Quaff ON! Common Necessity Hazelnut Coffee Milk Stout (5% ABV)
Pour: 12oz bottle into a snifter
Appearance: Dark. Like, inky dark. Not sure whether it’s a deep brown or black because it’s totally opaque when held up to direct light. Pours with about half an inch of toffee colored head with dissipates quickly. Decent edging, but no lacing.
Aroma: Coffee. Duh. Lots of coffee, but with something sweet underneath – probably milk sugar rather than hazelnut, but could realistically be either.
Taste: Definitely on the sweet side for a coffee stout. Milk sugar and a hint of hazelnut up front. Maybe a bit of toasted malt in the middle, more sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. No bitterness at all in the flavor profile, which is a bit of a letdown.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, no real carbonation. Clean finish.
For this week’s installment of everybody’s favorite Indiana-centric beer column, I’ll be taking a look at Nashville, IN-based brewery Quaff ON! and their Common Necessity Hazelnut Coffee Milk Stout. This is another brewery that I’ve yet to see this far north, but I’ve been hearing good things about their Bloomington location for a while now so I was pretty stoked when B brought me a 4-pack back from one of his recent excursions to B-town. I do have to say, though, that I kind of wish he’d brought a different one of their beers back for me instead.
In last week’s column about Taxman’s Exemption, I talked a bit about my aversion to sweet beers, and Common Necessity definitely falls squarely in the sweet stout category. The thing is, I really like coffees stouts and porters, and I even like the occasional milk stout, but part of what I like about those particular styles is that they tend to retain some of the coffee’s bitterness. The combination of milk sugars and hazelnut flavoring (which I also wonder about the source of. it kind of tastes like they use a similar type of hazelnut syrup as they do at Starbucks, but that’s just a guess – it could also be an extract, I suppose) so totally dominate the flavor profile that there’s really no bitterness in the palate at all. Aside from a subtle roasted malt note in the middle, this beer is basically all sweetness – the only real coffee presence is in the nose. I’m assuming that was by design, though, and it isn’t a flaw anywhere in the brewing process. It’s also consistent with the style, which is known for being sweet (ergo, the designation sweet stout) instead of roasty. So in the end, I think I feel roughly the same way about this beer as I did about Exemption: it’s a well-made beer, but it just isn’t to my taste.
I would still very much like to try something else from Quaff ON!, though. Any suggestions on what to try next?