Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Brass Knuckles

Barley Island Brewing
Noblesville, IN

Style: Stout
ABV: 4.9%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Ah, oatmeal. Is there nothing it can’t do? Not only does it feed me three, sometimes four times a day, but when added to the mash, it has a plethora of extraordinarily pleasing effects. Besides adding color to otherwise bland-looking, all-malt brews, flavor-wise it imparts earthy, roasted chocolate-like notes and even some nutty undertones. Maybe best of all, the fatty lipids in oats release oils during the brewing process, leading to a silky, thick, creamy head.

So why in the Hell wouldn’t you add oats to a stout? Germans and their goddamn laws, that’s why. Oats are considered an adjunct and therefore verboten under the Reinheitsgebot.

Well, their loss is American crafter brewers’ gain. And one of those brewers capitalizing on this German “do as we say”-ism is Barley Island, in Noblesville, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis. I picked up a sixer of their Brass Knuckles Oatmeal Stout at the local beer shop and went to work.

Slides out of the bottle like liquid onyx—thick and inky black, just like a real stout should. The head is all tan and bubbly silk, perfect in thickness and consistency; the oats really hold that bad boy together, all the way to the end. For an oater, the body is surprisingly dry, which overshadows an otherwise nice, firm body. There’s some chocolate notes smack dab in the middle, along with a roasted, nutty malt palate, and I swear I can taste something along the lines of oatmeal cookies somewhere in the back there.

Not as malty and warming as I prefer my stouts, but a solid, no frills entry from Barley Island. Recommended if you’re in a dark, silky mood.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on December 14, 2007.
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