For KOTBR #58, we headed to Fishers to check out the Indianapolis area's latest entry into the gastropub race, the Old Town Ale House. We'd been eager to visit the Ale House ever since we got word of the pub and its wide selection of craft beers. We were joined by Randy, Mikey, Bill, Ty, and Kevin from the Good Beer Show, who were fresh off recording a podcast at Ram's Fishers location (Mike and Gina sat in on that show, which you can catch here).
By our count, the Ale House has 18 taps and around 40 craft bottles on their menu (their current tap list is here). Those of you who are craft beer newbies might indulge in one of the Ale House's themed beer flights. Each flight offers five sample beers of a similar style at the very reasonable price of $8.00. Several of us ordered flights before we hit the feature beer. The most decadent flight appeared to be the one that Chris ordered, which is called "A Shot in the Dark." As you might suspect, this flight consisted of five stouts.
The Ale House's food menu features some intriguing selections as well. For example, Kelly had the mac and cheese, which was made with penne bathed in four different cheeses and was served in a unique way: inside of a sourdough bread bowl. Add a few beers and you have a full-fledged Atkins diet nightmare. For pork lovers, the Ale House offers bacon in a pint glass. Yep, that's right--a half-pound of applewood-smoked bacon served in a pint glass. And when the glass is empty, it apparently serves as a nice receptacle for Stone Smoked Porter according to some of the other Knights. I wouldn't know, however, because just like Jules Winnfield, "I just don't dig on swine."
For our feature beer, we chose a crème de la crème selection from Garrett Oliver's beer stable: Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout. This Russian Imperial Stout clocks in at 10.6% ABV and is one of Brooklyn's winter seasonal offerings.
Here's what we thought of the Black Chocolate Stout:
I've had this beer a few times here and there, and it's never been a favorite - too much dark chocolate, too much roasty malt, too overpowering and unbalanced. This time around my complaint would be that it was too punchy - my notes read, "This is like a vodka spiked beer. BOOOOZY." Any beer that reminds me of vodka spiked anything (we used to go with Gatorade) should bring up bad memories of the summer after high school. But somehow the creamy mouthfeel and dark chocolate put up enough fight to make this beer a winner. As it warmed, I started picking up strange flavors - grape, maybe? Odd. But good. 4.00 Mugs
Nose - Boozy, chocolaty, malty with a roasted toffee finish. Almost like a mocha from Starbucks, less burnt smelling
Look - Very dark, light doesn't escape, nice lacing on top of the glass from the minimal head.
Taste - Coffee, chocolate with fruit (raspberry) sweetness on the finish. Bourbon barrel aged taste on the back of the tongue. There is a nice alcohol finish, but it's not overpowering.
Mouthfeel - Smooth and syrupy - almost doesn't feel carbonated.
Jim. Wow, this beer is much boozier than I remembered (I had one last year). A lot of alcohol burn. Unlike some of the other Knights, I really don't get much chocolate out of this. In fact, I get more vanilla, licorice, and bourbon highlights. A bit too powerful for my taste on the first few sips, but becomes more pleasing at it warms, which brings out a buttery character. A nice sipping beer, but I don't think I could handle more than one of these per sitting. 4.10 mugs
Everyone else's scores:
Gina: 3.85 mugs
Chris: 4.10 mugs
Rod: 4.20 mugs
Matt: 3.92 mugs
Kelly: 3.90 mugs
This is one of the few roundtables were we came to a pretty broad consensus on the quality of the beer, as you can see by the consistency of the ratings. Average rating: 3.99 mugs.