This week's monster beer has been lurking at the back of my cupboard for a very long time, but as it's apparently been matured in oak casks for over a year it's not exactly going to let a little age worry it.
Part of the reason it's languished so long, to be honest, is because of the brewery it came from. You see, I had been planning to open it for last April's #OpenIt event but it coincided with a rather depressing story about one of Samuel Smith's pubs treating their gay clientele shamefully. I couldn't blame the brewery for the initial incident – people make bad decisions in the workplace after all – but rather for their resolute determination not to make any comment on the story; as far as I can tell they never made a statement or issued an apology. I didn't, frankly, want to give them the business.
But, beer is beer and the brewery already has my money. Besides, it wouldn't be fair for the beer to suffer for it's makers transgressions. And so, I give you the Yorkshire Stingo, a 9.0% beast from Tadcaster.
Samuel Smith are a very traditional brewery, the oldest in Yorkshire with more than 250 years of experience under it's belt. They still brew in 'Yorkshire Squares', huge square fermenting vessels made from local slate, and still brew with water from the well sunk back in 1758 when the brewery was founded. Their yeast goes back two centuries, they still have a horse drawn dray cart and they even have their own cooperage.
In short, they couldn't be much more traditional if they paid their staff in beer. I'm not going to get some sort of crazy American Pale Ale dripping with Cascade hops from a brewery like this.
For some reason I am expecting something as black as pitch, but in the glass it actually is more of a mid brown beer, with a thin but fine bubbled, very well lingering head. The aroma is huge, with sweet dates and raisins, some rich caramel and just a hint of alcohol. I think the best way to sum it up is to imagine a glass full of christmas pudding.
In the mouth, it has a lighter body than you would normally see in such a strong beer; some alcohol but not as much as you would expect from the strength. Sweet and sticky, with burnt toffee and more dried fruit. Surprisingly, considering the time it has apparently sat in the oak ale cask, I don't get any real hint of wood from the taste or the smell.
It is a damn tasty drink. The lightness of the body means it goes down very easily for such a strong beer – despite coming in a slightly large 550ml it's going to be gone in no time.
This review was originally published 11th November, 2011. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.