14 October 2009

BEER REVIEW - NEW RELEASE: Troegs - Java Head Stout

Troegs Brewery states their new Java Head Stout, just released in September, is based on their original Oatmeal Stout, but in addition to oats, this one includes a blend of roasted espresso and Kenyan coffee beans. Well, I like beer and I like coffee, so I figured I would give it a try, besides it has a pretty cool label. Java Head Stout is made with pilsner, crystal, chocolate, and roast malts; cluster, chinook, and cascade hops; and unfiltered ale yeast. It is 7.5% ABV, 60 IBUs, and is sold as a 22 ounce “bomber.” Troegs further states that before fermentation, it is passed through whole-leaf hops and coffee beans in a process they claim is like French pressing, which gives it a coffee nose and subtle coffee flavor.

As it poured, it cascaded nicely like some good stouts do and presented a very nice, dark black color which light didn’t penetrate. It developed a very tall head, which was tan in color and long lasting, left behind lots of persistent lace that frankly, never went away, and gave off a sweet, citrusy aroma. This struck me as perhaps a little odd because stouts are supposed to have a roasty, malt aroma. The sweetness could however have been attributed to the malt and Troeg’s did say there should be some citrus notes in this beer but I didn’t detect any roasted aroma at all. As I drank, it revealed a pleasant crispness and a little bit of hoppy bitterness, but primarily a citrus-dominated flavor. One of the main flavor characteristics when judging a stout is its roastyness so again, I thought this was a little odd but hoped that maybe its flavor profile would continue to develop. Troegs states that there should be notes of cocoa, citrus, and java, but as I continued to work my way to the bottom, the flavor remained consistent and I never detected any cocoa or java, strange for a beer with java in its name.

While the stout style does cover a bit of a wide range, it is defined by certain commonalities. Some of the more important of these are the aforementioned roasty aroma and flavor, as well as a certain balance, none of which I thought were present here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this was a bad beer; if you like the characteristics I mentioned here then you should try it yourself and you be the judge. I’m just saying that for a beer titled Java Head Stout, I think they missed the mark. Too bad, I was looking forward to it because their Dead Reckoning Porter is very good. At least it had that cool label.

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