And so here my notes complete a hat-trick1 of ten-per-cent-plus black-and-glorious monster beers. It happened entirely by accident — presumably helped by the contemporaneous feeling that Winter Was Coming — and now also occasions one of those nice coincidences that seem to happen (as I mentioned last time) when I’m this far behind with my rambling-uploadings: as I sat down after work to start putting this post together, I had two other oatmeal stouts. The first was a glass of the absurdly-delicious Ballast Point ‘Sea Monster’ we have on tap at work at the moment, and the second, firmly in the the spirit of “bugger it, let’s give these guys (yet) another chance,” was Stoke’s new one. Given my prior history with their beers (and no other real intervening changes on trying them several times since that almost-infamous Diary entry), I can relatively-cheerfully report that Stoke ‘Bomber’ was largely faultless, but it just wasn’t the sort of liquid luxury that I love in my oatmeal stouts — and I bloody loves oatmeal stout, I do.
But enough about those; they’ll get their own posts soon enough.2
I’ve been regularly praising the beers from Liberty in the podcasts — I often forget to prepare a list in the few days before recording, and Joseph Wood’s beers float readily to the top of my brain when George asks for a suggestion. Up until right now, the only one to appear on here was the Amarillo-hop version of his West Coast Blonde, which I had at Hashigo way back in February, on their genius-and-generous Fundraiser Night. Since then, bottles — bloody-great-big lovely 750ml bottles with that cute newfangled re-sealable plastic enclosure-thing — have been popping up fairly regularly, although the batch sizes are still very small indeed. I had a way-too-enjoyable time, back in May, when I inherited the remains of a some-of-everything tasting session that included a few experimental beers and plenty that have since shown up as ‘proper’ releases. It was a broad range, with interestingness and goodness present in sufficient quantities that I was delighted to be in possession of what were basically just dregs, and it featured some perilously-strong beers; I wound up very cheerfully drunk.3
‘Never Go Back’ is a suitably-dramatic way for Liberty to return here, certainly, and I freakin’ adore it. It’s got a peculiar Samuel L. Jackson quality about it — you know, like how Emerson’s Oatmeal Stout was all Barry White — that makes you just want to use the word motherfucker in an endearing and complimentary way. A big-ass glass of pure blackness, it smells like some kind of overclocked, rocket-fueled Hershey’s chocolate syrup and is ridiculously smooth. The word “velvet” is not remotely out of place, in the label blurb. Compared against something like 8 Wired’s ‘iStout’, I’d say it wasn’t as confrontingly bitter and punchy — by which I don’t mean anything inherently positive or negative, they’re just different; that side of iStout is very well integrated into the whole and is probably a massive part of what makes the iStout Float such a delight. And maybe that’s partly also down to all NGB’s gorgeous oatmeal smoothness, which makes such a big beer worryingly and brilliantly and perhaps-unexpectedly drinkable. The image that came straight to my mind — a mind that supervenes on a brain that had had more than one beer in the >10% bracket, remember — was of wearing silk pyjamas and leaping into a bed adorned with silk sheets… then finding yourself in a heap on the floor on the far side of the room after skipping frictionlessly off the surface. Never Go Back does something like that; it’s so velvety that it’s surprisingly easy, given its massiveness. Well that, and it could easily leave you in a heap on the floor, too.
But you’d be a happy heap. And that’s what counts.
Verbatim: Liberty ‘Never Go Back’ Imperial Oat Stout 20/6/11 10.6% — what a plateau! 750ml ÷ 3 with Tim & Amy. So big and lovely. Boozy, for sure. Fumey chocolate syrup. Powdery cocoa feel to it. Would make excellent stout floats. Definitely velvety, so much so that the body is oddly easy; it’s the silk pjs / silk sheets problem.
1: Possessed, as I am, of little-to-no sporting ability, such metaphors are likely rarer-than-average in my ramblings. But I like that one a lot — and used it for my three-peata of Hashigo Diary Entries that concluded with Coronado’s ‘Islander’ IPA — largely because, just as I hoped when I first heard it in my awkward teenage cricket-playing days, the original story involves an actual hat.
— a: Not wanting to overuse “hat-trick”, I went with “three-peat” there, instead, just vaguely remembering it from American sports commentary. But then I looked it up. And it turns out that it’s trademarked for commercial uses by some former basketball coach. So, once again: fuck trademark abuse, really. That’s insane. It’s a totally natural and obvious way to bend our beloved English language. Even the many and mongrel authors of the Wikipedia managed to assembled a metric boatload of ‘prior art’. The law graduate in me (buried deep, I assure you; don’t worry), just got a little bit angrier.
2: Given a generous interpretation of “soon enough”, at least. Maybe one on Geological or Cosmological timescales.
3: Just to be clear, the adverb “very” here modifies both the “cheerfully” and the “drunk”.
Originally posted: 7 November 2011