Monday, January 27, 2014

Pretty Things - Babayaga Stout Review

Pretty Things Babayaga Stout

Brewery: Pretty Things (MA)
Style: Export Stout
ABV: 7%
Grade: A-

Pretty Things sure knows how to get my attention: awesome label design, references to Russian folklore, and stouts with weird rustic twists. Babayaga is a "woodland stout" brewed with rosemary-smoked malt, as well as "a few other embellishments." And based on that description, it's a beer that sets you up for defied expectations. While this may be a great beer for drinking by a campfire, it's not a beer that tastes like a campfire. Or even rosemary (though it was an inspiration for the rosemary porter I brewed last year.) Far less weird than it sounds, it is nuanced, complex stout that hints at something dark and complex under the surface.

As an exotic specialty-ingredients beer, Babayaga is among the subtlest I've had. As just a stout (not even an imperial stout, my god!), it's complex and intriguing. The nose opens up with plum and dark fruit along with roasted malt, giving it, for a moment, the impression of a very dark quad. And while it doesn't jump out at you, there's the first suggestion of something strange, some spice that's hard to place. Nothing immediately shouts "smoke!" or "rosemary!" The taste is on the sweet side as well, and fairly mellow with the roast, closer to a rich Baltic porter than most American stouts. Indeed, the strongest specific flavor I can pick out is a burst of spicy dark cocoa. A faint tickle in mid-palate is the extent of the smoke, as far as I can tell, riding along atop the funky fruit and coffee malt character, earth and licorice, finishing clean and fairly dry. 

Pretty Thing's description also indicates that they use a mix of English and Belgian yeast for this, which, I believe, comes through much more than the rosemary smoked malt. There's that spicy, fruity funk of Belgian yeast — still quite mild, but noticeable.

Babayaga makes an argument that you shouldn't do too much research before drinking a beer. While all the juicy details about this beer's background, available online, led me to imagine something more exotic, the label merely calls this a "Slyvan Stout," with no further description offered. Approach it as such: a complex, nuanced stout, great for cold weather nights with a plume of smoke nearby.

Availability: Rotating release; winter. 22 ounce bottle.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting beer to try. Thanks for your review.
    The description on their site is pretty amusing too.


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