Valentine’s Day Beers

Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS by Boneshire Brew Works from their firkin tapping last night at their brewery. Happy Valentine’s Day!

In the Hershey – through Middletown and Harrisburg area, you go to a brewery, you can find yourself a chocolate covered…. strawberry or cherry something or other. Tattered Flag, Rotunda Brewing Company, Troegs Independent Craft Brewing, Boneshire Brew Works, and you can even make a variant at Lancaster Brewing Company. So, I’ve gone and done the legwork for all of you. I’ve traveled to the places, seen the sights, experienced the sounds and the smells, and I drank the beers, so you don’t have to …. or so you can know which ones you might like best. Or, so you can too. Either way…. whew, this is a tough gig. But I guess I’m the only one man enough for it.

So what all beers are we going to be taking a look at today? We’re going to be taking a look at: Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS by Boneshire Brew Works, Beautiful Trauma by Rotunda Brewing Company, Chocolate Cherry Stout by Troegs Independent Craft Brewing, Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Cherry) and Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Strawberry) by Tattered Flag, and finally Double Chocolate Covered Strawberry by Lancaster Brewing Company.

This is going to be a multiple-beer-review article posting. It’s a total of six beer reviews; and from five different breweries. All from the Hershey-Middletown-Harrisburg area. (Hershey’s contributions are Troegs’ Chocolate Cherry Stout, and Rotunda’s Beautiful Trauma [Rotunda Brew Pub in Hershey], Middletown’s contributions are the Tattered Flag beers, and Harrisburg’s are the Boneshire and Lancaster Brewing beers.) Most of these will still be on tap today. And possibly even the firkin at Boneshire Brew Works might not have kicked and still might be available. The Troegs Chocolate Cherry Stout was also canned yesterday (2.13.20) and still might be available in cans as well. Beautiful Trauma is still available in cans, and you can get it on draft and in crowlers at their Rotunda Brew Pub (as well as at The Batdorf attached to their brewery in Annville).

Let’s start with Middletown and break down the two beers from Tattered Flag. They have two offerings for us, and both are somewhat similar. Because I Was Inverted is their signature line of Milkshake IPAs, that they’ve done with a variety of different flavors (or adjuncts). Some notables were Mango, Kiwi, Plum, and they released two recently – Chocolate Covered Cherry and Chocolate Covered Strawberry. Both were canned and put on draft.

Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Covered Strawberry)

Beer: Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Covered Strawberry)
Brewery: Tattered Flag
Style: IPA – Milkshake
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Write-Up: Because I was Inverted (BIWI) black milkshake IPA blends sweet lactose with midnight wheat to bring you a subtle bitterness followed by a silky finish and earthly yet fruity notes of Mosaic. Conditioned with cocoa and strawberry puree just in time for Valentines day!

This looks like its a stout, but it tastes so much different. Appearance for this is dark black with a light foam head. Its Razor Ramone hair black (ahhhh, a term I haven’t gotten to use in a long time, been a while since I’ve reviewed a black / dark beer), fully opaque, and looking nothing like an IPA, let alone a milkshake IPA. Good carbonation, good head, and it leaves good lacing.

Aroma is pretty interesting. You definitely get notes of chocolate, and faint notes of strawberry. You get vanilla, and you get slight faint fruity hoppy notes. Nothing outstanding on the hoppy notes, nothing that blows you away, its all very subtle letting the chocolate come out much more prevalent in aromas.

This is very smooth, very tasty, very creamy. Its a bit heavy on your tongue in a way most IPAs aren’t. Strong chocolate, strong malt backbone, very vanilla and lactose and creamy, with some strawberry. The strawberry is probably a bit too subtle given that it should be more prominent, but its not too bad, and you do know its there. Strawberry can also be an overpowering addition that sometimes makes a beer far worse. There is no hop presence in taste. No bitterness, just smoothness and creamyness.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.69 (as of 2.14.20)

Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Covered Cherry)

Beer: Because I Was Inverted (Chocolate Covered Cherry)
Brewery: Tattered Flag
Style: IPA – Milkshake
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Write-Up: Because I was Inverted (BIWI) black milkshake IPA blends sweet lactose with midnight wheat to bring you a subtle bitterness followed by a silky finish and earthly yet fruity notes of Mosaic. Conditioned with cocoa and sweet cherry puree just in time for Valentines day!

This might sound a lot like deja vu, but nearly everything for the above beer can be said for this one as well. Appearance is the same as the above, dark black, jet black, Razor Ramone hair black, nice foamy small head, nice lacing, good carbonation. Interspersed bubbles.

Aroma is pretty much the exact same as well. Instead of faint strawberry, you get faint cherry. Still heavy chocolate, some vanilla, faint faint faint hop, with the cherry a bit more prominent than the strawberry, but only barely, and it could just be my nostrils more open to that particular smell.

Taste is again similar, and again the only real difference is cherry puree rather than strawberry puree. Its noticeable the difference, in the same way you can notice mango instead of peach, or orange instead of kumquat. Heavy chocolate notes, vanilla notes, no hop presence, no bitterness, just super smooth, with a heavy mouthfeel. Slight cherry, possibly lighter than the strawberry, which is odd because I felt there was more of a nose of cherry on this than the strawberry had, but could all be tricks of the mind.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.72 (as of 2.14.20)

Lets move on to Hershey and their offerings, we’ll start with Rotunda Brewing Company’s Beautiful Trauma.

Beautiful Trauma

Firstly, let’s do a big shout out to Steve Glick for the great artwork on this. If you’ve seen the artwork from Rotunda Brewing, its all courtesy of Steve Glick, and he is absolutely killing it. Fantastic artwork.

Beer: Beautiful Trauma
Brewery: Rotunda Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Pastry
ABV: 8.9%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Write-Up: Imperial stout conditioned on strawberry puree, cocao nibs, and milk sugar.

Rotunda has been making some beautiful beers and this is no exception. Its dark black like a stout pastry should be. Fully opaque. A nice foamy head that did go away pretty quickly, but had the interspersed bubbles. There was nice lacing on the glass as you drank (or gulped) this beauty down.

Smell is fantastic. Its pure pastry. You get wonderful notes of cocao, lactose, vanilla, it smells like pastries. It smells creamy, it smells sugary, it smells sweet. Then you get hit with the strawberry under it all, and it comes up pretty strong at you, stronger than in some other versions of this beer (from other breweries).

Tasting this, you almost want to finish it all right away… but have to pull yourself back so you don’t over-indulge and drain it too fast. This is like drinking a chocolate covered strawberry pastry. You get strong grain, strong chocolate, strong vanilla, strong sugar, strong strawberry, in an absolutely wonderful blend. Its heavy on your tongue but not cloying. Its super smooth and hides its 8.9% ABV rather well.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 3.83 (as of 2.14.20)

Moving on to the next Hershey beer….

Chocolate Cherry Stout by Troegs Independent Craft Brewing

As you can see I drained this one a bit too much before taking a picture of it. (Ran into my cousin while at Troegs, and quickly got to drinking and talking more than taking a picture of it.)

Beer: Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout
Brewery: Troegs Independent Craft Brewing
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 7.8%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Write-Up: This special Valentine’s release starts with big, vibrant, red Balaton cherries. They’re sweet. They’re tart. They’re juicy. Now wrap those thoughts in a warm, roasty chocolate stout and drizzle with vanilla. It was this cherry cordial daydream that set our brewers on this path, and lo and behold, dreams do come true.

As similar to all of the above, this was a dark beer. Fully opaque. Outside of the firkin from Boneshire Brew Works, this had the biggest and most resilient head to it. Foamy off-white (leaning towards brown) creamy head that retained for quite a while. Nice full looking body. Dark black but with a hint of brown to it.

Aroma on this one was far more cherry than any of the others so far. Most likely due to the usage of real fruits rather than purees. This had a sparkling cherry smell to it. You get good notes of chocolate and you get vanilla and sugary notes as well. The malts are a roasted sort that you pick up on as well, with almost a caramelized smell to them.

This one is tart but stout tart. You get a tartness from the cherries up front that then transitions into chocolate and its heavy. Some vanilla, some cream, some sugar, but the chocolate, kind of a bitter, cooking chocolate, is the most heaviest after the tartness of the cherries subsides. Its a very nice juxtaposition between the two that works very well into a blended stout here that makes its sum far more than its parts. This is re-drinkable easily, but not a full four pack by yourself in one sitting type. Two at most I’d say, but at its 7.8% ABV thats probably a good thing. This has a full thick body like a nice brickhouse (if you know what I mean, and if you’re having a good Valentine’s Day, hopefully you do) and it has a wonderful mouthfeel. Nothing cloying. The bitterness works nice with the creamyness. The tartness works great with the chocolate.

My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: (as of 8:30AM, 2.14.20, there isn’t enough of a global Untappd rating yet, when there is, I’ll edit this and add it in).

Now let’s go into Harrisburg, and start off with Lancaster Brewing Company.

Double Chocolate Covered Strawberry by Lancaster Brewing Company

Beer: Double Chocolate Covered Strawberry
Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double Milk
ABV: 5.75%
IBU: 29
Untappd Write-Up: Mixture of Double chocolate milk stout and strawberry wheat

Firstly, you won’t typically see this on the menu at Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg (off of Eisenhower Boulevard). But if you ask for it, they’ll make it. Short story on it, is that its 50/50 Double Chocolate Stout and Strawberry Wheat. Then on top they drizzle strawberry sauce. (Thus the appearance in the picture.) Troegs used to do something similar with Mad Elf and their Chocolate Stout as well as Mad Elf and Dreamweaver (Chocolate Elf and Mad Dreams respectively). Cuvees or mixing beers has been a long practice with varying results.

Appearance for this is going to be odder than most. The beer itself is fifty percent Lancaster Brewing’s Strawberry Wheat and fifty percent Lancaster Brewing’s Double Chocolate Stout. It also has the drizzle of strawberry sauce on top. So it almost has the look of a large mixed drink rather than a beer. The chocolate stout overpowers the wheat beer and makes this a black, dark, stout looking beer. Its not quite fully black due to the wheat beer, but it is still fully opaque. The mixture makes a head that doesn’t retain once the drizzle eats through it.

Smell is all over the place too due to the mixture. You get strong strawberry, strong chocolate, strong milk, strong strawberry drizzle, strong wheat. You get a lot of strong aromas all hitting you at once. Their all attacking from all sides with strong fronts and your nose has no combat for it, no defenses, and no way to guide them correctly to their proper places. Its just all a bit much.

Taste is interesting. I’m a fan of their Double Chocolate Stout, but not a fan of their strawberry wheat (at all, just one of the beers I’ve never enjoyed). But this is actually a pretty good mixture of the two, and the stout does away with the flavors and reasons I’m not a fan of the strawberry wheat. The drizzle makes it super sweet and super strawberry, but the stout provides a nice dark backbone, a nice chocolate malty support structure for the strawberry to play on. Lancaster Brewing could probably make a good strawberry stout that would be better than this rather than having to use the subpar strawberry wheat to make the mixture.

My Untappd Rating: ***.75
Global Untappd Rating: 4.19 (as of 2.14.20)

And finally, our last Harrisburg, and our last beer on the list:

Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS

Beer: Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS
Brewery: Boneshire Brew Works
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: None Listed
Untappd Write-Up: Our Russian Imperial Stout, LazaRIS, with chocolate and cherry added.

Firkin. Firkin. Firkin. Firkin. Firkin. Its just such a wonderful word. I don’t know (or remember) if the last time Boneshire produced this variant of LazaRIS if that was in a firkin as well; but this time it was.

I will admit, I love LazaRIS and there hasn’t been a variant of it yet that I haven’t loved either. I had this variant (Chocolate Cherry) first back in March 2017, and now again on February 13th, 2020.

Appearance is dark black like all of the above. Fully opaque, but with probably the biggest and most profound head of all of them. Could be because of the firkin or the beer, either way, it had a nice white brown foamy creamy head with interspersed bubbles and wonderful lacing on the glass as you drank this down. This is jet black, Razor Ramone hair black, Snoopy writing about a dark and stormy night black, black like the souls and hearts of some on Valentine’s Day. (Ooh, I like that last one, might have to remember to use that one more often!)

Aroma is heavy stout, heavy Russian Imperial Stout. Lots of deep dark malts. Lots of heavy grain, but it gets tempered with by the addition of the chocolate and cherry in this. You get strong cocao, strong chocolate, strong cherry that rounds out the usual smell of LazaRIS. This is just an extremely aromatic beer in all of its variants. Which I think is one of the biggest reasons I love this beer so much, I love smelling, inhaling, and savoring a beer before I even take that first sip, and LazaRIS is perfect for that.

Taste is immediate dark, immediate heavy, powerful malt, powerful dark grain, roasted, caramelized to a degree, and then you get the new additions, the chocolate, the cherry, the cocao, the heavy hitters come out firing on all cylinders and punching in every direction like the Tazmanian Devil. A whirling dervish of flavors assaults you suddenly, you get the chocolate, the cherry, the malt, the rich roasted notes, and they get you and hit you hard. There is so much to enjoy in this beer as you get all of these flavors in spades.

My Untappd Rating: ****.50
Global Untappd Rating: 4.08 (as of 2.14.20)

Ok, so lets break down the beers I reviewed here, and give some stats on them. First, my Untappd Ratings for all of them:

* Because I was Inverted (Chocolate Cherry) – ****
* Because I was Inverted (Chocolate Strawberry) – ****
* Beautiful Trauma – ****.25
* Chocolate Cherry Stout (Troegs) – ****
* Double Chocolate Covered Strawberry – ***.75
* Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS – ****.50

By style:
* Because I was Inverted (both variants) – Milkshake IPA
* Beautiful Trauma – Pastry Stout
* Chocolate Cherry Stout – Milk Sweet Stout
* Double Chocolate Strawberry – Double Milk Sweet Stout
* Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS – Russian Imperial Stout

* Because I was Inverted (both variants) – 7.2%
* Beautiful Trauma – 8.9%
* Chocolate Cherry Stout – 7.8%
* Double Chocolate Strawberry – 5.75%
* Chocolate Cherry LazaRIS – 9.5%

So thats the breakdown of all of the Valentine’s Day beers in the Hershey / Harrisburg / Middletown area. Did I miss any? Let me know! Hopefully you’ll have as much fun finding these and trying them out as I did.

Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

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