Beer review: Drake's Crude Oatmeal Stout (with bonus beer chili recipe)

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The brew smells of coffee beans and toasted bread, with a slight sweetness, like if CoCo Wheats were made with baker's chocolate.

Flavors are balanced oatmeal stout perfection. The 6.9% ABV is not detectable in the crisp finish and dry mocha flavors. A slightly bitter maltiness lingers on the palate; this dark-roasted, 19 IBU bite is right on the cusp of burnt, acidic goodness, but not quite. Either way, it's plenty satisfying.

Although heavy looking, a gentle carbonation makes the oily oatmeal body feel slick, yet surprisingly lightweight in the mouth. My initial reaction to the first sips -- I could drink a lot of this. But I need to pace myself because Drake's Crude is a seasonal release only available in the first two months of the year.

Brewing an excellent dark beer is great, but Erie takes it to the next level by offering a recipe for Drake's Crude Chili on their website. If we happen to get another cold spell, I'll be trying a meatless version of this yummy sounding, spicy beer bean fiasco.

Drake's Crude Chili (snagged from Erie Brewing Company)

1/3 to 1/2 cup of Erie Brewing Co. Drake's Crude Oatmeal Stout

2 cans black beans

1 pound ground beef (or ground beef substitute)

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 packet of hot chili powder

A few dashes of Louisiana style hot sauce (do not use Tabasco)

A few sprinkles of salt/pepper to taste

A few sprinkles of a Cajun seasoning to taste

Best done in a sauce pan. Brown the beef (or beef substitute). When the beef is browned fully, keep some of the grease. Add all other ingredients, minus the tomato can juice and some of the black bean juice. Cook until hot, and serve with bread.

Erie Brewing turns out a superb product mix, including Railbender Scottish Ale, Mad Anthony's American Pale Ale, and Presque Isle Pilsner. The brewery's product naming celebrates Pennsylvania's history, particularly the people and places involved. Their current seasonal, Drake's Crude Oatmeal Imperial Stout, takes its name from Edwin Drake — as in Drake's Folly for all the history smarty pantses — the first guy to successfully drill oil in Northwest Pennsylvania.

Drake's Crude Oatmeal Imperial Stout definitely lives up to its gooey industrial nomenclature. As it pours into an American pint glass, the bulky black body supports a frothy cap of khaki head that reduces to a thin layer of diverse sized bubbles.

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