Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Schlafly Coffee Stout (The Saint Louis Brewery)

When I spoke to Two Stones Pub owner Mike Stiglitz back in January, I asked him what breweries he thought were underrated or that folks should keep an eye on. One of those he mentioned was The Saint Louis Brewery, which makes beer under the Schlafly brand, so I picked up a bottle of Schlafly Coffee Stout, their winter seasonal release.

If you're like me, you have to overcome considerable apprehension before touching to your lips anything with the name "Schlafly" on it -- and, yes, brewery founder is related to Phyllis, although there is no reason at present to believe his company is associated with reactionary political ideology. For now I'll pretend this stout I'm about to taste is just another beer from another brewery.

Pouring raises half an inch of tan foam that quickly settles to a thin film. The beer is black in my pint glass, with a deep mahogany tint when held to strong light. The aroma carries dark chocolate and undertones of espresso.

To the taste, there are coffee and roasty malt flavors in equal parts. Hops support is unobtrusive. The mouthfeel is not as creamy as other coffee stouts I've had, especially ones with oatmeal in them. Don't know whether this is because the percentage of oats in this beer's grain bill is low, but for whatever reason, the body fairly thin, which seems to bring out the hard edge of the coffee -- not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

There is some complexity in the flavor, but even though the malt is pretty well represented, instead of a captivating weave of rich espresso, kiln-fired grain, and exotic chocolate threads, the focus keeps resolving pretty squarely back to the coffee. It occurred to me is that this tastes almost like a Saranac release, which is not usually another way of saying "it is extremely complex." Still, they may have intentionally crafted it with strong emphasis on the coffee note, and it is not a bad tasting beer in the end.

Overall, I would describe this as a distinctive if not amazing coffee stout, and a respectable addition to the field. I'll need to sample another Schlafly beer before I can make a judgment on the overall genius of this brewery. For my money, Tröegs does the style better with their JavaHead Stout.

From the bottle's label:

This Fair Trade espresso is brewed using the cold toddy method for an exceptionally delicious, fresh flavor.

Schafly Coffee Stout This Oatmeal Stout with natural flavor added uses locally roasted Kaldi's Coffee.

Featured beer:
Schafly Coffee Stout

Honorable mentions:
JavaHead Stout

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