When most people think “hot chocolate” they think cool winter months. Then, for some reason, they drink hot coffee year round. Honestly, I find that logic asinine. Hot chocolate is awesome, whatever the temperature. That said, I do subscribe to the idea that contrast can be a good thing – after all, who doesn’t dig some ice cream, lemonade, or sweet tea in the summer? The question then becomes how to make “hot chocolate” without it just being, ahem, “chocolate milk” in the summer. Luckily we have all sorts of, ahem, “crafty” brewers out there who experiment in flavors bold, unusual, and downright bizarre. Now that I’m done clearing my throat, today I get to talk about a beer that tastes like a coldish hot chocolate. God Bless America.
Droste Effect, AleWerks Brewing Co. (Williamsburg, VA)
Imperial Chocolate Stout, ABV 9.2%, IBU 50
Presentation: Bomber pour into tulip.
Appearance: Dark black with a copper head. The pour is surprisingly fizzy but the head persists for a few minute. Only a tease of lattice on the glass remains as the bulk sinks back down the glass.
Taste: The nose delivers the goods, with a strong blast of dark chocolate underlined by oaky bourbon. The body runs with it, seguing at first to a stronger cacao before the finish fades into milk chocolate. In other words, if you like chocolate there’s guaranteed to be something in this beer for you. You wouldn’t be far off comparing a lot of the flavor here to a mocha hot chocolate at one of the premium coffee chains. Bet you didn’t see that coming from the introduction, eh?
Mouth Feel: The hot chocolate comparison sticks here, too. The main difference is that you’ll feel that oak coating the roof of your mouth for a little while.
Overall: Over the past few years my own little journey with beer has taken me in some unexpected directions. At the beginning, you couldn’t get me past Wits and Hefes, with maybe a good Amber thrown in for good measure. Just by sticking with the idea of “craft” for a while totally changed my palate. APAs, IPAs, Saisons…so many styles followed suit but apart from Wee Heavys the dark stuff was always somewhat aloof. Much to my surprise (and recent delight), my sojourn out to Kansas forced me to plan ahead with beer styles when I brought my two cases of bottles with me, and that led to me putting so-called “winter” beers in there. Droste Effect is not just a winter beer. The flavor is incredible and unique. Served nice and chilled I can equally see drinking this on a rainy Spring day, breezy Summer evening, or as I’m doing right now in sweats and under a blanket in my chilly basement. In recommending this beer, just drink it when you feel like it, and damn the snobbery.