Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Whale A Week: Prairie Bomb!

OK, I fell down on the job and missed 2 weeks.  I've caught up on tasting several beers, but have not had the time to get them written up.  This week we go with one from Oklahoma of all places...P-p-p--prairie Bomb!

Prairie Artisan Ales' Bomb!

I had heard about Prairie Artisan Ales for a while, but we do not get them in Minnesota, so it was a while before I had my first beer from them.  It was Funky Gold Mosaic--and may have been the first mosaic hopped beer I actually liked (I've found a few more since--thanks Brady).  Prairie Artisan is a brewery out of Tulsa, Oklahoma and specializes in saisons, funk, and other unusual styles of beer.  They are certainly well ahead of the craft beer curve for their location!

Bomb!  Is a Russian Imperial Stout aged on Nordaggio's espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chilies.  This one is a big 13% ABV and comes in a 12 oz stubby bottle.  RateBeer gives this a solid 100, and Beer Advocate a 99.  I've wanted to try this for a while and was happy when my friend Jim picked this up on a Colorado beer-cation and was willing to share for this tasting.  We served this little beer from the prairie into snifters and let it warm up a bit before tasting.  For this session we had me (BJCP judge, homebrewer, stout lover), Jim Stroner (Tin Whiskers Beer-Vangelist, craft beer geek), Dave Manley (homebrewer, learned beer geek), and Sarajo (my wife and fan of non-hoppy beers.)

Aroma: In which we all pick up on different things
Eric: Complex!  Coffee present, but more roasty malt and bitter chocolate.  Slight vegetal or earthy character that may be the chilies.  Mild vanilla.
Jim: Coffee and cocoa.
Dave: Chocolate/chili peppers.  Nice balance.  Not really much coffee.

Appearance: In which we gaze into the darkness...
Eric: Completely opaque.  Very fine dark tan head that fades quickly.
Jim: Black, maybe a hint of red?
Dave: Black with ruby highlights.  Minimal head.

Flavor: In which we all get a plethora of interesting flavors
Eric: At first I get umami/soy sauce.  That fades to a vanilla and dark chocolate flavor that I like more.  Coffee on the finish, bitter with hint of toffee--like one of those old hard coffee candies my grandma used to give me.  Chili is a subtle burn at the back of the throat and comes off as earthy.  Not a super boozy RIS, but alcohol is present.
Jim: Coffee and roast.  Cocoa on the finish.  Pepper comes out as it warms.
Dave: Get hints of coffee in the flavor, but not aroma.  All additions can be picked out.  Base beer is sorta bland?

Overall: In which I'm the easy grader because I like coffee the most...
Eric: For a beer with so many ingredients this could have been a mess.  Flavors melded well and each item can be tasted.  Tasting with the others we all picked out different flavors or aromas as dominant.  The earthy chili pepper actually cuts my enjoyment of this beer (and I love me some chilies!)  Very interesting but I've enjoyed Hunahpu and Abraxas much more which have similar flavor additions.  4
Jim: Complex beer but pretty much true to its description.  Well done beer, but I'm not a fan of coffee beers. 3
Dave: I think this shows the talent of the brewer.  All blended well, but somehow falls short.  This beer is the sum of its parts. 3.75
Sarajo: It has left a bitter taste in my mouth.  3.5

Overall Score: 3.56

Photo info: I took a shot of the bottle label in decent side light in the basement bar.  I superimposed this with a shot I took in the backyard of some decorative prairie grasses.  I did some color and opacity tweaking to get the final result.

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