Moderate Pleasures

This is my first review, so I will probably over-do this, and make the other reviewers angry.  Sorry, hopefully we can have a beer together soon and make amends!

I was lucky enough to have picked up this beer on Friday night as one of my staples, so having it available to review was just good luck. I found it at The Four Firkins an incredible beer resource in St. Loius Park on the corner of Texas and Minnetonka.  If you haven’t been there, check it out.

My first exposures to Brau Brothers was pretty rocky, about a year ago I had some of their beers with definite issues and fermentation infections.  However, in the last 6 months EVERY Brau Brothers beer I have had has been excellent, with NO cases of infections or off-flavors.  This beer was no exception.

  • Aroma – Sweet and chocolaty, with prominent complex sweetness.  No hop notes, no off-aromas present. Also no bitter or astringent roast aromas.
  • Appearance – Dark, but not close to opaque.  Small very dense moussy head that has lingered for about 15 minutes unchanged!  Low carbonation.  Beer appears very clear.
  • Flavor – Sweet dark malt flavor (low) without any roast malt character – kind of a mild disappointment after the aroma buildup.  Hop flavor is very low with no distinguishable hop characteristics.  Hop bitterness is also low and earthy, with a hint of US hop resininess.  Malt flavor clearly dominates over the hop flavor and bitterness, but the malt flavor and sweetness is medium to low and not excessive either. Finish is slightly sweet, and supported with a very low almost inperceptible lasting hop bitterness.  Fermentation character is very clean, with very slight fruity esters.  No off-flavors.
  • Mouthfeel – Body is medium to medium low, in line with the moderate flavor impact of this beer.  Carbonation is low.  Beer has a clean crispness that does not feel warm or ‘thick’. No astringency.

Overall Impression – As a Sweet Stout, this beer falls in the lower half of the category, lacking the thick-sweet-chewy feel and a more pronounced roast malt character.  If you are looking for the quintessential sweet stout, this is not it.

BUT – for what it lacks in density, it makes up for in clean and crisp presentation!  This is a really well made beer.I take my hat off to the Brau Brothers on this one.  As a small brewery they have done an excellent job creating a REAL cream ale that fits the sweet stout category.  Creating those big chewy beers takes lots of raw materials, which is pretty costly to a small operation like Brau Brothers.

Instead of the defacto favorite for the catergory, think of this as the perfect transitional beer – serve this to your American Lager drinking friends to win them over to real beer.  Flavors are moderate, and provide a great example of diverse flavors presented in balance to each other.

Another take on this beer is a term that my old brew partner and I used – drinakability – you can pound a bunch of these and ask for more.

Over-The-Top Pleasures – Nay
Moderate Crowd Pleaser – Yeah

Well done Brau Brothers!