Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food: Dark Beers for Dark Days

The rainy season has arrived here in South Florida, and that means you can be stuck inside for days at a time while sheets of water pour down from overcast clouds. As you might expect, it can get pretty gloomy when you don’t see the sun for days. Here are a couple of beers to help with the cabin fever:

Steelhead Scotch Porter - Mad River Brewing Company

Supposedly, this beer is a combination of a scotch ale and a traditional porter. From a glance, though, it’s easy to see that this brew stresses the porter side of the equation; the color is very dark, almost black, with little swirls of yeasty sediment visible when you pour the stuff out into a glass.

When you drink it, you immediately taste the smoky molasses flavor - almost too much smoke. There’s a faint, sulphurous aftertaste present, too, like a day-old egg salad sandwich. Despite these strange notes, it’s a decent, drinkable porter (6% ABV) that would go well with a mild-flavored dish.

8 Ball Stout - Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe

This is an American-style stout that tastes best cold, from a tap; at room temperature, the flavors are a little muted, making it less memorable. As you might expect, there are deep chocolate and coffee undertones in the beer, married with the oatmeal-ish aftertaste.

The coffee and roasted malt flavors are a little austere, for lack of a better word. My favorite Russian Imperial stout, Old Rasputin, bites into the tongue (maybe it’s because Old Rasputin is 9% ABV and not 6%). In contrast, 8 Ball Stout sort of floats in your mouth, the midweight flavors suspended but never really hitting as hard as they could. Overall, though, it’s an okay stout, and it’s pretty inexpensive, to boot.

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