- Mike Riedel
This week we have a mix of new and old. Peanut butter is the hot adjunct for beer and even whiskeys right now, and one of our offerings builds on that trend. The other reaches back to a time when beer was more raw and less refined. Which one will you choose? Hopefully, these descriptions will help you decide.
Epic - Midnight Munchies: The beer pours a cola-black color with a moderate amount of tan foam. The aroma is a massive mix of caramel and cocoa mixed with plum, prune and raisin. Along with these smells come some nice strong notes of Nutella and a whole bunch of roasted peanuts, producing a nice roasty and sweet peanut buttery aroma overall.
The taste begins with a dark and toasty malt flavor that has a great level of sweetness of molasses, caramel and brown sugar. There is a bit of peanut butter right from the start, which grows stronger in nature toward the middle of the taste only to fade a bit later on. Some lighter cocoa notes develop as the taste advances, and are joined by a little bit of the fruit that was detected in the nose. With some char and a moderate hit of a boozy flavor that develops at the end, one is left with a somewhat sweet and more moderate lightly roasted malt taste (at least for an imperial stout) that holds within it a hit of peanut butter flavor.
Overall: Quite nice, like a Nutella-enhanced PB&J sandwich. I enjoyed the flavor and the smell of the brew; moderation and a light hand in the brewing process helped keep it from becoming another doughnut in a glass. This style of beer is certainly not my top pick when it comes to styles, but you can't deny its appeal.
Fisher - Valley of Gold: This one has that highly saturated sunrise orange body which glows and borders on red but doesn't quite get there. The head is impressive and could rival some of the best looking Belgian saisons, dense enough that it rises meringue-like an inch higher than the rim without spilling over.
As I popped the tab on this 5.0 percent beer, Brettanomyces funk hit me immediately. It's medicinal, doughy floral and barnyard funky. Wildflower pollen and horse blanket brett yeast characteristics are the highlight, but they're well balanced. Whispers of the dry hopping remain, with orange marmalade and grapefruit pith all over a doughy malt base.
Interesting, the flavor doesn't have nearly the same wild intensity as the nose, and actually leans more toward pale ale. Of course, the funk is still present, but it's much softer. Doughy malt with a drizzle of caramel lays down the base for a jammy orange and grapefruit hop profile. Undercurrents of brett run throughout, a little horsey up front followed by a floral ending.
Overall: They did a good job with this beer. I'm happy that many of the smaller local breweries are giving brett beers a shot. Brettanomyces is a highly invasive yeast, and it can infect other non-brett beers if safeguards aren't put in place. If you're looking to get familiar with the funk, this would be a good starting off point.
These are boty seasonals, but there's plenty to go around. Drink Valley of Gold fresh, as the funky yeast will begin to sour this beer over time—and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's not the flavor profile the brewers were shooting for. Midnight Munchie can go either way; it will work fresh or old, as the 8.5 percent alcohol will give you a solid two years in your cellar. As always, cheers.