The Virginia contingency has enjoyed the relative calm provided by Brothers and Hardywood. Neither one of them dumped a barrel of type O negative into the water for the mulesharks to swarm over and, like Washington, Virginia seems to be silently drinking their own supply and enjoying some furtive world class beers. AND THEN COCONUT RESOLUTE CAME OUT. AND THEN THE MIDWEST/FLORIDA CONCH SHELL WAS BLOWN.
The second you dump secondary ingredients into a stout, thereby guaranteeing flavor confirmation, all shit breaks loose on the boards. So let’s take four of these recent wave makers and and whip up some global comparisons. FOUR VIRGINIA STOUTS RANKED IN ORDER OF DANKNESS:
NUMBER FOUR: Apple Brandy Resolute
Right out of the gates I was stoked for this one, a solid base stout, a SOCIETY ONLY BOTTLE, and the legendary apple brandy barrels that turn everything into pure stout raffle currency. Sadly, this didn’t really knock me off my perch. At best I used my beak to hit the thin chocolate bell and look at myself in the brownie stained mirror.
We are making pet avian jokes now.
The real issue here was with the thinnnn mouthfeel. It has a substantial abv and you’d except some residual malts to lay the foundation for those classy ass barrels to hoof it upon. Sadly the apple brandy could have been any treatment given the fact that much of the treatment came across as muted and a sort of Nestle cocoa powder instead of sticky sweet caramel whipped milkshake. This is by no means bad but, certainly nothing to straddle a hitachi over either.
3) Apple Brandy GBS
Ok let me address something before everyone starts lactating cinnamon out of their sand dollar nips: the serving vessel did not kill this for me, in fact this is actually very tasty. The real issue is that the two beers following this were FUCKING AWESOME so this by contrast was like Central Waters BB Stout, you nod approvingly, enjoy the repartee, but never really sit and mull it over. The frothy mouthfeel is great but there isn’t a substantial drag for the spices to cling to like static charged dryer sheets.
Yes, you read that right, I am complaining about the LACK of spice interplay in a stout. I am truly being a bitch about the cinnamon. It was subtle and arguably very deftly done because it never became distracting like that nightmarish churro tyrant: BA Abraxas. This was a nice gingersnap cookie dipped into some chocolate milk. You get the waft of holiday bliss but also a sort of sweet moon pie/residual lactose nicety that makes it very pleasant to drink. Everything I said in the foregoing conflicts with my usual stance on beers like this, so for them to overcome despite impossible odds, that’s some Bad News Bears type of stout. I am a fan.
NUMBER TWO: Kentucky Christmas Morning
Alright, shit is getting real now. This is the bourbon+coffee version of number three and holy fuck is this good. The underpinnings of this is essentially a mocha PSL frap. The frothy sweet milk stout coats with that massive Moloko milk bar panache. The cinnamon serves as a bump/set to the fantastic coffee spike. This is insanely drinkable and the long finish and clean body makes this never seem messy and it remains focused with every sip.
I thought for sure this would be a complete mess for any number of reasons but I think the real takeaway from Hardywood is: RESTRAINT. They execute things akin to Beachwood and Great Lakes, where the realization is that beers, like steaks, are almost always better underdone. This never becomes one note, nor are the additions forgettable sidecars tacked on for some “limited release” alms cup rattling. The best part of this beer is the carb/sweetness combo from the lactose. A really solid beer, toe to tip.
Last but not least, this complete suntan lotion masterpiece:
Coconut Resolute puts corona in the corner with a shot of fireball to think about the things that it has done. If the underlying theme of this writeup has been balance and grace, this exhibits all of the foregoing expertly. Unlike the already incredible Goose Island Prop 2013, this doesn’t elect to lean strictly upon its milky coconutty interior. This is first and foremost a stout that can rest on its own merits and the nose and swallow are some banging backup dancers that bring massive waves of Almond Joy goodness.
The end result is a beer that brings the macaroon, sure the Mounds are tumescent and dripping, but remains an identifiable stout at the bottom of all those toasted flakes. That is a remarkable achievement because it lends depth in a category replete with 13 person shares where some dumbfuck just wants to confirm “WORTH THE HYPE DEF TASTS LIKE COCONUT.” Obvious observation badge unlocked.
While this isn’t in the canon of say, top 10 stouts of ALL TIME, it can easily rival the best of the best for a low hanging slot. It is an exceptional treat that you would be remiss to not seek out.
MFW that coco.