By Iron Chef Leftovers
It may seem a bit strange, but Trader Joe’s actually has a decent beer selection with a combination of some of the larger local breweries like Fremont and Ninkasi (sometimes at slightly cheaper prices than anywhere else) and bigger nationally available craft beers. In looking at the shelves, I saw Boatswain Chocolate Stout at $1.99 for a 22 oz. bottle. I figured, for that price, it was worth giving it a shot, but I didn’t have high expectations for the beer. Boatswain is brewed by Rhinelander Brewing, a company that mostly contract brews for craft breweries. The description of the beer from the TJ’s website:
Cocoa beans were the Aztec’s gold standard – they were used as currency and were the key ingredient in the king’s coveted chocolate drink. No longer used as coins, they are still used to create venerated brews. Case in point: Boatswain Chocolate Stout. As it states right on the front of the label, this bold bomber is “brewed with cocoa powder.” It presents aromas and flavors of dark chocolate and coffee with assertive, tangy hops and caramel maltiness. While it sounds like you might need a fork to enjoy this, it’s actually super drinkable. And it’s a respectable 5.4% alcohol by volume. Brewed for us in limited quantities to assure the quality, this beer delivers craft, without the crazy price – each 22 ounce bottle is just $1.99*.
The beer pours jet black with a light tan head and notes of hops and light roasted malt dominate the nose with mild notes of chocolate and coffee supporting. There are strong notes of malt on the front of the palate before fading quickly into a very mild chocolate flavor, which also makes a very brief appearance, before finishing in a slightly bitter, coffee-like finish that decides to stick around for a while. The bitterness is interesting (it felt like it may have been from hops), and leaves a slight resin burn on the back of the throat, which does throw the beer slightly out of balance. Not a bad beer, but could use a slightly more pronounced chocolate component to balance out the stronger coffee notes.
This isn’t the best chocolate beer that you are ever going to drink, but it isn’t terrible and, considering the price, it might be a good beer to try to introduce someone to the world of darker beers.
Boatswain Chocolate Stout rows into the picture with a creaky 3 skiffs out of 5.