We popped one bottle of this 8% ABV bourbon oak imperial stout into our recent Thornbridge order on a whim and drank it as a full stop to the weekend.
It’s a thick black beer with a dense coffee-coloured head. (See above.)
Expecting something like whisky-flavoured rocket fuel we were pleasantly surprised on tasting it to find a beer that pulls off the ultimate trick: being deep and complex, and tasting its strength, but with subtlety and restraint.
Up front, there’s an obvious vanilla note and just enough suggestion of bourbon to have made it worthwhile including in the headline. The texture on the tongue is so luxurious that it made us want some churros for dipping. The over-riding flavour is a gritty hard char, like licking coal, but that’s perfectly in balance with the sweetness.
If we can fault it it’s because the Thornbridge house character these days is a kind of clean precision which, while it works for many other styles, leaves this feeling perhaps a bit too polite. At £2.65 it’s not hugely more expensive than Guinness Foreign Extra and is quite a bit better (we love FES but it can be a bit demerara-sugary and one-dimensional) so we reckon it passes Ed’s test but, if push came to shove, we’d probably put Harvey’s filthy Imperial Stout ahead. (A fifty-fifty blend of Eldon and Harvey’s might be even better…)
In summary, Eldon is a classy, rich, interesting beer from the Fortnum & Mason of British craft breweries. Give it a go if you get the chance, especially if you prefer clean to dirty.
It’s actually named after Eldon Hole, by the way, despite our silliness, and IKEA don’t make a vegetable cabinet called ELDON as far as we know.