After living out of the Commonwealth for a year, upon our return we immediately set about on an extended vacation…again leaving Virginia behind for a bit. When we finally got back it was a whirlwind of family visits, new jobs, baby doctor stuff (we’d just found out we were due with our third right before getting back), and there seemed no time for “adventures” as our kids call it. And especially not for beer stuff. But then we had an idea! An amazing, terrible idea! What if we combined summer beer festivals, which are all outdoors-y and have lots of different stalls and places to play, with our “adventures?” With that in mind we set out to the 2017 NoVA Summer Brewfest, which left most but me bored fairly quickly. The kids did get a bouncy castle, and I got swept up into a homebrewing group (but that’s for another whole series of posts…) Towards the end, I had tickets leftover and did some tasting sprints, literally a sniff and a sip, pour it out then move on. But then I saw something glorious, and thought to myself, “man that would probably win Best in Show, but no way am I drinking that when it’s 85 degrees out, I’m dehydrated, and the family is collectively whining that it’s nap time.” That beer was Biggie S’mores.
Biggie S’mores, Three Notch’d Brewing Co. (Charlottesville, VA)
Imperial Stout, 8% ABV, 40 IBU
Presentation: Bomber pour into tulip.
Appearance: Oily black but with a fizzy tan head. No lattice to speak of.
Taste: Holy Graham Cracker Tuesday! That was an unexpectedly strong aromatic assault along with a robust lactose base. If milky mallows and Honey Maid didn’t captivate you, chocolate takes its turn in the body. It’s more Lindt than Hershey’s, smooth but none too sweet. You get pure cacao and some more lactose in the finish. It’s a bit silky but also admittedly stiff; not the kind of maltiness that can pair well with certain foods or environs.
Mouth Feel: In addition to the tip of the tongue and roof of your mouth, it coats the cheeks considerably. Very full-bodied.
Overall: Graham crackers are a superb adjunct for malty beers, and extracts even more so. This is such a creative recipe – unique and satisfying to the extreme. It’s as I thought last summer though: great beer, truly a joy to drink but not for every occasion. I’m so happy it made a repeat appearance this winter because another bottle was shared to much fanfare with the neighbors. People who don’t like “big beers” like this one. But they like it served cold, and that stiffness becomes much more pronounced as the beer warms. That works if you’ve been drinking craft beer for what feels like an eternity, but campfire beer this is not for the casual crowd. Leave the warm nights to the real s’mores. Enjoy what you can find of this one as Championship Week and March Madness kick off!