I'll have several recommendations to make in the near future, but here's a fun story behind one of my current absolute favorite beers.
****LONG STORY BEHIND THE REVIEW****
I was at my regular beer distributor (New Beer Distributors on the Lower East Side for anyone in NYC, very highly regarded) on a nice Saturday morning trying a few new things. Had 7-8 24oz bottles picked and was in line to pay for them when the owner came over and started chatting with me on my selection. I had a wide variety of imperial stouts on me at the time, and he mentioned they just got a new one from a brewery called Oskar Blue. The name was Ten Fidy and he showed it to me still being unpacked. He claimed it was likely a top 3 stout in his whole inventory. When he opened the box, I became a bit dubious of his claim.
Yup. Canned beer. For nearly $4 a can. I thanked the man for the offer and said maybe next time and went on my way. As I'm leaving he yells, "trust me, look it up on the beer reviews and check out the website. You need to try this beer."
So I forget about it for awhile before I remember it, and I start researching it a bit. I come across their website and wonder if they realize the image they send off with their beer. Their response was on the front page:
"Why cans? We thought the idea of our bold, hoppy pale ale [or in this case dark imperial stout] squeezed into a little can was hilarious. It made us laugh for weeks.
But then we discovered that the belief that cans impart flavor to beer is a myth. The modern-day aluminum can and its lid are lined with a water-based coating, so the beer and the can never touch. Cans, we discovered, are actually good for beer. Cans keep beer especially fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen. Our cans also hold extremely low amounts of dissolved oxygen, so our beer stays especially fresh for longer. Cans are also easier to recycle and less fuel-consuming to ship. "
You learn something new everyday, so I run down to the same beer distributor the following weekend and pick up my 4-pack from the owner who gives me the worst "told you so" **** eating grin I've seen in years. I ride the subway back to the apartment in anticipation for the experience to come.
*****END LONG STORY *****
Ok so the review. It's from memory but I think I can still do it justice because I've repeated it at least a dozen times since then (both from a can and on tap). This review will be for the can.
I hesitated when I opened the top out of fear I'd get splashed a la shaken Coors Light. Surprisingly, no carbonation whatsoever and no splash. I realized very quickly why. As I poured it, the beer poured out very smoothly. At this point I realized it was because it had a consistency just shy of motor oil. It pours a near pitch black with a nut brown head. The head is relatively light and leaves quickly though.
A first quick sniff has me thinking chocolate milkshake more than imperial stout. Starts of with strong notes of chocolate and coffee. A second deeper sniff reveals a nuttier, almond type scent. Finally I could actually pick out a bit of a sweet vanilla type end with the smell. I've tried several imperial stouts similar to this and generally could classify the "base smell" as a chocolate or as a vanilla but never both. Although the chocolate was certainly dominating, I found it interesting to have hints of both.
The best way to describe it is, imagine you're drinking liquid velvet. There is no watery thinness to this beer. First impression is almost a cream texture if you could think of that for a beer. Coffee dominates the chocolate in this taste but ends on a sweeter note than most Imperials. The sip coats your tongue and leaves you dying for another sip.
I can't imagine having more than one of these in a sitting (and at 9.4% ABV it's no surprise a few will have you on your ass) because it's just extremely filling. As I mentioned, it is very dense, very thick, and very fulfilling. It's been one of my top 3 beers for some time now and likely will be into the near future.
I'd like to do some more of these in depth reviews if you guys enjoy it. I'll leave the teaser name and pic for the next of my top 3 to see if anyone else has tried it:
Stone 11th Anniversary Ale