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14 Cannons: Trick or Treat?

Photography By Nick Longo | March 05, 2018
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We’re far from Halloween, but you could say the Peanut Butter Cup dessert ale at 14 Cannons Brewing Co. is both a trick and a treat.

Customers expect the beer to be a stout or a porter, so the blonde appearance throws them off, says Head Brewer Nic Bortolin of the Westlake Village brewery and showroom, which opened last fall. Hence the trick.

As a beer doppelgänger for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, it’s a treat. “It’s kind of crazy how similar it is,” says Bortolin of the flavor.

Inspiration for this golden stout, 7.5% alcohol by volume, came from the peanut butter pie Bortolin’s girlfriend makes each year for his birthday. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to mimic that flavor in beers for years,” he says. The breakthrough came in the form of unsweetened pure liquid cacao: It was a “game changer.”

Bortolin starts with an oat-heavy golden stout for a creamy mouthfeel and some lactose (milk sugar) to drive home that it’s like a milk stout. After fermentation, the liquid chocolate and roasted peanut oil are added.

Peanut comes through in the aroma, and chocolate in the flavor. The beer’s sweetness, he says, comes from the body being a golden stout. “The finish is like you’re eating a chocolate candy,” says Bortolin, formerly the head brewer at Figueroa Mountain Brewery in Westlake Village.

The brewery, named for the owner’s distant relative who captained a Revolutionary War ship with 14 cannons, uses a reverse osmosis system so each beer they make can have its own water recipe, Bortolin says. “To further drive the golden stout point, the water that I use for the Peanut Butter Cup is mimicking Dublin’s water source because why not go to where the most famous stouts are made?”

It’s a dessert by itself, he says, the “perfect nightcap to any meal you make.” To pair it with a food, go sweet. He suggests chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting or a chocolate doughnut, as Thousand Oaks-based Custom Cupcakes by Sarah did for a beer and dessert pairing at the brewery.

Because this beer is a trickster, if it were an animal it’d be a chameleon, he says. “You have no idea what you’re looking at when you’re served this pint.”

But now you’re in on it, so this beer’s just a treat.

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