Redux Review 0019: Sierra Nevada Oatmeal Stout (Beer Camp #45)

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One of the better (if not the best) beers to come out of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Series was released in the 2012 mixed pack, and was an Oatmeal Stout. Originally named “Snowed In Stout,” it was brewed by camp attendees to celebrate Chico, California’s lone snow day in 2011. The beer hit 9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 51 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and was brewed with a generous amount of rolled oats.

I initially rated the beer 93 points back in October of 2012:

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Appearance: 13 of 15 points
Aroma: 14 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 33 of 35 points
Drinkability and Overall Experience: 33 of 35 points

Final Score: 93 points, or outstanding on my rating scale.

As mentioned in my review, I said I was going to try and save a couple bottles of this Oatmeal Stout for a return look… I have, and here it is.

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The pour rustled up an average size, creamy tan head that lingered around atop a dark chocolate brown beer. It had lighter brown edges — not a true pitch black stout; the body appeared clear and free of particles and sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind patchy thin sheets of suds.

The nose has definitely stood some age, and shines as brightly as before, and has developed in complexity. We’ve got a rich blend of roast, caramel, and sweetened coffee, along with dark and milk chocolate, and a nice soft vanilla. Backing all of this up is a growing presence of dark fruit; it’s grape-like and has notes of raisin and prune. It builds as the beer warms; the chocolate aspect of this brew is mocha and quite sweet, especially when combined with the vanilla. Good stuff.

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On the taste, the dark fruits mix with caramel up front, and the initial flavors reminded me of English Barleywine. This quickly fades as a rush of sweet dark chocolate moves in, along with some light coffee. There’s just a touch of grapefruit hop bitterness before the finish, which sees the dark fruit toned down for more of a roasted, toasted bread, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, and char. The 9% alcohol is completely hidden in taste and feel. The finish is a ‘stiff’ bittersweet, meaning you can expect to be enjoying the lingering notes of this one for quite a while. The brew is full-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

I wouldn’t call this beer worse than when I first had it, just different. It’s still an excellent brew that has retained a lot of good qualities (roasted and chocolate character, along with more depth to the dark fruits) but some of the mouthfeel (for an Oatmeal Stout) has been lost and what I’m currently sipping on doesn’t seem to quite feel like I wrote it a couple years ago. Maybe my palate has changed some? Age has been a bit indifferent here, it seems. But if I were first tasting this today, I don’t think I would be as crazy about it as I once was.

Sierra Nevada Oatmeal Stout (Beer Camp #45), 90 points. Price: $18.99 US for the Beer Camp twelve pack, where you get three bottles of four different beers.

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