Beer There, Drunk That blog discusses this most noble drink produced through natural processes with such wonderful, simple ingredients, and the important role it plays, or should play, in people's everyday lives.
I might have something approaching an oversupply of beers from my new Spanish region of Galicia developing, but since Christmas I've had something different put aside for a special occasion. That something different was a unique English ale by Batemans Brewery that my girlfriend had bestowed on me, and that special occasion was Friday.
The label on Hazelnut Brownie, as with the other beers in Batemans' Sovereign range, has undergone a bit of a rebranding with a contemporary typographic look in favour of the more homely, rustic appearance that it used to sport on its beer pumps. Batemans is keen to highlight its long heritage, though, with its big wax stamp and the year it was founded, 1874, proudly displayed on the front.
Lincolnshire within England
No sooner is the cap cracked off than the beer's lusciously fragrant aroma starts permeating the space around you without even needing to edge your nose closer to it. I shoved my nose down the bottle neck for a bigger hit anyway, sending my brain into a chocolatey frenzy before the stuff had even left the bottle. Once it had been given a swill around my glass, rich, creamy aromas of chocolate and sweet malts were diffusing apace. It was clear at this point that this would be no subtle interpretation of a hazelnut brownie.
It pours a gorgeous dark mahogany, with a generous coffee-coloured head that gathers and dissipates cleanly. If you've noticed that this is the only blog post of mine where that hasn't been captured in a photo then you'd be right: my chocolate-scrambled brain forced me to dive in straight away before I could.
Soon after doing so my cakehole was filled with the most ridiculously uncanny resemblance to a brownie I'd ever sampled from a beer glass. Sweet chocolate was there in abundance along with a touch of cinnamon spice and a distinct hazelnut finish that was too good to believe it could be true until I went back for more.
While it wouldn't hurt for the body to be a bit fuller, it's certainly as rich and decadent in flavour as it could be and manages to impart a creaminess, I assume from the use of lactose, that could have you believe you'd had it served up with custard, warmed up by the 6.3% ABV.
Quirky, dessert inspired beers are nothing new, but what sets Hazelnut Brownie apart from so many others I've tried is that you don't need to use your imagination to convert those dark roasted malts and reinterpret them as chocolate; this one does all the work for you. Whether this sensation has been achieved solely with the creative use of malt, hops, chocolate and cinnamon I can't say for sure, but who cares? It tastes like what you wanted it to when you picked it up off the shop shelf.