Thursday, February 14, 2013

Baxter Brewing Phantom Punch Winter Stout

Baxter Brewing Phantom Punch Winter Stout is technically a traditional "Foreign Extra" style stout that happens to be brewed with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs. In that aspect it makes it difficult to grade because it doesn’t taste like your typical FES nor your typical chocolate stout (and you know how much I love those). What it ends up being is a fairly robust stout that’s got plenty of sweetness and bitterness.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (814) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 14, 2013
I received a 12oz can from friends (thanks Alex & Marissa!). I poured it into a goblet.

Appearance: Dark, opaque black. Forms a large, dark brown, frothy head which retains and laces splendidly.

Smell: Fairly typical sweet stout aroma with hints of milk and vanilla, but not particularly roasty or spicy.

Taste: The head imparts initial bitterness, but it quickly transitions to bittersweet or dark chocolate. Through the middle the bitterness fades and in comes a sweet flow of vanilla and hints of milk chocolate. There’s a strong bitter bite on the finish, though. It’s a mixture of roasted malt, burnt toast and a hint of spicy hop flavor. It’s rather dry and leaves a slightly cloying aftertaste. Still, while it’s in the mouth, Baxter Brewing Phantom Punch Winter Stout is quite tasty and delectable.

I usually prefer a more chocolate-forward stout, but since it’s not meant to be a chocolate stout per se, it works well for what it is. The prominent vanilla is a nice change of pace and accounts for a lighter, milkier flavor component. I found the bitterness to be surprising, interesting, and maybe a tad challenging. All the parts work well together and make for a versatile brew.

Drinkability: While not an imperial stout, Baxter Brewing Phantom Punch Winter Stout is certainly on the full-bodied spectrum. Plenty of flavor and energy from start to finish, yet the mouthfeel is comfortable and a little thinner than you’d expect. It goes down smooth, but it does dry out the tongue. At 6.8% ABV it’s exactly where it should be in terms of weight and body. You could drink two, but one will likely be satisfying enough.
 Grade: 8/10

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