Dessert in a glass. The Frappuccino of beers. Remarkable.
All perfectly adequate methods of describing Noble Ale Works’ Naughty Sauce golden milk stout.
This beer was enjoyed by TheCraftBeerGuru a handful of times at the Seal Beach location of Beachwood BBQ. That entity, Beachwood (its Seal Beach and Long Beach locations, actually), is worthy of future review here; an undertaking that will likely be thick with hyperbolic praise.
Naughty Sauce was served “on nitro” at Beachwood, though the friendly bartender explained in terms this reviewer did not fully understand that the system was not a total nitrogen system. No special tap was observed, so that may have been what was lacking from completing the system. In any case, the beer was as creamy in texture as any nitro-poured beer; perhaps testament to the body of the beer, more than to its delivery system.
The biography of Noble Ale Works lead brewer, Evan Price, provides evidence of how far he has come in perfecting his craft. From humble roots brewing at BJ’s, Price is now at Noble creating wonderfully unique product like the beer subject of this review.
“Unique” certainly fits Naughty Sauce well. This is evident even prior to the first sip. While a stout, this particular one is proudly atypical. The hue is the first indication of this delightful quirkiness. Those expecting the color or viscosity of oil are in for a surprise. Naughty Sauce settles beautifully with the color of honey, retaining a superbly creamy head, appealing as candy to the eye (as it will also to the tongue).
This is a beer that embraces being a golden stout...
...And leaves exceptional lacing behind.
Lifting glass to nose, Naughty Sauce continues to please with a full-bodied aroma that is rich with roasted peanuts. This aspect continues in the flavor profile, though the nut-trait there becomes more precisely like cashew than peanut.
BeerAdvocate indicates that “Head Brewer Evan Price worked together with Roast Master Jeff Duggan from Portola Coffee Lab” in developing Naughty Sauce. So, the fact the the coffee bitterness is much less prevalent than anticipated is a bit of a surprise. And, in fact, this relative absence may contribute to Naughty Sauce’s most apparent flaw. That bitterness would have served well to balance other powerful notes, most especially Naughty Sauce’s strong lactose sweetness.
Though the Yin of this beer’s saccharine touch lacks its bitter Yang, Naughty Sauce is not a simple beer. The litany of qualities at play here includes a welcome hint of sourness. This is not the sort of sour one would get from citrus fruit, but maybe something similar to aged cheese. It is masterfully presented, adding just a subtle background characteristic to the beer.
Without a doubt, though, the feature most robust in the flavor is its roasted nut profile. The malt backbone makes this stout reminiscent of peanut butter porters this reviewer has had in the past. Naughty Sauce’s superior texture and enjoyable sweetness makes this far better than those, however.
TheCraftBeerGuru appreciates beers that stand out from the crowd. While there is nothing wrong with a big Imperial Stout, or a well-crafted India Pale Ale, this heart warms when brewers strive for something distinct.
In that regard, Noble Ale Works has achieved success. Naughty Sauce is a special beer in the limited category of golden milk stouts shared by few others. Of those beers that may qualify as Naughty Sauce’s peers, few have attained its exceptional quality.
Maybe this beer is most succinctly and aptly described as a "treat", and a delicious one at that!
TheCraftBeerGuru.com certainly recommends Naughty Sauce. It receives 3.5 stars (out of five). And if you can, try it at Beachwood, a venue equally worthy of recommendation.