Charter Oak Lights Out RIS
~$8++, 9.1% ABV
Purchased at Maximum Beverage, West Hartford
And when the candles were relit… Charter Oak Brewing was still plugging along, putting out a new beer every 10 months or so, following the same contact brewing template they’ve followed since day one.
As for me, I’ve evolved in my opinion of such things over the years of following the Connecticut beer scene. I’ve never had any issue at all with contract brewing, especially if the beer is good. My only issue was the “breweries” who were intent on maintaining the façade of being a brewery when they were nothing more than a wealthy guy with a business plan and a boner for being a craft brewery “owner.”
But I’ve been burnt before, writing some stuff about a different local contracted label – and being totally wrong about it. And now that “label only” contractor is building an impressive new brew pub in Branford. I am not smart.
[2016 Update: This page was written in the fall of 2014. It’s now almost 2017 and there’s no Charter Oak Brewery. The owner did promise to have it down by the end of 2016. Which, with 20 days left to do it, is still a possibility.]
So I won’t suggest that Charter Oak’s plans I’ve read to build out a brewpub in South Norwalk’s entertainment district isn’t real. I know the owner of the “brand” has the money to do it – well, I don’t “know” anything of the sort, but I do know he sold paper.com a few years ago and that it was a rather nice payday for him.
Done with being “Dr. Paper,” P. Scott Vallely dropped the P from his name and started up Charter Oak Brewing from his house in New Canaan, contract brewing up at Paper City in Holyoke, MA. He’s co-opted one of our state’s most famous historic myths in the Charter Oak and has run full speed with it.
And here’s the thing – Good for him. Who are we to judge Mr. Vallely’s business plan and personal enjoyment of brewing and all of that?
And here’s another thing that I’ve got a bug up my butt about – “drink local.” You all know I’m down with that, but what does it really mean? Hyper local? Sorta local? State local? Distance local?
Because Mr. Charter Oak lives in beautiful New Canaan, fully 75 miles from my house in West Hartford. His beer is brewed in Holyoke, MA, only 36 miles from my house. I can almost get to Paper City and back to my house in the time it would take me to get to Charter Oak’s legal home. So what’s local?
Anyway, as I was saying at the beginning of this page… And when the candles were relit this is from the Lights Out Stout’s label and it refers to the disappearance of the Charter that fateful night in 1662.
Charter Oak says:
Charter Oak’s first in their limited release ‘Charter Series’ is Lights Out Stout (recall, it was when the candles mysteriously were extinguished, the Charter ‘disappeared’) is a robust, yet well balanced Russian Imperial Stout. This limited release is brewed to an opaque, midnight black shade with an abundance of Specialty malted and roasted barley and plenty of East Kent Golding and Northern Brewer hops directly from the hop farms in the UK. Lights Out Stout enjoys a complex taste profile of coffee, chocolate, and toffee and at 9.1% ABV it’s a real sipper on a cool Fall or Winter evening.
They go on to say more stuff, but you get the point. In my earlier days I’d pick on the syntax of what you just read, and I’d surely point out a lot of the other odd stuff on the Charter Oak website – not the least of which is the confusing nature of “beers that are reality” vs. “beers we say are reality” vs. this new “Charter Series” which consists of this one random beer. A beer with a rather nice label – so nice that I’m showing it to you for real, rather than having you rely on my “lights out picture” – a picture which includes Nightcrawler, by the way. I’m committed to my art.
But what the heck, 95% of brewery websites are outdated and often terrible. I’m here for the beer.
And this beer is really good! I’ve found myself defending Charter Oak and therefore Paper City a few times over the years. I don’t actively dislike any of the previously released 3 beers from them. But this one is a straight up good 9% stout.
Black as night, it hits the right roasty notes and the malt profile is very well done. I find it annoying that brewers these days feel the need to tout whatever hops are in whatever beer, because every nudnik needs to see the word “hops.” This is a stouty stout, I don’t care what hops are in it. They are there to balance the malt, and again, this is a well done beer.
Not too sweet, not too bitter, nice carb level… I really liked it. And you know what else I liked? It was 8 bucks (which means it’s probably like 7 bucks at bigger package stores than my local one). Lights Out Stout is better than Two Roads’ recently released RIS, the Unorthodox – in my opinion. Probably because I like straight up stouts and don’t need anything wacky in them. (Other than perhaps a bit of coffee or chocolate or cherry vanilla or bourbon barrel I guess.)
So there you have it, a WAY too long page wherein I was able to purge some guilty feelings I’ve had that I’m fairly confident very few people will bother to read – which was sort of the point.
Overall Rating: A-
Rating vs. Similar style: A