Over the last couple of years I have written many beer reviews about dark ales and porters, and reflected that the dark roasted barley imbues hints of coffee and chocolate.
Well, the Dark Star Brewery’s Espresso Stout goes a bit further by adding “freshly ground espresso coffee beans… to the copper for a few minutes after the boil to provide a rich and complementary coffee aroma” – that’s on top of brewing using roasted barley malt and challenger hops.
More of the brew later, as you might have come to expect, a bit of background on the Dark Star Brewing Company. Dark Star gets its (oxymoronic) name from the song by the Grateful Dead and was first coined in 1987 by Rob Jones when he first brewed a beer bearing that name for the Pitield Street Brewery back in 1987.
Pitfield Street in central London had a long connection with dark ales, being the site of the brewery that first brewed Porter back in the early 18th century. It was there that Samuel Whitbread learned his brewing craft, moving about a mile closer to the heart of the City to found his Chiswell Street brewery in 1742.
The original Dark Star ale was Champion Beer of Britain in 1987 and (as Dark Star Original) again in 1996.
The Pitfield Street Brewery closed in the early nineties and Rob Jones moved on, settling in Brighton on the south coast and setting up a small brewery in the cellar of the ‘Evening Star’ pub in 1994. Trade was brisk, forcing them to move to larger premises in 2001 and larger still in 2010. They are currently the second largest brewer in the county of Sussex.
Espresso Stout was voted the SIBA (originally the Small Independent Brewers’ Association – now the Society of Independent Brewers) Champion Speciality Beer of 2009.
This brew pours dark, very dark – in fact bible black and opaque. Not even a halogen shines through this brew. The head, as you would expect, is a coffee colour, it soon dissipates but there’s a respectable lacing down the glass as you sip.
And it’s very much a sipping brew, I found myself sipping this much as I would an espresso. The nose is coffee all the way, and the flavour follows suit.
In fact to me, the coffee flavour is overpowering, there’s just so much coffee in this that any trace of beer flavour (you know, malt, hops, that sort of stuff) are completely overwhelmed; which is disappointing as this is the first of Rob Jones’ brews that I’ve tried.
Realistically (and with some reluctance) I can only give this two stars, I don’t regret trying it, but it’s not something I’d turn to in a hurry.
Bob the Brit