Sunday, 19 March 2017


Sadly, this is not a speciality Sunday because the stout that I'm plumbing for tonight is the core range stout from the rather lovely Shiny brewery that I picked up from my friendly bottle shop. It's the sort of thing that seems like it will fit neatly into a dark evening with the car fully charged and the meals long behind me, for it is late to be having an ale. We shall see.

Also, it's a stout and it's been on the beer shelf for long enough now for me to be having it. Yes, I am that sad about my ale. I hope it isn't ruined by the fact that the Billionaire (click here) exists and continues to be a fantastic ale that just appreciates with age - I may have bought a few more of those. Anyway, this review. Would you like to know more?

Big snick and a great deal of activity on the pour so that it reminds me of a can of coke and produces a phenomenal biscuit-coloured head. This calms relatively quickly into a thinner version of the same thing and the deep dark body ceases to fizz like a soft drink so much. By now the air is filled by a sweet and smooth smell that is most welcome - plenty of chocolate malt and coffee roasting aroma - and this pervades the room rather than sticking close to the brew itself. As though brownian motion has been given a kick-start by the huge bubbling activity at the beginning and that makes some sense to me. The deep black is not translucent, it refuses to let the light through and acts as a big absorber of electro-magnetic radiation in the visible spectrum, which I find inordinately pleasing. Also, it's a minor 4.4% ABV so it's not as strong as the Billionaire and in the same sort of league as the Millionaire (click here) instead, which is further weight to lend to my appreciation of the brew and I haven't even tasted it yet!

Decidedly thinner than I was expecting with a strong and moist start that spills over the tongue and into the sides of the mouth, lots of carbonation activity that runs much like a can of soft drink, moreso than I would have thought, but beneath the kind of coffee chocolate that I would have plumbed to herald a much heavier and thicker brew. Indeed, it quickly dries out over the roof of the mouth, as though the malt is the main theme of the taste but then remains moist and watery, almost, as it swirls toward the back of the throat. The power of the chocolate and the dryness of the roast does not carry through and rapidly fades with a feeling of salivation following to make the whole thing more interesting.

It's a good, solid stout that is clearly made for proper drinking rather than savouring sip by sip. This is no carefully produced delicacy on sale in posh bars for posh people with too much money and all the tasting notes of the wannabe connoisseur - full of Hipster phrases and wanting to try out something brewed with special yeasts and what-have-you. No, this is proper work-a-day drinking stout that finishes off an evening of a couple of pints with friends propping up the bar and putting the world to rights. It is a Friday night ale, had with work mates and drunk relatively quickly before walking home and having a quick sit before bed. Not a dessert ale by any stretch of the imagination but a comforter in aroma and a satisfier in the mouth so that you know that the working week is done.

It builds up nicely too as you get through the glass, so that each taste becomes even more watery, but not in a bad way, and the dry chocolate notes begin to store up around the edges. Each taste takes a little more of that richness away, rubbing it all down the throat so that you feel as though you have been sated and the thirst has been slaked. It props and it relaxes, the strength enough to slowly bring about that rather nice feeling after a brew that allows you to know you have drunk something alcoholic but without being so strong that you've done significant damage to your liver in the process. The kind of brew that stands well with mankind having imbibed alcoholic beverages for millions of years (though I accept that ale is much less long-lived than that) and stands well with a previous pint or even, as I have had it, on its own.

If the last stout, Millionaire, was a 7 foot clown singing pop hits, then this is Lady Gaga reduced to the basslines and lyrics in a style that isn't so impenetrably high minded. It's Depeche Mode at the start of their careers when Vince was still part of the band. It's I Just Can't Get Enough stripped back and played over the sound system. Basically welcome and uncomplicated, allowing you to sit back without too much taxing thought and enjoy an evening.

Enjoyed best on an evening in the dark, avoid summer but it will work there, after a long week at work in which not much sleep has been had and there's been lots of minor stresses. Find a snug, sit yourself down and set the world of work to rights with your colleagues noisily and without reference to who might be listening. Chase a lighter ale, which you have in a half obviously, and then settle on a pint of this to drown the remaining stresses before getting to the end and heading home to bed and a well-deserved rest.

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