Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snake River Zonker Stout

"Toasted, roasted weenie," was the shout that my friends and I used to hear as we exited the campus bar. During the final two years of my college career, a middle-aged man, of undecipherable foreign ethnicity, had taken to setting up a camper outside Smoke's (full name, Smokey Joes), our often attended yet little remembered campus bar of some 60 or so years. He would take a small $29.95 charcoal barbeque and cook up packaged hot dogs, selling them to inebriated Penn students, who would gladly shell out the $2 for a slightly burned dog that would soak up the massive amounts of Miller, Budweiser, and Yuengling in their stomach and undoubtedly on their clothes. On ocassion, I was one of these customers that stumbled to the rallying cry of "Toasted, roasted weenie," or simply "toasty, roasty," as months of success allowed the man some room for trademark and branding.

I delve into memory lane, because as I try the Zonker Stout, the first words that popped into my head are, "toasted, roasted." Seven different types of malts in all: 2 Row Pale, Carastan, Caramel, Crystal, Black, Chocolate, Roasted Barley. The front end has a surprising complexity of flavor, mixing roasted barley, chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, licorice, and just a hint of coffee. While hops include Chinook, Sterling, and Hallertau, they aren't incredibly present in the bouquet except for a small trace in the finish, which doesn't really help or hurt the beer to any degree.

While the body and nose on this beer are outstanding, it's in the finish where I feel that it needs work. There's a slightly unpleasant aftertaste, not unlike the acidity of eating unsweetened chocolate. Otherwise this beer is quite good handywork.

Zonker Stout: ****

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