70 / 100
440ml can purchased from Beer Cartel. A Xmas present from Sam.
Pours a pleasant ebony brown colour, with a filmy, but decent head of beige that leaves long soapy streaks of lace. Body is lighter than expected for the ABV, and the carbonation is correspondingly swift and surprisingly large-bubbled. It ends up swirling up quickly and dissipating.
Nose is excellent, however. There's such a wonderfully well-realised coffee aroma—like walking into a welcoming, fancy-but-not-too-fancy cafe and knowing that you're going to get good coffee, good food, and that the staff are not going to be dickheads. There's a smoothness to it too—milky sweet and leavened by the vanilla. But the coffee itself has to honestly take a lot of the credit—it's a lovely blend. Rich and deep with chocolate, earth, and sweetened with caramel and toffee. Props.
Taste is also good, but it doesn't quite manage to plumb the depths and complexities which the nose promised. It is lighter in the body—in particular towards the back, where it drops. The milky caramel sweetness the nose suggested doesn't materialise, and this makes it feel like it's not supporting the complexities that are probably there in the richness from the coffee beans. But there's a pleasant swoop of coffee from the front—robust, slightly bitter and with a hint of metal—to the back, which is smooth with chocolate and mild roast.
The feel is a weak point in an otherwise good beer. For an 8.1% ABV beer with coffee, you want more body and sweetness to support it, and this leaves too much on the table.
Overall, I like it. But part of me almost wishes it didn't smell so damn good. It's like it's setting itself up for disappointment. But I can't complain about what's the high point of the beer. And it is a high point.