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Style: Specialty stout
ABV: 6.1%
Glassware: Snifter

Aroma: Slightly boozy, with rich caramel sweetness and a pleasant fresh grain character. Subtle dark fruits are highlighted on the tail end of the aroma. Instantly, the beer is outwardly complex.

Appearance: Dark, with a nice light brown head. The head pours thick at first, and dwindles down to a few wispy patterns across the top of the beer. My snifter had a spotty lacing down the side of the glass.

Taste: Fairly roast forward with some good cocoa and rich dessert-like sweetness. The beer is vaguely reminiscent of chocolate cake, in a way that is pleasant and not overbearing. All these flavors become more vibrant as the beer warms up, and the roast character seems to build on itself through the duration of the pour.

Mouthfeel: Slightly sticky, but certainily not unpleasant. The carbonation level is moderately still, which works nicely to support the richness and provide a perceived sweetness on top to of the sweetness that is physically there.

Aftertaste: There is a lingering sweetness and roast character that feels a little bit like the finish on a nice, foamy latte.

Overall: The Special Double Cream Stout is quite a refreshing beer, not in the sense of taste, but rather in its concept. You can think of it like a session imperial stout — at a glance, it’s big, rich, roasty and can easily be mistaken for a hearty stout. However, at 6.1% ABV, you can move on with your evening, just as if you had drank something a littler easier on the liver.

This makes for a pretty fantastic fall seasonal — it delivers all the nice “warming” characteristics of a big stout, but you’ll still be able to drive home at the end of the evening.

Although this beer isn’t quite a “session” beer, I still may just go ahead and group it in because it certainly uses a lot of ideas that brewers draw on when designing a session ale. The trick is to create the illusion of a beer with a much fuller body than what is physically present, with the primary goal being a dramatically lowered ABV. If all we wanted was more beer and less drunk, we could all grab a tall-boy of our favorite domestic trash-lager at 3.8% ABV, but there’s a reason we don’t.

Many beer drinkers of today want the same thing, no matter the beer style — fuller flavor and deeper complexity. The session ale allows us to have more of those beers without making an ass of ourselves (as early in the evening). I believe I can speak for many of us when I say that this is a rather important quality in the beers that we choose!

Beer, burgers and B-Dubs were on the menu at the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Saturday during the fourth annual BRU Fest, a benefit for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation (CLF) of Michigan.

Bell’s Brewery, the exclusive beer sponsor of the event, had more than 20 craft beers on tap for attendees to enjoy while they noshed on burgers and wings from Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern and Buffalo Wild Wings.

“Bell’s has been a partner in the event, along with Buffalo Wild Wings and Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern, since the very beginning,” said Jackie McIntosh, director of development for the CLF. “We are so grateful that these fantastic organizations continue to provide their time and product to support our events. Everyone is so professional and amazing to work with. When it comes to event time, we all just click. It’s a really fun event to put together.”

Admission to BRU Fest included 10 tokens for beer samples and four tickets for food. Visitors were encouraged to try beer and food pairings, with suggestions listed on large color-coded menus on display at the venue. A few recommendations: The Chillin’ Cherry Burger — a turkey burger with smoked Gouda, peppers, onions and a cherry stout chili sauce — paired with an Oberon or Two Hearted Ale, and the Ravin’ Radish Burger — a prime rib burger patty with sautéed mushrooms, green pepper and a Kalamazoo Stout horseradish sauce — paired with an Amber Ale or Third Coast Beer.

Other Bell’s beer on tap for BRU Fest included Oarsman Ale, Quinannan Falls Special Lager, Midwestern Pale Ale, Double Cream Stout, Expedition Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout, Berry Ale, Sweet Potato Stout, Cherry Stout, Mercurial Belgian Style Ale and Wheat Love Ale.

In addition, guests enjoyed live entertainment by The Hype Syndicate and even had a chance to test their skills at the first-ever BRU Pong tournament. For an additional $5, teams of two could enter the tournament and represent a CLF patient family, with proceeds benefiting The Walk, an upcoming fundraiser for the foundation.

“An event doesn’t have to be black-tie to make an impact,” said Bill Seklar, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Royal Oak has been a perfect home for this event that raises awareness and funds for our patients and families based in Michigan affected by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases.”

McIntosh added that she’s thrilled with the outcome of this year’s BRU Fest.

“While the final numbers are still being tallied, we thought it was a great turnout and a fun atmosphere, and the feedback we are getting indicates that both attendees and volunteers really enjoyed being a part of the event,” she said.

The CLF also held a BRU Grand Rapids in 2013 in conjunction with the opening of its new regional office in the Grand Rapids area. According to McIntosh, a date for BRU Grand Rapids has not been set for this year, but the organization is interested in doing it again.