Murrays: Heart Of Darkness (Australia: Imperial Stout: 9.6% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black with a thin brown rim.

Aroma: Roasted nuts. Old wool blanket and oats. Dry liquorice. Some fruit sourness – red grapes maybe. Brambles.

Body: Liquorice. Burnt wood. Milky chocolate and slight peanuts. Quite frothy texture. Still some red grape sourness. Black cherries.

Finish: Lots of milky oats and some bitter chocolate, somewhat like a bitter cocoa pops influenced milk.  Red grapes again. Long lasting roasted feel.

Conclusion:  Nearly every good beer has its distinctive quirk that stands out when you first try it. Notable many bad beers also have quirks, if you count seagull vomit flavour as a quirk and not a breech of the Geneva Convention. This thankfully comes under good beer quirk, as for a Belgium style imperial stout it has a red grape influence that gives it that distinctive character.

The main element of the beer is more by the numbers, with lots of bitter chocolate and roasted touches and a powerful heavy duty aroma. Strangely it has a much less viscous body that you would expect.  Despite being slightly thinner than usual it does bring a lot of force main body, especially in the chocolate elements. It does keep the Belgium smoothness though, into a nice chocolate dust finish.  The aforementioned grapes only come out occasionally, but for all its subtlety of use it is that element that makes it most distinct, even though it is far from the most prominent touch.

Without this touch it would but a fun beer, but not particularly expressive. With it you get a light sour freshness and a fruitiness that keeps your attention with its light dusting across the main flavour.

A public announcement, despite being more open to chilled beers these days, don’t do it to this beer, it sodding butchers it.  Which does make me wonder how they drink it in the Australian heat.

So, a good beer, very tasty. Far from the top of the Imperial Stout game, but hey it’s a hard race these days.

Background: Picked up at the great British Beer festival.  I originally thought it was a New Zealand beer until my sister corrected me.  I would be embarrassed at the mistake but I’m more proud that I have a sister who knows both good beers *and* geography, whilst I only know beer.  A Belgium style imperial stout, using Belgium yeast to get the distinctive effect.