|Shannon Wheeler's inspiration.|
Last year ended -- and this year began -- with a magnificently boozy warsh in the forms of Russian Imperial Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Ales, and Coffee Infused Russian Imperial Barrel Aged who-knows-what.
It was frequently awesome struttin' into my rotational retail speakeasies -- and I say speakeasies because Austin has the most unassuming bottle shops disguised as service stations I've ever encountered anywhere -- to pick up all of the limited releases and brewery one-offs from around the craft world. Then, Rated Rookies, Austin Beerworks released a megaton Tsar bomb on us in the form of RICO: The Sputik Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout, which had this city wobbling from the nuclear tonnage.
Santa Fe Brewing's Imperial Java Stout would have a lot to live up to given the collection of standouts that preceded it.
I will note that the first thing that captured my attention was the simple cover art of the can. Cans always have the coolest shit on them. They really tell the story of the beer, and in some cases, they can tell you if your beer is cold or fucking cold just by looking at them.
In this case, I really appreciated the subtlety of this beer can. It gave me an impression of what the beer might taste like -- homegrown, simple, honest -- kind of the qualities of New Mexico itself; small town diner in the middle-of-nowhere type of shit. "After noon" it said. Not sure if that was a direction or a greeting. I liked it.
The second thing I noticed is how beautifully it poured. Extra lacing, like whipped cream that I always want to refuse at the coffee shop, but can never resist. It took an eternity for it to recede to drinkable levels, which is great because I have camera work problems most of the time. This gave me lots of time to shoot the damn thing over and over.
Finally, I tasted the beer. Ooooh, BLACK coffee. Interesting. I usually douse my coffee in sweeteners because I'm a beer snob, not a coffee one, and I don't know any better -- however, on the occasion that we are out of groceries, I have to accept my java fate, and that usually means no sweetener. Good. This is good. And there it is, that burnt jalapeno flavor that can't elude my palate with these coffee beers. I've come to not only accept it, but love it. Burnt, black coffee. Like Starbucks. Comfort food, if you will.
I was really impressed with this incarnation from Santa Fe Brewing, particularly since I don't fancy too much of their perennials. But this was definitely a well-executed effort. I will enjoy three more of these at some point. After noon.
Acquired: The Land of Enchantment