Preamble: This beer is real ale; it must be because it says it is on the neck of the bottle and CAMRA says it is. This is one of the first things that the eye is drawn to when you take a close look at the bottle. Next question that came to mind was: why didn’t I know about this place when I lived in Oxfordshire; an oversight perhaps. Not only are we missing the complete range of beers, but living outside the area we also must contend with the fact that, as with ST Peter’s brewery, we are missing out on the very cool looking beer bottles. As if to make matters worse they have an original steam engine that powers the machinery in the brewery that you can see if you visit the brewery; we are talking a 110 year old stationary steam engine powering the brewery, and this is bad because it is a few thousand miles from here to there, not a weekend trip that’s for sure.
The Beer: Hook Norton Brewery – Double Stout 4.8%
Aroma: roasted malt aroma, tending towards the dark roasted side, some coffee traces with earthy tones
Appearance: Jet black, light tan head that is very fluffy with plenty of life – at least for a few moments
Taste: A deep, dark roasted combination of flavours with coffee traces; bitterness seems to be there in the right proportions (at least at that moment in time)
Mouthfeel: For a stout I thought this was medium bodied, and not overly smooth; deep roasted aftertaste, quite carbonated
I would hazard a guess that this doesn’t travel too well; given the tasting notes you can find to go with this beer I was getting three-quarters of the elements they suggest are there. Don’t get me wrong, this was an enjoyable enough beer for me to want to try it again, but it left me somewhat wanting. I’d very much like to try the remainder of their range and hope that more of Hook Norton’s range find their way to deepest Illinois.
**Update – looks like Hook Norton Brewery will be at the Great British Beer Festival 2009
Website: Hook Norton Brewery