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Smokin Bees Whisky Honey Smoked Porter – ABV 10%

Billed modestly as a classic porter with smoky overtones of a single malt whiskey,, Smokin Bees has a honey sweetness and floral hints to a roast malt backdrop.

Look: Black pour with brown head.

Aroma: Sugary sweet with roasted malts. You can really sense the 100kg of wild flower honey added at the end of the boil, which gives it a beautiful sweetness and floral notes.

Taste: More sweet honey and toffee, plus smoked malts and some spicey accents

Food Pairing: We’d never suggest drinking beer this strong for breakfast, yet we can’t help thinking about pairing it with pancakes, smoked bacon and maple syrup.

Verdict: Delicious heavy sweet beer with artwork of bees smoking cigarettes by Nomad Clan as part of Northern Monk’s Patrons project. It’s like no imperial porter you’ve tasted before.

Blacklight Banana Imperial Stout – ABV 9.2%

BBE Date 07/09/2017 but improving with age! 

This collaboration between Siren and Garage Project is a seriously-smooth drinking imperial stout with aromas of banana and chocolate.

Look: Dark black with a tan head.

Aroma: Banana and chocolate with rich dark molasses.

Taste: A creamy mouthfeel and flavours of malt, banana and treacle combine to give a slightly burnt bitterness to balance out the sweetness.

Food pairing: A great beer for drinking with desserts. Try pairing it with the burnt, creaminess of a creme caramel.

Verdict: Blacklight Banana was brewed as part of this year’s Rainbow Project. We just wish Siren had brewed more of it.

Hercules Hold Scotch Ale – ABV 8.5%

Hercules took its Hold on us at first sip: it’s sweet and sharp with Belgian malts and Candi sugars aged in oak barrels for three months.

Aroma: Dried fruit resting on a malty backbone

Taste: The beer has had a couple of doses of Brett in the brewing (farmhouse yeast, and in a beer blended in before the barrel ageing), so it has some sweet and sharp flavours you wouldn’t normally expect a Scotch Ale.

Verdict: We’ve seen Hercules Hold referred to variously as a Scotch or Belgian ale, a confusion that must surely be the natural result of a really unique beer. But no matter what you call it, it’s is a treat.

Food Pairing: Try it with blue cheese for a salty-sweet flavour combo.

Mexicake Imperial Stout – ABV 11%

When it came time to brew something big and dark, we had just one thing on our minds: cake. We wanted to brew a beer that tasted like a delicious, delectable chocolate cake…and then we decided, how about a Mexican chocolate cake?

Imagine taking a rich, boozy imperial stout, and then infusing it with fresh vanilla beans, high-quality cocoa, Ceylon cinnamon, Chipotle chillies, and Mulato chillies. Blend that all together, and what you get is a complex and delicious beer with a rich, full mouthfeel, a touch of sweetness the vanilla, ground spice aroma the cinnamon, a touch of fruitiness the Mulato, and a little heat and smoke in the finish the Chipotle.

Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte – ABV 7.2%

German for Black Forest Gateau, this brown-black beer is lighter bodied than a traditional stout or porter but has intoxicating cherry and chocolate notes.

Aroma: Swirl it around in the glass to release the heavenly aromas of cherry, forest fruits and dark chocolate.

Taste: Instead of being over-sweet, the cherry sourness is carefully balanced with roasted malt and subtle notes of chocolate, giving an easy drinking beer. A dry, slightly bitter finish complements the aromas of fruit, to leave you wanting more.

Food Pairing: This beer is the perfect accompaniment to cold game pie – or for the full Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte experience try it with few squares of good quality dark chocolate.

Kraken Coffee Stout – ABV 7.4%

This monster is made with cold-brewed coffee, but features a subtle creaminess to add to warming roasted malts that makes it stand out other coffee stouts.

Look: Kraken Coffee Stout pours with a nice light brown head and subtle carbonation.

Aroma: Juts like a latte with three sugars in it.

Taste: There’s none of the suggested sweetness, just lots of roasted malt and coffee.

Food pairing: It works really well alongside the creaminess of an ice-cream or pannacotta. Feeling adventurous? Try pouring it over vanilla ice-cream like an affogato.

Verdict: This Kraken is a beast we would happily face again.

Figgy Bastard Imperial Stout – ABV 10%

BBE Date 20/09/2017 but tasting better than ever 

Beer made with figs aged in red wine barrels for an Amaretto tingle. You’ve got better willpower than us if you can wait until Christmas to drink this.

Look: Figgy Bastard pours jet black with a tan head.

Aroma: Dried fruit, chocolate and amaretto.

Taste: Sweetness of figs and dates, with a lovely contrasting sourness that prevents it becoming too cloying. Lovely stuff.

Food pairing: If you can keep your hands off it until Christmas Day it will go down a storm with your mince pies and Xmas pudding.

Salted Caramel Quadrupel – ABV 13%

Past BBE date (June 2017) – but improving with age!

Salted… Caramel… Quadrupel. The mere utterance of those three words in the same breath is enough to get us salivating in anticipation.

Look: The beer pours a slightly orange brown with a big frothy head.

Aroma: Unsurprisingly, this delivers lots of salted caramel on the nose.

Taste: Salty sweet caramel and toffee, with dried fruit the yeast and warmth the alcohol. Unique.

Food Pairing: This beer is practically a pudding in its own right. Try pairing it with the saltiness of an aged gouda like Raypenaer.

Bloed, Zweet & Tranen Smoked Stout – ABV 8.2%

Rich and luxurious, this De Molen stout’s smoky caramel sweetness immediately brings to mind the peat of a Laphroaig whisky.

Aroma: Malt and that peaty smoke, toffee and chocolate.

Taste: The smokey sweetness is nicely balanced with flavours of roasted malt, chocolate and caramel to give a beer that’s extremely drinkable.

Food Pairings: This beer is big on flavour, and demands strong flavours to match. Try it with a few squares of dark rich chocolate.

Verdict: De Molen love ageing beer in spirit barrels, and Bloed, Zweet & Tranen (Blood, Sweat & Tears) is a perfect example. You can taste the hard work and care that has gone into it to give it its name.

Red Eye Flight Mocha Porter – ABV 7.4%

Made with Brazilian coffee beans for an espresso-kick aroma, but with silky chocolate and red fruit notes to create a balanced and very drinkable Porter.

Look: The beer pours jet black with a lovely coffee coloured head.

Aroma: Red Eye Flight is made with Brazilian coffee beans and that’s exactly what you get along with a little caramel and cocoa.

Taste: Again full of coffee, but with a velvety chocolate finish and just a hint of forest fruits.

Verdict: Just the right level of bitterness the hops makes this an exceptionally well balanced and drinkable Porter. Never a bad beer Tempest.