Thornbridge Brewery – Baize 5.5% (Chocolate Mint Stout)
Gipsy Hill25 November 2015
A forenote to mention this was my first time visiting the charming Brighton Beer Dispensary. Brighton Bier and Late Knights have combined to create a truly cosy and welcoming little pub, with some cracking beers on offer. I can’t imagine there are many better places to sit and have a pint in the whole city.
I was going to write a review saying how ‘this works, but it’s not for me’, or ‘it’s a clever concoction that I simply couldn’t drink a whole pint of’. But I realised that that’s just what people say when they’re copping out. When they’re not wanting to be too glaringly in the minority (everyone but me loves this beer). Or when they’re a brewer writing occasional beer reviews of other brewers’ work and are afraid to write anything negative about such a behemoth as Thornbridge. Well, I was afraid. And then I realised if these reviews are going to achieve any credibility they need to be honest. And no one’s going to think they’re honest if they’re always positive.
I don’t find this beer pleasant to drink. There, I said it. The mint brings more sweetness than it should in my opinion. Where’s the mint from? Presumably an oil extract. I haven’t investigated. Whatever its source, there’s just a little too much for me and perhaps would have fared better with less accompanying malt sweetness. But it’s not just that. The mint is too strong in itself. I can’t escape what I can only describe as a mouthwash-y quality, both on nose and palette. From then all I can think is that someone has either spiked my stout with Listerine or my Listerine with stout. There’s also a syrup-like taste that doesn’t seem appropriate at all. The stout behind it you can tell is spot on. So much so that I’m praying for some alchemist to burst through the door to show me how to separate the mint from the stout.
Quite honestly I’m baffled as I’ve been reliably informed since that it’s peppermint that it’s made with, when all I get is spearmint. How the former could come across as the latter I do not know. Perhaps my palette was up to no good. Perhaps the cask hadn’t travelled well from the Peak District to the Sussex coast. I’d very much like to try it again to see if that’s true.
I left the pub feeling that minty beers can’t work. But then that’s not fair as this was my first. And certainly it’s a combination that should work. Has to work. Yes, I can imagine myself enjoying a chocolate mint stout, I can. I’ll certainly try others until I do.