I recently reviewed Shepherd Neame’s IPA here at The Brewclub and declared that it was not only rather good, but also unashamedly ‘old school’, particularly as it’s brewed to a recipe decyphered from a coded brewer’s log dating back to the 19th century.
The IPA is one of the cornerstones of “Shep’s” new ‘classic’ collection that includes a 4% ‘Brilliant Ale’ and today’s brew, a 5% ‘Double Stout’.
As with its sister IPA, the label is deliberately ‘retro’, evoking the beer’s 19th century heritage; it wouldn’t look out of place in a Sherlock Holmes movie (we’re talking Robert Downey Jr. not Benedict Cumberbatch here).
It pours dark, very dark, that’s not unexpected for a stout, the head is rich and foaming, a dark mocha colour that lingers and laces through the whole beer (‘Sheps’ use 500ml bottles that are somewhere between an American and an English pint).
The nose is chocolate with hints of coffee, the flavour is rich and dark, expensive bitter chocolate and ristretto coffee. This brew features ‘roasted crystal and chocolate malts with the finest kiln roasted barley’ then ‘bittered with East Kent hops and brewed in the UK’s last remaining wooden mash tuns’. The flavour is verging on being over-roasted, there are burnt toast notes in there too.
Unlike the Ilkley Chocolate Chiplote Stout I tried recently this is unashamedly a beer, there are bitter hops in there balancing the chocolate and coffee.
It’s medium bodied rather than full bodied, for a double stout I might have expected something heavier, chewier.
All in all, as a stout, this stands up well against many of the Irish stouts ‘out there’, and I would turn to it ahead of any of those but, in all honesty, I would probably turn to the classic IPA first.
I gave ‘Sheps’ classic IPA 4 stars when I reviewed it; this too is almost worthy of 4 stars, but not quite, as such I have to give it 3½ stars, if only to differentiate. It is, however, quite possibly a new favourite Stout, or at least second favourite after Sri Lanka’s awesome Lion Stout.