Beers are always better when shared
A Review of New Year Stout 2011 by Frankenmuth Brewery
Posted on 2/23/2012 by Chops
Beers are always better when shared. This truism has long been a defining trait of BrewChief even before this website was conceptualized. My co-founder and I have been comparing and contrasting tasty brews for as long as we can remember. Our most cherished memories of quality beers have come not from personal discovery, but rather from shared experiences. There is something so satisfying about opening a good beer, pouring it into two glasses, then verbally sharing your observations with a close friend. The best moments go unsaid, like when you both take your first sips then look up at each other in complete amazement. It's like playing tennis. Sure, you can practice your serve by yourself. But it's so much more rewarding when someone hits it back.

In the spirit of sharing good brews, our friends at the Frankenmuth Brewery in Michigan were kind enough to provide us with a few of their limited edition New Year Stouts. So my co-founder and I got together recently to bust open a quart of Frankenmuth's New Year Stout 2011 (number 7 of 527).

In the glass, this beer takes on a darker brown coloration, not quite black. It comes with a creamy tan head that likes to hang around for a little while. The aroma was quite complex and initially difficult to dissect. A strong sweetened roasted aroma serves as the base, but it took quite a while to grasp the other core note. It was a starkly contrasting smell that we couldn't properly classify. Then one of us said it: “It smells like a muted sour ale.” That was it, this beer smelled like a sour stout blend. It was very intriguing aroma profile that made us want to dive in for that first taste.

The first sip confirmed our aromatic thesis. There is a tart bitterness to the taste, almost like the beer was infused with sour cherries or figs. It actually complements the sweet malty roast quite well and creates a sweet-n-sour vibe. The mouthfeel is quite smooth with a somewhat thinner body. It has a nice hoppy bitterness that is easily identifiable, but not abrasive. To me, this beer tastes like a blend of a sweet stout and a Flanders red ale, at a ratio of 80% stout and 20% Flanders.

It should be noted that we were drinking this stout at room temperature. To round out the experience, we decided to chill the rest of the bottle in order to amplify the tart notes. Oddly enough, it had the exact opposite effect. Chilling the stout actually tamed the tart notes and made them fruitier. Combined with the sweet malts, it created a pleasing new vanilla note. So if you are fortunate enough to get your hands on one of these stouts, definitely chill it first and let it warm to room temperature as you enjoy it. I know, it's not proper stout protocol, but in this case it's worth it.

Overall, Frankenmuth's New Year Stout 2011 is a really cool brew. We greatly enjoyed the experience and can recommend it to most beer drinkers. Novices might find it a bit confusing, but then again this beer really isn't for them. It's a specialty interpretation for fans of bigger beers. I tip my hat to Frankenmuth for this delicious creation and I look forward to trying more of the New Year Stout series. Hell, BrewChief might just make this nectar a regular part of our New Year's Eve celebrations. And in closing, it begs repeating: beers are always better when shared.

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New Year Stout 2011 by Frankenmuth Brewery
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