When A Stout Isn’t Quite A Stout (4 Pines Choc Orange Stout)

Every now and then, breweries like to experiment with a range of styles that don’t quite line up with their everyday fare. The Little Creatures Single Batch series is a classic example of this. Following on from their core range of beers (the Pale Ale, Bright Ale, Pilsner and Rogers), the Single Batch releases allow them to ‘escape’ the confines of what constitutes a ‘safe’ mass-sale beer and try their hand at some more extreme beers.

4 Pines Brewing Company have taken a similar approach with their Keller Door Series. The current batch of beers released as part of this expansion focus on darker beers. Not content with producing a stout that can be drunk in space, the Manly-based boys put out – to beer drinker’s delight – a Dry Irish Stout, an Oatmeal Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout, and (because those styles obviously weren’t quite kooky enough) a Choc Orange Stout.

Now, as mentioned in a previous post, dark beers are tremendously versatile. Brewers are able to project a host of flavours into their delectable darker creations.

The premise of a Choc Orange stout does bring to mind one particular confectionary though: The humble Jaffa.

Having spied the Choc Orange stout on the list of options at the recently re-named Deja Vu (in Little Lonsdale Street, formally known as Biero), I decided my tastebuds did indeed require this beer. Urgently.

Poured into a pint glass, it looks exactly how it should. Sleek, dark, and oh-so-tempting. Next, you smell it. Hints of orange – by no means dominant though – and some dark malt. However, this is where any semblance of normality stops.

Next comes the first sip. And here is what follows.

1) Hops & Citrus fruit. That’s right, not roasted malts, chocolate or coffee flavours. The Choc Orange Stout begins it’s journey to your stomach tasting exactly like a pale ale.

2) Lightbodied-ness. Stouts – by definition – are heavy, ‘real-man’s’ beers. Yet this slips lightly down.

3) 10 seconds after you swallow, the chocolate-coffee malts hit you. Suddenly, the beer has transformed back to its original state: A stout.

4) Halfway through the pint you suddenly realise the beer is sitting heavinly in your stomach, just as it should have done to begin with.

To be blunt, it’s one of the most confusing beers I’ve ever drunk. It’s  pale-ale-chocolate-light-but-heavy-bodied-stout.

Don’t get me wrong, this beer is tasty. But it will mess with your head.

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