Monday, November 5, 2012

537. Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout

Another beer from Samuel Smith’s. But when the beer is this easy and smooth going down, who could possibly say no? Certainly not any rational person. Then again, if rationality is going to be my benchmark, I’ve just cut out a good 85% percent of the population. 90% if I’m feeling mean and cantankerous. What with all the sputtering of vindictive bile, sentence fragments, and dire political prognostications being trotted out in Ohio these last few months, we need beer like this to rein in the rampant jingoism and self-serving congratulatory rhetoric that represents our current election cycle. Because that is certainly not rational. Or useful. Or even interesting. Although, my friends, that may be asking just a bit too much from this beer. It is, after all, British. This is our third beer from Samuel Smith’s, including Imperial Stout and Organically Produced Lager. Mercifully, it won’t be our last.

Organic Chocolate Stout pours a rich, deep chocolate with a tan head that offers fair retention; the beer is crystal clear, and has pleasant ruby red highlights when held to the light. Not surprisingly, the nose is redolent with chocolate and cocoa—both creamy milk chocolate and cocoa—mixed with just a hint of alkaline chalkiness. It almost smells like chocolate milk, albeit with a bit more of that hint of coconut and tropical cocoa butter that darker chocolate can provide, and milk would tend to cover over (and this tropical dimension comes out more as it warms). Flavors follow suit: it opens with sweet chocolate and a hint of caramel, giving way to a drier cocoa in the middle. There is a touch of roast in the finish, but the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel keeps it at bay, as does the slight brown sugar and alkaline sweetness that borders on but never quite achieves dark fruit sweetness. As well, there is a final uptick of cocoa after these flavors pass. The carbonation lightens the beer on the palate, but light enough to be unobtrusive otherwise, while the mouthfeel is medium and slightly chewy—basically, both are vehicles for the flavors of this beer, and serve mainly as backdrop. There is a slight residual residue on the palate as the flavor disappears—I’d describe it as mineral-like or the slight grit of cocoa, but nothing distracting. All in all, a clean and enjoyable beer—this is certainly something you could spend the night drinking, enjoying the bright, refreshing flavors and the subtle depth of character. In many ways, this is a lighter and more drinkable version of Southern Tier’s Choklat, which, while delicious, is too big a beer for regular drinking. Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, on the other hand, goes down easy and clean. Well made and well done.

From the bottle: “Brewed with water from the original brewery well sunk in 1758, the gently roasted organic chocolate malt and real organic cocoa used in this ale impart a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavors and a delightful finish—this is the perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate that will lead to smiles and refills. Samuel Smith’s brews in traditional coppers, uses stone ‘Yorkshire Squares’ for fermentation, and ships every bottle from the brewery with great pride.”

ABV: 5.0%


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