This reviewing lark isn’t all beer and skittles, you know. Well, alright, it’s certainly a bit of beer, but no skittles…yet.
As you may know, I’m always more than happy to receive beer for review, and I normally exchange it for a bottle or two of indecently hoppy home-brewed IPA which is a system that most folks seem very happy with…and works very well for me too.
M’friend Jim brought me back a bottle of Elveden stout from his and Sarah’s sojourn to the wilds of Suffolk; and the night before last, I was in a stouty mood so elected to pop it open and give it a go…
Well POP was certainly an appropriate word. The cap came off with a very loud pop and some fairly intense fobbing, leaving me wondering what amount of natural carbonation these folks had managed to get into it.
Accordingly the head was loose and full of detergenty-looking bubbles…and this was a bottle carbonated beer remember, not force carbonated…Look at the photo (click on it to view at full-size) and you’ll see it …something very akin to Coca-Cola which surely couldn’t have been right?
The colour was good, a respectable coal-black and looking like a solid pint of maltiness…and I’m afraid that’s where the good bit ends.
The smell (note smell, not aroma) was of strongly acrid burnt black malt with a tang of quite unnecessary acidity.
The taste was acrid, acidic, unpleasant and unbelievably thin. The mouthfeel was that of perrier water: being all bubbles and wateriness. I don’t know what the aftertaste was because I was more concentrating on trying to make sense of the immediate taste and whether it would actually make me ill…
My thoughts were that a secondary ferment or an infection had got into the bottle and robbed out all the body, while souring it and ruining it; but after doing some digging on the web I found that other folks weren’t at all happy with their tasting of it, either…
I found a reference somewhere that suggested that Elveden Stout is matured in old wooden whisky casks…well I’d suggest that if that’s true those casks want looking at…if you are going to oak a beer, maybe use sterilized cubes of oak in modern plastic or stainless fermenters?
My best and probably most charitable description of this stout is: like an thin Old Bruin but with black malt predominating.
I hate to pan beer, I really do – especially when it was a gift and I have an appreciation of how hard running a brewery and turning a profit is. But I really didn’t enjoy this stout…I just hope that this bottle was a one-off.
http://www.icenibrewery.co.uk/elveden.asp (which is the only link that I could find, really)
(PS: Jim will still get his quota of homebrew IPA in return, don’t you worry about that readers! And besides he also got me some stuff from the Wolf brewery to try, too…which I am very much looking forward to trying…)