Just as the fire starts to reach what might be a peak – and that’s without one of my best friends throwing one of our six garden chairs on it – there’s a cold snap in the air and a damp feeling on our collars.
“There’s rain in the air” someone shrills in typical British fashion, and the next hunk of wood gets chucked into the wood burner in typical British defiance.
It’s a week after the clocks changed, and standing in the garden it’s the first night of the year that stirs thoughts of winter beer.
Nights like this conjure all sorts of comforts, marshmallows and mittens, fireworks and fairgrounds, bonfires and Bovril. We’re on the cusp of the year, a blend of autumn and winter, darkness and bright lights, cold bodies and hot remedies.
So what is the quintessential winter comfort beer?
Creamy milk stouts or deep smoky porters? A beery cup of tea in the form of dark mild?
Autumn ambers, chestnut bitters? Spicy Christmas beers stronger than Nana’s Snowball Surprise, or decadent, thick chocolate stouts sweeter than a year’s worth of Quality Street.
Or for sustenance there’s dark ?erný pilsners, roasted best bitters, coffee bean ales, strong Baltic porters, extra nutty specials or filling oat stouts.
Or perhaps the perfect winter beer is simply the beer that gives the most joy, that warms you without you ever noticing, and the one that you can afford to keep well stocked in case of unexpected snow days.
As the winds pick up in the garden, and the flames turn to embers, we swig back our mulled wine, our Corona’s and limes, our celebratory sparkling fizz, and let our booze jackets wrap a soothing arm around us.
Here’s to winter, and the home comforts of whatever our favourite winter warmers may be.Tags: christmas beers, corona, mulled wine, spark, winter
February 3rd, 2011Dark Mild
Ronseal would be proud of Thwaites. So would John Smith’s, once they got round to experimenting with new flavours anyway.
Some might say that Thwaites Nutty Black isn’t exactly a militant artisan beer, despite the fact it definitely offers something different to justanotherbitterpleasethankyouvery much. They are right – this is no Mikkeller experiment – but who cares.
Thwaites Nutty Black is a solid category winner. Nutty Black stands out against the norm, has been crafted into a mainstream local beer, a simple yet flavoursome ale. It’s character is balanced (a tad thin for my tastes) and it’s different by virtue of embracing nuttiness (and we believe no squirrels were harmed in it’s making).
Want tasting notes? Take one dark mild, make it taste nutty, hey presto!
Thwaites brew beers you can drink straight off the moors, alongside a Sunday roast, in front of an open fire with your dirty boots on. Nutty Dark is 3.3% so it’s almost what you might call a family beer and in it’s past life as Thwaites Dark Mild this beer has been around since 1807. It’s even a multi-Champion Beer of Britain winner. Daniel Thwaites would be proud today of his beer portfolio and that this Dark Mild survives on.
As autumn approaches or as the winter deepens, dark milds are just what the doctor ordered. Why CAMRA put Mild month in May I have no idea because you’d be mad to drink this before the leaves start to turn yellow and fall off. But drink it you should, because it’s pleasantly rewarding. If it’s leaves you unfulfilled but interested then you can try it’s stronger brother Thwaites Very Nutty Black, described tongue-in-cheek as ‘export strength’.
There’s no nonsense about Thwaites or Nutty Black, just simple northern charm and humour (read the labels on the bottles!).
Thwaites Nutty Black does exactly what it says on the tin.Read the rest of this entry » Tags: Dark Mild, mild month, nutty, nutty black, thwaites
Bath Ales Barnstormer beer review
The first time I tried Bath Ales‘ dark offering, I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps I mused in my notebook at the time, it’s too subtle for me. I’d picked it up from Sainsbury’s (and funnily enough research for our latest series of posts shows it was in fact a winner of their beer competition in 2008).
Three months later and my beer experience has been blown wide open, much as a result of this site. I’ve experienced a wider variety of styles and challenged myself to write reviews on new and different beers. Coming back to Barnstormer was a pleasure, because since I last tried it I’ve actually grown quite a passion for darker beers: milds, stouts and porters all included.
This passion started whilst walking the Pennine Way with my Dad in May. The first pub in Edale, The Nag’s Head, served three beers: crudely a bitter, a pale and a dark mild (as I remember it!). My Dad’s enthusiasm at seeing a dark mild (albeit not quite the type of cheap stuff he used to guzzle as a lad growing up in Halifax) made me try a this old-fashioned looking pint and numerous other examples along the ‘Way.
The glory of the darker beer is often the complete opposite thinking to some of the paler beers I was used to. Hops sometimes make a star appearance but more often than not malt is given the pedestal, the starring role and the opportunity to show what it can do.
On its second showing Barnstormer shone for me. Fruits dominate the smell and sweet malt infuses the taste. Burnt embers mingle with the fruity nose resulting in a complex dark bitter that deserves it ‘distinctive’ label. There might be traces of chocolate in there too, that dark, cocoa bean kind.
There’s no doubt the first time round I didn’t think much of this, I must have served it straight out of the fridge or something. Second times around it was much better – this is a fine dark ale with a complexity that’s easy to stomach and pleasing on the senses.Tags: Ale, barnstomer, bath ales, beer, Dark Mild, pennine way
Football on the telly is always a good excuse to have a few beers, so with England confirming their place in the next world cup (no doubt a great excuse for an international beer feature come next June) I seized my chance to try a few new ales from Morrison’s reasonable range.
First up, Greene King’s ‘Ruddle’s County’ a dark ruby ale with a sweet nose, a slighty fruity aroma that gives away a hoppy essense (Brambling Cross hops according to the bottle).
The impressive part once in the mouth is just how smooth this beer is for a bottled product; limited carbonisation suggests that a cask version of this product could not possibly be much smoother. An uncommon thing in many mass-produced bottled beers in my experience.
The aftertaste is particularly strong, and the alcohol in the ale is particularly prominant, leaving a bitter aftertaste that lingers a little too long in the throat to be considered a treat.
Reflecting on the finished bottle, it almost felt like the beer had not been left to mature quite long enough, causing a sensation that, quite frankly, left my throat burning slightly in the similar manner that a weak spirit of some form might.
Next up was a total contrast: Badger’s ‘Golden Champion’. The ‘Golden’ part of the name is not ironic; the liquid is certainly that, pale and transparent, as opposed to deep and opague. Read the rest of this entry »Tags: bitter, Golden Champion, John Willies, premium, Ruddles County
A dark beer with immediate impact, within the first sip the distinct dark mild style shines through strongly. This is, as it states, a deep and dramatically ruby beer.
The full body is laced with burnt flavours, a dash of coffee ambles through the nutty aftertaste along with a touch of bitterness.
It’s also sweet and fruity with a rich body, which blends seamlessly with it’s nuttiness.
It is a very balanced ale, but not because the flavours seamlessly intertwine, but because each sip ebbs and flows between its complexities.
One of my favourite beers at the moment is Midnight Bell, a strong-for-a-mild and very tasty beer, so in a similar category to Ruby Mild. Pitching these together, I’d be pushed to pick a favourite. They are both beers contributing (hopefully) to a resurgence of an underrated and little catered for beer style, and both add a little extra ‘oomph’ in the process.
Ruby is a good beer, interesting to drink and a fine dark mild. Best beer in the UK? Not in my opinion, for me there are just more compelling beers out there.
But don’t let that put you off, it’s well worth a try, and a big congratulations to the team in Tockwith for their GBBF success.Tags: Dark Mild, nutty, rudgate ruby mild, Sweet
August 13th, 2009Dark Mild
Thwaites’ Nutty Black began life as Thwaites’ Dark Mild and a simple name change breathed life into this little beauty – Thwaites enjoyed a 90% increase in sales, as a result.
This caused a little sadness within some of the CAMRA circles, because of the name change, but that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. I understand that maintaining tradition is important to most people, but surely ensuring the survival of an ale ranks first, and any re-branding that can take real ale through these troubled times where thirty-nine pubs close, every week, is surely a good thing?
Thwaites’ Nutty Black weighs in at 3.3% abv, but I am reviewing its bigger hitting brother, Thwaites’ Very Nutty Black, Export Strength which is 3.9% abv. Bottle conditioned, and currently a bargain at £1.49 at Morrisons. Although now there are none left in the Loughborough store. Sorry.
So what’s the beer like?
Well, I love it, which is why I bought all of Morrison’s stock. It’s as dark as you’d imagine a beer that is a reborn mild would be. Some have described the Nutty Black as a pleasant, butbland mild, but the extra strength in the Very Nutty Black gives it a little more bite. Still, it is not the heaviest or most flavoursome ale that you will drink, but that is a strength, in my book, as it puts this beer in to the “session ale” category.
You can drink loads of it!
There are certain beers that were placed on this earth to lead a man on the righteous path to real ale, and this is one of them. I was a lager drinker for years, until a knowledgeable gentleman showed me the way. Harvest Pale he used to entice me from the fizzy side, and I never went back. Still, there is a lot more to beer life than pale ales, and this is one of those “bridging beers” that can take a non-believer to the magical world of stouts, porters and winter warmers.
Thanks to Mark Jackman for the reivew! You can read more by Mark at his blog. If you would like to get involved and write a review please email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Twitter at twitter.com/realalereviews