Show Me the Marshmallow

Base Camp Brewing Smores Stout

“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.

Base Camp Brewing Flight

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.

Blank stare.

“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.

Base Camp Brewing Marshmallow Toasting

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.

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12 Comments on “Show Me the Marshmallow”

  1. Helena Hann-Basquiat July 15, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    OOOH, I’d try that! I love a good chocolatey stout!

  2. Tom July 15, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    We left Portland four months ago — the city with more breweries than any other in the world, according to Wikipedia. We were natives and true Portlanders, loved our beer. Today we find ourselves in Greece. Not a lot of beer choices here. Nor in Spain, where we spent the past three months. And now you have the gall to remind me of life in the city of suds. Really miss that stuff. Really do.

  3. Julie McNamee July 15, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Mmm – sounds fantastic. We’re off to Denver in a couple of months time – hoping to try some good beers there. I’ve written post on unusually flavoured beers if you’re interested … http://www.quirkytravel.com/miscellaneous/strange-beer-flavours/

  4. Pit July 15, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Now I know where to go should I ever make it up to Portland! Thanks for sharing your views. I’d love to try the Stout, but very likely forgo the marshmellow.
    best regards from southern Texas,
    Pit

    http://pitstexasexpatblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/let-he-beer-tasting-continue/

  5. cravesadventure July 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    How COOL is that – YUMMERS:)

  6. saperentravel July 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I would love to see a hairy bartender with a blowtorch…… The beer sounds yummy

  7. Touring NH July 16, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    I don’t usually care for stouts, but that is definitely something I would try! I’d love to see the bar made from recycled beer bottle, that must have been really neat looking. Your description of the brewery makes worth visiting just for the atmosphere!

  8. Crista July 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    ha! LOVE the post. i’m not a beer drinker but i sure can appreciate a crispy marshmallow.

  9. frayboy July 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    You sure know how to make a guy thirsty! Portland has just been added to the ‘must go’ list

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