Apr 15, 2016

Lickinghole Creek Chai Tea Virginia Black Bear

I’m all for a brewery experimenting with variations on a theme — sticking a base brew in different barrels, adding chipotles to a stout or fruit juice to an IPA. It’s something that I think we’ve grown accustomed to in this craft world. For the most part, they’re interesting, tasty translations, but when they go wrong it can be a muddled mess. Thankfully, Lickinghole Creek’s Chai Tea Virginia Black Bear lays comfortably in the middle of that spectrum.

The brewery’s base Russian imperial stout is a solid example of the style. I’m not sure that adding Chai tea to the mix really does anything for the beer. In fact, for my own preferences, it tends to take away from the beer’s robust quality. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not a big tea drinker or maybe the amount of the extra ingredient is a bit too much for the beer to support. This brew isn’t bad by any means, it’s flavors just don’t work for me as well as I had hoped.

I’ve talked to a few friends about this beer and the results are fairly evenly split. Some love it more so than the original, while others could live without it. As with most variants, I suspect this is the case. Me, I’m more a fan of the standard Virginia Black Bear and will gladly stock pile that over this particular variant.