Monday, 4 June 2012

#35: Short and Stout

As I'm pretty sure I've said already, I'm not a big fan of stouts or porters. As such, I'm trying my best to explore the styles in an effort to find something I really like, or at least to give them a decent chance before I write them off. So far, Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil has been my favourite, with a complexity that seriously impressed me when I first tried it. Wrassler's XXXX from the Porterhouse range was a delicious and enjoyable runner-up, but other than that there haven't been many beers in the style that have impressed me enough to inspire second tastings or, more importantly, stocking up just for the sake of enjoyment. This is the latest pair of beers in my exploration of stouts, the nicely priced O'Hara's Traditional Irish Stout and the immensely appealing Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

First up was O'Hara's Traditional Irish Stout. At €1.79 a bottle it was definitely worth a try, especially seeing as the only O'Hara's beer I've tried before was the Curim Celtic wheat beer about a year and a half ago, and to be honest, I can't even remember how I felt about that. It pours pitch black with a thin, short-lived head, and inactive carbonation, and looks bloody lovely in fairness. On the nose it's standard dry stout fare; roast malts, smoke, hints of chocolate - not very complex, but it still smells pretty good. The taste is better, with smokey roast malt flavours and slight medicinal notes taking centre stage, and a light bitterness at the end livening things up. Not bad, but tasty enough to keep you interested. The body is good too, but overall the beer just hasn't got enough to encourage me to buy it again. I have heard good things about the Leann Folláin though, so I will give that a try too.

Next was Young's Double Chocolate Stout, and for someone who doesn't have a particular interest in stouts, I was ridiculously excited about trying this beer. So much so, in fact, that when I finally decided to throw money at the idea, I bought two bottles of the stuff. Now, I'm wondering if that was a good idea or a bad one, and to be honest, it could go either way at this point. It pours a thick pitch black like the O'Hara's, but with a nicer, creamier head that keeps longer too. Also, the lacing is pretty nice, and when you've finished your pint, it sticks to your glass smelling very much like Lyle's maple flavoured Golden Syrup. On the nose, it's actually the roasted malts and charcoal that hit first, followed by a light chocolate sweetness and smokey coffee notes. Aniseed and liquorice are here to lend medicinal qualities to the aroma, and as the beer warms up, that milk chocolate smell develops nicely. Chocolate is unsurprisingly at the front of the taste too, with a malty sweetness, light fruitiness and smokey bitterness getting in on the act later on. Once again, the milk chocolate only gets more satisfying as time goes on the beer warms up. It's not as thick and creamy as one might expect, but it's still got a nice smooth and fulfilling body to it that sets it apart from most of the stouts I've tried, although I can't say it's as thick and smooth as the Old Engine Oil. Anyway, it's not as exciting as I would have hoped, but I do get an inexplicable craving for a stout every now and again, and when that next occurs, I'll be glad of the second bottle in the cupboard.

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