Stout time! It seems that every year I get all contrary and, despite the fact that it's not winter, go mad and have something that is a little stout-y and wintry. Let the records show that this year was going to be no exception by dint of the fact that I have just unearthed, disinterred and poured an oatmeal milk stout from Brewdog by the name of Jet Black Heart.
This has been waiting for quite some time and now seemed like a good time to liberate and try it after the adventure of the small Boy's brush with a wooden beam. So it was and came to pass that I opened the bottle and damn' well drank the ale that I have been teasing about for all of four or five sentences. I'm no good at this setting up tension malarkey, that may be why I'm writing beer reviews rather than best selling thriller novels.
With all of that rather pointless preamble out of the way, and I bet you're glad to hear it, would you like to know more?
I have been looking forward to this and the aroma upon opening was most noticeable and did not disappoint. There's a milkiness to this that, for an oatmeal milk stout, is not to be sniffed at, and that malt does rather carry on the night air. This is a good thing and quite nice to have, reminding me of the days when I could snuggle up beneath a blanket and feel warm and protected. This is the sort of aroma that you want to wrap yourself in and keep away the cold of an evening, to feel cosy and safe. Despite my efforts the head of this did not stick around for long but the depth of the darkness was hard to beat so that it fully lived up to the fact that I put it in my winter ales festival glass. Almost like it was a proper stout.
On to the taste and it is proper stout. All thick and creamy with plenty of weight and a sense of portent to it. As one should expect. There's obviously a milk-like texture and velvet-y quality to the whole affair, how could it be any different, but there is also a roasted aspect to this one. Imagine having a very milky coffee, now ignore that taste and focus on the sensation, now imagine that the milkiness of the coffee was a good thing rather than something that actively stood in the way of enjoying the coffee and you have something of the taste. There's lots of good things going on in this brew, as one would expect from Brewdog, and it's hard to get a handle on it. I know that I am highly rating the taste of the milk and the oatmeal and that the overall thickness is somewhat comforting and a good follow up to the ales that I had earlier in the evening. This is the sort of ale that serves well as a night-cap, methinks, the one that ends a session rather than one that begins it. I am beginning to regret the fact that I only bought one of them in and wishing I could magic up a second for a future evening. I suspect that my conjuring will be taking the form of an online order of a crate, maybe not, we'll see.
This is an ale that keeps on going too. After that initial malty power with the milk and the oatmeal and the velvet and the roasting, each further taste is rewarded with the feeling as if for the very first time. It is very satisfying and hard to get used to in all the right ways that make this one that can be savoured rather than rushed down. I have no doubt that one could down this in one but why on earth would you want to? This is one to sip in small quantities, letting the full mouthfeel transport you to the world where malty drinks are still a staple of bedtime and where one falls into bed after a hard day doing actual labour with the feeling that something has been accomplished. It is smooth and deep and dark and all of those things that a decent stout aspires to be. I can't claim to have earned this in any way, my recent sojourn to Center Parcs merely proved that I was very out of shape and incapable of actual physical exercise any more. In that regard it is I who fall short of the ale, with its curious but by no means unpleasant aftertaste or the assault of milky softness.
Enjoy this best before bedtime, wearing a nightshirt and with candles guttering on the table. Take one of these to bed with you, you don't want to miss a step, and be sure to turn off the central heating - especially if it's winter and you're in the highlands. This is a proper bedtime ale that will reward you for making it the last thing on your list, but be sure to polish it off before you venture through the moaning draughts up to bed because it is not the sort of thing you want to be drinking to wet your throat at 4.7% ABV, a trifle strong and likely to make you wish you'd been to the loo before bedding down. Best to have this first and then follow with a water methinks. But a great ale nonetheless.