Friday, July 17, 2009

17. Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout

From the lovely folks at Southern Tier in Lakewood, NY comes this beer-based version of everyone’s favorite rich creamy dessert. Southern Tier also operates their own brewpub, the Empty Pint. We found Crème Brûlée on tap @ the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District.

Crème Brulee has a sweet and complex nose; hints of toffee mixed with caramel and accompanied by both vanilla and alcohol notes, making the beer’s nose reminiscent of fresh cookie dough. The head was pretty non-existent, and the viscous slick mouthfeel matched the opaque deep brown/black color of the beer. Crème Brulee opens with a sweet burnt caramel taste that also carries with it cola and vanilla flavors. The middle carries more sweet flavors, building upon and fleshing out earlier tastes. The beer ends with darker burnt and bitter flavors, and something of a roasty presence. There are no discernable hop flavors; the large malt profile creates a sweetness that covers over the hops, unless we are mistaking in ascribing the burnt and bitter flavors at the end to the malt profile. Sweetness rises at end as the beer warms, along with alcohol warmth, and the bitterness lessens. As well, the cola flavor in the front of the mouth comes out more as the beer warms. Overall, an interesting beer. And, quite honestly, I’m a fan of such experimentation—I like the idea of pushing the boundaries of what is and what isn’t seen as beer. While Elli likes this type of experimentation, she’s not always inclined to drink said experimentations. She’s more of a mind to appreciate the theoretical impulses behind such experimentation, and be less interested in the actual consumption of such products. And, as she aptly observes, this beer is bordering on being more of a liqueur than a beer.

From the Southern Tier website: “Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout: a stout of great contention. We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.”

2-Row pale malt
Dark caramel malt
Vanilla bean
Lactose sugar
Kettle hops: Columbus
Aroma hops: Horizon

ABV: 10.0%
OG: 25º P
SRM: 195º L


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