Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Craft Beer Review: Good George's Black (and also White) Rocky Road Stout

Coincidently we’ve another Good George offering to review this Friday. Two actually. I’ve just come back from some time overseas and while in the States managed to try some delicious beers. Stone’s “Enjoy-By” IPA, Russian River’s “Pliny the Elder” double IPA, and the very delicious “Viva La Beaver” by Belching Beaver, a peanut butter and Mexican chocolate milk stout, were all real stand outs. With that in mind, when I saw Good George’s recently released Rocky Road Black Stout and Rocky Road White Stout, I couldn’t resist. Maybe we’ve something that could compete with “Viva La Beaver.” Tonight we’ll review both the black stout and the white stout side by side.  

Before we get started though, let’s consider the use of the term “stout.” Both of these beers highlight the sense in which “anything goes” in craft beer land. That is, I’m not really sure that “stout” is the right label for these beers. Originally stout was the term used for a particularly strong beer, 7% ABV and above. “Golly-gee, that’s a very stout beer old chap!” Over time though it came to be primarily associated with the dark malty beer known as porter and favoured by London porters. Stout was the name reserved for the strongest of the porter beers and was a dark malty beer. Imperial stout was the term reserved for the strongest of the stouts, with these strong stouts originally exported to the Russian court and normally over 10% ABV.

With this in mind the term stout isn’t really appropriate for either of these beers. They are both only 5% ABV and thus the white stout isn’t strong enough to claim the name stout in the original sense and the black stout isn’t strong enough to claim the name in the more traditional sense of a strong porter. Here we probably need to appreciate that stout is now often associated with malt/coffee/chocolate flavours, with brewers referring to a beer as a “stout” if it has these flavour profiles. This has opened the door for brewers to brew both white and also golden “stouts.” It is a pretty liberal use of the term, for sure, but I guess it highlights how language changes over time. Personally though, I think stout should be reserved for black beers that are 7% ABV and above. If brewers don’t want to use the term “porter” for black beers under 7% because of marketing, surely the terms “black ale” or “dark ale” would suffice.

Enough mucking around though, let’s try both of Good George's Rocky Road Stouts, the black and the white. We’ll compare them side by side. Oh, I should also note that they are brewed in conjunction with the Hamilton based chocolate company Donovans. So a local collaboration going on here. Nice. 

Price: $5.25 330mls (both the black and the white stout)

Alcohol content: 5% (both the black and the white stout)

Deep black even when you hold it up to the light. Slight macchiato head but faded quickly. Very little bubbles.
Golden and slightly cloudy. Not cloudy like a wheat beer though. No head or bubbles really.

Strong raspberry smell coming through. Maybe a hint of chocolate but mainly raspberry. A touch of malt as well.  
Again a very strong raspberry smell. Basically the same as the black but perhaps this white is a little more hoppy. I'm not sure if the black beer is making me think malt and the white making me think hops. Essentially a very similar smell though.

Black: Slightly hoppy but mainly sour. Doesn’t really taste like rocky road or raspberry. Not a lot of body and watery through the middle. Kind of the opposite of a stout. Tastes like a raspberry sour. 
Not as sour as the black, but still just tastes like a sour mix ferment. You wouldn't pick rocky road in a million years. Not anything like a stout either. No chocolate and if there is coffee it’s more like green beans than a dark malt roast.   

The sour notes give way to a quite pleasant malt biscuit finish. Again, without wanting to labour the point, nothing "stout" like in this beer.
Here the sour notes give way to a hoppy finish. It’s not that impressive. There are at least some coffee notes that come through here. 

On the Chart:
It’s more malty than hoppy for sure. And there is a degree of complexity. It’s not the complexity of chocolate, coffee and raspberry though. The raspberry comes though like a sour fruit beer and then there is some malt.
Again more malty than hoppy. The hops are there but the sour notes of the raspberry stand out more. Slightly complex but in a confused way more than anything.

Black & White: Lot’s of promise in these two cans of beer but at the end of the day they delivered little. Neither are really that nice at all to be honest. They are unusual at best, but proably more accurately; unpleasant and confused. Not enjoyable at all. Belching Beaver’s Viva La Beaver Peanut Butter and Mexican Chocolate Milk Stout is the beer I’d line these two up against in terms of potential wonder and complexity, but wow did they fall short. Can’t say I would recommend these but at the end of the day I preferred the black over the white if you are going to grab a can.


No comments: