57. By The Horns Brewing Co. - Lambeth Walk 5.1%
"Any time you're Lambeth way, any evening any day, you'll find them all ... doing the Lambeth Walk!" is a line from a song in the 1937 musical Me And My Girl. The plot centres around Bill Snibson, a cheeky Cockney chappy who finds out via a contrived and convoluted plot line that he is in fact the 14th heir to the title of the (fictional) Earl Of Hareford.
For me it brings into focus an 'Old Time Music Hall' production by a local youth club that my mother was involved with in the mid-Seventies. I recall time spent in the church hall watching rehearsal after rehearsal, plastic cups full of orange squash, Belgian buns and doughnuts. The reason this particular song comes to the fore is because after the line that I've quoted at the top of the previous paragraph, the entire assembled cast, dressed in suitably dodgy Cockney attire (flat caps, braces, cor-blimey trousers, etc.) would yell "Oi !!!" at the top of their lungs, frightening the living daylights out of the audience and ensuring their full attention from there-on in.
Of course, they don't really do the Lambeth walk in Lambeth. Sadly you will not find rows of Pearly Kings and Queens arm in arm with barrow boys and the Artful Dodger parading up and down outside Lambeth Palace in the evening sunshine with an air of glib abandon and bonhomie that only ever existed in films coming out of Elstree or Hollywood. Still, it's nice to imagine ... possibly.
Porter on the other hand is very much a reality, being the name of a style of beer that originated in London and its associations are unequivocal. Much has been written and debated, discovered and dismissed about how it came about and how it came to get its name so I won't be going into that here, however should you want to find out more then you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy of Martin Cornell's book Amber, Gold And Black. This particular beer was one I had on cask (my second of the day) at this years Great British Beer Festival and have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it although my exact recollections are a little hazy, but it's the By The Horns bottled version that I'll be reviewing here.
Pouring an inky dark-brown edged black with a thin beige head, it's the absolutely gorgeous aroma of this beer that grabs you firmly by the nostrils and bewitches you with its magnificent and magical fragrance. There's plenty of chocolate as you might expect, but this particular brand is the most wonderfully unctuous milk chocolate made by the most skilful of chocolatiers using the finest of cocoa beans and double cream from cows fed on the greenest most luscious grass. There's a light touch of vanilla custard coming through too and right at the very back there's some liquorice and black coffee, and perhaps some raspberries peeping over the rim of the glass but they are frankly failing to get any attention at all as the heavenly milk chocolate flaunts itself openly and envelops your senses. Surprisingly crisp as it skips over the tongue initially, it drags itself back with a light effervescence and a little oiliness bringing with it that all the delicious flavour that its heady perfume promised. There's plenty of black coffee here, but its been adulterated with a few drops of milk and a drop or two of brandy for good measure, and then along comes the chocolate although far from being the milky gorgeous type that you were fooled into thinking it would be it is instead dark, intense and bitter with a creamy vanilla punctuation right at the end. The finish is more deliciously creamy chocolate that lays easily on the tongue highlighted with an accent of bitterness, making you lick your lips as you enjoy its resonance for a considerable while.
This is simply a beautiful well-crafted beer. Often with porters that exhibit an aroma that promises much, the body can be thin and the flavours muted before it disappears all too quickly leaving behind a suggestion of coffee and chocolate, but this beer is most definitely the real deal. It really is superb.
Buy some, drink it and enjoy.