85 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with some workmates. BB date on the cap of 12/18.
Pours a deep, vivid black, almost opaque, even at the edges. Head forms a full, fine crest of mocha brown that persists as a firm cap, leaving sheets of lace. Body is a touch lighter than I expected, and the carbonation is a little coarse and fast-moving. Looks good though.
Nose is quite pleasant. There's a toastiness which mingles very pleasantly with a rich boozy quality, a little like chocolate liqueur. The true coffee-like notes aren't very prominent though; instead it tends towards vanilla and burnt sugar. It's definitely rich and boozy.
The taste is also excellent. It starts out rather subtle, with a dense, almost ashy roast character on the front—but it's cushioned all around by a slick body and a warming booze character. Together these develop into a long, sinuous sweetness towards the middle and back, while complexities of berry, vanilla, pepper and wood dance around the outside. Finish has more subtle dark fruit and a suggestion of tantalising smoke. Yeah. Awesome.
Feel is close to perfection: it's slick and rich, but gains the warmth of the booze without becoming harsh. Carbonation is perfectly restrained.
Overall, this is a genuinely cracking beer, and easily the best I've had from Kees. This is a killer in terms of complexity, richness and slickness, but maintains a wonderful structure and approachability. Great stuff.
60 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a slightly watery looking deep brown, light and thin in the body. Head forms only a kind of off-white mesh of bubbles that nonetheless does a good job of forming complex, warped-looking lace. Carbonation is fairly fine, but very swift through the body. Looks only okay.
Nose smells almost of nothing more than strawberry icecream. It's straight up the pink layer from a home-brand pack of Neopolitan. As it warms, it seems as though there's a bit more subtlety to the strawberry note, and some organic notes give it a bit more gravitas—it starts to smell a little like real strawberries. The stout characters are still muted, although if you look for them they're there, giving just a milk milk chocolate underpinning.
Taste is a little bit worse though. Here, the strawberry note connects somewhat with a light bitterness, giving it a medicinal kind of tone. At the same time though, that toasted bitterness is what makes you finally believe it's a stout. There's a creaminess through the middle as well—it gives more notes of strawberry ice-cream, and a slight nuttiness towards the back as it starts to abut the toasted bitterness. Feel is fairly smooth and slick from a low carbonation, but the body is actually pretty thin.
Overall, it ends up tasting a little bit gimmicky. The strawberry character is certainly prominent, so it delivers what it should, but it doesn't necessarily do much for the beer as a whole. I was ready for it to show me that this was a good idea, and it didn't.
69 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez, shared with Chris.
Pours a dark brown, with beige head that has a nice reverse cascade when poured but sinks very quickly. Lace is unimpressive. Looks alright.
Smells very sweet, big caramelly and toffee note. Crême brulée custard note that dips a little into medicinal, because it's just overly, childishly sweet. Appealing, but could use a touch more oomph from the roasty malt just to clip off the sweetness.
Taste is a bit more bitter, but it's odd. Big caramel sweetness with big roasty bitterness as well. The two flavours kind of swing in and out of the palate, alternately and not really a big synergy, it kind of has sour coffee, with caramelised custard and some bitter choc as well. Doesn't quite mesh together but the flavours that are there are pleasant.
Smooth, maybe a little bit thin. Not bad on the back.
Has touches of a Southern Tier Crême Brulée, but it just doesn't go all in with the sweetness and it's a bit poorer for it. Just a bit, in the end, but it makes a world of difference in the drinking experience.
85 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, maybe reddish tinge to it. Head is beige, nice fluffy texture when poured and sinks to a thin crown with specks of lacing left behind. Looks nice. Very nice.
Smells toasty. Slightly burnt, bitter but a nice touch of fruitiness over it as well. Slight citric twang, some rich bitter-sweet chocolate. Cinnamon, too. Smells very tasty. Good mix of smells here.
Taste is roasty, chocolatey with some dry bitterness midway. Has cocoa flavours, touch of berry on the mid-palate and some dark woody notes late with some cinnamon bark, cranberry maybe and some raisin. Finishes a bit dry, which is lovely as there's quite a lot of rich flavours, and bitterness but it's cleaned up beautifully on the back. Really excellent palate, could just be a very nicely-hopped porter to my mind.
Smooth, maybe a touch on the thin side, but a nice texture.
Very tasty porter, has a lot of likeable flavours and a well constructed palate. I'll go with IBA for the classification but drinks more like a porter overall.