I nab Fieldhouse Brewing Company
’s Q1 dark seasonal, the Caramel Macchiato Stout ($9.99/six-pack), my first association being a cloying Starbucks drink, and I’m curious. Brewer Travis Fields says it started as a Test Tap Wednesday idea from an employee, and it sold fast, to acclaim. There was an initial bomber series, but this is the first year it reached cans. It starts as a milk stout recipe, but instead of lots of dark-roasted grains, it sees 40 percent of its malt bill as caramel malts, “atypical for any beer,” he says. That’s meant to impart natural flavor, because if real caramel were added, the sugar would ferment out, and fats (butter) and beer don’t dance well together. So this smooth 6-percent ABV beer doesn’t cloy with a synthetic finish, but hints at a latte, with big coffee flavor (from Switchback Salvadoran beans, “dry hopped”), plus faint vanilla (from Madagascar beans in the boil) and residual sweetness from lactose, with caramel as an aspirational after-note.