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Category Archives: Beer Styles

Two Caribbean Stouts

For this part of my exploration of all things beery, I’m heading off to distant, warmer climes.
Specifically, the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Barbados. As you know, I like to do these things
by increasing ABV, so we’ll start with Stallion Stout from Barbados.

Banks Stallion Stout small

Stallion is brewed by Banks Brewery in St Michael, Barbados (no relation to our own Banks’s
Brewery). Banks is best known for its most popular brew, the intriguingly named ‘Beer’. They also
brew other beers under their own name, Amber Ale, Milk Stout and the non-alcoholic Tiger Malt.
Banks is also the Barbadian producer of Guinness.

Stallion Stout is a new kid on the block, only having been brewed since late 2010. It’s not
desperately strong for a stout at a fairly easy-drinking 5%. It pours quite black with a light
brown head. The flavour is immediately sweet, with lactic tones that suggest milk stout. There is
lots of sweet malt in here, with clear coffee and chocolate notes. There are also, unusually, hints
of toast. There’s no getting away from it – this is very nice.

Island-hopping now, we move on to Jamaica, where a far more established stout is produced by
Jamaica’s well-known Red Stripe, a label owned by Desnoes & Geddes Brewery. Desnoes & Geddes
Brewery is also the local producer of Smirnoff Ice, Guinness (again) and Heineken. I refuse to
comment.

Red Stripe Dragon Stout small

Desnoes & Geddes started producing Dragon Stout in 1920, just two years after the company was
formed by the merging of two shops. Rather heftier than its newer Barbadian sibling, Dragon Stout
packs a meaty 7.5% ABV. Again, and unsurprisingly, the beer pours black with a thin dark brown head
that clears very quickly after the pour. The taste is strong, sweet and fruity with chocolate
notes. There is a touch of spirituous overtones, and the finish is marked by a slight earthiness.
Overall, this is a nicely complex stout, and worth checking out if you see it on the shelves.

Both these stouts come in half pint (284 ml) bottles, disappointingly small, perhaps. There are
similarities between them – both are sweet, maybe an unfamiliar flavour for most drinkers of
British stouts. Both are worth trying though, as both are interesting variants on the type, and to
be quite honest, both are very enjoyable.

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Posted by on 4 September, 2013 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer

 

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Three Pale Ales from Thornbridge

The still-young Thornbridge Brewery (opened 2005) enjoys an enviable reputation for quality and innovation. The brewery is currently situated in the lovely little town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, but the original site at Thornbridge Hall is still operating for beer development. The beers have won something like 200 awards between them, so when I saw a little cluster of Thornbridge pale ales in a supermarket recently, I had to get them.

Thornbridge Pale Ales small

These three beers are all described (albeit slightly differently) as ‘pale ales’, and as I have an issue (well documented in these pages) with breweries that produce a range of beers virtually indistinguishable from each other, I thought this would be something of an acid test for Thornbridge beers.

As ever, I will review in order of ascending ABV.

Thornbridge Wild Swan 2 small

Thornbridge Wild Swan at just 3.5% is described on the bottle as a ‘White Gold Pale Ale’. It pours a very pale yellow in colour, almost straw-like. The head is thin and short-lived. It has a bright, clean, hoppy aroma, which immediately invites you in. The taste is quite startling; a huge, fresh, hoppy mouthful with a pleasing twist of lemony citrus. This is amazingly full-flavoured for a 3.5% beer. Buckets full of aroma, flavour and bittering hops. Superb. There is much that some breweries could learn from this.

Thornbridge Kipling small

Moving way up the alcohol scale, we next arrive at Thornbridge Kipling, a 5.2% beer described as a ‘South Pacific Pale Ale’. This beer is made with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand – hence the name. Nelson Sauvin is one of the very best of the new generation of hop varieties that we are seeing at the moment. The aroma of this beer is hoppy, but quite mildly so, quite unlike Wild Swan. Beautiful tropical fruit flavours dominate – a trademark of the Nelson Sauvin hop. The finish is excellent, nicely bitter with some muted pithy citrus running underneath. Wonderfully refreshing.

Thornbridge Jaipur small

My final bottle was Thornbridge Jaipur, a multi award-winning IPA. Weighing in at 5.9%, this one packs a nice alcoholic wallop. The beer pours a pale orange in colour. The smell is again hoppy. The initial taste is misleading. It tastes quite mild and the flavours all seem somewhat muted. It doesn’t last; buckets of bitter hops follow and the bitterness grows for a long time, ending up dry and earthy. Citrus pith is present throughout. This is one of those beers that also tastes excellent on the burp.

With these three pale ales, on the surface seeming fairly similar, Thornbridge has provided a masterclass in brewing technique. The beers are, indeed, all pale ales, and yet they are each wildly different from the others. Thank you, Thornbridge, for such an enjoyable taste experience.

http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/

For rants about brewers producing samey beers, see Four Bottled Beers from Wold Top, Teme Valley This & That and Four Bottled Ales from Fyne Ales

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Posted by on 11 December, 2012 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer, Breweries

 

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Guest Blog – Rochefort Trappist Beers

Guest blogger Otto Rhoden returns this time with an excellent survey of three of his favourite beers (mine too, as it happens). Enjoy!

After the success of my first venture into blogging here is my second blog and it is about my favourite Trappist Brewery ROCHEFORT. Actually known as Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, this monastery began brewing in 1595. They brew three beers, “6”, “8” and “10” they are all dark and very moreish ales. First a little bit of “gen” about Trappist Breweries:-

“Trappist” – This term is properly applied only to a brewery in a monastery of the Trappist Order, one of the most severe orders of monks. This order, established at La Trappe, in Normandy, is a stricter observance of the Cistercian rule (from Cîteaux, in Burgundy), itself a breakaway from the Benedictines. Among the dozen or so surviving abbey breweries in Europe, seven are Trappist; six in Belgium and one just across the Dutch border, all established in their present form by Trappists who left France after the turbulence of the Napoleonic period. The Trappists have the only monastic breweries in Belgium, all making strong ales with a re-fermentation in the bottle (bottle conditioned). Some gain a distinctive rummy character from the use of candy-sugar in the brew-kettle. They do not represent a style, but they are very much a family of beers. The breweries are Westmalle,  Achel Orval, Chimay, Rochefort, Westvleteren (the smallest brewery in the order) and La Trappe (which is in the Netherlands). By law, no other breweries are entitled to apply that name to their product. Between these abbeys about 20 beers are brewed. All are top-fermenting, and usually very strong, bottle conditioned ales.

I will be giving my opinion of all three of the Rochefort ales. Note all the beers are from a 330ml bottle, which I poured into a goblet, and all beers were chilled in the fridge for approximately 10 minutes.

We’ll start with Rochefort 6, (Strong Dark Ale) at 7.5% ABV. This is the “weakest” brew by the monks!  It pours a slight hazy brown with an orange amber hue, with a small, light, off-white head that quickly vanishes to some foamy films on top. There is not much lace. Carbonation is actively high which is not a bad thing. The aroma has notes of sweet fruit, bread, a touch of sherry, toffee and slight white raisin notes. The taste is complex and delicious, with notes of sweet apricot, pear and sweet green raisin, and some yeasty spice, finishing dry and slightly sweet. Overall it is harmoniously well rounded with a pleasing hint of chocolate and gentle hop notes, and is very drinkable

On to Rochefort 8, (Dubbel) at 9.2% ABV. This one is not for the faint hearted! It pours a wonderful, dark brown colour into my goblet. This beer has a wonderfully fluffy head with very good retention. Aromas of alcohol, sour cherries, hops, cinnamon, and malt were obvious immediately with hints of chocolate/coffee-like malt. And so to the taste; hints of fig and vanilla, with a big alcohol presence. The second sip, however, is much kinder, with a sweet malty flavour showing up first, followed by dark fruit and finally a lovely bittersweet chocolate finish. A bit spicy throughout as well – perhaps ginger? As the beer warms, the alcohol mellows to a gentle peppery flavour which blends nicely into the overall flavours of the beer. It leaves a malty and plummy finish that is again quite dry. Truly, one of the all-time greats.

Last but not least one of my all-time favourite beers Rochefort 10,(Quadrupel) at 11.3% this is a beer to sip and savour. I like to have it either after a rich dark chocolate dessert or with a big hearty beef stew. Anyway let’s get to my overall view of this truly great beer. This pours a near black colour, but you still can definitely notice that there’s some murkiness about it. Some reddish hints can be seen through the glass if held against a light. Quite a big, dense, off-white head that keeps to the last sips, lacing all the way down the glass. WOW! The aromas give a nasal overload!  Chocolate, raisins, currants, plums, cherries, green pear, cloves and spices all intermingle and fight for a place; every smell provides a subtly different sensation. The taste doesn’t hit the palate as hard as you expect from the nose. Super delish! The flavours ease their way in, starting with sweet plums and some liquorice. Then comes a wave of sweetness in the form of figs and nutmeg. Very rich with a light carbonation that provides just enough punch to offset it. There really isn’t any bitterness present at all. A nice warming beer for a winter’s night. This is a “must-try-beer”. Long live the Trappist Monks of Belgium!

Hope you enjoyed my second beer blog, ‘Op uw gezondheid.’

Otto.

Rochefort Brewery

Words and images are Otto’s copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.

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Posted by on 30 November, 2012 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer, Breweries

 

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Golden Ales – BORING!

My foray around the northeast of England highlighted several things to me. Firstly, the northeast has a very active, lively and healthy beer scene. Secondly, there are some superb microbreweries operating in this region. Thirdly, this region has some of the best pubs I’ve ever been in. Fourthly, Golden Beers are mostly desperately boring.

This fourth point is not so much a result of location as of timing. I was touring the area in late summer/early autumn, and all the ‘summery’ beers were still to the fore. This period seems to last longer each year, as people desperately try to hang on to summer – like those people who whinge and moan every year when the clocks go back to ‘winter’ time. It’s not winter time at all, it’s our natural time. Summer time does not make the evenings longer – you just get up an hour earlier. Likewise, golden beers do not make a summer – as has been amply demonstrated this year.

I’ve long been suspicious that breweries are making use of this relatively new style in order to brew cheap and uninteresting beers. My thoughts on this crystallised during my sojourn in the northeast, when faced with yet another barful of the insipid things. I am instinctively wary of any beer labelled ‘So-and-so Gold’ or ‘Golden Something’. The inclusion of the reference to that precious metal is often a clear indication of yet another boring beer. I mean even the names lack imagination.

I didn’t start off my relationship with golden ales with such negativity. It was a long time ago, but I think my first golden ale was Hop Back Summer Lightning.  I was, and remain, very impressed with that. Other goldens have also wowed me, such as Slightly Foxed Bengal Fox, Oakham White Dwarf, Oxfordshire Pride of Oxford (strangely, not so good in bottles) and Red Lion Chardonnayle, to name but four at random.

Like any style, I suppose, there is a wide range in the taste and quality of golden ales, and I am expressly not aiming my comments at those brewers who heap as much care and passion into their golden ales as they do into all their other beers.

Is the golden ale a fad? I think maybe there’s a touch of that about it, but it’s here to stay. Originally, the golden ale was perhaps invented (some time in the mid 1980s by most people’s reckoning; Exmoor brewery claim that their Exmoor Gold – a fine brew by any standards – was the first) to tempt the lager drinker away from their nasty mass-produced tasteless product and to present them with something that looked more like what they were used to drinking. You won’t get a lager drinker to try his first pint of real ale if it’s a heavy porter or a strong stout, the shock of the difference will be too great. But present a real ale that looks lagerish, then you’ve won the first battle.

Does it then follow that the second battle should be about taste? Yes it does. A fine, crisp, hoppy mouthful is what you should expect, but some brewers seem to have taken the line that if making their golden ale look like lager wins the first battle, then making it taste the same by the simple expedient of removing almost every last vestige of flavour, should win the second. The trouble is that nobody is going to go for that. The adventurous lager drinker may try a dull golden, be unimpressed by the absence of taste (he was told to expect so much more), and return to his usual ‘product’. The real ale drinker will be equally unimpressed (he’s used to so much more).

I am sure that I am not alone in disliking having to strain to get any taste from beer. Comments like ‘a bit hoppy, but only a bit’, ‘flavours all rather muted’, ‘slight hoppiness at the end, but not much’ and ‘slight hops fail to get a grip, not much flavour’ pepper my notes from my northeast tour.

A golden ale should not taste like a failed IPA, as many of these do. According to the 2013 Good Beer Guide, in a golden ale ‘…hops are allowed to give full expression, balancing sappy malt with luscious fruity, floral, herbal, spicy and resinous characteristics.’ That’s a tall order, and many very decent golden ales only get some of those, but it’s a hell of a long way from ‘a bit hoppy, but only a bit.’

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Posted by on 25 October, 2012 in Beer Styles, Cask Ale

 

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The Best Little Pub in Rome, Probably

Rome is not a hugely pubby town. There are pubs, mostly of the type that serve both types of beer – Moretti and Peroni, but hidden away in quiet corners there are also a few that are real oases for the discerning beer drinker.

And so it was that on my first night in Rome, I followed my nose down the Via di Torre Argentina, the Via Arenula, and zigzagging a bit to cross the Tiber at the Ponte Sisto. Over the river and you’re into the cobbled mediaeval streets of the Trastavere, a bit of a nightlife centre. On reaching the Via Benedetta I spotted my target. It looks like nothing from outside, a door through a scruffy, graffitti-laden wall.

The sign over the door reads ‘Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’, a curious phrase that defies sensible translation. The words literally mean ‘but that makes you come to’, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’ve seen it translated into ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ but that can’t be right. I am informed by one of my contacts (thank you) that the phrase is a chant used by supporters of Lazio. The pub’s other name is the Football Pub, so this makes some sort of sense. Beneath the main sign is another, which I fully understand – ‘Domus Birrae’, house of beer.

What was it about this little, two-roomed pub three-quarters of a mile away from my apartment that drew me, tired and weary as I was, through the dark, rainy streets of an unfamiliar city? Well, it’s probably the best pub in Rome. The bar room opens directly onto the street, so much so that bar stools spill out onto the road. The whole interior is wood-panelled, and the walls are covered with the sort of eclectic ephemera that line the walls of pubs all over the world. There’s a football shirt signed by the team members of Sheffield United, and four football scarves, a number of framed awards and a large beer menu.

The bar area has seating for maybe a dozen people, and through a door opposite the main entrance is another room with seating for perhaps a dozen more. On a busy night, this place can be very cheek-by-jowl.

The back room

On the bar are thirteen uniform beer pumps dispensing artisanal beer from all over Europe. You can only drink beer here, there are no other options. I stood at the bar and surveyed the pumps. I didn’t know any of the beers. Excellent! The pub has two storage rooms, one at 12°C and the other at 6°C, so you can be sure of getting your beer at the right temperature.

The barman walked over to me and addressed me in English (how did he know?). ‘Hello, how are you?’ he asked. I replied that I was well, and had travelled a very long way to sample his beer. His face broke into a broad grin and he offered his hand ‘Hi,’ he said, ‘I’m Fabio.’

It’s quite something to see the barstaff here pour beer. You are warned that it may take several minutes to get your beer. They are careful not to overfill the glass with foam, and have special little scrapers to scrape foam from the top of the glass. Beer is served in two sizes, 200ml and 400ml. The 400ml glass they call a pint, though a pint is actually 568ml, so beware. 400ml generally costs 5 or 6 euros, so it’s not cheap.

Gaenstaller Affumicator

My first beer was an Italian Black IPA, Toccalmatto B Space Invader at 6.3%. There’s a very strong hop smell. The taste is massive hops with underlying black treacle and some smoke. There is also bitter espresso coffee. This is a massive mouthful and a great start to my Roman beer drinking experience.

Along with the B Space Invader, I ordered a Rurale Seta, a 5.0% Italian wheat beer. There’s a slightly unpleasant urinal-type smell to this one. Not too terrible, and the taste is better. The start has frankfurters, the middle citrus and a growing spiciness towards the end. It’s complex and warming, and well worth getting over the initial smell.

Next I had a beer which was brewed as a collaborative effort of the Toccalmatto and Extraomnes breweries. Called Tainted Love, it’s a 4.7% dark saison. Really dark, it’s quite black. The taste is also very dark. This is a really unusual beer. There are definitely malt and hops, but there is also a certain sourness that somehow contrives to be almost sweet. There is also smoke in the smell, but not so much in the taste. A fascinating beer.

Reinaert Grand Cru and Rurale Seta

I visited Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa three times during my eight days in Rome. Other beers drunk there were:

Brewfist Fear, a 5.2% milk stout, also from Italy. I found it to be smooth and sweet. Very drinkable and remarkably light tasting for a 5.2% beer. There actually is a milky flavour to it, which I presume comes from lactose.

Another Italian, Elav Belfast Blues, a 4.1% bitter. It’s dark orange in colour and is nice and smooth with an upfront orangey flavour. Bitter, but not too much so. Back home this would make a nice session ale.

Gaenstaller Affumicator, a 9.0% rauchbier from Germany. OK, this was pretty horrible. Smoked beers are all right if there’s something else besides smoke. In this beer, there’s darkness, bitterness (lots of it) and smoke (bucketsful of it). Too smoky, didn’t like it.

Reinart Grand Cru, a Belgian Tripel weighing in at 8.0%. Dark brown in colour, this was one of those beers that I had to wait for. It was extremely foamy. It is sweet, fruity and rich with thick spirituous overtones. It is very smooth and pleasant, and the presence of bittering hops is evident.

Back to Italian beers, Birrificio Tipopils is a 5.2% Pils. Typically yellow, it has a bright, clean, hoppy taste. There is a slight hint of soap. Very good and very refreshing. It was served quite cold, evidently from the 6°C room.

Birrifico Tripopils

Despite its small size, this is a very comfortable place to be. The staff and the customers are friendly and forgiving of poor Italian. Lady A and I were the only non-Italians in the place, but we felt right at home. It’s no wonder this little gem of a pub has won so many awards. If I had awards to give, I’d give one to them!

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Posted by on 1 June, 2012 in Beer Styles, Cask Ale, Pubs

 

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India Pale Ale

India Pale Ales, or IPAs, are experiencing an explosion of popularity at the moment. It seems no brewery’s standard list is complete without at least one IPA.

Pale ales require the use of pale malts, and the technology for producing pale malts in any commercial quantity became available during the 18th century. Pale ales had been brewed before then, the earliest known example dates to 1675, but large, commercially viable production of Pale Ale had to wait a little longer. The normal malting process is a smoky affair, leading to dark, roasty malts, but pale malts require smokeless malting, using smokeless fuels such as coke. This paler malt naturally produces a paler beer, quite different to the brown ales that were the staple of the time.

Pale Malt

The original IPAs were of high alcohol content (typically 6.5%, occasionally even higher) and were heavily hopped. Both these features helped to preserve the beer in the non-regulated temperatures of rolling sailing ships as they undertook the long journey to India, where there was a huge demand for fine quality beer.

It’s an old tale that George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery ‘invented’ India Pale Ale in the mid-eighteenth century. It’s a nice tale, but there is actually no evidence for it whatsoever, it’s just been repeated so often that it has become a factoid.* All we can say for sure is that the style developed in the late 18th – early 19th centuries. The name ‘India Pale Ale’ is first recorded in an advert in the Liverpool Mercury dated the 30th January 1835 – though that is no indication of how long the term had been used.

The experience you can expect from an IPA begins with the smell, which should be rich with hop aromas. The head should generally be white and persistent. The taste should be good and hoppy, but balanced by a sweet maltiness. Other flavours often present include citrus fruits, particularly a grapefruit pithiness.

Here are a few IPAs that I have enjoyed recently:

Acorn Conquest (5.7%) Light yellow in colour, this beer starts with a smooth opening to the taste that hints at fruit without being overtly fruity. There’s a spike of flavour in the midtaste that is slightly soapy and there’s a lingering quinine-like bitter end. Unusual and very good.

Blakemere Cosmic (6.0%) This’ll knock your socks off if you’re not careful. The smell is pure grapefruit. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth and the taste has a lot of citrus zing, particularly grapefruit. It’s very moreish, and at 6%, that’s its danger!

Redwillow Endless (3.8%) There’s that brewery again! This beer is way down the strength scale, probably too far down to be considered a true traditional IPA, but the taste is spot on. It’s bright and cheerful with lots of that grapefruit pith and bags of hops. All expertly balanced with sweet malt to provide an excellent taste sensation.

Whim Hartington IPA (4.5%) Not a standard IPA taste by any means. The hops are far less apparent here than in any of the previous beers. Overall I found this to be dominated by the sweet malt. It is smooth and refreshing with a tiny hint of cream. Very tasty.

Swale Indian Summer Pale Ale (4.2%) This beer is brewed under licence by Archers. Another very smooth ale but this time with a lasting aftertaste that dries in the mouth. Very refreshing.

BrewDog Punk IPA (6.0%) BrewDog have gone off on their own with this one. A massive hop bomb that delivers a very strong hoppy flavour and heaps of citrus pith. The mouthfeel is quite thick with a rush of thick sweetness. The aftertaste develops slowly and is really quite bitter.

BrewDog Punk IPA – one of the new breed of IPAs

BrewDog Proto Punk IPA (2011) (5.4%) The smell delivers tons of very aromatic hops (I don’t know, but I suspect these are American hops – Cascade?). The taste is much smoother than the Punk, and less abrasive, though still strongly hopped.

York IPA (5.0%) This is just as an IPA should be. It’s smooth, hoppy, zesty and refreshing.

*Factoid – a piece of information that has every attribute of a fact apart from truth.

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Posted by on 10 February, 2012 in Beer Styles, Cask Ale

 

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Mmm… Chocolate Beer

Chocolate and beer; two of my favourite things. What better than to put them together into a single glass of scrumptiousness? Chocolate beers, for me at least, provide some of the most blissful moments of beer drinking, but it doesn’t always work…

There is some debate in the beer world about the legitimacy of flavoured beers. I’m not sure where this comes from, but it may have something to do with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law that was first proposed in 1487, and actually made law in 1516. This originally stated that only water, barley and hops could be used to make beer, though this was later relaxed to allow sugar, wheat and yeast. This of course was never law outside Germany, and beers made from a multitude of ingredients have always been available elsewhere.

Personally, I see no reason why ingredients cannot be added to beer in order to add flavour – fruit is the obvious one, so I have no objection to the adding of chocolate to beer.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

The first chocolate beer I’m going to review is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I first started drinking this 5.2% ABV beer back in the 1990s, but I don’t know how long it was brewed before that. Let’s just say it’s an old favourite. It pours black, with a good thick brown head. The smell is immediately chocolate, rich and smooth. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Dark roasted malt hits the palate first with smooth dark chocolate sneaking in underneath. There’s a pleasant zingy finish with the chocolate flavour growing after the swallow.

Saltaire Triple Chocaholic

Saltaire Triple Chocaholic is another stout, lighter at 4.8% ABV. Again, the colour is black. ‘Triple’ in the beer’s name refers to the three chocolate flavourings added to the brew – chocolate essence, chocolate syrup and cocoa. The first thing to note about this beer is its huge chocolate smell. The smell rises out of the glass whilst being poured. The taste is initially hoppy and slightly bitter. There is then an enormous rush of strong, rich, dark chocolate flavour, which fades to a satisfying dark bitter finish. This beer is dark, bitter and absolutely wonderful.

Titanic Chocolate and Vanilla Stout with Morrison’s labelling

Titanic’s entry into the chocolate stakes comes in the form of Titanic Chocolate and Vanilla Stout, which is currently available in bottles labelled for Morrison’s supermarket. The Titanic brew is slightly lighter than the Saltaire at 4.5%. Again it pours black with a brown head, but here the head collapses swiftly. The smell is an exquisite sweet chocolate – fabulous! Very very smooth and creamy. The taste is dry and malty with a superb overlying sweet chocolate taste. Right at the end of the taste there is an excellent hoppy bitter twist. It’s hard to put into words how much I like this beer. I’ve also had it from the cask in Titanic’s part-owned pub the White Star in Stoke-on-Trent. It is simply magic.

Robinson’s Chocolate Tom

Stockport-based brewer Robinson’s have also entered the chocolate stakes with a flavoured version of their famous Old Tom strong ale. Chocolate Tom, like its parent brew, is 6%. It is a deep reddish-orange in colour and forms a close-packed head which is stable and can form itself into weird-shaped sculptures. This beer is velvety smooth in the mouth. The dominant flavours are chocolate and vanilla. The parent beer can be tasted throughout, making a nice fruity contrast to the chocolate and vanilla. The ending is complex with slight spirituous overtones familiar from Old Tom, a smooth bitterness and hints of a rich fruitiness. Beautiful.

Floris Chocolat

Finally, I come to Floris Chocolat. Unfortunately, this is where it all goes wrong for me. The Floris range of beers (all the Floris range are flavoured) is brewed by the Huyghe Brewery in Belgium. This brewery produces a vast amount of beer, including Delirium Tremens and the Mongozo range – flavoured more exotically than the Floris range. Maybe it’s the huge output, maybe it’s the desire to produce a range with many flavours, I don’t know, but somewhere this just doesn’t succeed. Basically, I think, they brew a fairly ordinary beer and then add the flavourings required, be it honey, cherry, mango, chocolate or whatever. Floris Chocolat tastes like an ordinary beer with buckets of sweet chocolate syrup thrown in. It tastes like it’s been fairly haphazardly thrown together, and the result is just unpleasant. It’s oversweet and a bit sickly. I know there will be people (maybe many people) who will disagree with me on this one, but for me – it’s a no, I’m afraid.

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Posted by on 27 January, 2012 in Beer Styles, Bottled Beer

 

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