Willibrew Pony Espresso Stout
1 5oz sampler, 6.1% ABV
Purchased at Willibrew, Willimantic
Let me first acknowledge the crime you are witness to right here, right now: Limiting oneself to a little sampler of the Pony Espresso Stout deserves a serious penalty. Since we are talking about the Pony Express, perhaps having my ankles tied to a rope and attached to a horse and dragged across Oklahoma would suffice.
I said this was a serious crime.
Alas, I actually did buy a growler of this wonderful, wonderful pitch black, smooth as silk stout after this beer flight, but I never took a picture of it. I could have faked it, sure, but that’s just not how I roll.
And really, I think you believe me. After all, can anyone sample this and NOT purchase more of it? I think not. This stuff is gooooooooood. Really, really good.
Off the top of my head, I can think of NEBCO’s Coup Beans Coffee Oatmeal Stout, NEBCO’s casked coffee Stout Trooper and Thimble Island’s Coffee Stout as three other similar Connecticut beers. I’ve had them all and they are all fantastico.
For me, a coffee drinker, I like to taste the coffee but I don’t like it to overwhelm. Both NEBCO offerings had a little too much coffee for me – the casked Trooper being, by far, the coffee-est coffee stout and the Thimble Islands offering the least coffee-est of the four. Willibrew’s Pony Espresso comes in – wonderfully – somewhere in the middle.
“Brewed with 7 malts, Perle hops and three Espresso coffee infusions from Quite Corner Coffee Roasters.”
It’s cool that they, like the other two breweries, are using locally brewed beans.
But my mind, such as it is, has drifted to an old “No Reservations” episode wherein Tony Bourdain visits one of his favorite dive bars in NYC. They still serve “little beers” there, otherwise known as “pony beers.” In the scene that I recall, Bourdain says something like, “it’s not a good dive bar unless they serve small beers.”
Ignoring the fact that he’s a rich Manhattanite now, almost desperately hanging on to his street cred at this point (something which doesn’t bother me in the least – hey, he’s successful and that’s what we all want in life), I always sort of dug this hypothesis.
And yes, my neighborhood bar of choice, the Spigot, does indeed have little beers if you know the secret code. (Or at least they did back in my pre-children Spigot-going days.) Cred.
I also recall a scene in David Lynch’s mesmerizing The Straight Story where Alvin chills at a Midwestern dive bar and drink, yes, pony beers. God, I need to watch that movie again.
Specifically, a pony is a glass of only 140 ml capacity. I know colloquially people often call those cute little macrobrew bottles “ponies,” which is fine.
I searched for the etymology of the term and could only find an unsourced blurb on Wikipedia. Some would say that therefore I found nothing. Some would pretty much be correct, but since it’s all I’ve got, and since it sounds plausible, here it is:
The name comes from the old horse race carnivals, where patrons would go to the bar for a quick drink between races. Because only a short amount of time was available between races many patrons would prefer to drink beer from the small 140 ml glass so they would be done in time to get back to the next race. While a pony is a small horse, not commonly used in racing, the name stuck nonetheless.
I’m more apt to think that they are called ponies simply because they are small, and have nothing really to do with old horse races, but who knows.
What I do know is that if Willibrew has this stuff on tap, you better get more than a pony. Or a sampler. Or a pint. Get a dang growler of this stuff. It holds up well and you can allow it to warm a bit from the fridge to really open up the malts and coffee. At over 6%, it drinks like its 1%; smooth, delicious, malty and with a perfect amount of espresso in the mix.
People also try to get people over to craft brews via saisons or simple ales. I’ve always been of the mind that coffee stouts would do the trick even better. So get to Willimantic and pony up for this stuff.
Had to be said.
Overall Rating: A+
Rating vs. Similar style: A”