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The Hobby Drinker Blog

not so alarming

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A little spot of light after some dark drinks? A rosy spark of dawn, it seems. Like I say, every once in a while I feel like I should try something different, and The Rowdy Rooster looks like something different. It’s a raspberry kettle sour, not the type of beer I normally pick up, but as summer becomes more evident, it might be a welcome change. The Pine Ridge Brewery out of Sweden might be seeing summers more like Spain’s so a little lightness might go over well even up north. Not only that, I recently learned about more traditional beers of those latitudes being on the sour side, so maybe they’re getting back to their roots.

Rosy red and lightly headed, tangy sour fruit aroma. It seems a little heavy for raspberry, but it is identifiable. It’s one of those dry fruity beers, with little sweetness in the immediate flavor, although it isn’t over the top sour. While bubbly, it’s smooth and easy to drink, very summery. Still there’s a weight of body to it that would also make it palatable for a winter party drink. There’s no weird aftertaste like some sours, no sulfury taste or anything. Long ago I had a raspberry ale from a now disgraced brewery and there’s a certain similarity. I don’t know if the name quite fits, to be honest, but it’s bright and happy enough, perhaps a wake-up call for the afternoon, although not so much for the crack of dawn.

Supplier: Labirratorium
Price: €3.90

waking up

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Many people think their favorite meal is breakfast, but that might be because their favorite flavor is sugar. There’s still something appealing about anything connected with breakfast food, though, including beer. A pastry stout, imperial at that, seems likes the most likely beer to tackle that particular sector of gastronomy, although some NEIPAs get there with their overwhelming orange juice spirit. Basqueland, proven maker of stouts among other things, has presented us with French Toast, looking very much like a breakfast mimicking dessert.

Not much head, but slippery dark liquid, and tempting and subtle aroma. It has a hint of cinnamon and toast that make you think of fancy breakfast. Breakfast carries over into the taste, with a thick syrupy feel and tingly sweetness. There’s some kind of preserved fruit carrying the flavor on its back, possibly blueberries, which leaves the beer with a slightly winey presentation. Not even brunch goes that far, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some people indulge in champagne cocktails or the like. It really feels more like an alcohol drenched cake than a slice of French toast, with that warm and burning sensation, and the kind of sweetness that comes through careful manipulation of ingredients. The fruit becomes more and more noticeable, and starts to remind me of a blueberry ale I had once. Not the kind of beer you expect to find in a southwestern hotel, but there you go. Anyway, French Toast pastry stout does not disappoint in terms of its name or its will to please, but I don’t think I could handle it for breakfast.

Supplier: Labirratorium
Price: €7.65

all aboard

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Who needs a pastry stout on Saturday night? Me! Always! Every Saturday! I could do it too, I think, there’s always a new one out, but I do feel the need to sample something else at least some of the time. Not today, though, today is a pastry day. Today’s selection comes from Brouwerij Kees, apparently a whole chain of flavor experiences with Pastry Train. The can doesn’t actually have a train, oddly, instead there’s the promised focus of Black Forest cherry cake, in the moonlight, possibly around Halloween. That’s just the way that image strikes me, ok? It’s a strong one, almost 13%. Maybe that’s the kind of fuel you need to reach that goal of glory.

Oh waaaaait, the cake is on the train!

There’s only a hint of dessert in the aroma, but it’s right in line with the description. Maybe a little breadier than cakey, but there’s some clear cherry roaming around. It’s a little more candy flavored than I might ordinarily like, and an odd mix of fruit candy too. There’s some banana in there, less cherry and more lighter raspberry, but also notes of chocolate cake and donut glaze. Some pastry stouts don’t go all out on the sweetness, as I have recently discovered, and this one is not actually excessive on that account. While definitely an after-dinner sort of drink, it’s pretty clean drinking, and the sweetness does not weigh it down as much as you might expect. It’s not as solemn as dark chocolate or treasonous as less-sweet fruit (melons, I’m looking at you), but it is satisfying and pleasantly unsurprising after looking at the label.

Supplier: Labirratorium
Price: €5.70

sneaky sophistication

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Back to the black stuff, it’s just a black hole for me, drawing me back in. Not that I fight at all, and sometimes I even get a running start. I collected quite a few examples for the next couple of weeks from Labirratorium, which seems to have piled in a few more stouts than the last time I was there. I feel like I have run across Redneck Brewing before, possibly when out and there’s nothing interesting on tap, but this is an Imperial Pastry Stout, so I can’t ignore it. It’s not the most alcoholic of pastry stouts that I’ve seen, but if you’re not careful Teniente Dan-Up could leave you legless.

Plummy, liquory aroma, and heavy appearance. Not a lot of head, though. It looks like a thick but slick liquid, although at 8.5% it might have quite a bit of heft to it. There is body indeed, although it’s not too prickly, but there’s more wood and toast than I was expecting. It takes a couple of sips before some of the expected pastry starts to come out, very fruity and earthy-berry tasting. The plum scent comes through on the tongue eventually, and the overall impression is of jelly donut filling. At first, I thought the whole donut was coming out of that bottle, with the roasted grain being very noticeable, but when it starts getting fruity the grain and bread back off. It rounds out in the end, gaining a little bit of roughage in the mouth and mild grain undertones to the fruitiness, but it’s more of a fruit tart than anything else. It might not be sweet enough for some, or thick enough for others, but it’s good enough for my Saturday night.

Supplier: Labirratorium
Price: €3.45

plainly labeled

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Despite the temperatures, I cannot contain my hankering for stouts. I got one from Más Que Cervezas, thinking I would hang onto it for lazy Saturday. This isn’t quite lazy, but it is the kind of day that I would rather take to sit with a drink than do most other things. This one does have some fruit content, so maybe I can convince myself that it’s a healthier choice than a more popular IPA or sour. Well, sours do tend to have some fruit too, so I guess my justification falls apart. Oh well, Imperial Chocolate & Cherry Liqueur Stout will be a joy to taste anyway, I predict. This collaboration from The Garden Brewery and Nerdbrewing definitely promises.

It pours out like an otter after its favorite toy and hides under a pretty substantial, dark mocha head. It has mostly a toasty aroma, but there are notes of fruit, not as tart as I would expect a strawberry to be but still identifiable. It makes me think of the old Strawberry Shortcake toys, actually. The beer is stouty and bitter, with a good serving of toast, but also a touch of strawberry whipped cream. The pastry stout maintains its body, but it isn’t as sticky as some of them can get, and the strawberries have been tamed into something smooth and very comfortable in the throat. Even after warming up some, it’s a pleasant weight without going weird in sweetness/tartness/other odd flavors, and while it’s not the best choice (for most) for a seat in the sun, I’m very happy with it in the shade.

Supplier: Más Que Cervezas
Price: €6.05

under a cloud

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It’s an odd kind of day – warmer than you want for the time, but also not sunny at all. We’ll be having colder days next week, though, so I guess I just have to be patient. A nice German dunkel beer will brighten up the day. It’s one of those classic breweries too, Augustiner. Somehow I imagine Munich with the opposite weather…

Extra fluffy head, and dark caramel color, but still somewhat transparent. It’s not very aromatic, but there’s a whiff of grain and grass there. The taste is surprisingly dry, tilting towards bitter but with a good base of malt. It’s clean drinking, although there is a clearly bitter aftertaste. It’s a typical German dunkles, malty and ever so slightly sweet, but without any stickiness that some sweeter beers and lagers from other places can suffer from. It’s a year-rounder for me, with enough lightness to be palatable in summer but also enough body to make a stand against winter chills. Would I prefer a stout? Sure, I always feel some preference for stout, but it’s good to keep your experiences varied. It’s not usually regrettable, and this time is no exception.

Supplier: Más Que Cervezas
Price: €2.40


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Another rainy Saturday, and not a stout for me this time. No, I found something that seemed more appropriate, at least in name – Fruit Jesus! The label looks very similar to those fruit portraits from some Renaissance painter whose name I can never recall. It’s not too surprising that this comes from Basqueland, they have a record of interesting labels and names. It would be quite a shock to find that it’s anything but a sour, and there’s no shock in store. Will it be a transcendent experience, or just an earthly delight? Better open up that can and find out.

It has that sort of gassy puff that a lot of sours do, sort of sulfury, but probably not what you’d get by opening a grave. It has a very juicy appearance, opaque, maybe a shade lighter than orange juice. The head is not abundant, but it is bright white and resistant. Other aromas start to make their way out, a little citrus and pineapple, something smoother too. I’m not sure if it’s mango or some other tropical fruit. It’s supposed to contain passion fruit, and peach, but I think I don’t really know what passion fruit tastes like. The peach might be the smooth part I think I can sense. The taste starts out on the sweeter side, sort of a fresh fruit salad. Then the sour creeps in, leaving a sort of champagne tickle feel along with a lingering aftertaste of sour candy. Not a bad beer at all, not too crazy for a sour, but I don’t know if it would wake the dead.

Supplier: Más Que Cervezas
Price: €6.37

dark dreams

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It’s unseasonably warm right now, although cooler temps should be on the horizon. That’s what usually happens around Easter anyway. Still, how do you say no to a stout? You know very well that I don’t! And this is a special one too, Drunken Bros Black Maiden Imperial Mocha Stout. It’s from the Nightmare series, with a touch of oak conditioning that ought to add some strength and body.

It’s magic radiating off the can, that’s why it’s blurry, that’s the ticket!

It pours thickly, but silky smooth, and settles like some sci-fi B movie monster in the glass. It’s black enough to pull your soul out through your tongue, and even the head vanishes in minutes, unable to contain the power. It is one of the heavier beers I’ve had for a while, like a barely melted shake. It plays on the mocha angle heavily too, with a dark roasted coffee coming on strong at the end of the sip. It has a very toasted grain flavor, with a mild chocolate undertone. While not excessively sweet or coffee bitter, it’s not the easiest beer to drink. It has a robust body and a little bit of crinkly texture that keeps your attention, but doesn’t exactly whip down the hatch like a whisper of wind. I happen to have some white chocolate on hand, and since it isn’t an extra sweet stout, it might be a good little helper….Well, it does cut through the body a little, but it lends a more sour quality to the flavor. Was not the best outcome. Oh well, there’s still beer in the can and more chocolate for another day.

Supplier: La Buena Cerveza
Price: €6.95

across the water

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Although it seems like an American celebration with its consumption, loudness and flashy tradition, it’s the feast day of the patron of a completely different country. Sure, there are many millions of Irish-Americans, and when the world thinks of St. Patrick’s Day it’s the American style parade and green beer that come to mind. Even in Spain you find some examples of pubs and promotions for the occasion. Typically, it goes along with Guinness, but since I am consistently disappointed by that particular beer, I have myself another, more promising Irish stout – Galway Bay’s Ostara.

Very heady, cappuccino froth, and a touch of smoke and dirt in the aroma. Although dark, it isn’t a deep, deep black stout, or the purported ruby red of Guinness, more of an extra coffee color. The head vanishes within minutes, leaving practically nothing on top, even a little layer of foam. There is a lot of coffee in the flavor, very toasty and slightly dusty. There’s a touch of milkiness, but it’s more of a hint of lactose sweetness than a smoothness or creaminess in texture. It is actually a bit of a rough beer on the throat, although certainly drinkable. It’s stronger and more evocative than Guinness ever is for me, making me think of imagined Irish wind and landscape. Of course, if I ever I might find out that Galway Bay was exaggerating the experience.

Supplier: La Mundial
Price: €3.60

that stuff’ll kill ya

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I saw it sitting on the shelf behind the bar, raising its glass, winking without eyelids. Burger Burger was not a beer to be rejected. I did have a moment’s hesitation seeing it was a sour, but it was also a milkshake inspired sour, and packed with fruit that make almost anything worth drinking – raspberries, black currants, even the strawberry. A black jacketed skeleton doesn’t seem like the most appetizing choice for the label, but the brewery, Fermenterarna from Sweden, might be making a reference to their ghostly lack of internet presence. There is a Facebook page, but their website doesn’t have much to speak of, except the posts from said Facebook page.

Slightly shocking color, although with the fruits listed I shouldn’t have been. It does give off a little puff of that fruity sour gas, along with some overripe banana. The top layer of flavor is pretty much strawberry milkshake, tangy fruit and fluffy creaminess, but there’s an undercurrent of banana and vanilla too. The raspberry and current are not immediately apparent but I suppose they add to the tanginess. On a relatively cold and wet evening, I might have preferred to pull out a stout that’s waiting in the wings, but there’s also a feeling of fun in a less common style and a creative can design. Also, skeletons totally go with windy, rainy weather. Early Halloween!

Supplier: La Buena Cerveza
Price: €7.30