photo adapted from Benjamin Haas' photo on flickr.com

Since I was a young lad growing up, I always thought of beer as this golden amber nectar of the gods. To give you a little history, my first foray into beer was stumbling across some thick, slightly foamy black liquid my father had been keeping in a large, clear plastic container in the garage when we were stationed in England. Being the naturally curious five year old I was, I decided to give it a try when no one was looking. I wretched in disgust at this new substance. Upon discovering my indiscretions, my father punished me for going where no one in the family had gone before, but then informed me that I had just discovered beer. It was something much like Guinness in appearance, taste and texture. I said I hated it, and swore I’d never drink it in my lifetime.

Fast-forward thirty years and boy have we come a long way. I have had the pleasure to experience many varieties of tasty malt beverages. One such loveable libation is the Brewmaster Series Coffee Stout from Long Trail Brewing Company, based in Bridgewaters Corners, VT. To many, the combination of coffee and beer is as alien as having a glass of scotch for breakfast. For the seasoned beer connoisseur, it is a welcomed new addition to the family. This particular treat is an Imperial Stout, packing 8% ABV, but it also favors a strong coffee presence. It’s like Folgers, Maxwell House and Bustelo all decided to corner the beer market. Coming in a large 22 oz bottle that labels itself as a Coffee Stout, this is more than enough to wake you up in the morning.

When poured, a thick deep dark brown amasses to form a sea of black. There is only a fair amount of head to speak of, but what is present is a thick and creamy dark beige/tan that quickly fades into obscurity, leaving a very slight film atop the beer and a bit of soap sud lacing upon consumption, although that too fades away. Smelling it gives what you what would expect – coffee beans. There is some roasted malt present as well, but it is overshadowed by the java. A side note – This is brewed with 100% organic coffee beans from the Vermont Coffee Company. This is a dark roast made specifically for this beer. Tasting it shouldn’t be much of a surprise, right?

The flavor profile right up front says dark roasted coffee, with some bitter dark chocolate creeping in. A bit of vanilla cream and malty sweetness is present in the end. It’s medium-bodied and filling and the alcohol presence doesn’t exactly burn, but it warms you up nicely. Now remember, this beer should be consumed around 45-50 degrees. Grabbing it right out of the fridge and drinking it will do nothing but deny you the chance to explore the flavor dynamics this beer possesses. Let it sit and warm up a little before you dive in. Like I’ve mentioned before, the darker it is, the warmer you should drink it. Ice cold is really only meant for light mass-market beer, or what I like to call flavored water. For a real beer, let it warm a bit.

Overall opinion? While it may not be a chart-topper, this is a solid effort from Long Trail. I have enjoyed some of their other beers, but not nearly as much as this one. We’ll get to that in future posts. For now, go grab one of these and try it. As I said before, at 22 oz and 8%, you might as well share the wealth. This is big enough for two.

Long Trail Brewmaster Series Coffee Stout