Valentine’s Day, with Rogue, Left Hand, and Block 15

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Valentine’s Day, with Rogue, Left Hand, and Block 15

Technically it’s now the day after Valentine’s Day, but I thought it would fun to round up a few of the beers (and cocktail) we enjoyed this weekend and on the day itself—which can certainly be enjoyed anytime for a date night or even just because.

Rogue Ales Espresso Martini Canned Cocktail

Rogue recently sent me cans of its new Espresso Martini cocktail, made from Rogue’s own vodka. Each 12-ounce can has 7.5% alcohol by volume, and I’m assuming it has both coffee and chocolate added (based on the label pictures, the site doesn’t list ingredients). The description is:

Inspired by Portland, Oregon’s incredible coffee roasting scene, we created and canned this craft cocktail to be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Our Rogue vodka forms the cocktail’s base while lavish notes of coffee, caramel and chocolate delight the palate with a full flavored espresso martini experience.

My notes, which are free form since it’s not a straight beer review:

Coffee colored, but lighter than straight coffee, a bit of golden brown. Smells like chocolate and coffee beans, perhaps some chocolate lava cake. It sips lighter than I expected, coffee forward, with hints of milk chocolate at the sides and the back, and there’s a lingering chocolate cake flavor. I get some “green” coffee beans (cascara?) in the light body and a hint of alcohol, kind of delicate. Super subtle sweetness, a bit like caramel syrup. I almost want some more rich chocolate character, or something like Kahlua liqueur, to counteract some of the acidity coming from the espresso.

We also added a shot of the cocktail to a cup of coffee (with a bit of creamer), and it’s quite complementary to coffee (unsurprisingly).

Left Hand Brewing Black Forest Nitro

This cherry chocolate stout from Left Hand, known for (among other things) its nitro series of stouts, brings the promise of Black Forest German chocolate cake to the glass. It’s 7.7% ABV with 28 IBUs, and even though it’s a 16-ounce can, there’s only 13-and-change ounces of liquid because of the nitrogen widget included in the can. It’s that widget that, upon opening, releases its gas payload and nitrogenates the brew for that rich, creamy appearance and mouthfeel.

The website description says:

Indulge in a devilishly delicious stout. Inspired by the famous German dessert, Black Forest Nitro tempts taste buds with tart black cherries and aromas of rich chocolate cake. Layers of flavor reminiscent of spiked fresh cherries and dark chocolate ganache cascade on a canvas of nitrogen. The super smooth mouthfeel is delicate and light while staying diabolically decadent. Crack a can and enter into temptation.

Appearance: Black stout with that luscious and creamy nitro head that’s light tan in color and incredibly dense.

Smell: Mild but rich smooth stout—dark malt notes with a hint of roast. Subtle hints of cocoa, but not a lot of the aromas that I’d expect; nitrogen tends to dampen aromas unlike carbon dioxide, but even so, I was hoping for more cherry, chocolate. These elements do start to come out a bit as it warms, but very mildly.

Taste: Smooth and rich and like a cross between an Irish dry stout (roasty Guinness, associating because of the nitro?) and an export stout (richer and a bit sweet). I get a light hint of chocolate cake in cocoa notes, maybe a hint of cherry pit but no real fruity character at all. Pairing with some Black Forest Cake M&Ms get a nice dessert quality, but it’s the candy lifting it. Otherwise it’s a creamy rich stout with light cocoa.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, lusciously creamy, medium-full body.

Overall: I was hoping for actual cake character and flavors, but it’s still a nice stout in general.

Block 15 Brewing Love Potion Number 9

One things Block 15 does well (aside from brewing excellent beer) is its seasonal and holiday-themed releases; there’s often a beer brewed for a given holiday, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Block 15’s seasonal chocolate raspberry stout is brewed for the day and is conditioned on chocolate and raspberries; a description from last year reads:

This sweet stout was brewed with a tantalizing blend of specialty dark malts and conditioned on chocolate and a delightfully tart combo of red and black raspberries. A most romantic concoction, Love Potion No. 9 balances rich malt and chocolate flavors with vibrant berry character.

It’s 7% ABV though no mention of IBUs.

Appearance: Jet black and thick, with a brown head that I swear has a touch of pink/berry color in it.

Smell: Dark chocolate and a roasty note on the edge of ashy. There’s a subtle jammy berry aroma which grows as it warms and becomes more dessert-like.

Taste: Bitter roast and dark chocolate (think 98% dark), with a bright pop of fruitiness that combines slightly tart berry with a touch of light roast coffee acidity. I get more of that heavy roast bitterness at the back, but it’s more of a burnt or black patent malt than roasted barley. Dry, with little residual sugars.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and roasty, lingering bitterness, dry finish.

Overall: Good, though it’s roastier with more bitterness than I remember.

Happy post-Valentine’s Day! (Or perhaps… Valentine’s Week?)