This week, I’m delving a little deeper into a beer I’ve briefly covered before – Hook Norton’s Double Stout, which also happens to be a personal favorite of mine.
For a while, it was actually my favorite beer and a solid staple in my household throughout the winter months. To be honest though, I’ve somewhat lost touch with it in recent years since my local grocery store stopped stocking it. Shame!
On that note today’s review will be interesting as my experience of stouts has broadened quite a bit since those early days, so i’m curious to see how it measures up after all these years!
About the brewer…
As one of only 32 remaining family owned brewers in the country, Hook Norton are a wonderfully traditional British brewery to be proud of. Their fantastically preserved Victorian Tower Brewery is nestled in the beautiful Cotswold landscape, and utilises a fascinating mix of traditional and modern brewing techniques. Of particular note is the steam powered pump used to lift water to the top storey – quite novel in this day and age. If that wasn’t enough, their beautiful traditional shire horses are a sight to be seen and they even still use them to deliver the beers locally. (Book a brewery tour on the first Saturday of every month to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures).
Besides my brief description above, the video below should give you an idea of just how special the brewery is:
Hook Norton Double Stout Reviewed
On first nose, there is an inviting aroma of rich espresso, chocolate and oaky vanilla finished off with a subtle dark fruit note.
Moving swiftly on to the taste, the flavor upfront is surprisingly sweet, but rapidly builds into a roasty crescendo and slight oaky flavour (similar to a dark roast coffee enhanced by vanilla). The aftertaste quickly reveals itself as dry, dark, cocoa rich bitter chocolate.
It’s also worth noting that it’s a bottle conditioned beer, and subsequently, the carbonation is relatively subtle with a smooth silky mouthfeel and well rounded flavor.
So: is this still my favorite beer? Or have years of developing my palate changed my perception forever?
Generally, I still love this beer but I’ve grown fond of a little more roasted (almost burnt toast) flavors in my stouts. A brewery by the name of Banks & Taylor make an excellent example of the kind of stout I’m referring too called the Edwin Taylor Extra Stout; check it out if you like heavily roasted barley flavours.
On the other hand, if borderline burnt flavors (a good tasting note for stouts by the way) aren’t your thing – you’ll likely find the Hook Norton Stout to be a far more balanced genteel affair; best served with your roast pork on a Sunday followed by an evening in your favorite fireside armchair. Heaven on a cold winter night!
Beautifully balanced traditionally brewed stout with comforting espresso coffee notes.
I’d like a little more robust bitterness, but your milage may vary.
Roasted meat, Oyster
Time of Year
TA Brews rating: 3.7/5