February 14th

It’s a special kind of girl who is fine with spending Valentine’s Day at Bar Volo, drinking cask porters and stouts. Luckily, Sophie was quite willing, even through illness and work fatigue. It certainly wasn’t an event I was going to miss: lots of Ontario brewers with specialty made beers, all falling in the porter and stout families.

Volo was fairly busy just after 5p.m. with most tables full of couples sipping pints and looking longingly into each others eyes. A lot of the fun of an event like this is trying beers that are rarely available, especially cask versions. My first choice was the Hockley Valley Hole Mole Stout, which may have been making its debut. The beer arrived with absolutely no head or lacing – just a pure black glass. My eyes opened wide from a strong aroma of dark chocolate. Unfortunately, the taste was rather disappointing, with a heavy dose of sweet chocolate but nothing else. Overall, a very thin, watery beer that only has one thing going for it.

I also drank a fair bit of Soph’s F & M Stonehammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout, which I was looking forward to trying. Once again, a bit of a disappointment. It started off with coffee and a nice roasted background, but the finish brought a strong hit of burnt licorice that ruined everything that came before. We kept on switching our beers, slowly getting sick of drinking both. After the first round was over I tried the new Mill Street Imperial Chocolate Stout, which smelled exactly like vomit. Seriously. There didn’t seem to be anything imperial about this stout: some chocolate and coffee, as well as an underlying taste of … can you guess? Vomit! So we were 0/3, which was a big disappointment.

Later that night I opened my bottle of St. Ambroise Stout Imperiale Russe to make amends for such a disappointing afternoon. No surprise, this is one beer that gets it right, especially considering the beer spent some time in bourbon barrels. The bourbon flavours are definitely noticeable, but mingle nicely with espresso, oak and vanilla to create a truly imperial stout. More slick than chewy, it probably could have used some more aging time, but is still quite drinkable. Look for some exciting news about the Stout Imperiale Russe in this week’s News & Brews.

F & M Stonehammer Oatmeal Coffee Stout on Ratebeer

Hockley Valley Hole Mole Stout on Ratebeer

Mill Street Imperial Chocolate Stout on Ratebeer

St. Ambroise Stout Imperiale Russe

Today: 1.19L Year-to-date: 62.22L.

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