Monday, April 11, 2016

A Whale A Week: Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black

Now in my second year, A Whale A Week is my challenge to try (with an array of beer loving friends) a rare beer for every week of the year.  Last year I had a great time with this and have continued it for 2016.  Not every beer will be a truly "white whale" beer, but all are hard to find and a treat to try!  This week we try something different.  Tired of just trying out one beer (and lets be honest how can I really shrink my cellar at this rate) each week, we're going to break out a bunch of them!

This week one of my old friends Rob Wengler invited my wife Sarajo and I over to his place for a couple of rare beers.  Rob had discovered this little treasure at an out-of-the-way liquor store that somehow fell off the beer hoarders' radar this past month.  Bent Paddle Brewery in Duluth is one of my very favorites in Minnesota--and frankly one of my favorites in the nation.  I've met brewers Bryon Tonnis, Collin Mullen, and Peter Mack many times over the years--before Bent Paddle was even formed.  When Tonnis and Mullen (and their wonderful wives who are much involved in the business aspects of the brewery) formed Bent Paddle I was incredibly excited.  Here were two of my favorite under-rated brewers--who both put out amazingly balanced and consistent beers--forming a super-group of sorts.  I've been to the brewery several times (usually our first stop as we roll into Duluth for All Pints North beer festival each summer) and the offerings just keep getting more varied and more impressive.  Currently Bent Paddle has been involved in some controversy up north due to their stance on opening a new mine in the area.  Apparently the municipal (owned by the government) liquor stores have boycotted their beers in response.  To me this is fine for a personally owned business to decide, but for the city government to do so (and encourage other businesses to do it as well) seems like stepping over the line.  Check HERE for a link to a really impressive statement from the brewery that was published in The Growler.  That's as political as I get on this blog...

A few years back Bent Paddle did their first barrel aged beer--Double Black--an Imperial version of their Black Ale aged in bourbon barrels.  We had it at All Pints and were blown away.  The next year we tried the coffee infused version (Double Shot) and had found a new favorite beer.  This year they released that version in bottles and they went like hot-cakes in the Twin Cities market.  Sarajo and I searched but did not score any bottles at all for our dragon's-hoard.  Luckily Rob was willing to share!  This is a 11.2% ABV stout with cold press locally roasted coffee and whole bean Madagascar vanilla beans.  We had to hack at the thick wax on the bottle with a dangerously sharp knife to get
into it!  

Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black


Eric: Powerful strong cold press coffee!  Hints of vanilla.  Mild alcohol zippiness.  As it warms I get tons of rich dark chocolate.  Mild oak tannins.  No hops to speak of.  The aroma complex and like a chameleon seems to change with each sniff.  I spent several minutes just smelling this beer before actually going in for a taste.  Impressive.
Rob: Coffee grounds.
Sarajo: Smells like chocolate.


Eric: Nearly pitch black and opaque.  Very fine dark tan head is pretty persistent for such a strong beer.
Rob: "So black it sweats oil..."


Eric: Sweet at first, but quickly drops to an almost chalky dry dark chocolate finish.  Coffee is very present--seems like a freshly brewed medium roast with some earthy character.  Vanilla comes across at the tail end--adding a hint of sweetness to even out the dry almost bitter chocolate aftertaste.  Mouthfeel is mouth coating and thick and creamy--but finish is off-dry.  Mild tannic oak or coffee grounds.  Balance is pretty even between bitter and sweet.  
Rob: Like a plain biscotti soaked in a sweet espresso 'til its soft--then sucking the juice out of the biscotti.  
Sarajo: The vanilla is strong in this one...but not cloying--perfect balance.


Eric: Wonderful complexity in both the aroma and the flavor.  Strong coffee, even-handed vanilla, chocolate. Barrel is subtle.  Masterfully crafted beer.  One of the best I've had so far this year.  4.75
Rob: 4.5
Sarajo: Goes well with chocolate chip cookies!  :)  4.75
Overall Score: 4.67

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