Monday, June 27, 2011

Boulevard Imperial Stout 2011 vs New Holland Dragons Milk throwdown

I was super excited about tasting the Boulevard Imperial Stout. It was Batch 2 and supposedly infected with the added complexity of brett. I got Super Dave and Greg together and we ventured forth into the bacterial infested sweet nectar of the gods. Woo Hoo!

Boulevard Imperial Stout 2011 Batch 2

11% ABV

63 IBUs

The imperial Stout poured jet-black with a huge tan head. There was a slight smell of sour in the nose with some malt and alcohol. The imperial stout had a good thick mouthfeel and gave the sensation of needing to chew before you swallow. The taste started with a twinge of oak and then...what the hell happened? The mouthfeel was stellar, the oak brings you in, and then nothing. The finish was very plain with no real roast, chocolate, brett, or anything else. We let the brew warm up further in hopes of coaxing out some malt character but to no avail. All three of us agreed we did not care for the imperial stout. So instead of being disappointed and writing a dejected review, why not make this a throwdown?

New Holland Dragon’s Milk

10% ABV

Undisclosed IBUs

Dragon’s Milk is labeled as “ale aged in oak barrels” and Beer Advocate lists it as an American Stout. With 10% ABV, BJCP classifies this as an Imperial Stout based on the ABV alone. Ratebeer and several other reviewers tag this as an American Strong Ale. The labeling of this brew seems a bit vague as “ale aged in oak barrels”. Seems to me this would hurt the sale of this brew as anyone who hasn’t heard of it before may be inclined to think it is not a form of oaked stout. And I for one would be less inclined to buy an oaked “ale” as opposed to an oak aged imperial stout. Even if this brew is considered something else due to the contents of the grain bill, it would be beneficial for the label to be more specific. I’m not sure of the logic behind New Holland’s labeling system, but if you’re reading this you are now an insider (and as lost as I am). But what’s in a name, a rose smells as sweet with any other name and some other stuff. Yep Shakespeare bitches!

The Dragon’s Milk pours an opaque black with very little head. The nose emits vanilla, whisky, and oak mixed in with sweet malt. The mouthfeel is considerably lighter than the Boulevard Imperial Stout, which I would consider a plus for the Boulevard. Oak introduces your taste buds to the party, taking you around to meet all of your new friends, whiskey, chocolate, and vanilla. The tastes hit your palate in about that order oak, whiskey, chocolate, and finishes big with vanilla and oak. This is a very complex and enjoyable brew. Again, I am confused because the bottle states “aged in oak barrels” and mentions nothing about whiskey. Typically it is a more desirable trait (at least to me) to be bourbon barrel aged as opposed to simply oak aged. So why would New Holland leave it out of the labeling? Is my brain willing me to taste bourbon that isn’t really there simply because it is so delicious? Very Possible.


I’ve never been as confused after a tasting as I am now with Dragon’s Milk. What are you!?!?!? I’m not even sure these two beers are the same style, but it happened. The throwdown is complete. Whatever this mutant concoction of malt, hops, yeast, water, and oak is, one thing is for sure. It is delicious. All three of us agree the winner is New Holland Dragon’s Milk.


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