By Aaron Ramson

So long story short, this week’s article was planned to be a review of Oyster Stouts. Flying Dog makes one that you can find at Bevmo or Total Wine, and I was going to tell you all about the history and origin of this very… “idiosyncratic” stout. As in, who the f*ck thought that this would ever be a thing? Why, why, why would someone ever look at an oyster and think, “You know what my Guinness needs? This terrifying looking bag of snot and salt that resembles a prepubescent face hugger with its legs pulled off. That’s what’s going to help me to enjoy the taste of beer.” No, instead of writing that glorious article, I got hungry and decided to go grocery shopping for booze, candy and lettuce, and instead I came home with one of Trader Joe’s in-house beers.

Trader Joe’s was founded in Southern California 1958 as a chain of convenience stores called Pronto, the store rebranded with the familiar South Seas motif in 1967 and focused on stocking food and wine that wasn’t carried by most grocery stores at the time. Bought by the ALDI chain of discount-grocery stores in 1979, the company expanded nationwide, and currently stands at 475 locations from coast to coast. Trader Joe’s sells many items under its own private labels, which reduces the cost of the product to the consumer by eliminating the need for a wholesaler middleman. Trader Joe’s carries five different brands of house beer that are all created by contract brewers; a brewery that’s hired out to brew and package a beer for retailers who don’t want the strain and hassle of opening their own brewery. “Campanology” is the contract brewing alibi used by Octopi Brewing of Waunakee, WI, and the company who created todays review, Every Time Buche De Noel Stout.

Now, a Buche De Noel is a yule log cake and a French Christmas tradition that dates back to the 19th century. It’s this little log cake that’s to blame for the ridiculously cumbersome name of this beer. I feel like there needs to be a subtitle or at least a comma in that mouthful-of-a-name. Every Time Buche De Noel Stout says it’s brewed with coffee and cocoa nibs, which are both somewhat common ingredients in craft beer stouts. What about this product makes it taste like a Yule log cake?


And why don’t I have the self-worth to go and buy myself something nice to review?

I heard Total Wine is now carrying Heady Topper, but nope, here I am shopping for myself in the bargain bin again cuz I don’t deserve nice things.

 God, I just depressed myself. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

 I’m gonna go soak in a warm bath while wishing I could go back in time and get that football scholarship like I should have. Be right back…

  • Every Time Buche De Noel Stout – 8% ABV, Campanology Brewing Co.

Appearance: The label is this bright, festive blue, with angel wings and sleigh bells and snowflakes and coffee beans across it. You know what’s not pictured? A yule log cake. What the hell guys? Talk about burying the lead. Can the art department guy not draw a fricken giant ho-ho with branches on it? Anyway, this beer poured a brownish-black with edges that glow amber against light, and with a thin cap of foam that dissipates quickly into bubbles across the surface of the beer.  3.5/5

Nose: My buddy Quinton is reviewing this beer with me; he sniffs his tiny snifter of stout and asks me if there’s any fruit in this beer. Dried fruit is big in the nose, followed by black licorice and the soft acidity of breakfast coffee. Almond sugar comes to mind; this beer kind of smells like almond liqueur. An odd bouquet for a beer that’s supposed to be about chocolate and coffee, but still pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Sweet. Cloyingly sweet, with a flavor that tastes like Torani almond syrup. Holding it in the mouth reveals a Tootsie Roll like, artificially chocolate flavor. Not much coffee to be found, but I suppose it’s meant to be a background note that supports instead of shines. This beer finishes with an alcoholic burn, boozy and warming. “It does not mask its alcohol content well”, blinks Quinton.  The artificial-flavors intensify as this beer warms, and it begins to taste quite awful. Q says, “The fact that it tastes worse as it warms doesn’t speak well of it”. 2/5

Mouthfeel: Thin and a little slick, almost oily. Not unpleasant at all. The carbonation is medium low and is the least offensive thing about this beer. 3.75/5

Overall: I really wanted to like this beer, but I also really wanted to like The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, and that shouldn’t give you a whole lot of confidence in my personal tastes. I can’t recommend this beer to you, fam, it’s a total dumpster fire. But if not heeding warning signs is your thing, it can be found at Trader Joe’s locations for a limited time at $4.99 a bomber. Can I buy some self-love with that money, so I stop reviewing crap beer? Drinking a beer full of oysters is gonna be a treat compared to this. 3.3/5

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