The Most Wonderful Time for a Beer 2020: Vol. 2

Christmas is the most wonderful time for a beer. We are back with another list of beers by our friendly neighborhood brewers we think would help get us and our friends in the Christmas mood. In this second volume, we take a quick look at three Sweet Stouts released recently by Banayad Craft Brewery, Amigos de la Playa Craft Brewery, and HideOut Craft Brewery.


Banayad Craft Brewery “Media Noche”

Name: Media Noche
Brewer: Banayad Craft Brew (Philippines)
Style: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Base Style: Sweet Stout)
ABV: 7%

The flagship Banayad Spiced Stout gets a Holiday makeover as Media Noche– a “spiced stout” brewed with cacao nibs, vanilla, local chili, cinnamon, and nutmeg. According to Marc Balanon, head brewer of Banayad, Media Noche was inspired by Stone Brewing Co.’s Xocoveza.

STYLE GUIDELINES

This beer is being evaluated as a Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (30A) with the Sweet Stout (16A) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.

TASTING NOTES

Slightly opaque ruby brown; brown head. Subtle but diverse aromas mainly of cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Medium-full-bodied; moderate carbonation; smooth. Flavors of peppermint mocha frappucino and malty cacao, albeit with sweetness tempered. A mosaic of indistinct Holiday-inspired spices follows through. Cacao maltiness and a robust nutty character form the backbone. Aftertaste recalls the mentioned cacao as it introduces a lightly earthy-spicy coffee character.

THE VERDICT

Media Noche is a palatable showcase mostly of chocolate, cacao, and Holiday-inspired spices sans any overpowering sweetness. We think a slightly fuller-bodied version with more evident coffee qualities would be more interesting. A “creamier” or “silkier” mouthfeel akin to Manilla Vanilla can also be pursued. Enjoy this not too cold.


Amigos de la Playa Craft Brewery “Dark Matter”

Name: Dark Matter
Brewer: Amigos de la Playa Craft Brewery (Philippines)
Style: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Base Style: Sweet Stout)
ABV: 8.5%

Dark Matter is the latest “milk stout” interpretation of Amigos de la Playa featuring Indian vanilla beans, local cacao nibs from Davao, hazelnut cold-brewed coffee, and, of course, milk sugar.

STYLE GUIDELINES

This beer is being evaluated as a Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (30A) with the Sweet Stout (16A) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.

TASTING NOTES

Semi-clear ruby brown with a well-formed head. Prominent cacao nibs on the nose; secondary milk chocolate with some cherry or purple grape accent. Medium-full-bodied; moderately-low carbonated. As with the aroma, the flavor is dominated by malty cacao with supportive earthy-spicy coffee and chocolate flavors. Hints of dark fruit and lychee esters noted; overall sweetness is low. The aftertaste leaves subtle impressions of smoky Oreo cookie crust, lychee, and cacao.

THE VERDICT

Dark Matter is a Sweet Stout that highlights mainly cacao and coffee attributes. The appearance and aroma are definitely strengths of this beer but we think a creamier approach could enhance further the drinking experience. The noted “smoky” character is also something recurring in some beers we have tried that used chocolate and/or Oreo crust in their recipes. In some cases, this ruined the balance of the beer, but for Dark Matter, it still subtle and complementing. The next versions could have more vanilla presence and lactose sweetness.


HideOut Craft Brewery “I Got U-Beh”

Name: I Got U-Beh
Brewer: HideOut Craft Brewery (Philippines)
Style: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Base Style: Sweet Stout)
ABV: 7.6%

The follow-up to the Ube Milkshake IPA is I Got U-Beh, a Sweet Stout brewed with toasted coconut, vanilla beans, and ube (purple yam).

STYLE GUIDELINES

This beer is being evaluated as a Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (30A) with the Sweet Stout (16A) as the base style in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.

TASTING NOTES

Deep brown “torched yam” appearance with a thick foamy tan head. Purple yam on the nose with cream, cocoa, and coffee. Medium-full-bodied; moderately-low carbonated; smooth with some creaminess. A short-lived sweetness akin to chocolate initially surfaced. As the initial sweetness faded, the earthy yam flavor took over alongside light roasty cacao maltiness with faint tartness. No raw and starchy qualities noted. The aftertaste leaves subtle impressions of coffee bitterness, chocolate, purple yam, and cacao nibs.

THE VERDICT

With I Got U-Beh, you will definitely get the purple yam and this is supported largely by ample chocolate, cacao, and coffee characters. In our opinion, the aroma, body, and mouthfeel are spot-on. However, we think this beer still has room for more sweetness, toasted coconuts, and vanilla.

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