Narrow Gauge makes great beer. Great enough to be voted in the top 34 new breweries of 2016 by Beer Advocate. Great enough to be voted Best New Brewer in Missouri for 2016 by Rate Beer. Even great enough to be included in the USA Today's 10Best Reader's Choice vote for Favorite New Brewery (VOTE DAILY UNTIL MARCH 13!). All of this acclaim comes courtesy of the deliciously hoppy Northeast Pale Ales and IPAs they produce. So it's somewhat surprising that the beer that's been their most requested since they've been open isn't a Pale Ale or IPA at all. In fact, this beer has never even flowed through their taps: Zavtrak.
Here's what Narrow Gauge's Head Brewer Jeff Hardesty had to say about this beer:
The beer itself started as a Mexican Chocolate stout back in 2011. Cigar City's Hunahpu was a big influence because the first time I drank it I said "Holy shit, I need to make a beer like this." After 4 or 5 batches of tweaking it, trying to getting the flavors blend together rather than have something single noted, I changed up the recipe. The 2nd to last time I brewed it at home, I split it in half and added maple syrup and coffee to one half and decided I wouldn't use the habaneros in it. Brewing it, I didn't think the maple/coffee version would please me more than the Hunahpu clone. When I had them side by side after they were done fermenting, there was so much more flavor in the maple version.
The final time I made the beer it was all the coffee/maple version without peppers and that was what was served at the STL Hops Anniversary Party that people still remember it from. We were the first taps in the door at that party but then by the end of the night, people were circling back for it which let us know it was a hit. I'm excited to make it one of the first big releases of the year.
Below you'll find our thoughts on this beer but if you'd rather take your word for it, Zavtrak is being released at the brewery on Saturday, 2/18 at 11 am in crowlers.
|Brewery||Narrow Gauge Brewing Company|
|Style||Russian Imperial Stout|
|Distribution Info||Brewery release at 11am on 2/18. Crowlers to go. No growler fills. Allotment based on turnout.|
|The sweetness on the nose captures the chocolate and the brown sugary vibes of the maple syrup nicely. The dark malts and coffee blend to form some subtle roasted notes that stand up to the sweetness nicely. While the aroma leans toward sweetness, its balance is noteworthy.|
|The beer is jet black with a thick, tight bubbled, dark tan head. The viscosity is crazy and the film the beer leaves on the glass when swirled is damn near opaque as well.|
|It's hard to say if the maple or the coffee hits your tongue first but for argument's sake, we'll say the maple. It's easily perceptible and the sweetness is at no point overwhelming. The coffee brings some sweet characteristics along with its roastiness which let it easily mix with the other components of the beer. The chocolate and cinnamon are the next wave of flavors to hit during your drinking experience and I really enjoy that the cinnamon isn't in your face. You can find it but it's possibly 10% of the flavor on this one. At 90 IBUs the bitterness from the hops (and the coffee) are there but the hop flavor is taking a back seat to all of the other ingredients here. The aftertaste is all chocolate and vanilla which come cross as kind of a lightly toasted marshmallow. Again, while I'm saying sweet things, I can't stress enough that this beer is never cloying and the balance of all of the ingredients is insane.|
|The carbonation is medium or just below and the body is full. This is what people should expect for this style of beer. It's thick and coats your tongue but doesn't leave a film behind.|
|The "Hawps Brewery" of St. Louis is ready for its new reputation as simply the "Awesome Brewery" of St. Louis. Narrow Gauge finally has enough breathing room to venture out from the hoppy styles that it has built its reputation on. Proving that they're not one-dimensional is going to let them go a long, long way in this city and although they've had success with Copra Commander, this will be the one that really opens people's eyes. It's suprisingly drinkable at its ABV and has enough balance to not tire out your palate. If you're available Saturday morning, go. If you're not, pray to the stout gods that it lasts long enough for you to get your taste while they still have it on draft after Saturday.|