So, anyone who has ever traveled up or down the east coast has made it through Virginia at least once or twice in their lifetimes and most people have seen the God-awful State slogan “Virginia is for lovers.” While Virginians may not have a knack for State slogans, I can attest that they make one of the best coffee milk stouts I have ever tasted. AleWerks Brewing Company, in Williamsburg, Virginia, makes this rich, smooth, chocolatey wonder called the Cafe Royale (ABV 8.0%).
I discovered the Cafe Royale while on a recent Christmas-time vacation to Colonial Williamsburg. You know the kind of trip I am talking about, right? The kind of trip that sounded good on paper but, after 15+ hours in a minivan with your in-laws, soon requires multiple strong drinks. One highlight of this particular trip was a “Wine versus Beer” tasting event, which served multiple small food samples and asked if the food tasted better paired with the selected wine or the selected beer. The Cafe Royale was served with the dessert course and it was the overwhelming crowd favorite.
From the Brewer
“We age a stronger version of our CoffeeHouse Stout in Virginia Gentlemen Bourbon Barrels for 3 months. This aging adds layers of complexity including notes of vanilla and Bourbon to this big coffee beer. 8% ABV”
Barrel-aged Imperial Coffee Milk Stout
This beer was served only slightly cold and had very sturdy, creamy foam. As shown in the picture from the AleWerks website, the color if very deep, dark brown and, although described as a coffee milk stout, was much more chocolatey and slightly sweeter than I expected. The aftertaste really brings the chocolatey, coffee-ness of the beer right into the back of your nose.
My best recommendation for food to have with this beer would definitely be dessert. I think it would pair well with chocolate anything, but would also pair nicely with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, or custard-based desserts (a good tiramisu or creme brulee, comes to mind).
As I am writing this post in mid-April, and had this beer in late-December, I can easily say this beer leaves a lasting impression. The flavor of this beer leaves a lingering taste in your mouth for long after the glass is empty, but leaves an even greater craving to have another one tomorrow.
The most unfortunate part of this tale is that the beer is only available in and around Williamsburg, Virginia; so, I will have to wait until the next time. Civil War road trip, anyone?!
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