Anyway, my evening started like this:
Elemental Dark Ale / Tempest Brewing Co / 5.1%
I’ve loved everything I’ve had from these guys, particularly Marmalade on Rye (see here). So I nagged my obliging local micropub to get some bottles in – it seemed like the logical thing to, especially as they asked for suggestions…!
Anyway, this is a no-nonsense “robust porter” – quite creamy and smoky, with some gentle spices, caramel and demerara sugar. Quite a relaxing porter, but clearly very nicely constructed.
Then I blasted my palate out of the water with this ballistic epic:
Heavy Water / Beavertown / 10.4%
It’s nice that the can lettering on this one makes it very, very clear what’s going on.
First impression on pouring: this is one of the darkest beers I’ve ever poured. Even the edges are black.
Second impression on inhaling: this is very much an imperial stout.
Third impression on tasting: initially, this seemed like the standard “imperial stout with a lot of flavour” tasting profile. Not a bad thing by any means.
Then, after around four mouthfuls, the raspberries suddenly roar into life and become th dominant force. The black coffee and roasted malt flavours are the subtle and dark rhythm section, with vanilla very much in the background (but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there); the raspberry does the frontman work in this one. And that is very much a good thing. The head disappeared after about five minutes, presumably due to the crushing alcohol strength.
I never tried the first version of Heavy Water – I was never a big cherry fan – and I’m glad I held out for this one. I noticed at the end that it was starting to remind me of a really nice obscure red wine, though admittedly I was drunk.
I wasn’t trying too hard to “match” with music tonight, but with dark beers I usually find I need to go dark and heavy, particularly when the beer has a B52 bomber on the label.
The first is a 3-track EP which starts very laid-back (if slightly ominous), turns crushingly heavy at around 11 minutes in, and is a compact, concise masterclass in how to sound triumphant at the same time as menacingly dark. The final track has some of the most beautiful guitar sounds I’ve ever heard and the whole thing is staggeringly beautifully produced.
The second has been one of my favourite albums for a good couple of years now. Unmistakably Scandinavian, it’s all about massive C-tuned riffage, startlingly accomplished vocals and epic hooks, along with another absolutely huge guitar sound. Quite a good combination, really.