I’ve been happy to received and write about so many beverages this year, from the complete Bourbon County Stout lineup to various liquors, and non-alcoholic beers. But I want to wrap the year up with some beers I found and picked up myself.
Obscurity Brewing and Craft Mead is located in the far western suburbs of Elburn. Their packaging operation is in Elburn, along with a Mead Hall and Cidery, while they also have a Bier Garten along the I&M Canal in Utica. A lot of their beers make it the more discerning tap handles in our area, but now they have a holiday mized 4-pack, which I saw at the local Jewel for $10.
Island of Misfit Beers is a mix of four different beers with a special twist on holiday drinks. I’ll leave for you to see what the cans remind you of, though I can’t imagine they haven’t already worked to get around any trademark issues. Maybe the characters they used from a certain TV special aren’t fully trademarked.
As I’ve been writing these up—I’m pacing myself over a couple of days—I’m seeing other beer fans reporting satisfaction at finding these beers. They have been reported at several Jewel/Oscos, and at Woodman’s in the outer burbs.
Red Ale with Hazelnut. 5.0% abv
Since I’ve not cared much for nut flavors, I’ll start with this one, since I might be pleasantly surprised.
And what I first see is a nice amber beer, fitting to my Sam Adams Boston Lager glass, with a nice, stiff head. The nose is nice on malts, though not quite as toasty as the color might imply. I do catch the nut flavor: it’s there, but doesn’t try to be too obvious, so I’m happy about that. Hazelnut comes in a little toasty, and they’ve overcome the issues of oils in nuts, which might have killed the head. Instead there’s some nice amber malts and hazelnuts. A little sweet, but not sugary.
Charlie in a Box
Red Ale with Cherry, Maple, and Cinnamon. 5% abv
A much more pillowy head out of the can. Darker amber color, which of course is hard to be sure of looking at my quickie photos. Smell of cinnamon, maple and cherry is there as advertised, perhaps a little too strong, but that’s often what happens with a holiday beer. I get the amber malts again, but surprisingly, there’s also an impression of the same hazelnut from the previous beer, even though I’m having them a day apart. Perhaps that’s from the blend of adjuncts, mainly the cinnamon and the maple. But the spiciness does remind me of perhaps one of the yearly editions of Anchor’s holiday Our Special Ale. Almost spicy like a holiday eggnog.
Oatmeal Stout with Vanilla. 7%
There are two stouts in this package with higher abv levels. Part of the attraction.
Nice mellow stout nose. Mainly a light coffee malt roast. Vanilla is so often a part of the stronger barrel-aged stouts that it can be less noticeable.
The taste is quite roasty for an oatmeal stout. That and the vanilla give it a kind of marshmallow impression. The alcohol is only slightly stronger than the previous beers, but towrd the end of a pint can, it starts to make itself felt.
Coffee Stout. 7% abv
Does it bounce? Not trying that idea. This coffee stout, the label notes, uses coffee from Soul Loco Artisan Roasters in Maple Park, IL. It pours another frothy head with some Guinness-like cascading down the side, just like the Spotted Elephant (which I neglected to mention). Smell has plenty of coffee to it, of course. Slight malt sweetness, but not as roasty as the Spotted Elephant, either. Just some nice sweet coffee.
It’s a fine stout beer taste. Coffee runs around the side of the palate, with coffee roast malts up front. No spices, no fruit. Just a sturdy stout with a little cola sweetness, and more coffee as I drink it further down.