Friday, 12 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
11. Moncada Brewery - Notting Hill Stout 5.0%

I almost had my first encounter with Moncada Brewery around a year ago when I discovered they would be supplying a few casks for the Chelmsford Beer Festival. I'd previously heard some good things about the beer, and the brewery was then just under a year old. Unfortunately I was unable to sample their wares as their beers were not available the day I went, which was to my considerable annoyance, so I had to make do with drinking Struise Tsjeeses instead (life is cruel, but then good again sometimes - thanks @tdtm82 ). Julio Moncada (founder in the autumn of 2011 of the eponymous brewery) had every intention of opening a delicatessen when, after attending a course on brewing, he had a change of heart and a change of direction. Born in Argentina, he had settled in West London, with premises around the corner from Portobello Road in Notting Hill (after which all the beers are named) and has attempted to source his raw ingredients within a 100 mile radius of London whenever possible. This information and much more is readily available on the brewery website which I'd recommend spending the time to take a look around if you haven't already.
Notting Hill Stout is the newest addition to the range, is of the oatmeal variety and is available in both 330ml and 500ml bottles both bottle-conditioned and with two different labels. It's the 500ml that I'll be drinking tonight, it's no different to the smaller version, it's just that I fancy a bigger bottle of beer this evening (been that kind of day).
It pours a delightful 'oil-slick' midnight brown with the thinnest white-coffee head, but this quickly disappears. The aroma is exactly like a good cup of quality coffee served with milk. There's a little bitter chocolate in there too, an a little tyre rubber (it reminds me a of the rubbery smell I encounter when changing the tyres on my mountain bike) but it's the coffee that's all encompassing here. Roughing up the tip of the tongue and the back of the throat, it's smooth as silk over the middle. Unsurprisingly there's lots of coffee and dark chocolate in the flavour, but it is only about half way down the glass that the hops reveal themselves with a whisper of dark prune and a mention of zesty lime smothered in chocolate. The finish is incredibly smooth too and, in amongst the bitterness, there's a faint weave of creamy fruitiness that steadfastly refuses my attempts to identify it. The words that spring to mind when descibing this beer are 'refined' and 'accomplished'. It is full of flavour with no trace of alcohol apparent and simply about as good as a stout can be. I don't really need to add any more.

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