This is one of those beers that was given to me to review for The Brew Club; on this occasion by a good friend on his return from a trip to North Yorkshire.
The Captain Cook brewery is named for Captain James Cook, an eighteenth century sea captain and explorer who is credited with ‘discovering’ Australia and New Zealand – much to the surprise, I suspect, of the Aboriginals and Maoris who had lived there for centuries!
The brewery itself is situated at the White Swan pub in the village of Stokesley, North Yorkshire, just a few miles from where James Cook was born. They bottle three of their brews and it is the 4.2% ABV ‘Black Porter’ that Tom kindly brought back for me.
There’s quite an interesting blog report on a visit to the brewery here.
If you want to get all beer geeky, the recipe is said to combine “Halcyon, Chocolate, Oat, Wheat and Crystal malts with Challenger and Celeia hops”… hmmm, an interesting combination.
As the name suggests, it pours black, very black, no, blacker than that; even a halogen light struggles to shine through this brew, but it’s topped with a rich, foaming mocha coloured head.
The nose, I found a little disappointing, with faint threats of that soapy/goaty smell that betray the presence of Caprylic Acid, so I approached the tasting with a little trepidation.
No need, you get a wonderful rush of deep, dark complex flavours, with hints of tar, espresso coffee, redcurrants, smoke… and dark, bitter chocolate. It’s a complex brew, with a complexity that belies its 4.2% ABV.
Having spent a summer (and ‘Indian summer’) drinking pale and golden ales, this was a welcome return to darker winter ales; and at only 4.2% it’s something that would almost make a winter session brew.
Okay at 4.2% ABV it’s not necessarily a ‘porter’ in the true sense of the word, but nonetheless it’s a rich, dark winter ale that goes down a treat.
As for rating this, looking at my notepad I started by giving this 4 stars, then considered that maybe I was just celebrating going back to ‘the dark side’ and marked it down to 3½ stars. I then took another sip and realised that this wonderful flavour was accompanying a modest strength brew and ranked it back up to 4 stars.
I suspect that this isn’t widely available; it should be, and if you ever find yourself in North Yorkshire, I recommend a trip to the White Swan.
Bob the Brit