Session time again. February's host is Montana Beer Finder and the topic is "How We Love Beer". Well this shouldn't be too hard. Specifically, Ryan's Valentine's-inspired theme asks for the little things we do that show our affection for beer. Or the big things.
I'll leave aside the nearly eight years of scribbling tasting notes here and the beer consumers' organisation I help manage, and say on a more personal level that I express my love for beer by usually having a different beer to the beer I just had. In fact, I almost don't have a go-to beer, and when I revisit old favourites they're generally beers I haven't tasted in several years. My first call, everywhere, is for the one I've not tried before. The new experience, the thrill of an unfamiliar brewery, especially one that lots of other people are talking about. Adding a new famous beer to my tick list gives me social ammunition to fire when beer is being talked about. Yes, I'm a beer bore, but beer loves me all the same.
So it was with a frisson of excitement that I heard the new one from Galway Bay brewery had landed in Dublin. Its real name is Buried At Sea but it was travelling under an assumed identity, introducing itself as "Galway Bay Chocolate Stout" when we made our rendez-vous at The Black Sheep.
It's billed as a milk chocolate stout so I was expecting something thick and sweet and creamy but it's not in that vein at all. Instead we have a 6% ABV thumper very much along the lines of Carlow's wonderful Leann Folláin: heavy with dark malts and a generous dose of dry roast at the end. It hides the chocolate coquettishly, revealing it gradually as the pint slips down. Not overly sweet, it's a kind of a crumbly, flakey effect. This is the sort of stout to enjoy as you disappear under a waterfall in a rowing boat.
Only the satisfying weight of the beer stops it from being a wham-bam down-the-hatch sinker. Take it slow and don't think about other beers as you're doing it. It'll know.
Beer: whatever the colour, whatever the weight; no matter how it smells or tastes, I have time for it all. Form an orderly queue.