Friday, April 27, 2007
Today's offering makes we wax poetic:
A long time ago, way back in history,
when all there was to drink was nothin but cups of tea.
Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops,
and he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops.
He must have been an admiral a sultan or a king,
and to his praises we shall always sing.
Look what he has done for us he's filled us up with cheer!
Lord bless Charlie Mops, the man who invented beer beer beer
tiddly beer beer beer.
I like that poem a lot better than the one this beer is named after:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,Today's offering, and the reason for poetry and beer, is New Holland's The Poet.
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
New Holland, in Holland, Michigan, has since changed their label to include a raven perched on a "pallid bust." Just so there's no confusion about which poet they meant. Why Edgar Allen Poe? Because this is a deep, dark, thick stout.
This beer has excellent head retention, pouring a chunky 2-finger tan head, leaving a thin but healthy lace. The beer itself is nearly black, with gorgeous glowing garnet highlights.
The scent is terrific. Up front, there is a lovely creamy malt aroma with bare hints of a woody charcoal (like a fireplace late in the night after it's gone out) and a bitter bakers chocolate.
The taste is so interesting. There is a nice crispness to the beer, most likely from the judicious (not copious) amount of oatmeal. It meets well with a full-bodied, silky-smooth mouthfeel. There is the perfect balance of sweetness from the malt with and a mild char tang of roasted coffee and dark chocolate emerge. The hop bitterness is just enough for balance; really, the bitterness comes mostly from the dark roasted barley. It finishes with a very fine smoked flavor. Delicious the way it just sits on the palate, urging another quaff.
This is by far one of the best stouts of the non-specialty brews I can think of (meaning a basic style without "oak aging" or "burbon barrels" or "ingredient X"). It has all of the elements of a great oatmeal stout, from well-balanced big flavors to the silken mouthfeel unique to the style.
Some oatmeal stout history: Its history dates back to the mid- to late 1800s, with the discovery that adding oats to beer made it healthier. This new creation was often considered a table beer and prescribed to nursing mothers and ailing children, and believed to be a remedy for sickness in general.
What separates the Oatmeal Stout from other stouts is a simple addition of oats. Oats will make up only a small amount, less than 10%, of the total grain bill. This helps to avoid problems in the brewing process due to its thick consistency when it is hydrated -- a big bowl of oatmeal, anyone? It makes a big pile of mush in your kettle and fermenter.
Oatmeal Stouts also tend to be sweeter than the other stouts which comes not from the oatmeal, as many people think, but from the amount of malt used and the use of a yeast strain that doesn't consume too much of the sugars. This leaves a great balance between the roasted character of the dark roasts (which make a stout) and sweetness, while the oats add to the silky smoothness and cause the body to be fuller than normal.