Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 12/7/16

Alright, so I’ve decided from here on out every Wednesday will be beer and cigar review Wednesday where I publish reviews of any noteworthy (or very un-noteworthy) beers I’ve drunk or cigars I’ve smoked over the past 7 days. I have chosen to centralize it to a specific day of the week as I’ve found it can be easy for these entries to be fairly common and somewhat detract from the main central themes of this blog (namely the ones featured in my tagline) so condensing them to a specific day will free up other days to get back to the real purpose of my blog. I think doing so will be a significant improvement over my current blogging style.

So for this week we are featuring the following beers:

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout

Coming to us from Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, UK is their take on an Imperial Stout. Samuel Smith makes some really tasty brews but I’d never had this one before so I was anxious to try it. It has an unspecified IBU rating but it is a relative lightweight in the Imperial Stout category at a diminutive 7.0% ABV.

The beer comes in a true British pint and pours the typical jet black Imperial Stout color with a thin ring of tan head. Only a faint fruity aroma on the pour. Flavor is primarily prune juice with a hint of roasted malt and bitter espresso on the finish. Medium in body and carbonation drinks slightly rough.

I have to admit it: I just did not enjoy this beer all that much. I’m not a fan of prune juice so naturally I didn’t really care for this beer. Seems to me most of Samuel Smith’s beers have a fruity twang to them (and it works well with some – the Brown Ale has a very pleasant green apple bite to it) but it just misses the mark for me. Rating: 2.5/5.

Deep Ellum Local Legend

Local Legend is a milk stout (a stout with added lactose which does not ferment) brewed by Deep Ellum in Dallas, Texas. As with all Deep Ellum products, it comes in a lined can (which is not bad; arguably they do better at shielding beer from light and you can take cans even places you can’t take glass) and it weighs in at a paltry 5.8% ABV and 23 IBU but don’t let that fool you! This is one full-flavored stout.

Pours a dark brown almost black color with a frothy tan head. Aromas of vanilla, roasted malt and a subtle tart fruitiness. Flavors follow almost exactly from the nose with a sweet vanilla followed immediately by a roasted malt and coffee and finishes with a semi-tart black cherry note. Surprisingly light in body and carbonation both, but this makes for a highly drinkable beer that one could easily kill a six-pack of around the campfire.

I have to say I’ve not had a milk/sweet/cream stout quite like this one but leave it to Deep Ellum to do something different. Nonetheless, I really did enjoy this beer. Rating: 4/5.

And now for this week’s cigar picks:

Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2016

I’m a big fan of Oliva cigars so when I was gifted one of these by a coworker I was super excited. The 2016 version is a 6″ x 60 ring gauge Double Toro vitola. This cigar is a limited release each year, with each year being a different vitola. I normally stay away from really big ring gauges as they usually are a pain in the ass but for whatever reason I just had a feeling this was going to be a winner and boy was I right.

First light revealed a very loose draw (typical of big ring gauges) but a full-bodied blast of spicy/peppery dark chocolate and a subtle earthiness on the retrohale. Spiciness faded leading to a medium/full semi-sweet dark chocolate. The 2nd third brought in a nice creamy coffee which ramped up to the halfway point where the chocolate dropped almost completely. The final third brought the chocolate back in and brought the earthy retrohale more to the forefront. Oh, and did I mention a silky smooth smoke all the way down to the nub?

Performance was surprisingly good taking into account the thick maduro wrapper and the big ring gauge. Very straight burn all the way down and the first chunk of ash held on almost all the way to the band (the 2nd section of ash never dropped off). After the ash dropped the ember must have fallen off the edge of the wrapper as it seemed to go out (though the filler continued burning) so a quick re-light of the wrapper was in order. A long 90 minute burn time before the first hot draw was the icing on the cake.

This is a limited edition cigar so get it while you can. I might just buy my local tobacconist out of stock (it’s also very reasonably priced for what it is and the burn time). Rating: 4.5/5.

Surrogates Tramp Stamp

           

The Tramp Stamp is 5.25″ x 48 ring gauge Robusto with a closed foot featuring Nicaraguan long filler and an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper. I picked this cigar up mainly because of the name and because it was in the blowout bin at my local tobacconist. It was a total shot in the dark but it paid off.

First light showed a slightly snug draw and near full-body of mostly a cayenne pepper spice. Draw opens up after a few puffs (as the closed foot burns off) and body flavors mellow slightly to medium/full retaining the cayenne spice on the back of the palate and in the retrohale but adding a sweet vanilla on the draw. Cayenne and vanilla morph together into a hot cinnamon in the 2nd third which also brought in a straight tobacco. Final third drops spice and sweetness and leaves just a straight tobacco taste still at medium-full body. Ended at 50 minutes not because of the smoke going hot/acrid but because of a medium-full nicotine strength coming in.

Performance was normal for a thick, dark wrapper – slightly wavy burn requiring a small touch-up around the 1/2 way point. Surprising burn time from the relatively short length and small ring gauge – I was expecting something more on the order of 40 minutes and could have gone nearly an hour if I had more of a nicotine tolerance. All in all a surprisingly good cigar at a good price point. I’ll be buying more for sure. Rating: 4/5.

 

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