The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Are You Ready For Some Darkness?

Two distinctive stouts met my throat recently. The first is a beer I’ve been expecting to drink since The Beer Greek bought a bottle upon my request; the second – I thought would take begging to my surfer cousin or pulling other dodgy strings in order to get a hold on, but The Actuary, a devoted beergeek, took care of business and ordered a bottle.

The First beer is Mikkeller Black, the second – Sri Lanka’s Lion Stout. Drunk in two different sessions, this blog’s current state is all about filling gaps and catching up. Writing about these two uber dark beers just seems appropriate.

Mikkeller Black, an Imperial Stout that comes in an elegant bottle, was the last bottle sampled in a tasting we hosted, that followed 16 other bottles and cans. With 17.5%abv. it couldn’t precede anything. The name sums up the look – it’s a black, black beer with a light brown head. Its main trait is black coffee: sugared espresso aroma (as well as some alcohol) and tastes as sour as sometimes strong espresso tends to be. Further sipping reveals burnt and bitter flavours, again, coffee-like. It has a full body and sour-hot finish. I like this beer. It’s extreme and challenging but in a good way. However, I would’ve never drank a bottle by myself, as it’s too much to cope with on one’s own, though that’s something The Actuary did a week before the tasting at the Beer Temple in Amsterdam.

I was looking forward to drink Lion Stout for two reasons: first is marking another beer in my list, second is conquering beer from another beera incognito. I didn’t know about this beer and I wasn’t expecting anything. The editor of 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die tried to include brews from as many countries as possible and thus mediocre beers from far away places took space that otherwise might have been used to list a good beer from a well-covered country.

Lion Stout pretty much in the middle. Also in the picture: some other beers that will be reviewed soon(er or later) and The Actuary.

It was nice to read and realize that since this stout was hunted by Michael Jackson, it gained an aura among beer lovers and a quite justified aura. Opened by British colonialists in the late 19th century, Ceylon Brewery is the contractor of Carlsberg’s Lager and Special Brew but continues to brew and bottle its own creation. The bottle that the Actuary brought made quite a trip around the world: from Columbo to New York to the dusty suburbs of Tel Aviv, but all this didn’t make it too weary. Coffee, some wood and liquor in the nose, bitter and a little dry in the mouth, long finish, medium body and a warm feeling that stayed for a while, at least until the following round.

So, were you ready for some darkness?

Mikkeller Black and Lion Stout were beers #98 and #99 I Must Try Before I Die.


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