Can you believe it has been 19 days since this calendar started? I think I’ve managed to keep this blogathon going pretty well. Only 5 days left to go (2 of which will be in Hawaii…sweet!)
Today was a pretty decent day. Not only did we get pretty much everything prepped for our trip, I managed to get 4 of the 6 chapters of my thesis ready to upload. Awesome. Also, I am going to see Star Wars tomorrow (no spoilers, I promise) and Half Pints put their Simcoe Spruce on tap. All in all a good day. I am hoping that today’s beer, a Cuban Coffee Stout from Back Forty Brewing Company, makes it all the better.
Back Forty Brewing Company is based in Alabama, a place that the brewery describes as a “wasteland of craft beer”. Their name comes from the agricultural term for the forty acres of land situated furthest from the farm. These forty acres are the hardest to maintain and are often overlooked, a metaphor for how the brewery sees Alabama.
What is likely the largest contributor to the lack of a craft beer market, is the legal framework under which Alabama found itself up until 2008. Before 2008, it was illegal to sell beer in Alabama with an ABV over 6%. Needless to say, this eliminated dozens of styles of beers. It was also illegal to operate a tasting room, sell beer directly to the public or package beer in bottles larger than 455ml. So, no bomber bottles either. While these laws have loosened and it has become possible for craft breweries to exist, it is to this day illegal to offer investment opportunities to anyone who owns a restaurant or distributor within the state making it very challenging to get funding.
In 2008, founder Jay Wilson got in touch with a renowned brew master, Jamie Ray, and asked for help developing recipes for Back Forty Brewing Company. The goal was to expose southerners to the same craft beer Wilson had been a part of for the past 10 years. In June 2009, Back Forty released its first beer, Naked Pig Pale Ale, and after its success, the second hit the shelves in March, 2010.
Today, Back Forty employs 22 individuals from all over the country, has six beers on offer, and has seen its capacity tripled since 2012. They even have another 2X expansion slated to happen soon.
The beer style we have today is one that any Half Pints drinker will be familiar with. It is a Coffee Stout. Now, as the name suggests, Coffee Stouts are essentially stouts with the addition of coffee during the brew. As you know I wrote about stouts on Day 2, so I won’t repeat myself again and bore you all. I will say that coffee stouts carry with them a really nice coffee flavor and are typically paired with complimentary malts. This one, for example, uses chocolate malts that will bring with a it kind of mocha pairing, I’d expect. I’m looking forward to trying it, so let’s do it.
Appearance: Jet black with beige head that retains nicely leaving no lacing.
Smell: Smells like chocolate malt and coffee. Some slight hints of toffee or caramel. Really, it smells a lot like a hot chocolate with baileys.
Taste: The coffee comes through on this beer right away on the start. It fades slightly to a bit of a bitter finish. The chocolate notes compliment the coffee nicely, but overall the coffee is the star. It has a light sort of grainy note to it, like coffee grinds, but not in an unpleasant way. It’s more that it leaves a lingering astringent coffee note on the tongue.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium-low carbonation, slightly astringent finish.
Overall: Overall it’s a pretty solid. I feel the body could have been a bit more full, the lightness of the body somewhat detracted from the overall enjoyment of the beer. The flavours are solid and true to the name. I’ve had Cuban coffee a number of times and this certainly rings true in the flavours of the beer.
Do I like it: It’s pretty good. I think that if it had a fuller body I would have enjoyed it more. Overall it was tasty and I’d be happy to drink it again.