Sunday, December 5, 2010
New Brew Review: New Glarus Coffe Stout
Last week, I received a great surprise package from a friend that contained the following beers: New Glarus Coffee Stout, New Glarus Raspberry Tart, New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red, and Central Waters Satin Solstice Imperial Stout. I opened the first of the bottles today after spending the morning working on the yard, and thought I'd take the time to write a review of it. If not for my own memory, then to show my appreciation for the gifts by giving them the attention they deserve. The Raspberry Tart and Belgian red came in 750's, which I thought I'd share w/ friends over the holidays, so I chose the 12 oz Coffee Stout for this afternoon.
The beer pours from the bottle a deep brown color, almost black in the thickest parts of the pour, and taking on a rich brown on the sides with highlights of burnt sienna. A fair amount of carbonation is evident as a creamy beige head rises up the glass. The head is mostly small, soft, creamy bubbles, but it's punctuated here and there by a few larger ones. From an arms length, it looks uniform in color, but a closer inspection reveals darker brown lowlights in the places where the bubbles have popped and the resulting liquid pools before it finds it's way back down through the remaining foam and into the darkness below. In the glass, the beer itself is very dark. When held to the light, only the edges of the glass allow any light through, but in these red brown edges, the color is very clean and crisp - not muddy as one might expect from how little light escapes it.
At first the nose is quite subdued. It's light and dry, and the first thing I can pick out is just simply "roasted". Digging my nose into the glass further, I began to pick up more distinct notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and finally coffee. This doesn't smell like an "in your face" coffee beer, but rather a nice dry stout that has been accented with coffee. It's promising on a mild sunny afternoon, compared to such behemoths as Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, and Jahva.
The taste follows the nose well, although the coffee is a little bit more evident here. As I suspected, this is a stout first, and a coffee beer second. The coffee flavors are obviously present, but they are there to add to something, not dominate it. Compared to other examples, this beer is light and crisp in taste, with no over-dominant cloying aspects. No heat is detected, and although the bottle doesn't list an ABV, anything over 4.5% that it might contain is well hidden. The finish is relatively dry, and there is a lingering malty aftertaste that isn't dissimilar from what one might experience after washing down a bite of pastry with a sip of unsweetened joe. Despite the addition of coffee, and labeled designation of "stout", this beer reminds me a bit of black butte porter, although a bit lighter and drier even.
The first thing I noticed about the mouthfeel of this beer is that it's a bit lighter and thinner than I would have expected, although looking back at my experience with the nose, I should have guessed. Decent carbonation helps add perceived body, and delivers the flavor of the beer well.
Drinkability is quite high. This is a well constructed stout in a more traditional form than many I've tried in recent years. The thinner body and relative dryness keep it refreshing and easy drinking, which is something that can be appreciated from time to time in a world of "imperial this" and "double thats".
It's a very good beer, and probably something I'd drink a lot of if it was available here at a decent price. It's not a "wow beer", but I don't think all beers are intended to be, and this one is doing just fine without that distinction. After finishing my glass and typing my review, I looked up the ABV online and found it listed at 5.7%. A bit high to be a session beer, but if I had a 6 pack in the fridge, I'd imagine I'd make my way through it fairly quickly anyway.
The Verdict: A-