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Monday, July 28, 2014

Confluence Brewing's High Water Oatmeal Stout

  • Style: Oatmeal Stout
  • ABV: Confluence's Website lists it at 6.0% while Untappd claims that the ABV is  5.3%  What's a few numbers between friends, after all? (To be clear, no ABV % was marked on the actual growler label.)  Confluence lists the IBUs as 29 and since Untappd is silent on this point, I'm going to take that as an agreement
  • Ease to locate:  They distribute throughout Iowa.  Here's their Beer Locator because they don't seem to update their Twitter or Facebook account with deliveries all that often.  I bought my half growler at a Des Moines Hy-Vee grocery store.  Yep.  A growler at a grocery store.  How awesome is THAT?
  • Color: Dark brown cola with golden tones. 
  • Head: 1/2 finger light tan head that falls immediately to a ring.  No real lacing
  • Aroma: Lots of chocolate with a hint of coffee & dark fruit (Thanks Special B Malt!) 
  • Mouthfeel: Kind of light for an oatmeal stout, but perfectly fine for an under 6% ABV stout I suppose.  Well carbonated
  • Finish: Medium.  Begins with the chocolate/ prune/ raisin notes and ends with an earthy hop character.
  • Food Friendly: The carbonation and lighter than expected mouthfeel makes this easy to pair with summer meals.  Try it with meaty baby back ribs or Tomato based veggie chili.  You know that you have to do something with all of that zucchini in your garden anyway. 
 Apple User's link: One of the most difficult lessons you can learn as an adult. I have yet to master it.

This concert is from Glastonbury Festival 2013.  Mick Jagger was 70 years old and rocking like a 25 year old.  Obviously not always getting what you want is good for you occasionally 

The Rolling Stones have a song that goes :You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need.  If you remember from my previous post on Toppling Goliath's Zee Lander IPA, I'm related to a good majority of Iowa (or at least it feels like that sometimes.)  A few weekends ago, my family and I drove across great stretches of cornfields, over the mighty Mississippi, past The I-80 World's Largest Truck Stop (the only place that you can get a shower, eat some Dairy Queen, buy a mud flap with a 1950's pinup girl and see the dentist all in one place) and across some more cornfields for long weekend in Des Moines.  While I was there, I had one mission, obtain a few bombers of anything (but Dorothy New World Lager) of Toppling Goliath.  I failed miserably.  Everywhere I went, every place I called, they were out of everything but the new world lager (if you want to see what I thought of Dorothy, you can check out my  guest apereance on ABV Chicago's podcast where we discuss Toppling Goliath Brewing and, apparently, I compare the ABV Chicao guys to Beyonce.)   I did discover something remarkable about the grocery stores of Des Moines in the process though.  They are incredibly well stocked with craft beer.   I mean, really well cultivated with a good mix of domestic, imports and local craft beers.  Some of the more local Locals even stock half growlers there. I can't even begin to imagine my world if I could pick up a half growler of Pipeworks or Lake Effect at Mariano's.  I think that would be called Heaven, right? And I know that you are hearing in your head right now, "No it's Iowa" and that's alright. 

My Confluence Brewing's High Water Oatmeal Stout poured a dark brown liquid tinged with golden tones and was rather reminiscent of cola.  A half finger light tan head fell quickly to a ring around my snifter glass.  I didn't find any real lacing to speak of, just a few bubbles clinging to the side here and there.  Again, it reminded me of a glass of pop (I'm from Chicago.  We say "pop" here.  It's endearing.  Deal.)  The nose helped to make up for the stout's rather pedestrian appearance.  I could detect a huge amount of chocolate in the aroma.  Some stouts have a dark chocolate quality, others a milky one.  This beer sported a Hershey Bar sort of character; not the most expensive or deep chocolate available, but also not complete cheaply produced crap.  A hit of lightly brewed coffee and some sticky dark fruit helped to round out the nose nicely.    The taste followed suit.  The light chocolate note was dominant, bittered by a mild roasted coffee quality.  Confluence lists American Fuggle hops as the bittering hop used in the brew.  A slight dirt taste, typical of Fuggle, was there on the end of the swallow.   Some toasted grain, raisin and prune completed the mouthful.  It was a classic example of what someone should expect taste-wise from an oatmeal stout.  The mouthfeel, however, was much lighter than I expected.  In my experience, oatmeal stouts tend to have a creamy sort of character that lends itself to a satisfyingly full mouthfeel.  This beer was light, well carbonated and rather thin.  While it wasn't what I normally look for in an oatmeal stout, at 5.3% ABV (or 6.0% depending on what you choose to believe) and taking into account that I was drinking it in the middle of summer, the thinner mouthfeel didn't bother me as much as it possibly should of.  A medium finish began with the chocolate and dark fruit notes and jumped to the earthy, dirt Fuggle tail rather abruptly.  There may not have been a lot of tricks and whistles in this oatmeal stout, but sometimes you really don't need those whistling tricks to enjoy yourself.
I'd serve Confluence's High Water Oatmeal Stout with a variety of heartier Summer meals.  The light mouthfeel and classic oatmeal stout taste lends itself to such meals as Fall Off The Bone Baby Back Ribs. Let the chocolate note in the ale work with the tomato acidity of the bar-b-que sauce while the abundant carbonation cust through the chewiness of the meat.  You could also serve it with an Easy Summer Vegetarian Lasagna.  You reaped the bounty of your hard work in the garden, right? Or battled the crowds in your local farmer's market?  OK.  You at least had to put gas in the car to drive it to the closest grocery store, didn't you?  All that zucchini isn't going to eat itself (Note to self: pitch Roger Corman a new movie: Attack of the Cannibal Zucchini.  I smell an Oscar!). But no matter what you eat with your Confluence growler, don't stew on the beers (and by beers, I mean all things Toppling Goliath) that got away.   You may have desperately wanted them ( and by you, I mean me) but a beer in the hand is certainly worth two in the bush.  Because who the hell wants to drink in a bush anyway?