mini-horizontal (I was corrected that it is NOT a vertical) of 18th Street Brewing’s milk stout series known as Hunter: regular, vanilla, and coffee.
Before I get into it, I want to provide a bit of personal history regarding this beer series.
At the beginning of the year, in order to get them, I would, like ever since I went to their brewery in 2014, have had to go over into Indiana or find a store that in Chicago that got them, like Capone’s. Then one day, my favorite beer store in Oswego had 18th Street beers, and I thought “holy crap!” Then they started getting the Hunter series, and I thought “holy shit!” And now, at least three months later, I’m thinking “When will they bring back them back again?”
Today, we will go with first impressions first.
REGULAR – canned 3/24 or 5/24, the labeling is a bit smudged. Straight up dark color, least carbonated of the three with a minimal amount of lacing. Roasty notes on the smell, some chocolate. Taste is a little off, like there might be some sort of infection on it. I’m getting a little roast and some chocolate, but the strong tang is making me think this one might be bad.
VANILLA – canned 3/18. Not as dark as the regular, with some tanning on the edges and a bit more foam and lacing. Not as roasty, a little vanilla to the smell. Taste hits with a vanilla roast. Mildly sweet. Very tasty.
COFFEE – canned 4/27. Seems to be as dark as the vanilla, but the one with the most foam and lacing. Strong coffee notes on the smell, definitely the most prevalent part. Taste hits with a sweet vanilla, then a slight bitterness comes on the back end.
After trying all three and then going back to the regular, it doesn’t seem as bad, in that the tang seems to have gone away. Either it isn’t infected, or I’ve killed off the part of my taste buds that would detect a bad beer. If I had a 2015 Bourbon County Coffee or Barleywine on hand, I could open one of those and test said area of that sense.
Anyway, we will now plunge into more in depth thoughts.
The REGULAR has plenty strong roastiness on the smell. It’s a straight up milk stout. Lots of sweetness that plays well with the roasty malt. It’s got a good balance of flavors. There’s a slight oiliness to it, but it’s not overpowering. I personally don’t like stouts that are too oily. A little oiliness is good, and this has just the right amount. It’s a pretty good milk stout.
I’m still trying to figure out which of the two adjuncts has a stronger scent. The VANILLA is pretty strong, but it’s a milder strength, if that makes sense. For taste, it’s stronger than the coffee in terms of initial flavor on taste. The vanilla is more in the forefront, while the coffee seems to be mixed in with the roasty malt of the base beer. So far, I’m thinking this may be my favorite of the three.
NOTE added later in this blog: I ended up doing my review for this one on another site that will remain nameless last, and that was because I initially thought this was the best of the three, and with some time it still was. While all three of them were very well balanced in terms of taste and feel, there was a depth that this one had that the others didn’t. The exact description I would give is “velvety, plush, and soft”. Great description for a pillow, but honestly, the VANILLA felt like a beer pillow for the tongue.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that COFFEE is normally a stronger scent than vanilla, but I have now determined the smell is definitely the strongest of the three. The flavor of the coffee isn’t as strong as the vanilla and is well balanced, but I’m finding it to be slightly too bitter on the back end.
NOTE added later in this blog: I was reviewing these on that other site that will remain nameless. and the coffee came in really underrated, in my opinion, like my rating was over 15% higher than the median.
NOW for something a little fun. I took the last parts of each can and mixed them. Probably not much more than five or six ounces, but I’m going to try a COFFEE VANILLA HUNTER, with impressions typed live while watching a live (via YouTube) performance of one of my favorite songs, Born Slippy by Underworld.
OOOH, I know you’re thinking. He’s so cutting edge.
Definitely has a stronger sweet (vanilla) scent over the usual sweetness and roastiness of a milk stout, and I’m detecting coffee on it for sure. I probably shouldn’t have flash chilled the last of the cans, because the taste is definitely in need of some warming up to really come through effectively, so we’re going to let it sit for a bit longer in the glass. There’s presence of all three beers, though. It’s got roasty malt, bitter coffee, sweet vanilla, and all of the flavors are playing well together.
ADDITIONAL MUSIC NOTE: If you’ve ever seen Silence of the Lambs, you know Q Lazarus’ song “Goodbye Horses”. I just watched the “original video” on YouTube, and the singing is done by a black woman (or a really effective drag queen. Shit, I’ve seen the movie, and YOU NEVER KNOW). Either way, I think there’s a bit of soul music there that the one we all know is missing.
BACK TO THE BEER.
As it warms, the bitterness of the coffee pushes itself forward to battle it out with the sweetness the vanilla and what a milk stout usually brings. It’s a very smooth tasting beer, and I like how the qualities from all three seem to blend rather well into a balanced taste and feel. I just wish it wasn’t accompanied by that “shit, I drank three 8+% abv beers together in less than two hours feeling” in the back of my throat.
I will have to say I had a fun morning with this experiment, but in response to Scot asking me “When are you going to blog again, Matt?”, I have to say “You better break out something good tonight, bitch!”