Often as not, the best tastings are spontaneous and even unstructured. The other night I got together with my great friends and neighbours R & B. They’re very much part of our Real Person (Wine) Tasting Panel. But this was more of a last minute thing.
I’d been cruising the aisles of my local liquor store, which I do on the odd occasion. It’s not usually that exciting, especially as the wine selection is pretty run-of-the-mill. They’re making space to renovate, so when I went looking for beer, I wasn’t expecting much either. But I was surprised to see the lineup of local brews had improved immensely.
The near monsoon outside had me craving something dark and warming, such as a decent stout or porter. Ever since I tasted Red Racer Imperial a couple of weeks ago, I’d been in the mood for more of the same.
I’ve been anxious to try Lighthouse Oyster Imperial Stout and, just for good measure, I grabbed a bottle of Phillips Black Jackal Imperial Coffee Stout. As it turned out, R & B had just been by Brassneck and (in case of emergency) had a couple of growlers on hand (Geezer and Inertia). Obviously, we realised, this called for a tasting, and lined ‘em up. We decided to go with the Brassneck Geezer first, followed by the Black Jackal, Oyster Stout and the Inertia. Yes, there was a brief discussion about styles. If you’re interested in a definitive exploration of the difference between Porter and Stout, you can find it here.
Brassneck Geezer. Brassneck calls this a ‘Dry English Porter.’ It is dutifully dry and would make for a really good summer drink, especially if you’re inclined to darker beers rather than lagers. This was a tough line-up to pit it against, as the mouthfeel was a lot lighter than the others but its unabashed dryness certainly set it apart. Good roasted notes on the nose with quite an assertive head and decent length. Available only at the brewery.
Phillips Black Jackal Imperial Coffee Stout. A nice pour, with good “mocha” like foam and texture, roasted coffee notes on top but but also a slightly vegetal character on the nose. The much vaunted espresso integrates well on the palate and it did taste pretty coffee-ish. But somehow we all wanted more. 650 ml. BCLS $5.50
Lighthouse Oyster Imperial Stout. B doesn’t do well with raw shellfish, so he was concerned that “a shuck load of Okeover organic oysters” were used. It’s true, this is likely BC’s first true “oyster” beer, where the bivalves were fresh shucked and neatly chopped up, with brine ‘n all, to be added to the brew. Even the shells went into the mash, to be later removed. Well, we weren’t disappointed. This is a superbly rich and creamy stout, with serious heft (and a pretty good kick, at 9.3 % ABV.) It also has a slightly mineral quality, which I liked, although any overt oyster flavour is barely discernible. 650 ml. $6-$8 private stores. Maybe still at a few BCLS. Think Irish stew or strong Cheddar cheese. This (apparently seasonal) brew was our top taste of the evening—which explains why you’ll have a tough time finding any left.
Brassneck Inertia Russian Imperial Stout. Presumably the name has to do with the ABV, which isn’t actually indicated, as this is a growler fill. The bottle is a thing of beauty (as long as you don’t need to photograph it!) with opaque lettering on a black background. In hindsight, we probably should have tasted this before the Lighthouse. Nevertheless, it also showed very well. And we weren’t complaining. Available only at the brewery
Not to be overlooked, the one that in my mind started it all:
Central City Imperial Porter. Seriously dark in the glass with a generous head and roasted notes on top. Solid on the palate but not heavy, with mocha and molasses hints. Tough to leave half of this bottle. But safer to share it. Perfect with a pork pie—or two. 9% ABV, 650 ml. BCLS $12.90
Anyway, that’s enough about stout. Now I have to go get some more. And some decent Cheddar.