Bristol Beer Factory: Blackcurrants and Liquorice (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Nice coffee browned froth bubbles mix. The head leaves suds as it descends and hovers over a still body.

Nose: Bitter coffee and roasted character. Sour dough. Roasted nuts.

Body: Bitter yet slightly tart. Light blackcurrant pie. Vanilla. Thinner body than the standard. Sour dough and chives. Lactose. Charring and barbecued bits. Slight fresh lemon.

Finish: Blueberries. Dry liquorice. Light hop bitterness. Slightly fresh. Sour dough and dry spice.

Conclusion: This beer is made with blackcurrants, yet the finish seems to be more blueberry to me. Maybe my taste buds are wired up wrong today. Anyway, for all it’s odd ingredients the main flavour for this is very much the standard stout.  That dark roasted character, sour dough and a touch of lactose that calls to milk stout.  The extra ingredients are surprisingly subtle in their influence.

The body feels a touch tarter than usual, which also thins the body slightly. Initially that’s an unwelcome element, but as the body build up on your tongue it actually helps keep the beer easily drinkable as it gives room for the fruit tartness to seep in. You don’t get big amounts of sweetness from the fruit, just these extra notes hovering around the edges. Similarly the liquorice only seems to show itself in the extra dry elements of the finish.

It’s no raspberry stout in the amount of fruit flavour, which is a pity as that beer rocked. This keeps all the extras for the end where the fruit finally gets to roam and the liquorice dries itself out.

Initially it feels like weaker one of the Bristol Stout style, but time gives the beer a chance to fill in the notes to become a subtly influenced stout that doesn’t show off.  It does use the influence just enough to make you appreciate it over time. Understated, but since the base beer is a solid stout it still works. I think this beer may end up underappreciated but it has it’s charms.

Background: Part of the 2012 twelve stouts of Christmas. I very much enjoyed last years offering of twelve different stouts, so decided to give this years a try. This one, to no-ones surprise, is made with blackcurrants and liquorice.  Bristol Beer Factory are a solid brewery and especially tend to be good when working with stouts. Drunk while listening to a mix of Yoko Kanno’s music and some of the Witch Hunter Robin soundtrack album.