Stop #1 for Seattle Beer Week was Stout Night at Brouwer’s.
(Disclaimer: This was just the best looking table with the best light in the place for photos. I don’t know any of these guys. ;-)
They were pouring two dozen of the darkest, thickest, tastiest stouts in the world, and every one was $5 and served in 12 oz glasses. I’m sure we have a copy of the full list somewhere, but I’ll share with you my favorites. Maybe Tom will chime in with his as well.
We showed up at 2pm and they started pouring stouts at 4. We didn’t leave until around 9, so we had time for a lot of beer.
I started out with the Avery Czar. This stout had a lot going on. Notes of espresso, toast, dark sugars, figs, and raisins all permeated the brew. But more than these small notes on individual flavors, this stout stood out as a combination of toasty espresso and dark sugar that I’d never had before. The carbonation and mouthfeel were perfect for the beer, and it finished cleaner than I expected. It was almost more like a strong, thick barley wine than a traditional, more bitter stout.
We all sampled the Southern Tier Choklat and Jah-va, which have apparently been making their way around the Northwest recently. These were beers that barely deserve the title “beer,” because each one tastes so much like its namesake. The Choklat tasted like drinking thin, cold, carbonated dark chocolate cocoa, and the Jah-va was the same for sweet coffee flavors. These were one-hit wonders, but their songs were pitch perfect.
I had the Deschutes Abyss next. By this time my palette was getting a little messed so it’s possible that I wasn’t able to appreciate this fully, but it didn’t stand up to the standard that the Czar and Southern Tier’s offerings had set. It was lightly smokey with heavy toasted flavors — too much for my taste. A moderately sweet backbone and a slight hop character didn’t make up for the burnt flavor. I don’t know what year this one was.
Brouwer’s was pouring two Stone brews as well. First I tried the Stone Bourbon Barrel Aged 12th Anniversary Stout. This was very like a barley wine and scotch, somehow mixed together. It was rich in sweet (sugary and alcoholic) and smokey flavors, with a bit of toast and some bourbon character. The bourbon aging added a spice to this that was great; this was a fantastic brew.
I then tried the Stone Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Russian Stout, which was even better. It hit similar notes as the 12th Anniversary and added a mild chocolate flavor that really rounded out this incredibly complex beer. This and the Czar are definitely tied for the best beers I had on Friday.
We had said hi to this guy at the Barley Wine Festival:
He was on the right in this photo, so you can assume he’s hardcore. He said to try the Founder’s, but by the time we got there, the keg was gone. Oh well — I woke up last Sunday, the night after stouts, and brewed a batch:
Hopefully it turns out well — I’ll let you know.
I finished off the night with the Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Espresso Stout. I’m not a huge fan of the normal Great Divide Yeti (to one friend, it tastes a bit like motor oil, and I don’t entirely disagree), but the addition of a healthy chunk of espresso — combined with my complete inebriation at this point — helped me appreciate this brew.
Somewhere between the Stone brews, I wandered over to thank Matt, the owner and operator of Brouwer’s and Bottleworks. One of the Friends Of Matt, who we’ve seen several times working at Bottleworks but whom I have not yet asked his name, knows Tom and I from — get this — this website. When we refer to “the listener” in our podcast, he’s the guy we’re talking about (because he is the only non-friend listener of the podcast that we’ve actually met). He’s exceptionally nice (and now I feel bad that I don’t know his name), but he and Matt had obviously already enjoyed everything they wanted out of Stout Night, and they were drinking this:
I managed to get a taste of it, and while my palette for sour beers wasn’t excellent at the time, it was a smooth, balanced, moderately sour beer (a blend, perhaps?) that cut through all the stout immediately. It was deep, complex, and satisfying, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to taste it.
This most recent week was equally fantastic — Uber for some rare brews, Bottleworks for even rarer brews, Brouwer’s for Avery Night and the Sour Beer Festival — and I’ve got notes from everything. Should be just as fun to relive!