5 Beers for 5 Years

Congratulations & respect to Black Bridge for making it to the five year mark.  That milestone, no easy task for any business at any time, will be commemorated this weekend.   The little powerhouse of a brewery has accomplished so many things in the past half decade … never pouring a bad pint, securing medals, spearheading the renaissance of downtown Kingman, flashpointing a community of brewers, other stuff I’ve not listed here.  Sincerely, it’s a wonderful place deserving of all its success.

Some markers of success for a business:  1) solid business plan; 2) realistic growth plan; 3) attracting a successful staff; 4) desire to succeed; 5) good product that creates repeat customers.  Mission accomplished, so here’s a big Cheers to Five Years!  A virtual high five, as it were.

Since this my blog I’m going to write about what I say are the 5 best Black Bridge Beers from the past Five Years.  And, of course, I will be right about them all.  Leave a list of five more in the comments.

Locomotive Stout
Alas, this stout is no more.  It has been replaced with Hooley Stout.  To be sure, that is a good beer as are Stresstout and Angry Elf.  But nothing will replace Locomotive.  It contained a ridiculous amount of hops and a ridiculous amount of roasted grain, according to Tom.  That made it ridiculously dry and ridiculously tasty to me.   When I couldn’t decide which beer to have, when the bloody huge taplist just overwhelmed my brain, it was always the choice.  Just the right amount of body, session level alcohol content.  Yeah, it’s pretty much the beer that made me a fan of Black Bridge.

Wicked Poison
It looks like an unassuming, delicate pint of pilsner with a hint of turbidity.  It is not.  Wicked Poison is disingenuous wheat wine and it’s alcohol content combined with an ephemeral drinkability will bring you to a reckoning if you are not careful.   While your local brewer does not personally like the beer, there is no arguing that it is still talked about five years on and almost everyone else in Kingman loves the thing.  It is actually a good gateway beer – wine drinkers, especially, and many who just don’t think they like beer will consume some Wicked Poison and the scales fall from their eyes.  The beer adventure begins.

80 Shilling
I still remember standing at one end of the bar in Black Bridge and Tom at the other and he yelled out “80 Shilling will be ready Tuesday!  I promise!”  Because for a while it was 80 Shilling and Locomotive that I drank and that day they were out of the quiet little Scottish export beer.  It truly is an unassuming selection at B3.  Orangey-red in color, nice sustainable collar, malty sweet and smelling of light caramel and toast it’s just an easy beer to love and drink.  It’s been on tap from the beginning, it seems.  Never bad, never off, always fantastic.

Scorched Earth
One of my first craft beer experiences was Crazy Ed’s Chili Beer.  And it was awful.  I survived, I persevered.  Eventually I had Ring of Fire from Dragonmead Brewery.  That was good.  Then Tom took Evil Red, his hoppy amber beer, and shoved an idiotic amount of peppers in it.  And it was Good.  No, it was better than that.  I still have no idea how he made habanero and ghost chili’s palatable but he did.  Yeah, it takes a little while to drink a pint (if you’re smart) and it numbs your lips.  But there is no better chili/pepper beer.  The brewing of Scorched Earth has become an event in these parts and word is getting out to the rest of the state and even Las Vegas.

Legend of Tom
Coffee Porter.  It takes all the porters B3 has done and combines them into one drink, and makes them all better.  It makes coffee better.  Decent alcohol level,  luscious coffee scent; the first iteration was barrel aged and had the added benefit of the flavor and aroma of spirits.  It’s only been on tap twice but it was brilliantly done both times.  Locomotive made me a fan, Legend of Tom made me a loyalist.

Those are my five picks.  Time and space would fail me if I went on to recount the goodness of Holy Water, Wagonwheel, Smokebox, Chichester, Evil Red, Katastrophic Humiliation.

Need a beer now.

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Beer Review: #50 Whiskey Coffee Stout

  • Brewery:  Jeremy Fass
  • ABV:  6.3%
  • Style:  Stout/Porter
  • Serving:  Growler
  • Bottled Roger Rating:  88%

#50

Begin At the Beginning (Aroma)
It smelled of toast, chocolate and coffee.  Definitely coffee.  A freshly brewed cup, in fact, the smell that gets you out of bed in the morning.  And a little soy sauce.

And Go On (Appearance)
It was black and opaque as it should be.  It was muddy in direct sunlight, clarity in the body would have made it completely beautiful.   The head was the color of chocolate milk and whipped cream.  It remained throughout the beer.  Outstanding.

Till You Come to the End (Taste)
First thought after tasting:  mocha frappuccino.  Coffee and chocolate dominant this beer.   Well, let’s say instead they are the most prevalent flavors.  Fans of Black Bridge’s Legend of Tom and Stresstout will find comparable tastes in #50.  The coffee beans were exposed to a whiskey barrel, however I did not notice any whiskey flavor in the beer itself.  Maybe that added to the sweetness of the beer, though.  Very dry finish, which felt perfect for the sweet, medium body beer.  Seemed more like a porter than a stout because of that lighter body and not a lot of roast flavor.

Then Stop (Conclusions)
A thoroughly wonderful beer.  The chocolate and the coffee were distinct players in the nose and the flavor, they did not blur together but neither did they fight for dominance.  A little toasty malt flavor also came through, hops only evident in the dry finish, in my opinion.  The alcohol is just high enough to feel it after a couple of glasses but it also does not overpower any other flavors.  The balance achieved with this beer is superb.  If you get a chance to twist Mr Fass’s arm and get some more of this beer, do so.  There will be no disappointment!

Flight of the Cricket – Six Beers from Rickety Cricket

There are two breweries in Kingman.  I spend most of my beertime at Black Bridge.  It was the first and it is still my favorite.  However, I do need to spend some effort on Rickety Cricket’s beer.  After all, this blog is about the Beer World of Kingman.  And so, for you, the community, I have made sacrifices.  I have dedicated myself to drinking beer at more than one location.  You are welcome.

Upon arriving at Rickety Cricket you will be met by the smiling face of Nicole; if not, find out why – she is the bartender you want.  She knows beer and can provide good guidance on tap choices and stories about the local brews.

Now, the title of this blog post indicates I had six beers.  This is true, but I also decided to add one more.  I’d found these brief notes made during a dinner at the Cricket.  They are in regard to the Coffee Porter.  Terry had told me when it was debuting and I wanted to make sure to try it right away.

So, seven, seven beers!  Once again, you people types are welcome.

Coffee Porter:

Dark. Medium body. Good tan head. Head dissipates quick. Cold brew coffee added. From Beale St. Nice subdued addition. A little bitterness added but not too much. Subtle touch. Comes up on back end to add a nice touch to the porter. Elegant. Balanced.

Slight coffee aroma no hops evident. Brown porter. Gone before I knew it.

Rickety Cricket has eleven beers on tap, to my surprise.  I only expected six.  I only tried six.  Look!  More opportunities for me to diligently apply myself to the consumption of barley based libations for the betterment of all Kingman.  I feel so altruistic.

The Flight of the Cricket:

Anaconda Squeeze. Rebranded an IPA.  That works.  Danky hops, dry body, good legs.  Smells like the APA below. Much better now than it was a few weeks ago.

Angry Ex Girlfriend (once called a blond, now an American Pale Ale). Splendid aroma. Citrusy. A little chalky maybe? That could be me. This is better as an APA than it was a blond. Not hoppy enough to warrant “angry.”  But good.

Bearded Bagpipe.  Meh on the name. More meh on the taste.  I think this is a miss. There is a sharp, dark flavor I can’t quite figure out. But it’s not quite right.  It’s off in some way I can’t pin down here at the bar.

Porter. Roasted grain. Dark toasted flavor. Yeah, lost track of notes while drinking. Fantastic.

Stay Puft. A stout. Let’s see … nice. Lactic character at the end. Sugary.  A sweet stout to be sure.  Good color.

Bird Cage Blonde.  Well done. A little more hops than I anticipated but not bad at all. Dry but decent body. Great color. Impressed.

Overall, the beers seem solid, stable.

Anaconda Squeeze started life as New England IPA, but it wasn’t right at all.  Making it a straight IPA was a better idea, although I would have just kept it as is and left it as my American Pale Ale.  Angry Ex Girlfriend could have then be re-designed into Bird Cage, which is just a fabulous light, easy beer. What?  That would leave them without an IPA?  Oh, heaven forbid that a brewery exist that has no IPA!  What blasphemy!  But, anyway, my real point behind all that chatter is that Anaconda Squeeze has turned into a pretty good beer.

The Irish Red, however, the Bearded Bagpipe, was not so delectable.  It suffered from some temperature issues, I was told, resulting in a woody character that didn’t fit.  This round of that beer was not good at all, but Nicole says they’ll have more ready in about two weeks so I’ll give it another go then.

The porter was my favorite of the flight.  I’ve got a growler of it at home so I’ll spend some more time with that beer later.  There’s also a black IPA, a collaboration beer with Black Bridge, that I’d like to further study.

In Review of A Beer: Legend of Tom by Black Bridge Brewery

***Update: So, yeah, I’m just an amateur at this drink tasting/reviewing thing. It was BRANDY barrels, not RUM. My bad. I repent in dust & ashes and all. Trust not the reviews on this blog. Well okay, this is still a really good beer.***

As this Saturday, August 12, marks the fourth year of operations for Kingman’s first brewery, Black Bridge, and since the soiree on the aforementioned Saturday commemorating said operations will feature the revealing of a new beer to add to the already extensive tap list, the time seems appropriate to experience this new beer.

First, some context.

The beer’s moniker is Legend of Tom and it is a Barrel Aged Coffee Imperial Porter.  Now, barrel aged beers are not unfamiliar to craft beer enthusiasts.  They’ve been quaffing stouts and porters and even IPAs aged in wine, whiskey, rum and whatever barrels for an interval of many years.  But, that’s not what this new release is; at least, not barrel aged in the traditional sense.

Brewer’s in Portland and San Diego ascertained that coffee beans – green coffee beans, that is, beans that have not yet undergone the roasting process – absorb their surroundings handily and profoundly.  The brewers thus placed the green beans in an empty barrel that had previously contained the spirit of the brewer’s choice.  For Kingman that meant the green coffee beans, procured by Beale Street Brews, were aged in rum barrels provided by Diamond Distillery.  Once the beans have been barrel aged to the brewers delight they are cold-brewed.  The resulting coffee is then added to the wort at some point during the boil.  Or perhaps after.  Esoteric lore such as that can only be divulged by Tom, the brewing sphinx*.

The process results in a coffee tinged with the libation within which barrel it was housed melded with a malty delight called beer.  It sounds fantabulous, does it not?

*The next question is, who is Tom?  He is a curious character, one of myth and obscurity.  Only those on the inside know his true identity and he is spoken of in whispers.  And that’s all that can be said at this time.  Regardless, he has overseen the production of this new beer and … well, its character shall be dissected in the words to follow.

Begin At the Beginning (Aroma)
It emanates so much coffee!  It smells like breakfast on the third day of seven days off.  Like a campfire with a little perfume.  Thus, dark grains, strong coffee and a hint of hops.  Smashing.

And Go On (Appearance)
What a luscious head, the tincture of Irish cream on a waffle.  Dense but approachable and stable, indubitably enhanced by the nucleation points in the glass.  It rivals Angry Elf in color, an unfeigned brownish-black with sensuous spotlights of garnet.

Till You Come to the End (Taste)
There’s fruit at first taste, like a bursting plum.  With some tangy rum. Yes, there’s that distillery.  But that dwindles and the tang of dark fruit remains.  It rings on the tongue like the drawing of Anduril from its sheath, with all the  accompanying fanfare.  There is bitterness, derived from the sharp black coffee burntness.  But it lingers not.  The coffee presence is far superior to any other coffee beer, very fresh, smoky, mapley & caramelly.  Seeking the hops may result in a smidge of earthy resin.  Medium body, not really chewy but substantial.  Lingers, sweet and content.  The bitterness creeps up in the finish.  Not belligerently, but properly, like an English hop?

Then Stop (Conclusions)
Wow.

The coffee, malt, rum, mixed sagely.  The cold brew coffee reduces the beer abrasiveness but enhances its depth.  As with so many of the offerings at Black Bridge, this one is high in alcohol content but that, too, is deceptive; for Legend of Tom wants to be a session beer but is far too sophisticated for such things.  In other words, it is ridiculously easy to drink.

Is it the best beer ever from Black Bridge?  If it were a novel it would perhaps be something from Dostoyevsky, maybe Crime & Punishment – dark but compelling, a long journey; Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.  If it were a song … Whiskey in the Jar or One by Metallica; God Save the Queen by Sex Pistols.

(Author’s Note:  I like it better than 80 Shilling). 

That answers not the question.  Is it the best?  It’s for beer lovers,  possessing all the t has all you could want from a beer.  Dark malt backbone.  A little hops presence.  Coffee.  High alcohol.  Below are the guidelines for American porter’s, standard and imperial.  You can see how Legend of Tom fits in to all these and then expands on the styles.

(Author’s Note, again:  I like it better than Shugga Momma).

But is it the best from B3?  Interestingly, this does not have the same “house” flavor that the Black Bridge beers carry.  That is no condemnation, either of the beer or the house flavor.  Such a thing is expected from using a particular yeast strain and local water and the same equipment.  It is what makes your local your local.  Tom paid meticulous attention to itself.

(Last Author’s Note:  I like it better than Evil Red).

Cheers and well done!

Beer Judge Certification Program
20A. American Porter

  • A substantial, malty dark beer with a complex and flavorful dark malt character.
  • Medium-light to medium-strong dark malt aroma, often with a lightly burnt character. Optionally may also show some additional malt character in support (grainy, bready, toffee-like, caramelly, chocolate, coffee, rich, and/or sweet). Hop aroma low to high, often with a resiny, earthy, or floral character.
  • Medium brown to very dark brown, often with ruby- or garnet-like highlights. Can approach black in color.
  • Full, tan-colored head with moderately good head retention.
  • Moderately strong malt flavor usually features a lightly burnt malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavors) with a bit of grainy, dark malt dryness in the finish. Overall flavor may finish from dry to medium-sweet.
  • May have a sharp character from dark roasted grains, but should not be overly acrid, burnt or harsh. The dark malt and hops should not clash.
  • Medium to medium-full body. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth. May have a slight astringency from dark malts, although this character should not be strong.
  • May contain several malts, prominently dark malts, which often include black malt (chocolate malt is also often used). American hops typically used for bittering, but US or UK finishing hops can be used

Brewer’s Association Guidelines
American-Style Imperial Porter

  • Color: Black
  • Clarity: Opaque
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: No roast barley or strong burnt/black malt character should be perceived. Medium malt, caramel and cocoa sweetness should be present.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium- high
  • Perceived Bitterness: Medium-low to medium
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity-estery flavors and aromas should be evident but not overpowering and should complement hop character and malt- derived sweetness. Diacetyl should be absent.
  • Body: Full
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.5%-9.5% (7.0%-12.0%)

A Belgian Inspired Imperial Porter

A new beer will soon be debuting at Black Bridge. Here’s a quick encapsulation. 

Remember in Star Wars (okay, Episode IV: A New Hope) when Luke and Han and Chewie and the droids that everyone was looking for were in a control room on the Death Star and R2-D2 locates Leia and Luke wants to rescue her and he’s got to convince Han to help?


 Luke tells Han … “She’s rich.”   That’s the new Belgian inspired Imperial Porter, Shuggah Momma, that’s on its way.    It is, essentially, the daring rescue of Princess Leia from the bowels of the Death Star.  In a bottle.  Without the trash compactor part.

What An Incredible Smell You’ve Discovered

The Belgian candi syrup powers the nose of this beer. It was immediately redolent of soda. Seriously, I thought they just gave me a Dr Pepper. 

Your Eyes Can Deceive You

Brownish orange really, the color seemed eccentric.  In other words, it’s not as dark as my perceptions make a porter. The Belgian motif, I would say, is at play here, too. The color is half trippel/quad, half brown porter. 

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

 It is lighter than I expected and not as roasted or rich as I imagined but it was intriguing. It’s full of two row and crystal malts.  It’s sweet, but not tropical or fruity.   Low carbonation, finishes dry, not much hops presence when I sampled it. 

I Sense Something

It’s a complex beer.  Where is it going?  What does it want to be?  Thematically and stylistically it is something it might not be but is. Confused? Delighted? Exactly. Well, anyway, make your own choice about it when it arrives.  These are just my initial perceptions and could be totally off. And after having aged for many weeks, the beer could transform into something other. Art lies in the realm of ambiguity and that’s what we have here. And at  10.9% abv Tom continues his strong beer — ah, I mean Tim. Tim continues his strong beer legacy.   

Sometime in June it’s supposed to be ready. Maybe sooner, maybe later.  Watch for it.