Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Evil Twin Brewing Ashtray Heart

Good evening all, and Happy Halloween. What better way to commemorate a distorted version of an ancient harvest festival than by reviewing a beer? Tonight's offering from the damned is Ashtray Heart, an Imperial Stout from Evil Twin Brewing (Copenhagen, Denmark). As if tonight wasn't spooky enough, I've got an unfortunate announcement to make that should sufficiently chill your bones. I'm afraid that unforeseen circumstances have forced me to take a month long hiatus starting after this post (the unforeseen circumstances being my current lack of a job and therefore money to purchase and review new beers). At the moment I have enough bottles left in the cellar to cover most of December, so I shall save those for my second Beer Advent Calendar and sensibly abstain from opening anything until that time. With that in mind, enjoy tonight's review and see you all again in a month! Review, if you dare, after the pic....

Ashtray Heart (8.9% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a thick, bubbly beige head (think inside of an Aero bar) that settles to a centimeter of foam over the surface of the beer. The aroma is incredible, with plenty of smoked malt, coffee, chocolate, caramel, soy sauce and some toasty notes in the background. The smoked malt hits immediately and doesn't diminish throughout drinking, which is nice as I usually find the most initially-prevalent aroma starts to fade into the background as the nose becomes accustomed to it. The chocolate smell is like cocoa powder and mingles well with the coffee, whilst the soy sauce adds a slight piquancy that compliments the smokiness. Now and again some hop aromas come through (grapefruit), and there's also an oiliness that reminds me of jarred pimento olives, replacing the soy sauce from time to time. It's not a particularly offensive aroma, just the first thing that came to mind as it occurred. The taste is quite unusual due to the inclusion of the smoked malt, with coffee, chocolate, yeast extract, bittering hops and a nice smokiness that persists throughout drinking. The oiliness present in the aroma returns with a slight vengeance during drinking, but only in the taste as opposed to the mouthfeel- it lends a tartness that is fortunately balanced nicely by the smoked malt. Once the initial impact of the flavours has decreased, a  taste reminiscent of foritified wine becomes apparent, which compliments the darker flavours from the roasted malt well. The yeast extract comes out in the finish/aftertaste, which is unsurprisingly quite dry with some hop-derived grape flavours lingering furtively in the shadows, and some pangs of tartness around the sides of the mouth. The mouthfeel is thick and the beer is moderately carbonated, no complaints there! Overall, this is a great modification of a well-known beer style, with the smoked malt adding plenty to the proceedings whilst also letting the usual nuances and flavours come through when needed. Very well-balanced and not overly rich, it's another winner from Evil Twin. Highly recommended.

Until next time....

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