Style: Session India Style Black Lager
Aroma: Oddly enough, my first thought when taking in the aroma of this beer is simply “beer.” In quite a nice way, this beer’s aroma is by no means flashy, overwhelming, or intense. Its foremost characteristic thus far is a simple, clean yeast character, followed by sublte hop citrus and caramel malts. No complaints here.
Appearance: Nightwheeler pours as black as it sounds, with a surprisingly dense, lingering tan head. This is certainly an appearance I would’ve expected from much bigger, imperial stouts, but Nightwheeler looks to be full of surprises so far. Additionally, my glass is developing a near-perfect lacing as the beer goes down.
Taste: There is an interesting crispness about this beer’s roast character. Generally, dark and roasty beers present themselves as sweet and full-bodied, but Nightwheeler has found a new approach. The roast character is thin and bright, but does not come across as harsh or tannic. After the roast character has presented itself, the hop citrus and bitterness takes over the remainder of the taste of this beer. The hop character is not overly forward, and works gently with the roast character provide its refreshing crispness, and comes through vaguely like a chocolate covered orange.
Mouthfeel: Due to the beer’s lighter body, there is a very slight stickiness from residual sugars, but that’s nothing I wouldn’t expect form a beer this dark. The beer’s dense head feels creamy across the tongue, which is quite nice. The medium-high carbonation helps the beer develop its creaminess as it’s pulled onto the tongue.
Aftertaste: Arguably, this beer seems more like it looks in the aftertaste. Notes of toffee and caramel are rather apparent, and a bit of hop spiciness helps this beer feel more akin to baked goods. Further down the line in the finish, the beer presents its more distinctive, American hop character. There are small notes of grapefruit rind and pine that finish the beer of quite nicely.
Overall: I knew I wanted something session-strength, but I wasn’t feeling anything hop-forward. However, nothing else struck my fancy, and the first beer I selected got what could only be described as “dirty looks” from the cashier. Having now received the cashier’s approval, I headed home to pop the top.
Initially, I wasn’t impressed, but by no means was I disappointed. There are no surprises here, and nothing life-changing about it, but perhaps this beer is perfect for the tail end of this this record-breaking November snowstorm. Nightwheeler is certainly worth grabbing a sixer of while it’s on the shelves, just as long as you’re not expecting pyrotechnics upon decanting.