For me, this is about as smooth and gentle as a stout gets. It is not over ridden with coffee, chocolate, smoke, or anything else. That may be a compliment in your mind and it may not. But I like Big Slick more than a little.
Ale Asylum is one of my favorite breweries and has been for years. I dig their restauarant/brewery in Madison and if you are ever in Mad-Town it is a "must-visit." Their food kicks ass at the restaurant. Also a lot of their beers make my toes curl and my face smile.
But...and I will be honest...even in the Winter, beers labeled, "stout," don't often turn my head one way or the other. It is not because they are not good or even great. It is because my pallet is not formulated for a lot of the ideas a stout offers. I like hops...and crispness...and fruit notes...you get the idea. And...I am a hipocrite because Dragon's Milk is on my short list and a good bourbon barrel stout makes me very happy. Suffice to say in a long winded way that stouts to me are rarely terrible, often drinkable, and rarely great. But quality is quality and I will be honest...this is quite possibly my favorite stout at this moment...at this time...on this day.
The beer pours black with a tinge of red. It has a nice caramel almond colored head. It has a comparatively smooth body that is not too thin for a stout but definatley teeters on what many people think a stout should be. The aroma is a nice cocoa...not deep chocolate...just cocoa...and I like that.. The flavor is a very light coffee mixed with a hint of chocolate (cocoa) and a twinge of charred marshmallow. The aftertaste definately leaves a charred back-end and for me that is okay because it is subtle and the rest of the drink does not conflict with its finish. Take a moment and really swish this beer around your mouth. Ale Asylum seems to have created something I have been looking for. A deep malted darkness with a slightly noticeable depth and a charred element that feels really good in the mouth. I think the reason I like this beer to the extent I do is because I get a crisp mouthfeel with a depth of flavor that I would classify as a middle of the road deep pallet stout. It is quite good and to be honest, better than I expected.
This is not a crazy good beer that I ran about my house praising. It is not a beer I would call my friends to talk about. But...man...it is really drinkable, flavorfull, and just plain good. I am an Ale Asylum guy. I buy Bedlam regularly and to be honest, it is rare to not have at least 1 AA beer in my beer fridge. But, I did not expect much here. I thought this may be an Ale Asylum afterthought to try and capture a seasonal moment...but I was wrong. The beer is good...plain and simple. I will buy it again.
While I am admittedly not a stout drinker by preference, I have seen my fair share of stouts. Not bragging but I have probably seen and tasted more than most beer drinkers. Ale Asylum Big Slick is delicious, drinkable, and something I will seek out in the right season. Nice effort Ale Asylum.
Full Brewery Name: Ale Asylum
Brewery Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Alcohol by Volume(ABV): 7.0
Drinkability: Moderate - Sessionable