You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate (Stout)!

Mmmm…Chocolate!   Mmmm…Peanut Butter! 

Two great tastes that taste GREAT together – we’ve known that for a long time. But how often do you find them in a beer?  I have, a couple of times, but last night I had one that drove it right out of the ballpark! Spring House Brewing Co. was serving up Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout on nitro at the Taproom in Lancaster, PA, and it was outstanding!

Beer List at the Taproom

Photo Credit: Taproom by Spring House Brewing Co. Facebook

Served in an Imperial pint glass, this beer was pitch black with a dense and creamy, thick tan head. It’s made with local Wilbur chocolate and what was described as a peanut butter powder (perhaps dehydrated peanut butter?), and the aroma off the glass was like splitting open a fresh peanut butter egg.

The flavor was so well balanced – like the darkest chocolate cake blended with a savory peanut butter frosting. It has lingering chocolate flavor, blended with a light hop bitterness and subtle peanut butter sweetness that masks the 8% ABV, making for a perfectly drinkable pint (so good I could drink it again and again!)

I did a little searching, and learned of another beer with this profile on tap this month. BandWagon Brew Pub inChocolate Peanut Butter Stout Ithaca, NY currently has a Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout that is coming in at 6.8% ABV. Another one that is also currently obtainable is Peanut Butter Coffee Porter at 5.5% ABV from Willoughby Brewing Co. in Ohio. It would be fun to add these to my portfolio of consumed peanut butter beers.

I’m pretty sure I had the Peanut Butter Porter (5% ABV) while visiting Boston Beer Works in 2006, and I know I drank an Über Goober Oatmeal Stout (6.5% ABV) in 2009 at Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, MI. These were both pretty good, but the Porter went way too light on the peanut butter flavor, and Uber Goober had sour untertones of stale legumes.

In other peanut butter beer news, has anyone seen or had the Blue Moon Peanut Butter Blonde? Did they make it outside GABF? A beer blogger there made me laugh with her quote, “I only tried this because it had peanut butter in it. It had a huge peanut butter nose, which was super interesting. Then I made the mistake and tasted it: wheat, peanut butter lager-y grossness…”, but since she also didn’t like New Glarus Raspberry Tart, I’m not sure we’d have similar opinions.

If you’ve ever doubted that peanut butter and chocolate belong together in a beer, get yourself to Lancaster and try this out. If you’re feeling really adventurous, blend it with Planet Bean Coffee Stout (can you say cake and coffee?) I’ve been waiting for someone to brew a Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie Stout and name it “Carolyn’s Obsession”, but this may just fill that need without the personalization.

If brewer Matt Keasey doesn’t keep this on as a regular, I don’t know what I’ll do – I’m in love with this beer – and if he doesn’t enter it in GABF, he’s crazy!  It is by far the best peanut butter beer ever.

Scott Morrison and Al’s of Hampden

If you’ve been drinking craft beer in Pennsylvania for a couple of years, then you know the name Scott Morrison. He is a highly respected brewer with four GABF medals under his belt from 2003 to 2006, and well known for his strong ales. He put McKenzies on the map, but left in 2006 after management pressured him to concentrate on more mainstream brews. Scott Morrison groupies have observed that he hasn’t dropped out of the brewing scene, rather has had his hands in happenings all over the east coast. Morrison’s name is associated with influence in places like Dock Street, Sly Fox and many other fine breweries, and rumors continue to fly about where and when he may open a brewery of his own.

If you’ve been watching the beer scene in the Harrisburg (PA) area over the last couple of years, then you know the name Albert Kominski, who opened Al’s of Hampden in 2002, which has been exploding since he obtained his liquor license in 2008. On the surface, it may seem that Al is running a simple pizza shop. Get him talking about food and you’ll get an earful Al's of Hampdenabout his fresh and perfected recipes: his outstanding dough is made fresh every day and combine with signature sauces and toppings for remarkable pizza; the deli meats and cheeses are sliced and grated in-house and combine with freshly baked bread for amazing subs; the soups are started from scratch with hearty vegetables; the meatballs are made fresh from of a mix of ground veal, pork and Angus chuck, two styles of bread crumbs and eggs – no salt needed; the wings have outstanding sauces for a variety of palates.

But get Al talking about beer, and your head might explode! At the moment, Al’s has up to 27 fresh-pour beers available – 3 beer engines, four nitro-taps and 20 CO2 draft lines which can be consumed at Al’s or taken out in growlers (which he can sell you in 64-ounce or 32-ounce sizes!) In addition to the taps, his four doors of coolers house approximately 350 varieties of single bottles, and you can take them home for a mix-a-six price. And it’s not just that he carries beer, but his passion for beer, that draws in such crowds. Al is absolutely a beer geek, and his concentration is on making sure the beers on tap are as fresh as possible and represent a bold spectrum of styles.

So it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Al is taking this whole beer thing one step further – opening a brewery operation on premises! If it isn’t clear already, Al strives for no less than perfection, and doesn’t enter into this brewing venture lightly. He sought out an experienced and creative brewer for this project, and came up with a winning answer.

Scott Morrison and Al Kominski will partner in the brewing operation at what will soon be known as Pizza Boy Brewing. Scott’s expertise is sure to bring success to the brewing operation, and fulfill to the beer appetites of south-central Pennsylvania beer enthusiasts. We can expect high quality, pleasurable house beers, sure to have high ratings in the “overall balls” category!

Al has been working with BrauKon of Truchtlaching, Germany to design and manufacture a 5 hectolitre brewing system (as a Getting started on the brewery!measurement reference, 1 barrel = 1.17 hectolitres = 117 litres = 244 U.S. pints), and in fact, will be returning to Germany in a few weeks to brew the test batch on his new system. The Braukon system will include everything from the malt mill to the storage tanks, using an energy saving boiling system (BrauKon EcoBoil) and a semi-automated brewing system.

Just when I didn’t think things could get any better…  Keep your ears and eyes open, or better yet, follow Al’s of Hampden on Twitter or Facebook to follow the whole story!