Burial Beer Skillet Donut Stout
Burial Beer Co.
Asheville, North Carolina
STYLE: Breakfast Stout
4.8 / 5.0
Look: 5.0 | Smell: 4.5 | Taste: 5.0 | Feel: 4.75 | Overall: 4.8
A special note of thanks: After visiting the brewery in May, which you will read about in the section below, and discovering that Skillet Donut Stout was unavailable on draft and in cans or bottles, I was a little concerned that I would never get to try this amazing brew that so many beer drinkers praised as being the best offering by Burial Beer Co.
Thankfully, a guy in a local beer exchange group posted a picture of some beer he recently picked up while vacationing in Asheville and it included two four packs of Skillet Donut. I immediately sent him a message and asked him if he would be willing to send me two cans in exchange for some Indiana and Michigan offerings not available to him. I expected reluctance but instead got an overwhelmingly positive response. He just wanted to share the wealth and would work with me on my first trade. Up to this point, I hadn’t shipped or traded any beer. He was gracious enough to walk me through the rather easy process and gave me a long list of tips and tricks.
In the end, he sent me two cans along with a few other local offerings from Florida that I have every intention to review on the blog. For the sake of anonymity, I won’t provide his name but cannot thank him enough for helping me through this. So, if you are reading this, cheers. This post is dedicated to you.
Brewery at a glance: Aly and I were lucky enough to visit Burial Beer Co. back in May during an amazing trip we took to North Carolina. If you haven’t read her post on our travels, make sure you do that now. You can find it in our Travel Section or click the title of the blog here: On the Road: Our Adventures in North Carolina. On the long list of breweries in North Carolina, I had only picked out two that we absolutely must visit when we were in Asheville: Wicked Weed Brewing and Burial Beer Co. Every other brewery would be icing on the cake. The reason these two stuck out to me were based on a few friends’ recommendations and the fact that I had had a collaboration that both of them did and absolutely loved it (Nectarphilia, for those that are interested). I also checked out their website and thought their sense of style would be very much in line with my interests. When we arrived at the brewery, I realized that I was so very right.
The decor was rustic yet had this modern charm and had the greatest painted mural outside of the brewery. In every capacity, they kind of blew me away. I had an amazing flight of five of their beers (Bolo Coconut Brown, Tresher Coffee Saison, The Prayer Biere d’Cobbler, Hunt in the Forest Spruce Saison, and 1980 T.R.G.), picked up a bottle of Terrestrial Paradise for consumption when I made it back to Fort Wayne, but was disappointed when I talked to the head brewer about whether I would be able to try Skillet Donut while there. Turns out that this brew was their most popular beer and that it frequently sells faster than they can make it and that they were re-releasing it four days after we would be leaving Asheville in the form of various variant versions. I swallowed my pride (and beer) and just came to the realization that I would simply have to wait to try this beer on a future trip. But here I am today, enjoying a can and having my mind blown. It was so worth the wait and lived up to every expectation I had.
Look: Skillet Donut pours a deep opaque black with minimal tan head that sticks to the glass. As always, I’ve poured this into my Spiegelau stout glass, which makes any beer look sexy. So let’s talk about the can’s artwork.
David Paul Seymour does a lot of their artwork and his stuff is exactly what I want on my beer and my metal albums. When I visited in May, I’m not sure he was doing their labels and I’m even more certain that there weren’t any cans available.
However, when I saw that they were canning, I almost thought that they got John Dyer Baizley, of Baroness fame (seriously, you need to listen to this band), to do their artwork. After doing some digging and also simply reading the label, I discovered David Paul Seymour is the artist and realized that I’m fairly certain I have a The Sword shirt for which he did the artwork.
I’ve since dug through his stuff and cannot recommend it enough. It works for the brewery’s namesake and their decor and online presence and, had I known nothing about Burial Beer Co., I would have picked up a can or bottle with this artwork off the shelf and expected good things. Please give me more metal artwork on my beer labels, Burial.
Smell: On the nose, Skillet Donut smells strongly of rich, dark roasted coffee with a bittersweet edge that reminiscent of dark chocolate. There are coffee beers that have coffee aromas and then there is this. Had I poured this into a coffee mug, I would have sworn this was coffee. The coffee scent is a rich, earthy blend with plenty of dark roasted beans that have slight hints of vanilla. As a regular drinker of stouts, I’ve begun to notice that smell of lactose sugar and there is a slight hint of sweet lactose at the finish on this one. I’ve come to appreciate the scent but recognize that sometimes this can be an perceived as an off-quality for those not expecting it. It occasionally comes off as a confectioners sugar sweetness smell that many find a little too acrid. I’ve learned to enjoy it and will frequently sniff it out in milk stouts.
Taste: Much like Skillet Donut’s smell, I’m not sure I would be able to distinguish this from a good, strong cup of coffee if it wasn’t for the different drinking glasses I poured my beverages into. The first sip tasted so strongly of coffee that I almost had to double check that I didn’t grab the wrong glass. The palate is overwhelmed with a variety of rich flavors in this one. It starts with strong coffee flavor with an earthy edge and carries over into burnt lactose sugar, caramel, subtle molasses, and finishes with a smooth dark chocolate finish that brings back its roasted coffee flavor.
I’d like to take a quick moment to talk briefly about coffee beers. It has always been one of my favorite styles on the market given that only coffee rivals my love of beer. My first introduction to the wonderful world of coffee and beer was Founders Breakfast Stout. When I first had this brew, I had no idea it was a seasonal and spent a solid year waiting for its return.
It still remains one of my favorite beers and still one of the best Breakfast Stouts on the market. Since then, I actively search for brews with coffee as their main ingredient. There’s so much you can do with coffee and beer and several of my favorite breweries have been producing incredibly high quality coffee brews. A few of my favorites that I’ve had recently had include Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown (quite possibly my favorite coffee beer, ever!), Devil’s Trumpet Night Goat, AleSmith Brewing Speedway Stout, Four Fathers 2 Flocc: Nugg Life, and Ballast Point Victory At Sea. All of these brews may be making an appearance as Brew Reviews on Beard + Bloom in the near future. So, if you see them on the shelf, consider grabbing them now so we can discuss which of these has become your go-to coffee brew.
So where does Skillet Donut rank among my favorite coffee beers? Right near the top. The only competition it has is with Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown, which is considerably easier to get than Skillet Donut, and Speedway Stout, which is considerably more difficult to get in my area and also probably should be shared with friends. Seriously, this brew exceeded my expectations and, as suggested above, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder what this brew might taste like. It has all the hallmarks of a good tasting coffee stout: rich dark chocolate flavors, bold earthy coffee, subtle sugary sweetness, and an overall smooth, easy drinking experience. I honestly cannot remember the last time that I nearly shed a tear when I finished a glass of beer when it was finished. It was seriously that good.
Feel: This is yet another area this brew excels. For a stout, it is somewhat aggressively carbonated which helps move its mix of complex flavors across your palate quickly. It finishes dry (but not too dry) which allows for the roasted coffee flavors to work their magic and also give you aware of its subtle caramel, chocolate, and vanilla present in the coffee richness. The body on this one is perfect. It doesn’t drink like thick, motor oil like some stouts but has a nice thick body that sticks to your mouth. Because of this, you may need to pace yourself. Several times during the can, I was tempted to chug the last few swallows because it didn’t give me that bloated, full feeling that so many other stouts seem to advertise on their labels. But the most important quality of mouthfeel is the fact that I was tasting this one for nearly half an hour after I finished it. It was so rich and gave my taste buds such a workout that it was hard for me to let it go. This is genuinely an impressive feat that is rarely accomplished in beer. You usually taste it and then it is gone almost too quickly. This just stuck around reminding me that this brew is so incredibly hard to get. If you are reading this, Burial Beer Co., I’d love to receive a surprise package on my porch with a four pack of this amazing brew.
Overall: Up to this point, I’ve spent close to two hours writing a review of the brew and am at nearly 1700 words. It also carries the honor of being the highest rated beer I’ve reviewed for the site. If you aren’t convinced you need to sell the soul of your first born child to get this brew then I haven’t been doing my job. It is seriously one of the best brews I’ve ever had the privilege to drink, has a cool story about how I finally got a couple cans to try, and is from a brewery that I strongly believe will be one of the biggest breweries in the near future. Let’s hope that North Carolina lifts the current laws on the state that will allow more breweries to become more widely distributed through the United States so that I can more easily drink their amazing beers and share them with all you amazing people.
Have you had this brew? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.