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.
Posted on 05/01/2012, in Beer and tagged Beer for Chocolate, Beer in Cumbria, Hardknott Brewery, Imperial Stout, Real Ale, The Portman Group, Vanilla, Vitesse Noir. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.