Solstice Stout, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company Also...Bourbon Barrel Aged American Stout and some talk of druids.

Kuhnhenn Solstice Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged American Stout

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Early man lived by the cycle of the seasons. They marked time through the position of the sun and other celestial bodies. Stone circles like Stonehenge acted as seasonal clocks marking the positions of the sun on days of significance. The summer and winter solstice were particularly important because it signaled the beginning of the ascent or descent of daylight hours.

The solstice was celebrated by pagan cultures for centuries. These celebrations are often connected to a mysterious group known as druids. Druids were said to be Celts from areas of what is modern day France and Great Britain. They were thought to be the communal repository of the wisdoms of the age. They were philosophers, teachers, priests and they were present throughout Europe. However, most of what we know about druids is very clouded. Julius Caeser noted that the druids preferred oral teachings versus written teachings so, it may be that we may never know more than we do today.

While druids are often connected to Stonehenge, written records show the first evidence of druidism comes more than two-thousand years after the construction of the ancient site. After a couple thousand years of existence, druidism was ultimately overshadowed by Christianity and pretty much disappeared in about the 9th century. I recall reading that December 25th was chosen by early Christians as the date for Christmas in order to overshadow the pagan winter solstice celebrations.

Solstice Stout
Tasting: October 6, 2017
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 16%
Beer #: 1,098

Solstice Stout is a blend of Kuhnhenn’s Fourth Dementia (4D) 96 points and Solar Eclipse (sorry haven’t had this one) that is further aged for three years. This is the 2014 release, so it was originally brewed and blended six years ago. While the name of this beer suggests a stout, this is more like a strong ale. The pour is cola brown and very still. I get massive flavors of molasses, raisin, cherry, fudge and sherry. A tad bit hot but not surprising for a whopping 16% ABV. Solstice Stout is absolutely delicious. 96 points.

Bourbon Barrel Aged American Imperial Stout
Tasting: September 30, 2017
Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.9%
Beer #: 1,099

This stout is aged in used bourbon barrels for two years. This happens to be a bottle from 2014, so this stout was originally brewed more than five years ago. Not to worry as the ABV is a robust 12.9% and should have matured nicely. However, I would say we’re running out of time.

Any of the advertised coffee flavor has disappeared. I get sherry, rich raisin, some damp wood. After five years, it’s still a tad boozy and astringent. Has some fudge and a very nice syrupy mouthfeel. Considering the pros and cons, I’ll still put Bourbon Barrel Aged American Imperial Stout at 92 points.

Visit the brewery website

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Beer Trading Extras

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I’m a beer trader but I’m still a little bit on the fence on the right or wrong of it all. On the wrong side, rare beer has widely become a trading chip and it isn’t uncommon in traders to buy beer solely for its trade value. Yes, I feel a little guilt as my collecting and trading actions may very well keep other locals from actually drinking the beer. Right or wrong, I brush off the guilt by accepting that the competition for rare beer among enthusiasts, collectors or traders is a win some, lose some proposition. For me, the guilt washes away as I visualize the memory of someone else taking that last four-pack of Epitome right in front of me just moments after missing out on the last Bourbon County Vanilla Rye on Black Friday. I just chalk it up to scoring the next time – because there certainly will be a next time.

On the positive side, there are so many craft beers that have limited distribution that the trading takes on the same feel as someone that is a collector of rare items. Frankly, I look at this blog as my collection. I can’t save a bottle of beer forever but I can certainly catalog it. There is a certain thrill in acquiring the difficult to find.

Along with acquiring the trophies for the collection comes the opportunity to try some other limited quantity or lesser known beer that come in the form of beer trading extras. These are “throw-ins” to trades and are typically beer that wouldn’t be found in your trade partner’s state. They aren’t meant to even out deals, it’s just the generosity of the trade partners and it adds to the Christmas morning feel of receiving a package.

The following are a beer trading extras that I’ve received over the last month or so…

Valor – a Red Ale by 14th Star Brewing, Saint Albans, Vermont
Tasting: April 9, 2015
Style: Red Ale
Beer #: 724
ABV: 5.4%

Valor Ale by 14th Star Brewing

© 2015 popsonhops

Came as a bonus in a trade in which I acquired four fresh Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. I like that a portion of the proceeds collected in the sale of this beer go to help Purple Heart Reunited. This organization works to return medals of valor to servicemen.

Delivers on the advertised happiness. IBU is listed as 40 (light) and that seems about right. Bitterness might be a little clunky but it delivers a nice mellow caramel. Has its flaws but a really an easy drinking beer. I’ll put Valor at 85 points.

Bourbon Barrel Stout Clay Street Series BBC by Bluegrass Brewing

Tasting: April 9, 2015
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout
Beer #: 725
ABV: 8.6%

Bluegrass Brewing Clay Street Bourbon Barrel Stout BBC

© 2015 popsonhops

Acquired as another beer trading extras in a deal that saw me acquire Bo & Luke by Against the Grain. This may very well be the worst beer I’ve ever had. I think it’s infected as I’m sure the bourbon barrel didn’t lend the cider and musty basement flavors. Drain pour – 59 points.

Woodsmaster by Short’s Brewing

Tasting: April 9, 2015
Style: Ale
Beer #: 726
ABV: 9.5%

Woodmaster by Short's Brew

© 2015 popsonhops

Clove of the yeast encroaches on the opening flavors. Seems a bit off a little butterscotch. Boozy and I don’t taste the advertised maple syrup or pecans. Tastes like a mediocre home brew. 72 points.

Trippa (Triple Rice Imperial India Pale Ale) by Kuhnhenn Brewing

Tasting: April 11, 2015
Style: Imperial IPA
Beer #: 727
ABV: 12.25%

Trippa by Kuhnhenn Brewing

© 2015 popsonhops

This one came as a bonus in a trade that saw a couple of other Kuhnhenn legends (4D and Solstice) come back my way. The unfortunate thing is that as a bonus beer, I can’t complain that this bottle is just about six months old. I’m sure the hop dropped out of it as this bottle comes across sweet and boozy hot with only some residual hop resin. On the plus side, I like a sweet boozy IPA. I’ll peg Trippa at a pleasant 90 points.

Spotted Cow by New Glarus

Tasting: April 11, 2015
Style: Cream Ale
Beer #: 728
ABV: 4.8%

Spotted Cow Cream Ale by New Glarus

© 2015 popsonhops

I cringe when I think of cream ale. It brings back too many memories of buying cases of Genesee Cream Ale for $7 a case back when we were in high school. Yes, I’m that old.

Spotted Cow is a bit yeasty some lemon, creamy textured, clunky in bitterness. It’s mediocre at best 82 points but still better than Genesee Cream Ale.

Winter Wheat by High Point Brewing

Tasting: April 14, 2015
Style: Wheat
Beer #: 729
ABV: 9.5%

Ramstein Winter Wheat by High Point Wheat Beer Company

© 2015 popsonhops

Since I’m writing about the give and take of bonus beer – here’s a beer that I included as a bonus in my last trade. High Point Brewing has been making world class German-style beer for about twenty years and they release beer under the brand – Ramstein. They are located about two miles from house and these bottles don’t wander very far from the brewery. It is as local as a local bonus gets. This bottle of Winter Wheat was given a perfect score by the Alstrom Brothers, founders of the Beer Advocate website.

Mellow roasted flavors over some mild cocoa. Some black cherry and blackberry notes as well. Very smooth and drinkable and the lack of any heat makes the 9.5% alcohol a dangerous factor. I have to admit I was surprised as the style isn’t in my wheelhouse but a very solid 89 from yours truly.

Read Beer Advocate review of High Point Brewing

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Fourth Dementia by Kuhnhenn

Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia Old Ale

© 2015 popsonhops

Fourth Dementia Old Ale (4D)

Tasting: April 1, 2015
Style: Old Ale (like a Barleywine)
Beer #: 722
ABV: 13.5%

I hated to part with my extra bottle of A Deal with the Devil (especially since it was $36) but Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia and the barrel-aged version of the same beer have been on my want list for quite some time. To boot, I got them in multiples and also received their flagship stout – Solstice as well. I’m satisfied with the deal as it worked out dollar for dollar and critical quality for equal quality.

This is the 2013 offering and the label indicates that it was aged for nine months before being released. Fourth Dementia, delivers with huge, bright flavors out of the gate. I’ll call it like a crisp wine with a heavy helping of caramel, honey, vanilla and raisin. But I can’t express enough how flavorful and bold the taste. Massively rich in body and it completely masks any evidence of alcohol. Really have just the right amount of boozy warmth but Fourth Dementia is an absolutely beautiful old ale – really like a barleywine and I’m totally stoked at trying the barrel-aged version. The regular 4D version gets a solid 96 from me.

Fourth Dementia Old Ale (4D) – 2012 bourbon-barrel aged

Tasting: April 8, 2015
Style: Old Ale (Barley Wine)
Beer #: 723

Flavors have mellowed quite a bit as I don’t get that white wine juiciness pop out of the gate. A bit more dark fruit in the form of raisin but definitely the same honey, caramel and vanilla. Barrel influence is certainly mellow. This is certainly different than the regular 4D just as nice in my book. I’ll match the 96 points I gave the base 4D.

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