Reviewed: Firestone Walker Cinnamon Dolce Nitro Stout
From Firestone Walker: “Cinnamon Dolce Stout is a nitro milk stout conditioned on whole Madagascar vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. The malt profile is designed to provide rich coffee, chocolate, and sweet malty notes to play off the cinnamon and vanilla and provide an overall profile similar to cinnamon dolce coffee, which is typically a latte with a sweet cinnamon and vanilla syrup added.”
One of my favorite beers produced by Firestone Walker was Walker’s Reserve, a delectable Porter that I one could find year round. Alas, a portfolio shake up years ago put Walker’s Reserve on the packaged beer sidelines. Nowadays, the vast majority of non-barrel aged dark beers are seasonal releases: Velvet Merlin, Nitro Merlin, and Mocha Merlin all rotated through the supermarket stores and my grocery cart, eventually lost to the seasonal sands of time. For this holiday season, we are graced with an adjunct nitro milk stout, Cinnamon Dolce. It comes in a festive red can, and is nitrogenated to boot. Make sure to “pour hard” and express all the nitro goodness.
Appearance: Cinnamon Dolce pours nearly pitch black, with a rich mocha foam as the nitrogen makes its way out of the glass. It is not quite as dark as their barrel-aged beers, as light can sneak through the glass to reveal a deep ruby highlight.
Aroma: Heady blend of graham cracker, cinnamon, coffee, cardamom, ginger, and licorice. Only faint hints of the base beer. Really puts you in the holiday kitchen making ginger snap cookies. Cinnamon is a divise ingredient, but it is well balanced with the vanilla sweetness.
Flavor: Initial spicy cinnamon hit, but cleansed by a moderate maple-like sweetness, presumably from the interplay between lactose, vanilla, and the base beer. The spices are overall more subdued in the flavor than the aroma. Keeping this a nitro rather than a fully carbonated beer plays up the sweetness of the adjuncts rather than the carbonation bite.
Overall: Like seasonal stouts and porters of yesteryear, I am a big fan of the drinkability in this beer. The addition of cinnamon and vanilla play right into FW barrel aging chops of course. Though this has shades of Stone Xoxoveza, the lower ABV, smoother body, and restrained spice make this beer sessionable by comparison. I will be pairing this with some pecan pie and vanilla ice cream this Thanksgiving.