Checking my Instagram feed the other day I saw there were only a few bottles left of the Fieldhouse Cherry Vanilla Milk Stout in the Fieldhouse fridge. Having yet to savor the small batch beverage, this was truly a call to action. Being some 75km away at the time I sent out a plea for help. To which Mama Panda came through in Batman-esque fashion, securing a couple bottles of this highly coveted brew.
What would I ever do without her?
After taking care of both bottles that evening I felt an urge to try it direct from the taps of the mother ship. So a couple of days later, while doing some Christmas shopping it was down to the Fieldhouse tasting room for a fresh sampling.
Much to my dismay I wasn’t able to fill my growler, which meant suffering through a glass in their warm, cozy surroundings! Moseying on up to the bar I savored a 10oz glass, while enjoying some fine conversation with one of the founders of Smugglers Trail (a new brewery out of Langley).
The Pour: Deep rich black liquid, consistent with a stout.
The Head: A nice tan head with a subtle rosé tint that quickly dissipated, and then disappeared.
The quick departure is probably a byproduct of the cherry. Beers where fruit is used tend to lose their head faster – might be the acids breaking down the proteins. I’m not a scientist so I’m sure someone out there has the answer to that.
The Smell: Malty with cherries. Didn’t pick up on any vanilla though.
The First Swig: T-W-A-N-G! Like a hillbilly banjo.
When I saw the label I had visions of a Cherry Vanilla Coke milkshake. Seriously. I was thinking this was going to be a smooth, creamy, cherry, vanilla extravaganza, all wrapped up in a comfy stout blanket (perhaps I should have checked their website first). It was quite a bit thinner than I was expecting, and was certainly leaning to the tart side.
The Rumination: The twang of the tartness is quite up front, and took away from any ability to pick up other flavours. Hardly noticed any signs of vanilla, and it was a bit slender in the malt department.
However, taking away the moniker, which as I’ve said made for quite a different set of expectations, by any other name it was actually a fairly enjoyable beverage. Although less than stoutly by my standards, anyone into “sour” beers would probably appreciate it.
In fact Mama Panda herself thought it wasn’t half bad, and she doesn’t like beer.
The Mouthfeel: Outside of the twang, it felt reasonably nice on the palate. A little bit thin but very easy drinking.
WIBTA?: Hopefully they come out with version 2 of this beverage so that I can see what the next batch has to say. It was interesting having that twang, which you don’t normally get out of a stout. Hopefully the next round brings the vanilla, malt, and lactose a little further to the forefront.
The Closing Notes
Limited run, or small batch beer is one of those crazy things that make the craft beer world so much fun. Brewers have the artistic license to get crazy and create whatever they want. Exploring the boundaries of what beer is, and what beer can be. Which this milk stout certainly did.
Personally, and this whole thing is all about me, I was expecting a stout first, and the adjuncts second. Instead I didn’t feel that I was getting a stout, but more of a cherry zinger dark ale. Which harkens a debate over dark ale vs porter vs stout which has raged on for centuries, and will probably never be satisfied.
Once I swept away the notion of categorizing the beverage, and focused strictly on the contents of the glass, I was okay with it as a foundation for something that could be great. Beef up the vanilla, stouten up the malt, and maybe raise the lactose bar a bit, and I could see this on my all-time go to list. However, remember I am not a brewmaster, only the consumer, and my opinion is just that – my opinion. Just like art can be chalked up to personal taste, so is beer.
Fieldhouse pulls no punches when it comes to creativity while still meeting the needs of your every day beer drinker. From there entry level Dutch Pale Ale, to the yummy Toasted Coconut Black Lager, Lavender ESB, Sour IPA, and Bourbon and Oak Porter, (the list goes on and on) they continue to stretch our palates. For which I am thankful.
Well that’s it for now, gonna go quench that panda sized thirst… Cheers!
*WIBTA is where I ask myself “Would I Buy This Again?”