I'm in England at the moment, pootling around Shropshire, doing most of my drinking in and around the main town of Shrewsbury, though what I've found in my beery excursions will have to wait for a future post. Mostly I've been on the local brews, but while passing Appleby's -- one of several posh offies in Shrewsbury -- I spotted something in the window from a little further afield that I had to go in immediately and buy.
Saint Petersburg is an imperial stout by Thornbridge, a Peak District brewery I've had several wonky experiences with but whose devoted following of beer cognoscenti means it must have something going for it. And sure how far wrong can you go with an imperial stout?
I won't answer that, but Saint Petersburg doesn't go very far wrong at all. There's a reddish-brown tint to the otherwise black beer and a lovely thick creamy head, at least at first. From the nose and the taste there's no doubt of the very generous hopping: green and bitter like crunchy veg, with an alpha acid vapour burn as it goes down. Under this there's lots of silky dark chocolate whose bitterness complements the vegetal hops beautifully. A beer of immense balance, this one, worth the excursion.
Today I'm venturing southwards to London, since the Great British Beer Festival kicks off tomorrow. If you're there, you'll see my eye-burning Trouble Brewing t-shirt before you see me.