ABV: 6%
IBUs: 30

I have a feeling that the folks at Blackrocks know a thing or two about surviving Michigan winters.

Located in Marquette in the U.P., winter starts sooner and ends later than most places in the country below 5,000 feet above sea level. I figured that if I were looking for a winter beer to review, then Blackrocks Brewery would be a good place to start.

It seems as though Blackrocks took a slightly different approach to this winter ale. What one expects from most winter seasonals probably involves a boozier ABV, baking spices and considerable sweetness. North Third Stout feels as though it’s the younger sibling to all those characteristics.

Appearance: North Third Stout pours black with a dark tan head. There’s plenty of foam to go around, and it sticks around for as much time as you could spend drinking it. This makes for some festive lacing, as though it should be hung on your Christmas tree (or perhaps you can just use the can to build your Festivus pole).

Aroma: Notes of heavy black malt and chocolate are forward. Behind those you can look for some faint sweetness and a pure, roasted malt aroma. Although some people might anticipate more of a holiday spice, or dessert feel, I have no complaints about the simplicity here.

Taste: The Taste pretty well lines up with the aroma. It’s simple, clean and roasty. Dark chocolate notes are heavy, and the highly roasted malt character comes through quite a bit more here. Thankfully, the roast character is far from seeming ashy or burnt.

Mouthfeel: This might be the only surprising part about the beer, in my opinion. There’s a bitterness that lingers a good handful of seconds longer than you’d imagine, which I find quite pleasant. The bitterness really doesn’t present itself on the tongue initially, which adds just enough complexity to keep this beer interesting, yet very drinkable.

Overall: Just as the can suggests, this beer is to be enjoyed after a day of skiing or snowboarding, next to a roaring fireplace. It’s a perfect beer to grab a six pack of, and throw back in a long weekend, or less. No surprises, no fatigued palate and no falling asleep in the middle of a conversation with your friends or significant other. Just remember to start drinking them after you’re done crushing slopes for the day!

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery