Well, this is another personal first – for The Brew Club, I’m going to review a beer from the Caribbean! The beer is aptly called ‘Jamaica Stout’, and its from the Big City Brewing Company in Kingston, Jamaica which is the only brewery fully owned and operated by Jamaicans.
Before I even open this beer, looking at the label I can see that this is a relatively strong beer. Weighing in at 7.6% ABV, it isn’t your typical session beer! Doing a little more reading, I’ve learned that stouts brewed in the warm Caribbean typically had to be brewed to a more robust, higher ABV so that they would survive the journey to other hot places in the area or even further. Its commonly called a ‘Foreign Stout’ or ‘Export Stout’. Its a similar concept to the way that IPAs evolved as a way for beers going from England to India to survive the long voyage and still be drinkable at upon arrival. (IPA stands for India Pale Ale, BTW)
So, I have this sample of rather strong Jamaican Stout to try for you.
As can be expected from a stout, this one poured into my glass looking like liquid night. It is really dark, almost black. Held up to a very bright light, there is a little bit of a deep garnet color that comes through at the edges of the glass, but generally speaking – this is the definition of dark beer!
The Jamaican Stout formed a decent beige head, maybe a little less than an inch thick of very thick foam. As I let this beer sit to breathe and warm up a bit, the head gradually dwindled down to a beige coating on the surface of the beer. Swirling the beer around a bit, it clings to the glass with light bubbly lacing similar to the milk stouts I’ve had recently. I guess its typical in that sense.
Smelling the beer, I could pick up some on some maltyness, but there was also the scent of roasted coffee and something sweeter like raisin or prune made itself known as well. Inhaling some more, I could detect an alcohol smell which shouldn’t really be surprising considering that its 7.6%. That said, I’ve had beers with higher ABV like the Troegs Mad Elf that didn’t smell as boozy to me at this one does.
Now, the moment of truth! How does the Jamaican Stout taste? Well, the first thing I notice it the body. This may be the thickest beer I’ve ever tried! This is a heavy beer and I don’t know how to emphasize that any more. The stout is smooth, and has a little bit of a slick feel. The flavors are similar to the smell – there is some roasted coffee and roasted malt, but none of the sweetness I mentioned in the scent.
I did mention in that there was a noticeable scent of alcohol in this beer, and it makes itself known in the taste department in a big way. There is a nice warming feel that the alcohol creates when drinking it, but to me, the alcohol flavor soon dominates over the malt, coffee and other flavors that are in there. It doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste really, just a little burn in the back of the mouth.
Wrapping this beer review up, I’m glad I got to try the Jamaican Stout from Big City Brewery in Jamaica. I’m glad I learned about the reasons for making such a strong beer, and now I know what an ‘export stout’ or ‘tropical stout’ is. (And you do too!) Its a strong-ass stout that been jacked-up so it can survive the heat of the Caribbean! I like stouts, but I didn’t really care for this one much, and I’ll tell you why.
To me, it is not a very complex tasting beer – yes its thick, yes its strong, but the alcohol is not masked that well and it almost tastes like Rum or something except not as good. Those are the dominant flavors – roasted malt or coffee, and rummy alcohol flavors. I’m going to say that I did not enjoy this beer very much, and I would not have it again.
Remember folks, beer is like art, food, cars, architecture, movies or whatever. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you might like what I dislike. However, I can not behold more than one star for the Jamaican Stout. Too boozy for my taste. As a matter of fact, this is the first beer I could not finish since I started reviewing beers waaaay back in 2008. Yup, about a quarter of this beer went into my house’s plumbing system.
One Star. Rating:
Now, I’d like to mention that this Jamaican Stout comes to The Brew Club compliments of BeerMonthClub.com, so I’d like to thank them very much for their generosity. Its obvious that this review wasn’t ‘thrown’ because I wanted to score points or future free beer. I call it as I see it, free or not! This beer simply sucked.
That said, I think the service that www.BeerMonthClub.com offers could be a really good way to mimic what we do at The Brew Club. Every month, you get a mix of different beers, maybe stuff like this Jamaican Stout that you might not have ever tried before. So, in that sense, its a pretty cool idea!
Its like that proverbial “box of chocolates” You never know what you’re going to get. You’ll end up liking some, and not liking others – that’s the luck of the draw! The bonus is that you’ll expand your beer horizons without having to buy a whole six pack of a beer that you might not like.
I was not paid to say any of the above – that’s just what I think.