5/26/19: Hi-Wire Brewing's Salted Maple 10W-40

6:52 AM

There's nothing quite a like a breakfast beer to start your holiday weekend off right. What's that? The holiday weekend started yesterday, on Saturday? Maybe for you, if you're lucky enough to have every Saturday and Sunday off work. I'm pretty locked into a rotation: one week I have Friday and Sunday off, the next I have Saturday and Sunday. This otherwise three-day weekend happened to, unfortunately, fall on my Friday and Sunday week. It's fine though. I'm still making the best of my time.

Over the last year of so, I've been talking stouts with some of my friends, specifically the view of the style as a seasonal beer. Don't mistake me, I do think that stouts are a seasonally appropriate beer for those awful, colder months. But, I think they decidedly have a place in the spring and summer: breakfast, especially if you were to find a stout that includes maple syrup. Which, wouldn't you know, is what I have right now. So, without further ado, I present to you, on this 75° morning, Salted Maple 10W-40, from Hi-Wire Brewing.

While this is the third offering I've had from Hi-Wire, it's the first I've featured on the blog. Admittedly, I don't know much about the Asheville, NC-based brewery. So, like I always do when I want to (remotely--to really get to know a brewery you have to spend some time in its taproom) get to know a brewery, I turned to its official "Our Story" page. Hi-Wire strives for innovation while keeping a careful eye on the past, meaning that the people behind the beer understands the rich heritage of brewing and, while paying respect to that, they also want to forge ahead and try on different styles and ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, Hi-Wire uses local NC ingredients and works with local artists as often as they can. It's all about bolstering the community that bolsters them.

From what I can see, there isn't an official write-up for Salted Maple 10W-40 (a variant of Hi-Wire's chocolate vanilla coffee imperial stout), but Untappd has us covered: this 8% ABV stout is the traditional 10W-40, with maple syrup, lactose, and pink Himalayan salt. Sounds as if it should be reminiscent of a salted maple candy, right? Right. It's also supposed to have caramelized sugar notes and a chocolatey finish.

I get a little maple from the stout's bouquet but what I'm finding much more of is the sugary sweet lactose. There's a mild hint of the salt that lingers around after I've ceased my whaft and put my beer down. Somewhere in there, I find the deep, roasty coffee/chocolate notes that I expect from a stout, but these aren't as prevalent as I'd thought they'd be. Bad news for you Purrl fans: she wasn't around this morning when I cracked open my can. Henrietta, however, was. She only gave my can six whiffs, which means it's far and away from being her thing.

Taking my first swig reveals just how much there is to unpack in Salted Maple's flavor. Maple, coffee, chocolate (milk and dark), caramel, cream, with a bite of salt in the finish. This is a complicated beer that would make for a fine dessert beer as well as one for breakfast-time consumption. It's the kind of beer I'll let warm for a time because I'm sure that doing so will bring about a wider variety of flavors.

At first, this has a mouthfeel that matches perfectly with what you'd look for from a stout: big, thick, voluptuous. But, that bite I talked about with the salty finish comes into play as soon as my swig ends: there's a short, intense kick of carbonation that nips at my tongue. It's unexpected, but not bad.  If anything, it adds to the uniqueness of the stout.

Michelle and I honeymooned in Asheville last June (well, ten minutes outside of Asheville, actually, in a phenomenal place called Weaverville). We stayed in a cabin surrounded by woods. I brought down a sixer I'd built at a bottleshop and the book I was reading (and still am--nearly finished with it by now): JRR Tolkien's The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two.

I typically fall asleep sooner than Michelle and wake up earlier. One morning, a few days into our week-long stay, I woke around seven a.m., grabbed my book and a breakfast stout (inferior to--yet somehow more expensive than--what I'm currently drinking), and sat out on the cabin's porch, basking in the morning light, enjoying my beer, and reading about the terrible deception the dragon Glorund (later, Glaurung) had enacted on the tragic hero Túrin and his sister Nienóri (later, Niënor, called, at this point in the narrative, Níniel). If you'll allow for a slight digression here, I'd like to state for the record, that this tale in all of its many conceptions (The Children of Húrin, "Of Túrin Turambar," Turambar and the Foalókë, Narn i Hîn Húrin, The Lay of the Children of Húrin, whatever otherly-named work[s] I may have here forgotten) is my absolute favorite of all the Professor's (sorry, Lord of the Rings) and I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. Anyway, that morning was nearly as good as what I'm now experiencing.

That's one well-loved paperback.
All this long post to say, I recommend Hi-Wire's Salted Maple 10W-40 like I recommend Túrin's tale. It's a maple stout that's so much more than the sum of its parts. I'm giving it a rock-solid 9.5/10 rating. A few of my local bottleshops still have some cans of it kicking around and, if yours do, too, be sure to not sleep on this stuff. Who knows if we'll see it again?

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