Craft Cans

Hawkshead Organic Stout

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Hawkshead Organic Stout, 4.5% (500 ml)
(Reviewed by Jeff Evans May 2009)

Alex Brodie used to be a BBC correspondent. He knows what it’s like to be on the frontline, reporting from places like Moscow and the Middle East.

Arguably, he’s now taken on a bigger challenge. His Hawkshead brewery has been up and running for seven years and gradually he has begun to dip his toe in the ocean of bottled beer. With so much competition now around, he needs products that stand out. The new Organic Stout certainly does that.

Hawkshead’s earlier bottled beers have all been filtered, with Brodie’s Prime, a dark porter, the pick of a decent bunch. Organic Stout is, however, bottle conditioned, which immediately gives it a lighter texture when drunk alongside Hawkshead’s other beers.

True to its name, the ingredients are wholly organic – pale, crystal and chocolate malts, along with roasted barley, rolled oats and malted wheat, with English First Gold and Belgian Golding hops for balance.

In the glass, it pours a deep garnet brown and the first whiff of aroma brings mellow dark malt, with suggestions of caramel and chocolate. The dark grains again do their stuff in the taste, but it is the rolled oats that stand out, providing a velvety smooth texture and a creamy note, all of which complements the easy-drinking qualities of naturally soft water – there’s nothing spiky or flinty here.

The hops are lightly tangy, with a hint of blackcurrant or some other vague fruit, but Alex’s intention was not to follow others down the line of fruity stouts, so the hop influence is deliberately restrained in this department. A long, bitter finish kicks off with more roasted and creamy grains and, as it dries, leaves a touch of chocolate on the palate.

There are some very fine stouts now on the market, but this one has the potential to compete with them all.


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