03 August 2012

Just having the one

Session logoFor The Session this month, Craig asks us to imagine our theoretically perfect beer. What would it be like? My starting position on this is "Bah: don't be silly, there's no such thing." Much as I love them, I would feel extremely hard done by if sentenced to a lifetime of drinking only Harvey's Best Bitter, or Uerige Alt, or Goose Island IPA. I'm sure I've said this before but what attracts me to beer is its infinite variety: the myriad ingredients that can be be used in it, that it can be any colour, any strength and a whole range of textures, aromas, flavours. I rarely have the attention span to stick to the same beer during an evening, never mind a lifetime.

So there's nothing else for it but to cheat. I would need a beer that could be hacked about, changed as required, given a new spin every now and then to keep things interesting. My decision was inspired by a series of imperial stouts I encountered recently (thanks Adam!) from Emelisse in the Netherlands. I'd already tasted their Laphroaig-aged one at Borefts last year, though it didn't really exhibit the powerful phenols of the whisky, somewhat surprisingly. This time round, however, the Ardbeg edition of Emelisse White Label gives out much more of its inner spirit: major peat in the aroma and enough turf in the flavour to almost hide the fact that it's a beer at all. That's normally a cardinal sin in my book, but since we're striving for variety I'll let it pass.

There's more of a proper stout vibe in White Label: Jack Daniel's, but also lots of that hallmark limey sourness just lacing it. Finally, best of the lot, was White Label: Glen Elgin. I'm not familiar with the whisky and I couldn't really pick out any individual flavour characteristics from it, but it did contribute a wonderful oakiness and a brief scorch in the throat alongside the fantistically smooth chocolate notes.

Limes, chocolate, peat, and plenty more besides, all served in separate proportions. Emelisse White Label is my One Beer To Rule Them All, and whisky is just the beginning of the things I could do to it.


  1. Nice idea, one beer, but one with lots of scope for variation. Not tried any of these yet damn it!

  2. We were supposed to get that Ardbeg Emelisse at a beer fest here in town and it didn't come. An enormous regret of mine. Somehow, this post hasn't helped matters.