I have seen this around and about and I have been wanting to give it a try for some time now. Well, I finally have the opportunity as I settle down to another hard graft at the chalk-face of History. I am referring, of course, to the sister brew to Robinson's Dizzy Blonde in the form of Dizzy's Dark Side and I don't mind complimenting the artist of the bottle jacket on a clever use of colour on the shoes.
My love of dark ales is, perhaps, rather well-signposted on this here blog, so it is of no surprise to all of my reader that I am choosing to review another type of dark ale. Especially as it has been a constant of my visits to a local supermarket of late, taunting me from the pies section, and so I had to cave eventually.
Would you like to know more of my brush with this rather delectable dark, but also curiously light, ale?
The first thing of note about this one, then, is the fact that the opening is done with the barest whisp of carbonation - this was a little unexpected. This is a vastly different kettle-of-fish than my usual sojourns into the dark side of ale brewing, being part of a much larger batch brew and much larger overall company. So, to find it with almost a bottle-conditioned amount of fizz was a little startling, but in a pleasant way rather than not! Malt dominates the nose and the pour produced a big and lasting caramel head, though my ineptitude with the camera on my phone means that little is left to testify to this effect. Once poured the lack of carbonation on the opening is resolved by the fact that there is plenty of pent-up fizz, mayhap my storage of this ale was cooler than others of its brethren? In any case, the colour is deep and black rather than a dark brown and the fizz creates and maintains that big head for some time. Much is promised on the bottle and in the aroma, despite the domination of the malt, and I have to confess that I find myself looking forward to the taste.
The first sally forth provides an almost fruity opening wave of liquid pregnant with rich and full hops that give way to the more bitter tones of them as that wave crests and breaks. Foam reaches a crescendo, the wind breaks upon the coast and there is an almost chocolate tone in the crashing surf 'gainst the beach of my throat as the whole thing runs down and is sucked back into the maw of my gaping taste. It's a full mouthfeel as it chases down toward the back of the throat, full of barely noticed chocolate and the memory of those bitter hops that followed the initial fruit sensation at the top of the taste. It is light, overall, in flavour: with light chocolate malt, light fruity hops and then bittering toward the middle and the end. In many respects it is like drinking watered down chocolate orange. Which is, I must point out, not as bad as it sounds.
At 3.8% ABV this is never going to break into a heavy dominant brew nor is it likely to result in headaches and hangovers the morning after but it will find a place, I feel, in the light after-work drink that you may indulge in following a hard day. It is the sort of ale that one can have whilst working overtime and the sort that can accompany a good meal. My suggestion is to wait until the pudding, because I am Northern, and to then take it in sips rather than knocking it back. It's not a patch on the more craft brewed ales that I have been lucky enough to sample but nor is it something to ignore.
Enjoy best as a drinking ale, with a strength to match, that can be sessioned and had as a standard rather than as a special drink or brew to be savoured and saved. You'd keep this one on hand to break out when an ale seems like a good idea and when you feel you need a little something to toast the minor successes of work life - maybe that little extra in the pay packet or something having gone right. Good to have when someone follows small advice, a small part of someone is saved or there is an opening in the carpark that allows you to park close to the front door. A toast to life's littlest victories.