At the end of March, five of us met at Lefty's on a pleasant afternoon for a sampling session that focused on stouts and porters.
The two best of the day: Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter (2007) and Bell’s Black Note Stout. Kind of a battle between solid tradition and brash, multifaceted youth.
Närke Kaggen has an amazingly complex aroma: thick hunks of chewing tobacco, deep veins of chocolate, cherries, and dark ripe fruits. A great unabashedly Old World stout. Unrestrained but classic. Black Note (a blend of Bell's Expedition and Double Cream stouts) had a huge bourbon and vanilla nose, and rich sweet flavors of raisins, vanilla, as well as strange burnt rubber notes. Too much seems to be happening at once, but then it blends into a perfect subtle aftertaste.
The barrel-aged Rasputin gave off aromas of mild sweet chocolate, with some yeast and vanilla notes. It was very strong, with big sweet malt flavors. The bourbon notes really began emerging in mid palate.The bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla flavors are well integrated -- but it's maybe just a touch too sweet.
Founders Porter was pitch black, smoky, and full of chocolates scents. Coffee and chocolate flavors blended in a very well-balanced medium body but somewhat sticky.
Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout had a thick coffee aroma, with a hint of chlorine. Darker than the Dark Force, with a high elegant lacing around a thick dark head. Burned hardwood flavors with very syrupy chocolate. An almost shockingly thick viscous body which rolls around in the glass like motor oil. A bit over the top, but still great stuff.
Three Floyds Black Sun Stout exuded a piney hop aroma with some dark chocolate (like a black IPA). Pitch black with a creamy dark head. Flavors of chocolate, wood, some citrus, and a bitter aftertaste.
Goose Island Bramble Rye Bourbon County Stout had a huge dark fruit aroma, with wine and berries. Fruit flavors start blooming in mid palate and ripen in final. Also a touch of candy and cough drops. Smooth and just a bit fizzy.
Average Ratings -- 50-point scale -- (five raters)
45.5 Bell’s Black Note Stout 10.5%
45.5 Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter (2007) 9%
41 Three Floyds Zombie Dust (American Pale Ale) 6.2%
40.5 North Coast Old Rasputin Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged
Stout XIV 11.5%
Stout XIV 11.5%
40.25 Founders Porter 6.5%
40 Weihenstephaner Korbinian (Doppelbock) 7.4%
39.5 Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout (2011) 11%
38.5 Three Floyds Black Sun Stout (dry stout) 5.25%
38.25 Goose Island Bramble Rye Bourbon County Stout 12.8%
37.5 Southern Tier Imperial Oat 11%
36.25 Mikkeller Texas Ranger (Spice/Herb/Vegetable) 6.6%
34 Bell’s Porter 5.6%
33.75 Russian River Redemption (Belgian Ale) 5.15%
32.75 Extraomnes Donker Imperial Coffee Stout 8.5%
32.25 Dick's Imperial Stout 7.5%
31.75 Nøgne Ø Tiger Tripel (Abbey Tripel) 9%
27.27 XO Beer Cognac (Bière de Garde) 5.9%