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The Session #1: Stout roundup

The SessionWas it good for you?

Dryly sweet perhaps. Light and fluffy? Espresso and bitter cocoa. Maybe even structured.

The approaches to writing about the broad subject of stouts were as diverse as the stouts themselves for our first round of The Session. We got a little history, a little philosophy, some comparisons, a bit of travel and – of course – haiku. The official topic this month was Not Your Father’s Stout, and if you’re trying to figure out what this means here’s the history (ala blogs, in reverse order).

– Let’s start with the haikus. Captain Hops conjured them up for both Young’s Oatmeal Stout and Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout at Beer Haiku Daily.

– Not all the contributors even write regularly about beer. Martini Republic offered up cocktails made with stout, including something called a Dog’s Nose. As an aside, Stephen Beaumont has a A Six-Pack of Stout Cocktails this month at World of Beer (his site, as opposed to where he blogs).

– Stephen joined the stoutfest in two blogs, nicely making my point about finding different approach with his words about Jacobsen Coffee Mint Stout at That’s The Spirit and O’Hara’s Irish Stout at On the House. O’Hara’s was the only Irish-brewed stout we reviewed (in part because Ireland’s Big Three were ruled out at the start).

– Another Canadian, Alan at The Good Beer Blog, found several stouts in his cellar he’s been waiting to try before settling on Avery Out of Bounds Stout from Colorado.

– Also from Canada, Greg at Beer, Beats & Bites couldn’t make up his mind and ended up writing about five stouts, three from Canada and a pair from the U.S.

– Stonch of Stonch’s Beer Blog provided the final international contribution – I expect more to join in the coming months. He reminds us that America doesn’t have a monopoly on microbreweries, reviewing Pitfield Shoreditch Stout.

– Tomme of Port Brewing/Lost Abbey was one of two commercial brewers heard from. He wrote about Port’s award-winning Seaside Stout – and provided a tip on brewer watching.

– And Andrew at the Flossmoor Beer Blog previews Flossmoor Station’s milk stout (it debuts this week in conjunction with a breakfast buffet – there’s a way to start the day).

– Keeping in the spirit of milk stouts, Ray at the Barley Blog put a bottle of Old Rasputin back in the fridge to try Mackeson XXX Stout, a beer he’d never had before.

– Al and Ron at Hop Talk warmed to the task by considering the history of the stout style, then they wrote separate reviews of Rogue Shakespeare Stout.

– No surprise that Lew at Seen Through a Glass did a little traveling to taste The Three Faces of Stout, all Pennsylvania beers he consumed where they were brewed. (One of them a milk stout.)

– At his Brookston Beer Bulletin, Jay stuck close to home with an old favorite, San Quentin’s Breakout Stout, consumed where it is brewed. It took a while to get to stout as he considered some of the discussions about writing about and evaluating beer that have been going on recently.

– Rick at Lyke 2 Drink also went to the source – after thoroughly preparing himself with by tasting stouts from here and there. He admits he picked Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout in part because of the name.

– If a monthly hosts declares a “drink local” theme a lot of contributors should be set. Jon at the Brew Site picked a hometown beer – is he rubbing in the fact that he has Deschutes Brewery in his town? – in Obsidian Stout.

cosmicpenguin.net’s Jordan works just block from Left Hand Brewing, but resisted picking Left Hand Milk Stout (my choice) and instead tapped beers new to him, Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter and Avery Out of Bounds Stout (yes, the same one Alan wrote about).

– Perhaps Jonathan from the Beer Mapping Project is in denial, disregarding the fact that Bell’s has discontinued selling its beer in Illinois. He opened a bottle Expedition Stout to kick off a weekend that included the Night of the Living Ales and Goose Island Stoutfest. He told us, “I plan to drink my share of stouts (and possibly yours) this weekend.”

– Eli of foureyed(beer)geek added his favorite coffee stout to the mix. Schlafly Kaldi’s Coffee Stout has the Schlafly Oatmeal Stout at its base and uses a cold toddy method of extraction for the coffee.

– Jessie Jane at Bar Stories had hoped to whip up some ice cream for her session, but with time short decided to accompany Wolaver’s Organic Oatmeal Stout with a ramble.

– While Ray put the North Coast Old Rasputin back in the fridge, Dann at Dann Drinks Beer didn’t. It was beer #60 on his march to 365 for the year.

– Tedo at Barley Vine joined Captain Hops in drinking a Young’s stout, but made his the Double Chocolate Stout.

– Matt of Song of Myself first told us, “Shout it out from the top of your lungs: I LOVE BURNT BARLEY BABY.” Then he tasted a half dozen Midwestern stouts, only one of them from Bell’s.

– When you read across the posts you’ll see that Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout keeps coming up, whether it was a beer that almost got consumed or if it was one of several. Both Adam and Bryan at The Brew Lounge included Black Chocolate – in fact Bryan “dove headfirst into his” (quite an image, yes?).

– Yes, this Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, which Jim at Bostonbeerman Blog freely admits is one of his all-time favorites.

– Finding himself in Sandpoint, Idaho, Ben from SevenPack.net grabbed a six-pack of Laughing Dog Sweet Stout brewed just up the road in Ponderay.

– Andrew, andrew ager, dot com, found himself instead in his basement, where My Own Private Stout, Oh-Ho.

– Also on the homebrewing front, Chris at Beer Activist Blog arrived late (that’s OK) with an Organic Irish Stout.

– At the Fredericksburg Area Brewing and Tasting Society, James evaluated Shipyard Blue Fin Stout by comparing it to Guinness.

– And what might have been at last call (almost midnight on the West Coast), Bill Brand of What’s On Tap finished off the evening with Drake’s Imperial Stout.

Last call unless I left somebody out ;< ( Please e-mail a link if I missed your post.

The Session: Administrative stuff

Wow. That was some turnout. Thanks to all who participated in the first round of The Session. Next one is on Alan – OK, don’t panic Alan, you are the host, everybody buys their own beer.

Since it’s the first I’ll post the recap sometime Monday (perhaps later than sooner), but I think in the future we should expect recaps in a “timely” manner, recognizing it might be four or five days.

Also, some contributors seemed to be concerned about they post on the exact day, racing to get done before midnight local time. Friday is preferred. A day early (as Tomme Arthur did because he was headed to Belgium) or late is OK. This is supposed to be fun.

I’ve created a Session category here where I will archive announcements about rounds and then the recaps (as well as my own contributions).

The Session #1: Left Hand Milk Stout

The SessionHope you’re in a stout mood today, because you’re going to read a lot about them in various blogs in the first round of The Session. The theme today is “Not your father’s Irish stout.”

By Monday I will summarize posts on this topic from here and there and provide links.

As the instigator of this event I felt an obligation to make a good choice. I don’t mean the most spectacular stout I could find, but one that sets a tone for how I intend to approach this on a regular basis.

I thought first about a New Mexico beer, because I believe you should drink local and we have some excellent stouts in our state. But unless you come visit then you aren’t going to have much of a chance to find one of these. So I picked a beer from the region, from a brewery I know well, and one I’d certainly call “a good home”: Left Hand Milk Stout.

We (Daria and I) met Left Hand Brewing founders Eric Wallace and Dick Doore not long after they opened in 1994, introducing ourselves at the Great American Beer Festival because my aunt Gretchen lives in Longmont, where Left Hand brews. It took us three more years to get by the brewery, and it was the 50th for our daughter, Sierra. She was taken with the red-and-white Left Hand logo we brought home, and it’s likely one of the reasons she learned her left from her right early on.

Left Hand BrewingAlthough Left Hand distributes its beers in New Mexico, we often could find seasonals only in the Longmont area (this has changed, plus the Milk Stout is available year round and at a nearby grocery store). Left Hand produced just 20 barrels of Milk Stout the first year it was brewed and we missed it.

The second year our timing was better, so we were in Longmont about the time it was released. On the way to my aunt’s house we stopped at a liquor store. When I headed directly to the cooler and pulled out Milk Stout the man standing next to me – surely the one whose large motorcycle we had parked next to, given his leather garb and tattoos – nodded in approval.

“It’s smooth man,” he said.

It is, but like that biker not too smooth. The addition of milk sugar (lactose) provides a constant creamy sweetness that balances an abundance of aromas and flavors. Typical for Left Hand, the beer is made with five malts plus flaked oats and flaked barley. It proves a brewer can pack impressive depth and complexity in beer not much stronger than Budweiser (5.2% abv vs. 5%).

The nose is chocolate and burnt toast, with more rich chocolate and coffee flavors in the mouth. The finish is relatively dry, leaving a memory of coffee and sweet cream.

Michael Jackson writes extensively about milk stout in his Beer Companion. Its London inventors sought a patent in 1875, they deemed the deemed the invention of a milk beer so unique. Jackson reports that by 1936 Mackeson’s Milk Stout was available nationally and the style began to be included in the range of most breweries.

The Mackeson’s label included the rather bold claim: “Each pint contains the energizing carbohydrates of ten ounces of pure dairy milk.” That didn’t last long.

Jackson concludes his history lesson with this thought: “For those with a lifestyle sufficiently leisurely, or eclectic, to permit a mid-afternoon or early evening restorative, a glass of sweet stout and a piece of cake is an innocent pleasure.”

A logo for The Session

The SessionJay Brooks has created a logo for The Session. He’s even given us multiple options – both to the size you use and also if you want to include the words “Beer Blogging Friday.”

I haven’t decided which I prefer, so don’t be surprised if you come back and words magically appear in the red circle.

You can grab what you want here.

We all owe Jay a beer (each). Jay, I’ll buy you one at Stubbs in Austin, OK?

Friday. The Session. Be there.

Come Friday a bunch of us are going to write about stouts. The theme, class, is “Not your father’s Irish stout.”

Do we have to have a name, too? I’d like to get that out of the way, so I can help answer Alan McLeod’s question Do We Love the Beer or Brewer? and track all the chatter Lew Bryson provoke with his post What We ‘Owe’ the Industry, which was followed by a lengthy discussion at Beer Advocate.

Particularly since I disagree with everybody.

So in the interest of speed I’m picking a name, but not insisting Alan use it when he hosts in April. When we have hosts use the same name two consecutive months that will be the official name. (Kind of like the kid in “A Thousands Clowns.”) The danger, of course, is that it will become sport to keep picking different names.

I've got the next round

The name is …

The Session.

No.

Another Round.

No.

The Session.

Yes, The Session. Unless I change my mind before Friday.

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