Lump of Coal (Ridgeway Brewing)

Style: Foreign/Export Stout

8.0% ABV

Brewer’s Note: “Looking forward to a depressing holiday? Here is liquid consolation. This 8% bittersweet chocolate stout is the best you could hope for in these dark times. Actually, come to think of it, considering how bad you’ve been, this little coal-black gem is more than you deserve for Christmas this year./ The handiwork of vastly talented (but altogether too cheery) master brewer Peter Scholey, Lump of Coal is the perfect stocking stuffer for the beer lover or manic depressive in your family.”

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The beer label’s main graphic is a lump of coal… The bottle is slightly oddly shaped, which is cool, but the fonts are a little too clean for the overall style that the label is going. The fake fire/snowflakes(?) in the background are a little odd and over-animated. The label handles clutter perfectly, but don’t capture the eye past the initial “ooo, gold and fire” stage.

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The beer pours a dark, chocolate brown with a nice fluffy head of light tan, sandy bubbles and a great retention. The head leaves a medium-thick, sheet-like lacing. In body, the beer is clear of particles and clean, but with a dark coloring that makes the beer nearly opaque. 3/3

On the nose, the beer smells of stale, dark breads, touches of milk chocolate, instant coffee, and bakers chocolate. Low amounts of diacetyl seem to be present as well with a light, buttered popcorn character. Touches of spicy licorice occasionally brush against the nostrils, but they are light. On the tongue, the beer tastes bready sweet, with a mild bitter roast, touches of coffee-like acidity, and the briefest of alcoholic pops just at the close. Hop bitterness builds as you sip the beer, and eventually hits slightly unbalanced levels. The finish is drier with a mild bitter roast. In flavor, the beer begins as softly chary coffee, moving into roast grains and toasted bread. The middle and finish carry lots of herbal and medicinal bitters that hurt other flavors in the beer. Touches of licorice, bakers chocolate, and caramel touch across the tongue, but are kept light due to the mildly aggressive bitter flavoring that mingles with slight char flavors. In the mouth, the beer feels on the heavier side of medium in body, with a middling, soft carbonation, and a slightly watery, smooth, and almost-creamy mouthfeel. The bitters give the mouth a slightly sharp feeling, which is off with the rest of the beer. Overall, this is an average Export Stout that suffers from a bad blending of its bitters with the other rich flavors of the beer. It is not overly bitter by any means, but just feels a touch too bitter for the style. For a “Dark Holiday Stout,” I was also expecting more rich malt character, but it was fairly mellow with it malt character. This beer is not horrible, but is rather forgettable in the grand scheme of things. I liked it more as I drank more of it. It hides its 8% nicely. I would advise serving this at room temperature.

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Extra: If blended with Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, the result is not bad. Perfect to-taste blending is needed to smooth out the bitterness of the stout though… Also, if you drink the stout with pickles, the bitters are canceled out slightly and more smoke is drawn out of the beer.

 

3.58/5, 32/50 BJCP, C in Style

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