As it might become slightly obvious almost 2 full years into this website, I grew up close to Colonial Williamsburg. The dead give away might have been our logo, which was intentionally created with a tri-corner hat, but also from most of my early reviews from breweries in the area or places that served Virginia beer. But I digress. Growing up, one of the restaurants in town served a dessert called ‘Death By Chocolate’. It was a 7 layer behemoth with 7 ‘types’ of chocolate decadence. Needless to say it was an item that was shared by a table of 4. They even put the recipe in a cookbook, daring people to make it at home. When I asked my mom as a young kid if we could make it, the general response was ‘No WE can’t’, emphasizing the point where my sister and I would probably not be doing much of the work. But can a beer exhibit multiple chocolate flavors? Well we were sent a little present the other week and were able to try one that had an interesting chocolate profile.
[Editor’s Note: In the effort of fairness, we were sent this beer unsolicited from Starr Hill. We stand by our ethics that it had no influence on our review and our notes were confirmed, as always, between ourselves and/or others not directly affiliated with Virginia Brew Review. All the legal!]
Debut #7 Double Chocolate Stout, Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
Imperial Stout, ABV: 7.8%
Presentation: Tap into bottle into glass.
Appearance: Darkest brown to black with zero opacity, tan to light brownish head that sat up for a second, but dissipated fairly quick. Would believe directly out of the tap, there would have been slightly more carbonation.
Aroma: Dark malts with strong hits of chocolate, deep sugars, and some faint vanilla. Medium to slight strong alcohol esters in chocolate/sugar smells.
Taste: Very imperial dark chocolate up front, moving into a release of the sugars/darker stout malts towards the middle, that finishes almost ‘brownie like’ towards the end. Subsequent tastes compound the chocolate flavor as the residual builds throughout the stout, giving the impression of different chocolate notes.
ABV/IBU Mouthfeel: Definitely lighter body that traditional stouts, well within the medium range that imperials exhibit. ABV was present up front but not overpowering (and actually on the low end for ‘imperial stouts’) and settle into a cozy mouthfeel in middle-to-late tastes. IBU not noteworthy, as is tradition.
Overall: We are certainly in stout season and Virginia is not short on superb stouts. When asked at our national meetings what style of beer the Commonwealth (they would probably say state, but, you know) excels in, stouts and imperial stouts would be at the top of the list. Starr Hill has had stouts on lock-down since Dark Starr (RIP), and this is a solid addition to the lineup. This one falls somewhere between a traditional stout and an imperial, so it is not too overpowering if you decide to have more than one tulep. You can find this on tap around Central Virginia, but as the Debut Series goes, find it now.