Beer research requires breaks and good food to offest the alcohol and maintain beercuity. Dan did not disappoint with an outstanding, hearty, and very manly Venison Chili!
Our third session of the day focused on dark and chocolate brews. We started with Sam Adams/Boston Beer Company's Chocolate Bock. This is an unusual beer style: chocolate-infused beers tend to be ales rather than the crisper lagers. This scored well in the maltiness area, but weak in hoppiness. That balance is critical when the beer is as sweet as this one was. On the other hand, this was clearly better than any of the beers from the previous session.
Next up, was Rogue Ale's Chocolate Stout. Now this is a beer! Some chocolate beers rely on chocolate malts to impart the sweet and dark flavoring, while other use actual chocolate in the brewing process. This beer does both. It's nicely hopped to take the edge off of the sweetness. At 87 points, this tied for third-place in our overall rankings. Recommended.
We also tried the Black & Brew from Samuel Adams. This was our second-lowest scoring beer with little to recommend it. I notice that it's not even listed on their website anymore. Just as well...
We finished the session with Eel River Brewing's Organic Porter. I was unfamiliar ith this Fortuna, CA brewer, but this brew was pleasant surprise that scored well in the flavor category.
After a break, we continued with a appropriately dessert-themed session. It began with Sixpoint Brewery's Gorilla Warfare Coffee Porter. this beer was great. If it had a weakness, it was a little under-hopped, but this is a malty style of beer, so perhaps that is not surprising. It scored well in this session.
Next up, was Southern Tier's Créme Bruleé, an imperial milk stout that's a real dessert beer. At 9.5% ABV, it's pretty heavy, but this is a brew for sipping. It has an intoxicating vanilla aroma and hast flavors of vanilla custard and caramel. Yummy! It tied with Rogue's Chocolate Stout for third-place, overall and eked past Gorilla Warfare as the best beer of this session.
We then sampled another Southern Tier offering, Mokah. This beer is actually a blend of two other Southern Tier imperial stouts: Jahva and Choklat. This is intense, and at 10.0%, quite heavy. It's the kind of beer that inspires either love or revulsion. For us, it was a little of both. It scored very well in the flavor categories, except that, like Gorilla Warfare, it scored low on hops. Certainly a respectable brew worth trying at least once.
One might think that a heavy beer is simply more of a good thing. For sure, 4.0% ABV mass-market swill like Budweiser are indefensible in their lameness. Beers that clock in between 5–6% range, for me, are ideal and sessionable, that is:"...a beer drinker [may] have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication." (Via Beer Advocate)
Beers in the 7–8% range can be very satisfying, but they pack a greater wallop. At the 10% ABV level, beers are often noticeably alcoholic; that is, there is distinct taste of alcohol that can overwhelm the hops/malt balance. Obviously, you also have to be careful to limit your alcohol intake with these beers. On the other hand, I've had some very strong beers—Tripelbocks come to mind—that can be quite sublime.
Keep in mind though, that there is no direct correlation between the Alcohol-by-Volume rating and the flavor of a beer. Many beers with lower ABVs are quite tasty!
Temperatures drop quickly in the Poconos during Early November. We enjoyed a roaring fire and watched some manly movie whose title escapes me now...