No lovey-dovey beers here! Except in the ordinary "loving beer" type of way. Let's get right to it!
Some time ago, Ballast Point Brewing Company aimed to create “medium-bodied” stout at their pilot brewery. The result was The Commodore American Stout, which contains 6.5% ABV and rates 62 IBU. This year-round stout pours pretty close to black, as expected, though I would probably define it as being “light-bodied”, not the medium Ballast Point claims. Perhaps that is simply picking nits, as there is no question the brewers hit their target on what certainly is a lighter-bodied stout. Flavor notes include some mild spices and bittersweet chocolate, along with a moderate coffee note—fairly standard stout offerings. There is also a fairly strong smoky note, and smoky notes tend to be a turnoff for me. They work in this beer, which is quite tasty overall, with no flavor note (including that smoke) overwhelming the rest of the stout.
I can’t quite tell if it’s global warming, or just the law of averages (the average winter high in Columbia, SC is in the low 60s Fahrenheit), but it’s felt like such a warm winter that it seems like we should abolish winter beers. Despite yet another bunch of days at or above 70 degrees, my next beer up is Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Winter Solstice Ale. The Winter Solstice comes in at 6.9% ABV and a mere 6 IBU. This take on the winter warmer style pours a nice reddish-copper color and brings hints of caramel and toffee. There are also considerable spice notes, which I believe I was interpreting as an iced tea flavor. The beer also brings a slight sweetness. Anderson Valley really brings it when it comes to the Summer and Winter Solstice ales. This is a tasty and terrific ale!