Grand Teton Brewing Black Cauldron Stout

May 18 2011 - 7:16 AM

Sometimes you just know you are going to love something simply based upon the name.  I'll never forget it.  I'm at Dewey's Pizza in Cincinnati, Ohio, 8 years ago this past winter.  A buddy of mine buys a pitcher of beer from the small but formidable restaurant bar and brings it to our table. I ask him what the beer is.  He says, "Brooklyn Lager."   Automatically, I knew I was going to like it since (1) I was born in New York and my family lives in NYC, and I have always had a love for the city; and (2) I love beer.  A love affair between me and that beer that e-Harmony could only dream of was destined to be born and I, in fact, loved it, and consider my first sip of it to be a seminal moment in my beer appreciation. 

Fast forward to Sheffield's Bar in Wrigleyville, 2011.  I had already tried and had written about Grand Teton Brewing from Idaho, having penned a piece about the Trout Hop Black IPA that is sensational.  On a trip to Binny's not too long ago, I saw a GT bomber-size bottle on the shelf called the Black Cauldron Imperial Stout.  I mean, come on.  The Black Cauldron.  Any beer with that name cannot – by sheer force of nature – cannot be bad.  It's as much a sure thing as your being agreeable to your buddy's suggestion that he set you up with his sister that works at The Bull and Bear.  I think that's a yes.  To top it off, hopefully, she has bad taste in men, let alone humor, and you have it made.  

Refocusing on the beer, Black Cauldron delivers on the promise of its nomenclature.  I'm not aware that forest dwelling Idaho warlocks concocted this potion in a coal black cast iron stewpot in the woods while saying, "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble," but that would only embellish the allure.  Sheffield's friendly staff poured this black bad boy into a 10 ounce goblet.  Color-wise it lives up to its name: it's car tire black with elegant creamy tan bubbles sitting atop.  I detected a faint smell of molasses and smoke.  It's a surprisingly thin stout with modest carbonation and no taste of alcohol detectable.  The Black Cauldron idles on your palate for some time, revealing smokiness, cocoa, a bit of black licorice, and some pumpernickel.  Its mouthfeel may be its best asset as it never comes across too heavy. Your biggest worry is that you're endangering yourself with a huge ABV beer, although at 8% it's practically a lightweight by today's imperial stout standards. Still, you should toss the keys to your buddy before doubling up on Black Cauldrons.  I mean your house keys – two of these may lead you to misplace them. 

This beer delivers the goods and was a treat to have on tap.  Grand Teton beers drink wonderfully out of bottles, as the product that gets delivered to Chicago is consistently fresh, so if you see this one at  a craft brew liquor store, go forth and conquer.  Perhaps you can try to perfect your Gollum from Lord of the Rings voice between sips.  I'm certain your buddy's sister will find it endearing.  

–Mark Sheppard