As a bit of a two-fingers up to the recent excellent weather we’ve been having, I thought I’d delve into the beer cupboard to find the most unseasonal beer in there. When you say ‘Summer Beer’, there won’t be many of you folks thinking of a Scotch Whisky Barrel-Aged Imperial Milk Stout, will there?
Thought not, so that’s why To Øl’s Sort Maelk seemed to fit the bill…
This 13.1% ABV beast – brewed at BrewDog by those ultra-innovative Danish gypsy brewers To Øl – had been lurking in the cupboard for a year or so, after I picked it up on a trip to Denmark last year. I’d been waiting for ‘the right time’ to crack it open… in retrospect, sitting in my pants in the 30C heat of my flat was definitely it.
The name translates to ‘Black Milk’, and upon pouring you can see why: viscous and motor-oil-like with a big frothy tan-brown head – hello Summer. There’s loads of lovely fruity, boozy whisky in the aroma: thankfully it’s not overly sweet like some vanilla-heavy Bourbon barrel aged concoctions I’ve had. That said, there is a bit of light vanilla and oakiness going on, as well as plenty of roasted malt, dark roast coffee, and burnt sugar. The taste gives another great whack of smooth, fruity whisky, touches of vanilla, and some dark fruit. Plenty of roasted maltiness in there. There’s also some sweeter, milkier chocolate stuff happening – a bit Cadbury’s Dairy Milk if you will. There’s more heavy (fairly bitter) dark roasty notes in the finish alongside some seriously long-lasting whisky. Only a touch of booze heat as it goes down.
Bugger me, this is one well-balanced barrel aged stout – none of that crazy messiness you sometimes get. I don’t know whether a year in the bottle has calmed this beast down, but I’m really impressed. I usually love To Øl’s uncompromising flavour-assaulting approach to brewing (and branding – their latest line of brews is called the ‘Fuck-‘ series), but this is actually a really nuanced and well-integrated piece of kit – good job. If, like I was, you’re holding on to a bottle of this, then stop it immediately – now is the time to drink it.