They were the darkest of times.

The VALE/EXP 001

Melbourne seems to be steadfastly holding onto winter even though I’m fully of the opinion that as it’s mid-August it’s about time the sun came out to play so I can go back up on to my balcony and sip a nice fruity pale ale. But it hasn’t and I haven’t, rather I’m left donning my possum wool scarf and gloves, taking refuge in warm pubs and bracing myself with high alcohol dark beers, like the two I’m going to tell you about today.

The first of these beers comes from an unexpected source, McLaren Vale Beer Company, of Vale Ale fame.  Now I had dismissed them as ‘producing little more than gateway craft beers’ and ‘more interested in fancy packaging than what was in it.’ But as they now have their own brewery (which I assume they can now afford as they made gateway craft beers that appealed to a wide range of people, and had a eye for design and marketing) they are experimenting a bit more.

And the first of the VALE/EXP range – nicely called VALE/EXP 001 is an oatmeal stout which I stumbled upon the last time I was at Young & Jackson’s . This was a stunning looking beer, partly because Y&J’s serve their porters in goblet glasses  but mostly because it’s a wonderful dark colour with a thick creamy head. It didn’t disappoint on tasting either, with a silky smooth mouthfeel. It’s certainly on the sweeter side of the stout ledger, without slipping into the obvious chocolate or coffee tastes favoured by many. All in all a very good after dinner beer and a pleasant surprise – Pint.

Next up is a very highly rated beer from the US of A, the Heretic Shallow Grave Porter. Now this experience starts with the bottle (which I have to admit is the only reason I bought it) I do love a beer that appears to have been brewed by the devil. As you can see from the photo this was another dark beer with a head that strayed more into the foamy than creamy territory.  Not surprisingly being American it is higher hopped than I hoped (try saying that five times fast), which I thought was more evident in the smell than the taste, also coming through was just a hint of burnt malt. The taste was a touch on the boozy side for my liking, in fact I thought it tasted a little like one of those fancy chocolates with the liquid rum centre. Pint.

Long Bow YouTube Clip: It kind of feels like Metallica would drink Shallow Grave, it was a tough choice between this – Enter Sandman and One, but I assumed you don’t have 7 mins 24 seconds free to watch the video for One.

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