The Hop Garden unveiled a new beer this past weekend in its Paoli taproom. This one is malt-forward and is an homage to local homebrewers.
What is it? Resilient from the The Hop Garden taproom in Paoli.
Style: The oatmeal stout has a modest malty flavor with hints of caramel and chocolate. This type of stout is medium-bodied with some softness from an addition of oats to the grist. The style will commonly range in strength from 4 to 6 percent ABV.
Background: Resilient was the overall winner in last summer’s Hometown Brewdown in Verona. Homebrewer Larry Leinberger of Milwaukee was the creator, and with these top honors he gained the opportunity to work with Hop Garden owner Rich Joseph and House of Brews brewmaster Page Buchanan on a commercial version of his beer. Joseph was keen to showcase some local homebrewers: “I’m always looking for inspiration from others when we develop recipes.”
Leinberger was among a group of about 30 entrants in the Brewdown. The original recipe was slightly tweaked when it was scaled up to a 10-barrel batch by Joseph and Buchanan, but it remains substantially the same as the brew that won the competition. Leinberger also designed the beer’s label and picked the name “Resilient” as a reflection of the resiliency of homebrewers who stick to it, in trying different ingredients and changing techniques until they achieve a good beer.
This is the first time that the Hop Garden has made a stout. The beer is a showcase of malt with seven different varieties and a touch of oats (just enough to qualify it as an oatmeal stout). There’s a small amount of Wisconsin-grown Fuggle hops; however, they’re so sparingly involved they hardly offer any balance next to all the chocolate, caramel and toffee tones. It’s fermented with a London ESB (Extra Special Bitter) yeast, and it finishes at 7.2 percent ABV. Resilient is available in 22-ounce bombers for $8-$9 and should be found on most local store shelves by Jan. 14.
Aroma: Light roasted chocolate maltiness.
Appearance: Black color with a modest bubbly brown head.
Texture: Medium-bodied with subtle softness.
Taste: The sweetness of the chocolate, caramel and biscuit malt are up front. There’s a slight fruity sourness in the background that is a bit distracting.
Finish/Aftertaste: Solid maltiness, light hints of roasted toffee and light to mild alcohol warmth.
Glassware: Given the English origins of the oatmeal stout, I prefer the traditional English pint glass.
Pairs well with: Slow-roasted beef cuts, lamb and some wild game, battered deep-fried fish and beef stews — especially those with sweeter touches like sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Next door to the Hop Garden’s taproom is the Paoli Bread and Brat Haus; its pulled pork sandwich is very enjoyable with this beer, and the restaurant will deliver your order to the taproom.
The Verdict: This is an oatmeal stout with lots of chocolate and toffee sweetness. It’s a very flavorful dark beer that’s perfect drinking in cold weather. At 7.2 percent ABV, there’s subtle warmth and spiciness in the finish. While I like this beer for all of its malt, it can be a bit cloying. And it is almost as robust as an imperial stout. Regardless, Resilient is a pleasant and very drinkable oatmeal stout. It makes a nice malty addition to the Hop Garden’s otherwise hop-focused lineup.