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Belt’s Beer Garden: Toast Me!

French Toast - An Imperial Brown Ale from Lickinghole Creek

Coming back from the NIU-Georgia Tech game two weeks ago, I stopped in Richmond, Virginia for a few nights and found a brewery located about 30 miles away in nearby Goochland, Virginia - Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery.

Did I initially laugh at the name of both the creek and the county they were in? Yes. Lickinghole in Goochland??? I’s hard to keep a straight face there.

But I quickly learned that LCCB was a hidden gem in Virginia and everyone should know about them.

They are a mostly woman-owned, water-conscious, and biologically friendly farm brewery that grows their own hops, grains, and adjuncts (berries, pumpkins, ect..) on their 305-acre property. And, if they don’t grow it, they get it from local farmers. Unlike the vast majority of breweries, they also sustainably source their water on-site, drawing from their well and then purifying the wastewater before returning it into the Lickinghole Creek watershed. How cool is that?!

When I was there I saw a four-pack of beer in a style that I don’t normally go for but thought it sounded good and might as well try it while I was there.

Aptly named French Toast, this Imperial Brown Ale was made with vanilla, cinnamon, and was said to have a big maple syrup flavor to it. As an imperial brew, it also has a very solid 8% ABV...and a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans was only $12, so I jumped at the chance to try it.

This imperial brown ale poured an insanely dark brown color, like that of cola, with some shadowy amber hues showing up at the bottom of the glass when held up to the light. About two fingers of tannish-brown head topped the beer. The foam slowly fizzled away, marking the glass with a nice blanket of lacing as it did so.

The aroma was subtle yet sweet, with notes of vanilla, coffee, and cinnamon leading the way. Neither of those three ingredients overpowered the others but, rather, they all worked together to allow this brew to have a very inviting aroma that is sure to remind you of breakfast...and make you slightly hungry as well.

My first sip began with a small rush of carbonation before the beer’s flavors really took hold. Initially there is creamy mouthfeel that allows some toasted malt flavors through, giving off the flavor of freshly roasted coffee.

The slightly bitter coffee flavor lingers for a moment before the other, sweeter characteristics begin to appear. Peeking out first is a light maple syrup note that brings with it some cinnamon spice. After a moment, the brew begins to turn a bit sweeter, as a touch of vanilla joins the maple syrup and cuts into the once dominant coffee taste.

On the backend, the coffee perks up once again and finishes off each sip with a bit of bitterness and a slightly roasty aftertaste that lingers on for a few minutes. This brown ale also ends on the dryer side but it’s not a terribly dry finish, just enough to want a sip of water midway through the pint.

This was a very tasty breakfast beer. Despite having an 8% ABV, this brew was super crushable...and that makes it rather dangerous. I could easily have two or three of these before 10 a.m. and not bat an eye. It’s so much closer to a liquid French toast than it is to beer.

If you like coffee, french toast, and/or beers for breakfast, Lickinghole Creek’s French Toast is the way to go! One of the better brown ales I’ve had!

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