When it comes to finding great beers, it is always best to talk to your bartender, waiter, waitress, or, as in our case, the restaurant/bar owner. Our latest KOTBR review was held at Hot Shotz on 96th Street and is owned by Brian Graham. We had heard from many sources that Brian has an incredible beer list, and those sources are correct.
There are 10 taps flowing at Hot Shotz, and not a single one is dedicated to the mass brews (Bud, Miller, Coors) or the mass brews disguised as micro brews (Blue Moon, Killians). Current beers on tap include: Brooklyn Lager, Founders Pale Ale, Solstice Wit, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Mad Hatter IPA, Hop Juice, Ellie's Brown, Tres Blueberry Stout, Houblon Chouffe, and Raspberry Framboise. This incredible offering is followed with a bottle list of 60 or more varieties.
Being on a converted hop head on hop kick suffering hop rage (kinda like roid rage, but involves more drinking and less working out), I decided to go with the Hop Juice from Two Brothers Brewing Company. It doesn't have the crisp fruit taste that Hopslam has, but it is so Cambell's Soup (mmmm, mmmm good).
Having reviewed a lot of beers in the hoppy category recently, the Knights elected to review a stout or porter this time around. And the number of beers to select from were great. This is where it pays to ask people in the know.
I asked Brian if he could recommend a beer, and he said, "Well, we have a couple not on the menu." He mentioned Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and we were sold. And after we were done, they were sold out. So sorry for the rest of ya.
We have reviewed bourbon stouts in the past. I was all over Barley Island's take on it. But Founder's version is the Colonel Sanders of bourbon stouts. Lip smakin', toe tappin', finger lickin' good.
The beer pours out black as night and looks to be as thick as molasses. It poured with almost no head, just leaving a dark tan ring around the top. Stouts often have hints of coffee. This beer reeked of coffee. Starbucks only wished they could smell this good.
To drink it while cold is like drinking a cup of strong cold coffee, and it was bitterly cold, with an emphasis on bitter. This is definitely a beer that gets better as it warms up.
And as it warms up, the coffee bitters give way to caramel, toffee, and other roasted scents. The taste mellows. And as it continues to warm, the bourbon flavors really begin to stand out.
The complexities of the beer's characteristics are fascinating. It's the type of beer that could please many varied tastebuds. If you love the bitterness of coffee, drink it while cold. If you love the taste of bourbon, drink it at room temperature. If want a mix of both, drink it at a temperature somewhere between.
This beer showed me that while I have been hopping on hops a lot recently, my roots are in the maltier beers. And bourbon stouts still rank as my favorite beer variety. I'm reluctant to give this beer a 5 mug rating simply because I have not tried every single beer in the world and there is a chance that there is a better beer out there. But I'm going to do that anyway, because I could not imagine a better beer.