Epic: Thornbridge Stout (New Zealand: Stout: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Black with a reddish brown bubbled froth head of moderate size.

Nose: Dry roasted peanuts. Slight cream cheese. Black coffee. Very roasted with some treacle notes.

Body: Smooth, but bitter and roasted. Bitter chocolate. Some charring elements. A tingling hop feel.

Finish: Roasted and dry with good bitterness. Charring. Slightly earthy.

Conclusion: Stouts always seem to have one preferred element they concentrate on, be it chocolate, coffee, or in this case the roasted character.  It enhances it with quite the hop character and marries it to a decent chunk of roasted nuts.  Here I need to admit a touch of bias, as the more hoppy or roasted interpretations of the style tend not to be my favourite. It just feels too easy to misuse the hops and create an overly dry or rough beer without adding to the flavour.

Here it doesn’t do too badly, though it does lead to a very dry feeling stout. There is also nice bitter chocolate, but predominantly the beer seems to work to leave you thirstier than when you started drinking.

There are other familiar elements including that slightly soured cream cheese touch, or cloying cream maybe. It’s a slightly thick element that can be used to add refreshment to a stout if done well, or become annoying intrusive if not. Here it doesn’t add that much but does balance well with the roasted character.

Initially tried chilled, it is much better warm. It’s smoother and there is more of the deliciously bitter chocolate that offsets the roasted elements.  Chilling seems to down play the flavour and allow the hops too much free reign.

It is a drinkable beer, despite my general aversion to its chosen emphasis. Oddly if it was less roasted the smooth texture and chocolate would play well to create a beer I really think I would enjoy. As is it is a solid smooth stout but not great. A stout with more weight to it that the body would make you think, you can feel the liquid running down your throat with some determination.

Not bad, but not special enough to be enthralling, and not high quality enough to make it a gem, but still decent.

Background: Not, in fact, one of the New Zealand beer care package my sis brought back. This one hailed from Brewdogs guest beer section. Had a bit of a problem getting this one, but thankfully Brian from Brewdog helped sort it all out, much appreciated! This one is a collaboration between the British Brewery Thornbridge and the New Zealand brewery Epic. Both are pretty good breweries, if not in my all time favourite list, but each have put out some stonking beers.