Every week the crew at Prohibition Taproom presents a "Mystery Keg". Followers of the bar are given hints about the secret brew via Facebook and Twitter until it is finally tapped. This past Wednesday, the surprise beer was Neshaminy Creek Brewing Comapny's Leon Russian Imperial Smores Stout. I was already headed down to Union Transfer for the Sunn O))) show, so I figured I had to stop in and try it. Great decision!
As stated on the brewery's website, "Leon is a big beer. So big, it has twice as much malt as any other beer we brew, and also requires us to do a double mash just to reach such a high wort gravity. Each 15 barrel brew has 45 pounds of freshly handmade marshmallow fluff made by our in house chef and Production Manager, Steve Capelli, as well as 16 and a half pounds of bittersweet bakers chocolate, and 30 pounds of crumbled graham crackers. The first batch looks to be coming in at 11.6% ABV."
The explosion of this dark chocolate bomb was set off from the first sip. A mouthful of thick, roasted cacao flavor was met with a creamy marshmallow aftertaste - balancing out the bitter and sweet aspects. The graham undertones were more prevalent as the beer warmed up but were mostly overpowered by the bigger flavors. While the chocolate dominated (not in a bad way at all), the scent and flavor of the handmade marshmallow fluff managed to prevail sporadically throughout the glass. At times the taste in my mouth was as if I just ate a fancy artisanal chocolate bar...Delicious!
I was initially weary that the ingredients would combine for an overly saccharine offering but this was not the case at all. The bittersweet chocolate and copious amounts of malt provided a great backbone to support this extremely flavorful and solid brew. It's shocking that this beer clocks in at 11.6% for how smooth it comes across. The high alcohol content was perfectly masked and there was absolutely no burn or harshness.
The Neshaminy Creek website also points out that, "We will be brewing another 15 barrels that will be aged in bourbon barrels as well as hand bottling a small amount that we’ll be bottle conditioning for a brewery only release this fall." I can't wait to try the barrel-aged version of this beer which I can only imagine will be exceptional!
This was my first beer from Neshaminy Creek and it is definitely one of the best local chocolate stouts on the market. I look forward to trying more of their brews and hope to see them around here more often.