Aging Beers #10: Starr Hill Little Red Roostarr Coffee Cream Stout At Five Years From our “Vault” – Crozet, Virginia
Date: February 10, 2018
The Story— Mark Thompson was a brewing pioneer who learned his craft in a number of breweries across the country before founding Starr Hill in Charlottesville (it’s now in Crozet). He won national recognition for his beers everywhere he brewed as well as becoming something of a inspirational-speaker / celebrity at the brickskeller tasting series in Washington, DC. Other brewers would beg the host not to schedule them after Mark’s performances.
He also oversaw the rise of one of Virginia’s most influential regional breweries in the first “craft wave” of the early 2000s. He “retired” from the brewery in 2015, but returned last year to found the Brewing Tree brewery in Afton, Virginia, not too far from his original creative roots.
We didn’t intend to cellar this beer, but we’re glad we did. Mark was still brewing in 2013 when this bottle rolled off the line and this was a very nice beer when we tasted it then. Soft malt with some floral hops with some early coffee- chocolate with bakers chocolate in the finish – with none of the gimmicky chocolate extract tastes that plague chocolate beers today. In five years, it’s mellowed nicely — so much of what can ruin a cellared beer is biological and very good quality control can put quite a few beers in play after half a decade that you would not expect to be rewarding. This is one of them.
The Beer— TONS of chocolate with nicely embedded coffee and even some coffee grounds late. A bit of tang and fruit. Flattish, but that’s forgivable at 5 years out. Herbal and rich with few signs of decay, though Ellie picked up something of a whiskey edge and some wood. Some roast grows as it drinks. As good as it was five years ago, the the flavors may be better integrated now and it seems a bit drier. We’re guessing that it might have peaked at about three years, and if I find another bottle, we’ll drink it right away, but, wow, this is a very good beer right now.
Well done Mark!
Value — Very good. This was under $10 for a 22 ounce bottle. Try to find a beer this good at that price now!
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
In February, we’re digging into our legendary “vault” where we’ve been storing hundreds of bottles of beer waiting for the right time to taste them (or sell them for charity). The charity market has slowed, so we’re working through them in front of a fire and finding some disappointments, but more very surprising delights. You can find the full list –eventually– here on this “index post.”
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”