I’m at my local homebrew club meeting at Fat Jack’s here in Bloomington, IL. I thought I’d order a beer before the meeting started, and was surprised to see they had an AleSmith beer on the draft menu. I didn’t think they had started distributing here yet. Since I’d heard many great things about their beers, I had to give this one a try.
Location: On tap and served in a small, 10oz curved glass at Fat Jack’s in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 12% ABV, 1.111 OG, ~ 350 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s very dark black, and I couldn’t see any light through it when held up to the dim lights in our meeting space. The head was thick and dark brown, with great retention and lacing. The aroma was a mix of dark malts, dark cocoa, coffee, and molasses.
Taste & Feel: The body was very full, and the mouthfeel was smooth and velvety. There were some sweet dark chocolate and mocha flavors up front, with a bit of dark caramel maltiness. In the middle, the dark chocolate flavors grew, and were accompanied by some espresso coffee-like flavors. These flavors continued through the finish, with some molasses coming in as well. The aftertaste lasted for a bit with dark chocolate and espresso flavors sticking around.
Food Pairing: This is a big flavorful beer with lots of chocolate and coffee flavors. It would pair nicely with a well done steak, but it would also go well with dessert – maybe a chocolate cake, or brownie with chocolate or fudge, but it would also pair nicely with something like a cheesecake covered in fresh fruit.
Overall Impression: As I mentioned, I’d heard good things about this brewery, but I was very impressed with this beer. I know I’m partial to Russian Imperials, and other big dark beers, but this was smooth, velvety, and very flavorful. It had a nice mix of dark flavors, including caramel, chocolate, cocoa, mocha, espresso, and molasses. As smooth as it was, you’d never guess it was also 12% ABV. It was a very good beer, and I highly recommend it.