Stout to suit the season
For Hugh the Neighbour and I, one of the great pleasures of the Australian beer scene over the past few years has been the release of the Little Creatures seasonal stout.
No matter how short the days, how fresh the southwester and how dry the weather, everything feels better with a glass of really enjoyable black beer.
The Magnificent Return of the Dread Extra Stout of some years ago was an absolute cracker, quickly followed by the Hotchkiss Six, another of the battleship inspired corkers. This year's release, the Winter Stout, follows the fine tradition of releasing beers that suit the season.
People tend to forget that beer is a food, and is best consumed fresh rather than laid down like a big shiraz in the hope time in the bottle will improve it.
This is a very drinkable beer.
Both HTN and I felt it had a lovely balance of malt and hops, with the fuggles hops giving it bite without bitterness.
It is a rich velvety chocolate/coffee concoction, that probably benefits from drinking slightly warmer than the Irwin fridge delivers. The brewers suggest at 12C but presumably that is ideal for slightly more southern climes.
Like all good stouts, it is not as black as pitch in the glass - hold it to the light and you will get a hint of red glow, always a sign of a good one.
It is strong enough at 5.8% ABV (well under the 7.2% of the Return of the Dread but still not to be sneezed at).
We enjoyed it with an accompaniment of Shropshire blue cheese - which made for a very, very pleasant winter's afternoon.
Neither Hugh nor I felt it reached the heights of the previous two stouts, but it is still more than worth trying.