I’ll admit off the bat that this beer, which I received on tap at The Ginger Man in New York City, was just not my style. In short, the beer tasted like stale wine that had been left sitting on a radiator. No one at my table could stand more than a sip. My craft-loving friend was vehement that the bar’s keg had gone bad, and he was aghast when the waitress insisted it was supposed to taste like that.
I’ve come to understand that grape-y sewage may have been the flavor Lagunitas was going for when it brewed the Sonoma County Stout. If so, then I congratulate them on the achievement, and I can confirm that they have not only concocted a beverage suitable for anyone who enjoys the taste of skunky Guinness mixed with a jug of Welch’s that got left in the garage over the summer, but also potentially violated the Geneva convention.
To get through the basics, in terms of appearance, the beer looked like any other stout, very dark brown with minimal foam. Which is to say, my friends and I had no sign or warning of what fresh, feculant hell we were about to imbibe. The smell was deceptively subdued, with a standard whiff of tartness and just a hint of the decaying compost that lay beneath. With respect to “mouthfeel,” it felt like a beer that you no longer wish to feel in your mouth any longer. It was lightly carbonated with something of a sticky, inescapable aftertaste that lingered much longer than any hope of having spent $7 on a drink I would actually like to consume.
As you may already have surmised, I would only recommend this beer if you want to use a attempt to wake up a coma patient with a full frontal assault on their tastebuds or to subtly indicate to a friend or loved one that you don’t actually like them. If so, Lagunitas has you covered. Otherwise, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.