I can’t believe how quickly we are approaching the end of this calendar. I know that we are just about half-way through at this point, but it seems like it’s going so fast. I’m sure part of it could be that I’ve missed a few days. Whatever the case might be, we are motoring through these beers and to catch-up here is the first of two posts today.
Belching Beaver is a San Diego based brewery that has 5 locations in San Diego, Oceanside and Vista California. While I can’t find many details on the brewery in respect to date of opening, I do know that it is owned and operated by Tom Vogel who, for years, had wanted to open a bar or a pizza place but could never find the right location to buy. After years of making offers and exploring this route, he decided to just open a brewery and make a place for himself.
Luckily for Tom, he played poker with a brewer from Cornado Brewing named Troy Smith. He asked Troy if he wanted to do his own thing and join him in his startup brewery. Troy agreed and they began moving forward scouting locations and coming up with a design. They partnerd with Dave Mobley, an accomplished architect, and opened their first brewery in San Diego, CA.
They’ve now expanded to 5 locations and boast a 15-barrel system at their headquarters plus a 10-barrel system at their brewpub location and an annual production of 60,000 barrels at its Oceanside base of operations. They make a variety of interesting beers including a PB&J stout and a Peanut Butter Latte stout.
As I’ve said many times on this blog, stouts are one of my favorite styles of beer. Stouts are a dark beer made using roasted malts (or roasted barley), hops, water and yeast. Traditionally the term stout was used to describe the strongest (most alcoholic) porters, typically around 7-8%, produced by a brewery. The name ‘stout’ referred to the often-stouter bottles these brews were sold in, which eventually became the term used to describe the style of beer.
There are numerous sub-styles of stouts ranging from Dry Stouts, to Porters, and Oyster stouts and my favorite, Imperial Stouts. While they had lost popularity after the First World War, they’ve started to have a bit of an upswing due to the growing popularity in craft beer and breweries. Stouts are very versatile, allowing for a lot of creativity in adjuncts and flavouring. You can see many craft breweries playing with stouts regularly. Higher alcohol stouts also often age well, making them a wonderful cellaring beer.
This stout is known as a “sweet stout,” which are much sweeter and less bitter than most other stouts. This is a traditionally English style of stout developed in the early 1900s as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers. Originally called Milk or Cream stouts, this designation is no longer permitted in England (even if it is everywhere else) and the name derives from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener in the beer. Lactose is not a fermentable sugar and remains after fermentation is complete, which gives this beer its sweet and creamy nature. Onto the beer.
Appearance – Opaque black with a nice tan head that leaves little lacing.
Smell – Roasted malt, caramel, subtle cocoa notes, vanilla, and roasted coffee beans.
Taste – Nice silky sweetness from the lactose, notes of coffee and some caramel or brown sugar, chocolate notes, like a bitter or dark chocolate, and a very subtle earthy hop character.
Mouth Feel – Silky mouth feel that is accentuated using Nitro. There is very little carbonation. Medium bodied.
Overall Thoughts – A bit of a lighter bodied stout than others I’ve had of this style. The sweetness builds as you drink this beer but is overall not overpowering. The use of nitro draws out that lactose character and makes this beer feel light and airy.
Do I like it? – I do like this beer. I’m a big fan of stouts and I really like trying a good milk stout. I’d be happy to have this one again.