Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Black Stuff
British dark beer is a bit hit and miss to my mind. I rarely get to visit England, but when I do the lack of stouts and porters on cask in the pubs I visit is quite plain to see. The GBBF is the best opportunity to try British stout and porter and I plan to take full advantage next month at the trade day. When dark beer does turn up I usually find it lacking in character. Many times dark ales have let me down on bottle and cask. I can't say they are bad beers, but I just expect a little more from a stout or porter. Perhaps I am too well served for for decent stout in Ireland; the craft brewers of Ireland brew stouts that deliver big time. Stouts from the UK rarely do. Luckily I found an exception to this sweeping generalisation in the form of Hook Norton's Double Stout. It is full and sharp with roasted grain in the way stouts should be. Old Slug Porter from RCH Brewery satisfies too with distinct wood notes, as if the beer had been matured in oak. Sadly, Rhymney Dark supports my view about stout from across the Irish Sea. The label states that the beer is 'hopped with a true stout uppermost in our brewer's mind', but the beer is decidedly light in colour for a stout and also too thin. It's not a stout, but interesting none the less, particularly the distinct flavour of blackened bread crust that dominates the palate.
It is a curious thing, but it seems to me that UK brewers are afraid to take on a full bodied stout. Perhaps they are intimidated by a particular well marketed Irish stout - I can recall a UK brewer (I can't remember which) stating on their bottle that they consider their stout very good but not as good as Guinness, the insinuation being that it would be foolish to attempt to brew a stout as good as this.
Listen guys, it's not that hard. I've done it at home in a bucket more than once.