Monday, October 11, 2010

Stone Brewing Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Is Stone capable of missing the mark on a beer? It seems as if the craft beer giant from Escondido, California can do no wrong right now.  Very few breweries can make multiple great beers.  Even fewer are capable of making great ales and stouts.  While Stone is celebrated for its hoppy ales, in particular the Ruination and Arrogant Bastard, its dark beer collection is replete with excellent beers.  Consider this lineup:  Imperial Russian Stout, Smoked Porter, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, and variations on these bottlings.  These are all outstanding offerings of great flavor and complexity. 
The Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout is no exception.  I recently tried this at a Stone tap takeover at Chicago's Small Bar.  All three locations offered various Stone beers on every tap, and Greg Koch himself was at the Fullerton location around 8 p.m. to toast to the greatness of craft beer.  Many of the Stone beers from the takeover were still on tap several days after the event, and I got a much more generous pour of the Oatmeal Stout. 

The stout is terrific.  It's motor oil dark and displays a coffee brown head.  It smells of caramel malts, oats, nuttiness, and roasted flavors.  The taste is finely balanced.  The nose flavors register in the taste.  The sweet caramel malts and nuttiness seamlessly blend with a bit of grainy oats and barley.  The mouthfeel is rich and silky and the finish has a hint of an acidic bite, some smoke, a smidgen of hops, and that roasted caramel.  The bourbon barreled version of this, which I also tried, is pretty amazing too, offering a strong sweet whiskey flavor and aroma.

This is a flat-out delicious beer and one of the best oatmeal stouts I've ever had.  The alcohol volume is not so high that one feels overwhelmed towards the end of the glass.  Everything about the experience of drinking this was enjoyable except for the fact that it is not part of Stone's regularly distributed lineup.  I certainly hope Stone decides to offer this in at least bomber size bottles.  I would love to spend my winter cozying up to this.

I rate this 4.8 of 5 stars.  Supremely delicious.

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