QUICK POST: Alphabet Brewing Co Flat White Breakfast Stout

Flat White Breakfast Stout.

This beer was part of a batch ordered from Beer Ritz and paid for by Patreon subscribers like Simon Branscombe and Jared Kiraly – thanks, chaps!

We chose this par­tic­u­lar beer because it came up as a sug­ges­tion in last year’s Gold­en Pints. A 330ml can at 7.4% ABV cost £3.19.

The can is rather cool look­ing and the name is appeal­ing: break­fast is a love­ly word for starters, and flat white (a small amount of smooth steamed milk over espres­so) is just about hang­ing in there as the hip cof­fee prepa­ra­tion of the day even though you can now get them in Greg­gs.  We can imag­ine this crop­ping up in cafes and delis, appeal­ing to peo­ple who might not oth­er­wise be that into beer.

We don’t know much about Alpha­bet oth­er than that a friend of a friend who was in the process of set­ting up a brew­ery in Man­ches­ter tells us they’re nice peo­ple, and that cans of their Hoi Pol­loi pil­sner we tried ear­li­er this year were decent enough.

The name hints at the styl­is­tic gim­mick at the heart of this beer: it is a stout but not black as we’ve come to expect. This is idea with some his­tor­i­cal basis pre­vi­ous­ly mined most notably by Durham Brew­ery. One imme­di­ate prob­lem, though, is that, though pale for a stout, it is by no means white. In fact, it is red­dish brown – the least remark­able colour for beer oth­er than yel­low. So an excit­ing propo­si­tion – Won­der At the Freak­ish White Stout! – is any­thing but in exe­cu­tion. ‘Pale’ might bet­ter have set our expec­ta­tions but even that would be push­ing it. Still, it did look appetis­ing enough on its own terms, clear and gleam­ing.

The sec­ond prob­lem, unfor­tu­nate­ly, was a big stale aro­ma that caused us to recoil rather than to smack our lips in antic­i­pa­tion. Where there ought to have been per­haps a touch of smoke or fruit there was a sort of damp, dirty base­ment stink – the wrong kind of dank alto­geth­er.

Once we’d got past that (aro­mas recede after the ini­tial encounter) the taste was inter­est­ing, def­i­nite­ly dark-tast­ing (because dark is a flavour in beer), slight­ly spicy, with some sug­ges­tion of cher­ry, and a lot of burnt cream. The resem­blance to cof­fee, in oth­er words, was specif­i­cal­ly to those sweet­ened, flavoured, very milky dessert cof­fees that abound at this time of year. We did­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly like it, just as we don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly like that kind of cof­fee, but we can see how it might appeal to palates oth­er than ours.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly that stal­e­ness was a deal-break­er. This can was the­o­ret­i­cal­ly good for anoth­er few weeks, until 17 Decem­ber, and has been stored in the cool and dark since we bought it, but we’d say it actu­al­ly expired some time ago. And, once again, like a stuck record, we have to point the fin­ger at dodgy pack­ag­ing, or pack­ag­ing process­es. We’re get­ting more and more wary of cans from small­er brew­eries, espe­cial­ly when they cost as much as a pint of ale at our local. In this case, we feel a bit swiz­zed.

2 thoughts on “QUICK POST: Alphabet Brewing Co Flat White Breakfast Stout”

  1. Had it on keg – so the con­di­tion was fine, but I did­n’t get any ‘stou­ti­ness’.

    First impres­sion: a decent mid-strength bar­ley wine. Sec­ond impres­sion: a decent mid-strength bar­ley wine with cof­fee and per­haps some sweet­ness from lac­tose. Over­all impres­sion: a decent mid-strength bar­ley wine, which could prob­a­bly have done with­out the cof­fee and the lac­tose.

  2. Sor­ry to say I’ve had a cou­ple of dodgy cans from Alpha­bet; I don’t both­er with them now.

    On keg they’re gen­er­al­ly pret­ty good, and it’s worth pop­ping into their tap if you ever find your­self in Man­ches­ter with time on your hands.

Comments are closed.