Name - Espresso
Brewer - Dark Star
Classification - Rich Coffee Beer
Strength - 4.2% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye - Cocoa Chanel, if you see what I mean...
On the nose - Half full-bodied stout, half Javan ground coffee.
On the tongue - Well, I reckon this one goes way beyond a quick summary. (Read on...)
On the subject - From extremely humble beginnings, Dark Star is now growing, growing, growing! New premises, an evolving list of pubs, new beers appearing all the time. Who can possibly stop this awesome expansion? Where are you Superman?!!
On the market - As you may have noticed, Dark Star beer's cannot be found everywhere. As you may have heard, that is a great shame. The brewery recommend My Brewery Tap for online orders.
On the whole - 9/10
Usually, during a taste test, I take a good mouthful of the beer in front of me, gulp it down, and take another mouthful immediately afterwards. It's not massively scientific (as you can clearly see) but it's a pretty decent way of exposing the drink to as many regions of myself that might wish to offer-up some initial feedback. This is also usually a point where I stop drinking for a moment whilst I scribble some of that early feedback down.
Now for the confession.
This beer made me break the rules.
Instead of sitting back and letting the brew 'occur to me' for a few moments, I reached straight back for another large helping like my life depended on it.
In my own defence - the beer left me with very little choice about this. I simply could not wait.
And the reason I couldn't wait is because this beer is that extremely rare combination of utterly delicious and utterly unique.
Frankly, whether this is a 'speciality' beer or not (or even a 'novelty' beer - as some misguided traditionalists will surely say), it is absolutely top-drawer stuff regardless of any mode of classification.
Quite honestly, when it came to trying to describe this ale's flavour - I repeatedly started giggling. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was exactly the reaction Dark Star had in mind when they were conjuring up this recipe, because very little about what these guys do seems to happen by accident.
Clever brains lurk in dark stars.
By way of an attempt to assess the flavours at play here, I must at least mention Cuban cigars, almonds, Javan coffee beans, liquorice, some astounding top note themes involving all kinds of citrus and floral notes, and marshmallow - with this latter hint adding a certain welcome playfulness to what is otherwise a purely elegant and sophisticated affair.
Refreshingly light in body and full of gothic splendour on the eye - this is a revelation in terms of the exciting directions that a truly fine ale can go.
I urge you to drink this beer (fairly well chilled, crucially) at your very earliest convenience.
It is properly mind-bending, and properly good.