If you’ve read any of my previous beer reviews, you know that I’m a huge fan of Columbus craft beer. If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, then let me be the first to tell you that I’m a huge fan of Columbus craft beer. On their own, each Central Ohio craft brewery is a shiny, liquid beacon of majestic wonder that is steadily building our street cred as a location of craft beer awesomeness. And I love writing about those beacons, because it helps further the Craft Crusade to the unknowing masses of beerdom. With that in mind, today’s article is not about a Central Ohio craft brewery.
It’s about two!
Rockmill and Seventh Son to be specific, and their oh so tasty lovechild Urban Cowboy – a Belgian style stout featuring 99.9% less John Travolta, and 200% more deliciousness. I’ll be reviewing a bottle from the Rockmill batch, presented with a wonderful cork and cage, for which I have well-documented my love. Another batch that was brewed at Seventh Son will be released tonight (March 5) at a launch party. The basic recipe for the two batches was the same, with minor variations to reflect the host brewery’s house character. Rockmill made the beer with a base pilsner malt, their water, their yeast and Belgian rock candi sugar. Seventh Son brewed the beer with their base pale ale malt, city water, a blend of Rockmill yeast and their own house yeast, and an American-made Belgian candi syrup.
Like any good brew, the aroma plays a major role in the beer’s overall feng shui (beer shui, if you will). Urban Cowboy’s shui is most definitely fenged here, offering up a swirling cloud of alternating strengths. First, we’re greeted with a stouty base of roasted malts, with just a hint of smoke and a trace of sweetness at the far reaches. After a second or two, the darkness of the aroma pulls back and morphs into a potent bloom of Belgian fruit and spices. That specific yeasty quality of a Belgian style pushes its way to the top – quite similar to a dubbel, with its “spice-drop candy” character and notes of fruit. Speaking of fruit, the duality of this brew continues as layers of dark fruit – specifically figs and raisins – converge with brighter Belgian offerings – fresh apples and bananas. The fruits intertwine and mingle, with each specific layer showcasing their appropriate styles. Eventually, the bright vibes of the Belgian notes overtake and settle on top of the stoutish essences, but darkness is not so easily vanquished. Through the fruits and spice rise traces of chocolate and coffee – brief and fleeting amongst the roasted malt base, but managing to emerge from the increasingly potent Belgian cloud here and there. The last moments of the aroma are devoted to a subtle earthiness, bringing a woodsy vibe with the briefest hints of aged oak. Look at all of that complexity, and we haven’t even hit the flavor yet!
The first notes on the tongue are big, boozy notes of partially masked alcohol. It coats the mouth with a tingling warmth before giving way to layers of flavor. Initially, apple peels and fresh banana fill the mouth, soaring above the alcohol tide upon wings of rich and bready Belgian malts. These malts begin to darken on the tongue, taking on a tone of roasty char amongst the Belgian brightness. Alongside the roastiness, hints of dark fruit appear – subdued somewhat from the aroma, but strong enough to reach out from within the depths of darkness to deliver a layer of figgy sweetness. This sweetness is joined by a hint of brown sugar that flows throughout each taste, acting as a bridge between the spiced fruits of the Belgian, and the heavy richness of the stout. The end of each taste arrives with hints of earth, adding a touch of darkness before the aftertaste kicks in as a mouthful of fresh bananas and bread malts. When you drink this, don’t be deceived by the beer’s jet black appearance – the flavors pop across your tongue with brightness instead of clinging with a typical stout heaviness. It’s similar to a Belgian dubbel. Actually, it’s like dubbel’s older, cooler brother – the one that rides a motorcycle.
Collaboration time is always a wonderful experience in the world of craft beer. Double the brew-power means double the magic, and Urban Cowboy is absolutely full of delicious voodoo. Dark and sultry stout roastiness dances the lambada with the fruity spices of a Belgian style ale to create a layered complexity of flavor. A hint of smoke, a touch of chocolate, and a drizzle of brown sugar converge in a confluence of craft beer deliciousness to place a distinct feather in this brew’s cap – a feather plucked from the bird of Triumph. For this beer is truly triumphant – a melding of minds and styles to create lip-smacking tastiness. Today, awesome has a new name: Urban Cowboy. Leave your mechanical bull pants at home, the only thing you’ll need are a pair of your most comfortable drinking chaps.
Read about more beer from Columbus.