Bristol Beer Factory: Choc Orange Stout (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Really frothy fudge coloured head. The head is thin in depth, but thick in texture. It also leaves a coffee cup like remains around the rim of the glass.

Nose: Bitter coffee and coco dust. Overripe oranges and along with that a passing tartness.

Body: Thick textured. Heavy on the bitterness. Touch of liquorice. Chocolate orange lurks at the back.  Bitter cocoa. Slight milkyness and a touch of black cherry.

Finish: Chocolate orange. Milk. Still bitter chocolate and coffee hands in the air. Dry roasted peanuts and mandarin orange segments.

Conclusion: Not what I was expecting with this one. The choc orange term had me expecting a quite milky sweet stout with emphasis on terry chocolate orange style smoothness.

Obviously I was wrong.

The chocolate is the first distinct element main body, but it is in its raw unsugared version, all potent bitterness and bite.  This combines with the stouts bitter coffee styles for an impressive balance of bitter force against drinkability.

The orange is background element, feeling like actuall flecks throughout the beer for all its comings and goings.  It is at the finish that it dominates, and here it mixes the expected terry’s chocolate orange element on the tongue with bitter chocolate soaring in your mouth above it. There is then a river of tart orange juice flavour separating the two.

The result is a solid stout, but I am having a hard time deciding how I feel about it as the beer in my expectations clash against the beer in itself.

A bit more play to decide reveals that the orange touches almost disappear when the beer is chilled, when warmed slightly the orange juice almost separates from the stout to be come its own distinct element.  At no point does the orange flavours fully integrate. A strange oddity.

Id say that it does the job of defying expectations and being a solid stout. For that alone I’m willing to give it the time of day.  The beer does have reasonable staying power as the orange plays in different ways throughout the beer.

It is a beer I enjoyed, I have decided after much contemplation. It does not come in instantly enjoyable, but does earn that title over time. A beer you initially struggle with, but is distinctly its own thing, and does keep the fight between the bitter chocolate and orange well balanced if not integrated.

Bit of a tough one to get along with, but I can’t help but appreciate its unique stylings.

Background: Part of Bristol Beer Factories 12 Stouts of Christmas. Yes I am aware its New Years already and I’m only half way through.  BBF is a great brewery, especially on stouts. This version has had orange zest and juice added, and I presume cacao nibs as well like the chocolate stout.