Coffee Stout: I remember when Coffee Stouts were scoffed at as being one of those beers whose ingredients (even though it makes sense that they should go together) seemed so anathema to the style of a classic old world brew. As craft brewing slowly, ahem, percolated through bars and stores, the popularity of coffee as the American drink, as well as the wonderful palate synergy created with the coffee, hops, and malts, made a smooth, easily accessible beer. Now it almost seems a given that when I order a flight, or look at a brewery's typical offerings, a coffee stout is going to be there.
Enter New Galarus' attempt:
With popularity, comes volume. When you increase the the volume of what you are offering, people tend to use the metaphor, "watered down." With New Galarus' Coffee Stout, I mean it literally, so I will not even bother with giving you the anecdote of my tasting and will just issue these few points: 1.) With sooooo many good coffee stouts to make your genitals tingle and brain buzz (i.e. Founder's KBS, CBS, or regular old Breakfast Stout, or heck, even the local Broad Ripple Brewpub's Strange Broux Brew is jaw dropping) why would you need to produce a coffee stout, especially as lack luster as this one is? 2.) I understand that being approachable is part of a successful brewery, but a stout is already approachable. If Guinness poured from a Leprechaun's teat, people would call him "Mommy" and like it. Don't make it worse by offering a thin, stout background with an even watery coffee overtone. What happens when you make weak coffee at work? PEOPLE DIE.
I give the Coffee Stout a 2
Black Top: I really would like to get off this soap box dripping with metaphor and angst, but... I just can't. Black Top just had to be a Black IPA. The most ill defined of all the "American" styles and by far the weirdest to be popular. The citrus, pine, and floral notes you get from the hops in IPAs just don't play well with the dark malts used in these beers. Also, what makes a "good Black IPA?" Once, when asked by a friend to explain the difference between a Black IPA and a regular IPA and my response was, "Well, ya know, malts and like a dark malt backbone, but, uh, ya know, bright hops, and, uh, fuck it THIS ONE IS BROWN AND THAT ONE IS NOT."
So, in frustrated conclusion, I liked this brown colored IPA. I give this hoppy chameleon a shifty-eyed 3.5