Hardknott’s Vitesse Noir

I like a back story to my beers, and you can always trust Dave Bailey and his gang over at Hardknott to provide one. It would seem that someone’s complained to The Portman Group about Vitesse Noir – and specifically, the use of the word ‘tonic’ on the label.

Now, like any other sane person, it didn’t even occur to me that VN may not, in the strictest of senses, be a ‘tonic’. The words ‘Triple Imperial Vanilla Mocha Stout‘ were much more interesting to me. TIVMS? Surely…not? That’s a lot to fit in, even for Dave and Hardknott.

Vitesse Noir turns out to be one of those beers I really must seek out on cask (although I fear I may have missed the boat). For the 11%abv –  which, by the way, is nowhere to be tasted – it’s surprisingly easy to drink, despite clearly being one to savour. The thinnest of tan-shaded heads disappears quickly, leaving a glass full of black. The nose carries a few Umami-esque notes – a slight hint of Soy – along with an unexpected fresh Blackcurrant note. Sipping, those notes come through, only to be joined by some Pine,  Espresso and Black Chocolate. It’s the black, bitter chocolate note that dominates; in a grainy, almost red-fruit way that good black chocolate carries. There’s a full mouthfeel, and the finish is sweet and ever-so-fleeting with the alcohol warmth.

I must admit, I didn’t get much Vanilla from the beer; which is why I’d like to try it casked to see if any hidden depths emerge. That mention of Vanilla also got my foodie synapses firing; I’d have loved to have had a slice of Vanilla Cheesecake to hand. Or some Orange Truffles. Or some White Chocolate Mousse.  Or, simply, some Mince Pies. See? I find it hard to switch off, sometimes. This is a beer that would be great on the dining table; and I don’t mean that in a throwaway this-is-a-cooking-beer way, you must understand. There are possibilities here.

Don’t read too much into the label. Just pour it, open a good book or put a good film or album on, and enjoy it.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 05/01/2012, in Beer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I bought a couple of bottles and drank one last night, which had been doorstep aged, I don’t think this affected it much though 🙂
    I’m with you on the ‘tonic’ nonsense…who in their right mind would read this and think they should prescibe themselves a bottle of Vitesse Noir with every meal. Some people!
    I loved it, a sipping beer, not so much for the strength (although 11% should be respected), but to savour the depth of flavour. Hats off to Hardknott.

  2. I managed to get this on keg at the Free Trade Inn during Twissup Newcastle and was also lucky to get a case of the first batch, six for drinking and sharing another six for ageing. I reckon these will be even more complex in a few years time.
    On the taste front I would agree that the vanilla is a little lost, it is there but swallowed up by the powerful chocolate and roasty espresso flavours, maybe that could be upped a little more by the Hardknott gang on future brews if it’s what they want to achieve.
    I supped one steadily one afternoon over Christmas week, I’m not sure if it’s the caffeine or the alcohol but it gives you a warm tingly feeling all over, marvellous stuff.

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