My first bottle of Barf’s several iterations of Milk Stout. This one clocks in at 8.5% ABV and notes “overly spiced, tincture” on the bottle.
Appearance: Full black. No light penetrates anywhere. The head is creamy and light brown. Tasty looking beer.
Smell: Rooibos! So spiced it almost smells like a sweet shot of Fernet Branca, albeit with much heavier cloves and less licorice. The aromas are big and bold with cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla. No hint that it is a stout if you weren’t looking at it.
Taste: Follows the nose, but with whole new dimensions of sandalwood and earthy (almost smoky) tree bark and more rooibos tea. SUPER DUPER SPICED. It tastes much more like Chai than the black licorice aroma suggested, and also lacks the vanilla kick that the nose has. The taste is where the roast enters the equation, but it is still quite a mellow undertone given how black the beer is. The bits and pieces of the base beer that I’m picking up through the force field of spices are amazing… Sweet without the heavy raisin, toffee, and caramel tones that I usually find to be overdone in high gravity stouts. Chewy sweet and lusciously thick. Overly spiced for sure, but pretty dern close to what it is aiming for: Exotic, sweet, satisfying.
Mouthfeel: Sticky, creamy, smooth, with some lingering roast in the finish and an impressions of tannins from the spices.
Overall: I think I love the base! Might be able to get some hints of balanced, rich, and roasty coffee/ chocolate if the spices weren’t cloying. The sweetness is so neutral it works really well for me in this beer. I usually find big stouts overwhelm my palette with molasses and booze and only slightly redeem themselves when they are overloaded with charred, roasted, toasted, and burnt malt to balance them out. This one however is pretty mellow on the roasted side (which is a good choice given that the spices- even if paired back quite a bit- would grate against too much char), and very sweet, but in a simple way that just helps balance. I’m looking forward to the bottle with the spices “just right”.