Willow has taken to drinking cider now and again rather than wine and the other day she'd bought some in and felt a bit bad that I wasn't going to be drinking with her and so bought me some beer too. Very nice of her. And a good brewery too!
She bought me Moorhouse's Black Cat which claimed to be a dark ruby ale with a rich dry chocolate malt taste.
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At 3.4% ABV it is on the weaker end of the spectrum that I go for, indeed, I have previously not bought it on the grounds of the weakness of the ale and the fact that it was generally a more expensive option. However, remembering the chocolate-y surprise, in that I actually liked it, of Triple Chocoholic (here) I thought I knew what to expect and tried it. I was wrong. There was a whirl of carbon dioxide from the opening of the bottle that suggested that this was going to be a little bit too fizzy. So it proved. The fizz got in the way of both the taste and the smell. It smelled a little like chocolate, sure, but the overwhelming aroma was of malt and yeast. Taste was a little more in the chocolate zone and almost pleasant after a few sips.
Indeed, the longer one drank this the better it was. In the end it turned out to be a very drinkable beer that could go with most things but it never really lived up to the claims on the bottle. If I had never tasted the Saltaire effort then I suppose I would be writing here about the taste being very chocolate-y, but I have and instead I'm on here talking about the malt and the lack of decent hops flavour that I seem to like in the warmer months.
I have to say that this was such a surprise I initially wasn't going to review it. I thought it would be a decent little drinking ale for an evening that would be enjoyed a little bit, with the kind of smile that one reserves for a gift that one would have preferred to be something else, but it wasn't. This was a chocolate ruby ale with plenty of nuance and good taste that did more than it promised and certainly did more than I was ever expecting. So much that I simply forgot to write any notes and that explains the shortness of my review. I am sorry, Black Cat, I did you a disservice and underestimated you.
Overall, this is a winter beer or at least a colder month beer. Best drunk in the ailing light of a fairly short day, maybe with a crisp mist gathering in the bottoms of valleys spreading its tendrils through the woods whilst contemplating a long weekend. Turn off the heating, let the alcohol do its warming work and drink the beverage at the temperature of the room - don't chill it - to get the best effects. Finally, don't expect too much and make sure you've already eaten, it is perhaps too subtle to share your palate with food.