You know you’re about to take on something unusual when even the craft beer connoisseurs at the Great American Beer Festival don’t quite seem to know how to classify a beer. Such is the case with Odd Side Ales’ 2019 winner in the “Specialty Beers” category, Rye Hipster Brunch Stout. Evidently hipsters in Grand Haven, Michigan are obsessed with all the most indulgent aspects of breakfast, as this is a rye whiskey barrel-aged stout brewed with coffee, maple syrup, and bacon. While that may sound like the product of an adult with poor impulse control, in practice you won’t come across a more delectable beer (though it may be better suited for dessert, not breakfast).
Rye Hipster Brunch Stout resembles dark chocolate—which is ironic, given that’s one of the few flavors not explicitly crammed in here. A big ol’ inch of mocha foam sits on top, so although Rye Hipster Brunch Stout has that whole-meal-in-a-glass look, this stout undoubtedly has visual appeal.
Before getting my nose all up in the pint glass, I thought I detected some plummy notes at first. Certainly not bad, just unexpected (though maybe it was the whiskey “heat” interacting with the maple in retrospect). But in the end this beer’s coffee and dark chocolate notes are definitely what come to the forefront, more accurately preparing you for what’s to come.
It’s almost like Odd Side has crafted a beer that mimics sipping a really indulgent hot chocolate.”
Rye Hipster Brunch Stout is a classic winter warmer. These are big flavors that encourage you to relax, much like the mustachioed bacon strip hottubbing it in a coffee cup on the label. There’s some minor carbonation, but it’s almost like Odd Side has crafted a beer that mimics sipping a really indulgent hot chocolate. The foam head meshes in with the beer like whipped cream to cocoa, producing a lush and silky stout. It’s an enveloping sensation you will opt for again and again, an umami-meets-creamy burst of flavor—chocolate and bacon are most notable, but the maple and coffee are present, too. That said, my favorite part was the aftertaste: This beer has a bit of that lip-smacking, smoky element of bacon, most prominently at the end.
Rye Hipster Brunch Stout gives would-be drinkers plenty of reasons to hesitate. You might think twice when a four-pack hits $25, and the beer’s description may suffer from “too many cooks” syndrome. And with an ABV above 10%, this inherently feels like a beer for only certain occasions (appealing to only a certain kind of drinker). But Odd Side Ales’ ability to defy all those expectations is part of what makes this beer remarkable.