Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beereview: Keegan Ales: Joe Mama's Milk Stout

There's some stories that you want to tell literally (if they are wicked awesome) some you want to tell figuratively (if you're lying) and some you want to tell chronologically (if you suck at telling stories and/or are 6 years old.) This is one of those stories, particularly of the chronological variety.

I had an occasion recently to visit my parents in Rosendale, New York. Apparently they were involved in some sort of church auction and rather than ending up with the usual tongue-depressor bird house, out of season knitted Christmas ornament, or crushing guilt, they absconded with two empty Keegan Ales growlers and a promissory note to fill them. Needless to say: filling them was going to be a priority.

Like all normal Americans, we have no idea how to get anywhere without Google Maps, a GPS, or a very smart crow. Possessing  only two of those tools (I'll let you guess which,) we endeavored to procure the address of the Keegan Ales establishment. Whilst perusing their website I happened upon a curious sight, our blog was linked as the first review for Mother's Milk!

We always like getting plugged without our knowledge (...) In this case, I felt like I better go introduce myself since obviously it was our fame carrying their beer. Before heading out though, I did check to make sure my review wasn't mean. It wasn't totally kind, but we're not paid for kindness (or anything, actually) so I felt I could show up without any riot shields, rotten fruit protection, or shoes (what, you thought it was a classy place?)

Bonus: Bar Review

We'll get to our beer review in just a second, but I'd like to offer an observation. Keegan Ale's pub is a real bar. We were there on a Saturday afternoon but most of their half dozen or so tables were full. What was a little surprising to me is that, this being a brewery they sold everything a normal bar would sell. This may not seem odd, but consider that in many states a brewery cannot sell it's beer to customers directly, they must go through a distributor. Here we have a full bar. Weird. Every other brewery I've visited has had to exploit some kind of loophole involving tours and tokens in order to serve me beer without actually having me buy it. Lucky you, Keegan Ales.

I had a nice talk with Tom, the owner. I had a question about canning that I hope to discuss here soon. Keeping things brief, he's nice and approachable and seems to care a lot about beer. He's more of the production brewer than the theorist but I doubt he'd mind that label. He seems like a local celebrity in his own bar, which is what I think a lot of home brewers strive for. Needless to say, it's an attainable and worthwhile goal: we can't all be Sam Calagione (although he may be overreaching, but I digress.)

Beereview: Keegan Ales: Joe Mama's Milk Stout

This beer is half coffee: I am not exaggerating. They told me they use Monkey Joe coffee in the brew and I believe them. Let's go through this in the proper order:

The smell is a little like burnt popcorn and caramel with a strong hint of coffee. This beer pours black with a thick and dark head. It has a sweet taste like brown sugar and a very strong coffee presence. I'd say this tastes a lot like Kahlua, if it was a beer. It's initially very sweet with a strong coffee flavor and aftertaste. It's almost like a Starbuck's Double Shot without the can.

The sugar hides it, but this beer is 8% ABV. This and the coffee puts it straight in the after dinner category.

Overall, this is the most coffee-like beer I've ever tasted. Drew Carey made Buzz Beer a joke in the 90's, but Keegan Ales made it a reality today. This is a great coffee cream stout.

Have you tried this beer or something similar? Let us know in the comments! Also, it's not too late to snag yourself a Newcastle Brown Ale T-Shirt! Just send a short (~200 words maybe?) beer review to for a very good chance to win!

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