Magic Rock Brewing: Dark Arts Surreal Stout

Dark Arts. One of my firm favourites at the local Sheffield drinkeries. Brewed not far away in Huddersfield it’s another answer to the “give me something dark” I declare whenever offered a drink. I should be more careful, since I once asked that in Cambridge and got cider with raspberry liquor… not that it was bad, mind.

Although I’ve half-heartedly tried to consolidate Gadgetoid into a this blog, or a that blog, it’s always diverged into the full spectrum of “things that I like.” Be it music, games or tech I’m a magpie for anything new or interesting. In the far too many years I’ve been writing I’ve grown up, my tastes have evolved, and I seem to have suddenly developed a liking for thick, dark drinks where previously I only pretended to like lager and secretly preferred a good shandy. (I still do!)

Craft beer breweries have been popping up around the UK and pouring forth an abundance of delicious and varied treats. There’s beer the likes of which I couldn’t have imagined when I first peered down into the frothy depths of a sturdy, faceted pint glass and cautiously sipped from my Dad’s beer. Frankly, we’re facing “the paradox of choice”, and negotiating the beer-a-sphere for those few select brews that truly tickle our tastebuds is an arduous and personal process of trial and error.

This is why I think my attempts to “review” beer may be slightly misdirected. Tastes are highly subjective, and my tastes in particular vary widely and tend toward the weird.

So, as if you were searching for a game reviewer who shares your general taste in games, I shall lay bare my taste in beer so you know where we stand.

I like it thick. Dark. Sweet. And rich. I like drinking liquid bonfire toffee. I like, almost literally, drinking smoke. I like a mouthfeel similar to treacle and a brew so dastardly thick you could stand a spoon upright in the glass. My fondness for the sweetness in bourbon, gin and tonic, dark and stormies and red dessert wines translates over to beer. A good example is Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout which I first found at Craft and Dough in Sheffield and have been addicted to ever since. Another, Siren Brewcraft’s limited edition Shattered Dream. Now vanished from everywhere and anywhere, leaving only Broken Dream behind; the names, a sort of poetic slight at the loss of a favourite. Similarly, Siren shattered my dreams with their limited Bourbon Milkshake Stout which I found sublime, almost like drinking bourbon itself but smoother and richer. Damn you, Siren! Anyway, I digress;

With my bonkers tastes in mind, let’s try Dark Arts.

As the name suggests, this solid stout pours black as pitch. An Italian might say it’s… surreally dark. Being bitter with no sweet relief, it’s a little removed from my typical favourite. The first sip includes a malty punch that mellows into bitter flavour that stays the course until the end of the glass. On balance, I enjoyed it, but personally prefer something sweeter.

Well, crap. That was short. Maybe I should keep my beer reviews as succinct and simple tweets?