Since Big Sky Brewing has been available in the not-too-distant past, I have become a fan of the Moose Drool brown ale and their IPA. They seem to make good, solid beers, so when I saw their Limited Release Slow Elk oatmeal stout on the shelf at Lukas recently I didn’t hesitate to pick up a six-pack.
Slow Elk is available in September and October and gets its name from cows that are mistaken as elk and are accidentally shot during elk hunting season in Montana (where Big Sky Brewing is located). The beer is an oatmeal stout, and I’m not sure I’ve ever really tasted the oatmeal in a beer before, but it is usually added to give a silkiness to the body of the beer for a nice, smooth mouthfeel.
Slow Elk weighs in at 5.4%ABV and 20 IBU’s and is made with four kinds of malt, oats, and East Kent Goldings hops to give a little balance to the malt flavor.
Oatmeal stouts are one of my favorite styles of beer, and there are a lot of great oatmeal stouts out there, so Slow Elk has some tough competition when comparing it to other beers of the style, which unfortunately does not bode well for this beer.
I get very little aroma from this beer. The flavor is roasty, dry and almost a little astringent. I would probably call this a porter if I didn’t know better, simply due to the stringency. I don’t get much of the chocolate or coffee notes that can be found in stouts, but rather a fairly simple roasty flavor that disappears quickly.
A big disappointment to me with this beer is the mouthfeel. The oatmeal doesn’t seem to lend much body, which is thin and watery.
Overall, this beer is a bit of a disappointment. It doesn’t have the great mouthfeel of an oatmeal stout or the complexity of a stout that I have come to love. When compared to something like Anderson Valley’s Barney Flats oatmeal stout, the Slow Elk really falls short, although maybe I’ve set the bar too high with my favorite from Anderson Valley. One thing that is in favor of the Slow Elk is that it has a pretty good alcohol content for this style, which means you could drink a few without being too affected, and the simplicity of the flavor will help keep you from getting palate fatigue, but unfortunately neither of those things are what I look for in terms of a good stout.