Schell Stout

September 23, 2008

5% from a bomber

FROM THE READERS’ MAILBAG:
(in response to the pictures in yesterday’s Brooklyner Weisse review)

Question: When you go out in public are you undercover? Like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent? Or do people know you are the World Famous Vice Blogger? I ask because you are always taking pics of the beers you drink. I am sure people see you and inquire WTF are you doing? What is your answer to them? Do you tell the truth? Or make up a story? And do they think you are weird for taking the pics? Do bartenders think you are taking pics of them? And did the people at the party think? If I saw some kid I didnt know at my party taking pics of beers in my fridge I would punt his ass out the window. Why? Because I wouldnt understand what he was doing, and when you dont understand others or they are different from you, then you are supposed to turn violent toward them. Intolerance is in the Bible so you know it is the right thing to do.

Anyway maybe this question is better answered in a beer review.

First of all, I have taken pics of the inside of your fridge before, Sal. And soon enough I will be posting on this very blog all those images I snuck of the Ziploc-ed severed body parts you are hiding in there. But I do agree with your theories on intolerance, good looking out.

When I began this blog, I used to be nervous about taking pictures of my beers while in public and would try to do it quickly, surreptitiously, and inconspicuously. Being that I am not a skilled photographer, I’m often drinking in dark places, oh, and drunk too, it sometimes was tough to quickly pull off an acceptable, publishable photo. Not to mention, I refuse to lug a camera around to the bars so I have to use my phone’s camera, which, if you’ve noticed, is not the most high-definition. Especially in dark places where IThe Vice Blog › Edit — WordPress‘m forced to put on the “night” switch and then hold the camera completely still for literally like 10 seconds to get a clear photograph. I feel like I’m using a Daguerreotype camera it’s so goddamn slow.

Occasionally, bartenders or other customers, party goers, or even my dates would catch me and brusquely wonder in confusion, “What are you doing?”

Initially, I tried to blow it off with a chuckle and a mumbled “Oh, nothing, don’t worry. I just have a stupid website where I write about beers…”

I wouldn’t even have a chance to finish my blow-off explanation before I’d hear “Cooooool!!!” Everyone loved it! The first bartender to “catch” me was so impressed he immediately started bringing me free glasses of Scotch, bourbon, and “secret” bottles of beer his bar had stored that I just had to try and then write about. Fellow customers with boring lives of their own immediately had something interesting to discuss with me. As did my dates. In fact, the only place that has ever reacted negatively to me taking a picture of a beer was once when I tried to do it while in Whole Foods, which inexplicably has a no-photography policy (“But how ‘r’ ma’ friends back home in Tupelo, gonna’ believe I actually went to one a’ dem fancy ore-gan-ick supermarkets?!”)

So now when I need to take a snap of my beer in public, I pretty much just proudly announce to any one in ear shot, “Excuse me, I need to take a picture of my beer for my blog.” And, usually, those around me stop everything, wanting to assist in the composition, lighting, and set-up for my beer shots.

Such was the case at the infamous party where the Brooklyner pic was taken as a fellow guest thought an in-the-fridge photo would be a unique composition. He was right.

Nevertheless, a good majority of pics, such as the one that kicks of this review, are taken in my home where no one can make fun of me except for the ghost that lives under my bed.

Of my first two career Schell beers, one was a solid success and one was a marginal success. This would be my third to try and the one I was most leery about. You see, stouts are always a risky proposition to me. When it comes to IPAs or pale ales or even barley wines, I still feel like I can enjoy a lackluster one. Of course I want a masterpiece every time, but I have no probably quaffing mediocre to bad ones and even finding a thing or two nice to say about them. That is not true with stouts. For whatever reason with stouts, if I don’t get a masterpiece or a near-masterpiece, I all but hate the beer. Thus, I always drinks stouts with tons of trepidation.

The 5% ABV worried me immediately. The stouts I’ve grown to love are American-style “imperial” asskickers, often so potent they make bourbons blush. This English stout was one of the least alcoholic stouts I can ever recall having, aside from, you know, Guinness.

Nevertheless, the pour was promising. Black and milky with the ever so smallest hint of a head. Smells of dark coffee, roastedness, and burntness. Everything seemed to be in order so far.

I’d like to claim that I tasted even the faintest hints of coffee, but I didn’t. It simply tasted smoky and borderline meaty to me, and, I must admit, a bit like inhaling some flatulence. Not much flavor, complexity, or kick to it. No carbonation or hops feel either, as to be expected. A slight creamy finish redeems the beer somewhat and it is indeed very drinkable. When I have them, I usually make stouts my last brew of the evening and only drink them on a somewhat empty stomach, but this one could be handled any time.

There’s not much else to say. I didn’t particularly love this one. However, admittedly, the more I drank it the more palatable it became and the more I like it. But I never loved it and wouldn’t have it again.

C
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Stone Imperial Russian Stout

August 7, 2008

10.8% ABV from a bomber (“limited spring 2008 release”)

An open letter to Stone Brewery* AKA “Send Me Free Shit”:

Dear Stone,

A supermarket near me, of which I will not reveal the name, just got in a shipment of Stone Old Guardian and Imperial Russian Stout bombers which they incorrectly marked at $1.39 per, less than the Bud Light 40s comically enough. Being a responsible and moral man I immediately alerted the manager, letting him know that these semi-rare and highly-regarded beers should be more in the $6 range.

No, of course I didn’t do that! I backed a shopping cart up like I was robbing a bank vault and shoveled the entire stock in, needing a bum’s assistance to get all my glass bottles home. And why did I do this? Because I fucking love your beers! You’re my favorite brewery in the world (that isn’t operated by men of the cloth!)

Look at my rankings of your beers on my site so far:

Old Guardian Barley Wine……………………A+

Arrogant Bastard……………………………….A

Oaked Arrogant Bastard……………………..A

Ruination DIPA………………………………….A

India Pale Ale……………………………………A-

Pale Ale……………………………………………A-

My point? You should be sending me free shit.

There are countless beer blogs which I monitor on a daily basis–some great, many good, most shitty–and it boggles my mind and infuriates me how these bloggers get free beers, samplers, and other brewery swag seemingly heaped upon them!

Why don’t I get anything sent my way?!

Why doesn’t my favorite brewery send me some stuff? I’d love a few bottles of your 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout which I’ve been struggling so much to find in NYC over the past month. You know I’ll give it an A or A+ because it is undoubtedly awesome. Heck, even if sucks, tell you what, I still guarantee an A. That’s just the kind of whore I am. And that’s a message to all breweries, send me free stuff–shhh…it’ll be our little secret–and I’ll totally overrate your beers**. I don’t mind being a sell-out! If not the 12th Anniversary, Stone, then howzabout some of your coolass glassware for me to befittingly drink your delicious beers from? Or some hip clothing so I don’t have to do laundry as often can proudly walk through Manhattan freely advertising my favorite American beermaker as if wearing a sandwich board. I’d do it! Swear.

Why are these other blogs getting so many free beers and I am not? I have huge readership numbers and my google rank is better than almost all of them. That’s a fact. Is it cause those guys have “safe” and boring websites while mine is actually interesting? Is it cause I talk about nearly throwing up from a certain beer (you would have too), or of living with an alkie in an apartment building full of lunatics? Is it cause I compare drinking a certain beer to fucking a fat chick while I note that I love another beer so much that I’d give it a blowjob?! That’s not even possible you remark! How can one suck off to orgasm a fermented liquid?!

Are you telling me that I am not the kind of person you want to associate with? Is that it? I’m a big boy, I can take the truth. Be frank with me.

You’re a company known for being extreme. For creating big bold beers that kick the ass of “wussies” that typically drink pisswater. I’d think you’d want to be associated with such an awesome guy like me. I’ll be the MJ to your Gatorade. Don’t be like Mike, Be like The Vice Blogger! (OK, we’ll have to have marketing punch up that slogan a bit.)

But apparently you don’t want this to be.

If that’s the case, I would just say: uh, you know your products are ultimately for getting people drunk? How dare you stand on such high moral ground? How dare you be so haughty and supercilious toward me?

Whatever. You–and all the other breweries–can ignore me all they want, I’ll still drink your beers. Probably. And I’ll still love your beers, Stone.

Your delicious Imperial Russian Stout pours jet black with a foamy head that looks like Nestle’s Quik. Incredible lacing. It’s chocolately with a roasted bitter coffee taste. Hints of currant with a nice, alcohol-laden finish. One of the most palatable stouts I’ve ever had, making my tongue tingle with each sip of its potent flavor. Goes down smoothly like dessert. By the time I’m done with a bomber of this, I am always on my ass. Feel free to put that on your bottle like a movie critic blurb. First one is gratis.

“By the time I’m done…I am always on my ass.” –The Vice Blog

Stone, you already make my favorite barley wine which is also probably my favorite overall beer. You make one of my favorite DIPAs, strong ales, doubly strong ales, and smoked porters, so it’s no fucking surprise that you make arguably my favorite stout too.

BOOM! Another A to add to the chart.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout……………………….A

That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Now, hold up your end of the bargain and send me some free shit:

theviceblog [at] gmail.com

A

*But other brewers feel free to pay attention.

**Nope, not you Corona, nice try.


Heavy Seas – Peg Leg Imperial Stout

July 1, 2008

8% ABV on cask

Being an internationally famous beer blogger, you can imagine the scene when I go to my sporting arena–the bar. Luckily enough, future NBA bust Roy Hibbert and his crew of dorky hangers-on happened to saunter into the same bar as me and my crew of Herculean beer and bourbon drinkers and thus most of the tavern’s clientele was focused on the 7’1″ freak of nature as opposed to me. Perfect. I like it that way. Signing autographs can be annoying when you’re trying to focus on your drink. And a nicely poured beer is far sexier to me than some Georgetown slut.

Derek had discovered a quasi-secret bar hidden at the back and downstairs of an unassuming wood-burning stone-oven pizzeria, Pizza Paradiso. The place was as tiny as a VFW bar and totally lacking in ambiance, but their beer list was indeed exquisite and their pizza was about as good as a bar snack can get.

First, I ordered a Clipper City Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout on cask. Surely the longest beer name I’ve ever seen on a menu. I’m usually very leery about cask beer and in fact rarely order it.  Not that many American bars actually have it.  As with a lot of things I drink, I’m not actually sure what cask beer is but I typically associate it with brews that are dispatched slowly from odd, low-level hand pumps and that are usually warm and lacking carbonation.  Oh, and that I usually don’t dig that much, probably because I’m a dumb American say the Europeans.

Doing some heavy, heavy research though, I find that there’s no reason to avoid cask as it is essentially the freshest beer one can get.  It’s unfiltered which usually means it is still fermenting (I’ve discussed secondary fermentation before) and is served without additional N or CO2 pressure.  True, it tastes much different than ordinary beers but who wants ordinary?  I must admit, I really enjoyed this brew and I’m going to begin pursuing more cask beers.

Heavy Seas – Peg Leg is a fantastic stout.  Who knew they made such good beers in Maryland?  It’s visually one of the better looking beers I’ve ever seen.  Incredibly dark like a shiny black marble.  Smell and taste of roasted coffee and barley as well as dark, dark chocolate.  Very smooth and creamy and goes down easily with hardly any bite.  One of the more drinkable Russian Imperial Stouts I’ve ever had.  Any Tsar would be tickled by it.

A-


Victory Storm King Stout

June 4, 2008

9.1% ABV bottle

Nothing worse than drinking a great beer at the wrong time. But much like golf in Scotland, sometimes imbibing has to occur under inclement conditions. If you only golfed when it was 65 degrees and calm and only drank while relaxing on your sofa then you would miss out on lots of good opportunities. Better to try a great beer under less than optimal circumstance than to just pour another Bud Light down your gullet. Thus, after an entire day of “sessioning” with Dogfish Head 60 Minutes and stuffing my belly with greasy food while I celebrated the eventual national champion Syracuse University lacrosse team’s victory, I found myself winding the night down in a classier establishment. And the best beer on that bar’s menu that I had never had before was Victory Storm King. True, I was in that state where you’re not wasted but you’ve been marathon drinking so long that sumpin’ ain’t right with ya’ and I was also so bloated from all the beer and food inside of me that I felt ready to explode, but I still needed to try this one. Victory has rarely let me down before.

So, with that in mind, my thoughts: I always claim I’m not a stout guy but maybe I need to change my tune because any time I drink a stout from a top-notch brewery I like if not love it. I always approach stouts carefully for some reason, and I always am leery of them, but then I always enjoy them. Maybe my fear lies in the fact that they are so heavy and potent that I can only drink one in a sitting, and often that is even a struggle. I never feel relaxed when drinking a stout, despite how good they are. It’s like, no matter how much you love lobster, all things being even, ceteris paribus, you rarely order it because you know that it’s gonna be a fucking workout to shell the thing and get just the tiniest bits of meat down your face. True, it’ll be outstanding, but 99% of the time I think we’d rather lay back and enjoy something more accessible. Like a cheeseburger or an IPA.

Victory King is a very stout, stout. Very smoky with potent tastes of coffee and some chocolate. It was tasty. Damn tasty. Took me forever to get this one down. What can I say, this beer kicked my ass. And like the straight-laced CPA that enjoys hitting the BDSM scene at night…I kinda liked it!

A-


Guinness Draught

June 4, 2008

4.2% ABV on draught

Needed a midday quaff to still (steel?) my nerves and an $8 (!) Guinness pint from an overpriced and empty corporate midtown NYC pub seemed like the perfect choice. I used to drink Guinness a lot when I was a younger lad but now not so much. Maybe it’s cause I don’t have as many Irish friends as I used to. Thick and milky but not as potent and heavy as I recall. I used to think myself a badass for polishing off five of these during a happy hour. Now I realize at 4.2% that wasn’t much of a feat. Quite frankly, I don’t find the beer that tasty or flavorable any more. No hops, no bite, and thus very drinkable. Probably why it was so beloved during my salad drinking days. Nowadays, I think I might enjoy drinking this more for the memories, the aesthetic, and the process than for anything else. I enjoy watching the bartender use the slow two-step process to pull it. I’m tickled when a cloverleaf is swirled into the top of the head to finish the pour off. But I don’t really love this beer any more. And, I’m certainly not one of those American douchebags who visited Dublin once during their junior year of college and now will spend the next 70 years of their drinking lives telling any one that will listen how much better Guinness is in Dublin. How us dumb Americans get a poorer quality product than they do across the pond. How we drink it too cold here. Or too hot. Or in the wrong, wrong, very wrong glass! How our stupid bartenders don’t even pour it correctly! FUCK, that one week in Dublin was awesome! You Yanks just don’t get it!!!

B-


Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

June 4, 2008

8.3% ABV from a bomber

I’m pretty sure I’m not an alcoholic, or any sort of -oholic for that matter, but if I were, these would be my biggest addictions, from the greatest to least:

1. Coffee/caffeine (the only “addiction” that I have withdrawal symptoms from)

2. Alcohol

3. The internet and information consumption

4. Sex (or masturbation)

5. Television/movies

6. Greasy foods

7. Sports

I think those are my only borderline addictions. Though I suppose that is plenty. Seven borderline addictions surely equals being a full-time committed heroin addict who has no other extracurricular interests. Right?

My point with the above list was to show that my top two addictive pleasures are coffee and booze. Put them together in a wonderful concoction known as coffee beer and I should be like a scat addict in shit. Or so I thought. My first coffee beer was from the usually reliable (if not great) Southern Tier brewery with their Jahva Imperial Coffee Stout. I was psyched to try it, but must admit that I didn’t really love that highly-regarded beer.

A few months since then, I decided to give coffee beers one more shot with the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout “limited release.”

Popping the top, I instantly noticed it’s amazing smell. A very rich flavor, this is an incredibly potent stout. Your sissy friends will definitely not like this one. They will retract in fear at you for drinking such a dark, thick beer. It has no bite, no hops (only 29.5 IBUs), and one of the most pleasant aftertastes I have every experienced. I was literally enjoying the burps from this one hours after I had consumed it. And, it did take nearly an hour to consume. Would be a perfect after-dinner dessert beer or as a nightcap. I drank it after dinner at a time most would consider within “nightcap range” but I only considered it like the 2nd quarter for my evening’s drinking exercises.

This beer is phenomenal. Exciting my whole mouth with it’s melted dark chocolate/coffee flavor. You could savor this beer for a long time. And, I say this as a man that doesn’t even particularly love stouts.

A-