Tonight it is the time of something dark and eldrich. And forgiveness. Yes, tonight I am attempting to rehabilitate Flipside from Random Toss (here) fame with another go at them (mainly because the local micro-brewery has them at a much reduced rate than where Anna got their last offering). So, it is the turn of Dark Denomination for which I have our friendly Belgian to thank as she paid for it! The choice is entirely my fault though!
It's been a busy week too, last night Anna and I got to go and see a film together - which is the first time since the abysmal (well, no, not that bad) Amazing Grace back in the day, what, 2007? And there are House Plays on and there are reports, deadlines, marking, parents' evenings and all sorts. In this maelstrom of activity and welter of travel plans it made sense to try something heavy and stout-like. What, with saying nice things about students, it also seemed like the best time to try and get Flipside into a position where I could recommend them.
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I did not chill the ale. I was not planning on having an ale quite when I decided on having this one and so there was no preparation. Also, rain. Anyway, opening the bottle did not produce the storm of froth that so annoyed me last time and so I went to pour it right away. It is a dark and deep colour, darker than ruby but lighter than most of the stouts I've had the pleasure of reviewing recently. An enormous head was the reward for me not chilling the brew beforehand and leaving it at room temperature. It's not been incredibly warm in the house lately but, apparently, this is still too warm - the heating will do that as we attempt to dispel the damp and the condensation. No matter, the aroma was chocolate-y, as claimed on the bottle, but I suspect more of the variety one would get on a healthy flapjack that uses carob rather than milk chocolate. It's not as a bitter as dark chocolate nor as warming as milk chocolate but there's definite something that cocoa has.
Hacking through the head, which maintains that imitation chocolate impression, one reaches the liquid and is met by a faint hoppy sensation that opens, a brief sharpness, before the malt takes over like a second wave of an invading army whose arrival has been anticipated. This malt rolls for a while, the fizz aiding it in reaching most of the mouth, but is oddly thin - mainly due to the fact that it looks like a stout. The fact remains that this is not a stout and therefore the taste is not so thin as one assumes, it holds up well to the rest of its ilk such as Victory (link) or Lancaster Red (here [thanks again, Steve!]), but is as good as neither. The latter, certainly, shows this up. There is a boast that the hops are like blackberries and, yes, there is a definite hint of this that brings to mind heady days of eating them until we could burst back where we used to live in the woods around our home, but it's not so much as it advertises.
Still, despite the unsettling aroma, which does not improve, this is not a bad little ale. There's enough of that malt to induce a biscuit-y base for the playing of some light hop flavours. At 4% ABV this isn't going to blow any heads off and it is rather a pleasant little number. Easily at home mid- or post- meal (if not before) and with enough of a kick to help with relaxation. The dark colouration actually helps, in this case, as it makes it all feel rather more substantial than it is without threatening a heavy head the following day. Sessioning is probably not a good idea but as a stand-out guest amid a family meal or night in watching films, this would fit in nicely.
Enjoy best on any dreary evening when there is naught but the TV to assuage one's tribulations for the day, arrange some decent reading material and a comfy seat, maybe partake of a woollen blanket and turn the heating down or even all the way off so to snuggle more effectively. Forego salty snacks in favour of something warm and, if possible, home cooked. If not, make it something with some spice to it but not a curry, and let the ale do the work it is supposed to do. But chill it first. Let it warm to room temperature only after it is in your glass.