This Special Oatmeal Stout was brewed by the Coniston Brewing Company in Cumbria. I have previously enjoyed their CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 1998 called Bluebird, so I was really looking forward to trying this stout. I noted on the label that this beer was best drunk at 58 degrees Fahrenheit in a pint glass at the Black Bull Inn, in Coniston. However, I am based in Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands, so had to cope with whatever degrees Fahrenheit our fridge decided it was running on that day and my trusty pint sized pottery beer mug.
At 4.5% volume this stout was brewed with Coniston Brewery’s local Lakeland water, Challenger Hops, roasted Crystal and Pale malts, yeast and sugar. The label stated that oats were used in the grist, which is grain that has been separated from its chaff in preparation for grinding, to give this stout even more of that heavy filling feeling that stouts are common to, whilst enhancing the roasted barley flavours and giving the beverage a smoothness that I was certainly looking forward to sampling. On opening the 500ml bottle there was a malty dark chocolate smell with a smidgen of coffee. First taste displayed the expected hoppy bitterness that the mere mention of Challenger Hops promised, with an added dominance from the Pale malts morphing into a dark chocolate flavour that ended with a bitter twang of coffee. This flavour journey of bitter hops, roasted malts, succulent chocolate and rich coffee smoothed out to a luxurious chocolate malt aftertaste. This was a beautiful bitter black gold stout that deserved an award of its own. There was something about this lip smacking, warming, belly rubbing stout that left me fulfilled, comforted in the dark bosom of heavenly stout with a lesson that all master brewers can learn from, and yet wanting just one more bottle to make sure... well, maybe just another after that.