Sharing some fun beer at a pool party, we led off with Shake Chocolate Porter from the Boulder Beer Company. This is dark brown, almost black, with not a lot of head. The nose announces the chocolate with a touch of coffee. The nice body shows solid malt and continues the chocolate with some caramel. 5.9% ABV. You know it’s a good porter, and the chocolate lingers on the finish. This did very well with 5 of our 6 tasters, and the 6th hates beer and was brave enough to try based on the chocolate, after which he retired from the scene.
We followed that with Wells Banana Bread Beer, and it really does taste like banana bread with the hops providing the spicing. Naturally it’s much drier than banana bread, and there’s even a hint of citrus. It’s very drinkable and subtle enough to have several at 5.2% ABV, though it still may be too sweet for hopheads. 4 of the remaining 5 tasters enjoyed this a lot, and the 5th skipped it for the very good reason that she loathes bananas!
On to Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding, which they call a dessert beer and I’m not inclined to argue. Good flavor, and easy drinking at 5% ABV. I have no experience with English pudding, but this gives me a pretty good idea that they are worth seeking out. The beer starts pretty sweet but gets tempered by mild hops. Basically it starts as a toffee dessert and moves smoothly to good ESB. This meant that it was less liked by those less into beer, and more liked by me. Makes sense!
We wrapped up with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout: very good, very dark and relatively sweet, continuing the easy drinking at 5.2% ABV. This is a stout with bittersweet chocolate as opposed to Shake which was chocolate with porter. The purist may go with the stout, but the casual drinker will go with the Shake . . . and besides this was a hot day by the pool, definitely not normally stout territory. To some extent this wasn’t fair, I’m really the only one in the group who favors stout over the sweeter alternatives. I didn’t realize until well into the tasting that three out of four were from the same brewery: Wells & Young’s in Bedford, England.