Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Oompa Loompas

They herald from Loompaland, those Oompa Loompas with their orangish and greenish features and their song.  That song.  Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do.  I have a perfect puzzle for you.  Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-dee.  If you are wise, you'll listen to me.  The song goes on and on, with puzzles referencing the guzzling of sweets, the chewing of gum, spoiled Siamese cats, and a glut of TV.  

There is another Oompa Loompa, and the only puzzle it offers is a song for the taste buds.  It is a rather unique brew ... a chocolate cream stout.  The stout was brewed by Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted, Ohio.  The not-so eccentric, but rather down-to-earth "Willy Wonka" in this "chocolate factory," is head brewer Matt Cole, who is behind some of my favorite beers, including the (now GABF, gold-medal winning) Hop Juju.  Within the past year, Fat Heads recently opened a production brewery, which greatly increased the availability of Matt's beer.  In turn, this has allowed for me to enjoy the beers more often (as I do not live within easy driving distance of North Olmsted) and even review some of those beers, like the Hop JuJu and the Head Hunter Imperial IPA

The Ooompa Loompa loosely falls into the category of a "sweet stout."  This style most likely originated in England, where the beers were referred to as milk stouts or cream stouts . (Interestingly, according to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BCJP), these designations are no longer permitted in England.) The reference is not to the use of milk or cream in the brewing process, but rather to the use of lactose or milk sugar, which helps to sweeten the beer.  In this case, Matt and his fellow brewers at Fat Head's used Belgian Dark Chocolate and Madagascar vanilla beans to produce the Oompa Loompa.  

The end result is one very good beer that fits well within the expectations of a cream stout.  Such stouts are expected to have a deep brown, almost black color.  The Oompa Loompa obliges on that score.  According to the BCJP, one should expect aromatic elements of mild roasted grains, with some coffee or chocolate. The stout has aromas of the roasted malts, together with chocolate, cream and vanilla.  After enjoying the aroma, one finds that the beer itself fits perfectly into the body of a cream stout, with a medium body and a noticeable creaminess.  That creaminess envelopes the elements of chocolate, caramel, molasses and vanilla in the taste of the beer.  Any bitterness from the roasted malts or the hops is lost in the chocolate and vanilla.

This beer is definitely one that is paired with desserts, especially as a complement to a dessert that includes some chocolate.  Although it may be possible to pair this beer with a main course, the sweetness would present some complications.  For example, Beer Advocate suggests that the beer could be paired with barbecue, shellfish or grilled meat.  (I am always a little curious about how these pairings are derived.)  Rather than take the effort to create the pairing, simplicity is best, go with a chocolate dessert and just enjoy the beer.

This "whimsical, Snozzwanger concoction" -- as the brewers at Fat Heads have dubbed it -- was available in bottles from the brewery and brewpub.  Given it was a seasonal beer that was released back in February, I do not think that it is currently available now.  If it should become available next February, it is definitely worth a try.


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