There's something satisfying about looking into a beer in a glass, lurking lazily below a thick, brown head. Even on a hot summer day, watching the sunlight try – and fail – to permeate the strong stout just makes me feel great. Bell's Double Cream Stout is no joke; this is a thick, heavy, smooth beer, heavy on the malt and ready to keep you warm by the fire on a cold day. Or by the air conditioning vent during a heat wave in July. Your choice.
Yep. My stout mug has my name on it.
Before I get into my impressions of smell and taste, I want to mention something that every fan of locally brewed beers should always keep in mind: Michigan beers are not rice lagers, mass produced with the singular goal of tasting identical bottle to bottle. My bottle of beer may not taste the same as yours, nor will it taste identical to beer from the tap fresh from Kalamazoo. That said....
My bottle of Double Cream Stout smells thick, toasty, sweet, and milky. Yep, we're going with “thick” as a smell, here. It smells slow and meandering. The malt seems intentionally burned to give a roasted flavor, and while that's not altogether negative, I think it overshadows some of the sweetness I was looking for. The cream imparts a noticeable milky flavor, and when I pretend I'm a huge snob and shove my nose right into the glass, the milky flavor has a definite and unpleasant lactic sourness to it. Luckily, it's faint and at a distance mixes with the malt.
The first swallow was more sour than I expected; the lactic from the cream is clearly on display, followed by the sweet, burnt malt and finished with coffee and chocolate. The taste was no real surprise after the smell, and that was certainly not a bad thing.
Again, I want to impress upon people that batches can vary greatly. I've had the Double Cream Stout before and I don't remember the lactic sour being so prevalent in the taste; I remember it being much sweeter and heavier. For those of you that have tried this in bottles recently, I'll leave it to the comments; is my palate broken, did I get a strange couple bottles, or is the 2010 batch a little “off” this year?