First of all, this beer is Black. Capital B. Black. It is opaque. Not translucent, opaque. No light coming through. Dark brown head. It’s dark. Really.
Anyway. The high terminal gravity works perfectly for this thick, mouth coating beer. People sometimes disparage stouts by comparing them to motor oil. For this strictly desert beer, though, that comparison seems appropriate and complementary. Between the oats and chocolate, there is a lot of oil in this beer. Add the milk sugar and what you have a beer that fills your mouth with even the smallest sip. Luckily, there is a good level of carbonation to clean some of this up, but even with the scrubbing bubbles, you will not forget what you’ve been drinking any time soon.
The first hints of flavor come from roasted grains and malts. This slowly moves into the dark, roasty chocolate. The hops are nowhere to be found but all that roast gives it plenty of bitterness.
I believe that I stumbled upon a genius idea with the chocolate wheat malt in this beer. I just wanted to see what it would add but it’s what’s missing that works in the beer’s favor. The wheat malt does not have the husk that barley does, which is a source of astringency, especially in darker malts. With all the roast in this beer, that extra astringency from more roasted husks could have seriously hurt the beer.
After all that roast and baker’s chocolate flavor, the sweetness of that high gravity finally comes through. You get more in added body from the lactose, but for a moment while swallowing the beer, you do get some sweetness. The longer you keep the beer in your mouth, the more it comes through.
Initially, the chocolate flavor is all bitter baker’s chocolate, as you let it linger, strong, dark chocolate with just the right twinge of sweetness comes through. I’m guessing, hoping and waiting to learn if this will come through even more as the beer warms. As a matter of fact, I’m going to take a break now and let it warm up a bit…
Okay, it’s about twenty minutes later and I just took another sip. I’m actually getting a bit more coffee off of this now. Still getting sweeter if I swoosh it around my mouth a bit, but somehow less chocolatey until the aftertaste. Dark chocolate notes return as soon as I swallow. Now that it’s warmer, I’m getting hints of the alcohol as well. I would guess this was stronger than it is. Not in a boozy way, just because it’s so substantial.
The head is completely gone at this point and the motor oil comparison is in full effect as I twirl the glass. Anyway, this is an extremely complex beer. There are layers of roast, layers of bitterness, layers of malt character behind all of that and the mouth feel is intense. I don’t think I can do it all justice after drinking one bottle. I hope to be sussing this all out as I slowly work my way through all five gallons.
This beer scored 89/100 at the Brewery at Hershey’s Brewin Up a Cure event. That puts it in the “High Recommendation” point range, one off from “Exceptional Recommendation.” The score sheet is posted below.