Sam Adams Limited Release Series has definitely been one of the beer highlights of 2012 for me. It’s great seeing such a large brewery willing to take a step off the beaten path and experiment with styles like gose, sahti, and rauchbiers.
Part of the collection is their Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout, a 9% ABV milk stout, pouring black with a creamy 2-finger mocha head, with thick, sticky lacing. I wish I could find my picture of this beer because its appearance makes you want to take it home and curl up with it next to a fire. I don’t have a fireplace so the yule log channel will have to do.
The aroma is more subdued than what you would expect though; toffee, toasted malts, and very light gingerbread.
I guess I wanted a creamy, spicy stout bomb. What I got was, well, it was comparable to taking a pumpkin beer, an English ale, and a milk stout and shaking them around in a beer snowglobe. This beer actually helped inspire me, homebrew-wise. I was going to brew just one gingerbread beer this season, a recipe for an English-style ale with candied ginger and cinnamon sticks from a Brooklyn Brew Shop recipe. Now I’m making two. The second being a milk stout with fresh ginger and vanilla beans.
Merry Mischief is very heavily spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; almost like a pumpkin pie spicing. Roasted malts, a mild and earthy hop bitterness, caramel, and a hint of lactose round out the flavor. It’s well-carbonated, the body medium-light, but lacking some of that smooth and full-bodied creaminess that I look for in a milk stout.