This area is traditionally known for its abundance of lakes, summers that go by way to quickly and larger-than-life icons like Paul Bunyan and Snoopy. However, lately there is something else happening and it is threatening to change what people typically associate with Minnesota. Breweries are opening right and left, and with that boom, we are deluged with some delicious and unique imbibing options.
|Photo courtesy of bentbrewstillery.com
Bent Brewstillery’s selection of unique and complex beers are amazing additions to a landscape of libations that is growing both in breadth and depth. Their fall seasonal, El Guerrero, a Chilean Double Stout, is out and definitely worth a try. This special beer is brewed with honey, guava and merken, a Chilean pepper spice that has been used in gourmet cuisine for hundreds of years. In the taproom, it is served on Nitro and it is also available in 750 ML bottles.
This beer has a lot going on starting with the opaque color. El Guerrero pours thick and the cascades culminate in a thick and creamy quarter-inch head that is light caramel in color. The aroma of the beer is rich and chocolaty with subtle hints of coffee, merken spice and boozy goodness.
While the look and smell of this beer are intriguing, it is the taste where this beer climbs into a class of its own. At first, you are greeted with the roasted malt and coffee notes which leads nicely into an alcohol flavor that smooths into a rich chocolaty finish. The thing that really balances this beer out and makes it something special is the gradual building heat from the merken spice. It pleasantly builds at the back of the tongue and is never to the point of overtaking all the other flavor subtleties that are happening in El Guerrero. The sweet notes from the chocolate and honey are balanced deftly with the Merken spice, roasted malt and coffee. As it warms, the flavors and spice of the beer are all elevated and it leaves the drinker to do nothing but wonder how a single beer could have so many things happening.
El Guerrero’s mouth feel is velvety at first and finishes slightly dry from the heat of the pepper. The dryness from the heat and the smoothness from the booze make this also a key factor in the beer’s overall balance. If you enjoy a big body to your stout, this beer does not disappoint.
This beer is versatile and could be paired with the bold flavors of smoked meats such as brisket or ribs. It would also marry well with a very good steak or blackened chicken. If you wanted to pair it with a dessert, think ice cream or a decadent chocolate dessert like a cake or high-end dark chocolate.
Bent Brewstillery prides itself on being unique and this beer is a terrific representation of that vision. There is nothing quite like El Guerrero in this market and it is a welcome addition to the ever-growing portfolio of wonderful beers that Minnesota’s craft brewers have to offer.