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Haunted House Hoppy Dark Ale
by Allagash Brewing Co.

     In this review, we will be looking at Allagash’s hoppy dark ale, Haunted House.  What makes this beer so different?  We will look at the special ingredients of this beer and why Allagash was so brilliant to combine them together.

How I found Haunted House

     I basically go to one package store in my area because the owner allows patrons to separate four packs so they may take only one or two and not have to commit to the entire four-pack.  Having this available is perfect for what I do.  As a beer blogger, I like to buy one brand or style of beer at a time.  If I had to purchase a four-pack every time I wanted to taste and review a new beer, I would be broke and a severe alcoholic.  I also like to help out the owner by looking for the “floaters,” as I call them, in the cooler so I can clear out some of the beers that are left behind.
     I saw the Haunted House sitting up on the top shelf alone.  I decided to grab it and give it a try.  I checked to make sure it wasn’t some kind of seasonal pumpkin beer first.  I hate pumpkin beers!  A staff member saw it and said, “I’ve heard good stuff about that one.”  Now I was curious.  What little treasure have I stumbled upon? Allagash is a big brewery with an excellent reputation.  So why was this little beer all alone and seemingly unwanted.  The only way to know for sure would be the “Sniff & Sip.”

Beer Breakdown

 

    Before we get to the Sniff & Sip, let’s talk about what goes into making this brew.  Here is how Allagash describes their beer on their website.

Brewery’s Description:

     “Doomed by a love of pitch-black Porters and our Allagash House Beer, we summoned the recipe for Haunted House. Roasted Barley and Blackprinz malt curse this beer with a gravely dark hue. Hopped with Crystal, Chinook, and Saaz hops, this beer ends with a ghost of coffee-flavored bitterness and hauntingly complex malty palate.”

 

The brewery listed these ingredients: 

  • Grains: Roasted Barley and Blackprinz

  • Hops: Crystal, Chinook, Saaz

     These two grains are beer-making ingenuity at its best.   So let's break down each of these grains to see how they contribute to this hauntingly good brew. 

 

Roaster Barely

 

     “Roasted barley is a complex grain that adds a unique flavor as well as color; depending on the amount used, this can range from ruby red to the darkest black. The flavor is an intense coffee-like roastiness.  Roasted barley is unmalted, so unlike other grains, the barley is not germinated and is transformed in a roaster much the same as coffee beans. The barley is roasted to develop a deep dark brown color and intense coffee-like aromas.” (Homebrewanswers.com)

Blackprinz

 

     “Produced from hulless barley and functions as a 1:1 replacement to debittered Black Malt, but with smoother flavor. That’s because debittered black malts are made by removing a great deal of the husk, but not all of it.  Since husk develops bitter notes during roasting, debittered black malts will contribute a certain amount of bitter, astringent, or dry flavors or after taste to the beer.  Used in Black IPAs, Black Lagers, Black Ales, Schwarzbiers, and other beers for deep, rich color with only hints of subtle roasted flavor, and for color adjustment in any beer style.” (Briess-PISB-Blackprinz-Malt.pdf brewingwithbriess.com )

Attributes of these two grains

     This beer pours a deep dark color into your glass that you would find in a stout but does not carry a bitter flavor typical to that type of beer.  Instead, these two grains complement each other with a bountiful amount of coffee-like flavor and a sweetness that tempers the bitterness.  So, with these two grains, Allagash has given us a beer with all of the great qualities of a dark porter or stout but with a taste that doesn’t attack your tastebuds with an intense bitter coffee flavor or overly sweet stout flavor.  This is an incredibly well-balanced flavor that I enjoyed immensely.

 

     Now I want to show you how this beer rises above stouts, porters, and most ales.  Allagash added three different varieties of hops that transformed this beer into something magical.  First, let's look at the hops characteristics and what they added to the mix.

Hops Profiles

 

Crystal

 

     Crystal’s low alpha acid content of 2.8%-4.4% means that it is an aroma hop.  It is a highly versatile hop known for its woody, floral and fruity flavors with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper.  As soon as you pop open this beer, you will smell these beautiful aromas fill the air around you. An excellent hop choice by Allagash.

Chinook

 

     Here is a classic IPA hop with characteristics of pine and spice in abundance.  Chinook is a dual-purpose hop used for bittering and aroma and is one of the big boys of the hops varieties toting an alpha acid composition of 12%-14%.  So, if you like the hoppy flavor in this beer, you can thank the Chinook for that.

 

Saaz

 

     There are two varieties of Saaz Hops, American and Czech. My guess is that Allagash used the American variety, but honestly, I don’t know if it matters. Here is a description of the American Saaz from Hopslist.com.

     “Bred from the original centuries-old Czech Saaz variety, it carries the same noble qualities but with some subtle differences. Its flavor and aroma profile is mild, earthen, and spicy, and its alpha is slightly higher than its Czech twin. Saaz (US) is primarily used in Lagers and Pilsners.”

 

Little side note:

 

     The Czech Saaz is considered a Noble Hop. Noble hops are a group of traditional European hops used in brewing. It's mainly used as a marketing term by hop brokers and brewers.

The hops used here lend an incredible amount of aroma to this beer and a slightly hoppy bitterness and flavor that blend in with the sweet malt attributes, culminating in a hoppy ale that is absolutely delicious.

 

Marketing Error?

 

     I will say this; the way the beer is marketed makes it sound like the hops stand out and create an “IPA-like” profile to the beer.  I think this is a little overplayed.  It stands strong as an ale but with just a little bit of a hoppy taste in the background.  I am glad the hops didn’t take over the flavor.  The balance here is near perfection.  I recommend this beer to any craft beer lover.  Whether dark beer drinker or IPA enthusiast, you will all enjoy a Haunted House.

 

Sniff & Sip

 

     To the nose, the rostered grains pop out first and foremost.  Then, sweetness melds in with it and is followed by a hint of piney, floral hoppiness. Finally, the taste is; coffee, sweet malt, caramel chocolate, and earthy pine hop are present. This beer is way too easy to drink, but with an ABV of 6.66%, I can easily put down a few.  I wish we could see it more often, but unfortunately, it’s a limited availability beer.

 

Bud's Overall Rating

 

     Well balanced, drinkable, sweet, and yet not too sweet.  Hoppy but not overbearing.  Just an excellent beer.  I give it 4.5 mugs.  Great jog Allagash Brewing Co.
 

Name:     Haunted House

Brewer:   Allagash Brewing Co.

Style:       Hoppy Ale

ABV:         6.66%

IBU:          65

Rating:    3.8 UnTappd

Ratings:  14,792

Bud's Overall Rating:  4.6 mugs

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What's a Blurb?!!

 

blurb  /blərb/

noun

  1. a short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes 

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