Too Fancy to Drink: Gadd’s Russian Imperial Stout

These two bottles have been sitting on the shelf since March 2015, throbbing with sinister energy like the crate containing the Ark in the first Indiana Jones film. Last night, we decided to vanquish them.

They are non-identical twins — the same base beer (a 12% ABV historic homage) with two treatments, one aged in bourbon barrels, the other given a dose of Brettanomyces lambicus.

We didn’t buy these but we weren’t sent them by the brewery, either: when he worked at Beer Merchants, Phil Lowry snuck them into one of our orders as a bonus. His advice at the time was (a) to be careful with the Brettanomyces-spiked version and (b) to try blending them.

Even without any chilling Brett, as we’ll call him, was no trouble at all. He hissed but didn’t gush, and gave us a thick, steady caramel-coloured foam. It smelled exactly like Harvey’s Russian Imperial Stout, which is perhaps not that surprising, and in our book a high compliment.

‘We should put the other one in a different glass so we don’t get them mixed up. Use the St Bernardus one. Because Bernard. Bernard Matthews. Turkey. Wild Turkey.’

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Gadd's Dogbolter Porter

Gadd’s of Ramsgate should be very proud of their 5.6% bottle conditioned porter. It was first brewed by another company in 1979 for Firkin pubs, but Gadd’s have revived the recipe and the brand. It’s heavy, chewy, slightly sour and, once the initial yeasty smell has passed, full of the roasted aromas you’d expect from a good black beer.

The only thing is, we can’t remember where or when we acquired the bottle. Did someone leave it after a party? Who knows.