Shepherd Neame in Faversham, Kent, is Britain's oldest brewery and was established in 1698. I felt like I was stepping into history when I picked up this bottle in the local supermarket. Even the design of the label looked steeped in tradition. The recipe for this Double Stout was found deep in the vaults and brought back to life through brewing the ingredients in Britain's last remaining wooden mash tuns. I can just imagine some young apprentice being sent down into the depths of the brewery's vaults to tidy, and sweeping through dust laden parchment the recipe for this Double Stout was found. It was then made with pale ale, roasted crystal, and chocolate malts, kilned roasted barley, and polished off for bitterness from the finest East Kent hops.
I was half expecting the distant sound of monks chanting when I opened the bottle. The chocolate and sweet crystal malts stood out in the aroma as I poured the jet black stout into my overexcited beer mug, there was also a hint of hops at the end of the smell. This stout is probably one of the strongest most flavoursome stouts I've ever tasted. The sweet chocolatey smell had lulled my tastebuds into a false sense of security. From first sip there was a blast of sheer bitterness akin to being run over by an 'espresso train', but more like a ristretto with three mischievous giggling malts in the background, whilst Winston Churchill blows smoke from a massive Cuban cigar up your nose. This is one of those stouts to be savoured by real hardy folk on dark cold stormy nights possibly with beards (possibly not, as I can't grow one and neither can Cinabar, although she wouldn't drink it anyway...), after a hard days scrapping and then cleaning the blood off their swords and shields. It should certainly not be guzzled to find new ways to get dizzy with its 5.2% volume. Steeped in tradition it might be old, but definitely not old hat, but I'd recommend a hard hat when drinking nonetheless!