I took a sip of Red Hare Brewing Company’s Sticky Stout expecting to taste a sweet, roasty and chocolatey beer.
Instead, I was confronted with a strong sour note. The malt was barely detectable.
I’d never tried a dark beer that was roasty and sour. To be honest, it kind of worked.
I asked Bobby Thomas, Red Hare’s brewmaster, if the sourness was intentional. He told me that it did have a subtle tang to it, but I could tell he was slightly bemused.
It wasn’t until I described the can design, that a red flag went up for him.
“Wait, flip your can over,” Thomas said.
The expiration date read: March 2019.
Wow. So, the sourness wasn’t intentional. Here’s a lesson for you: Always check the expiration date of your beer.
Surprisingly, it didn’t give me a stomach ache.
OK, take two. I tried a different Publix this time, and sure enough I found a fresh batch — it was a Thanksgiving miracle.
This time the beer tasted delicious as it should. It was roasty, malty and slightly bitter. I’d compare it to eating a candied cherry dipped in dark chocolate.
Thomas has been brewing Red Hare’s Sticky Stout for the past five years. He said the beer got its name from its sticky nature.
“It’s a sticky stout for a reason,” Thomas said. “The oats are sticky and they become congealed mash. If I’m not careful, it can become a big thing of oatmeal.”
Despite always creating a sticky situation, Thomas said it’s one of his favorites to brew and drink.
His wife is also a big fan.
“My wife loves to put it in chili,” Thomas said. “You just make a normal pot of chili and add one can, then let it boil off. It adds a heartiness.”
Although the flavor has remained consistent over the years, the can has taken on different forms.
The original design has a rabbit eating a bowl of oatmeal with his face down in the food.
Thomas said the federal government wouldn’t let him keep the image because it could have an “adverse effect on the consumer.”
The second design has the rabbit, but his head is up and he’s holding a pint of beer. The most recent iteration removes the rabbit completely and leaves the breakfast diner background.
If you’re looking for a Sticky Stout and you see this rabbit with his beer and a bowl of oatmeal, don’t pick it up. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Red Hare is located at 1998 Delk Industrial Blvd. SE in Marietta and 4802 Main St. in Shallotte, North Carolina.
Fore more information about the brewery, visit redharebrewing.com.