbonation that, unlike a lot of the other beers I sampled, you could sit down with this one for a session. The American style ale is much lighter than a stout and similar to a porter, making this one a brew I'd search out again.
The night's big winner, at least from a beer standpoint, was probably Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout. I bought this one purely on the strength of its slightly sinister label and was richly rewarded with an oak-aged stout that delivers a velvety smooth brew with just the right amount of coffee flavor to go along with a hint of vanilla thanks to being fermented with vanilla bean. Not overpowering but also not the kind of beer you'll want to drink more than two or three of at a time. The perfect accompaniment to barbecued goodness and a new fave of The Hungover Gourmet! Plus, it's brewed in nearby Dover, DE so I'm hoping that it will be easy to pick up near home or at the brewery.