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Craft Brew(s) of the (Bowl) Week(s) - The Orange Bowl

Ya'll know the drill by now...

January 1 - Orange Bowl, Northern Illinois University 8:30 p.m. -

The Brewery: North Coast Brewing

Selected Beer: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Bowl games are known for stout competition. That's all I've got for an intro.

Before I move on, I want to thank everyone who participated in the threads for this beer of the week series. I have a nice list of brews to try during the next year, and enjoyed the discussion we had each week. Given the number of bowl games on, the holiday season, and the general amount of drinking taking place, I've found it difficult to escape and write up this post. Let's keep it simple this time around.

Stout is one of my favorite beer styles. It originated in Great Britain, and was first a classification of Porter. Many breweries offered ‘stout porter' alongside a standard porter, with the 'stout' label indicating a bolder brew with more alcohol and roasted malt flavor, and darker color. The style eventually became its own, with Guinness blazing the way to the style's popularity with their quintessential dry stout. Stout is generally classified as sweet or dry, is characterized by coffee notes, the result of dark chocolate malt and dark roasted malt, and the hop level can range from a relatively calm 30 IBUs to over 100 IBUs. Yeast are often a neutral strain, and the malts are featured. Like Barleywine, Stouts (especially Imperial Stouts), are great for barrel aging as the flavors complement that of oak (and bourbon), and also good for cellaring as the malt flavors become more complex and the alcohol mellows out over time.

The game day brew:

Old Rasputin is a sweet Imperial Stout, with a strong dose of caramel, coffee, and chocolate flavors. When I drink it I generally get hints of other flavors, like vanilla and licorice, but these descriptions are subjective, and my palate has also been ruined by holiday snacks and isn't likely to recover until mid-spring. It is a very dark brew, which develops a thick layer of tan head on the pour. The nose is a beautiful roast coffee-laden festival in your nostrils. Do yourself a favor and buy a four pack, and stow a bottle away or two in the back of a closet. Open it in a year or two, alongside a fresh batch, to see why aging beers like this is a good idea.

Alternate Brews: North Coast, out of California, makes some awesome beers. They offer Old Rasputin aged on bourbon barrels, which I intend to consume this week, probably as THE beer for the FSU-NIU game (though I've profiled its less costly brother). They also make some other high gravity beers in Old Stock Ale, a very delicious Old Ale, and Brother Thelonious, a strong dark Abbey Ale. These are both very much worth trying. Look to their label for more accessible beers like Blue Star and Red Seal if you're entertaining a larger, less refined, beer drinking crowd. They also make some amazing takes on Belgian beers. Check them out if you aren't familiar with them, as they are one of the better breweries out there.

I've dedicated the bowl week to stouts. Here's what I have on hand: Old Rasputin, Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Rasputin, Pipework's Jones Dog, Hoppin' Frog Natasha, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout, Goose Island Big John, Goose Island Night Stalker, and Two Brothers North Wind. Of course, I've balanced this with some other brews and a few homebrews.

Here are some other stouts I believe you should try if you appreciate the style: Great Divide Yeti, Oak Aged Yeti, and Espresso Yeti, Uinta Labyrinth, the whole Southern Tier Stout Series, Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout, Founders Breakfast Stout, Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast and Hop Geek Breakfast... the list goes on and on and on. Love me some coffee flavors, especially this time of year.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Stout, and what is your favorite? What will you drink this week?

Previously reviewed brews:

September 01 - Murray State 6:00 p.m. (click to review this post)- Stone, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

September 08 - Savannah State 6:00 p.m. - Lagunitas, A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

September 15 - Wake Forest 12:00 p.m. - Green Flash, Saison Diego

September 22 - Clemson 8:00 p.m. - Southern Tier, Backburner Barleywine

September 29 - South Florida 6:00 p.m. - Cigar City Brewing, Oak-Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale

October 6 - N.C. State 8:00 p.m. - Nøgne Ø, Imperial Brown Ale

October 13 - Boston College 6:30 p.m. - Samuel Adams, Octoberfest

October 20 - Miami 8:30 p.m. - Great Divide, Hercules

October 28 - Duke 3:30 p.m. - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. (for Monk's Café), Flemish Sour Ale

November 1 - Bye Week - Oskar Blues, Old Chub Scottish Style Ale

November 8 - Virginia Tech 8:30 p.m. - Rogue - VooDoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale

November 17 - Maryland 12 p.m. - Terrapin - Samurai Krunkles

November 24 - Pond Scum 3:30 p.m. - Ayinger - Celebrator

December 1 - ACC Championship/Georgia Tech - Schmaltz Brewing Company - Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

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