One of things that happen when you write a beer blog is that people constantly come up to you and say ‘I had this beer on the weekend, it was really good.’
Because I’m friendly I ask what it was. I then get “Oh man, don’t remember, it had an elephant on it though.” Vague descriptions of names and labels generally aren’t helpful. Sometimes I can guess it, by thinking what is likely to be available at the local Uncle Dan’s, I’ll then congratulate them on trying something different and assure them it’s a good beer.
So when good friend Claire wandered into work one day and told me about a ‘Great beer I tried, it was called Tom’s something,” I looked at her flummoxed. I took a guess that maybe she was thinking of Tom’s Amber Ale from Bootleg, but she assured me that wasn’t it.
She looked disappointed in me; it would appear that the simple fact that I have enough spare time to write a blog makes people think I know things about beer. Here is the lowdown, I really, really don’t, all I’ve done is work out a way to get free beer from time to time and waste some time at work.
But this Tom beer haunted me. Typing ‘Tom’ in Beer Advocate got me nowhere as it produced about 20 beers with Tom in the title (Tom Selleck’s Moustache by Iron Hill Brewery being my favourite). I gave up the search, because a) I’m lazy and b) I do have to work occasionally.
Fast forward to the next weekend, I’d been drinking at Wesley Anne in Northcote on a not so pleasant, rainy Sunday afternoon. Myself and Jord stumble out and look for a tram home, there is a ten minute wait, I spot a bottle shop across the road from the tram stop and decide to check it out. I wander in and search the fridges and there it is, Chocolate Tom. It is Old Tom Bitter (which I assume Claire was drinking) with chocolate. It was fate, I had to buy it.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and it’s raining again so I’m looking for a warming beer whilst settling in with a book. This is the perfect beer for this. Everything about this beer seems comforting.
It starts with the old school bottle with embossed lettering and a picture of a cat on it. This continues after you pour it in the glass, presenting itself as a dark amber colour with a white head. A deep sniff finds a great sweet chocolate scent – decadent.
It’s a very nice beer and has a dense, silky mouthfeel. The powdered chocolate is the obvious standout, but really this is fleeting, only there in the mid sip (but getting more and more evident as the beer warmed up). The lasting, lingering aftertaste is actually more of a toffee malted old style English bitter, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
This could have easily been a gimmick beer, but it is better than that, it starts with a good base product and adds to it rather than detracts – Pint.