The Verdict is In, Legal Draft’s Chief Justice Is A Clean Drinking American Stout.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Legal Draft’s Chief Justice Stout.

Fast Facts on Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout.
Style: American Stout.
ABV: 6.6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 30.
Color: Very Dark Brown.
Availability: Cans.

It’s time for us to seek counsel again with Legal Draft Beer Company. Last time we reviewed one of its beers, we reviewed The Accused, an amber lager that did not disappoint. Let’s hope that we can deliver the same sort of opinion on Chief Justice Stout.

Background on American Stout.
The American stout style is typically a big, roasty, dark drinking beer with everything turned up just a little bit compared to the European style starter. For instance, American stouts usually have the bitterness dialed up, even though the hop aroma might be more subtle. IBU range on this style – according to BJCP guidelines – is from 35-75, and ABV ranges from 5-7 percent. So while this style of beer is known for its intense flavor profile, it’s not going to knock you over the head with alcohol. The body on an American stout should be medium to full, and some brewers will sneak in some oats to round out the mouthfeel and give the beer a more creamy sense.

Just when I pop the top on the can, I see pillowy foam emerge from the can, and it looks delicious so far. Chief Justice pours almost black into my glass. The foam sets up nicely in the glass, and remains as a subtle ring on the edge of the glass. One thing that I did notice is that Legal Draft is keeping it lean with its packaging. Almost all DFW canned craft beers are packaged with those annoying-but-useful PakTech six-pack holders that clamp on the tops of cans. Not so with Chief Justice Stout. This beer is packaged in the regular old plastic ring style that has forever pissed off animal activists for its purported propensity for snagging on water critters. Whatever, I’m not judging either six pack style. It’s just weird to see this style on a six-pack of DFW craft beer! Furthermore, I catch myself wondering what happens to all those PackTech holders — they’re made of so much more material.

Chief Justice is all about showcasing the malt profile, and this is clearly evident in the aroma profile. I get a large amount of dark roasted grain, and an equally noticeable amount of chocolate. So while this beer is likely a two row malt base, the specialty grains are heavily weighted on the darker end of the kilning range. The hop aroma is very low on Chief Justice, which is on par for the style. The fermentation profile on Chief Justice is likely a super clean ale yeast like Cali Ale, something that ferments and flocculates nicely and gets the hell out of the way.

The dark roast and chocolate notes dominate the palate. I do get some bitterness here in the taste, and it helps reinforce the bitter sensation I perceive from the roasty dark malt situation. Overall, this is a clean beer, and I don’t get any off-flavors. Likewise, there isn’t anything crazy or wacky going on either. And after burning my way through the myriad sweet, imperial, and flavored stouts over the colder months, this clean, no-bullshit stout is growing on me.

This beer finishes dry-ish and clean, with a tiny amount of sweetness. I was expecting to get more residual sugar in the aftertaste, but it’s not there. And I appreciate a drier stout compared to a sweeter one, so I can get behind what’s going on here with the mouthfeel. The carbonation seems to be dialed up a bit higher than what my brain was anticipating, but it’s not a deal-breaker. American stouts are known to have medium to high levels of carbonation, and Chief Justice follows this precedent.

Overall Impression.
At first I was sort of nonplused by Chief Justice stout. As I mentioned in the flavor section, this beer isn’t doing anything wacky with its profile. It’s just a clean American stout. The chocolate and dark roast notes provide the main thrust for the drinking experience. And the chocolate character of this beer doesn’t push Chief Justice Stout to a sweeter beer. The sweet stout style has seemed to pick up some steam lately in DFW, but thankfully this beer is not falling in ranks with that style. All in all, I like this beer. Chief Justice colors within the lines for the style, and that’s a good thing.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout a 7.

What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, February 18. Dallas Brew Bus Valentine’s Tour at Lakewood/Bitter Sisters/Noble Rey.
• Saturday, February 18. Four-Year Anniversary at Community Beer Co.
• Sunday, February 19. North Texas Craft Beer Chili Challenge at L.U.C.K.
• Saturday, February 25. Grand Opening at Good Neighbor Brews.
• Saturday, February 25. Mardi Gras Crawfish Boil at Oak Highlands Brewery.
• Saturday, March 11: Tater Tots and Beer Festival at Fair Park.
• Saturday, March 18. Bacon and Beer Classic at The Foundry.
• Friday, March 31-April 2: Big Texas Beer Fest at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.2
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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