One good thing about having friends that travel is that sometimes they bring you beer. My neighbor hits the road often with his band, and many times I’ll be the beneficiary of the road trip. When he left for Wisconsin for a week recently, I didn’t expect much more than some cheese curds; instead, he brought me a bottle of 3 Sheeps Brewing Cashmere Hammer. I wouldn’t think modern musicians would normally relish a tour stop in Sheboygan, but this one worked out quite well.
The brewery’s name intrigued me, and not just because it would be a cool name for a metal band. I liked the illusion of something soft meeting something, well, not so soft. It fits. This is one creamy beer, but with a flavor profile that will take your palate a bit by surprise.
Reading the brewery’s website gave me the impression the brewers at 3 Sheeps go out of their way to not make regular old beer, as they tout quality control as well as a willingness to take chances. There’s a lot of that going on in the U.S. craft beer scene, sometimes with mixed results, but based on my experience with Cashmere Hammer, these folks are doing something right.
“Because we believe the best beer you can drink is one you enjoy,” a sort-of mission statement on the site says, “and that it’s even better if you didn’t see it coming.”
I didn’t give Cashmere Hammer a properly aggressive pour (my fault), so I didn’t get the full nitro effect, but that didn’t seem to detract from the aroma of this fine stout. If you love chocolate, this bold, black beer will entice you immediately, with the roasted malts eliciting coffee. The 3 Sheeps website notes that Cashmere Hammer “drinks like the best darn milkshake you’ve ever had,” and that’s an apt description. It’s almost impossibly creamy, almost like an imperial stout, but without the alcoholic kick.
The chocolaty sweetness gives way to a bit of mild bitterness, followed by a slightly dry finish. Once it settles on the palate, it’s almost equal parts dark chocolate and roasted malts. It’s really kind of brilliant, actually, thick and full of body, yet with surprising drinkability.
According to the brewery’s description, brewers spent 18 months developing this beer in their “double-secret bottling line” to develop the velvety mouthfeel. If Guinness went in this direction, it would have a similar bent. Well, if you added chocolate.
This one is available year-round in 12-ounce bottles. It sure went down smooth on a cold winter evening.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.