I like dark beers. Craft brewers created a lot of really fine stouts and porters this year. I know, I have had my fair share. When the brewer gets it right, it is because the brewer has mastered mixing multiple flavors so that they are recognizable but not overbearing. The flavors that highlight a well-made stout or porter the best are bourbon, chocolate, coffee, oak, and vanilla.
This year, 2019, I decided to try my hand at making a fine porter with the Bourbon Barrel Porter extract kit. My plan was to have it ready for Christmas so my brew day was in September. I make a yeast starter for all of my brews but it is probably especially important for a heavy beer like this. I left the beer in the primary fermenter for about six weeks. Heavy beers take longer to ferment so you need to be patient if you want a good stout or porter. I tasted the beer and confirmed it was good and ready to go. So I soaked the full pack of oak cubes in 16 ounces of bourbon for two days before adding it into the secondary fermenter with the beer. After two weeks in the secondary fermenter, I bottled. I have been drinking this porter for the last four weeks and I have to say it is the best beer I have ever brewed. We got the flavors right. It took a long time but it was worth it.
I brewed Midwest Supplies Bourbon Barrel Old Ale and Karl’s Ninety 90 Shilling last year and they finally are fun to drink. I knew the Old Ale was going to take three months to mature but Karl’s Ninety 90 took a long time to carbonate. The Old Ale has some wonderful oak flavors but the bourbon flavor is too small. Although I like it, the Old Ale was too much work. There are just too many outstanding stouts available commercially.
Karl’s Ninety 90 Shilling is a brown ale that I find competitive with the commercial varieties. I like it enough that I may brew it again.
My choice for celebrating National Beer Day was the Rally Drum Red Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company. This was a good looking brew with a little bit of hops that was almost identical to the Irish Red Ale that I brewed in March. Cheers!
Although the year is not over my favorite beer of 2016 is Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. It was smooth and so alcoholic. It was the perfect tonic for a long work week. My only complaint was that it was expensive for a draft, $14 for a pint.
The name of this beer, Yodo Con Leche, translates as iodine with milk but the brewers say the Spanish slang translation is a coffee that is strong and dark. I was expecting this imperial porter to be somewhat bitter with a strong coffee flavor so I was surprised that the bitterness and coffee flavor were more muted than expected. Since I am not a big fan of IPA beers, I am not complaining. The combination worked for me and I enjoyed sipping this beer.
I drank the Barrel Aged Knuckle Head beer last Friday at Jungle Jims. It is a strong ale that has been aged in used Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. I liked how the bourbon flavor added complexity to the ale. I wanted to get back in line for a second but since the beer is around 10% ABV that could cause a problem driving home.