Bristol Beer Factory: Crème Brulee (England: Sweet Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dust of toffee froth head that leaves suds.

Nose: Milky chocolate and bitterness. Crushed hazelnuts. Caramelised sugar and custard. Fortified wine. Glacier cherries. Rich and vinous.

Body: Sweet. Cherries and chocolate. Fruitcake. Almonds. Vinous. Dessert wine. Yes, ok, crème brulee, kind of. Bubble gum. Orange crème. Lactose.

Finish: Marzipan and cherries. Bitter chocolate. Raspberry yogurt. Caramelised brown sugar. Bubblegum again. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion:  Definitely the biggest of the BBF stouts of Christmas I’ve had from the 2012 pack so far. Initially chilled it seemed to be very vinous, almost more strong English Ale than stout in flavours. There was sweet dessert wine, fruitcake and cherries and to my shock actual crème brulee like hints all in a mix. Very sweet very vinous.

I gave it a bit of drinking and a bit of warmth and the expected stout flavours built  up into roasted, chocolate and bitter coffee, taking the fore and pushing the previous elements to the side to add rather than dominate.  Very much the lactose filled milk stout with sweet touches added. The base stout flavours proved too strong to be suppressed for long.

Every more oddities came with bubblegum adding to the mix – tasting like J-pop tune sounds, however never interfering with the main flavours. There is never dull moment with this beer and always something new fizzing and popping to the surface.

So a good base stout, great range and a mix of vinous and English ale flavours in with it. So, it’s great right? Erm. Well. It is very good, but not quite great. The flavours don’t quite mesh at times. Like the better Doggie Claws this beer feels a bit too mixed up. It is always open to drinking and examination but has no one coherent whole to latch onto.

it is a great fun ride and there is something interesting in every moment don’t get me wrong. A beer that is very much of each moment you drink it.  Well worth it and a distinct experience that should be tried.  The only flaw it has is that it does not manage to be more than the sum of its parts, but that it a small flaw indeed.

Background: Bloody hell an 8.5% ABV sweet stout, pretty heavy for a style that tends towards a lighter end of the scale. This is based on the milk stout and was aged in Rum casks for two months. Part of BBF’s 12 Stouts of Christmas 2012 which is quickly becoming a mini seasonal celebration. I’m a big fan of BBF’s stouts and like their other beers to boot.