The Badass Beers: A brace of stouts
January and February are usually the two coldest months of the year (if you live in the northern hemisphere and outside the tropics), and I reckon the sub-freezing temperatures and snowfall last week proved the point nicely. When the weather gets like that, drinkers tend to head in the direction of darker, heavier beers like the winter warmers, barley wines and stouts. We've got a pretty good selection of those styles stashed away, some of which have been waiting since this time last year to make an appearance, and it's about time we started showing a few of them the light of day.
Rogue's Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout is one of the two current Badass Bottles here at Lamar (the other, at least for the remaining two bottles we have left, is Delirium Noel Belgian Dark Ale). Being an oatmeal stout it has a smoother, more creamy texture than other types of stout because of the soluble fibre found in oats (think about that deliciously creamy bowl of porridge you had for breakfast - same thing). Soluble fibre, and one type of soluble fibre in particular (the group known as beta-glucans), is officially good for you. No, really. The FDA allows manufacturers of food products with at least 0.75g of beta-glucans per serving to state that "Soluble fiber from foods such as oats, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." on their packaging. I don't think oatmeal stout falls into that category, alas.
Nevertheless, on the basis that a little of what you fancy does you good, I'm going to let the whole 'Alcohol - is it good or bad for you, and if it's good how much and from what source - beer or wine?' argument pass me by. This is a downright tasty stout - full of the usual dark-roasted malt flavours of coffee and chocolate plus a slightly bitter burnt grain taste (more of that below), and with a well-balanced sweetness from both the malt sugars and the oats, as well as a little roasted barley. It's generously hopped with Cascade hops to give it a powerful 69 IBUs.
Our second stout is the current Badass Tap, and it's a big one.
The Russian Imperial Stout is a beer style that many have to work their way up to. Aside from being at the higher end of the chart when it comes to ABV, it can be mouth-puckeringly dry, or sweet almost to the point of cloying. Either way there'll be plenty of flavour to get your taste buds around.
Victory Storm King veers towards the bitter side of the RIS spectrum, both with hop bitterness and the bitterness that comes from malt which has been roasted almost to point of burnt astringency. That kind of thing might not be too pleasant when you do it to your toast, but when done expertly by the maltster and added in just the right amount by the brewer, it can make a good stout into a great one.
A beer like this feels like it ought to be a winter seasonal but in fact it's part of Victory's year-round portfolio. No bad thing, I reckon. I'd be happy to drink this one even on the hottest of August days in central Texas.
Incidentally, this keg has been mellowing in our beer store since it was delivered almost exactly a year ago, and it was already about six months old by then. Some of the hop flavour will have faded, but the rough edges often found in relatively high ABV beers like this when fresh out of the brewery (beer geeks will describe such beers as 'hot') will have smoothed themselves out a little and given the beer a more well-rounded, less harsh character.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson