REVIEW: The stout that packs a coffee and price punch
THERE have always been some people for whom the taste of beer is not the breathtakingly wonderful experience it is for many of us.
While now seemingly not as common as the practice once was during my stock and station agent days, I can clearly remember people asking for "beer with a dash".
This more often than not meant the bar attendant would put a good splash of sarsaparilla in the glass before topping up with either XXXX or Carlton, depending upon which brand had the rights to supply in that pub.
This was different to a shandy, which was made with lemonade rather than sars.
It was also a way to disguise the taste of a beer that you normally wouldn't touch but was the only thing on tap.
What made me think of this was when Hugh the neighbour and I got stuck into a sixpack of Stone Americano Espresso Stout.
That's right - here was a stout with a dash of coffee.
Now coffee is not an unknown taste to find in a stout; it is part of the caramelly burnt richness you expect in a good one. But the Americano has an actual hit of coffee in it.
Stone Brewing was started in San Diego, California, about 20 years ago and is now one of the biggest craft brewers in the United States, with more than 1100 employees and more than 30 different beers.
The Americano is a really tasty stout with heaps of hops and malts - all the good things you want, plus a whack of coffee flavour from the top-quality beans they add to the mash.
It is really drinkable and both HTN and I enjoyed it a lot. However, it is properly strong and properly expensive.
The 8.7% alcohol content we could handle (although you do know you are drinking it) but at $37 a sixpack this is always going to be for special occasions only.
One word of disappointment though...
If you look at the Stone website, they are really hot on making sure you drink your beer fresh, and the sixpack I bought (and enjoyed - no doubt about that) was a few weeks past the "best by" date.
Not sure it suffered any ill-effects, but for the price of a carton of heavy, I would like to be drinking it at its best.