29 September 2010

Please think of the tourists

Series beers are all well and good, generally speaking. It's pleasant to sit down with a range of beers which have been brewed to have something in common, and which are presented in co-ordinated outfits (though to actually do so may occasionally be inadvisable). Maybe it's the collector gene firing, but having completed a whole series of beers is much more satisfying than having just ticked one.

The unfortunate side effect is when the drinker doesn't get the chance to complete the series. I spotted Dark Horse's five matching stouts, in their oh-so-arty bottles, on the shelves of Ølbutikken with my hands already full of other goodies. The third one in the series struck me as especially interesting, but it felt wrong to take it while leaving the other -- doubtless excellent, but not as weird -- beers behind. Yet I didn't have a choice. Damn you, Dark Horse: if you hadn't decided to number them I'd wouldn't now be feeling I've missed something.

But enough ethics and angst; the beer I came away with is called Tres and is something I've never seen nor even heard tell of before: a blueberry stout. From the dark brown head on a treacle-thick body I took it to be a strong one, an opinion backed up by the heady chocolate liqueur aroma and foretaste of smoke, vanilla, cocoa and marzipan. It tastes very much from the imperial school of stout-making. No ABV appears on the label and I was very surprised on looking it up to discover that it's a mere 4.5% ABV. Session strength imperial stout? Yeah, I could go for that.

And where are the blueberries in all this, I hear you cry. Well, they're there, hanging on at the tail end for dear life. I couldn't be at all sure if real fruit was used as it's a slightly syrupy, sweet flavour. It could pass unnoticed very easily, I think, were the drinker not informed in advance of its presence. I question whether it really adds anything much to a beer which was already a powerhouse of taste.

A positive assessment for this one overall, and it's good enough that the absence of major blueberries isn't upsetting or annoying. It's enjoyable for what it is, distinct from any individual ingredient and from any of its sibling stouts. Which I'll probably spend the rest of my days seeking.


  1. Looks like you're going to have to go back to Ølbutikken to pick up the rest of the series (but then you might find something else interesting there), or just go straight to the source and book a trip to Michigan. I highly recommend the beers and breweries there, but I'd suggest visiting in the summer unless you're into cooler temps.

  2. I tend to regard anywhere where temperatures regularly fall outside 0-20°C as basically unfit for human habitation. For this human, anyway.