This is a brew I have been sitting on for a while. I didn't have it in the summer because I thought it a more wintry ale and in the heat of the summer that we had I opted to have the 'punt' in the garden first. What I found with that one, the 1643 Leveller Bitter (click here) was a thing of beauty and power. An ale that had me wishing I had bought more when I had the chance, which is not an accolade that I bestow often. So, with some trepidation, I decided to open and imbibe the stout, the 1643 Puritan Stout by Two Cocks Brewery tonight. It has big shoes to fill and a huge reputation to live up to in my mind.
There's no animated image this time, I went with simple and dark for a change... Would you like to know more?
Before I go any further I must point out the aroma! This is proper stout, it smells like stout, and I am currently sat back a good metre or so from the glass. It has a proper stout coloured head atop a deep brown pint. Roasted malt and chocolate hints fill the nose when you get close, with that strange and beautiful tang that I spotted with the 1643 Leveller Bitter back in the summer, I put it down to the hops that grow wild and they are in here too. Perhaps it is that but there's an earthy and dry quality to the aroma here, raw and powerful, it puts me in mind of a visit we made to Butser Ancient Farm a couple of years ago, the iron-age roundhouses bathed in summer sun and washed over with woodsmoke and flowering bushes and plants in the ditch around it. Having that almost summery smell in a room that has recently had a fire burning in it and with the cold and wet outside the back window is a very surprising experience to have with a stout!
Full bodied on the tongue, straight away giving fruit and juice amongst the toasted malt of the bedding, a peaty sense about it with that thin but persistent head offering a brief cream on the lips. Big and brash in the middle of the mouth, filling it all out with rounded edges and a lovely soft feeling that runs through the whole journey. I can imagine the druids picking mistletoe from the oak trees near the standing stones and then returning to drink something like this. Utterly without any kind of historical back up (and that's because it can't have happened) but that is the weird feeling I get from that middle. Then it slips, slowly and with some heft, to the back of the throat where it coats it and then warms down the gullet to the stomach. It is testament to how much I rate this that it told me to serve at 8 degrees centigrade and that I got it around there before trying. And then that dry chalky feeling on the aftertaste. Wow. This is the rough and gravelly, almost flint like, dryness that I spotted with the bitter. It is raw, I can think of no better way of describing it, and totally different to any of the other brews I've had since last summer. Or before.
Hints of chocolate shoot through this one, borne by the carbonation which is insistent but not too powerful, one of the flatter ales I've had since getting the Christmas ales, but that's no bad thing. It is stronger than the Black Christmas (click here) I had but it's more of a stout. It's clear and big but strangely quiet in the mouth. A calming ale to settle the nerves and bring in the deep breaths, this is the sort of ale that stands being cooled in the middle of winter on a cold day and still does the job. Although it warms the stomach the overall sensation is cooling. It could follow spicy food and act as a palate cleanser even though it has such flavour and strength. It's a complete mystery, really, I am struggling to describe this one. The bottle tells me that Cromwell would not approve, and he bloody well wouldn't! Extravagant and simple, deep and light and a stout with some serious chocolate that does not overpower. This is a joy to drink and very welcome after the slightly disappointing stout from earlier, the Old Rasputin Stout (click here). It challenges the Dark Arts (click here) and wins, it follows from the Station Porter (click here) and builds on that foundation.
This is rare quality ale. I want to have another on standby and I must ensure that I get some in when I next end up near the Hog's Back Brewery Shop as that is where I bought this in. I'm going to draw this review to a close in simple admiration and the earnest hope that I can buy in a few next time I see them. I've stored this for over six months and it has rewarded my waiting - it was aged well already by the brewery shop too, so I had a grand old head start. If you see this, anywhere, or any of the ales by Two Cocks Brewery: do yourself a favour and get them in!