I’m happy when I’m camping. Santa Fe Brewing Company knows this feeling, and they have named their excellent IPA Happy Camper. Santa Fe also offers several other beers including Freestyle Pilsner, Oktoberfest, Saison ’88, Santa Fe Nut Brown, and Santa Fe Heffeweizen. While I am a big fan of many of them, my favorite of Santa Fe’s year-round brews is their Imperial Java Stout. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This stout pours as black as a moonless night sky with a tall, pillowy head that is slow to retreat leaving a nice lace on the glass as it does. Dark malt is front-and-center in the aroma with the nose picking up slight bitter dark roasted coffee upon a more thorough inspection. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As with the aroma, the dark malt also initially dominates the flavor of this beer. The front of the tongue immediately picks up bitter, roasted malt with some sweeter malt contributions noticed on the sides of the tongue. As you swallow, the middle of the tongue notes a transition from malt bitterness to an earthy hop bitterness before this quickly surrenders as the coffee flavor asserts itself. This is no taste of a weak instant coffee either. This is big, black, wake-your-butt-up-in-the-morning coffee flavor. The coffee does its best to stay present in the aftertaste, and it lingers briefly, but the malt comes back in a massively long aftertaste of dark malts and smoky tobacco. As the aftertaste finally begins to fade, the tongue is left in a state of confusion questioning if you just drank a beer or a cup of coffee. This Imperial Java Stout has a medium to heavy body and comes in at 8% ABV. With the dark malts and coffee flavors, it pairs well with anything you would have with coffee. It is particularly great with desserts such as a chocolate cake or a tiramisu. And if it’s not too cold, don’t forget to try it with a vanilla bean ice cream. This is a big beer that does a good job at balancing both heavy roasted malt flavors and assertive dark roasted coffee flavors and sets the bar for the style. It is great for sipping on a cold night. The fact that it comes in a can means it’s even better for carrying along and drinking around a campfire. Having this beer on a crisp night watching a fire dance with my girlfriend close by would definitely make me a happy camper. Cheers! Alex

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