BEER REVIEW: Word is out, it's time for stout
Has there ever been better weather to get stuck into some proper thick and tasty dark beers? As the temperature drops, one's interest in the comfort food end of the beer spectrum grows and grows.
Like a slow-cooked beef casserole or a Guinness pie and taties, stout is meant for the winter months.
And so it was when Hugh the Neighbour and I sat down to enjoy a very pleasant example of the style manufactured in the oldest brewery in Britain - the Shepherd Neame and Co Double Stout.
The name stout pre-dates Shepherd Neame by a decade or two - the brewery was founded in 1698 and the term stout was first recorded in a document in 1677.
Originally it meant strong rather than dark, as in "Yon blacksmith is a stout fellow” - the original London black beer was called porter - although most of today's stouts are usually still pretty powerful in both alcohol content and taste.
As you would expect from England's oldest brewery, this is a fine example of a classic stout. Full of toasty chocolate and coffee notes, it is luscious in the mouth and smokily comforting on the nose, with just enough hops to give it a bit of kick at the back of the palate.
If you are a person who doesn't really like the bitterness of a pint of Guinness, you may well find this Double Stout more to your liking.
Both HTN and I enjoyed drinking these, and, at 5.2% alcohol content, which is at the middling to lower end of stout ABVs, you don't feel that you have had a big session after a couple or three.