Review: Howe Sound - Pothole Filler

Well, it's been far too long since I've written a post.  To my millions and millions of adoring fans, I apologize.  To the rest of the world - some might call it the real world - I'm sure you never missed me, but I'm back anyway!

I was trying to decide what to do to get back into the swing of things.  Over the last few months in my absence from the blogging universe - what some would call the blogosphere... it's still called that, right? Come to think of it, I hope it isn't... - crap, where was I?  Oh right, in my absence from the online space, I've had the chance to sample a few - some would say quite a few - great and not-so-great brews.  This has been on my own, in an "official" OBC meeting, or just in a casual group setting.  And I've considered writing about any number of these experiences.

For example, our club has met almost monthly over the fall and winter and we've had some great sessions; sampling several brews from Wychwood, Beyond the Pale, and most recently Railway City.  

I've taken time to visit some of my favorite local watering holes to sample the latest and greatest that the craft beer scene has to offer in Ottawa, such as Ashton's Vanilla Stout, Kichesippi's Wuchak Black IPA, variations on Nickelbrook's Bolshevik Bastard, and dozens more.  

Hell, I even considered writing about the biggest news in the Ottawa craft beer scene so far this year: Hogsback's Aporkalypse now being announced just a couple days ago.  And why wouldn't I write about that?  Bacon Oatmeal Stout?  That's a dream come true.

While all exciting and post-worthy (at least in my eyes,) I decided to start with what I'm know for: grab a beer out of the fridge, take a picture of it, drink the crap out of it, and give you my thoughts.  So here it is - without further ado - my first post of 2013 and return to the beer blogging community.  Please, hold your applause until the end.  Oh, wait, you have some questions before I start?  Go ahead.

Tell us what you're drinking today, James.  Certainly, avid reader!  Today I am drinking Howe Sound's Pothole Filler.  

What an amazing name for a beer, James.  Funny you should say that, I fully agree.  But obviously I can't take the credit for it, I'm just drinking it.  

So who is Howe Sound?  What's their story?   I didn't realize this was turning into a fake interview. (James chuckles a little at his own joke.)  But honestly, these guys are out of BC and they've been around since '96.  Check out their website to learn a little more about them.

Before you get into your review, why don't you tell us a little about the beer?  Just a high level description.  I'd be glad to.  Howe Sound's Pothole Filler is an Imperial Stout.  It comes in a 1 litre bottle and weighs in at a hefty 9% alc./vol.  I picked up a couple bottles at the LCBO a few weeks back, and I think it cost me about $12.  This will be my second time enjoying it.

1 liter of Imperial Stout?  That sure sounds like a lot of stout to drink in one sitting.  How do you not end up flat on your ass?  Good question.  Yes, this has a very good chance of putting you to sleep early if you plow through it in a quick sitting.  Luckily for me, it comes in a resealable bottle.  Also great for my homebrewing buddies.

Well that's pretty cool.  So can we see a picture before we let you get into your review?  Sure, here you go!

Enough with that tomfoolery, you're here for a review, so let's get to it.

The Pothole Filler pours a jet black with a thick beige head.  The retention is strong with good lacing, exactly what I'd expect from a traditional Imperial Stout.  A very nice initial impression.

The nose offers up strong dark chocolate notes with a subtle undertone of roasted malts, molasses, nuts and coffee.

First taste gives you less of the chocolate that you would expect from the nose and dives right into the roasted malts and coffee bitterness.  That dark chocolate seems to hold back and comes in at the end, giving it a sweet finish and subduing the bitterness that would usually carry through to the aftertaste.  You will probably notice a small alcohol burn blended into the finish also, although I barely notice it due to how much I've been drinking stouts lately.  The mouthfeel is smooth with a nice coating, I'd say it's fairly full bodied with medium carbonation.

In the end, this was a great representation of the style.  Howe Sound crushed it.  I would absolutely recommend this to any stout fans out there.  This would also be a good introduction to the style for non-stout drinkers, as the bitterness and booziness that would typically turn people away from stouts is a lot more subtle in this brew.

Thanks for reading!

-James