As we gradually creep toward the colder months of the year, tastes of beer drinkers also begin to shift toward the darker side of beer. While that may not be the entire reason why Goose Island decided to release a trio of brews for their Imperial Series, it certainly corresponds.
The third and final beer to be released from Goose Island is called The Muddy, and even though your car won’t have traction problems, your taste buds may have a problem leaving this definitive, distinct imperial.
The Muddy is an Imperial Stout that has a firm boldness, but at the same time it isn’t so strong that it overwhelms some subtle effects you find. There is a complimentary sweetness that some chocolate stouts display, and it is the same sweetness that provides a nice balance to its dark ferocity.
To learn more about what went into The Muddy, yeahstub.com spoke exclusively with Goose Island’s brewmaster, Brett Porter. Inspiration for this third beer was born out of a desire to want to create a beer that had a strong foundation of malt. Porter talked about concocting the third installment in the Imperial Series.
“I wanted to make a beer that was malt based or relied on malt-like flavors—though not conventional malt flavors. This beer was also an Imperial Stout. We make a very unusual Imperial Stout to age in Bourbon barrels. I wanted to do something different for this beer. I wanted to make it complex, creamy, and layer many flavors together to differentiate it from the base beer for Bourbon County Brand Stout,” Porter said.
The Muddy does have a strong creamy layer that many beer drinkers would typically associate with Guinness Stout. The malt really does come through in the entire body and taste of The Muddy, and it does so in a very enjoyable way.
In the spirit of paying homage to the 1940’s Chicago Blues scene, Goose Island wanted The Muddy to help reflect, well, Muddy Waters. Muddy, or McKinley Morganfield, is a legend in the blues genre. Porter got into the more specific details of The Muddy’s ingredients.
I wanted to brew something inspired by Muddy Waters, a legendary Chicagoan and pioneer in the world of blues music.
“I mixed nugget hops with black licorice to give the beer a big, malt-forward taste that’s reminiscent of Muddy’s spirit of innovation. The beer is also complex, like Muddy. The unique balance of Belgian Candi sugar, milk sugar, and smooth dark malts create a brew that reflects Muddy’s legacy as an artist known for his great influence in the melting pot of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and even country.
“The Blues-inspired label pulls it all together visually to evoke the amplified sweetness with licorice notes found within. The bottle’s label displays a vintage tube amplifier that typically gave Muddy his over driven, dirty sound,” Porter said.
If you’ve tried to learn about what exactly goes into the process of creating a beer, you know there are many, many ingredients that go into a beer. Informed beer drinkers will also know that some ingredients represent a larger share of the beer’s overall taste. In our tasting with the beer, that was clear.
There are a variety of key traits and characteristics you can find in many different beers. For The Muddy, however, Porter had one important trait in mind.
“Smoothness: This comes from using dark malts and dark husk-less wheat that are low in acrid flavor, but provide the beautiful color. The smoothness also comes from using a particular mash profile to give the beer creaminess. For a beer at 9%ABV it is pretty smooth. I wanted a hook like every great song: That’s the brewer’s licorice. You can just taste it, and it kinda leaves you wanting more.
“The beer is also loaded with a couple of interesting sugars: Lactose and dark Belgian Candi sugar. These add to flavor, mouth feel, and alcohol. Hops are a bit of an afterthought in this beer. Nugget hops have a very slight banana flavor that augments the flavor,” Porter said.
For some Imperial Stouts, smoothness isn’t exactly one of the traits you typical would associate with that style of beer. Boldness and a dark color are absolutely inherent traits you will find in The Muddy, but the smoothness is what ties the entire beer together.
As we said earlier, many beer drinkers tend to gravitate towards those darker, thicker beers during the colder months and we wanted to know if that had anything to do with the timing of the Imperial Series and this latest addition. Porter confirmed our theory and elaborated more on The Muddy.
Absolutely, this is a beer for the autumn and colder weather. You can feel the warmth as you drink it.
“It’s not heavy, it’s smooth, but packs a wallop at 9%ABV. It’s a sipper, that doesn’t taste like it is one. Once you have one, you’ll want another. I know I do. For me dark beers don’t have a specific season, but this is definitely not a lawnmower beer. I may drink this as I watch my kids rake the leaves in our back yard. ‘Hey kid, you missed a couple,'” Porter said.
A sipper is a great way to describe how you might want to consume this beer. It’s absolutely a filling beer and takes up quite a bit of stomach space. Lastly, Porter gave some final thoughts on the journey creating the Imperial Series has been for him.
“Wow, they were fun to make. I love their diversity. Each one is distinctly different, and show what Goose can do with big beers. Everyone knows we make great barrel aged sours and bourbon barrel aged beers. I like showing off our other skills. I felt like we’ve been prepping for these beers for years, it’s nice to have them ‘teed up’ for us, so we could knock the crap out them,” Porter said.