Oakham Ales‘ Hawse Buckler is just the thing for a cosy pub on a chilly autumn evening.
Thanks to the handy colour coding chart in the Helter Skelter in Frodsham, Cheshire, I spotted that it was the only black beer on offer and ordered a pint before I’d clocked the strength – a not insignificant 5.6%.
It was black, with a beautiful tan head, which I’m always pleased to see on a dark beer. The first sip was one of those rare moments where a smile spread across my face before I’d even had chance to engage my brain. I was instantly reminded of a beer which seems to divide opinion — Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout.
Oakham reckon HB is a porter, but it’s got enough body to justify calling itself stout. It’s got all the coffee and chocolate flavours you’d expect up front, followed by a massive smack of citrusy, sharp, grapefruity hops. These flavours don’t work together, but they sure as Hell contrast nicely. It’s like drinking two different beers at the same time and therefore an extremely stimulating experience.
Yes, it’s a bit extreme, and, no, I couldn’t drink it all night, but it is exactly what it claims to be — ‘a special’. I’m not surprised it won best strong dark ale, best dark ale and was a contender for the world’s best overall ale at the World Beer Awards this year.