Beer Review 0569: Railhouse Mastiff Oatmeal Stout
New brewery on the site today; we’ve never looked at any beers from Railhouse Brewery, which is located in Aberdeen, North Carolina. The brewery opened on December 1, 2010 and was started by military veterans Brian Evitts (US Navy) and Mike Ratkowski (US Army). Brian was the homebrewer of the two, while Mike loved good beer and beer culture. The men were managers for the same company (after discharge from the military), and they struck up a friendship.
The brewery has a pub attached, which is open seven days a week. The beer we’re sipping on today, Mastiff Oatmeal Stout, was awarded first place in the 2013 North Carolina Brewer’s Cup. This oatmeal stout is a variation of the sweet (or milk) stout, with oatmeal added to increase body and flavor. The beer is also double hopped with US Goldings. ABV (alcohol by volume) is 6.5% while the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) check in at 32.
My eyebrow raised on the pour when this beer generated only a sparse layer of soapy head, which very quickly faded right back into the beer. Typically, oatmeal stout will pour a fairly thick head. Color on this one appeared dark brown out of light; in light, it was actually revealed to be ruby red, with a very clear body and no particles or sediment. Lacing? Not really, perhaps a tiny sud or two if you try to rouse up some head.
The nose is certainly malty, but is very tame, featuring creamy notes of milk chocolate, sweetened coffee, caramel, and general roast. It all mixes well together; while advertised as “double hopped,” there is no hop aroma to be found here. As it warms, the coffee takes a larger role. It’s nice if basic, and does smell quite smooth.
Unfortunately, the taste doesn’t deliver the big bang we’re looking for. The first thing I noticed was an exceptionally thin, cola-like mouthfeel that just didn’t contain the creaminess an oatmeal stout should — the flavors are general roast, sweetened coffee, and dry, Tootsie Roll-like milk chocolate. This beer is sweet but it could never be cloying because it lacks body. The finish is a little dry with cocoa powder, caramel, and coffee hit with a shot of creamer. For a stout, this is light-bodied, with an exceptionally thin mouthfeel, pretty much absent of any carbonation. There’s no alcohol taste or feel.
Easy come, easy go. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe this beer. Generally, when you see “official” accolades used to promote a beer, it rarely lives up to expectation. Either the crop of beers for the 2013 North Carolina Brewer’s Cup were nothing to brag about, or the judges were insane. Drinkable, yes, memorable, no. Returnable? Only if you like watery oatmeal stout without a backbone of solid flavor.
Railhouse Mastiff Oatmeal Stout, 70 points. Price: $1.79 US for one 12 oz. bottle.