12 July 2010

One out of three ain't good

It's not Nutty Black, it's Very Nutty Black: this is Thwaite's super-charged mild with the ABV savagely ramped up to 3.9% ABV from the usual 3.3 -- handle with care.

Once you're safely strapped in and have popped the cap with your asbestos bottle opener you'll find a beer that pours promisingly black with a nice tan head. The texture is velvety smooth and the flavour is... really quite boring, actually. I'm looking for the roasted coffee notes that one would expect from a mild but there's no sign of them. I've always liked Thwaites beers in the past and I know they're the sort of brewer that can pack all sorts of interesting stuff into a low-ABV package, but this isn't one of those. Yes it's slightly dry and if you concentrate really hard you might get a whisper of plums, but there's little else. There's certainly nothing that I would count as even remotely nutty. But it is black: I'll grant them that.


  1. hah - I actually liked this. Really. Better than 'regular' Nutty Black, anyway!

  2. I've always liked this but my last bottle was less good. Get on cask (preferably straddling the Pennines in a small village) and perhaps try another bottle...there is some nut in there, honest!

  3. "Get on cask" is would suspect that the bottled version may not be as good!

    "There's certainly nothing that I would count as even remotely nutty." Nut brown ales has nothing to do with nut flavour or aroma its two do with a turn of the 20th century song!

  4. If nut flavour is not part of the equation then the use of an intensifier is completely inappropriate.

  5. I suspect the name may be an attempt at a play of the expression "nutty slack", a type of coal.

    Personally I don't expect to find roasted coffee notes in a dark mild except way down in the mix, and if I get roasted coffee notes front and centre I'm likely to stick that beer in the circle marked "porter", though that may just be my age …

    Oh, and Oblivious, "nut brown ale" as an expression goes at least as far back as John Milton in the 17th century:

    "Young and old come forth to play
    On a Sunshine Holyday,
    Till the live-long day-light fail:
    Then to the Spicy Nut-brown Ale"

    (L'Allegro, 1645)

  6. Wow interesting, thanks Martyn. I learned something new today... who knew Milton was dropping references to nut brown ales.

    What's the best example of a nut brown ale these days? Maybe Sam Smith's Nut Brown?

  7. I don't think there's a formal style here. If it's an ale and it's brown-coloured I think it can be described as such. Milton's use of the Lovibond scale was limited.

  8. Ah very good Martyn, that does push the date back a bit :)

  9. And when he writes "Spicy Nut-brown Ale"... ?

  10. With, I'm guessing, little to no hops (ale rather than beer) spices are to be expected, I'd have thought.