Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout

Good beer photography is always a tricky prospect in Hashigo Zake’s moody lighting, especially if you’re using the camera on your phone and have had a few.

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, X-Ale 2014 was held last Saturday.  A ticket-only, closed-door mini-festival of fifteen extreme, unusual and one-off beers, held in an underground bunker while the Sevens chaos began again outside.

It was great fun.  If Hashigo Zake hold it again, I’ll go again.

But where do I start, with fifteen notable beers to write about?

You start at the end, of course.

I’d been holding back on the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée (9.6%) for the entire afternoon, having heard so much about it before hand.  “Our very last keg” of the beer, to be precise – Southern Tier having decided to stop exporting their beers for some reason.[1]

I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  Brewed with vanilla amongst the ingredients, this imperial milk stout was spectacular and delicious, and it truly lived up to its name.

Big, bold and dark, topped with a head that looked just like whipped cream. Lifting the glass to the nose brought a huge delicious aroma of caramel poured over a rich vanilla ice cream.  The first sip completely filled the mouth with thick sweet custard, milky and rich, buffeted deliciously by the sharp burnt flavour of a freshly made caramel sauce.

Indeed, as I drunk it, my sense-memory more slid back to my favourite childhood desert. Brown sugar, slowly caramelized with a vanilla bean in a pot, poured over rich, fat, New Zealand vanilla ice cream.   And this was those flavours, in a glass, including the slightly harsh burnt sugar after-taste of a very natural, very rich caramel.

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