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Seasonal and special releases from Bell's, Founders, Dark Horse now on shelves in Michiana

There are many beers that beer geeks and casual beer enthusiasts alike look forward to throughout the year. Two of those just landed at several Chalet Party Shoppe locations: Founders Breakfast Stout (coffee stout, 8.3% ABV, IBUs 60) and Dark Horse Brewing Scotty Karate (Scottish ale, 9.75% ABV).  

Breakfast stout is brewed with lots of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, plus Sumatra and Kona coffee.

My opinion is that this coffee stout is best fresh. I have aged different vintages of it, and I believe that the coffee flavor starts to fade off after about six months. And being a coffee stout, the whole reason for enjoying it is the enhanced coffee flavor.  

There should be plenty of this in the area to go around. The Chicago Avenue and Caragana Court locations each got seven cases, and the C.R. 17 and Cassopolis stores each got five cases.

Friday evening I had a Founders Breakfast stout with some take-out Chana Masala and Paneer Masala from Maple Indian Cuisine. I know this isn’t a food blog, but boy does Maple Indian Cuisine cook some great Indian food. My suggestion is to pick up some take-out, and grab your favorite beer on the way home.

Dark Horse Scotty Karate is a big, bold Scottish Ale named after a local (to Marshall, Mich., where Dark Horse is located) one-man-band who goes by Scotty Karate.

This beer took a silver medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, which just took place October 2-4 in Denver. Here is Scotty’s description of the beer named after him:

Aroma: Smells like A fresh caramel apple with a hint of cinnamon inside of cranberry shortbread. Or maybe fresh home made hard candy (from home economics class-7th grade).

Flavor: Tastes like a smokey chocolate chip cookie, wild roadside cherry-asparagus, woody, crispy leaf on a fall day. -SK

And with this chilly weather, it is definitely stout time. Small amounts of Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout (6% ABV) and Third Coast Old Ale (10.2% ABV) have already come and gone and now we are waiting for more to arrive.

Some of you have heard me repeat this many times, but if you can squirrel away some Third Coast Old Ale, you would be doing yourself a great favor. I have several vintages in my cellar dating all the way back to 1992, and those early bottles are soooo tasty.

Stone Enjoy By 10.31.14 (double IPA, 9.4% ABV) arrived today at the Chicago Ave, Caragana Ct. (1 case each), Cassopolis St.  and C.R. 17 (2 cases each) locations today.

Stone puts the marketing right in the name. This beer is to be enjoying fresh and not to be aged. It has been a while since I’ve had Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, (6.9% ABV, IBUs 77), but according to the Chalet Party Shoppe craft beer consultant, it is “the perfect combination of Belgian yeast character and IPA hoppiness.”

There is also plenty of Unaplogetic IPA (8.8% ABV), and Xocoveza Mocha Stout (milk stout, 8.1% ABV) around too.

A friend of mine had a landmark birthday last week, so I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate by splitting a bottle of 18th Anniversary IPA (8.5% ABV, IBUs s75). The brewery describes this beer as “a golden-brown India pale ale dry-hopped exclusively and abundantly with El Dorado hops.”  

It definitely was darker in color than a regular IPA, but not as dark and robust as a black IPA. It was nicely balanced between malt and hops, with some fruity hops on the nose and just the right amount of pine and citrus that I would expect from Stone.

Not all breweries put bottle dates on their beer, so sometimes it’s hard to know what IPAs are really fresh. So here’s another tip: there is plenty of fresh Fat Head’s Headhunter (IPA, 7.5% ABV) around too.

It’s a great time to be a hop head!

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