“Tapping the Keg” is a weekly review of craft beers brought to you by staff writer Dan Wood.
I once again have the privilege of reviewing a Two Roads Brewing Company beer, brewed right in Stratford, Connecticut. This time, it is a dark beer more geared for winter but with a very interesting twist. From the bottle, “In a process unique to Two Roads, we mixed a locally-roasted Ethiopian/Sumatran blend of beans with a rich oatmeal stout under pressure (like espresso but without the steam) using our German-built ‘Brewnik’ device. The mixture is steeped for several days resulting in a true, cold-brewed coffee stout. Hop on the Two Roads Espressway!” The brewery essentially makes authentic cold brew, but uses a very dark beer in the place of water in the brewing process.
The looks of the bottle are the typical label design for a Two Roads brew, as opposed to their limited runs and other specialty brews. This beer has a stained glass themed seal of two arms crossing each other, as well as little images of their brewery, a thumbs up and a two-finger peace sign. At the neck of the bottle is drawing of fuzzy dice with coffee beans replacing the eyes of the dice. “BIG FLAVORS MERGING AHEAD!” is written on the side of the neck, indicating that we are in for a strong beer.
Please pour this beer out of the bottle and into a chilled pint glass, something most beers deserve, but this stout especially. I would like to take the time to pass along the knowledge that I gained while at the Guinness factory in Dublin, Ireland. As a graduate of the “Perfect Pour Academy,” I believe understanding how to pour a stout can help the beer breathe, and ultimately enhance your beer drinking experience. Plus it looks fancy. The best way to pour a stout is to pour the beer out gently down the side of a glass at 45-degree angle, about a third of the way up the glass, and allow a gentle head to form. Once the beer has settled, slowly pour the rest of the stout into the center of the beer when it is upright on a flat surface. If done correctly, the perfect head will form without going over the lip of the pint glass.
Now that you know how to pour, it’s time to taste. The color of this beer is pitch black, and that is not an exaggeration. If held up to the light, not even a sliver gets through this cold brew coffee stout. As a result, this beer’s head is a lovely dark brown. The nose is very peculiar, imparting notes of heavy minerality, dark roasted Ethiopian coffee, hazelnuts, dark chocolate and touches of vanilla. The body of this beer is a bit heavier than most stouts. It has a distinct thickness to it, but it is not present in the flavor, nor does it linger on the tongue. The middle notes are more akin to a cup of coffee; acidic and pleasantly bitter, combined with toasted oats, all with very little bite. The finish is relatively mild considering the stature of the beer’s dominating flavors. There is no lingering acidity or unpleasant mouth feel often associated with a cup of coffee.
This wonderfully complex stout would be great to have with breakfast. I’m not suggesting that you drink so early in the day but I pass no judgment on others during vacation hours. It should be said that this beer is caffeinated, and its buzz is unique, considering its ABV is at 6.5 percent. This beer would be a great after dinner drink, and could accompany many chocolate or nut-forward desserts well. A scoop of coffee ice cream would also create a wonderful float for this beer.
This beer is available locally at Storrs Wine and Spirits and at Price Chopper (with limited availability) for around $10 to $12 for a six-pack. Coffee and stout lovers unite this holiday season with a beer that is sure to keep you warm, but not too sleepy, to finish wrapping those presents.
Overall rating: 8/10
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.