Beer Reviews (Malty and/or Boozy Beers)

In this section you will find reviews of beer styles where malts are the main attraction, including porters, stouts, scotch ales, wee heavys, doppelbocks, etc.  This is also the place to find reviews of high abv beers like barleywines, old ales, strong ales, imperial stouts, etc. (Imperial IPAs can be found with the Hoppy Beers).  On this page you will find a running tab of the beers that have been reviewed, with a brief description of each beer and its rating.  You can access the full review of each beer by clicking on its name.

My rating scale is: 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.

Sohio Stout (Columbus Brewing Company) Rating = 8  Flavors and aromas of dark roasted Brioso coffee are enveloped by a chocolate malt base.  With no harsh edges its a smooth drinking coffee-forward stout.


Deep Search (Land Grant) Rating = 8  A Baltic porter inspired by the Wes Anderson movie, The Life Aquatic. This winter lager is long on dark fruits and the chocolaty side of roasted malts.

Cask Aged Noir (Rockmill) Rating = 9  A black saison aged in Whiskey barrels, this is an excellent beer that drinks like an elite barrel aged stout.  The vanilla from the barrel is to die for and the malts are long on chocolate and short on bitter roastiness.

Black Maple (Jackie O’s) Rating = 9  A pricey, hard to find imperial porter brewed with locally sourced maple syrup and aged in bourbon barrels.  Big on vanilla, oak, and maple but not overly roasty or boozy this one doesn’t disappoint.

4th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Four String) Rating = 6  This imperial stout aged in OYO bourbon barrels is a no holds barred punch in the face, full of bourbon and booziness.

Thudstaff (Hoof Hearted) Rating = 8  The taste is a mix of smooth chocolate flavors from the cacao nibs and fruity esters from the Belgian yeasts.  Think bananas dipped in milk chocolate and you’ll get an idea of what this beer brings to the table.

Barrel Aged Siberian Night (Thirsty Dog) Rating = 8  An intensely bourbon forward version of a GABF gold medal winning imperial stout.  A must try for bourbon lovers, but not recommended for those with delicate palates.

Fat Julian (Actual) Rating = 8  Surprisingly smooth and approachable for an imperial stout.  Chocked full of bittersweet chocolate flavors, this is Ohio’s version of Old Rasputin.

Dark Apparition (Jackie O’s) Rating = 9  Incredible complexity without resorting to adjuncts, an intense flavor profile yet still highly drinkable. Dark Apparition is a classic imperial stout in the same vein as Bell’s Expedition Stout.

The Dogfather (Laughing Dog) Rating = 9  Hailing from northern Idaho this imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels is a delectable mix of vanilla and expresso in a beer pushing 11% abv.

Samichlaus (Schloss Eggenberg) Rating = 9  The world’s strongest lager this behemoth of a beer (14% abv), brewed on St. Nicholas day and named after Santa Claus, is an elegant sipper akin to an English Barleywine.

Four String Imperial Stout (Four String) Rating = 6.5  A big complex, bruiser of a beer.  Drinks like a cross between a Belgian Quad and an Imperial Stout, with an inviting aroma and a rich complex taste.  The finish is a little too sour for my tastes and seems out of place for the style.

Chickow! (Triple Digit) Rating = 8  This hazelnut double brown ale is a rich decadent beer spilling over with caramel, hazelnuts and chocolate.  The bold flavors and well hidden 10% abv justify the use of an exclamation point in the name.

Bitch Creek ESB (Grand Teton) Rating = 8  This beer, an extra special brown, possesses rich caramel and chocolate flavors from the malts, balanced by just enough hops to keep the drinkability high.  It’s one of the best brown ales I’ve encountered, and can make a case to be called best beer brewed in Idaho.

Death (Rivertown) Rating = 8  This strong (11%) rich malty beer brewed with Jolokai (Ghost) Peppers is a special release by Rivertown.  The heat from the peppers nicely balances the caramel and dark fruits of the malts.  Unlike almost every other pepper beer I’ve tried the capsaicin from the peppers compliments rather than overwhelms the flavors of the base beer.

Elegant Hoodlum Smoked Stout (Sideswipe) Rating = 7.5  Elegant Hoodlum is a complex character, chocolate flavors lead the way but are balanced with just the right amount of smokiness and enough hops to keep the finish clean.  Another impressive offering from Sideswipe.

Orthodox Winter IPA (Actual Brewing) Rating = 7  Labeled a Winter IPA by one of Columbus’ newest breweries, Actual Brewing, but it tastes very much like a hoppy Robust Porter.  Say hello to the new Edmund Fitzgerald.

Decadence 2013 (Alesmith) Rating = 8.5  A barrel-aged German Doppelbock with rich caramel flavors from the barrel, vanilla highlights, and the expected dark fruit flavors of a Doppelbock in the background.  An aptly named rich, decadent treat this is probably the best Doppelbock I’ve yet to encounter.

Saint Botolph’s Town (Pretty Things) Rating = 8.5   Dark chocolate flavors from imported Yorkshire dark roasted malts complimented beautifully by nutty flavors with a creamy mouthfeel and little to no bitterness, this beer is the epitome of what a English Nut Brown Ale should be.

Knotty Brown (Wolf’s Ridge) Rating = 7   An English brown ale from one of the new breweries in Columbus.  This beer transforms from smooth chocolate malts at the beginning of the taste to relatively bitter dark coffee/espresso on the finish, that camps out and lingers on your tongue.

Wulver (Thirsty Dog) Rating = 9   A Scotch Ale aged for 11 months in bourbon barrels.  As you might expect Wulver is very similar to Backwoods Bastard, but the bourbon is dialed back a little which allows the caramel to shine through, accented nicely by the vanilla notes from the oak barrels.  If you are looking for the ultimate Scotch Ale your quest ends here.         

Backwoods Bastard (Founders) Rating = 8   Summary: To make this beer Founders takes Dirty Bastard and ages it in bourbon barrels.  Not only does this add some bourbon notes, it turns up the caramel taste and adds vanilla highlights.   The mouthfeel is silky smooth and the hops are relegated to the background where they belong (for this beer).  The result is an indulgent after dinner sipper.

Dirty Bastard (Founders) Rating = 7   A Scotch Ale with an aroma of rich caramel.  The taste starts out with caramel but then the hops emerge to balance out the sweetness of the malts. Unfortunately the hops are too prominent for my tastes and leave a lingering bitterness that detracts from the underlying rich caramel character.

Founders Porter (Founders) Rating = 8.5   A fantastic porter with a smooth chocolate taste that is simply irresistible.  It’s a little one dimensional, but what it does it does very well.  If you like chocolate and you like beer (and who doesn’t) this is a must try.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (Great Lakes) Rating = 7.5   A showcase for dark roasted chocolate malts that go down smooth and never come across as being burnt.  The liberal use of hops adds complexity and keeps the chocolate tastes from overstaying their welcome.  One of Ohio’s premier beers.

Warlock (Southern Tier) Rating = 6   It shows up to the party dressed as an interesting Stout-Pumpkin hybrid and slowly morphs into a Pumpkin Pie beer as it warms.  If you can find 2-3 people to share this beer with you, and you like pumpkin pie, you’ll probably enjoy it.  If you are drinking it solo (like I was) I predict that you will end up wishing Southern Tier sold this beer in smaller bottles.

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