Good evening all. Tonight finds me sitting at my desk in Devon after a nice journey back from Southampton. Whilst I was there I had dinner with some relatives, and brought along something quite special- Santa's Little Helper 2011 from the gypsy brewery Mikkeller. Unfortunately I didn't get a good glass/bottle photo and didn't get the opportunity to make extensive tasting notes between the roast beef and chocolate roulade, so another capsule review seems to be in order.
Aroma: phenolic, sweet
Taste: cloves, bit of spice in the background, no significant bitterness
Conclusion: good Belgian strong dark ale, but could have done with more pronounced "Christmas" flavours and aromas. Got a couple of bottles of Santa 2009 aged in red wine barrels in the cellar, so we'll see how they compare!
Now onto the main event, Bristol Beer Factory's Chili Choc Stout....
The beer pours a deep black with a light brown head that dissolves to a prominent halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of lighter stouts- chocolate and coffee notes predominate, with a slight sense of the chilies in the background. The taste is equally as subtle as the aroma- no particular flavour jumps out, but a small kick from the chilies is definitely present in the finish. Overall, a well-balanced stout with an interesting finish. I would've liked more spice and some more chocolate coming through in the aroma and the taste, but this would've no doubt enforced an ABV increase to balance the flavours effectively. If you're looking for something with a more pronounced kick, then I'd recommend Mikkeller's Texas Ranger or Dark Star's Winter Meltdown (the latter, whilst not a stout, has a warming, spicy finish reminiscent of mulled wine), but if you like your stouts and your chilies subdued, you'll enjoy this!
Tomorrow, more beer and dialogue. Until next time....