1/1/21: Wolf's Ridge Brewing's Dire Wolf

1:36 PM

We're in a bright spot of sunshine between rain and thunderstorms here on January 1, 2021. I lack the ability to see the future, but I'm willing to go on record saying that this is probably how the good moments of this year will shape up to be: bright bits of warm, shining light between less than favorable moments. My bio (over on the right of this text) says I'm a purist. I'm also a realist. Life's not all sunny days, but that's all the more reason to savor them while they're around.

Take today's weather, for an exact example. When I think of January, I think of cold, grey skies with snow or ice falling and covering the ground. This unseasonably warm weather is exceptional. It's giving me hope that the year'll be better than last, or, at least, that we'll work to make it so. 

I'm dipping a bit to deep here. I know that. So, let's shift focus. This is a day for celebrating, that's what I'm trying to get at. I intend to celebrate, and I'll be doing that with a personal whale that I managed to track down a two month's back: Wolf's Ridge's Dire Wolf.

Wolf's Ridge is based in Columbus, OH. They keep their beers simple, while putting some unique flair on common styles to continually surprise their customers. This is their "Brewery" page if you want to look into them a little more than the breeze-through I've provided here.

Dire Wolf, Untappd page here, is one of those common styles to which Wolf's Ridge has unique brought unique flair. This 10.4% ABV (that ABV is from Untappd--my bottle lists it as 10.8%, which I'm more inclined to believe) Russian Imperial Stout's been brewed with heaping amounts of brown sugar and oats, adding more depth to the sought-after darkly-roasted and hearty hop qualities from the style.

The beer's a big one for Wolf's Ridge--they have numerous variations on the stout, from Coffee Joy and Cinnamon Vanilla Rum Barrel to Chocolate Port Barrel. I love it when base beers get different spins, because it really showcases what a brewery can do. I have a few of these variants tucked away, meaning that you can expect to see them sometime here on the blog (probably in the not-too-near future).

Today, though, we're doing the base Dire Wolf. I'm finding coffee, chocolate, molasses, smoke, charcoal, fig, and plum in the stout's bouquet. With the ABV on this thing, I'd expected to encounter more than a bit of booze, but it's not here. There is an earthy note that I can't quite place, almost like freshly planted fields after an early-spring rain. The nose is intriguing, to say the least. Purrl gave my bottle eighteen whiffs so she approves of the stout.

Roasted malt, sweetness, and earthy hops, those three in that order. That's how Dire Wolf's flavor profile presents itself. Dark chocolate, black coffee, and smoke comprise that roasted maltiness. Then comes the molasses and the dark fruits, coupled with some caramel goodness. Finally, the stout finishes with the rich hoppiness that marks it as a Russian Imperial Stout and a touch of booze, no doubt bolstered by the brown sugar used in the stout's creation.

This mouthfeel is silky, thanks, I'm sure, in large part to the oats. It's thick and full, just what a stout of the caliber should be. I'm damn well pleased with what Wolf's Ridge has done with this beer.

Michelle and I are listening to Keaton Henson's Monument as I write this review. The album's phenomenal. While we've had it since it dropped a few months back, this is my first listen to it. Keaton's a brilliant visual artist and musician, who expresses himself perfectly through his work. 

Monument's an album he wrote to process the death of his father. It's pensive and blue, but it has happiness scattered throughout. It's a fitting soundtrack to this day, all the more now that the sun's beginning to lose itself to cloud coverage outside.

Wolf's Ridge's Dire Wolf sets an incredibly high marker for the beers I'll drink in 2021. It's a familiar enough style, but it's also a welcome stranger with its silky smooth mouthfeel and smoky sweetness. It's a 9.5/10. I'm excited to see how its different variants play with this incredible base beer. 

Happy New Year! I won't say that I can't be better than the last because, well, it can. But we can be better to each other than we were last year, and that'll make the biggest difference to how this all plays out. I know, I know; I'm wading into the deep part again. 

If you'll excuse me, I'll leave this post here. I have a puppy to take for a walk before the rain rolls in again.

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