When the Columbus Brewing Company expanded and moved out to their new location on the west side of Columbus one of the most tangible benefits to local beer lovers was the promised expansion in their lineup of packaged beers. While their award-winning hop bombs, Bodhi and Creeper, have captured most of the attention let’s not forget about some of the less heralded gems in the CBC catalog. I’ve been patiently waiting to see if Sohio Stout was going to be bottled. So when I caught wind that four-packs of their coffee infused stout were being released into the wild, I headed over to Palmer Beverage the next day and grabbed some for closer analysis.
- Brewery: Columbus Brewing Company (Columbus, OH)
- Style: Coffee Stout
- ABV: 8.3%
- Price: $9.99 for a 4 pack of 12 oz bottles
I’ve generally been impressed with the look of the rebranded CBC beers, and while this one is not objectionable the dark brown and black tones of the label don’t do much to catch your eye. Not one to judge a book by its cover let’s focus on the liquid inside. Like all of the rebranded CBC beers there’s precious little information on the label itself. Resorting to the world wide web I found this succinct description on the CBC website:
This limited release stout is brewed with layers of chocolate, coffee, caramel and roasted malts to create depth and balance. Generous amounts of locally roasted Brioso coffee beans are added for an intense java aroma.
On pouring the opacity of this beer is the first thing that catches your attention. It may not be as black or as viscous as motor oil, but it’s every bit as opaque. A vigorous pour into my Spiegelau stout glass yields a good 3+ fingers of mocha head that recedes back to a scrim after a few minutes. As advertised the nose is bursting with the aroma of dark roasted coffee, accented with notes of chocolate. The taste follows the nose with dark roasted coffee omnipresent from start to finish. The coffee flavors are enveloped by the contributions of the malt bill—milk chocolate and to a lesser extent caramel. There is no harsh bitterness and the substantial 8.3% abv is completely masked. Unlike some stouts this one steers well clear of cloying sweetness. The liquid slides smoothly over your tongue, but the body is not as thick as the color and opacity would suggest. The finish leaves you with a lingering kiss of coffee bitterness.
The brewers at CBC have constructed a beer that does all it can to highlight the rich flavors of the Brioso coffee. The recipe masterfully integrates the coffee with the chocolate-forward flavors from specialty malts. The sweetness of the malts balances out the bitterness from the coffee. That factor, coupled with the absence of any alcohol flavors and the silky smooth mouthfeel makes for one highly drinkable beer. In fact the integration is so well executed that it makes for somewhat of a one note experience, but for all the java heads out there that’s not such a bad thing. With the holidays upon us, might I suggest you consider filling the morning coffee mug with some Sohio Stout in place of the normal cup o’joe. No one will ever know and it may help you navigate awkward political conversations while hanging out with the extended family.
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.