8/15/20: Rhinegeist Brewery's Black is Beautiful

9:38 AM

You might remember a little over a month ago when I broke into my first Black Is Beautiful (Streetside's variant of the world-wide collaborative stout effort, conceptualized by San Antonio, TX's Weathered Souls Brewing Company). The whole point of the effort is for breweries to commit to equality, make the beer (while possibly putting their own twist on the recipe), and give the proceeds from it to local organizations that support police brutality reform, legal defense funds for those who have been wronged by the police, and entities that support inclusion and equality. Information on the effort can be found on the official Black is Beautiful website.

I wasn't sure how many takes on Black is Beautiful I'd get to address here. Truth be told, I was excited to find the first from Streetside. I'm happy to break into my second today, Rhinegeist's variant, which is a 10% ABV Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Let's get to it.

Rhinegeist opened in Cincinnati's Over-The-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood in June of 2013 and has since become pretty much the face of Cincinnati beer to the rest of the state/nation. That's anecdotal, at least, but they're the Cincy beer I see the most when I get out of the area. Anyway, it was founded by Bryant Goulding (a once-sales manager for Dogfish Head) and Bob Bonder (an entrepreneur initially interested in bringing good coffee to Cincinnati). Rhinegeist's whole history can be found on the brewery's "Our Story" page.

Their Black is Beautiful offering is, as I already wrote, at 10% Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Its official page attributes it a bouquet of baker's chocolate, molasses, espresso, and dark chocolate; a well-balanced flavor profile with notes of oatmeal cookie and milk chocolate; and a jet-black appearance with a thick, tan head that lingers.

The stout's proceeds are going to MORTAR, an organization dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs of marginalized communities in Cincinnati. Founded in 2014, the business incubator offers accepted participants a 15-week course to think through just about every aspect of the businesses they want to open.

Okay, this is all good. But there's an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed before going any further. Like I said, Rhinegeist is based in OTR. Four days ago, The Voice of BLACK Cincinnati posted a story entitled "The Rise and Fall of the African-American Community in OTR Cincinnati" (a really good read) that chronicles how Black people came to call the neighborhood home, only to be squeezed out of it due to a massive gentrification project that's still on-going. Rhinegeist is a product of that gentrification project. You can draw your own conclusions about the beer and why they capitalized on the movement.

Now that I've touched upon that, I'll get to the beer. I get espresso beans from the nose, as well as the dark and baker's chocolate. I'm not finding any molasses, but there is an oaty heartiness to it. Oddly, given the stout's ABV, I'm not picking up any booze. This smells like it could be a 4% oatmeal stout, meaning that it's dangerous. Sure, it'll be 82° today, but I'm always down for a stout, especially one with such an appealing bouquet. Purrl gave my bottle five whiffs, so this BiB isn't really here thing.

This is a good tasting stout. The roasted malt gives it heavy chocolate and coffee vibes. There is some oatmeal cookie sweetness but it's immediately overtaken by a long, warming and boozy finish. In the far back, there's a little wateriness that's unappealing, but, overall, this is a pretty standard oatmeal stout.

Black is Beautiful's mouthfeel is everything you'd want from a stout. It's creamy and full, velvety with a very slight bite. This is professional as hell.

Since this is meant to be a jet-black stout, I had to pour it into a glass to see. Sure enough, it's jet-black. But, the head is pretty thin with absolutely no retention. Can't hit every pitch, huh?

I'll skip out on the memory part of this post to remind you of a few things: The US is failing abysmally in human rights. Police corruption and brutality is still rampant. BLM protests are still happening, even if the news isn't reporting it. COVID-19 cases are still rapidly increasing as businesses and schools reopen nationwide. USPS is being defunded as November approaches, leading to the biggest and most-widely publicized instance of voter suppression. These statements are only a few of many things that are yet to be addressed. So many things are broken. I encourage you to learn about the failings of our system and do your part to correct them.

I wanted to love Rhinegeist's Black is Beautiful. I don't. It's tone-deaf and watery. While the proceeds are going to a good cause, it's simply a 7.0/10 stout. Sure, it's perfectly serviceable, but you'd be better off just giving $10 to MORTAR.

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