Welcome back to another edition of Craft Beer Crosscut. Peaks and Pints’ carefully calibrated algorithms constantly collect data to produce the best daily craft beer flights. Today, we don’t need no stickin’ algorithms. It’s National S’mores Day. Today’s beer flight writes itself, as they say. How much do you love the marshmallow, chocolate, graham combo? Bet if we throw in beer, it’ll make it more dear. Indeed, s’mores are a simple backyard pleasure so we’re pleased to have another excuse to get our marshmallow toast on today. Traditional s’mores with golden marshmallows over campfires are lovely. But to celebrate an unofficial holiday on a Saturday in Tacoma, we’ll take Craft Beer Crosscut 8.10.19: Flight of S’mores.
Craft Beer Crosscut 8.10.19: Flight of S’mores
6.5% ABV, 38 IBU
This pitch-black stout is impenetrably dark and tastes of liquid s’mores. That may sound ridiculous, but High Water Brewing didn’t overdo the flavor of graham cracker, and the marshmallow is mostly in the nose. As for chocolate? Well, we’d be lying if we said there was no room for chocolate notes in beer. “Flavored” beers should be met with caution, and often they have a polarizing effect on their audience. But there’s definite charm in a beer that has you reliving childhood memories of eating marshmallows until your fingers were forever glued together and unrolling that worn flannel sleeping bag so you could fall asleep under the stars.
10.5% ABV, 40 IBU
John Laffler of Goose Island and Dave Bleitner of Two Brothers opened Off Color Brewing in March 2013. At the brewery’s launch party, a local pastry chef cooked up a batch of dinosaur-shaped s’mores for munching; these treats provided the inspiration for an imperial stout Off Color would later brew in collaboration with Danish brewer Amager Bryghus and venerable Windy City bottle shop West Lakeview Liquors. The beer — flavored with marshmallow fluff, molasses, vanilla beans, graham flour and cocoa nibs — was named Dino S’mores and has been available since 2014. It’s sweet and sugary, with a bouquet of blackstrap molasses, graham cracker and marshmallow fluff atop a layer of alcohol, vanilla, marshmallow and milk chocolate.
8.5% ABV, 55 IBU
Caldera Brewing Company’s colossal brewery sits just off Interstate 5 near Ashland, Oregon. The brewery honors the passing of a beloved pooch named Mogli with its Mogli bourbon-oaked chocolate imperial porter. Both the style and the beer are a mouthful. The more we smell this craft beer, the more we are reminded of s’mores. We pick up slightly burnt marshmallow, powdery graham cracker and a lot of cocoa. Tucked beneath those notes were some toffee, charred oak and a bit of mocha. The taste opens with a lot of sweet cocoa notes, mixed with roasted malt, espresso and burnt chocolate. Marshmallow and a touch of coffee-like acidity and burnt brownies round out the flavors.
The primary component of The Bruery‘s “White Chocolate” ale is a 100 percent barrel-aged wheatwine that the brewery affectionately refer to as “White Oak Sap.” Essentially, it’s a “summer” barleywine style ale, but made with a wheat heavy grain base, then aged in used bourbon barrels for nearly a year. To compliment the already rich flavors of the beer, the brewery adds cacao nibs and vanilla beans to give this beer the delicate flavor of white chocolate. Indeed. This bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine-style ale made a fanciful trip to the chocolatier and returned with luscious flavors of white chocolate — hence the name. Dipping our nose into your taster glass reveals pure white chocolate from TCHO, a luxury chocolate maker based in Berkeley, California. Seriously, it smells like a plate of white chocolate — with a little bourbon, caramel and sugary oak notes. On the tongue, we get all the chocolate and vanilla, plus almond, toffee and an almost full and slightly oily mouthfeel.
Evil Twin Brewing brewed Bozo Beer to make fun of the kind of overkill deployed by craft brewers such as Mikkeller. They added cocoa, chocolate, coconut, cinnamon, oak chips, chili, coffee, vanilla, hazelnut, chestnut, and marshmallows to make a crazy high alcohol by volume imperial stout that he wouldn’t necessarily drink, but received crazy high ratings. It pours thick and dense, hitting the nose with coffee, chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, creamy vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, chili peppers, and cinnamon. It’s not a hot mess, but rather offers roastiness, marshmallow, vanilla, coffee, chocolate and molasses initially, with the almonds and hazelnuts checking in next. The cinnamon and chili peppers come in late but are understated. The alcohol warmth follows but not aggressive.