Beer of the Week: Babayaga Sylvan Stout

BY DAN VERHILLE | MARCH 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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Name: Babayaga Sylvan Stout

Product of: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, Cambridge, Mass.

Serving Style: 1 pint 6 fluid ounce bottle, 7 percent ABV

I'm not sure why, but Babayaga just seems like an inappropriate name for a beer, [insert Kat Williams joke about not drinking anything that sounds like one of his cousins]. Although the company neglected to include it on the label (tsk, tsk) Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project actually does a very good job summing up the beer with the claim that it was "inspired by Eastern European folklore, by woodland, streams, cold dark nights, and wood smoke." Not bad, right? If only the brewery had included the information that the Babayaga is an archetypical witch figure in Europe, I might have had a little less buyer's remorse when I first discovered the name.

Smell: Not much going on in my nostrils even though I nearly doused them in beer. A little chocolate and alcohol is all I'm really getting. My ratings might place a disproportionate amount of weight on smell, but seriously, Pretty Things, you have to make more happen than this. .4/5

Appearance: The beer pours black as night into the glass and only supports a thin, mocha head. The carbonation is minimal, and the consistency is thin. The only thing really worth noticing is really thick but short-lived glass lacing that drips down the interior. 3.5/5

Taste: Mostly chocolate, coffee, and smoke dominate the taste in a way that's pronounced but mellow enough to be very drinkable. The smoke and grain flavors follow and are polished off by caramel and alcohol — pleasant but tactfully underwhelming. 4.8/5

Overall: I've not yet encountered a beer that I've enjoyed the taste of so much but been so disappointed by its impression on the other senses. I couldn't find any reliable information on what exactly a "sylvan stout" is, so I can't be sure if it was brewed for/by people with anosmia, but I believe this beer is an aromatic makeover away from being something really special. Take the overall rating with a grain of salt. 8.7/15

In the March 14 “Beer of the Week,” The Daily Iowan incorrectly referred to the beer as a product of Pretty Times Brewing. The beer is a product of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. The DI regrets this error.

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