Monday, December 30, 2013

Beer Review: Candy Cane Cthulhu

Reviewing the Candy Cane Cthulhu from the Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois.

Score: 97

Tap pour served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 12/23/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Dark soda color, with a tiny ring around the glass of head. Nice oily lacing, but no head. The oily lacing tints the side of the glass a slight brownish hue, but less so than Bourbon County Brand Stout does. 4.25/5

Smell: Smells a lot like regular Cthulhu, with less vanilla plus a peppermint aroma that is not "smack you in the face intense" like many other mint-infused stouts are. Particularly as it warms up, this beer smells like thin mint Girl Scout cookies laced with caramel-forward bourbon. The peppermint character grows as the beer warms up, but it never overwhelms. A little oak is present too. Really nice nose here. 4.5/5

Taste: The caramel-forward bourbon flavor hits first, followed by fudgey chocolate, a little bit of vanilla and a hint of oak towards the finish. The peppermint acts a nice backbone, adding a light coolness to the flavor profile. The mint character of the Candy Cane Cthulhu is different from past years' releases of a bourbon barrel aged peppermint stout by the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub in that the peppermint presence here is more consistent on the palate. In previous releases it was more "popping" on the tongue like brief pop rock explosions of peppermint flavor with no lasting power. Even though this beer is infused with candy canes (i.e. pure sugar), it comes off less sweet than regular Cthulhu for whatever reason. The minty flavor lingers nicely, along with notes of caramel and a hint of chocolate too. All of the complexities here are masterfully integrated. What a tasty holiday treat! 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Just shy of full bodied, spot on carbonation. Very sticky mouthfeel with a sweet leaning profile that does not cloy. Has a lovely slightly cooling mouthfeel from the mint. 4.75/5

Overall: Another home run bourbon barrel aged candy cane-infused stout from the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub (they do one annually as part of a Christmas time toy drive), and an interesting twist for the better on a beer I love. The mint character on this brew is not overpowering, a flaw that many "mint stouts" suffer from. This beer was well worth the toy donations it took to help get it tapped, and I wish that this was something the brewpub would do more than once a year. Maybe next year they will finally do Candy Cane Bourbon County Brand Stout?

Cost: $7 for a 5 oz pour.

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