My buddy Rich Blair at the New Holland Brewing Company was nice enough to send me a taste of a special edition of their Dragons Milk (an amazing barrel aged stout and probably my favorite beer on the planet) that had been aged on tart Michigan cherries.
This is a one-and-done brew and was (or is, depending on when you read this) only available on tap at Ashley’s in Ann Arbor, as it was crafted in honor of the bar’s 30th anniversary.
Just a single bottle of the stuff made it out of Michigan – the one you see in the video above, which New Holland’s barrel master Tim Faith was kind enough to siphon off for me. I figured if I couldn’t give everyone a taste, I could at least taste it in front of everyone and share my thoughts.
The beer was a lot like a regular Dragons Milk, which has rich threads of cocoa and a boozy whiskey bite, but with the addition of a tart cherry finish. The cherry also helped to magnify the sweetness of the cocoa flavor in the beer, bringing it forward in the mix and providing a nice ribbon of dark chocolate that starts early and hangs around on the palate.
I should also say that after I finished the video and put the camera away, my thoughts about the beer changed a bit. I still enjoyed it, but I had a pretty bad flavor association as the cherry taste began to build after several sips.
Sometimes when I get a head cold and my throat gets really scratchy, I’ll use Chloraseptic cherry throat spray, that awful gunk you pump into your gullet to numb everything up.
While this stuff is a boon when I’m sick, it has also managed to create a weird psychosomatic reaction whenever I drink cherry stouts, which unfailingly remind me of Chloraseptic. Before I know it, my tongue starts feeling numb and I abandon the beer. I know, I’m a weak-minded man.
This happened the first time I tasted Bell’s Cherry Stout, which I could only take two sips of before I felt like I was drinking medicine and my brain tricked my gullible tongue into playing dead.
I got further in with the Cherry Dragon, but I eventually started to numb up and gave the beer over to my wife who happily polished off the remainder of the bomber. She doesn’t share my cherry stout numb tongue hangup and thought the fruit was an excellent addition to one of our favorite beers.
So if you’re not crazy like me, you’ll most likely enjoy this puppy if you can manage to get a taste of it.