Stone Dead, 6.6% abv export stout
Stone Brood, 4.4% abv honey ale
Local beer. Here in Staffordshire I’m surrounded by the stuff, and most of it comes from the old-school real ale powerhouse, Marston’s. Sometimes it feels like they’re the only brewery group licenced to sell ale in my home county such is their dominance, but whilst visiting friends in the remarkably unremarkable town of Stone one lazy Sunday afternoon last summer, I discovered Lymestone Brewery. This microbrewery is based in the ramshackle sprawl of the old Bents Brewery just outside the town centre, and over the last few years they’ve been as busy as their very own bees (more on that later) brewing up small batches of cask ale for the locals. The couple of brews I tried that afternoon didn’t really do much for me, but then I came across these bottles and a heady mixture of curiosity and the desire to give these lot another go won out.
The two that intrigued me so were Stone Brood, a bitter infused with honey from the breweries very own rooftop dwelling bees (there y’go), and Stone Dead, an export stout brewed once a year on a full moon for a Halloween release. These kinda quirks appeal to me no end. And so, with a mixture of mild trepidation and bouncy enthusiasm (the best kind of enthusiasm) I began.
Stone Dead pours as black as you’d expect with a thick mocha coloured head. The nose is big on the dark chocolate, with roasty coffee and vine fruits. It tastes as big as it aroma suggests, like a croissant slathered in plum jam, dipped in cocoa, and eaten with a mouthful of cappuccino. It’s very rich, roasty and bittersweet with subtle, spicy hops and a slightly tart fruitiness, the body is full and the carbonation medium. I’m happy to say I’m very impressed with this.
Next up is Stone Brood, and the pour is darker than I expected, a deep chestnut with a bubbly off white head. The aroma is lovely, all toasted bread and roasted nuts. I take a sip, the flavour is bold and malty, with burned caramel, milk chocolate, and malted milk biscuits. The sweetness of the added honey smooths of the moderate hoppy bitterness nicely, it’s soft and velvety and incredibly comforting. It also has a certain weight to it, I can feel it acting like ballast in my stomach, settling me in place.
It seems my mild trepidation was entirely unfounded, these beers suit me far better than the ones I tried last year. They’re rich, luxurious, and just the kinda brews to lull me into an afternoon nap. Well done local brewery dudes (and bees).