Review Date 9/30/2011
So I’m sitting at Taco Mac on a Friday night, minding my own business and sipping a mug of Victory Storm King Imperial Stout from the cask. I was talking to my son and he happened to stop talking just long enough for me to hear the bartender say the magic words…
She wasn’t talking to me of course, but rather to another patron who had inquired about a beer tap that was turned around. “It’s the Vanilla Gorilla from Red Brick,” she told the customer, who like me had passed the 125 beer mark and therefore happily drank her draft beer from a 20-ounce mug. Of course, the 125 beers hadn’t all been that night in either of our cases, just so you know.
Anyway, I quickly pounced upon her, verbally speaking, when she came by and asked “Did I hear you say Vanilla Gorilla?” She paused, smiled, and told me it wouldn’t be on until the next day. Personally, I think they do this to me on purpose just to get me to come back again. But what can you do.
I had already read about Red Brick Vanilla Gorilla, the third installment in their Brick Mason series of specialty brews. This one seemed very interesting to be sure: oatmeal porter brewed with cherry wood smoked malt and vanilla beans, the latter also smoked at a local Atlanta barbecue restaurant. The beer is aged in Jack Daniels barrels for even more flavor.
I did leave Taco Mac that night a bit disappointed, but no matter. I would be back on Sunday for the Patriots game anyway. And return I did, knowing without even looking at the beer menu the first brew I would be ordering.
And so after much anticipation, my Red Brick Brick Mason Vanilla Gorilla arrived in an 11 ounce glass. Taco Mac considers this a “high gravity” beer though the price set by the brewery has a lot to do that with that. “High Gravity” beers don’t qualify for a 20-ounce pour, although at 7.8% by volume I am not so sure that this is all that “high” in alcohol. Curiously, Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown Ale was running the same $5 price as the Vanilla Gorilla and Victory Storm King on cask $7, yet both were 20-ounce pours. Both are above 9% alcohol, too. Such are the vagaries of the business of beer these days.
Back to the beer. Vanilla Gorilla pours to a jet black, but not opaque, color with a minimal head formation and smoky chocolate nose. Silky smooth oat character, showed up first, followed by chocolate, hints of licorice and then a bit of smoke. The whisky comes out in the finish where it adds a bit of oak and more vanilla, and a hint of grassy hops punctuate the whole affair. There’s a light touch of alcohol warmth, too.
Overall, a very nicely done beer, with plenty of vanilla and whisky though I would like a little more smoke. It was perhaps a bit too subtle for my tastes.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.