Name of beer
Lemon and Vanilla Oatmeal Stout
What the brewer says
Somewhat refreshingly, there is no brewer bumph to wade through on this bottle, which merely tells us that the Lemon and Vanilla Oatmeal Stout (actually its name, rather than a description), is, like all Northern Alchemy products, “unfined, unfiltered, natural beer”.
What is “unfined”? Well, it takes a keener eye than mine in a beer as dark as this, but, essentially, it means “cloudy”. Certain components in beer making, such as hop oils and yeast, have a “haze” to them, but are beneficial to the flavour and quality. However, certainly in the UK, we are almost bred to reject cloudy beer. Other countries are embracing unfined beers far more quickly than we are, but it’s catching on.
Stout is a beer style that reminds me of days before I got into ale in any meaningful way. The word conjures thoughts of a dark, heavy beer, that is sold as a generic, rather than a specific brand. What stout is, is a term for stronger or “stouter” porter, made with roasted malt or roasted barley.
Initially, it has a fruitier aroma than you would expect from such a beer, but which ties in with the lemon and vanilla label. However, you can taste the roasted flavours long after you’ve swallowed the beer. Indeed, the strongest flavour hits at the back of the sides of the mouth just as it goes down, and that’s where the taste gets really interesting.
Anyway, I sense a beard growing…
Put simply, if you’re looking for flavour, something different from the standards on the bar, you’ve got it in this neat, unassuming 330ml bottle.
Northern Alchemy’s “lab” is at The Cumberland Arms pub, in Newcastle. Some years ago, I visited the Cumberland, which sits in the thriving cultural centre of Ouseburn. As I walked in, it had a hugely traditional feel, with a room full of older gents having a musical jam on the ground floor. Upstairs, young musicians put on a great performance. The mix of traditional and young creativity matches this stout perfectly.
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I’m 44, I don’t (always) have a beard (partly because when I try it is patchy, has gaps, with ginger and grey bits) and don’t take a clipboard to the pub. So, I’m not the stereotypical real ale fan of old, in the style that I was always told to look out for...read more