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Spotlight Series: Rick And Robbie's Sprocket Bier - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Spotlight Series: Rick And Robbie's Sprocket BierSpotlight Series: Rick And Robbie's Sprocket Bier

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

320 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 320
Reviews: 77
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 7
Gots: 14 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Kölsch |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: babaracas on 04-18-2014)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 320 | Reviews: 77 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Quique for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a foamy beige head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, rye, herb, and char aromas. Taste is much the same with char, herb, and rye flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is quite roasty and has an interesting herb presence.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

djrn2, Apr 26, 2014
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

zestar, Jul 19, 2014
Photo of nmann08
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

nmann08, May 16, 2014
Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ok, I get the "black" and I get the "Rye" and I understand that these robust flavors play out on a delicate malt backbone, but where's the "Kolsch"?

As the ale pours a dark brown hue, its clarity is deep and mysterious with no haze in sight. Very Porter-like, its head gathers on the beer light espresso creme. Its retention is light and fingerling as the beer trails with each sip.

High coffee aromas open up and reveal a nutty, roasty and burnt toast scent. With an underlying wafer-thin sweetness, light notions of caramel and brown sugar come to mind, but in the burnt carbon way that roasted marshmallows suggest.

Tasting the high roast flavor, any notion of "kolsch" is left in the recesses of the palate and the beer tramples forward to a cocoa-laden, burnt toast, walnut and coffee-like taste. Its middle dissolves such sweetness as the ale trends drier and drier until only the taste of burnt embers and roasted sugars remain. Finishing bitter with roast, a lingering campfire whimsy remains in echoes.

Medium-light in body, the Kolsh is lost and the roasty underpinnings define its texture at once. Powdery and somewhat ashy, its dryness ensures an exposed warmth of carbon and astringency that is buffered with just enough sweetness to support its dry roastiness.

I love this beer as an "imperial": Schwarz bier or as a dry Porter. Those identifiable flavors are alive and well, but I contend, where's the Kolsch component?

BEERchitect, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

GRG1313, Apr 24, 2014
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

ygtbsm94, Apr 30, 2014
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle - Lucky's Beverage World in Woodstock, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown, near black body with a few glimmers of amber when held against the light. Though not particularly tall, the creamyish, mocha-toned head is lasting.

Smell: Coffee-toned roasted malt, a gently meaty smokiness invades the nostrils, and toasted homemade German dark rye bread for an overall earthy nose. Some chocolate, some grape, too.

Taste: Roasted grain, flecks of darkened nuts and burnt rye bread. A little smoke, a little spice. Faint chocolate. Ample sweetness. A fruitiness that sneaks in hinting of grape. The smoke-induced roast and spice carry you through the end of the near-crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. A bit above medium carbonation. Smooth, creamyish mouthfeel.

Overall: Fairly satisfying. Yes, I understand this a tinkered-with, augmented Kolsch, but, I hoped that didn't mean totally tossing out the refreshing spirit of the beer out the window. Thankfully, while there is a little added heft, it remains nicely drinkable -- really, I'm just happy it didn't wander into unrefreshing territory.

ChainGangGuy, May 13, 2014
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev +5.8%

westcoastbeerlvr, May 02, 2014
Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

SocalKicks, May 29, 2014
Photo of biboergosum
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

22oz bomber, thoughtfully brought back from SoCal for me by doktorzee. Since this entry was added first, and actually used the correct name, I'll happily plant my flag here.

This beer pours a very dark, yet bright red cola highlight-tinged russet brown hue, with three flabby fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and slightly bubbly tan head, which leaves some spectral webbed lace around the glass as things duly sink away.

It smells of roasted bready caramel malt, mildly spicy rye grain, bittersweet powdered chocolate, a bit of dry black orchard fruit, soft earthy yeast, and herbal, leafy, and grassy hops. The taste is big on the gritty cocoa bitterness up front, with some smoked grainy pale and wet biscuity caramel malt, blended rye spice, muted dark fruit - maybe a bit of raisin, maybe a bit of prune - sugar-free root beer, a bland earthy nuttiness, and now turtling herbal, weedy hops.

The carbonation is fairly active in its plebeian frothiness, the body a so-so medium weight, and mostly smooth, the char stepping on a few toes here, just so y'all know. It finishes quite dry, the grain - including a more subdued than expected rye contingent - and a wee bit of blackened character coming to dominate over the various aforementioned side players.

It's dark, it's German-adjacent, and it tires more quickly than I might have initially thought - yup, that's Sprockets for me, from what I can recall. Calling this a Kolsch is sort of disingenuous at best, as all the light, crisp, and easy-drinking qualities of that style are shit all over by this venture - see American Black Ales for precedence.

biboergosum, Aug 08, 2014
Photo of zeff80
3/5  rDev -20.6%

zeff80, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a dark rye kolsch? well this is new to me. soft but pungent too on the rye, not as peppery or as spicy, but the flavor of the grain is still quite prominent. dark coffee colored beer with a brighter carbonation accumulating an inch or so of mocha colored head. almost looks like a nitro tap with the size of these tiny bubbles. roasted barley and chocolate flavors smell strong, but the yeast and the general lightness of this dark brew are also evident. very clearly not a porter or stout. the flavor has all the rye on the front end which i like, and still feels german enough on the grain front for me to accept this as a kolsch. its lightness helps too, barely medium bodied and carbonated extremely well. the feel kind of makes it for me. i like the rye front loaded too, so the finish is still quick. a very flavorful yet approachable beer for anyone looking to try a little something different.

StonedTrippin, Apr 26, 2014
Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Jason, Apr 24, 2014
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black Rye Kolsch style ale, I've never had one of those before I'll try it. Pours pitch black in the glass with a thicket of tan head leaves fine speckled lacing behind. I like the abv and the fact that this was Rick & Robbie's time to shine (two homebrewers from SoCal) who won a homebrewer's contest.

Aroma clean malt driven hard to pick up classic dark beer character more just crisp grains, herbal hops, pretty unique beer. Herbal mint, clean German ale character it's weird!!!

Flavor brings spicy rye, dark roasted malts, still super easy drinking black rye kolsch style characteristics are evident...masterfully brewed and crafted. Almost creamy milk chocolate with less sweetness dry herbal hops again weaved effortlessly to dry it out, into a crisp enjoyable finish.

Mouthfeel smooth creamy textured, crisp finish balanced sturdy carbonation everything hits where it should on the palate. I know this isn't traditional Stone, but it's damn good.

Overall, this let's me know that creativity and brewing culture in America is alive and well, we will never stop innovating because we have no boundaries in our brewing styles this 5.4% Sprocket beer labeled as a black rye kolsch proves it!

WVbeergeek, Jun 08, 2014
Photo of RblWthACoz
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite an interesting beer. These are what experimental beers should be; at least in my book. That being said, how do you critique a dark kolsch? Ya know?

Pours a dark brown with a tan head. Kind of a malty, almost coffee nose. But, I don't think there is any coffee in this one. Kind of spicy, which I like. Even though it's a somewhat robust flavor profile, it's still easy drinking. I like this. It's a good beer, even though I don't consider it a kolsch; though there are some kolsch aspects to it that I can pick up. Anyways. I like it.

RblWthACoz, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of jlindros
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours darker than I expected, very dark black, a little brown light coming through on the pour part and thin parts of the glass, but no light otherwise, little darker colored fizzy creamy head hits about 1/2 a finger that fades at a fair pace, decent but milder lacing.

Nose big dark malt aroma, black malt up the wazoo, with a big roasty component with lots and lots of coffee surprising fresh roasted coffee beans, but nothing overpowering and heavy malt, just dark toasted roasted malts, a little grainy toasty malt, a fresh cracked malt and faint super dark chocolate powdered cocoa, a mild spicy rye note but not a lot, hint of a dark fruity note, a nice mild schwarzbier like lager note, soft lager crispness without the actual lager, and faint hint of a smoky note. Really interesting blend of everything without anything going overboard.

Taste brings a little smokey note to start, more than I expected actually, but not very strong, then into roast and dark malts, a little black malt and some fresh roasted coffee beans again. It also brings a little very dark choc and cocoa dust, but not much of either, mostly the black malt and roast. with a hint of an acrid note. Then bitterness, a spicy grassy slight earthy hop bitterness cuts through it all, blending nicely with the mild, very mild spicy rye, I wish the rye was a bit more actually. A mild creamy note in there too, with a touch of a grainy toasty malt, and a little straw note, some mild lager like schwarzbier. Finish is drier, a little sticky and creamy feeling, not very crisp or light, fair bitterness lingering with mild spicy earthy hops, and a touch more spicy rye, a little more roasty coffee beans and hint of smoke too, all lingering nicely.

Mouth is med to heavier bod, nice carb, mildly creamy.

Overall not bad, not very Kolsch like as it's a bit too heavy, but it does bring a little schwarzbier like notes which is lager like and an attempt at a dark kolsch, nice malts with roast, hint of choc and smoke, nice overall though, pretty tasty and quite drinkable.

jlindros, May 10, 2014
Photo of MarkyMOD
4/5  rDev +5.8%

MarkyMOD, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

DrunkinYogi, May 01, 2014
Photo of kojevergas
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Black rye Kolsch." Okay...reviewed as a Kolsch. Expectations are low given the description and brewery.

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass with appealing label design (Stone's marketing is fantastic, as always) and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at an H-E-B in Austin, TX, and served cold into a Cantillon gueuze glass (it's the closest glassware to a stange I have).

5.4% ABV per the label. Bottled 03/28/14. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 2.5 fingers wide. Completely wrong for the style, but outside style conventions it's quite appealing: the creamy full rich tan colour head boasts a smooth, even consistency and a shiny soft complexion. Looks supple. Retention is excellent - ~10+ minutes. Light inconsistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

BODY: Awful for the style. It's more of a schwarzbier appearance - a weak cola-black colour which is dull rather than shiny and sleek. Couldn't be less traditional.

Overall, I like the head but not the body. This is terrible for a kolsch, but when you consider they're pushing conventions it's not bad. Unique for a kolsch in all the wrong ways.

AROMA: Dry rye, rye bread, and a trace of rye's signature subtle spice. Bland schwarz malts. Pumpernickel. Faint herbal notes - maybe a hint of evergreen? Bland muted coffee. A muted hint of burnt malt. Maybe a kiss of caramel? I'm stretching here because the aroma is quite light and insipid, evoking little unless you really search.

Seems like an above average schwarzbier aroma. It's awful if you're judging it by kolsch standards - it doesn't seem refreshing or light at all. I detect no hop character - which is a surprising (but welcome) absence given the brewery responsible. Style conventions aside, the faint coffee is nice. Maybe there's a dab of cream in there too? Maybe even marshmallow? Or maybe the aroma is so tame, light, and bland that it's a blank slate upon which I can project my hopes.

No overt alcohol or off-notes are detectable. I'd call the aroma innocuous.

TASTE: Hm. I actually do find some kolsch character in there - the crisp helles malt backbone, the effortless drinkability, the minimal hop character - and much to my shock, the "dark" elements are well-integrated with notable subtlety. That said, it still comes off muted and tame. It's quite a reticent flavour profile for the style. I do like the extreme subtlety of the caramel, burnt schwarz malts, coffee, cream, and hazelnut. But must it be so unevocative and neutral? Traditional Kolschbiere could be called plain, but they're forward and open; this flavour profile feels closed-off and noncommital to its constituent notes.

Still, the balance is surprising; I'm having trouble believing Stone (at least Stone's main brewers) brewed this. Ah - then I check the label and realize that (like almost all Stone beers I actually like) - they didn't brew this, at least not alone. It was a homebrewer's recipe; no wonder. Maybe they should replace the regular brewmasters with the two cats responsible for this.

In any case, it's a nice unique take on a Kolsch, and while I do find it muted and a bit bland, I'm impressed by how well it brings dark ingredients into a traditionally light beer style without any obvious conflict. Could this homebrewer make a black IPA, please?

Depth of flavour couldn't be more shallow. Brief flavour duration. Light flavour intensity.

It's a cohesive well put together beer, but doesn't quite feel like a gestalt whole.

TEXTURE: Slightly creamy, which plays well against the slight dryness and coarseness brought about by the burnt character. It's refreshing in spite of an early second act drag on the palate. Aptly soft. Light to medium-bodied, with apt thickness. Has a fuller heavier presence on the palate than a Kolsch should, but I suppose it's forgivable.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or harsh. I do find it a bit rough and scratchy, which does hold the drinkability back.

Overall presence on the palate is decent. This texture does a fine job at complementing the taste, but doesn't elevate the beer.

OVERALL: A unique schwarzbier-esque approach to a Kolsch. While it's not a success per se, it's far better executed than I would have guessed (especially given Stone's involvement). I'd like to see the homebrewer(s) behind this branch out and put out their own brews. Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from world-class. Worth trying if you're curious, but don't expect a good Kolsch. Just a nice hybridized experimental beer that drinks easy while delivering the dark flavours of bigger brews. I tip my hat to the brewer responsible; nice effort. I'll polish off the bomber with ease.


kojevergas, Oct 17, 2014
Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev +5.8%

oriolesfan4, Sep 04, 2014
Photo of GClarkage
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

GClarkage, Jul 08, 2014
Photo of corby112
3.64/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy dark chocolate brown color that appears pitch black and completely opaque in the glass. Two finger pillowy beige head that very slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Good retention, taking a while to settle and leaving streaks of soapy lacing in it's path.

Slightly earthy, robust dark malt aroma with a nice balance of roast, spice, grassy hops and sweet malt. Delicate smoke character with hints of charcoal, burnt toast, dark chocolate and deeply roast coffee bean. There's also some subtle spicy rye in the nose but this is overpowered by the strong malt presence. The earthier/hoppier kolsch notes come through, however, with some grassy saaz character, pine needle and dank resins. Smells more like an American black ale and I probably wouldn't have been able to guess that this was a kolsch if I didn't read it on the bottle.

Fuller bodied than expected with a bit more of a kolsch flavor profile but the prominent dark malt bill, resinous hops and subtle spice make it feel more like an experimental ABA. Strong hop presence with sticky hop oils, earthy pine needle, grass and spruce tip flavor that linger throughout into a bone dry finish. Slightly acrid but the roast isn't as extreme as in the nose. Hints of charcoal, burnt toast, coffee grounds and bittersweet dark chocolate countered by sweeter malt flavors and faint spicy rye. Again, the rye is subtle but it nicely compliments the earthy hop bitterness. Decent balance with low ABV and light mouthfeel make this beer pretty easy to drink. Nothing too out of the ordinary but it's an interesting take on the style.

corby112, Apr 30, 2014
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A "black rye kölsch". Sure, why not. 22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black, with a rather surprisingly thick body. Head forms a very fine ring of beige, but little more. Even the initial pour only yielded a slight foaming. Minimal lace, and the carbonation is invisible in the darkness. Looks good even so.

Nose is very pleasant. Dark and spicy with a little toasty sweetness and rye bread. It doesn't go overboard on the roast though and get harsh or stout-like. There's a cleanness to it as well, and a bright, slightly fragrant farmyard note to it. Yeah, it's nice stuff.

Taste is also very good. It has a smoothness to it that cushions the lighter flavours, while allowing the spicy rye to roll around the tongue. Toastiness comes through again, but again the dark character is very well restrained: it never gets close to being roasty, or worse acrid. Indeed it feels very supple from start to finish. On the back, there's a linger of dark fruit which provides the punctuation you'd find from crispness otherwise.

Overall, really quite wonderful stuff. This is interesting and unusual, but done with such conviction and integration of flavours that it seems classic.

lacqueredmouse, May 05, 2014
Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle into pint glass; worn off bottle date, but bottled in 4/2014. Pours crystal clear nearly pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of chocolate, toast, dark bread, cocoa, roasted malt, coffee, spicy rye, light char, herbal, light fruitiness, light grass, and roast/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, rye, earthy hop, and light-moderate kolsch yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, toast, dark bread, coffee, roasted malt, spicy rye, light char, light fruitiness, herbal, grass, and roast/yeast earthiness. Fair amount of earthy/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, toast, dark bread, coffee, roasted malt, spicy rye, light char, light fruitiness, grass, and roast/yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/roasted malt, rye, earthy hops, and light-moderate yeast ester flavors; with a great roasted malt bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, moderately creamy, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice experimental Kolsch style beer. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/roasted malt, rye, earthy hops, and light-moderate yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering; it tastes a lot like a robust porter.

superspak, Jun 10, 2014
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Spotlight Series: Rick And Robbie's Sprocket Bier from Stone Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 320 ratings.