15 December 2018

Wholesome Stout (Waitrose) By @SpectreUK

Wye Valley Wholesome Stout
Wye Valley Wholesome Stout

So what can I say about Wholesome Stout? Admittedly it's not the most interesting name the Wye Valley Brewery, in Herefordshire, could have come up with. I don't want to sound pretentious (although I probably do), but I almost didn't write about this stout because of its name. It just sounds like something that's been mass produced, quick as you like it, off the shelf or something like that. Not that mass produced stout isn't any good or anything. I have a Guinness every time I have a big steak meal, whether it's at home or in a restaurant (and trust me, I rarely eat anything else in restaurants).

Ignoring the front label and it's quite frankly dull name and having a read of the back and the Wye Brewery sell this Wholesome Stout like nobody's business. However, it's the front of the bottle and the eye-catching name that often sells a beer from all the others lined up by the shelf load in every supermarket. I know there's plenty of chocolate and coffee stouts out there, but at least they make me think; "Oh, interesting…" Perhaps Wye Brewery put all their efforts into brewing this Wholesome Stout, rather than coming up with a classic name as the back of the label eludes to?

On opening this 4.6% volume Wholesome Stout, there was initially an usually strong smell of herbal hops, followed by a little sweetness from the malted barley. Then there were undertones of malted chocolate barley and that roasted coffee aroma that often comes with it. The sheer amount of flavours just in this Wholesome Stout's smell made me stand back and think. The name of this stout clearly understates it. This stout pours like a deep black hole in a pint glass. And there is that "Mmm…" on first taste. There is an initial herbaceous hoppy bitterness from the Northdown hops to this beer that almost instantly mixes with the menagerie of malted barleys. I could taste them all jumbling playfully over my palate. There is pale malt here, flaked barley, roasted barley, the sweetness from the crystal malt, and lip-smacking chocolate malt followed by that classic roasted coffee flavour. I've certainly learned something here. Never be put off by a boring name like Wholesome Stout, as it can often do what it says on the label!

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