Monday, 2 January 2017

Black Christmas

I've been holding off on the stouts because I like them so much. But, today, as I mark all of the stuff I need to get marked (and struggle to get it all done) it seemed a good point to crack open the black stuff. I am referring, of course, to Weird Beard's Black Christmas being a lovely looking cranberry stout.

Of course, this all brings to mind the Black Celebration by Depeche Mode (or that may just be me) so hit the link and then listen to the song as you read.

Would you like to know more?

Opens as a stout should, without fuss and without ceremony. Head is slow to form but form it does when the glass is manipulated just so. There's a whiff of the night about this one with a a good bed of chocolate malt. The barest hint of something sharp and tangy, which would be the cranberry, hangs over the deep darkness that sucks in the light and does not capture it nor offer any way through. The head is biscuit and the malt is deep, the sort of abyss that Nietzsche looked into and the sort of blackness that promises evil work and good stout. I have lusted after this since seeing it in the box and the dark beauty of it merely serves to underline my passion and suggest that I was right to have waited so long, this is the sort of ale that would have made a late push to be beer of the year in 2016 and that would not have been fair either to this awesome aroma or to the ones that have gone before. No, there is a pleasing depth to this aroma and I could sit and sniff it all day were it not for the fact that I am itching to get into it.

At 4.5% ABV this opens with a cool chocolate smell and then ramps up to a bubbling and furtive kiss, this then runs into the middle of the mouth, the chocolate malt working its way around the teeth to fill all available spaces as the hops do the job of laying down that cranberry bitter hit. The bottle warns of coconut and vanilla and there is that hint of cream from the coconut and the vanilla serves as a proper bed for the bitter hints that swirl and multiply in the darkness. This is good ale, a good stout and one that justifies my liking of the style. Good creaminess on the tongue slowly works its way toward the back of the mouth where the dryness of the coconut flavours take root and then flush away the vanilla chocolate bitter Sorachi hops into a surprisingly mild and milky aftertaste. It reminds me a little of the sort of thing you get with oatmeal stouts and feels very much like a bedtime ale. Coming, as it does, at the end of a marking tranche, this feels apt and very welcome.

I'd wax more lyrical, about how that coconut intensifies and allies itself to the increasing vanilla as one keeps drinking this ale. I'd talk about how hard it is to just keep sipping and how this begs to be drunk quickly without waste and without necking the whole brew. I'd like to try and explain how that bitter note keeps the whole thing from becoming just another stout and keeps the whole thing together, how your mouth begs for more from the simple sensation of it running around in there and how much I enjoy this particular drink but, alas, I am rather busy drinking the ale in question. All I can offer are visions and snapshots of just how good this ale is as I continue to make my way through. Some flavours delicate, others heavy, all very much thought about in a package that does the idea of stout some justice. This is the sort of ale that I very much wish I could have more of.

Enjoy at night, in the dark, with or without company. When you feel that you have achieved something or have something to celebrate. It is a good deep stout that will reward the one who wants it and the one who waits. Once open, pour well and do not worry about having too big a head, instead, pour with abandon and ensure you have a second, or third, for afterwards. For this is the sort of ale that will be light and forgiving come the morning.

If you can, get this in!


  1. A nice one to finish on, though am now imagining me sat alone in the dark and Kate coming in saying, what ya doing?!

    1. To which you clearly grunt and lift the beer glass in response! :)