Style: Coffee Oatmeal Stout
VOL 18º P
Ingredients: Pale, Caramel, and Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley, Columbus hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water
Brewery’s Note: “Earl (1911-1985) was our grandfather’s brother; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his 13 siblings. In his honor, this Stout is crafted from American malted barley, Flaked Oats, English roasted malts, American hops, Organic Guatemalan Coffee, our ale yeast, and water from our well. It is unfiltered and naturally carbonated. A silhouette of coffee and malt – an embodiment of complexity and drinkability, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Earl.”
The beer pours out fat, sludgy, and the color of fudge. It has a girth in the glass from all that oatmeal goodness, and it whips up a mocha frappe head of miniscule bubbles to show it. The head quickly unravels down to a quarter-finger’s-width, but leaves a lovely web-work of fat, tightknit lacing as it recedes. This beer has girth and beauty, and it utterly opaque to the eye, with no mysteries revealing themselves from its fatty flesh. From the crack of the bottle, the nose is immediately expressive of the coffee in the beer. Deep, earthy, musty roast. Like the forest floor beside a Boy Scout’s fire, only the Boy Scout snuck brownie batter on the trip. There is also a flinty minerality to this beer’s nose, not quite as crisp as the graphite I’ve smelled in other coffee stouts, but rich and loamy. Additionally, there is a creaminess to the smell, like a thick coffee frappe from the dairy bar. This smells lovely, rich, and of earthy coffee. Bueno. The coffee integrates in with the grainy cereal notes and the rich roastiness to give the nostrils a nice little pleasure. On the tongue, the beer tastes initially of bready sweetness, which swirls into mocha and earthy roast and then gently presses slight dark fruit acidity over the tongue. The roast slowly divulges into roasted bitters, while the minerally earthiness carries through yet evolves, moving from loam to dirt covered flint. There is a sharpness to the bitter flavor, seemingly hoppy in origin, and it dances somewhere in the nettles-to-pine range. The finish carries a peanut butter sweetness that toys with cashews while rich dark roast coffee (presumably Guatemalan) nips the tongue in warm breathes. There is a slight woodiness in the middle of the sip, too, blending in with the earthiness and coming across as decomposing, yet rich. The aftertaste is alight with sharp flint and bitter coffee herbs, which tuck lovingly at the tongue. In the mouth, the beer follows the oatmeal nicely, fluffing the tongue in full, luxurious swirls that manage slight nips on the finish with bitter love. The mouth is left slightly astringent, and roasted-bitter raw, tingling and tautening on the edges. A sheen of spittle attempts to clean the palate, but proves too miniscule as the mouth works to dampen itself further. Overall, this is a Hill Farmstead beer. Some of their draft stuff has been below their normal levels lately (they are getting used to a new system, after all…), but they are still light-years ahead of most breweries. This being a more regular offering from them, it is superb, delicious, and a pinnacle of the style. While this is more bitter roast-forward, it also manages to carry a fair amount of nettley/minty hop bite in it, but carries a strong enough earthiness between the graininess and the coffee flavor that it is wonderfully balanced and pleasant to sip. There is subtle chocolate in the flavor, but this is not one of your sweeter, fatty entries in the style, despite what the nose leads you to believe. This is a beer to have with thick, heavy food, and will be superb for winter nights, fall nights, and anything that makes me think of chill weather. It’s another great Hill Farmstead, suffice to say.