Tag Archive: Old Chimney


Old Chimney King Alfred's Cake

Old Chimney: King Alfred’s Cake (England: Porter: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Sour dough. Cream cheese and chives. Chestnut mushrooms. Orange rind.

Body: Bitter cocoa. Condensed cream. Chocolate. Liqueur. Chocolate cake. Dandelion and burdock. Wine soaked raisins. Chestnut mushrooms. Glacier cherries. Milky coffee.

Finish: Milky, rich coffee. Cinnamon. Dandelion and Burdock. Spicy red wine to port. Cherry aid. Rum and raisin ice cream. Chocolate orange. Chestnut mushrooms.

Conclusion: Unusual, yet mixed with the usual. The familiar and the profound side by side. Let’s start with the unfamiliar stuff in the main body and work our way out from there.

So, yeah, the first and second odd notes are a mix of Dandelion and Burdock, and mushrooms – ok, as explained in the background one may be psychosomatic, but I’m fairly sure that not both are. It definitely has that distinctive, oddball, tangy D&B character that then slips easily into more spicy wine and wine soaked raisin notes that I would associate more with the heavier end of the ESB style, or with an Imperial Stout than I would a porter. However, I would say that that soft drink character previously described leans it closer to an ESB that a imperial stout in the expression of it. Fascinating, no?

The mushrooms are then a more rounding note – that kind of chestnut mushroom meatiness and a savoury backdrop to the sweeter main base. The chestnut mushroom character comes out more in the finish as the sweetness finally drips away.

Heading the other way, into the aroma, we find the more traditional notes – the sour dough, cream cheese and chives, thick, slightly soured aroma. It declares a certain kind of robust, traditional, porter is to follow. Then spends the rest of the time undercutting that image, the big liar.

The other familiar notes comes from the last word of this beer’s name. Cake. Cake is evident in both coffee and chocolate format, nice sturdy, heavy notes to ground the fresher and unusual D&B notes. Quite the layered, non standard porter then. Mostly it works. – you have to be able to enjoy dandelion and burdock but it isn’t totality dominated by it. It is basically a very ESB influenced porter – a few of the fruitier and fresher notes definitely call to the ESB style but without betraying the heavier porter style. Not a beer I would have often, mostly as I feel D&B is enjoyable but only in moderation, but taken once in a while? Very enjoyable.

Background: Old Chimney! Makers of Good King Henry Special Reserve – still one of my top three Imperial Stouts. Love those guys! Even if their stuff doesn’t turn up locally often. So, King Alfred’s Cake is an inedible fungus. I never knew that. Because of that word “Inedible” I am fairly sure none is used in the making of this beer. Fairly sure. Still, because of that mushrooms were on my mind while doing this, so could be a touch of influence on my notes there. Drunk while listening to Garbage’s new album: Strange Little Birds. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Old Chimney: Amber Porter (England: Porter: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddish brown, fizzy off white head that lasts only a few seconds. Slightly fizzy body initially but flattens out quickly.

Nose: Raw coffee beans, milk chocolate and oak. Hint of black cherry.

Body: Milk chocolate, bitter core. Black coffee touches and burnt elements. Treacle. Slight whitener and oak, black cherry is hinted at but not fully formed. Light understated chocolate sweetness in the undercurrent.

Finish: Dry wheat, charring and burnt ashes. Bitter. Quite noticeable run of coffee beans.

Conclusion: A solid porter, heavier in the flavours shown than most, closer to the elements of a sturdy bitter than the lighter expressions that comes in the creamier porters. A more restrained and understated experience.

A slowly expressive pint, not the best I’ve had but it does the job. The restrained style does make it seem closer to a bitter in a lot of ways as I mentioned, it’s a pint that keeps things close to its chest, but does seem worthy if you take the time to investigate.

Old Chimney: Good King Henry (England: Imperial Stout: 9.6% ABV)

Visual: Extreme dark brown black with liquor thickness on the pour and no head. Small bubbles occasionally pop through its still form

Nose: Bitter chocolate, molasses and coconut macaroons. Sherried fruit and liquorice, then fruitcake comes through on a swirl. Blackforest gateaux. Condensed cream, lots of treacle. Apples and brandy cream.

Body: Chocomilk, nuts, smooth and thick. Cream. Chocolate truffles. Deliciously done charring. Slight vanilla as though bourbon aged, even though it is not. Raisins. Dates at the back. More brandy cream and blackcherries.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and coconut flakes. Coffee touches, almonds, toffee. Dry and lasting.

Conclusion: Even the non special reserve version of this beer is exceptional it seems. Whilst not as complex as its bigger brother its more chocolaty simpler body puts it in direct competition with Three Floyds Dark Lord, which it compares very well against.

Its nose is still very impressive, if more subdued than the SE. Its slightly simpler body lets the sweet frothy chocolate nature take full hold for a rich delicious beer, wonderful and potent.

Brilliantly smooth and rich stout, the only word against it is the existence of the Special Reserve edition. Besides that it is still a wonder in its own right.

Music listened to whilst drinking: Yoko Kanno: Kissing the Christmas Killer.

Old Chimney: Black Rat Milk Stout (England: Sweet Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Black moderately thick body with a ha’ inch of brown bubbly froth of short lifespan.

Nose: Treacle, milk, oysters and milk chocolate.

Body: Quite sweet, some charring and black toffee. Slight egg white. Brown bread, mocha froth and grated chocolate flake. Turkish delight (The commercial mainstream chocolate covered type)

Finish: Aniseed, more charring, lactose and liquorice.

Conclusion: A quite light and easy drinking stout. Simple and satisfying. Unlike a lot of old chimneys products it doesn’t seem to stretch the range very much, thus sits comfortably in the competent, tasty but unexceptional range.

Well made though, no regrets in drinking it as it has a decent flavour and body. All the elements are well crafted and balanced, and the flavour slowly grows as you drink – the sign of a well crafted ale designed for multiple pints – in fact I am still drinking as i write and the subtle growing texture is impressing me more as I progress through the pint. Still not wildly experimental, but my respect for its well crafted nature has grown significantly.

For all its lack of experimentation it still holds your attention.

Old Chimney: IPA (England: IPA: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy bronzed ale, large off white head which lasts about 30 seconds.

Nose: Hops, syrup and grapefruit. Dry wheat grain and chalk.

Body: Good bit of malt, grapefruit. Sweet, orange. Light ginger and syrup.

Finish: Lots of dry hops, bitter. Grapefruit and pineapple. Citrus fresh mouth. Strawberry and shortbread.

Conclusion: A decent sturdy IPA. Good hop delivery system and decent back. Well made but not fancy.

It’s got a lot going for it and makes a decent ploughman’s lunch pint – a working person’s ale.

Old Chimney: Red Clover (England: Old Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark hazy red, quite bubbly with a decent sized and steady bubble rich head.

Nose: Rich cinnamon, port and cloves. Cherry and chocolate. Plums and raisins. Really dark and fruity. Condensed cream. Almost an edible dessert in itself

Body: Figgy pudding, fruitcake and digestives. Bitter heart, good malt then bitter chocolate traces. Red wine, banana, chives leaves and liquorice.

Finish: Chives, dry hops and bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: This is a wonderful little bottle of beer. Wonderfully fruity with a slight bitter/chocolate back. Tantalising nose and, appropriately enough for an old ale, feels very aged and traditional.

A good British ale, and one with all the trimmings. Quick rich and obviously herb influenced. A warming dark and rich ale, could do fine as a winter warmer.

Old Chimney: Good King Henry Special Reserve (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)
(2007 Bottled Drank 2010)

Visual: Pours thick black and only slightly bubbly with absolutely no head. The bubbles settle down in moments leaving a dark abyss of a body.

Nose: Coconut macaroon, raisins. liquorice. Cherries. Christmas pudding and brandy cream. Sherry. Milk chocolate. Figs, more pure coconut, trifle and truffle centres.

Body: Liquid silk, subtle chocolate, roasted nuts. Vanilla. Bitter coffee, cream and dates. The slightest hint of alcohol danger. Red wine and raspberry.

Finish: Dry wafers, hazelnuts. Treacle, full bitterness comes in finally, wood shavings. Oak/Charred oak. Gin. Slightly harsh. Coffee.

Conclusion: Possibly the greatest aroma on a beer I have ever encountered. The richness and wonderful coconut elements led to a significant time before the beer progressed to being sipped.

The rest of the beer is nearly as equally excellent and smooth with just harsh enough finish to give that final edge of bite to an otherwise silk textured beer. Nothing can quite match the brilliance of the nose but it comes close.

In the imperial stouts race this beer easily wins on nose and only just loses out to the magnificent Beer Geek Brunch Weasel on body. Those two beers are possibly the greatest Imperial Stouts ever made and to try and separate which was best overall would be foolhardy.

Wonderfully smooth, so much flavour and just the slightest kick. This a fantastic beer and even the small bottle it comes in could be shared between friends without anyone feeling that they are not getting a fair deal.

Tied top beer in a field of giants.

Old Chimney: Brimstone (England: Pilsner: 6.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear apple juice brown gold with a decent thumb thickness of bubbly white head. Many small bubbles sizzle in the main body.

Nose: Cloves, jiff lemon. What. Cinnamon and orange peel.

Body: Slick texture, slight thickness. Honey, lemon and wheat. Sturdy and smooth.

Finish: Honey on white toast. Dry finish. Some hops and a lick of raspberry.

Conclusion: A honey thickened lager is the best way I can describe this after drinking this charming beer. More on texture than flavour, it really is that touch extra thickness that makes it stand out.

It’s above middle for the style and hardly any fizziness thank goodness, reasonable flavour and an intriguing unique selling point in the texture and honey style. A beer for when light lager mead sounds like just the thing you need.

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