- Commentist Beer Barrel: Something A Little Different – October 5, 2017
- Commentist Beer Barrel: The Happiest Place on Earth – September 11, 2017
- Commentist Beer Barrel: Märzens and Milestones – October 7, 2016
I don’t remember exactly when I first became aware of what barrel-aged beer, like, was. I definitely learned the names of some barrel-aged beers not long after getting into beer; I knew that Kentucky Breakfast Stout was supposed to be good, despite not knowing why it was good, or how it was good. I may have finally gotten my head around the concept around the time I first read up on what exactly Bourbon County Stout was. Or it may have been when I drank my first glass of (512) Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter, instantly my favorite beer of all time, at the time. But I can tell you when I definitely didn’t learn anything about barrel-aged beer, and that was when I had my first barrel-aged beer, in October or so of 2007, in Evanston, at Prairie Moon. That’s when I had my first Dragon’s Milk.
I was not equipped to fully appreciate New Holland Dragon’s Milk that night. I’d done a little bit of self-education since jumping feet-first into beer in the spring of that year, but the truth is that at this point I was still a little afraid to even try an IPA. I’d heard they were bitter, you know? Anyway, I went ahead and ordered a Dragon’s Milk, I think because the menu said it was a dark ale, and I’d liked dark ales I’d had previously, like Chimay Bleue and Guinness. I didn’t really know anything about what I was ordering, and I didn’t really know anything more about it after I finished drinking it, except that it was delicious, and that can be enough! When you’re drinking beer, the most important thing is that the beer you’re drinking tastes good, and everything else is details. But I wouldn’t be writing a regular (hey, shut up, I’ve been busy) beer column if I personally didn’t care about the details. I probably wouldn’t have sought out a four-pack of New Holland Raspberry Lemon Dragon’s Milk, a beer that’s all about the details.
If you’ve ever had Dragon’s Milk—if you’ve ever had any bourbon barrel-aged stout, really—you’ve already got a good idea what this is going to be. You’ve got the chocolate, vanilla, coconut, oak wood, in whatever combination your palate typically resolves barrel-aged stout into. The raspberry plays off Dragon’s Milk’s dessert-beer profile in a predictably tasty fashion. It’s the lemon, though, that gives this beer a truly special kick, one I don’t think I’ve ever encountered in a stout before. The closest thing to it would be the lime leaf in Ballast Point’s extraordinary Indra Kunindra curry stout. But that lime leaf is just one note in a goddamned flavor explosion, something you can easily miss if you’re not trying to pick it out. In this beer, the lemon is unexpectedly but undeniably a star, like Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It accentuates every other flavor it’s set against, making them all shine a little bit brighter, and it provides the kind of crisp finish you just don’t ever get in a big, barrel-aged stout.
lady snow says: It reminds me of a dark chocolate truffle. Godiva, if anyone cares.
make it snow says: I care!
lady snow says: My favorite chocolate truffle ever.
make it snow says: So the beer’s good?
lady snow says: Oh yeah. I really like it when a flavor in the beer kind of hits me right in the jaw, and I think the citrus in this does that without being annoyingly citrusy.
make it snow says: Yeah, it’s very noticeably lemony, but not overwhelmingly lemony.
lady snow says: Yeah, it’d be very easy to overdo it. Citrus can be an overwhelming flavor. My hats off to them. Well, hat. I only have the one.
make it snow says: The big floppy hat?
lady snow says: The big floppy hat! It’s like the big floppy puppy of hats.
make it snow is an alot of beer and new Denver-area resident who’s been gorging himself on the bounty of the land for about two weeks now. Don’t ever use Palmolive Pure + Clean dish soap on your beer glassware, because it apparently takes four or five rinses to get it out, and make it snow ruined an entire bottle of New Holland Raspberry Lemon Dragon’s Milk discovering this. Hug your pets today.