Nick Carr on October 20, 2014 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Black Isle Brewing Company Location: Black Isle, Scotland Style: Oatmeal Stout ABV: 7.0% IBU: ?? Hops: English First Golding Malts: Pale, Chocolate, Unmalted Oats Appearance: Darkness, Deep Mahogany Around the Edges with Beige Foam Aroma: Roasted Barley With Notes of Coffee, Licorice & Smokiness Flavor: Cola-edged Roast, Coffee, Molasses, Bittersweet Chocolate Availability: Year-Round (Hard to find in the U.S.) Pairs With: Vanilla Cheesecake, Chocolate Brownies, Oatmeal Stout Ice Cream Float I went to have dinner at the Curious Kumquat, one of my favorite little restaurants here in town. Incidentally if you’re ever near Silver City this is a great spot to stop in and have lunch, a nice evening meal, or a full on seven course dinner. Rob Connoley, owner, chef, and all-around-good-guy, works very hard to present great dishes featuring locally grown and foraged foods. Did I mention he was a semi-finalist this year for the James Beard Award? Anyway, it’s a great place and he also stocks a pretty robust wine and beer list, which, of course, is where this review comes in. I scrutinized the beer list and noticed a couple new ones. An Organic Stout from Scotland caught my eye. Scotland? Organic? Stout? Why yes I believe I will have one. Thank You. Turns out Black Isle Brewing is the only organic brewery in Scotland and they’ve embraced “organic” in just about every way they can. Based in Inverness, David Gladwin started Black Isle in 1998 putting his background in his family’s wine business to a slightly different use. The brewery’s setting is described as “our beautiful, unspoilt, unpolluted, wild, and not a little bit wet highland home.” Sounds like a great place to make a living saving the planet one pint at a time. Black Isle grows some of their own barley and all the spent grain goes to feed the farm’s herd of cows. They even have a brewhouse milk cow named Molly. Hum, I see a milk stout somewhere in their future. The rest of the malt and hops are bought from other organic farms at almost 3 times the cost of non-organic ingredients, giving some idea just how much the folks at Black Isle believe brewing organic conserves the ecology and biodiversity necessary for nature and, in turn, for us to flourish. A sentiment I can’t help but share. The Brewery’s efforts have not gone overlooked. They have achieved recognition from the Organic Food Awards, won a SIBA Champion Beer of Scotland and several awards from the SOIL Association; not to mention having placed in the 2009 Southhampton beer festival. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Hibernator Oatmeal Stout. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. The Pour and Aroma This oatmeal stout flirts with total darkness like it’s an old friend. It’s only when held up to bright daylight that some hints of deep mahogany can be discerned around its edges. A short head of beige foam sits atop, like mist hiding a dark abyss. The foam isn’t quite the creamy stuff of other stouts; it’s packed looser, with small bubbles forming the frothy matrix. Aroma is hefty. A wallop of roasted barley plays lead in this show of darkly “stoutish” characters. Light filtered coffee, maybe slight licorice, and some smoky notes round out the cast. Mouthfeel and Taste Mouthfeel has the signature smoothness of a stout. The body isn’t quite as full as I’d expect from an oatmeal stout, landing more on the low side. It is amazing though, for 7% ABV I find almost no sign of the alcohol. Maybe very slightly warming as I drink more, but still very mild for a 7 percenter. There is a Cola-edged roast flavor at the front of the palate rolling into coffee, slight molasses, and light tobacco mid-palate. There’s a bit of dark fruit character right before it drops off the back of the palate. A pretty significant bite of bitter coffee and some bittersweet chocolate in the swallow and aftertaste, doesn’t stick long though. A very subtle wood smoke quality cloaks the rounded whole in a sense of wood fires, warmth, and well-being. Finishing The Impression This beer was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Though in the end I would have to say I liked it as a whole package. The color was beautiful, but I expected more of a creamy head. The taste was good, but the body was a little thinner than expected for a stout, especially one with unmalted oats in the grain bill. One thing that did surprise me was how easy drinking it was, with almost no sign of the higher alcohol it’s pushing. It was a little unsettling how fast my 500ml bottle was empty, and even more disturbing, how easy it would have been to order another. It is definitely a good beer. Maybe one that misses a couple of nuances, but overall it’s a worthy oatmeal stout, backed by a brewery operation that is trying to make a difference. If you get the chance pick it up and, as their slogan goes “Save the Planet, Drink Organic.” Cheers! More Beer Reviews: Mean Old Tom by Maine Beer Company Milk Mustachio Stout by Tractor Brewing Company Imperial Java Stout from Santa Fe Brewing Company Wake ‘N Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout from Terrapin Beer Co.