Do you ever see a beer on the shelf and wonder how the hell it got there? That’s what I found myself thinking when I noticed a few offerings from East Hampton, Connecticut’s Fat Orange Cat Brew Co. at my very Midwestern beer store. The answer in the case of this small, Northeastern brewer is a unique relationship with a brewing collective, the Twelve Percent Beer Project. Twelve Percent allows Fat Orange Cat to create smaller test batches at its home brewery that are then scaled up off-site for distribution.
The partnership put several Fat Orange Cat brews on my local shelves, including a couple solid New England-style IPAs and the brewer’s white stout, All Cats Are Gray in the Dark. Packing all the roasty and deep flavors of a stout into a light-colored beer is tough, and these beers typically suffer from the gimmicky premise. Unfortunately, All Cats Are Gray in the Dark adds another white stout to the list of beers that put gimmicks before flavor.
Out of the brewery’s cat-adorned 16-ounce can, the beer pours a mostly clear copper orange. A swarm of large bubbles rise quickly to form an impressive foamy head. All Cats Are Gray in the Dark doesn’t look stout-like at all, much more closely resembling a dark Oktoberfest or light amber ale. Even though the beer technically checks the box on appearance, it certainly won’t be mistaken for a blonde or pilsner. It still very much looks like a roasty, malt-forward beer.
Strong notes of chocolate and vanilla dominate the aroma, but they present as chalky-sweet and artificial. Not a great sign from described as a “malt beverage with natural flavors and caramel color added” on the can. The flavors certainly don’t smell natural, and I’m picking up plenty of the funky sweetness typical of a 40-ounce malt beverage.
All Cats Are Gray in the Dark is a beer that focuses way too much on novelty and not nearly enough on quality.”
Big hits of sweet chocolate and vanilla also dominate the flavor, with roasted coffee notes peaking through as well. But after a few sips the artificial quality of the flavors and syrupy sweetness really start to wear on my palate. Making matters worse, the light corn maltiness reminds me of a malt beverage whose only redeeming quality is the puzzle on the cap. Half a glass in, I’m wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of this four-pack.
All Cats Are Gray in the Dark is a beer that focuses way too much on novelty and not nearly enough on quality. I have a feeling that were you to tint this beer a few shades darker and call it a chocolate stout, its Untappd rating would drop in a hurry. Which is a real shame, because Fat Orange Cat makes too many good beers to become known for this one. If you find yourself considering a four-pack of a Fat Orange Cat offering at the beer store, be sure to pick it up—just not this one.