I begin 2016 on The Drunken Destrier in much the same way as I began 2015; with a thumping great big imperial stout.
Last year it was the ridiculously well put together Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island, a beer that managed to tick all the flavour and texture boxes without destroying the palate or turning into a sticky mess. This year it is the turn of To Øl's Jule Mælk to usher in a calender year of beer blogging on this site, hopefully the most interesting one yet; with travel plans made and the cupboard filling up, I'm sure of this.
I was also pretty sure about this 15% milk stout, bestowed upon the world by the technicians at Lochristi, and expected it to be perfect fare to sign off on Christmas night with its promise of decadence and complexity.
The pour does as much to reaffirm this than anything; an unctuous absolute black with a tight, creamy cap, this looks dense. Not far behind comes the aromatics oozing from the glass with thick dark and milk chocolate, rich, roasted malt and, unsurprisingly, a potent alcoholic ghost peeking around the corner. It's much the same to taste, with a beautifully silky, full, malty chocolate mousse calling most of the shots, only allowing flashes of salted caramel through and, at the finish, a touch f tartness. The whole thing plays more sweet than bitter and, while it's certainly interesting drinking to begin with, there actually doesn't appear to be a whole lot going on to justify its 15%.
Not quite a clanger then - at 15% it manages to avoid any notions of sickly, cloying sweetness - but not quite a top tier imperial stout either. Which, reflecting on the reasonable €10.99 for 375ml price tag, seems about right. If I encounter one in the wild again, I might just be able to persuade myself that having one sit for a year or two might be worth the punt.