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> Beer Talk: Blackout Stout, Indian Wells Brewing Co
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Taliesin 
Posted: 10-Apr-2009, 01:31 PM
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Indian Wells Brewing Company is a newcomer to my palate, as I've only ever had one beer brewed by them before now. (It was a good beer, but I'll review that at another time.) Blackout Stout is apparently a new beer for these guys, and they did a really good job.

As always, remember that I'm judging this beer based on the style guidelines as set forth by the BJCP, as well as my own tastes for a stout. Indian Wells Brewing Company lists this stout as a Dry Stout. However, I don't think it works well in this style. I'd have classified it as a Sweet Stout, for reasons which will become clear in the review.

As an explanation, the reason for the style classifications is to have a standard set of guidelines by which one can judge a beer's adherence to a particular style. When one compares, one ought to compare like to like. Apples to apples, etc. I'm classifying this beer as a Sweet Stout, as I think it does well in that category.

Bouquet/Aroma - 8/10 - I quite enjoyed the aroma of this particular beer. A lack of head, however, caused there to be less of the aroma than there could have been. I think with a greater head, a lot more of the aromatics of this stout would have been released. What I got, however, was sweet maltiness, with only slight roasty hints. Some stouts use a large percentage of the roasted barley or chocolate malt, lending far more burnt notes to the bouquet, but I think these guys used the roasted barley primarily for the color (which only needs a little) rather than the flavor. A great aroma promising great things, but could be stated a little more strongly, IMO.

Appearance - 4/6 - The appearance of stouts of all kinds are hard to judge in a standard pint glass. They ought to be pretty darn black. They're generally not filtered, leading to less light making its way through the beer, and they're dark. This stout does not disappoint. If you look from the bottom up, you'll see a reddish/black tint near the top of the beer, which is not uncommon. (Not even Guinness is perfectly black.) smile.gif

What dinged this beer on the score, however, is the distinct lack of head. I don't expect a creamy head like what you get from a Nitrogen-infused beer like Guinness. I do, however, expect there to be more head from a bottle-poured stout. I poured this a little rougher than normal, as I quickly noticed that not much head was forming on the top. If they were going for a cask-style stout, then I wouldn't have a problem, but nothing on the 6-pack box OR the bottle indicates this. Head is important for beer, bringing out crucial aromas, which are part of the flavor. Head could only have improved this beer.

Flavor - 19/19 - Ok, this beer is really quite tasty. If I'd kept this beer classified as a dry stout, however, this score would NOT have been this high. A Sweet Stout is malty, and...SWEET, and the Blackout Stout does NOT disappoint. The sweetness, in my estimation, stems from a high percentage of unfermented malt sugars in the finished product. I would guess this results in a low abv%, though it's not stated anywhere on the website or the product packaging. As the aroma hinted, the roasty, coffee-like flavors common to stouts take a backseat to the sweet, maltiness. No hint of alcohol, either, which is another factor leading me to believe it's got a low abv%. Everything balances well, and what you get on the back end is sweetness. No distinguishable hop character in this stout, either. Some hops would have been permissible, but I am glad they leaned toward hop moderation on this one. Such a malty, roasty flavor profile would have been ruined with the floral and citrus notes of hops. Some bitterness would have been ok, but if they wanted more bitterness, I would have recommended more roasted barley before hops, personally.

Body - 5/5 - The mouthfeel on this stout is thick without being syrupy. It's smooth, without resorting to a nitrogen widget. When I was drinking this last night, I guessed they used maltose in the brewing process, but I was proved wrong, as their website says the smoothness results from barley flakes. Flaked barley is an ingredient used for additional mouthfeel as well as head retention. Guinness uses flaked barley, and it's common in stout recipes. I think it DEFINITELY added to the mouthfeel, and almost moves this recipe into the Cream or Milk Stout category. (If there were any dairy used in the brewing, which there apparently isn't.) Any way you look at it, this is a nice, thick, chewy stout! Most excellent experience.

Drinkability/Overall Impressions - 10/10 - Looking at any one of these components makes me pleased with this beer. The overall experience of the Blackout Stout, however, is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Don't look to this beer for a dry Guinness-like flavor, as it's definitely not in that category. This sweet, slightly roasty stout is an excellent after-dinner beer.

Many high-alcohol stouts are considered winter warmers, because the alcohol increases body heat. This stout, however, could be drunk in any weather, and because you're not going to get smashed with a single bottle, you can enjoy a few, prolonging the wonderful flavor this beer has to offer.

Total Score - 46/50


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krioni98 
Posted: 10-Apr-2009, 01:49 PM
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Thanks for the review Tal. I am going to have to try and locate this beer. Pittsburgh does not have many places that sell beer by the six pack, usually can only get cases. I like stouts a lot so I am always up for tasting one. Thanks again.

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Patch 
Posted: 11-Apr-2009, 03:00 PM
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It is about the time for "bock" beer in this area. It is a dark beer supposedly having something to do with cleaning the fermentation vats though I doubt that. It is popular among those of German descent as a spring tonic. It certainly has a distinctive taste.

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Taliesin 
Posted: 11-Apr-2009, 03:35 PM
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Ah, Bocks. My favorite of the Lager styles, and usually fairly high abv%, which is why you guys start getting them in your area now. lol. A good tripel or dubel (triple, or double) bock is a perfect winter warmer: malty and alcoholic. smile.gif

Around here, we're getting the lighter ales and lagers. IPA's and Pales in my area are getting very popular.
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Patch 
Posted: 11-Apr-2009, 03:57 PM
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Millers and Budweiser are the big sellers here and there are very few offerings from the small brewers. This is a very small community.

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Taliesin 
Posted: 11-Apr-2009, 09:28 PM
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If you can get your hands on it, though I know there was a less-than-favorable review on another board, Budweiser's American Ale is not a bad example of the American Amber Style. If they carry Bud, see if you can cajole them into carrying American Ale. It's worth it, IMO.
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Shadows 
Posted: 12-Apr-2009, 07:35 AM
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QUOTE (Taliesin @ 11-Apr-2009, 09:28 PM)
If you can get your hands on it, though I know there was a less-than-favorable review on another board, Budweiser's American Ale is not a bad example of the American Amber Style. If they carry Bud, see if you can cajole them into carrying American Ale. It's worth it, IMO.

Bud's American Ale is over priced and over rated in my opinion.
I prefer Yuengling's Lord Chesterfield Ale for both flavor and price.



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Taliesin 
Posted: 12-Apr-2009, 10:33 AM
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Obviously, it depends on your tastes, but I know several people whom I respect for their beer opinion, and they quite enjoyed the beer...and were floored when they found out that it was brewed by Bud. It's nowhere near the best, but it's average, which is miles above Bud and Miller's lager offerings. I'd classify it near Michelob Amber Bock. Not a great beer, but a good beer.

I've never had Any Yuengling's, as they're not available in my area. I don't doubt they're good, as I've heard some good things about them.

However, Patch had mentioned that all they could get was Bud and Miller. My aim in recommending American Ale over any of the hundreds of beers I prefer was because it should be pretty easy to get in any area that carries Bud.

As for it being over-priced, in my area it's cheaper than most Microbrews. Not as good as most of them, of course, but on a budget it's not a horrible beer.
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togo 
Posted: 17-Apr-2009, 07:41 PM
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I don't get the Indians Wells Brewing Company beer in my area yet( New England). But it sounds great. I love a stout beer. Hope I can come across some at some point.
I have had a Yuengling's Black and Tan before. Very good stuff!
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