“The S’more Stout is an absolute all-star: Aromas of chocolate, coffee, fig, and smoke invite you in to a gigantic maltiness that is distinct in its smooth and refined character, with flavors of chocolate and hints of smoke mingling with rich caramel, fruit, and warming alcohol. Top with a roasted marshmallow and you have the ultimate S’more experience!”
Who could resist that decadent description? Of all the options in craft beer mecca Portland, Base Camp Brewing won us over with those two sentences. Mostly, we wanted the roasted marshmallow – not to mention a beer that could handle one.
Base Camp’s brewery is housed in a concrete, olive-green warehouse in an off-the-beaten-path Portland neighborhood. They pour their “awesome brewskies for the adventure-minded palate” in an adjoining taproom, which resembles a wilderness lodge. Tables are made from salvaged lumber, some glass-topped with maps showing the owners’ favorite hiking spots. A canoe is suspended above the bar, which is made from recycled beer bottles, and the timbered ceiling is equipped with fiber optics to give the illusion of a night under the stars.
But back to the marshmallow. So eager were we to sample the marshmallow-bedecked S’more Stout we were willing to forgo our usual practice of ordering a flight, since we figured the sugary garnish was too big for a 4-oz. glass and would only come with a pint. Scoping out other people’s beverages, though, we saw we could have it all—a diminutive marshmallow adorned the sample-sized stouts of other patrons.
As we bellied up to the bar, we saw a marshmallow being toasted to perfection not over a campfire but by a bartender deftly wielding a blowtorch. We selected our beers and watched the flight being prepped. But when it was set in front of us, it was missing the much-lauded marshmallow. WTF?
What did he take us for? Sure, we were new here, but we’re observant. At least observant enough to know when we’re getting screwed.
“Uhm, isn’t this missing something?” we blurted quickly before our mountain-man-bearded bartender could hike away.
“The S’more Stout comes with a marshmallow, doesn’t it?” we asked while pointing a finger in the direction of a marshmallow-bedazzled drink down the bar.
Frowning, or at least we think it was a frown hidden beneath a frenzy of facial hair, he snatched our flight and set a blowtorch to it. Now we’re talking.
It’s a rare beer that can deal with a marshmallow. Even seemingly chocolaty stouts are mostly made bitter by pairing them with something of real sweetness. Occasionally you’ll see attempts at ice cream beer floats, but only occasionally; almost never, really. Such things are so rare because they’re generally quite awful.
In this case, the marshmallow came on the side so there was no risk of ruining a perfectly good beer. We sampled the stout first and found it exactly the way we like them: sweet and malty with deep layers of mocha.
For the final test, though, it had to stand up to the roasted sugar puff adorning its rim. So we sent the marshmallow in for a plunge.
Was it worth the hype?
Well, we summoned the bartender back to pour us two full pints. But please, we requested, don’t forget the marshmallow. In fact, why don’t you make it a double.