I don’t really go in for reviewing beer myself any more, I gave it a go and decided that I got more from reading other people’s thoughts. But now and then something fun comes along, usually through Twitter, and when The Durham Brewery announced a hashtag (#whitestout) beer tasting I thought I’d get involved. Having already commented on the White Stout concept I’ll just cut to the chase. More details on the event here.
Billed as a Pale Stout, it was unsurprising that a pale golden beer emerged from the shadows of the bottle. I didn’t have to waste valuable time agonising over the concept as I had already read what Sean (the brewer) had intended when making what some might call an oxymoronic beer. In my mind it stays clear of bold claims and it is the chatter surrounding it that has been cleverly harnessed to make the most of its assets.
The bottle opens with a pop and a quick sniff reveals a strange aroma of straw and what I could only describe as the Jelly Belly Bean toasted marshmallow flavour (yes I know a flavour is not a smell). It pours with crystal clarity and is a lively little so and so. A billowing head forms and then settles, but didn’t go anywhere until I drained the last mouthful. The aromas in the glass were subdued, and as I read over and again on Twitter, the beer definitely changes with temperature. I started from chilled. The flavours were still pronounced, with biscuit malt and grapefruit/lemon bitterness and only later realised that they were subdued by the cold. Over the next 30 minutes as it warmed a little, the aroma released more of the fruity hops and as one person described it as “Haribo-esque” character. I’d agree with this, but would also say that it had a more grown up Belgian candy sugar quality to it. The malts were coming through as musty and or damp, but I kept coming back to the toasted marshmallow jelly bean flavour. The last third of the glass really started to show the beers true colours (no pun intended). The alcohol was heavy and refusing to let anything else stand up to be counted. I broke out the mature cheddar and can report that it saved the beer at this point in its transformation.
I must say that I enjoyed the beer cold and would buy it should I see it in the pubs, but I’d definitely want some cheese to go with it if I was having more than a refreshing quick-half. Thanks to the brewery manager Elly (@durhambreweryel) and Sean (@dbrewersean) for the beers, and to those who helped coordinate, for an enjoyable and light-hearted interlude to my evening. Keep up the good work!