Beers in Review: Westbrook Pair and More

Before I can get into THIS weekend, I have some beers from LAST weekend burning a hole in my iPhone. Let's do it.

We start with a unique twist on Westbrook Brewing Company's Gose, their Key Lime Pie Gose. Now, I am a fan of the standard Gose, but this Key Lime Pie variation was not for me. It pours a hazy lemon color, and as expected, is very sour and moderately salty with very little sweetness. Now, all of this is pretty well in line with the standard Gose--perhaps I was just expecting a little more sweetness from a variant like this. Admittedly, Key Lime Pie is usually not sweet, per se, but there is a sweetness to be found in the pie. This Key Lime Pie Gose has no such sweetness. Instead, the Key Lime Pie factor brings a ton of citrusy, puckering bite, and an incredibly dry finish. Both of these factors were overwhelming for me, and greatly harmed my potential enjoyment of the beer.  I have no doubt this profile is exactly what Westbrook was shooting for. I think this is just a situation where the standard Westbrook Gose is an acquired taste, and the Key Lime Pie Gose is even more so.

Also from Westbrook is a sessionable variant of their insanely popular Mexican Cake Imperial Stout--a beer that disappears almost as soon as it hits the shelves across the state. Mexican Cupcake comes in at a MUCH more manageable alcohol level (4.2% ABV vs. 10.5% for Mexican Cake). The stout pours a very dark brown, as expected, and is quite mild overall. The flavor profile leads with an unsweetened cocoa note, along with some spices (like cinnamon) and roastiness. But I think, considering this is an off-shoot of the bold Mexican Cake, I expected a more potent drinking experience. Nothing about this beer was bad, but it left me wanting more out of it. The beer even utilizes multiple varieties of hot peppers, yet there is almost no heat initially, and it only comes out a tiny bit as the beer warms. But again, it was another mild note.

Next up, from Stone Brewing, is a re-release of their 6th Anniversary Porter. The official beer type varies a bit, but this is, without a doubt, a smoked porter. Pouring nearly pitch black, this beer took me on quite a journey. There are very nice sweet notes of dark fruit, including berries, chocolate, and just a hint each of coffee and booze. Then there is the smoky note, which took me on quite the roller coaster. My initial impressions of the beer were very positive, then, for a while, the smoke became overpowering to me--to the point that I ALMOST dumped the beer. Just as I was about the dump it, the smoke backed off again, giving all the delightfully sweet notes I first enjoyed. Then, the last few ounces were again taxing to drink due to the smokiness. This is an impressive beer, but I don't know if it's one I want to have again.

Finally, a Scotch ale from Granite Falls Brewing Company, called 1716 Castle Stormer. I had this immediately after the Stone 6th Anniversary, and this was a much...smoother ride. It pours a dark brown to cola-ish color, and was very sweet, almost sickly sweet, but just barely stayed on the good side of that line. Flavors included toffee and dark fruit notes, along with some nice maltiness on the back end. It was also very smooth overall. I don't normally go for super-sweet beers, but I think after the smoky experience of the Stone, I found this beer delightful.