Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale

4.3
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (993) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 23, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into a mug. There was no freshness date. I got this from a friend in Florida (thanks, Matt!).

Appearance: Seemingly opaque brown, but actually a dark, murky shade of ruby red. Some carbonation visible. Pours to an average-sized, tan, foamy head which retains and laces well enough.

Smell: Discernible brown ale maltiness with milk chocolate and iced coffee.

Taste: We tend to associate coffee beers with stouts, but why not brown ales? After all, their inherent sweetness helps to pair with the natural confectionery flavors often found in coffee brews. Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale is a great example of what I mean.

This beer is essentially a liquid candy bar - complete with flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla, caramel and of course coffee. You don’t tend to taste coffee in candy bars all that much, but here it’s used as a flavoring complement, rather than raw bitterness and astringency you tend to find in coffee stouts. It’s not that it works better here, just differently. It’s indeed quite sweet, but the bitterness from the hops and the espresso beans prevent it from becoming cloying. Well-balanced for sure, but still sweet enough to work as a dessert or to pair with a cheese tasting.

Drinkability: What really impressed me about Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale wasn’t just how much I enjoyed the palette, but how easy it was to drink. As much as I love imperial stouts that offer a similar flavor profile, they can be quite taxing. This brew has the lighter body, calmer, more comfortable mouthfeel and smoother finish I prefer in a standard beer. There’s a lot of flavor for only 5.5% ABV, though it’s so light on my system I’m quite tempted to open another bottle immediately. 
Grade: 9/10