BY ITS LOOKS ALONE a fairly unassuming brew—standing alongside a slightly flat Guinness Draught folköl it was difficult to tell them apart. A few shades darker than cola but not quite black, substantial but not oily body, no copious head to speak of, and a little on the lower side of carbonation. Initial samples around 11 Celsius also non-committal, but once it achieved nearly room temperature all faith was restored. The aroma, initially smoky, nearly mesquite or like a musky Scotch Ale, opens further to reveal raisins, concentrated cocoa, and caramel malt, though black malt is the focus. The flavor follows suit with a deceptively mild mouthfeel that is substantial without being cloying—hints of phenols towards the later stages. A well-attenuated brew, relative to the style. Alcohol hardly a thought amidst the smooth smokiness, but a steady slight presence throughout help grease the wheels, so to speak. Hops (Northern brewer, Fuggle, East Kent Golding) lend a subtle balance that clear the sweetness at the end but are not too individually distinguishable. Would delight to revisit this in several years, though the lack of hops/carbonation in this young version do make one wonder about its cellaring strength.
Served: 33 cl bottled 2012