I occasionally drink Sam Smith’s Extra Stout (the one on the pumps) when I just want a half of something, and don’t fancy a “pure-brewed lager”. Usually, it’s a black and fluffy white Guinness clone, albeit one with marginally more flavour. But yesterday, I had a half in the Fitzroy which knocked my socks off.
1. It didn’t seem to have been nitro smooth-flowed to death — it was still creamy, but not like someone had put shaving foam on top.
2. The head was that pleasing tan you get on good stouts, instead of the usual glacial white.
3. It was warmer than usual (that is, several degrees above freezing).
4. The body wasn’t a scary, opaque, artificial black — it was dark red, and clear.
4. It was delicious: coffee, chocolate, a little note of sourness, and some salt — just perfect, to my mind.
What’s going on? Is there a cask variant which some pubs have and others don’t? (As is the case with some of Sam Smith’s bitters.) Or have they changed the recipe?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find out. The brewery’s aversion to “modern ways” means they’re not online and don’t really do press releases. The bar staff in the pub were none the wiser, either. Hmm.