On a week where Shepherd Neame has just won some awards, I thought it about time to review some of their wares. We all know that Britain’s oldest brewery is a fantastic institution and one that has an immense quantity of different ales, the majority of which are certainly ‘good’, if not better. Well, a wee while ago, I started noticing this new-looking range of theirs. It seemed they were getting back to a sort of basics, naming the beers by their ‘type’, and I responded to this simplicity.
So I picked up a few of these ales, including their IPA. I’ve got to say, the IPA really didn’t jive with me. The flavour seemed a bit tacky, a bit off somehow. It was the first Shepherd Neame beer I’ve had that I thought was disappointing and bad. Could the ‘Double Stout’ rescue the brewer’s reputation from relative ruin? Let’s find out…
- 5.2% ABV
- Brewed in Kent, England
- Comes in 500ml bottles or 9 gallon firkins
- Available on draught throughout November
- Brewed in UK’s last remaining wooden mash tuns
- Malts: Pale Ale, Roasted Crystal, Chocolate and kilned Roasted Barley
- Hops: East Kent
Look It’s an old-style label. I wasn’t sure if it was a limited-edition range, a permanent fixture, or simply unique for the shop they were distributing to [turns out it’s part of their regular range…]. Bland, but sometimes simplicity is key – plus the ‘Shepherd Neame’ was in big letters, and that’s enough to make someone like I curious.
In the glass, it’s a medium-thick, creamy head – almost brown. Good retention, too. The drink’s black all the way down. Even when held right up to the light, it gives very little away – which is what you want with a stout! 8/10
Aroma Mmm, the true smell of a brewery here – notes of roasted coffee dance with delicate cocoa to the tune of a wet maltiness [it reminded me of my days digging out a mash tun]. Creamy, almost sourly bitter and not very strong, but well-balanced and complex enough. 8/10
Taste Ohaye, that’ll put a hair or two on your chest! Explosive flavours of rich chocolate and coffee literally stain the palate. The malt content gives it this flapjacky finish, and the mouthfeel is chewy like one too – definitely viscous, but not quite Ola Dubh! I can’t pick out a great deal of flavour from the hops, but the bitter tickle is surely present.
I get the sense of the kilned malts the more I drink. As the creaminess subsides, there’s this caramel quality and a dry, almost floury/ashy note. Really enjoyable, in other words! It’s not different, but a good standard. 8/10
Value I believe I picked this up for around the £1.70 mark. Really can’t complain at that – not just because the experience was pleasant, but there was a decent body to it, too. 9/10
Session The flavours manage to develop the more you drink, so it’s an interesting mouthful even after a few. It’s not even too heavy, though the ‘darkness’ of it does catch up with you. Couldn’t drink it all night, but, especially at this price, I’d have a go. 7/10
So, to round-up: this is a great example of a stout. True, it’s a ‘double stout’, but what I mean is that when someone asks you what a stout’s like, you can give them this and it’ll give a decent benchmark as to what the traditional style is like. Very enjoyable and basically nothing to complain about. Hope you enjoy it too!
Final score: 80/100