Hello! Happy February y'all!
Well, lookit here. February 14th and all it's associated romantic connotations are nearly upon us. Quiet frankly I believe it is a ridiculous 'tradition' which only gets worse every year with hideous cuddly toys, cheap chocolates and embarrassing balloons etc etc. No matter what your romantic condition or persuasion, Valentine's Day is a weird concept. (Aren't you meant to show your feelings all year round?)
Anywhoo, this whole palaver got me thinking about how I could market you lot some Valentine's beers. (I'm not above such manipulation, sorry.) That, though, made me think “what beer should I suggest for a boy/girl to get a girl or a girl/boy to get a boy?” Which made me realise how utterly ridiculous that concept is. Beer is beer, there is not (or at least should not) be any gender 'appropriate' beers. I mean, last time I checked, I got the same taste-buds as guys. Right? (I admit I have done no research, and there could very well be a scientifically proven difference between male and female taste-buds and taste perception, but if there is, I'm going to ignore it. Just like I ignore the fact that males are genetically predisposed to have more muscle of their frame than me, and yet I can still pick up a lotta beer. Screw science.) (Sorry science. I didn't mean it.)
So, yeah. There ought not to be any of the 'oh, I am a man, therefore I drink strong, brown, bitter beers. Manly beer. Yes.' or 'oh I am a feeble woman, and therefore if I ever venture near that odd beery stuff, I only drink sweet fruit beers.' I realise that I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but there's still an awful lot of that kind of thing going on. Maybe half the women that come in the shop are buying for themselves, and know what they like. The rest quite often come in asking help to buy beer for significant others/family etc. Obviously I love helping people pick beers, don't get me wrong, it's a part of the job that's completely awesome, but it makes me a little sad that the line I get regularly is “I don't drink beer, so I don't really know what to get him/her.”
This makes me sad, because there is such a massively, embarrassingly huge variety of beer styles readily available now, that I highly doubt that there isn't a beer that someone will like. It may be that they only like Kolsch, or Trappist Quad or, in fairness, sickly sweet fruit beer, but the possibility that someone dislikes all beer is fairly slim.
Wow, so the above rant has mostly been centred on the ladies of the species. (Check in next week for the macho-too-male-for-you beer drinking failures. Crap lager and boring best bitter bashing ahoy.) What I want to do, is pick a beer/beer style that I know many women are, let's say, scared of, and give them/you a kick towards giving it a try. Because no one needs to be scared of beer.
If you mention the words Russian Imperial Stout (and explain what it is) to a lady who has spent most of her drinking time consuming Pinot Gregio or fizzy cider or gin and tonic, I can understand the fear. The flavour profile and ABV looks a little intimidating. I'll admit that this is not a little shy and retiring beer. But then, the last time women were shy and retiring as a rule was roughly 1914, before we literally had to don the trousers.
(Oh, and by the way ladies, back in the dark ages, or whatever historically accurate period, we probably invented, and certainly brewed all the beer, so it's just going old school really.)
Let's take a moment, for those who don't know, to describe what a Russian Imperial Stout actually is.
Thieving the BJCP guidelines; “An intensely flavored, big, dark ale with a wide range of flavor balances and regional interpretations. Roasty burnt malt with deep dark or dried fruit flavors, and a warming, bittersweet finish. Despite the intense flavors, the components need to meld together to create a complex, harmonious beer, not a hot mess.” (For full info hit up this link and find page 36 in the doc, or 50/93 of the PDF as a whole.)
Basically you're looking at something super dark, often with a very heavy, slick, oily or syrupy mouthfeel. Depending on the beer, could be pretty damn sweet, although there are many balanced/bitter. You should expect ABV of 8-12%. Flavours include roasty, burnt, acrid, sweet, dark fruits, coffee, chocolate. Can be barrel aged well, so these examples will have BA qualities too. They are usually really complex. I've found examples that are like liquid Christmas pudding, chocolate cake, strong coffee. There are peanut butter and salted caramel versions out there too. How can this not be a beer for anyone, let alone those of us of the “fairer” sex.
The example I've picked to suggest you buy for your selves, ladies, ('cos why wait for a man/significant other to do it for ya, when it's this good?) is;
Buxton – Rain Shadow
Buxton is one of our favourite breweries here at Brew Bristol. They have an almighty range of beer, and there are very few which I haven't enjoyed. I am usually particularly impressed with their big stouts, so hopefully this won't disappoint.
Russian Imperial Stout. We went over that above. Weren't you reading?
No need for lying here, we're all friends right? I've not actually had a chance to try this beer yet. So, I'm pulling these tasting notes from a host of different sources. It's always fun to see what you make of it, so if you have opinions it would be great to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or chat with us using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page!
Aroma: Coffee, roasty malt, dark chocolate, bready, dark red fruit, liquorice, booze, woody, rum, vanilla, cherry.
Taste: Roasty, ash, chocolate, coffee, tobacco, molasses, caramel, spices, earthy.
Palate: Dry finish, very rich, long lasting bitterness, oily mouthfeel, good carbonation.
Overall; Big. Big is the word we're going for here. Big aroma, big flavour, big mouthfeel, big ABV. And amazing. Seriously, you want to drink this.
£: 6.20 but available throughout February at a 15% discount, making it £5.27, but only for ladies. Or, people buying it for ladies. Or people who have met ladies.