Illustration by Blair Gauntt
It’s cold — or at least it’s supposed to be cold in December. Regardless, it’s not an ideal time of the year for citrusy and tropical IPAs. They’re still drinkable, sure, but much less fitting (double IPAs are a different story, however.) Stouts, including imperial stouts, are a much better fit for the cold temperatures and early, long nights.
The beer of the month for December, You Be You, is a fantastic imperial stout. Released this year on a limited, draft-only basis on Dec. 1, You Be You is like drinking a liquefied chocolate cake complete with 10 percent alcohol.
According to Kalona’s Nic Sabatke, the beer’s name honors a 92-year old local who has been telling folks “you be you” for decades. The man is even featured on the beer’s bottle labels.
You Be You is an opaque black color. A finger and a half of dense, dark tan-colored head settles slowly, leaving a bubble-spotted skim and a trail of lacing stuck to the glass. The aroma is sinister, featuring roasted and toasted malt, dark chocolate, molasses, toffee and caramel. There are also scents of black licorice, plum, raisin and a hint of dark cherry. It is very reminiscent of chocolate cake with a chocolate syrup glaze and layers of ganache.
The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and the taste is delicious! The prominent flavors include roasted malt, caramel, toffee, dark chocolate, and molasses. Plum and dark cherry are also present. Though the ABV is higher than normal, the alcohol is well masked.
Alcohol Content: 10.2 percent ABV.
Food Pairings: As an imperial stout, You Be You will pair well with roasted and smoked food, barbecue, sausages and chocolate desserts. If you are enjoying You Be You at the brewery in Kalona, try it with the fried pork belly ravioli, pork belly alfredo lasagna (they apparently like pork belly in Kalona) or a pizza or flatbread featuring Italian sausage.
Where to Buy: You Be You can be enjoyed at the Kalona Brewing Company brewery (405 B Ave, Kalona, IA 52247), and other establishments that serve Kalona beer.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 211.