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Sour Stout in a Victorian Pub

In search of Fullers London Porter, and following a tip from reader Ant, we found ourselves back at the Royal Oak in Borough, south of London Bridge. The Porter was great, as always, if a little flat. Harvey’s Old Ale (4.3%) had rich fruit cake flavours and reminded us of Adnams Broadside. It was also a little sour, which made us wonder if they really do add some aged beer to new to make it, or just a happy accident.

The highlight, though, was the Imperial Stout (9%). The cheery barman was delighted when we asked if they had any and bounced off to get a bottle. He apologised profusely for the fact that it no longer comes in a corked bottle and presented it with some pride in a big wine glass.  We’ve had before but fairly early on in our beer drinking adventures, when our tastebuds were less mature, and then found it too intensely flavoured to actually finish. This time, it was love at first sight. There is something very sexy about a dark beer with a brown, caramel-coloured head. The smell was pure Cantillon — sour, sweet, and (bear with us) bordering on manure. The flavours exploded with every sip: blackberry, chocolate, tobacco (never thought we’d enjoy that), leather… we could go on. Astounding, in short, and now in our top 10.

As we drank, it began to snow outside. A Victorian pub, snow and black beer: it couldn’t have been more Christmassy.

NB – Fuller’s London Porter is also on at the Mad Bishop and Bear in Paddington Station, in cracking form.

A merry Christmas to all our readers – we’ll be back in a couple of days.

10 replies on “Sour Stout in a Victorian Pub”

I just love the Royal Oak– I’ve never had a bad beer there and the staff are always lovely. I will have to try this Imperial Stout next time I’m there!

They had London Porter on at the Barrowboy and Banker last I was there.

I haven’t found cask London Porter in the pub this year, which sucks. I’d be quite happy with the Imperial Stout though, I love it. The 2008 I had earlier this year was just fantastic.

Merry Christmas!!

Kieran — good to hear from you again. It’s certainly a very funky beer and I can see why it would appeal particularly to your tastes. I guess it’d stand up to some pretty intense cheeses!

Mark — cask LP seems to be rolling out. We’ve now seen it in a couple of places. Fingers crossed it will be all over the shop in the New Year.

[…] 1. Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (9%, bottle) It’s hard to work out if this is an accurate recreation of an historic recipe but, nonetheless, it is reckoned by some to be the best chance most of us will get to experience the sour Brettanomyces character which would have been present in many 19th century beers. (As they say on Wikipedia, CITATION NEEDE.) It’s pretty intense; you might not even like it the first time you try it (we didn’t) but it’s well worth trying twice and is one of our favourites now. […]

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