Chocolate Tom

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.

Holgate Temptress & Mildura Choc Hops

Prologue I’m a firm believer in beers for all occasions. Because I’m a very client focussed, web 6.7 type of person I like to give back to my readers. In this spirit I found you a beer for Christmas so that you could make it through those long boring hours with your relatives. And becuase I’m super nice I’ve found you not one but two Easter Beers.

Easter time, the world’s most boring holiday. If you live in Melbourne this holiday is made even worse by the Good Friday appeal, where you have to put up with John Deeks interviewing with sick kids (they are sick John, for Christs sake leave them the fuck alone) and Home & Away stars butchering the names of Melbourne suburbs. “Fannie from Packing Ham would like to pledge $25, but she’ll double it if I read it out of TV so everyone knows that she’s such a giving person.”

Oh and it doesn’t get any better later in the weekend, particularly this year as it rolls into Anzac day so you’ll have to put up with those god awful McDonald’s ads where the friendly staff give the old digger a free cup of coffee. The old guy fought for this country, and the best you can do is a luke warm tasteless black liquid in a paper cup, How about honouring him properly, and get a real job, like joining the army or something, or at the very least get a haircut you hippy.

And then there is the ‘traditional’ ANZAC day clash between Essendon and Collingwood. Bruce McAvaney will remind us a thousand times that this game of football is a integral part of the day, and liken the battle of 36 men paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each chasing a ball around for two hours to a nightmarish military campaign that lasted for eight months where you regularly had to dodge bullets, live in muddy disease ridden trenches and 130,784 people died.

There are only two possible ways to make it through this weekend:

  1. Flee Melbourne. (which is what I will be doing/have done) Search for somewhere where they don’t do care if you ‘give that they may grow’ couldn’t care less about the AFL and don’t know who Bruce is.    
  2. Failing this, Drink Beer

If you choose option two, you should choose something appropriate though. Nothing says Easter like chocolate so my thoughts turned to Chocolate beers. Instantly I went out a grabbed what is reported to be Australia’s best chocolate porter – Holgate Temptress, and becuase I like a bit of competition I’ll pit it against the ‘made specially for Easter’ beer – Choc Hops by Mildura Brewery.

Packaging:  I love the Holgate Bull. But I hate this label. It has a strange stained glass effect to it which cuts up the label in strange way with black lines. And then there is the choice of colours, green, yellow and orange don’t say chocolate to me. I know it’s clichéd but I would prefer browns or purples.

The Choc Hops is a study in packaging brilliance. They know this beer will be given to Dads who don’t like Easter Eggs and therefore they have packaged it up in a nice two pack, with black and gold everywhere – all in all classy, and gift worthy.  

Appearance: A good porter or stout almost looks like a great espresso coffee. It will be a deep black colour, topped with a creamy brown head, which should resemble the crema on a well made coffee. Both the Choc Hops and the Temptress is a good looking porter/stouts.   

Smell: The Temptress smells very strong. Chocolate and coffee tones, but also alcohol. In fact it  reminds me of Kahlua liquer. The smell from the Choc Hops is more faint, but with definate coffee tones.

Taste: The Temptress is surprisingly gassy in the mouth, at least until you work your way into the glass. Following the gas is the hop bitterness, but this is fleeting and then there is an bittersweet aftertaste of dark chocolate.

I think the Choc Hops has a slightly fruiter taste (and certinaly more fruit than when I had it at the Microbrewers showcase) The fruit is in the front of the sip, but there is still powdered chocolate in the aftertaste. It’s not a highly carbonated as the Temptress and it quite a luxurious brew.

In conclusion:  The Temptress isnot as luxurious as the Choc Hops or as sweet as sometime like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, there are a few too many hops for that, having said that it’s that slight bitterness is what makes it so drinkable and refreshing. The Choc Hops is less sessionable, and more gimmicky. They are both great beers but I think I prefer the Holgate Temptress.

So instead of giving everyone chocolate this Easter, why not give them beer? They will feel a lot better after drinking either of these than eating a mountain of chocolate. Probably not great for the kiddies though.        

Ranking: 

Holgate Temptress: A Jug Please     

Mildura Choc Hops: I’ll have a Pint Thanks