Getting Hopslam’d by @BellsBrewery

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This is a super hoppy craft beer. I put it in an @alchemistbeer glass for a reason. It’s that good. I just wish it wasn’t sooooooooooo hard to get. It’s a @#$%ing seasonal and Bell’s doesn’t distribute to MA (yet), so I depend on friends in far away places to score me a couple bottles and send it my way. The touch of honey adds a nuance you don’t get in many beers. Love it. Get it. 

Vital Stats: 12oz bottle… 10% ABV… stamped 2/9/12…served in a pint glass at 45F. 

Taste: A+. Umm… yeah. 

Drinkability: B-One makes you dizzy. Two…I’m not sure. 

Packaging: A. Love the logo. Minimalist. Badass. 

 

Ballast Point’s Sea Monster Imperial Stout

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It’s no secret if you follow me on most forms of social media that I’m a huge fan of Brighton, England band The Wedding Present.  They have produced some of the most consistently great music of the last two decades, with the standout in this indie music junkie’s opinion being their 1991 masterpiece, the Steve Albini-produced Seamonsters.  It’s probably my favorite record and certainly one of the gems of the 1990’s.  A few of the Amazon reviews give you an idea.  So why am I talking about this particular album and this particular beer right now?

 

I spotted this beer about a year ago and thought, “well obviously got to review THAT one one of these days”, but didn’t pick it up.  And it must be a limited release because I didn’t see it again until a few weeks ago.  Well, the timing couldn’t be better because as it happens, the band are touring the US right now in support of their new album (released today), Valentina, but also are playing Seamonsters in its entirety.  So the real question is: is the beer worthy of the album?

 

Sea Monster pours a nice, deep murky black with a creamy tan head.  It’s not overly thick as I expected it might be.

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It smells of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts, toffee, cherries and a bit of coffee.  First sip reveals light carbonation, and creamy medium+ mouthfeel.  I wished it was just a bit thicker. 

 

All flavors I picked up on the nose were represented nicely in the tasting.  The finish was kind of boozy.  Overall, a nice beer, but Ballast Point wasn’t quite able to tame this 10.0 % monster.  I’d recommend this as a beer for sharing to be sure.

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Taste:  B+
 Very nice, but greatness eludes it.

 

Drinkability:  C-  It starts smooth, but the finish almost medicinal which put me off a bit, plus it’s quite potent.

 

Packaging:  A  Always a good write up and whoever designs their labels does a wonderful job.  This is no exception.

 

Vitals:  10.0 % ABV.  Took awhile to finish a glass of this (not even the entire bottle) so I tasted it over a range of 48-55 degrees.  I will say, that the aftertaste did mellow after sealing the bottle with the remaining 2/3rds pint in it and enjoyed it a bit more the next day.  The album is (in my opinion) a masterpiece, the beer isn’t quite, but it’s still very good.

 

So the beer didn’t quite live up to its eponymous album cousin, but make no mistake I’m looking forward to the show and another one of these.

 

The Wedding Present play Brighton Music Hall (formerly known as Harper’s Ferry) in Allston, MA this Friday.  Tickets available here.  If you’re not familiar with Seamonsters, check it out on Spotify and enjoy this live clip of one of the songs below for a preview of the treat in store for Boston music fans in the know.  

 

Middle Ages Brewing Company’s Dragonslayer Imperial Stout

 

“The bells were ringing in the dale,

And men looked up with faces pale.

The dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire,

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

 

The mountain smoked beneath the moon.

The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled the hall to dying fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.”

Excerpt from “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” by J.R.R. Tolkien


Only it didn’t exactly happen that way at the brewery unfortunately.  

 

I spotted this beer almost a year ago, and given my past as a D&D geek, I knew I had to review it (if for no other reason than to give me an excuse to break out the old manuals and dice for the photo).  I didn’t grab it that time, and I haven’t seen it since.  It must be a once a year brew because nearly a year hence it finally showed up again.  Let’s see if it was worth the wait.

 

It pours a dark black color with a thick coffee head.  It doesn’t have the most assertive nose (this, it turns out, was a bellwether of things to come.)  What I was a ble to pick out were hints of raisins, smoke, coffee, and cocoa.

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Dragonslayer is a very smooth, medium bodied stout, but I wish it had a bit more substance to it.  Smokiness, dark roasted coffee, a hint dark bitter chocolate, some dark fruits and caramel malts are the dominant flavors I got.  The finish is slightly chalky withe more ash and smoke.  

I think in future I’d pair this with some meats, maybe BBQ, but to be honest, if I wanted to go the smoke route, I’d go the smoke route.  Not a bad beer, but IMO, it’d be better off dialing up the body, the smoke, and maybe the chocolate to really establish a clearer point of view.  Verdict:  good, not great.  Still, I had fun rummaging through all my old AD&D stuff to take the pictures.  

 

*Bonus points for any of you that can identify the module map behind the beer in the first photo.

 

Taste: B- Just fine, but I think they fell a bit short of the mark on this one.


Drinkability: C-  
Did that say 9.5%?  Yes it did.


Packaging: B 
Pretty good, but no story behind the beer which always disappoints me when I see it.  If I were to guess what they would have written, it would’ve been something along the lines of wanting to make a big beer with a smokey profile, hence the dragon thing.


Vitals: 9.5% ABV.  Served at about 45F from a 22 oz bottle.

 

 

Middle Ages Brewing Company’s Dragonslayer Imperial Stout

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“The bells were ringing in the dale,

And men looked up with faces pale.

The dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire,

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

 

The mountain smoked beneath the moon.

The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled the hall to dying fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.”

Excerpt from “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Only it didn’t exactly happen that way at the brewery unfortunately.  

 

I spotted this beer almost a year ago, and given my past as a D&D geek, I knew I had to review it (if for no other reason than to give me an excuse to break out the old manuals and dice for the photo).  I didn’t grab it that time, and I haven’t seen it since.  It must be a once a year brew because nearly a year hence it finally showed up again.  Let’s see if it was worth the wait.

 

It pours a dark black color with a thick coffee head.  It doesn’t have the most assertive nose (this, it turns out, was a bellwether of things to come.)  What I was a ble to pick out were hints of raisins, smoke, coffee, and cocoa.

 

Dragonslayer is a very smooth, medium bodied stout, but I wish it had a bit more substance to it.  Smokiness, dark roasted coffee, a hint dark bitter chocolate, some dark fruits and caramel malts are the dominant flavors I got.  The finish is slightly chalky withe more ash and smoke.  

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I think in future I’d pair this with some meats, maybe BBQ, but to be honest, if I wanted to go the smoke route, I’d go the smoke route.  Not a bad beer, but IMO, it’d be better off dialing up the body, the smoke, and maybe the chocolate to really establish a clearer point of view.  Verdict:  good, not great.  Still, I had fun rummaging through all my old AD&D stuff to take the pictures.  

 

*Bonus points for any of you that can identify the module map behind the beer in the first photo.

 

Taste: B- Just fine, but I think they fell a bit short of the mark on this one.


Drinkability: C-   Did that say 9.5%?  Yes it did.


Packaging: B 
Pretty good, but no story behind the beer which always disappoints me when I see it.  If I were to guess what they would have written, it would’ve been something along the lines of wanting to make a big beer with a smokey profile, hence the dragon thing.


Vitals: 9.5% ABV.  Served at about 45F from a 22 oz bottle.