Beer of the Weekend #37: Obsidian Stout

In less than two days I’ll be back in Iowa. Not only am I eager to get back home and see family and friends but I’m also looking forward to getting away from the Southland. No waking early, no bus (no annoying middle aged couple who get on at Harbor and chat loudly about the dumbest shit), no work, and no couch potato roommate for two weeks. Also, despite the extreme cold, I’ll be warm and cozy thanks to central heating.

Ah, heating. My apartment has one of those wimpy wall heaters. To be fair they work quite well…when they’re in use. For some reason my roommate rarely uses ours. Apparently it’s quite a dangerous operation to turn it on, one he has yet to teach me. Unlike the wall heater at my house in Santa Cruz, there’s no thermostat so the gas has to be opened and lit manually with a valve on the bottom, which I guess is common for many models. “It shoots a fucking huge flame,” my roommate told me. Because it’s usually idle the apartment stays cool…very cool. At night the temperature in my room probably dips to 45°F.

But enough bitching…

The beer this weekend is Obsidian Stout brewed by the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon.

Serving type: Six 12-ounce bottles.

Appearance: Opaque black. About a half finger of tan head formed on the top and dissipated to a thin, cappuccino-like lacing after a few minutes.

Smell: A delicious blend of milk chocolate, caramel, and a hint of roasted coffee.

Taste: Compared to the tempting aroma the taste is a bit disappointing. I was expecting chocolate and caramel sweetness to balance perfectly with roasted coffee bitterness, but all my taste buds picked up was the bitter coffee malts. There is a touch of sweetness but I wish there was more.

: Medium drinkability. It definitely falls in the “after dinner dessert” category.

Fun facts about Obsidian Stout:

-Serving temperature: 45-50°F. That’s obviously the BeerAdvocate recommendation, but I suggest letting it warm a bit more. Cooler temperatures work against the flavor, canceling the complexities, and it took about 10 minutes before the first pint reached the perfect temperature. (Of course, the temperature in my room right now is probably in the high-50s.)

-Alcohol content: 6.4 percent ABV

-Each bottle is 220 calories worth of stout goodness.

-The Deschutes Brewery sells logo Frisbee golf discs.

-Regarding the name, this is what’s explained on the carrier:

Obsidian Stout gets its inspiration from one of the world’s largest obsidian flows at Newberry Volcano — just a few miles south of the brewery. “The Big Obsidian Flow,” as they call it, covers more than 700 acres with shiny black obsidian.

Obsidian is a naturally occurring glass that forms when a specific type of volcanic lava, rich in silica, cools and dries. Apparently there’s a shit-load of it in Oregon, yet another reason I need to pay a visit to the Beaver State.

-Food pairings, as recommended on the Obsidian Stout webpage, are “Venison Chili, Portobello Sandwich, and Porter Ice Cream Sandwich.” What’s a Porter Ice Cream Sandwich? Well, after a little research (i.e. typing the name into Google) I discovered it was a dessert offered at the Bend Pub located at the Deschutes Brewery. The description is “Black Butte Porter Ice cream between two Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Black Butte Porter was BotW #8, another Deschutes brew, so you would be drinking a brew to wash down ice cream made with brew. That blows my mind even more than an Eight Ball Stout float. (The Portobello Sandwich is also served at the Bend Pub.)

-At the 2007 World Beer Awards, Obsidian Stout was given the award for World’s Best Stout (Export).

The Quite Man’s grade: B. Enough said.

Don’t be surprised if BotW makes a few unscheduled appearances the next two weeks. I’m taking my MacBook with me on the trip and will use it to upload photos and write about the different beers I sample back home. Cheers!

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