Today is is the kickoff to Providence Craft Beer Week (boom!), which reaches its climax this Friday at Beervana (cue chorus of angels). And a sneak peak: I will be at Beervana doing a few reviews until my creative juices turn…well…incoherent. But I digress! It sounds like I have a great excuse to do as many reviews as I possibly can to get this new blog on a roll. I decided to start with Otter Creek’s: Couch Surfer- something relatively local (New England is small compared to the rest of the country, so I consider it local). I will say right off the bat that I am in the minority of people who can’t wait for winter. I don’t mind the cold, and I love the winter beers that come out of hibernation from the hot summer weather, when it wouldn’t be suitable for drinking them. You can enjoy a Belgian Wit in December, but have you ever tried a Russian Imperial Stout on the beach? It doesn’t work very well… Right now, it’s not cold enough to require a 10% ABV barleywine, but as the leaves begin to change, I can certainly look forward to winter with a lower octane Oatmeal Stout from Vermont. Here are my thoughts:
Beer Name: Couch Surfer
Brewery: Otter Creek Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Middlebury, VT
Beer Style: Oatmeal Stout
Couch Surfer pours a very dark brown to black color that is completely opaque, with a thin yet creamy tan head that follows the beer down as you continue to drink it.
The most dominate flavor that I pick up on the nose is dark chocolate- think like a dark chocolate bar. Not sweet like a milk chocolate bar. There is also a definite aroma of roasted black coffee, but that flavor is not dominant or overbearing like one would find in other porters and stouts.
Taste & Aftertaste
This beer is definitely rich, but not overly sweet like a milk stout. The first sip of it is like taking a bite out of a dark chocolate bar in liquid form, with a noticeable roasty-coffee edge to compliment those flavors. There is a sort of caramel-raisiny quality in the background of this beer, which is quite nice. The oats impart a sort of graininess to the beer which, when you combine that sensation with the caramel richness of the beer, reminds me of Portuguese sweet bread. Perhaps the best part of this beer is the creamy mouthfeel. The beer is thick and velvety, and every sip completely coats your tongue. This is a quality that is common in oatmeal stouts because oats are rich in proteins that add to the overall body and creaminess of the beer. As this beer warms up, it’s richness of the chocolate and caramel become much more apparent. This beer is very sessionable- no hop character shines through (as expected), and there is no alcohol warmth which means I can sit back and enjoy a few pints of this (though I would want to savor this beer).
This is a phenomenal oatmeal stout- probably one of the best ones I’ve ever had. I am literally struggling to find anything wrong with this beer. Couch Surfer is rich, creamy, and chocolatey; however it is not overly roasty or ashy like many stouts can sometimes be. Even better, the alcohol is restrained enough that I could see myself enjoying a second pint of it. As the weather gets colder, this beer is perfect for sitting at the bar or on the couch, watching football, savoring for a long period of time, then cracking open another one.