I am opening up this edition of BiR by breaking my own rule. Typically, I try to repeat beer reviews as rarely as possible. If I AM going to re-review a beer, my rule is to wait six months, to ensure that I am getting a new batch of that beer and not reviewing two beers made in the same lot. I am breaking that rule today by reviewing a beer I reviewed just two months ago, the 6th Anniversary Hazelnut Chocolate Imperial Stout from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina's excellent Westbrook Brewing Company.
After previously enjoying a bottle with my family at Christmas, and doing a video review of a 2nd bottle on January 7th, I had the opportunity to have it ON DRAFT recently. The differing format, along with the fact that it's just a freaking tasty beer, made me decide to break my reviewing rule. Anyway, enough background. Let's talk beer.
The 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout pours very dark to near black, as expected, and brings every bit of the 10% ABV on the nose, though it is a bit milder in the actual taste. The stout is brewed with the listed hazelnuts and cocoa nibs, along with vanilla beans. The flavor notes reflect these ingredients, with the vanilla coming in on the mild side, but a fairly powerful brownie batter feeling coming out of the cocoa and nuts. As I said, a mild but still quite present booze note is also there, as well as plenty of sweetness, both from the booze and from the brewing ingredients. I think I liked the 5th Anniversary Imperial Stout a hair better, but only because of the ingredients used (Chocolate Raspberry vs. Hazelnut Chocolate). Still, this is an excellent stout.
Next up is a beer that I struggled to describe a little bit, because I don't believe I've ever had one of the key ingredients. San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Company is a brewery that has popped up time and again on this review blog, including some notable video reviews. Recently, I tried Red Velvet, which they call a "golden Oatmeal Stout with beets, chocolate, and natural flavors". It is also served in a bottle under nitrogen, similar to Guinness. Now, to my knowledge, I've never had beets before, so this affected my review of this beer. Coming in at 5.5% ABV and 35 IBU, the beer is very pretty, pouring ruby red with a light pink head. There is a powerful and enjoyable unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate aroma, which also comes through a bit in the taste. The stout is very smooth-drinking owing to the nitrogen, and has a medium-heavy body--surprising to me, given the beer's color. You get a bit of that nitrogenated beer flavor, along with a mild vegetable quality that I assume is the beets. Overall, this beer just fell flat for me. It's not undrinkable, but I would have liked the flavor notes, especially the semi-sweet chocolate, to be punched up a bit. It's also very much NOT a traditional stout, so just be prepared for that. Not bad, but I've had far better from Ballast Point.