Big Eddy is at a disadvantage. I know that before I even take a sip. For reasons completely out of his control, the odds are stacked against him. Because, I have just returned from scouring the city of Chicago for the newest Goose Island release, Bourbon County Vanilla Stout and nothing, no nothing, could possibly be as good as all that work. While I’m tempted ever so slightly to immediately indulge in the BCVS, I decide to assuage my stout temptations instead with Big Eddy. My second place. By far. Or so I thought.

So before the oil-black liquid spills from the bottle, Big Eddy has a tall order to fill. And black it is, a thick oily liquid. The head is sumptuous, frothy, thick and brown with lace as it dissipates a bit. The scent is initially a burst of sweetness. Coffee, chocolate, cocoa, even hints of bourbon (Freudian, perhaps?), but each smell laced with that sweet candy like quality. Just out of the fridge, I can immediately tell the brew is too cold, both the carbonation and the alcohol forward and in-your-face. However, as it warms a bit, it becomes quickly more complex. The forward taste turns to bitter brown sugar and the finish lingers with dark fruits and wood chips. The malts are present in spades, giving it a steady, solid roast for a backbone.

While a bit sweet for the average stout, I enjoyed this beer. It was approachable and enjoyable, not too big for its own britches. By the time I had drained but half my glass, however, the sweetness had started to take its toll.