Back around Easter (yes, I know, I am slow) I got a big crate of ales in that I was looking forward to diving into. I have said before that there were many substitutions made (9 of the 15!) and one of these was replacing the Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out with Tiny Rebel Stay Puft. Now, I've had the Dirty Stop Out before, at the Leeds International Beer Festival (click here), and so the replacement for something I'd not already had was something of a welcome one. And it sounds like the sort of sweet and ridiculoous ale that could pass as a dessert. I've just eaten a tea, oven roasted chicken fried with its own juices, garlic, onion and cherry tomatoes and chips. What could go wrong?
Well, plenty, of course. To say anything else would be to tempt fate. So, let us not tarry too long at this juncture and get into the drinking and the reviewing. Would you like to know more?
This pours slowly and with not a little viscosity into the glass in a way that, while not completely surprising, was nevertheless unexpected. A head is difficult to form, and I did try, but what does collect around the top of the glass does rather stick around in all it's slightly flame-grilled white marshmallow glory. The aroma is very much of that vein too, all burned roasted marshmallow freshened by a summer breeze pregnant with the pollen of a million plants thrust into the air like so much confetti too small for the eye to see. A treacle blackness in the glass with brown translucence toward the edges where the sunlight makes a play for freedom. It is tinged with sweetness, which is what I was looking for in the hopes of finding a dessert ale to follow on from my evening meal.
Once on the tongue it sort of dispenses with the whole marshmallow thing. There is still that softness that comes from eating them but not much else to call to mind the name of the brew. It slips and slides around the mouth, eclipsing its own carbonation so effectively that I have to keep taking sips just to remind myself that it has some, with a sensation of treacle again, reminding me of Innis & Gunn with their Treacle Porter (click here) in many ways but less sweet and more roasted and full. This is not a thin one and it does rather like to remind you of that. I am minded of the joke about eating one's own pillow but this is not that dry and difficult either - maybe if the pillow were actually made of marshmallow. So, yes, it is rather sweet rather than roasted but there is still that insistent edge of roast toward the sides and then down the middle as the brew recedes toward the back of the throat. Some element of the sickly sweetness that I suspect I was looking for remains at the tip of the throat, almost a burning sensation of the type I used to associate with bacon sandwiches being cooked on a Sunday morning in my youth, waiting for them upstairs in my parent's bedroom for some reason I have long forgotten.
This is quite nice and it has lasted well as my Boy and I write up his attempt at a story into a Word document (don't worry, he shan't be threatening any bestseller lists any time soon). At 5.6% ABV it does carry quite a punch and whilst that is completely subsumed by the marshmallow character of the taste and smell it cannot withstand the aftertaste and that's when you get a hint of just how powerful this is and why it ought not to be sessioned. On a warm evening with the bright sunshine streaming in through the windows at the front of the house it seems an odd choice, this is a black and dark ale, but the sweet taste and the roasted sensation belong more firmly with campfires used for cooking rather than warmth and light, in the open by a lake at sunset wearing shorts and a cap having dried off from a swim by dint of sitting on the grass without worrying about dying of hypothermia. So, nowhere in Scotland or Canada. In short: it is a summer porter rather than a winter one despite the fact that it is such a dark horse.
I said that I was rather happy with this being a substitution for one of the ales I actually ordered from an online supplier and I am pleased to say that, after having it, I stand by that statement and would have it again. I think I was right not to try it at the Winter Ales Festival (click here) and pit it against the likes of Millionaire (see here) and the offerings from Neon Raptor but it stands well on its own and is a decent tipple to see me through the long bright teatime of the soul before starting again on the marking and planning ahead. Cheers!