Perennial Artisan Ales - 17 (Mint Chocolate Stout)
Serving Temperature:52–59° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
Perennial Artisan Ales 17, one of our two featured selections this month, is a mint-chocolate imperial stout brewed with cacao and mint leaves. Packed with chocolate malts, this stout is a hefty 10% ABV and just loaded with vibrant chocolate and mint character throughout. For us, it’s one of Perennial’s releases that is just so unique and well rendered, and it’s tough to talk about any other mint-stout attempts without referencing this one. It’s just that good.
17 wasn’t brewed this past year at all, and the 2020 batch from Perennial is being produced specifically for our Rare Beer Club members. The only other ways to acquire this batch will be directly through the brewery’s tasting room or as one of Perennial’s club members.
Perennial’s mint-chocolate stout pours a highly dense chocolate-brown color, capped with creamy, medium-brown foam. This one’s pretty clearly a serious stout. Modest retention of foam, with a good amount of lacing left around the perimeter of our glasses. This imperial stout is impressively full-bodied, with a viscosity similar to, say, Bell’s Expedition Stout. It certainly has the appearance of a nightcap beer—and that mint-chocolate aroma lands fast.
The aromatics here are deliciously minty from first pour: offering up deep, bracing spearmint and peppermint alongside this beer’s bitter chocolate core. Spend some time with the aroma on this one. That minty impact comes through everywhere: fresh, crisp, enlivening, and just hugely important to how this beer presents itself. The chocolatey base imperial stout seems like it would be an incredible beer on its own—but those extra additions of cacao nibs and minty goodness kick this stout up a few levels. Deeper inspection of the aroma shows off a lot of the additional structure: burnt sugar and dark caramelization, cocoa powder, licorice.
Long-time members of the club will acknowledge that we’re pretty fond of imperial stouts year-round… But this minty version feels especially nimble and suited for the spring. There’s without doubt a hefty imperial stout base here, but the overall impression is refreshing, crisp, and minty. The core expression conjures fresh spearmint alongside fine-tuned layers of dark chocolate. Underlying complexity and roast from the stout’s darker specialty malts provide a ton of additional character as well: licorice, toffee, leather, brown sugar. Subtle, tiny-bubbled carbonation provides some welcome lift, as does a touch of warming alcohol. Not surprising given the 10% ABV, and most of that warmth gets tucked in seamlessly behind the mint.
On the whole: this imperial stout would likely be exceptional without any bells and whistles. But extra layers of chocolate and cocoa and fresh-cut mint take 17 to a whole different level. Impeccably detailed stout, with a long-lasting finish of dark chocolates and toffee and spice.
This beer’s hyper-focused on its chocolate-mint character during its youth, but we except it to continue developing in the bottle with another six months plus in the cellar. Just keep an eye on it, as this beer’s delicious fresh. Perennial 17 seems ideally tuned for dessert or as an after-dinner drink, but the mint emphasis also has us considering lamb.
We’ve been looking forward to securing something special from Perennial Artisan Ales out in St. Louis, Missouri for our Rare Beer Club members. And this month we managed to get exactly that: 17, the brewery’s mint chocolate stout, made with cacao nibs and mint leaves. It hasn’t been brewed since 2018—and their 2020 batch is being produced just for us. Outside of The Rare Beer Club, this will only see distribution to Perennial’s club members and through the brewery’s tasting room.
Perennial Artisan Ales started up eight and a half years ago, opening in September 2011. Phil Wymore is Perennial’s brewmaster and co-founder, and brings his experience from working at Goose Island Beer Co. and Half Acre Beer Co. out in Chicago. Phil got started at Goose Island as a brewer back in 2006, eventually ascending to the role of Cellar Manager, where he managed various fermentation processes and their renowned barrel-aging program. That’s a pretty solid pedigree. When Phil signed for a year-long stint as head brewer at Half Acre for the brewery’s opening year, he brought along deep experience from Goose Island into a job arrangement that would allow him to learn the financial side of things better—with the plan always being to head off on his own. In 2010, he moved back to Missouri to start Perennial.
The St. Louis brewery takes much of its influence from Belgian and American craft brewing cultures, with the first recipe Phil brewed for Perennial being Hommel Bier: pulling in classic Dupont yeast and combining it with biscuit and aromatic Munich malt, as well as Columbus, Mt. Hood and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest. The focus from the beginning has been hand-crafted, small-batch releases that are built for the discerning beer geek. Perennial uses local, seasonal and organic fruit and other special ingredients as often as possible, while their barrel-aging program (not surprisingly) includes a wide range of wine and spirit barrels. Some of their more popular releases include Suburban Beverage, a stellar gose-style ale with Key lime, Meyer lemon and Valencia oranges, and Abraxas, their award-winning impy stout that’s packed with contributions from cacao nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon and ancho chiles.
For those near the St. Louis area, consider visiting Perennial’s Brewery and Tasting Room for a better look at what this brewery is all about. They offer an incredible diversity of beers on draft and bottled, with the tasting room currently open Wednesdays through Sundays and offering a rotating, beer-inclined menu that highlights local producers. More about Perennial Artisan Ales and the delicious things they’ve been up to can be found at perennialbeer.com.
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