It’s winter and breweries have been working on their roastiest, toastiest beers for maximum contentment during the colder months. We’ve managed to get our hands on a few extra special seasonal ales so this latest ‘new booze round-up’ is a stout and porter special edition…
Fourpure Snowblind, 5.9%
Fourpure have gone bonkers for tonka in their latest canned offering. It’s a white stout containing tonka beans, a rather interesting adjunct that comes from the Kuaran Tree, native to central and south America. These black, wrinkly seeds are often used as a vanilla substitute in foods and perfume, and the tobacco industry have been known to grind them into tobaccos to make their cigarettes extra tasty. Mmmm…. tasty cigarettes….
Anyway, Rich reckons Snowblind is a “smooth, complex and very more-ish booze.” He goes on to describe it as “pale golden and full-bodied, it has a distinct almondy twang, with caramel, liquorice and and a slight hint of cinnamon.” Nick, who has guzzled a few white stouts recently, proclaims it as “one of the best I’ve had.” High praise indeed.
Salcombe Brewery, Island Street Porter, 5.9%
Salcombe is rapidly becoming South Devon’s booze capital, with an excellent distillery and brewery each bearing the town’s name. We first tried the brewery’s summery beers at a festival last year and were mightily impressed and we’ve now had a chance to try their new winter offering, a delicious dark porter. We felt it had the touch of wild, dark fruits about it – with rich and slightly tart juice, hints of sweetness and a fruit-skin bitterness. The roasted malt flavours have been smoothed out with a spoonful of creamy cocoa making it an easy sipper that’s simply done but full of flavour. Impressive stuff.
Clown Shoes, Chocolate Sombrero, 7%
We regularly dip our hop-stained fingers into beer subscription boxes – they’re one of the best ways to get hold of new beers, particularly from far flung places. The latest cardboard-encased collection of cans and bottles from Beer 52 was a Massachusetts special and it was all new to our taste buds. The pick of the crop was an Imperial Stout, described as “Mexican-style”, from a brewery called Clown Shoes. The beer is full of adjuncts including ancho chilli, cinnamon and vanilla and they’ve done well to even them all out, making a subtly spiced beer with loads of depth. The trace of chilli rides the light fizz for an extra tingle; the touches of spice help it linger longer in the mouth; and the boozy, chocolatey malt gives it a decadent sippability.
Hawkshead, Tonka Shake, 10%
We’ve been keen drinkers of Hawkshead’s beers for several years now – they’re great at simple, hoppy beers but also know how to get creative with more unusual ingredients. This new release, an “Imperial Milkshake Stout”, is another to feature the in vogue tonka bean and it’s a real treat. Its many flavours brought to mind fancy continental breakfasts: a posh muesli loaded with flakes of coconut and covered in creamy milk, with a fresh pain au chocolate on the side and an accompanying cup of black coffee that has a rich, plummy edge and wake-you-up bitterness. The one element that doesn’t belong in our breakfast picture is the whisky-ish dash of booze.
For more information…
Fourpure Snowblind is available from the Fourpure website, £4.50 per 500ml can
Salcombe Island Street Porter is available from the brewery’s website, £30 for 12 x 330ml bottles
Clown Shoes, Chocolate Sombrero can be found over at Beer52 HQ
Hawkshead Tonka Shake is available from Hawkshead’s website