Local Roots Restaurant And The Beer Road Welcome Fall With Starr Hill’s Cryptical Imperial Stout
Stereotyping a beer style to a season always seems a bit unfair. True, there are “leaner” stouts than others, but the ones which so many of us clamor over –dark, rich, smoky, dense, chocolately experiences –just seem less suited for an afternoon on the beach in ninety degree weather than a crisp cool fall evening by the fire. Just recently, the weather in my area is ever so reluctantly breathing its last warm breaths of summer for evenings that have a slight chill in the air, and right alongside them, my thoughts have begun turning to those things which will soon bring sweet, cozy relief against their brisk attitude: warm blankets on the bed, multiple layers of clothing, and yes, I admit –a stout in my glass. Much like a favorite blanket or a long sleeved flannel shirt, the smooth and velvety, robust body and roasted flavors of a good stout also have a way to ward off the chill of cooler weather.
True, a good stout can –and should be –appreciated any time of year. Some enjoy their roasty personalities regardless of what the calendar says. But many do begin to lean towards them when the mercury starts to edge downwards. It was this kind of spirit that no doubt influenced at least my own thoughts recently when Brian Sallade, co-manager at Local Roots Restaurant, and I began to look for a new, shared “pick” for their tap selections. Sitting by a window one recent evening, I found myself watching a cold rain come down outside. The temperatures finally reflected something fall like. I had recently seen a news item about a stout being produced at nearby Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, just about two hours north. Given Local Roots’ affinity for local and regional brews and the quick note about the beer’s flavor from the brewery’s own website (“a wallop of dark malt flavor”), their Imperial Stout “Cryptical” sounded like a perfect choice.
Imperial Stouts, as the name suggests, are generally stronger versions of the average stout, boasting bigger, deeper, and richer flavors. Generating the bigger flavors found in these kinds of beers often means an accompanying higher alcohol content as well, although Cryptical is not excessive, at least by today’s big stout standards, with its abv coming in right at 7%. Occasionally, these kinds of beers can have a hint of “dark fruit” like flavors that can be tasted in the midst of their more typical roasted nature, and according to notes on the Starr Hill website, Cryptical has this going for it also, mentioning “notes of raspberry and plum”. Also noted are flavors of licorice and anise. You might also expect to find tastes of roasted coffee or a more semi sweet like cocoa. At any rate, considering all of these flavors together should make for one very tasty stout.
Odd, how we embrace the change to fall –whether its relief from summer’s heat, or because you simply enjoy the cooler temperatures on their own, so many of us embrace the change to a colder time of the year by wrapping up against it. It’s that sweet, cozy feel of burying yourself under multiple fuzzy layers, or wrapping up with a loved one. Maybe you’re a stout drinker year round, or maybe you enjoy one only when it’s a bit chillier outside. Either way, perhaps it’s time to admit that while not absolutely linked to fall and colder days, the stout is a perfect, fond addition to the list of things with which we both welcome the crispness in the air with, but also helps to keep it a comfortable, cozy distance. Starr Hill’s Cryptical Stout should fit perfectly among all these, so go taste for yourself at Local Roots Restaurant now – tonight, it’ll be included as a part of their first of the month sampling of all eight of their taps. The forecast is calling for a slightly cooler evening, after all. Cheers!