The third of four beers recommended to us by Dina is Siren’s Caribbean Chocolate Cake stout, a collaboration with Florida’s Cigar City.
In her sleeve notes Dina says:
Oh, hi dark chocolate stout, I enjoy the way you feel. It’s like sleeping on black satin sheets in a forest on a moonlit night. In the Caribbean, I suppose, but I get more western South Dakota. I am recommending this one to you guys for a bit of luxury. Go on, you’re worth it.
Its ABV is 7.5% and we bought our 330ml bottle from Beer Gonzo for £4.25.
It looked lovely when we poured it — clingy black with a stable berg of red-brown crema. Espresso with chocolate ice cream on top. (The pic below makes it look beige; it wasn’t.)
The aroma was subdued amounting to no more than a whiff of roasting nuts.
It’s known that people form positive first impressions of things that are like things they already like. We know and like chocolate cake. We also know and like many strong stouts. So why was our initial reaction to tasting this beer to recoil?
It’s partly that it is out-and-out sweet, as if it’s been pepped up with a shot of coffee-flavouring syrup. It’s also partly the particular quality of that sweetness which has — bear with us — a bitter aftertaste. It took us a minute to pin it down but we got there eventually: it’s like the one time in your life when, against all advice, you nibble an artificial sweetener tablet made from saccharin.
The second defining characteristic is booziness, like a dose of Deep Heat in the throat and nasal passages. It hangs around, too, and we felt our heads filling up with fumes. It was warming and pleasant, though, rather than an ordeal — like training wheels for whisky.
It is also definitely woody, which we detected mostly in the aftertaste. Not that we eat much wood. We certainly don’t know what cypress tastes like. We thought of (social realist tasting note) lolly sticks. Or sheds. The fence section in a garden centre. This probably isn’t helpful, is it? ‘Woody’ will have to do.
As it warmed up and the head fell away we began to think of it less as beer and more as a vaguely chocolatey liqueur, dense and luscious, in which guise one bottle might serve four people in tiny wee sherry glasses. The sweetness seemed less jarring in this phase — maybe we’d just got used to it? — with an emerging suggestion of vanilla.
The final verdict: this is not really to our taste but is, we think, a good beer. There’s lots going on and it’s hardly the fault of a product with CAKE in the name and lactose listed on the label that we’re not keen on sugary-sweetness. There are certain people we know to whom we would recommend it even if we wouldn’t want to share the bottle with them. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, give it a go.
We forgot to include Dina’s notes in last week’s post about Mad Hatter Tzatziki Sour but have now updated it.