On a recent Wednesday, I, Franz Solo, happened to stop by the Il Vicino Canteen for some libations after a long day at work. My initial intent was to do a couple samples of some of the newer seasonals and fill a growler with the much-hyped Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout, but, much to my delight, there were a couple brews worth more than just a taste.
I started my tastebud adventure with Odin’s Imperial Red, which I had tried previously during the early brewing process before it aged. The pre-aged red was very good and packed a wallop of a bite, which was most certainly more well-balanced as it aged. This one came out very smooth and quite deadly as I downed it rather quickly.
I liked this beer quite a bit; in my opinion it is exactly what an imperial red should be — bold, full of hints of blackberry and almost maple syrup, with a good dose of hoppy goodness.
Next up was the Topaz IPA, which was the featured beer for Cask Wednesday. This is the first beer that I have tried which has Topaz hops as the main focus; they are quite good indeed! The initial aroma was very sweet and hoppy, with a strong presence of grapefruit and a hint of piñon. As for flavor the beer hits mid-palate with a rich bite and again, lots and lots of grapefruit.
This is a very sweet and yet incredibly bitter beer which I would certainly like to try again on Co2 for a comparison. I thought this beer could have had a bit more bite, but as this was on cask I was expecting more of the subtle flavors to come to the forefront.
As for the reason for my visit in the first place, the Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout did not disappoint. The order of flavors as I noticed them mirrors the name of the beer. The chocolate is a dark cocoa similar to chocolate coffee, but distinct from other chocolate stouts like Samuel Smith’s offering. The palate starts with smooth milk and then a bite of chocolate, with dark, sour cherries on the back end.
The head for this beer was most impressive, quite thick and dark and creamy like a pillow of goodness which lingered throughout most of the pint I poured. As I drank more, the cherry really stood out, reminding me of mid-to-late May and the cherries I used to eat off the trees in my parents’ backyard.
The second day pours yielded more and more cherry flavor that lingered on the back palate. To be sure, this is a lovely stout worthy of spring! So if you have a chance, stop by the Canteen for some delightful spring beers and raise a glass to the change of seasons!
— Franz Solo