This was the fourth Camp Beer event but the first one that concentrated on a single style of beer. Given the name Stoutapalooza, this installment of the event concentrated on stouts and included vertical tastings of the very rare Darklord from Three Floyds Brewing and The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery, as well as other well known and highly rated beers.
Most beer geeks are very familiar with Darklord and the Darklord Day hosted at the brewery in honour of its release. Its a difficult beer to get a hold of or even have the chance to try, but Camp Beer had not one but three years worth, allowing for a vertical tasting of the 2010, 2009 and 2008 releases. This beer is typically aged for years to allow the flavours to soften and mellow, so it was no surprise that the 2010 had strong flavours of coffee, dark fruits and soy sauce with a burning affect from the high alcohol. These flavours and qualities will usually soften as it ages, but it was great to compare a fresh one with the release that were one and two years old. The the flavours in the 2009 were significantly mellower with a stronger chocolate and raisin flavours and creamy mouthfeel. Oddly enough, the 2008 was actually more like the 2010, with a bitter coffee and almost slightly acidic finish. The 2009 was the general favourite amongst the crowd.
The vertical of the Darklord was followed by a vertical of the 2009, 2008 and 2007 releases of The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery. The 2009 had flavours of strong bitter coffee and hazelnut with some bourbon in the nose. The flavours were similar in the 2008, but it had a much more dry and bitter finish and little residual sweetness. The 2007 seemed to be favoured by most with smooth coffee flavours and a slightly dry finish.
The vertical tastings were over, but they were followed by two stouts from the same brewery. Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout are both brewed by Founders Brewing Co. The Breakfast Stout was good with flavours of coffee and roasted malts, but the Kentucky Breakfast Stout was overpowered by the strong bourbon flavour. It would probably do much better after some further aging, but too strong and harsh right now.
As far as bourbon stouts go, the Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island is probably one of the best there is. Flavours and aromas of bourbon, oak and vanilla, but with nothing that is too strong or overpowering. This is the way I prefer my bourbon stouts to taste.
The Barrel-aged Boris the Crusher from the Hoppin' Frog Brewery was not a beer that I was familiar with at all. It was actually a lot lighter in comparison to the other stouts we had already tried. Well balanced flavours of coffee, oatmeal and dark fruits with the alcohol level well hidden.
The afternoon was finished off with the Divine Reserve #5 from Saint Arnold Brewing which was donated by me to Camp Beer for the event. I had a large quantity of it aging in my beer cellar and decided to donate it to Cathy's worthy cause and share it with other beer geeks who would appreciate it. It had certainly aged well in the three years since its release. Bitter chocolate and roasted malts, the high ABV is still noticeable but very subtle.
Once again, Cathy from Live It Big organized a fantastic Camp Beer and Kevin from the Anvil did a great job of leading the group through a discussion about the beers (even as the crowd got rowdier from the effects of the high alcohol beers).
The next Camp Beer will be on December 12 and focus on Holiday related beers. An early list of the beers that will be featured includes Great Lakes Holy Moses, 07 Jubilation, 08 Souther Tier Choklat, Lost Abbey 10 Commandments & Inferno, Hoppin' Frog Frosty Frog, Nogne O Winter, Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper and Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper. Circle the date on your calendar now and follow CampBeer on Twitter for information when the tickets go on sale.