Tonight it is the turn of Blue Fin Stout from the Americas to feel the potency of my lacklustre and vaguely unsettling reviews. Yes, this is from Shipyard Brewing Co. and gosh-darn if I don't feel the urge to do the entire review in the style of a pirate. Yarr. Also, the fact that it is called 'Blue Fin' has me battling the urge to add tuna to the title. Not helped by the fact that there's a picture of a Blue Fin Tuna on the bottle. Curse you, Shipyard Brewing Co., curse you!
And yah boo suck to you, you pretend hurricane/tropical depression/massive rain shower, Bertha! You failed to ruin the sunshine enough for me not to have a beer outdoors. Sucks to be you! No, wait, don't anthropologise the rain, that's crazy talk. Yaaargh.
Anyway, would ye like to be knowen more?
Though this was brewed over in the States it is clearly designed for consumption elsewhere. I picked it up very cheaply from a local bargain shop, I kid ye not, that is not usually known for importing interesting ales. As I was on a bit of a Stout kick a while back I thought I would try this. Luckily for me, I could have this in my garden and enjoy it properly. Imported by Martson's, a local giant in the brewing world, I suspected that this may be something of a gem and I can say that I wasn't disappointed. Points of note are that this was a smaller bottle than I am used to at 355ml and that it was listed as craft beer rather than ale, but this latter point may well be down as much to American sensibilities as it is down to any great difference in the brewing or marketing of the liquid.
Indeed, a discussion with someone in the States online brought up the fact that 22 fl.oz. wasn't a pint, but 16 fl.oz. was. Now, being curious, I did some checking and it appears as though the 568ml of the British Pint is closer to 22 fl.oz. than 16 fl.oz. Indeed, 16 fl.oz. seems closer to 355ml (or even 330ml) which explains why many of the bottles of craft ale that I have tasted from the States in the past (or, at least bottles also sold in the States) are a smaller size. Sure enough, the US pint is around 16 fl.oz. But the gallons in the States are also smaller than they are in the UK - which I found fascinating for quite another reason. Anyway, this is a review of beer rather than the cultural difference in measurements of volume between two places separated by common language and so on with the show!
Little in the way of carbonation, this thick brew poured with a dark colour to it, black like the night against the sunshine of a summer's garden, and displayed a good thick head that spoke of a good dark stout. I do like my beers to be brooding and mysterious and this was clearly going to play the role that I hoped for. At 4.7% ABV it's on the stronger side of the beer that I drink but it wasn't going to let that stand in its way. Aroma resolved into one of chocolate, how odd that this should be the case with stouts, and hints of toffee hiding in amongst that stronger flavour. First taste further resolved the toffee into cinder toffee and showed that there was limited carbonation. A solid malt has a brief battle with the toffee before giving way to a more viscous malt and small hint of bitterness rising toward the end, leaving a very dry aftertaste. Throughout there are hints of something of a more fruity nature, like alcoholic cherry or a faint Black Forest Gateaux.
On the whole this is a strong and deep brew that would probably work better in winter than summer. That I had it in a warmer environment did not detract from it at all, but it definitely a brooding and dark winter type more than a bright summer tipple. Combine with something heavy and filling for your meal, I suggest something like cottage pie with thick gravy and roast potatoes and root vegetables (neeps and carrot mashed would be a recommendation) and stick to the single bottle. Yes, it is a small bottle, but it is rewarding to have this in smaller quantities so that it can be fully appreciated.