Each month we list our favorite beers from the previous month. Because we focus on the Houston Beer Scene, we will always list our favorite from the Houston area/market, but will occasionally include beers from outside of Houston.
Follow us on our beer drinking adventure!
Copperhead Brewery (Conroe, TX) – Barrel Aged Black Venom (MB Roland Barrel w/coffee)
With Stout Season in full swing, both of my selections this month are big, roasty, Imperial Stouts.
Looking around the Houston Beer Scene, I feel like the stouts are a little under appreciated. Brash has a very good reputation for stouts – for very good reason – but beyond Brash, there are some really awesome stouts that are highly rated, but not talked about enough.
The base beer, Black Venom, is a very good base stout. It actually reminds me a lot of Temptress from Lakewood Brewing Co, out of the Dallas area. Call me biased (I used to work in the Lakewood Taproom right after they opened) but I always thought Temptress was the best stout in Dallas and one of the best base stouts in the state. The first time I had Black Venom, it brought back fond memories of Lakewood.
BA Black Venom – as well as regular Black Venom – pours a beautiful jet black with a nice tan head. Again, both versions of the beer have beautifully smooth and slightly creamy mouth feel. I would love for the base beer to be widely available on nitro (the way I always enjoyed my Temptress) because I love the mouth feel of nitro stouts.
I wish I could put into words just how insanely balanced BA Black Venom (MB Roland w/coffee) is. I’m not sure how much of this beer is left, so it may be different next time, but I fully trust Copperhead to flawlessly execute any barrel aging or coffee stout.
Side note: Can’t wait for Night of Terrors on Jan 11. The amount of time this beer spent in the barrel and the coffee used, were just perfect. I also thoroughly enjoyed the barrel they used, and it’s a nice change from what seems to be a slight trend recently of using rye whiskey or rum barrels.
This beer easily deserves a 9/10 for me and I think I can safely says it is a top 3 Stout from Houston, maybe ever.
Oak Cliff Brewing Co (Oak Cliff, TX) – Sombre
DFW, you have stiff competition coming in terms of quality imperial stouts. Temptress, Legion and Full Grown Man, look out! Sombre is a phenomenal beer. I tried it and I was ready to go buy as much of it as I could find. And when they get into barrel aging this beer… whew!
Sombre is a massive, thick, incredibly smooth, 13% ABV, imperial stout with house-made caramel sauce and vanilla. The beer is a nice and roasty, caramely, sweet beer. If you put a brownie with caramel sauce in a glass and drink it, it would be exactly like drinking this beer.
As I read up on the brewery, I realized that their Director of Brewing Operation is Todd Holder who was the head brewer at Prairie Artisan Ales, which made a ton of sense. I look forward to tasting variants and barrel-aged versions of the Oak Cliff Brewing stouts.
Overall, I love this beer. For what it is, 9.9/10 because I am afraid of absolutes. Obviously not reasonable to compare to barrel aged stouts.
If you make a trip to Dallas any time soon, let me know, I have a lot of suggestions. I will be honest and tell you which breweries I have some bias towards as I have many friends who are brewers, owners, or brewery employees in Dallas.
Brash Brewing (Houston, TX) – Hammer Smashed Face
Peter and I like to have friendly debates regarding who brews the best stouts in Houston. I always say Brash (Peter says Copperhead), because of brews like Hammer Smashed Face. Before I get to my pick I would also like to back up my argument for Brash by highlighting two other excellent recent Imperial Stout releases, Black Masses and Peanut Butter Wolf. Both are luscious 9.0% Imperial Milk Stouts that feature a special ingredient. Black Masses’ special ingredient is coffee and boy does this brew have an intense coffee flavor. Brash was not fooling around when they billed this brew as being a “Double Coffee” Imperial Milk Stout. The name is fitting as there’s a rich, sweet malt body that supports the bold coffee excellently. Peanut Butter Wolf has, you guessed it, peanut butter as it’s unique ingredient. Unlike the massive punch that the coffee provided Black Masses, the peanut butter is used with a light touch here. Rich chocolate flavors dominate while peanut butter adds a nice subtle edge. Peanut Butter Wolf is quite lush which, combined with the decadent flavor, makes this an easy dessert beer recommendation.
As awesome as both of those beers are, they don’t blow me away quite like Hammer Smashed Face (btw – this is named after a popular Cannibal Corpse song). The name is appropriate as HSF is a 14% goliath of a Russian Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and vanilla, aged in whiskey barrels. The rich flavor combines chocolate, coffee roast, and vanilla sweetness with a kiss of barrel. It’s deep and complex as can be and one of my favorite releases year after year. All three of these brews are limited releases, but are still available on some taps around town. Catch them before they’re all gone until next year. What Houston brewery do you think brews the best stouts?
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