For too long I’ve been suffering from a mysterious virus which has turned me into a coughing and spluttering shambling shell of a man. Those closest to me insist it’s a common cold, but I think something far more sinister is responsible: such are its devastating effects that I’ve been off beer for over a week.
Thankfully the worse has passed and now I’m sounding like a gravel-larynxed voice-over artist for a West Country gangster movie and am ready to lubricate my throat with a pint.
At the start of my descent into fevered madness I received a new delivery of beers from top booze-peddlers The Other Brew, which have been taunting me from the beer shelf. So I’m turning to that selection for something to welcome beer back into my life. Something with a flavour robust enough to overpower the catarrh; something smooth and warming to raise the spirits; and something with an extra pick-me-up to get me up and running again. The choice is obvious: Dark Star’s beer / coffee hybrid ‘espresso’.
We first discovered this beer at last year’s Frocester Beer Festival and both declared it the (dark) star of the show. Rich noted it was “super-silky” and “Girt lush” while I marvelled at its superb craftsmanship. This time it’s in bottle format rather than on draft, but the quality is just as high.
Lots of dark beers have a tinge of coffee flavour to them – it’s the roasting of the malts that gives them this characteristic – and a few other breweries experiment with the real thing. As with adding coffee to any other food or drink, the balancing act can be tricky (it doesn’t take much coffee before it overpowers the other ingredients) but in this beer the marriage is perfect, despite the unusually high levels of coffee flavours. The end impression you’re left with is as much a malty pint of coffee as a coffee flavoured beer.
It’s far from being a heavy beer but the strong flavours make it one to sip rather than glug, which is all I require on my beer drinking return. I can’t claim it as a cure for the common cold, but it certainly helps improve the mood.
Brewery: Dark Star Brewing Co, Horsham, West Sussex
Beer name: Espresso
Hops used: challenger
Beer supplied by The Other Brew