On this last day of winter, we figured that it’d be pretty slick to pay tribute to all the great stouts that we tasted this past season that come from Connecticut breweries. Yes, we typically think of stouts and darker beers in the colder months, but we see nothing wrong with drinking these bad boys even if it’s warmer out. So, check out these brews and let us know which of these are your faves? If the one you’re in love with isn’t on the list, let us know so that we can try it!
Imperial Choconaut Porter limited release, Firefly Hollow
We were pleased to see this at the brewery when we visited back in December, so we snagged a bottle . . . and boy, are we glad that we did. On the nose, there are some alcoholy, boozy notes, with some hints of chocolate mixed in. Now, with the taste, it’s very cocoa forward (brewed with cocoa nibs after all), there are notes of coffee, and there’s a gentle bitterness at the end. Mixed in with all of this, you get nice little hints of vanilla up front, too. If you love an in-your-face kind of porter with strong cocoa notes, this is definitely your jam.
Toadstool Oat Stout, Firefly Hollow
We’ve had this a few times at festivals, but it was another experience having it right at the brewery. It pours out a dark black, and gives off a nutty/malty smell. The taste is where it’s at with nice bites of malt, a little bitterness, and a slight smoky toastiness, too. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find Toadstool up on Nitro. You’ll want to try that one, as you’ll notice that the stout seems to be creamier and more complex. But, by itself, it sure does make a great stout.
Imperial Stout Trooper, New England Brewing
We’ve had IST too many times to list over the past few years, but we seemed to be drinking it more this past winter. In terms of stouts, it’s hard to find a more loved and talked about stout here in CT than this one. Was it the taste, was it the lawsuit from George Lucas? Maybe both, but it’s amazing to see how fast these bottles sell out. Now, in terms of the beer, it’s a medium body kinda stout, dark black in appearance with a decent amount of brownish suds that settle down nicely. In terms of aromas, you get lots of malts and chocolate, which come through nicely in the taste, too. Above all, the malts seem to have a big part in this stout, and we’re all about that. IST ends up being a pretty rich, complex kind of stout. We have a barrel aged version that we’re sitting on, ready to open for a nice day. Anybody wanna join us?
Chocolate Truffle Stout, Hooker
We’ve seen this in stores and we’ve seen people who have really loved this beer, but we weren’t sure what to expect because we have had some Hookers that we didn’t really enjoy. The Truffle Stout pours out a dark black with a few bubbles and little to no foam. You get aromas of malts, chocolate, and even tiny wisps of coffee. Oddly enough at over 7% ABV, this is a deceptively smooth stout. At first taste, it’s very complex up front: the malt mixes in with some of the bitterness from the Munson’s chocolate that this beer is brewed with. When the carbonation hits your tongue, the bubbles bounce that chocolate flavor around even more. The finish is nice and smooth with no bitter aftertaste, just a nice malty and chocolately finish. This is one Hooker we could take home every night. ;)
Lights Out imperial Stout, Charter Oak (based in CT, brewed in MA, but soon looking to change that)
We’ve had plenty of Charter Oak before and we have to say that their brews are decent and reliable, but not the kind of brews we’d seek out. But, with Lights Out we definitely feel like they’ve hit their stride. This beer pours out to a nice dark dark brown color with a nice and foamy head. As it pours, you can smell hints of malts and chocolate, and those definitely come through as you taste. Up front you get the malt, then you get a slight booziness, then a bitter end. It’s a complex stout that we definitely enjoyed, and maybe a bit too much considering that it weights in at an impressive 9.1% ABV. So, you might want to share a bomber of this with a friend or it just might be lights out for you.
Porter, Back East
We’d been holding onto this can for a bit, just waiting for the right time, so on a nice snowy day with work canceled, we knew it was the perfect time to pop this can open. Whereas most of the stouts that we’ve covered so far have been pretty heavy and very demanding on the palate, this beer was so sessionable. You could really take down a few of these guys without feeling all heavy and bloated. In terms of body, this is pretty lighter, as many porters are, but there’s definitely some great flavors going on. You get a nice amount of malts, some slight hints of coffee, and only a slight bitterness at the end that many people might not even pick up.
Imperial Stout, Back East
How exciting to come into a liquor shop and find brews that you’ve never seen in the area before . . . and that’s exactly how it went down last week when we saw the Back East Imperial Stout in a big big bottle, almost calling us. When we popped it open, it poured out dark black and had a nose of heavy malts and cocoa. At first sip, you get malts which gives way half way through the taste into a nice smokiness, followed up a billowing up of smoky flavor at the finish. Along with the smokiness in the finish, there is a slight bitterness, too, adding some nice complexity to everything.
Coffee Stout, Thimble Island
We were excited to find this at a store in Greenwich that was bragging that they had it. So, we figured why the hell not try it, as we’ve wanted to get our hands on this beer. Well, it was dark caramel brown with a foamy pour that fizzled down pretty quickly. There was some definite malty and caramely notes coming from the nose, and the taste also had that maltiness to it. Actually, the maltiness hit you at first, quickly followed by a lively hoppy finish. It was light, refreshing, and smooth with definite bold notes of coffee. We actually learned during a visit at Thimble Island that this beer is brewed with Turkish coffee, not fake flavors and liquids like some breweries use.
Vanilla Coffee Stout limited release, Thimble Island
A few weeks later, we found ourselves at Thimble Island in Branford. On tap was the Vanilla Coffee Stout, so you best believe we took home a squealer of that bad boy. All the flavors of the original were there, but the vanilla definitely came through nicely. Again, they aren’t using fake flavors and artificial ingredients: they threw in whole vanilla pods, actually. But, oddly enough for us, we think we like the original more because you get more of that delicious coffee flavor coming through.
Others Not Pictured
Midnight Oil, Beer’d Brewing
So, yeah, we finally had our chance to get some Beer’d Brewing recently when they came to visit Coalhouse Pizza in Stamford. We tried all the beer they brought, and, of course, we burn’t the Midnight Oil. It poured out blackish dark brown and we could smell hints of chocolate, coffee, and malts. The taste was great, with a medium kinda body, and had nice bites of roasted malts, a bit of chocolate, and a bit more pronounced coffee flavor. Perhaps one of the nicest things about this beer is that it’s pretty silky smooth. Now, we just need to get out to Stonington to get us some more!