Friday 31 December 2010

New Seasonal - Cornish Winter Stout

This write up is a bit late. Our last seasonal, Abbey Christmas was phenomenally popular and sold out before early December. This beer was then used to stem the flood of disappointment from the trade. Cornish Winter Stout is my first foray into stouts in terms of recipe writing on a commercial scale. I am very pleased with the second batch. The first batch I will not mention and you will never see. Cask stouts can be awesome but often are just awful. I remember tasting stouts at a beer cask ale competition once. After 4 beers my palate was a mess, after 8 I wanted to stop sampling and after 12 I wanted to stop breathing. I felt sorry for the brewers of the last 3 that I judged because what had gone on before had reduced my taste buds to what felt like a full ashtray covered in treacle and the best beer in the world would have tasted like sewage. A lot of the entries subscribed to the more flavour = better beer philosophy and used so much roasted barley and black malt that I find it hard to believe that there was any room for pale. Others obviously weren’t happy merely using too much special malt and threw in enough hops to keep drinkers with no bitterness perception happy for a century. The result was olfactory Armageddon. Please don't get me wrong, there are some excellent stouts out there and everyone's palate is different.

Cornish Winter Stout is packed with flavour and tastes stronger than the badged ABV but there is still the inexorable tug back to the bar of a beer brewed for drinking rather than ticking off or discussing. Malt is pale ale, 140 crystal, roasted barley and crystal rye for tartness in the midst of all these heavy sweet/roast sensations. Hop notes come from the ever-versatile Hallertauer Northern Brewer and late hopping with the American monolith Apollo. The Apollo is there not for its earth shattering bitterness but for the pungency of its oils. A less strident hop just won’t compete with noise of the malts. To add a rich tiramisu roast note I have had some (120kg) of Peruvian, Cecovasa coffee specially roasted for me by the clever people at Origin Coffee. It has been roasted beyond the level felt acceptable in coffee made for drinking directly so that it stands out against the backdrop created by the roasted barley. From the amount that has disappeared from the stock room since we took delivery I think that my brewing team feel that it still makes a very good espresso!

Cornish Winter Stout is available from now until Spring. I hope it takes your palate to roast-accented heaven rather than olfactory Armageddon.


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