When it comes to trying something different and a little out of the ordinary, I always seek out an offering from Duclaw Brewing Co. Founded and opened in 1996 by Dave Benfield, DuClaw has been all over the board as far as the many different styles it has brewed. Many releases have been the style that a lot of breweries release, but DuClaw has taken the next step and added a little something extra to those that sets them apart from others. That’s what makes them unique and draws me to them every time.

Some examples include:

  • Dirty Little Freak — A coconut-caramel chocolate brown ale
  • Funk Blueberry Citrus Wheat — An American wheat ale with blueberry and Meyer lemon
  • Morgazm — An American blonde ale infused with grapefruit zest
  • Sweet Baby Java — An American porter with chocolate, peanut butter and espresso
  • Naked Fish — An American stout brewed with gourmet chocolate raspberry coffee
  • Cocoa Fuego – A stout brewed with dark chocolate and chipotle chili peppers

The PastryArchy Carmallow is the 11th offering in the brewery’s PastryArchy series which all use a base Russian imperial stout and add in ingredients in the process to emulate different types of candy and sweet, decadent desserts. Carmallow was brewed in collaboration with Wockenfuss Candies, which has been a Baltimore staple for over 100 years. The final brew is meant to resemble a caramel dipped marshmallow which has been one of the best sellers for Wockenfuss Candies for years.

Poured from a 16-ounce can, this 8.5 percent ABV stout pours extremely dark, mostly black with ever the slightest touches of deep brown. The head is healthy and khaki in color. The aroma is much lighter than I expected with only light caramel, lactose and bitter chocolate touching the nose.

The first sip delivers what I was anticipating: big bold flavors of cocoa powder, sweet caramel and cool sugar. Cocoa is the main player, moving to the front and remaining there as I finish the glass. In addition, there are roasted malts, creamy marshmallow and granulated sugar.

In my opinion, carbonation is just a tad flat, though it suits the style. The mouthfeel is semi-dry with the cocoa and although it coats the mouth, it does not overwhelm. Despite being 8.5 percent ABV, the alcohol doesn’t seem to be present even as the beer warms. The finish is once again dry and the remaining flavors that are left are very subtle with lingering cocoa powder, lightly roasted malts and a pleasant sugary sweetness.

DuClaw The PastryArchy Carmallow Imperial Stout
BREWERY: DuClaw Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Baltimore. Md.
STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.5 percent
IBU: 31
PRICE: $3.99
AVAILABLE IN: 16-ounce cans
Overall, DuClaw's The PastryArchy Carmallow is a very heavy dose of chocolate and caramel with light sweetness from the sugar and the marshmallows. It's sort of like liquid candy. Unfortunately, the biggest downfall to this beer is the overwhelming cocoa powder taste and feel that dominates and prevents the other flavors from showing their full potential. It's a very nice dessert beer in my opinion and one that will keep me on the lookout for more offerings from the PastryArchy Series.
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