Tracy Hensley's picture

Judge's Review: 87 Rating - Tastes Like Space by Belching Beaver Brewery

January, 2019
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
34 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

Tastes Like Space by Belching Beaver Brewery made with caramel flavoring and cacao nibs. I evaluated it as a Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Category 30A) with a base beer style of Sweet Stout (Category 16A) from the 2015 BJCP Guidelines. A Milk Stout’s range of sweetness effects its aroma, flavor, and body but it must be dark, full-bodied, with roasted grain and supporting chocolate or coffee aromas and flavors. For the Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer category, one is looking for balanced and pleasant characteristics of both the Spice(s), Herb(s), and/or Vegetable(s) and the base style. The beer, while showcasing textbook roast and sweetness with savory vanilla and nutty notes, is knocked out of balance by cloying caramel.

The beer’s aroma is tightly-integrated with medium-strength aromas of semi-sweet chocolate syrup supported by medium-dark caramel and Tahitian vanilla-infused heavy whipping cream. Its aroma is rich, cloyingly-syrupy, but well-integrated. As the beer warms, aromas increase to medium-plus strength and reveal a golden walnut toffee and graham cracker character. After 40 minutes, and as the beer reaches room temperature, a pleasant, complex, roasted malt character dominates.

The creamy tan head surprisingly just keeps a persistent thin film on the beer. It clings, and slowly cascades down the side of the glass. The beer is an attractive opaque dark brown that appears to be brilliantly clear with amber-dark brown edges.

The first taste carries intense notes of chocolate syrup and brown bread malt that feel smooth and creamy. Upon returning, flavors start with melted semi-sweet chocolate and then evolve into roasted nut butter and dark caramel before finishing like creamed oatmeal sprinkled with vanilla sugar and cocoa powder. Unfortunately, the mouthfeel feels cloyingly thick, slick, yet somewhat hollow in flavor.

The milk stout base is spot on.  It is smooth and creamy with a slight twang and complex, lightly warming vanilla notes. Unfortunately, for the Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer category, the base beer recipe is overwhelmed by the stand out caramel flavor that is reminiscent of fast food drive thru caramel sauce and the body supports that cloying, slick, thick feeling.