Long Trail has long been a great go-to for approachable craft beers. They make solid session brews that won't knock you on your ass but give you nice flavor. Many die-hard beer geeks don't consider Long Trail anything special, but those folks miss the point. Long Trail isn't aiming to reinvent beer or blow out your taste buds anything like that. They just make good, drinkable beer. It's why I like them
None of which is to say they don't play around with bigger beers. Their Brewsmaster Series is where they get a little bigger and bolder. Each year a few beers come out in this series, always in bombers (22 oz. bottles), and always for a reasonable price. The standout is always, in my opinion, their coffee stout, a robust brew that clocks in at 8% and that has always packed a nice punch of roast, chocolate, and java.
So why I am so lukewarm on this year's batch?
This has been a top-notch beer for me in the past, but this year's batch (2012) has a slick, oily coffee bitterness I don't care for. That same taste totally ruined a homebrewed coffee stout I made last year. Mind you, the taste is not even close to that bad here -- I enjoyed this whole bottle -- but it's a step down from the gorgeous roast of previous batches. The coffee is way up front, burying the rich roast that defines this beers.
I'm stumped. And disappointed. Because last year, I would have ranked this brew among my favorites. This year? Not even in the top 100.