With the weather finally coming around this is my last post in the Sunday Stout Soliloquy series. I was planning to review Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, going so far as drinking a bottle that I had stashed away and taking tasting notes. I can summarize my thoughts on BCBS by saying of all the barrel aged stouts I had this winter it’s easily the most bourbon forward one of the lot. So if you like the bourbon aroma and flavor turned up to eleven BCBS will not disappoint, but for my delicate palate I thought it was a little over the top.
Instead I’m going to finish with something more local, Hoof Hearted’s Thudstaff Belgian Imperial Stout. The combination of a limited draft-only distribution footprint and brewmaster Trevor Williams’ magic touch with hops have earned Hoof Hearted a cult following. Looking through the reviews on this site I was surprised to see that I’ve not done a formal review on a single Hoof Hearted beer. Sure there was a lot of love for Musk of the Minotaur when it won the King of Ohio IPAs title last fall, but not a formal review. I had intended to review Dragonsaddle Triple IPA when it was released in late January, but it was so good that one glass led to another and then another and before I knew it I was lucky to make it home let alone write a review. Determined to rectify this shortcoming, I stopped by Growl! in Clintonville earlier this week and picked up a growler of Thudstaff.
- Brewery: Hoof Hearted (Marengo, OH)
- Style: Imperial Stout
- ABV: 8.5%
- IBUs: 44
The Hoof Hearted website provides a two sentence description of Thudstaff.
“Down with the bass! Velvety Belgian Imperial Stout with cacao nibs from Ghana and Ecuador.”
It’s not the blackest impy stout that I’ve come across, but still very dark and pretty opaque as you can see in the photo above. A few millimeters of beige head forms on pouring that settles out to a scrim after a minute or two. The aroma was initially quite chocolaty, but after a few minutes the nose is pretty reticent. The taste is a mix of smooth chocolate flavors from the cacao nibs and fruity esters from the Belgian yeasts. The fruits are not so much the dark fruits of a Belgian quad, but lighter fruits that remind me of a hefewiezen or Belgian golden strong ale. Think bananas dipped in milk chocolate and you’ll get an idea of what this beer brings to the table. The balance between the chocolate and fruity flavors is spot on, and there are enough hops to keep things pretty dry. There is no bitterness or astringency and the alcohol is completely hidden (you can’t say that about BCBS). The mouthfeel is fairly carbonated and lighter than you would expect for an Imperial Stout.
Like many Hoof Hearted beers Thudstaff is ridiculously drinkable for a beer that tips the scales at 8.5% abv. It manages to bring chocolate dipped fruit flavors to the table without becoming sweet or cloying. If life is a box of chocolates, as Forest Gump would have you believe, this is one of the treats. As of the time of writing Thudstaff is pouring at Growl! in Clintonville, The Ohio Taproom in Grandview, The Daily Growler in Powell, and The Crest Gastropub (and quite possibly a few other places). If you are curious to give it a try you should get out there soon before it disappears.
Rating scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.
If you want to read other posts in the Sunday Stout Soliloquy series check out one or more of the links below: