This week seems to have attracted several beers of strength and darkness to Huddersfield, all of which are interesting and different in their own way and all of which are worth a try. Thankfully they are spread around different pubs giving you the chance to walk off their not inconsiderable strength.
The Kings Head provides Yorkshire Dales 'Blackstone'. At 5.9%, a thick black stout that goes down a treat like most of the breweries beer, and provides a useful benchmark against other dark beers showing me why I think a lot of darker stuff, especially milds, taste so thin. To be dark and tasty I feel they need strength to carry off the malts used, and to allow some of the hop character to show through. This one certainly scores on all counts.
If you make your way to The Grove, they provide three dark beers at present. The Brentwood 'Marvellous Maple Mild' is 3.7%, and not marvellous but I cannot dispute it being a mild, but lacks body. There is also Wentworth 'Short & Stout', which at 4.5% is certainly stronger, but again I expected more as it was thin and short on flavour. The third is Thornbridge 'Raven' at 6.6%. Unfortunately I feel Thornbridge beers are not what they were, and this offering seems to fall between two stools. It is a dark beer certainly, but the clip describes it a 'Dark IPA', which I would think could be a deliberate contradiction in terms! There are plenty of hops but they are masked by the malts and the whole offering tasted unbalanced to me.
The Star does offer a couple more variations. The Bridestones 'Whisky Dark Mild' comes in at 4.5% and was not to my personal taste, but those who know their Highland malts say that there is an underlying peatiness which characterizes the breed and translates well into the beer. It is certainly different. The pick of the bunch along with the previously mentioned 'Blackstone' is the Crown 'Django Reinheart'. This is a 6.3% 'Damson double porter' whatever that means. It does have the body that others lacked and has plenty of fruit flavour, but does not overpower, making it far too drinkable for a beer of its strength. In short, it is a dangerous beer!
It is well worth a wander about to try these beers as your opinion may well be different to mine - I just hope you find some that you enjoy. And on the subject of dark beers, look out for Mallinsons 'Oatmeal Stout' which has now started to appear in bottles - a great Xmas present for the dark beer lover.