After leaving the crates in a warm(ish) cupboard for a couple of weeks, we’re ready to crack open the first bottle. I chill it for a day in the fridge (even stout should be drunk cold, in the middle of summer) and after tea (and after the kids are out of the way) I reach for the bottle opener.
A little disappointingly, there is hardly a ‘pssscht’ when I lift the lid. I don’t think it’s carbonated (very much), and pouring it into the glass confirms my suspicions. Barely a bubble in sight. However, it looks OK (almost impenetrably dark, but not cloudy when held up to the light) and smells great. How does it taste? Pretty good, sweetish with a bitter aftertaste. No off-tastes or tangs. Oh well, back in the cupboard for another couple of weeks.
Summer duly arrives with a vengeance, and those extra two weeks in the bottle (back in January, I’m playing catch-up here) make all the difference. The second one to be opened makes a hugely satisfying hiss, and generates a modest head when decanted into the glass. It’s a much rawer and coarser foam than that impossibly fine and silky stuff you get on Guinness, but it’s a hell of an improvement on the no-foam from a couple of weeks ago.
Taste has improved too, it’s got a better aftertaste now. Brilliant, I’m going to enjoy drinking this bad boy.