The tenuous connection linking these next two beers together is their origin in far-flung places, yonks away from me in Cork, coming from Iceland and Sri Lanka respectively.
To Iceland first, and Einstök's Toasted Porter. I've been seeing Einstök around for a while now, paying attention to their attractive labels while assuming very little about the liquid inside the bottle. If I was to chance one, I decided I'd better go for the porter.
My relatively low expectations were turned on their head early on, as I found this surprisingly good. It's fairly robust and carries flavours of chocolate, roasty coffee and, after some time, a dark sweetness. It's certainly not very sophisticated, but remains very tasty indeed. Looks like I'll have to give the rest of the range the benefit of the doubt.
From the other side of the world comes Lion Stout, a beer I expected to be along the lines of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Studying the label is an experience in itself, where you get to enjoy some shameless milking of the late Michael Jackson's endorsement of the beer, as well as the curious but appreciated presence of caramel colouring on the ingredients list.
As for the beer itself, it pours thick and oily black, with a gorgeous malted honeycomb biscuit on the nose, accompanied by thick, sticky molasses notes. This segues nicely into rum-soaked dark fruits with vanilla and oak pitching in too. As you can imagine, this translates into a delicious palate of raisins, thick syrupy toffee, caramelised biscuit and even some light smokiness.
Definitely the better of the two.