Few edible substances are as divisive as chilli. Some can’t take the slightest hint of heat while others openly weep in the painful pleasure of dousing themselves in the hottest thing they can lay their hands on. Similarly, in beer it can provide an interesting enhancer to the natural spiciness and capsicum-like characters offered by some hop varieties, or it can be loaded up in doses that are borderline lethal. Flat Rock’s Chilli Stout sits in the latter category. Apparently, the steam from the wort burned the brewer’s eyes and the cleaning of the tanks required extra protective gear. It’s a beer fuelled by fire.
You get your first less-than-subtle clue through the aroma but it’s on the palate where potential turns to promise, a scorching chilli kick working in tandem with what seems to be an upfront sweetness. As that diminishes ever so slightly following your first hit the beer shows up more capsicum character, with the chilli still running down the sides of your mouth like a flaming railroad. As you get further in, acclimatising every sip, you’ll gradually pick out more of a classic stout character, layers of chocolate and coffee lurking beneath. This is by no means a bad beer, but it is spicy. For every person that finds that fact confronting there’s also a reminder that some like hot. If you’re in the latter camp, this one’s for you.
Spice of another nature comes to the fore in the Belgian Dubbel. The brief was to create something resembling Christmas pudding so they gave this a dose of stewed fruit and cinnamon. The aromas are of raisin and brown sugar with some light fruity esters from the yeast, while the action in your mouth gets focused squarely on the rich malt sweetness throwing forward flavours ranging from caramel to prunes. While the cinnamon and accompanying spice character is there in low doses, it does get a bit hidden beneath all the sweetness. Which is fine really, given sweetness is pretty much the point of pudding.
- Chilli Stout & Belgian Dubbel
- 6.0% & 6.3%