I am a consumer. From time to time I buy things, but more often than not, I am sold them. I can be overtly, covertly or even accidentally sold just about anything. I heard about this beer back when it was announced that it had won the Beoir Champion Beer of Ireland 2015 award, and it instantly appealed to me.
My brain started to put it on a pedestal, and everything I read about it exalted it further.
To say that my expectations were raised would be an understatement. I rarely buy more than one of any beer at a time, and I went as far as to DOUBLE that number with this beer. How could it possibly go wrong? Chocolate. Orange. Stout. The trifecta. A triple threat. The Holy Trinity.
When I opened the first bottle, I wrote a lot of cruel notes. The last time I remember being quite so disappointed, I was about 6 years old. My mother had bought a food processor and my brother had a great idea. He mixed cooking chocolate and mandarins. Orange Chocolate was misrepresenting what he offered me, and over 20 years later, I went through the same heartache. Fool me once…
Aside from my dismay, it looked great – black with a thick tan head.
The second bottle sat in the back of my fridge for weeks, serving as a warning that over investment can sometimes leave you with toxic assets. About a month after the initial anti-climax, I went for the second bottle. I felt like a scorned lover going back for more.
As you can imagine, with lowered expectations, I started to realise how melodramatic I had been up to this point. I still couldn’t taste any orange in the beer but there are some chocolate notes. It is well carbonated, but has a bit of a strange mouthfeel. If it was put in front of you with no preamble, I think you would enjoy it.
It certainly doesn’t evoke Chocolate Orange for me in the way that Galway Bay Buried At Sea Milk Chocolate Stout evokes Milk Chocolate.
I am clearly an outlier on the opinion market with this beer. It is an award winner, and it is a huge achievement for James Brown, who will certainly play a huge part in shaping the future of the Irish Craft Beer scene.
I think if I had been sold this beer as something like “Pilot Stout” or “Papa’s Got A Brand New Stout”, I would have been pleasantly surprised by it. I still don’t think I would be saying that it reminds me of chocolate orange, or even oranges, but we can never know!