Bean Gene

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL, changed my life with the introduction of their Deep Woods Series of bourbon barrel-aged beers a few years ago.  I scour the shelves of the local bottle stores in hopes of finding any of those black-boxed beauties.  I came across a vintage 2013 Bean Gene a while back.  It’s Eugene Porter, aged in bourbon barrels to become Mean Gene Porter and then steeped in Dark Matter coffee beans before brewing, ultimately resulting in Bean Gene.  What a brilliant idea!

Bean Gene is as black as coal with a fine bead 1/4″ thick head.  Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and cocoa powder waft from Bean Gene.  There’s a pervading sweetness to Bean Gene, but still the flavors of chocolate-covered cherries, coffee and bourbon (maybe more like Southern Comfort due to the sweetness) abound.  There’s a tartness in the finish, and a lingering coffee dryness rounds out the experience.

When comparing Bean Gene to the other offerings I’ve tried in the Deep Woods Series, namely Straightjacket, Very Mad Cow, Deth’s Tar, Mean Gene and 3rd Year, this is my least favorite.  I’ve had a bottle cellaring for a year, and I look forward to seeing how it has aged.  None the less, I enjoy Bean Gene and I recommend it if you are a fan of porters and coffee.

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Coffee Break Abduction

cbaCoffee Break Abduction, from one of Chicago’s newest breweries (Pipeworks Brewing Company, 1675 N. Western Ave.) has a lot going for it.  Let’s start with the crazy label art, reminiscent of a hokey B-Movie poster from the 50s.  Just look at it.  Then, how about the beer itself.  Coffee Break Abduction is an imperial stout with coffee and vanilla, and a weighty 10.5% ABV.  What a grand idea.  My bottle came from the legendary “Batch 72” and it pours black as night with a generous and oh-so-lacey head.  There’s a great coffee smell, roasted on the edge of burnt with a hint of clean paper.  The hops dry tang is there, but mainly it’s coffee bitterness, and vanilla in the exhale is a nice touch to wrap it all up.  The coffee comes from local craft coffee roaster Ipsento.  In spite of all the coffee notes, there is a good deal of sweetness that one becomes aware of in the finish.  A well-crafted, robust stout, and an overall enjoyable offering from Pipeworks.

Stone Smoked Porter

I like the idea of rye beers and of smoke beers.  Something just seems right about adding one or both of those elements to God’s perfect drink.  I

I Highly Recommend.

also think there is a lot of experimentation for the sake of experimentation in the world of brewing (Dogfish Head!) and it gets to be a little ridiculous.  Beer snobbery.  Look at how cool I am, I am drinking a Mesopotamian recipe that includes craftsman-hammered 20 karat gold leaf and Canadian thistle down.  That’s just bullsh*t.  Stone Smoked Porter is not bullsh*t.  It’s dang good is what it is, and if I am drinking something to make me look cool, this is my choice.  In my case, it’ll take a case at least to make me look cool, but there you have it.  The best thing about Stone Smoked Porter is that it introduces smoke without becoming one of those bacony rauchbiers or rawhidey, campfire-smelling smoke beers.  Stone Smoked Porter pours deep brown, ebony, with a hint of ruby when held up to the light.  It’s big, frothy head produces ample lacing that looks almost like an ice cream float head.  Very appealing.  Not a lot of smoke smell comes off the head, but some does, and it seems natural and appropriate.  Lots of roasted coffee and a little bittersweet chocolate, some caramel and hop bitterness, then finally some alcohol.  Smoked Porter is smooth on the tongue, and that subtle smoke note can be enjoyed along with a good dose of coffee as it excites the taste buds.  The bitterness in the finish is just right.  This is a very good smoked porter!   95/100 Porter

Double Chocolate Stout by Fort Collins Brewery

Black as tar, sporting a frothy beige head that looks like the whip cream on top of a milkshake and leaving lots of lace, Double Chocolate Stout is a formidable beer.  The bouquet is definitely full of chocolate and coffee, with some yeast and an earthy, Irish mossy, kind of smokiness.  It’s a bitter beer, and a little too bitter lacking enough sweetness to balance it out.  It is smooth and fairly drinkable overall, but I’d keep some real chocolate nearby to enjoy in tandem with Double Chocolate Stout.

Stockyard: bad name, decent beer

The Chicago Stockyards stir up romantic visions of underpaid, overworked immigrants, noise, stench…so what better image to connect with a beer.  Maybe to an out-of-towner, it gives them a connection to Chicago history.  I don’t know.  Looking past Stockyard Oatmeal Stout’s bad name, this turns out to be a decent beer.  Made by Goose Island under the Stockyard Brewing Company monicker (kind of like Jagger-Richards songs being credited to Nanker-Phelge), the oatmeal stout pours black with a hint of red and produces a nice tan head.  I find a little chocolate, some coffee and some smokiness in the bouquet.  It has a nice taste, which starts a bit sharp, but the smoke and hops feel good in the mouth.  It’s a bit thin for my money, at least to be called stout, but it doesn’t detract from the experience.  Would that be more like a porter then?  The aftertaste is coffeelike, and I’m not sure if that’s so great for my taste, as I don’t drink but one or two cups of coffee a year, but it’s certainly a better beer than I expected, especially as a non-Biersch micro brew from Trader Joe’s.  (See my review of Trinity Red Ale)