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Top 100 Beers of 2018

Top 100 Beers of 2018



by Brad Darnell
Oatmeal Stout
East Brother Beer Co.

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Head Brewer Paul Liszewski Talks Oatmeal Stout

Who was responsible for this beer’s recipe?
Our founding brewer, Chris Coomber, first created this recipe years ago when we were prototyping our 5 core beers in his garage. Since then we’ve tweaked it countless times as we scaled it up and brewed it commercially on our production system. Chris is the kind of brewer who always finds some new detail that can be more precise. I share a lot of Chris’s brewing philosophies in perfecting classic styles, and the beers keep getting better and better.

What sets this beer apart from other examples within the style?
We strive for balance in everything we make and that means we want it to be fun to drink with a clean finish, letting the texture and flavor of the beer draw you back in for another pint. This Oatmeal Stout in particular benefits from a light but flavorful texture in the way it moves over your palate. People tell us they can’t believe they want to drink more than one because they’re expecting it to be heavy and sweet, but they end up right back at the bar, sooner than they expect, ordering another.

Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
Roasty, toasty, chocolaty, yum.

What’s a good food pairing for this beer?
I’d start with some BBQ ribs and baked beans or chicken with mole sauce then move onto a dessert of rich, dense chocolate cake. Maybe even throw in an Oatmeal Stout float to boot.

What makes this beer truly world class?
You said it, not us! As with all our beers, we look for precision in the flavor, aroma, and texture of the beer. I don’t know that we’ll ever be totally satisfied with a batch, but with each one we get a clearer idea of what we’re striving towards. And our ingredients, process, and technique are the tools available to improve it each time. We’ve tweaked everything we can think of: from milling to packaging and every step in between. We’re brewing it again soon, and Chris and I already have a couple details we want to experiment with to see if it improves the body. Brewing a world-class beer to us means always trying to make it better.

How popular is this beer among your faithful fans?
It’s been a slow and steady grower for us, and we like that. These days it’s tough for a beer that’s not an IPA or trendy style to lead your portfolio, so our expectations for our Oatmeal Stout have always been conservative. But we’re seeing success with it as people start to drink through our beers and discover the kinds of classic beers we love making. I think they can sense how dedicated we are to those styles. Now we’re seeing an increase in demand for Oatmeal Stout even in the summer months and we’re creating variants and having some fun with it. We’ve done a cask version that people go nuts for in the taproom, and a bourbon barrel-aged version is in the works, which is tasting oaky with that bourbon aroma.

Judge’s Second Opinion

Judging and writing for The Beer Connoisseur allows me, a homebrewer, beer geek and beer traveler, to experience Christmas joy throughout the year as brewers send boxes my way for blind-tasting. Even though my wife unwraps the gifts, I get to experience the beer in my glass without any prejudice; I simply know the style and any special ingredients noted. From there I learn about new breweries or sample something new from a known brewery.

With East Brother, I had not heard of this relatively new brewery, though my tasting experience certainly put this brewery squarely on my radar.

Living in Southern California, one rarely drinks thick, dark stouts given that this is the land of West Coast IPAs and the warm weather does not invite heavier beers the same way cooler weather does. Despite receiving and sampling this beer in late summer’s heat I quickly forgot about the exterior temperature and instead experienced Christmas joy through this fantastic beer.

As an Oatmeal Stout this beer provided a sweet, rich and creamy experience often devoid in others. I found these characteristics refreshing and found myself desiring a rich chocolate dessert to pair with it.

Looking back on the beer I found the de-bittered roasted malt aroma and flavor mixed perfectly with a semi-sweet chocolate note. Dark fruits and leather added depth. The oats provide a light underlying creaminess and rounds the edges of any roast bitterness, leaving a fairly smooth ale. I can still taste this beer as I write and I find myself longing for it on an 86-degree November day. With other Oatmeal Stouts I typically experience one good dimension, say flavor, or two harmonious dimensions, say aroma and flavor; rarely though do I experience one with three fully integrated dimensions: aroma, flavor and mouthfeel. The harmony created by this, along with it being a beautiful beer to look at, make this beer one of the best beers I have experienced in a long time. Well done East Brother! – Brad Darnell


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