Been a long time in coming but, tonight, I am getting round to reviewing one of those ales that rapidly became a staple and has been one of the key reasons I started buying more than a single bottle of some ales. In other words, this is an ale whose consumption allowed me to justify my hoarding mentality. Welcome, then, to the Kulaks' friend: Mud City Stout.
I was first pointed in this direction by other beer bloggers on the Google+ ghost-town of beer communities numbering several tens of thousands strong, so I am indebted to them, and it is of the stable of T. A. Sadler who I rather enjoy of an evening, especially following long weeks working and marking and whatnot.
Would you like to know more? Why wouldn't you like to know more? Seriously, you'd like to know more and thus understand why you, too, would want to buy and consume this ale.
For those two of you that have read other entries here you will know that I rather like my stouts and I seem to enjoy a bit of chocolate flavouring in them. This is no exception. Having charged the car, because I drive an electric, at the local IKEA and had a meal there (I'm not complaining) I naturally decided that I was in need of some alcoholic beverage in the aftermath. The opening was achieved without too much fuss, this being a dark and silent type that did not announce the coming of the carbonation with fanfare nor flourish. For this I was grateful, this was a definite 'dark horse' and did not have much need of such things. The brew poured well and with minimal biscuit-coloured head into the glass, sucking the surrounding light like the most powerful of black holes. The aroma was mystical, heavy and velvet in the night air, carrying a spicy biscuit into the nose and offering some brown in colouration as well as smell. Imagine, if you will, the sort of smell one gets at a proficient bakers when they pull out the good stuff that is sweetened and well-baked.
On tasting this mighty 6.6% ABV stout, which is justifiably strong and powerful, you will note the distinct impression of vanilla on the leading edge. Like the probing tendrils of some deep-water squid, this vanilla opening is created by the apparent inclusion of vanilla pods in the brewing process, something the bottle does trumpet. I have to say that I would have found these without the tasting notes and that it is not altogether unwelcome, on the contrary, this is a positive opening and really quite nice. The following coffee and biscuit flavours come served on a bed of malt with spears of limited hops and yeast surfacing and skewering tastebuds with the minimalist carbonation of the main body. Clearly a well-balanced use of the troops available, this kind of efficiency is often missing in the brews I've tried that claim all sorts of things on their bottle jackets. Heavy and stiff across the tongue it continues to an almost cabernet sauvignon aftertaste. Overall, this is a dry and strong stout that seems well accustomed to the dark evenings and the desire to make something of an evening after much work done in the dull and the wet and the cold.
Enjoy this best when the gloaming is thick, and the nights are dark and mysterious. Was that the falling of snow or the throwing of thin drizzle? Here, neath the sky pock-marked with the glowing craters of stars in the distance, measured in light-years, you will find the peat-infused damp and the dry biscuit bed of the forest, conifer spine strewn paths leading you to the warmth of the homestead. There, amidst friends, take a moment to savour the close-ness and the camaraderie that will gird you in the dark days ahead as winter has its way with the fields and the crops. Guttural conversation, low murmurs and wool-lined furs will be the order of the evening. Let the thick blackness of the stout swallow the light of nearby candles, get a second bottle in, and let it seduce you into long meandering conversation before finally turning in for the sleep that beckons. Strong, but not too strong to enjoy a second, this is definitely a stout worth trying.