Okay, a stout would have got me in rather more quickly. But hey, what can you do? Easy, actually, you can taste and review the ale anyway and enjoy it on a cold and windy Sunday in the back of beyond. Not quite in the garden, that will have to wait until later in the year (I have a garden) but, in the meantime, a nice enough place to start.
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I was rather impressed by the fact that this ale comes in a box, which is silly, but the simple addition of the box does rather make this ale seem special and clever. It boasts that it is limited to 300 barrels, which I'm not altogether certain is all that limited, but it sounds good. The rather nice dark bottle opened with nary a noise and the smell that then came forth was sugary, but in a mulled and deep way rather than the very open and light sort of smell one gets from sherbet or its ilk. There was a hint of fruit about the edges, almost Christmas-y in feel, and the box does claim there's orange oil, so maybe it's that. In any case, it's not a bad smell and it is citrus-y in places and malty in others but, overall, there's a deep sense of something sweet and viscous, for want of a better description, and that I shall put down to the addition of the treacle late in the process.
As one would expect from Innis & Gunn there's a bit of a kick, with 7.4% ABV, and that is transmitted through the first taste well. A sweet opening that fills the mouth nicely, barely time to register before a very smooth malt slips its way past and carries a hint of fruity hops in the trough carved from that treacle around the edges. Barely a fizz, but enough to remind you that this is ale rather than something else, and we're onto the back straight, racing down at quite a clip and yet still feeling that it is relaxed and easy-going rather than breakneck and quick. It ends on a note of hops, just a note, and plenty of width in the sugar and sweetness. I like the thickness and the darkness, though the red colour is hard to see at first. Actually, it is a deep Christmas red and you can't really fault that. Maybe this would make for a more potent and appropriate Valentine's brew (oh well, there's always next year).
I really like this porter. It is dark, it is wide and the mouthfeel is excellent. I can safely say that I really enjoy the ale in a way that I have not felt in a long while. It is a good, filling and warming, ale. It works well in these darker days of winter as we race into Spring - it fits the feel of the day and of the weather. Also worth noting is the way that the fizz hides and the fact that there was a head before it beat a hasty retreat. In short, this is a good little ale that was well worth the pittance I paid for it (and would have been worth more) and is special because it is in a box!
Enjoy best whenever the mood takes you but especially on colder days as the rain blasts in at the head of high winds. Sit back, open the box and feel special, you deserve it, and then pour it, let it settle, enjoy it, critique it, smell it. Have it alone, all to yourself or, if you're lucky, with a significant other who doesn't mind sharing a bottle (in which case get two bottles) and settle in for a long appreciation. You can't hurry love and you can't hurry this ale!