A weekly beer recommendation from Gut Check contributor Zach Garrison.
Though the holiday season is behind us, winter is most definitely sticking around -- as evidenced by snowstorms and ungodly low temperatures. What we need is a good strong beer that can stand up to the cold and be enjoyed by the fire. Our choice this week is Southern Tier's "Choklat," a stout with a sweeter side. Read on for our review.
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company (Lakewood, New York) Beer: Choklat (Imperial Chocolate Stout) Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 10.0%
The "Choklat" is an Imperial stout, which is a wonderfully rich beer. "Imperial" once designated beers that during the nineteenth century were brewed in England only to be shipped to Imperial Russia at the request of the royal court. Nowadays, we still use the term Imperial to suggest a high alcohol content and the addition of more hops and malts to kick things up a notch.
Southern Tier basically decided to throw in a bunch of Belgian chocolate during the brewing process, adding bittersweet flavors and making for one hell of a beer. Upon closer inspection (you should pour this into a glass -- it's just classy), the Choklat appears very, very dark brown in color -- almost black, with little carbonation or head, just a thin, creamy foam resting on top. The aroma, in addition to the chocolate, is a combination of caramel and vanilla.
After sticking your nose down into the glass a few times, you'll be ready for that first magical sip. It's pretty much everything you would expect: Bittersweet chocolate hits immediately, just incredibly rich, but also quite creamy and hoppy underneath, especially near the end. This beer is so delightfully thick that it actually seems to stick to our tongue, like syrup. Like any good stout, it's heavy and can weigh you down a bit, so maybe save this for your last beer of the night. Sip and savor.
Released every November in a 22-ounce bomber (so share with a friend), the Choklat is widely available (we found ours at the Schnucks in Ladue) but will soon disappear from shelves.
Beer Advocate gives it a 95 (world class) rating, which pretty much matches our score of three stars, five smiley faces and two thumbs up. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
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