Sunday, 12 February 2012

HEAD-TO-HEAD #2: Redwillow's Fathomless Oyster Stout Vs. Redwillow's Smokeless Smoked Porter


This, my second head-to-head, involves two beers brewed by Red Willow Brewery of Macclesfield. They both piqued my interest when I saw them on the shelf due to their unusual ingredients. One has been subjected to shucked (opened) oysters whilst the other has chipotle (smoked jalapeño chilli peppers) added; makes a change from the use of German 'rauchmalt'.

I shall start with the Fathomless, the oyster stout, as this should be plainer in taste than the smoked porter. Fathomless pours an anthracite black with a distinct lack of head development. Pungently savoury roasted notes in the nose. Silky smooth mouthfeel, juicy but mellow (briney?) prune and raisin flavours with little in the way of bitterness, hence more in line with the milk stout style. Very low carbonation. The flavours concentrate in the finish, leaving lingering dark fruit & bitterness on the palate along with a faint mushroom-like / oyster twang. The beer has a quite a slippery mouthfeel, something usually attributed to diacetyl, but that's not a by-product intended for this style, so I'm more inclined to believe its the oysters!

Moving on to Smokeless... This one again pours a solid black with a tan head lasting only slightly longer than Fathomless. It has a toasted sesame seed aroma. Sweet and gooey blackcurrant notes mix with soapy ginger and sweet pepper. A hint of smoke and the slightest burn of chilli spice in a smooth, milky finish. Again little in the way of carbonation; very drinkable and quite complex.

  • MALTS: fathomless = dark malt, WHEAT MALT / SMOKELESS = DARK MALTS, WHEAT MALT
  • ABV: FATHOMLESS = 5.2% / SMOKELESS = 5.7%

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