This is one of the latest Mark has sent me from one of his favorite Midwestern Breweries. Dark Horse Brewing. I still have to dig in to the two Founders beers sitting in the fridge. Fear not Mark, I can't wait to get to them. As always thanks buddy for an amazing selection of stuff we can't up here in PACNW. Specifically Mark has provided me a rare gift of Dark Horse Brewing's Tres Blueberry Stout. Sounds yummy and intriguing.
Dark Horse Brewing
Tres Blueberry Stout
My general opinion about fruit flavored beers is pretty much the same as fruit flavored drinks. It can fail miserably in many ways and succeed in very few. If it's fake fruit flavoring made in a factory it's going to taste like chemicals, make you nauseous, and be overpoweringly sugary, giving you flashbacks of the last time you took cough syrup. In short, it will suck.
If it's made with real fruit chances are: it will either taste like that fruit and nothing else, (Lindemans anyone?) or you won't taste the fruit at all. It's tough to get right. So I approach with some trepidation.
The aroma has a blueberry and carmel nose with very light hops. So far so good. It doesn't smell like "blueberry flavoring."
It has a big bubbly effervescent light brown head that settles quickly. It reminds me of Coca-Cola. It's dark but not opaque. You can see the carbonation flowing up the sides of the glass and exploding on top. Don't mistake this for an unpleasant comparison, it's just what it looks like.
It has a light sweet taste up front, blueberry in the middle, and crystal malt and hop bitter at the end. It has a light mouthfeel. This is not a motor oil burly imperial stout. It's much more subtle. The carbonation gives it a nice creamy feel. It's very pleasing on your tongue and well balanced. This is one of the more drinkable stouts I can remember both from a mouthfeel and balance perspective. You need to focus to get all the flavors out of the beer. It's subtle compared to most stouts you will drink. You'll need to dial up the senses a bit not worry about destroying your palate with coffee, hops, and booze.
The best part: You really do get the blueberries. Very nice! The hop bitter does settle on the sides of your tongue and the crystal malt lingers in the back of your throat but it's very harmonious and gentle. I really like the subtlety and precision of this beer. It's clearly made from real fruit but is neither dominating nor bowled over. It stands on it's own with the other ingredients. I suspect Dark Horse had to go a little lighter on the malts to balance the blueberry flavor thus culminating in the lighter mouthfeel, color, and flavors. And I'm fine with that.
As it warms and the carbonation subsides the blueberry comes out even more. This is such an agreeable drinkable beer. This is like going to Grandma's house when you were a kid. Always fun, sweet, and you got everything you wanted without a fight with mom and dad. This is your sweet old Grandma in a glass! Kind, and eager to please you without getting overbearing. This is beer you could drink all afternoon without getting too sweet, too drunk, or burned out. Thanks Mark for restoring my faith in fruit beer and for sending me something truly great and unique!
4.5 stars on the Mark-o-Meter.
Pros: complex precise, friendly and lightly drinkable. A great combination. Just like Grandma.
Cons: not a typical big bitter stout so you need to recalibrate your pallet to pick up the details.
Conclusion: if your grandma was a homebrewer she'd make this every time you came over.