Wednesday, November 26, 2014

McEwan's Scotch Ale

This is a 8.0% ABV Scotch ale from McEwan's of Edinburgh, Scotland. They are now owned, brewed and bottled by Wells & Young's of Bedford, UK. I lived in Edinburgh in 1992-1993 and almost all the beer was either by McEwan's or by Tennents.  They were kind of like the Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors of Scotland (but with much better beer). I was partial to the McEwan's 80 shilling "heavy" at the time. When the wind was right, Edinburgh was filled with the malty, sweet potato smell of its breweries.

The beer pours nearly black in color, very dark brown and ruby. There is nearly an inch of light tan head, a bit creamy. The aroma is sweet, yet tangy, dark fruits, caramel, a whiff of peat smoke. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes, lightly smokey, turning herbal, with almost a root beer effect. The beer drinks smooth.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Backyard Rye Stout

The Goose Island Brewery is in Chicago, Illinois. This is one of their famous Bourbon County brand stouts aged in bourbon barrels. This one is aged in rye whiskey barrels along with mulberries, boysenberries, and marionberries (the fruit, not the Mayor, think blackberries here). It is 12.7% ABV and was bottled on November 20, 2013.

The beer pours a deep and dark black, totally opaque. There is a relatively short head of brown foam. The aroma is sweet, dark berries, juicy, tangy, with dark roasted malts in the back, lots of berry notes like a dark berry breakfast syrup. The rye is there, but subtle, almost as much implied as explicit. I take a taste. Wow. Pow! The berries are just right there, like eating them by the handful, fresh, full and ripe on a warm summer day. The berries are the star, but they fit right in and complement the dark stout. The beer drinks smooth and round. This is amazingly easy to drink. It is like taking full, ripe berries in a field, squeezing them immediately to juice on a hot summer day, and drinking the warm, sweet, tangy, nearly thick result. The rye is not up front, but adds a pleasant warming on the back end. Unbelievable.

I grew up in an area where mulberry trees were easily found, but mostly ignored.  They were almost like a weed, except in tree form. I don't know why they were ignored, their fruit is delicious and we used to eat the berries off the trees until all of our finger tips were stained black purple. This is the beer equivalent of that experience.