Conquest Brewing Co.
It’s really exciting to see more stuff finally rolling out of the doors of Conquest. While the city anxiously awaits the opening of their tasting room, kegs have started popping up around the Columbia area more and more in recent weeks. Their first two year-round beers – Sacred Heart IPA and Artemis Blonde – have been great, and their one-off Bipolar High Roller was one of my favorites of Brewvival.
Last week saw the launch of the Medusa Stout, which will be their year-round 5.2% sweet stout. The first batch hit taps across Columbia on Thursday and Friday and, from all reports, was incredibly well-received.
What makes Medusa stand out from other sweet/milk stouts is the absence of lactose, usually a standard in milk stouts. By using a different mashing technique, lactose can be left out and thus the beer can be enjoyed by the lactose tolerant and intolerant alike.
The nose is sort of like a creamy cup of dark roast coffee. The roasted notes are what pop up first, leaving behind a slightly acidic coffee note. Behind that is the creaminess, with a slight milk chocolate/chocolate milk quality, although with more of a dark chocolate tone. Since there’s no lactose used in the brewing process, it’s not overly sweet or creamy on the nose, and the roasted characteristics shine through a lot more, especially as it warms.
The roasted bitterness is very slight on the front of the tongue, with just a pinch before it glides across the rest of the palate. The acidic coffee lingers for just a second before melting into a creamy milk chocolate smoothness with a hint of coffee added. There’s a slight fruity hoppiness in the middle of the palate that gives a very slight orange and grapefruit quality, but it’s masked by everything else going on with the taste. The mouthfeel and body are thin, but not watery, and really gave the feeling of drinking a glass of chocolate milk. The finish is smooth with just a touch of cocoa powder lingering on the end.
Medusa strikes the perfect balance of sweet and roasted characteristics without the heavy, filling stout you’d expect. At just north of 5%, the thing is damn near sessionable, which is good as just one glass isn’t good enough.
According to the brewers, the first batch is just about where they want the beer to be. But if subsequent batches are better than this one, there’s going to be a lot more to enjoy.