Beer from Here: Steel String Brewery – Thick French Toast Spiced Imperial Stout
Steel String Craft Brewery is located in Carrboro, NC, minutes west of Chapel Hill. Opened in April 2013, Steel String “brews high quality ales by adapting aggressively hopped American styles into the North Carolina vernacular.” Steel String is owned by four men in their late 20s – Cody Maltais, Will Isley, Andrew Scharfenberg, and Eric Knight – who style themselves as “czars” at the brewery. One handles finances, one handles brewing, one handles logistics, and the fourth handles hoopla/propaganda.
If you can’t tell by the name, the brewery’s theme is music – bluegrass and jazz to be more specific. Three of the owners are musicians and the bar is shaped like a guitar and music. It was their mandolin, guitar and Dobro that inspired the name: Steel String.
I’ve seen more and more of Steel String’s brews on shelves in bottle shops across the Triangle. While stout season will soon give way to spring seasonals, I thought this would be the perfect time to try the Thick French Toast Spiced Imperial Stout. As stated on the bottle, the imperial stout is “an important part of your balanced breakfast!”
The 22 oz. bomber was bottled on January 31, 2015. The pour into my Teku glass was a dark brown/black with a light, tan head. I struggled to identify an aroma, but I did notice spice on the nose.
My first taste was very sweet, which I attribute to the maple sugar. I also picked up a little bit of cinnamon. Among the additions listed on the bottle, Fenugreek was one I was unfamiliar with. Luckily there’s Google. After a brief search, I learned Fenugreek is an herb and offers a slightly sweet, nutty flavor often described as a cross between celery and maple. The beer had a light mouthfeel for an imperial stout and slight bitterness (71 IBUs), but it was not boozy for being 9.5% ABV. I picked up slight notes of vanilla which I think were overshadowed by the cinnamon. However, the vanilla makes more of an impact as the beer warms. A thick lace graced the glass and the head was still present 20 minutes into the beer.
Overall, this imperial stout is very drinkable. While I prefer coffee in self-proclaimed breakfast stouts, this brew was well-balanced and a nice complement to the style. It’s solid. I’d be very interested in trying this beer aged in bourbon barrels. That would be a treat.
The Thick French Toast Spiced Imperial Stout and other Steel String brews can be found in bars, restaurants, and specialty stores across North Carolina.
Brewery: Steel String Craft Brewery
City: Carrboro, NC
Style: Imperial Stout
Availability: Limited draft and 22 oz. bombers