London Export Stouts
Brew By Numbers 08/01 Stout, 6.1% abv
Partizan Stout 8.4% abv
The Kernel Export Stout London 1890. 7.2% abv
Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout, 7.5% abv
I have this little tradition that dates back all the way to this one time a few months ago when I found myself in the possession of a few bottles of export strength stouts from down London way. I decided to drink ‘em all on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and so London Export Stout Sunday was born and quickly became the most anticipated and talked about event in the whole of Staffordshire. Billboards were posterised. Statues were erected. The days passed, and I now have another batch of these awe-inspiring brews, so I thought I’d have the next of my soon to be granted ‘National Holiday’ status events.
Stouts are awesome, my favourite of the multitude of styles born in these fairly soggy isles, but the boozed up, super roasty, foreign/export varieties (and their imperial big brothers) really get my vinyl spinnin’. Fortunately for me, the new wave of exceptionally exceptional craft breweries located in this nation’s capital are making some of the finest examples of this style anywhere in the world. The four I’ve got for my enjoyment today are from some of the most progressive and eclectic of these, namely Brew By Numbers, The Kernel, Partizan, and Redchurch.
First up is style eight, recipe one from Bermondsey’s Brew By Numbers who, like The Kernel and Partizan, are known for their short-run, limited-release batches. The black pours and mocha coloured heads of all of these stouts are a given, the aroma of this one is a delight, full of roasty/charred malts. It tastes even better, like dunking a bar of 75% cocoa chocolate into a cup of dark roast coffee that’s been stirred with a stick of burned wood. It starts of mildly sweet but develops a subtle bitterness towards the end, the soft carbonation and full body make it a pleasure to have in the mouth. A fantastic start, well done bean counter brew dudes!
This beer has given Partizan a lot to live up to, the 8.4% abv version of their export stout is one I’ve never had before, and I have to say the nose is very promising. There’s a hint of vanilla with the expected coffee and cocoa, and that heady, magic marker like smell of raw booze. I take a sip. Yeah okay, that’s damned good stuff. There’s plenty of coffee and cocoa, with some vanilla fudge and brown sugar. It’s sweeter than the previous stout, and it’s far more booze heavy. I’ve tasted impy stouts with a good two or three percent more alcohol in them that hide it better. That said it’s a fantastic sweet and decadent stout, full, soft, warming and delicious.
The Kernel are better known as masters of the more heavily hopped ale styles, but the few stouts they grace us with are equally impressive. The aroma coming off this thing is a malty tempest battering my olfactory senses with devastating mocha scented winds. Like Partizan’s offering there’s some booze there, toffee and dark fruits also. There are certain things so perfectly suited to your taste buds that the merest sample elicit a groan of pleasure. For me, this is one of those things. It’s a tiramisu piled on top of a sticky toffee pudding washed down with an espresso. The roasty coffee and chocolate flavours blend with a toffee-like sweetness, and hints of vanilla, sticky dates and licorice all add to the experience before a mildly earthy, spicy hop bitterness makes an appearance at the alcohol warmed end. The rich, oily liquid coats my mouth in what is perhaps the most luxurious experience yet, simply wondrous.
Finally we come to Redchurch's Old Ford, it immediately sets itself apart from the others by it's aroma. The usual suspects are present and correct, but dark stewed fruits and lead the way. It's the same on taste, figs, dates, raisins, and plums, all chocolate covered and dipped into a silky coffee cream. It's sweeter than it's predecessors and a touch more carbonated. It's a very good stout indeed, and a great option for those looking for something a little different to the heavily roasted norm. I am at this point slightly tipsy. I
unsettle myself with a double bourbon and call it a day.
The second London Export Stout Sunday was a resounding success. Local and national newspapers clamoured for the best photo ops and soundbites from yours truly, while celebrity gatecrashers were turned away ‘cuse there was no way I was sharing these awesome ales. So after all the drinking and singing far too loudly and falling over, if I had to pick a favorite, I mean absolutely had to… well, I just couldn’t. I could pick my favorite two though. While Redchurch and Partizan both delivered fantastic stouts, the unmasked booze in Partizan’s offering and the fruit heavy Redchurch brew just didn’t have the same effect on me that the roast monster from Brew By Numbers or The Kernel’s complex and luxurious stout did. These are amongst the best stouts I’ve ever had, of any kind. Cheers!