I’ve been into craft beer since I started drinking. But until recently, I just walked into a store, bought something I liked or sounded good, and that was about it. Since I began reading and then joined Aleheads, I’ve been putting a lot more thought into beer. Why do I like what I like? What are my favorite hop varieties? What new beers do I need to search out and try?
All of this takes me down the slippery slope towards obtaining the best beers in the world. The trouble is, with the explosion of craft beer, these coveted prizes can be difficult to obtain. Limited distribution, limited supply, huge demand. So this winter, I have tried to get a number of interesting and limited edition brews, most of which I have to drive an hour to Missouri to get. I failed to get Hopslam, Hoptimum, KBS, etc. Most of these beers didn’t even hit shelves here. They were bought up by distributors and liquor store owners and employees, or kept in the back for friends. Now I don’t have a problem with this practice, all jobs have their perks and this is pretty much the only one in the retail booze business. But the disappointment remained.
One exiting beer that did get distributed in KS this year was Goose Island’s Night Stalker Imperial Stout. This beer isn’t as well known as Goose Island’s Bourbon County, but perhaps it was more intriguing to me, since it is a hop-forward imperial. While it probably does age, who wants it sitting around while those delicious Simcoe hops mellow?
I thought I missed this one too. I heard that Kansas City’s supply sold out ‘before they hit shelves’ as well. I asked at my local package store, and didn’t hear anything promising. Then, last night, I got the call. They got in two cases of Night Stalker as a ‘surprise’. I was conservative and picked up three bombers.
NOTES: 22 oz. Bottle shared with the miss at the Hordeum ranch.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
APPEARANCE: Pours black as night. The glass held up a light does not change a thing.
HEAD: Very little, dark tan.
LACING: Almost none.
NOSE: Quite piney and earthy.
TASTE: Delicious. Thick, rich, sweet roasted malt, lots of chocolate up front. Well balanced with bitter hops, lots of earthy pine, a little bit of citrus, and–what the hell?–passionfruit.
MOUTHFEEL: Very smooth, full bodied, creamy, with mild carbonation. The alcohol is completely hidden until the aftertaste, which leaves the mouth a little warm and watering from the hops.
DRINKABILITY: Absurdly good. I was taking big gulps and holding it in my mouth as long as I could, not wanting it to go away.
RATING: 4 Hops