Sierra Nevada has expanded east, and to celebrate the opening of their new brewery in Mills River, NC, they released Rain Check Spiced Stout. Though released in summer and tasty any time of year, this has all the flavors of a classic winter treat with chocolate, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon coming through and just a hint of citrus. This is a sweet beer from start to finish, with the flavors transitioning from sweet and spicy in the middle to sugary at the end, with brown sugar and caramel notes, and a bit of root beer right at the end. It’s wonderful to see the success of a great brewery like Sierra Nevada lead to an expansion like this, and this was a great brew to celebrate the achievement.
First, a note on chipotle. For those who aren’t familiar, a chipotle is a jalapeño pepper that once ripe, has been dried and smoked. Clearly the right kind of delicious little treat to add to Stone’s Smoked Porter for a extra kick. Now, I’ve had chili beer before, but this is better. The nose is malty and smoky, quite similar to regular Smoked Porter, with just a slight hint of pepper. The middle is immediately spicy, with chili oil or wasabi in front of strong chocolate notes. The pepper fades through the finish and the sweet and smoky malt flavors, still strong on chocolate take back over, with a little coffee coming in at the end. The body is light to medium weight and the alcohol is a nice moderate 5.9% ABV. The spice is strong with this one, and you should really be a fan of a little heat to enjoy it. So, if you’re the kind of person who looks for the hot sauce with every meal, this is definitely the beer for you. Really well done.
Allagash Odyssey is a dark wheat beer in the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style, brewed with Belgian candi sugar and aged in oak. Another way to describe it would be “brilliant.” The nose holds promises of raisins, figs, and ginger. The middle is mellow and muted due to the wheat, with clear and refined flavors of raisins, plums, dates, and a bit of coffee. While the middle is sweet, the finish is dry and flavors that come forward are vanilla, cocoa and tobacco. The body is heavy and the alcohol is an age-able 10.4% ABV. The suggested drinking window is two years, and the example I’m drinking in February 2015 was bottled in January 2014, and it’s clearly still in its prime. My bottom line is that this beer is another long home run from Allagash.