I were in Yorkshire on a weekend break a few months back. I’d been told about this great beer shop that I absolutely had to look in (a hint to bring a present back?) so, after a nice Peruvian coffee from the renowned Betty’s Tea Shop, in I marched.
First off – what an amazing shop. If you even suspect that you like beer, this shop is great. If you know you love it, it’s heaven. The friend I was with, who to be fair isn’t a beer drinker, suggested bringing back some York Brewery beers, them sounding like a fair reflection of the City’s brewing know-how. Not only is the regular range readily available in my local pubs, but most of the ones I see are just so damn average (though their ‘Wild Wheat‘ that I tried lately is pretty tasty). York Brewery was off the menu, therefore, so what else could I find? Well this Sam Smith’s ‘Yorkshire Stingo‘ is barrel aged, very strong and comes in a nice bottle. I had to give it a go!
- Brewed in Tadcaster, Yorkshire
- Comes in 550ml bottles
- 9% ABV
- Bottle conditioned
- Aged for at least a year
Look It comes in a very traditional bottle (pictured in the previous link), bordered with quality assurances and whatnot. There’s some nice brewing information on the back, with pictures of the method, such as what is known as ‘rousing’ the beer (‘stirring’ to you and me) in these stone bowls or ‘squares’ – it helps ensure an even spread of the yeast in the fermentation process.
In the glass it’s a wonderful, vibrant brown. It has a decent head and is nice and lively – just watch out for the yeast as you pour if you don’t want it in your bevvy. 7/10
Aroma Oh my word, it’s such an inviting aroma. A fruity (mainly orangey) nose, nice and malty too. The hops aren’t as dominant as they are in the taste, but you know the bitterness is there. It smells quite light I’d say, certainly lighter than it looks, if you know what I mean… 7/10
Taste Yum, aged fruits abound, with raisins dominating, finished off with a hoppy kick and a tangy tingle. I get Christmas spices and zesty citrus rinds, but it’s well-balanced with the malts too: I felt like I was getting a side-serving of malt loaf – delicious! It has a decent body, despite looking and smelling so ‘light’, but even after a taste I wouldn’t have guessed it was so high in ABV. Still, this treasure has so many bags full of flavour that you’ll need no excuse to savour it and enjoy in moderation. 9/10
Value Well a 550ml bottle set me back £5.70. That’s obviously pretty expensive as a proposition, and I can’t afford many of them, but it wouldn’t put me off buying more. Plus, when you consider that the beer is bottle conditioned, it’s good to get one to try, then keep the rest in your cellar for a treat/rainy day/dry day. It’s this option, and the great flavours, that save the drink from a dire value score. 7/10
Session The question is, could I actually have more than one of these? Not in one night. During the drinking of the bottle, the experience is fantastic. With every sip, the flavours develop nicely, building on the tongue ’til you recognise and enjoy more of the characteristics. It’s the big body that got to me, but I’m sure at this strength it wouldn’t take long for me to start to wobble anyway. 6/10
All in all you have to be in the right mood for this beer. It’s very much like traditional English Christmas in a bottle, I’d only recommend it for fans of English bitters and oak-aged projects. Still, I’m very glad I got to try it and if I see it again I’d like to buy more.
Final score: 72/100