And very good beer it was, as well. Darkstar Expresso Stout is a rich, satisfying stout that definitely does what is says on the label. Compare that with the recent poor offering from Meantime and I think Meantime’s brewers should hang their head in shame. Its stablemate-Darkstar Hophead was also in excellent condition. No need to say anything more about this beer except it lived up to its reputation as one of the greatest session beers around. Naturally both were served as the Good Lord intended-handpulled and with sparkler. For a jest, I tried the Hophead without sparkler. As Tandleman says, condition is everything, and this was proved as the beer was fine without it. However, as everyone knows, the sparkler doesn’t deliver a big head, or mitigate bitterness, but intensifies what can be subtle flavours. In Hophead’s case, it brought grapefruit to the fore, with a resulting fruit explosion in the aftertaste.
Talking of TM, sadly he couldn’t be there to witness this sparkler validation. Indeed, without his sex appeal and the drinking capabilities of the Wallsend Wonder, we were short on heavy hitters. However, we persevered and we had the Hophead drunk by 9pm, with a sizeable dint in the Expresso as well. Although how much of that was left after Archimedes had finished his “quality testing” yesterday, is anyone’s guess. It was a good time to leave anyway as pint pots were beginning to get weary. I wanted to go home, but Eddie, the eager, legal beagle convinced me that the cure was more beer. I begged him, but he insisted we call in at the Trackside. Here we tried the new house beer-Piston Broke. This is a 3.9% offering from Outstanding. And rather strange it was too. Light in colour, it weighed in much stronger than it really was, with a sour bitterness that wasn’t very appealing. Cottage Whippet Clause was phenolic-another no goer. With Darkstar proving so hard to follow, we drowned our sorrows in a series of Jevers. Finally, when the last bell had tolled, Eddie let us leave. One chip muffin later and it was a slow weave home.