After the discovery that there are occasional examples of brewing magic in the New Forest at the Vibrant Forest Brewery, I have returned to the North for Sunday’s treat. Magic Rock are a Huddersfield brewery inspired by American craft brewing and possibly the dark arts. Having tried a few of their beers up north and been rather impressed, I was keen to get acquainted with their Bearded Lady (10.5%ABV) I had heard about. It’s an Imperial Brown Stout which pours a rich dark chocolate brown with a little bit of a frothy head which was short-lived in my glass, yet hung around a lot longer for the OH (a little weird!). As soon as you pour, you are hit with this big, complex aroma which is hoppy with dark berries and chocolate and a little bit naughty and decadant.
I have very little experience of Brown Imperial Stouts. Perhaps, like bearded ladies, they are fairly unusual. However if this is what I have been missing out on, I’d like to see more of them please. Although there is a hoppy overtone throughout, there is also an indulgent black forest gateaux flavour going on which is bitter and sweet at the same time. The high alcohol content gives it a strong but warming kick, a little like a boozy kirch cherry pudding and the mouth feel is luxuriously thick and velvety. There’s a long, dry, hoppy finish with a little sweet spice but those sumptuously mouth-watering black cherries stay with you.
I think this Bearded Lady and I could get along quite well. She’s dark, strong and complicated but also fruity, generous and fun – I don’t think this is the last time we’ll meet. Don’t worry if people stare, Bearded Lady – it’s because you are beautiful.