Friday, January 24, 2014

Third Street Brewhouse Sugar Shack Maple Stout


Third Street Brewhouse Sugar Shack Maple Stout, brewed by Third Street Brewhouse, Cold Spring, MN.

I'm still on the fence with these guys. Not in their court yet, not even close. Some are good, none are great, I'm kind of like, "eh", is how I am. So, here's another, and it's something I've never had before…a stout with maple. Huh. Well, here we go.

Full-on blackness, beneath a rich roasted tan head, lasting long. Looks good, looks good.

Aroma: dark malt, chocolate, …dark fruits..-ish? Beyond that, I'm getting an empty set.

Taste: Okay. Malt. Bitter hops, a bit. Sweetness, for a bit. And then…suddenly, in rushes the maple sweetness. Not too sweet, thankfully, but there's the flavor, kept in check with hop bitterness. Nice balance. More cocoa rises out of the flavor, matched by the maple, …and then not much. I imagined that I was in for a strong maple flavor, overwhelming all else, dripping with the syrup-y stuff. Maybe that's a pessimistic viewpoint? That I expected more than I wanted, and yet wound up with less? Huh…

Okay, now it's time to turn the label and find out what it says: Again with the all caps. Here we go…"Tucked in the backwoods of the legendary Saint John's Abbey, the Sugar Shack is operated by monks passing on century-old secrets and providing some seriously sweet history. These guys take maple syrup making as seriously as we take great beer making. These discerning monks have given Third Street Brewhouse exclusive rights (yep, that means just us) to pair their notorious sweet blend with our perfectly crafted beer so we can bring you the Sugar Shack Maple Stout."

So many problems with this overblown copy. "Perfectly crafted"?Don't ever say that. Good lord, never say that you are perfect. Once you tell me that you are perfect, I stop listening to you. Is there really a Saint John's Abbey somewhere, (if it's so legendary, why haven't I heard of it?) or is this more bullcrap? I'd love to be proven wrong, but it just feels so very fictional. The whole yarn is well-spun malarkey, and the end product is rather blase.

(Okay, I'm wrong. But, still.)

I didn't buy this beer, I waited until I got a sample. I'm glad I finally tried, and I'm grateful for the freebie. But this is unexceptional, at the very least, and the overblown puffery in "The Story" really turns me off. I have to say that we're stuck here. I will continue to try these guys for free, but I'm not spending any more of my own money on them. It's all a lot of "so what." nothing that they've brewed has done anything for me, especially when compared to what they themselves say about it. So. Keep trying, Third Street, and I'll keep trying to like your beers.

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