Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin Oatmeal Stout

Since 1996, Adam Firestone and David Walker have been producing amazing beers in California’s Central Coast. The Paso Robles Brewery has won the award for Best Mid-Size Brewery at four of the last five World Beer Cups. Renowned for crafting iconic pale ales and pioneering barrel-aged beers, they now have a portfolio of nearly two dozen year round & seasonal brews.

ABV: 5.5%     IBU’s: 23

Pour: A deep dark brown, almost black, with Mahogany highlights when viewed in the light. It is surprisingly opaque for the style. The one finger cappuccino colored head dissipates quickly but does leave a light lacing behind.

Nose: Offers up notes of oatmeal and roasted malts. Coffee and chocolate notes are plentiful and intertwine with a slightly smoky note. Sweet notes of molasses can be detected along with some earthy hop notes.

Palate: Tons of roasted malts. First you get the coffee, then the oats and chocolate flood the palate. There is a molasses like sweetness that hits at just about the same time that the smokiness does. A hint of vanilla is also discernible.

Overall: Mocha Merlin is a great coffee oatmeal stout from the folks at Firestone Walker. Has loads of coffee notes on the nose and palate making it an excellent winter beer that with a lower than average ABV can be drunk (instead of sipped) by the fireplace. Try pairing it with aged cheddar, pork mole or chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints


JP’s Casper White Stout

JP’s (James Page) Brewing Company, isCASPERWHITESTOUT brewed by the Steven’s Point Brewery in Stephen’s Point, Wisconsin. These “Adventurous brews with a twist” currently consist of 5 craft canned beers, all fairly unique in style. The Casper White Stout is no exception. Throw your expectations out the window. We know Stouts are supposed to be dark, but what fun is that? Really. Casper White Stout is a white buffalo standing out from the herd – a diamond in the rough, white chocolate – you get it.

ABV: 6.1 %

Pour: Pours a hazy golden/yellow. Slightly cloudy.

Head: Foamy white, thin head.

Nose: White chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla wafer.

Palate: Rich and buttery, smooth mouthfeel. I got lots of chocolate covered bananas, and white chocolate, with some sweet notes of sugar cookie, milk chocolate, and cookies & cream. Some solid pilsen malt notes as well.

Overall: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. It looks nothing like a stout, but they managed to get some of the body and mouthfeel of a stout. The label reads “natural flavor added”…I’m guessing that has something to do with the Overall, not a bad pour. Recommended if you would like to try something a little different. A nice alternative to a traditional stout.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Pints

Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

Founded in 1988 by some like-minded “Rogues,”shakespeare-stout Newport, Oregon’s Rogue brewery has grown from a basement brewpub to one of the nations top craft beer producers. The spirit of the Rogue brand, even the name, suggests doing things differently, a desire and a willingness to change the status quo. The Shakespeare Stout, a year-round offering, is their American oatmeal stout.

ABV: 5.8 % | 60 IBUs

Pour: Dark chocolate brown with slight mahogany tones.

Head: A nice, thick beige/toffee.

Nose: Sweet, dark chocolate, fudge pie, roasted malt with a hint of smokiness.

Palate: Dark chocolate, sweet roasted oats, butterscotch, Very rich and creamy mouthfeel. Low alcohol presence.

Overall: Confession: This is one of my favorite stouts on the market. It does not quite have the WOW that you get from some of the bigger Imperial Stouts out there, but this is one that I could drink all night. Very well balanced and creamy on the palate. Available in 6PK bottles and 22oz. bottle. Highly recommended!

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Over the river, and through the woodsbrooklyn-black-choc over ANOTHER river, you will find Brooklyn Brewery. Starting with their flagship Brooklyn Lager, the portfolio of Brooklyn Brewery has grown to a wide-ranging collection of beers, always keeping an eye to traditional brewing techniques, even as Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and his team seek to push the boundaries of beer. The Black Chocolate Stout, a seasonal offering, is one of my favorite releases from the brewery.

ABV: 10.0 %

Pour: BLACK! Not just a clever name here.

Head: Tan/ light brown with copper notes.

Nose: Chocolate…like walking into a fresh candy shop! Also picked up notes of cream soda. It took me a few minutes to identify that one, but it is there….I swear.

Palate: Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate. The cream soda made an appearance here as well. Hints of roasted coffee.

Finish: Chocolate syrup, classic toffee notes, and a hint of ginger come through on the finish.

Overall: Haven’t had this one in a while, but it was nice to get reacquainted. Lots of chocolate going on here. I don’t want want to say that it is one dimensional because that would not be accurate, but the chocolate really takes the wheel on this one. Grab yourself a 6 pack (new packaging…used to be a 4 pack).

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints

Founders Breakfast Stout

Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan,breakfaststout-label Founder’s Brewing Company has grown into one of the nation’s top craft breweries, with annual barrel output approaching the 1 million mark. Don’t be fooled though, founders (see what I did there?) Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers brew for quality, not quantity. A prime example is their Breakfast Stout! Available each fall/winter season, this Imperial Stout is brewed with coffee beans, chocolate & oatmeal. The result is one of our favorite cold weather pours.

ABV: 8.3/ IBUs: 60

Pour: Very dark brown, almost black. Think heavy weight motor oil!

Head: Dark tan/toffee, almost brown.

Nose: Bitter dark chocolate, coffee beans, nougat candy bar.

Palate: Bosco chocolate syrup right off the bat! Think that sip of syrup from the bottom of a poorly stirred chocolate milk when you were a kid (or an adult). A hint of sweetness emerges on the mid-palate. This is where you really taste the oatmeal notes.

Finish: Bitter chocolate, black coffee.

Overall: Wow. This one is a big time winner, once again! One or two of these make a cold night a whole lot better. ABV is noticeable, but not offensive by any means. Definitely grab a four pack.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5 Pints

Sam Adams Nitro Coffee Stout

Nitro CoffeeJim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company, began production of Samuel Adams in his kitchen in 1984. Today Samuel Adams is a team of 1,200 people with breweries located in Boston, Cincinnati, and Pennsylvania. Their family of beers includes over 50 different styles that are ever changing. Their newest lineup is the Nitro Project, which currently has three styles: Stout, White and IPA. A nitrogen widget in each can releases nitrogen into the beer upon opening. The coffee stout seemed like a comfortable place to start exploring this new lineup.

The beer pours a cappuccino brown from the can that settles to a nearly black color in the glass. The one and a half finger khaki colored head, rather impressively, remains atop the beer from the first sip until the very last sip.

The nose displays strong roasted coffee notes. While the coffee definitely dominates you can find aromas of roasted malts and baker’s chocolate as well. A hint of sweet vanilla can also be detected beneath the dark and toasty aromas.

The palate echoes the bouquets rather seamlessly. Once again the dark roasted coffee notes dominate the palate. Unsweetened chocolate lift the coffee while the roasted malts provide some balance. The vanilla from the nose can also be found although you do have to do a little searching for it. The smooth and creamy mouth-feel provided by the Nitrogen is definitely the most notable aspect of the beer.

A great brew from Sam Adams. While rather simplistic in flavor the drinking experience is definitely improved by the addition of the nitrogen. A great pair for Parmesan, bacon blue cheeseburger or chocolate lava cake. 3 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.0 Out of 5 Pints

Great Lakes Imperial Blackout Stout

great lakes blackout stoutGreat Lakes Brewing Company, founded in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway, was the first brewpub and microbrewery in Ohio. Important to Cleveland’s local identity, the brewery distributes over a dozen year round and seasonal brews. One of their winter seasonal offerings is an Imperial Stout aptly named “Blackout.”

The beer pours an almost black color with ruby highlights when viewed against the light. The thin mocha colored head shows moderate retention and leaves behind some lacing atop the beer.

On the nose notes of dark chocolate leap from the glass along with notes of roasted coffee. Sweet dark dried fruit, almost raisiny mixes with a sweet caramel note. Roasted malts and hint of vanilla complete the bouquet.

The palate offers notes of toffee, dark chocolate and molasses. The mid palate offers dark roasted malts and almost bitter coffee notes. Dark fruit notes mix with a slightly boozy notes make you think of rum raisin. A creamy vanilla note mixes with a lighter chocolate component on the finish.

Great Lakes has done a Great Job. A littler less aggressive than many Imperial Stouts, but well balanced with a great flavor profile. Pair this one with blue cheese, duck with cherry compote or tiramisu. 3 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.0 Out of 5 Pints