Because it had been a while since my last straightforward beer review, I wanted to pick something really good and different from the beers I’ve reviewed already. Scrolling through my posts, I was surprised that I never reviewed a stout for Tapped. So when I saw two bombers of Yards Brewing Company’s Chocolate Love Stout on the shelf at Passion Vines, I knew I had to pick one up.
Yards makes a number of solid beers, including one of my favorite session beers, Brawler. They also did a really cool series of beers based on recipes from the founding fathers, Ales of the Revolution. In any case, I know they’re across the river in Philly but they really make consistently good beers, so one of them was bound to be featured here.
Chocolate Love Stout pours a really dark color with a big lumpy tan-colored head that eventually settled down to a half-inch layer that left a lot of lacing around the glass. And when I say it pours dark, I mean like really really dark, like black-hole-absorbing-all-light dark. I held it up to the light and there was the tiniest hint of a reddish-brown on the edge, but that was about it for color.
The nose on this was wonderful, really subtle and smooth. There were aromas of cocoa, toasty sort of toffee scents, and vanilla, but not like the overwhelming vanilla extract scent of Creme Brulee, just enough to balance the earthier scents with some sweetness. Lots of nice, warm smells in this one.
The Love Stout has a medium body and low carbonation, which suit the style, but from the looks of it I was expecting it to be much thicker. It’s actually surprisingly drinkable, and I had no problem finishing my 750 after taking tasting notes.
Upon tasting, I got a lot of toasty and bread-y malt flavors with some subtle cocoa underneath. The malts start to fade out and as the chocolate comes through the vanilla shows up as well. It really mellows out through the end of a sip, and left a gentle dark chocolate aftertaste that was really delicious. There was a bit of hoppiness on the back end, but not enough to overpower the other tastes.
Overall, the Chocolate Love Stout from Yards lived up to the hype. People have suggested it for a long time but I never got around to trying it until now. I’m not always the biggest fan of stouts, but this one was actually pretty approachable. Some might say it lacks the complexity of other stouts, but I’m not really looking for complex flavors with this. It says on the bottle that it’s “irresistibly smooth” and it really is.
As a little bonus, I took some notes on Kane Brewing’s Simplicity when I was at Passion Vines. It was one of two Belgian Strong Ales they had on tap, the other being Unibroue Terrible. The Simplicity was lighter-bodied and easier-drinking than the Terrible, and had a little less bite-y spice notes to it, which all work in its favor. Simplicity lives up to its name in the best way possible- a good beer that doesn’t overdo any one aspect. Nice and balanced, and much lighter in color and body than I expected. It had a little sweetness that really balanced it out.