Firestone Walker makes plenty of beers for cold weather sipping, but their latest seasonal release seems tailor-made specifically for the holidays. Let’s be honest. Cinnamon Dolce Nitro Stout sounds more like a Starbuck’s beverage than a beer, but apparently the discovery of a local vanilla bean supplier inspired them to go in that direction for this year’s seasonal stout. Per Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson:
I discovered that there’s a local family that has been in the vanilla business since 1918 under the banner of Cook Flavoring Company. They operate out of an unassuming building, but they are renowned far and wide for their vanilla beans and other flavorings and extracts. Vanilla is a flavor amplifier, and the key is to use it in balance to enhance everything else that is going on in the beer. Adding a bit of cinnamon makes for a really nice wintertime combination that provides a balancing point with the chocolaty character of the stout.
The base milk stout, made with Simpsons Special Dark caramel malt and roasted barley from Briess Malt Company in Wisconsin, is conditioned on whole Madagascar vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks and then nitrogenated. Let’s pop the top and see how much holiday cheer is packed into this one, shall we?
It pours a rich, dark chocolate hue with a pillowy, cocoa head. The aroma is dominated by freshly grated cinnamon, woody and spicy but still sweet. A hint of dark vanilla bean builds as it warms in the glass. The palate is light with a gently creamy mouthfeel. Soft notes of dark chocolate, milky coffee, and snickerdoodle are fresh and crisp. The finish showcases caramel malt, vanilla extract, and a hint of cinnamon. While the flavors are impressive and most definitely seasonal, I’d like them to be a bit bigger. The carbonation fades too quickly, as well (a casualty of the nitrogenation, perhaps). Still, it’s a perfectly enjoyable, easy drinking winter stout. And I bet it goes great with pie.
B+ / $12 per six-pack / firestonebeer.com