1998 was difficult in many ways. It was the year President Clinton would get caught with his pants down, the movie “Armaggeddon” would make non-Americans everywhere puke, and The Baha Men would enquire, over and over again, “Who let the dogs out?”
But there were things to celebrate, too, like the launch of Google, my silver Spice Girls backpack, and most importantly: the bottling of this Romanov Baltic Stout.
Yes, this beer is a very special one. It was brewed fourteen years ago by Keith Galbraith and Ben Middlemiss, who were then operating together under the label Australis. The label ceased in 2000, but all three of their beers have been immortalized in revered Beer Hunter Michael Jackson’s “The Great Beer Guide”.
I was lucky enough to try Romanov for the second time last night, after convincing Dave that my blog would be incomplete without it.
Dave poured it into jugs first, which seemed hilariously ironic given the swill I used to drink from such vessels, and I was surprised to see it still had a really decent head on it.
The aroma was predominantly of raisins – that’s the only thing I’d be sure of – but it also evoked sweet sherry, wet wood, old books, and a touch of something a little sour, like week-old red wine.
In the mouth it was velvety smooth and savoury, with bitter chocolate, a little Marmite, coffee and cola (not Coke). It was clear the age had eroded it; it wasn’t as full or sweet as it would have been, there was a hole in the middle of the palate and it dropped suddenly away as soon as I swallowed. Still, it was amazingly good for fourteen years old. This must have been an incredibly delicious beer in its day.
Of course today’s thanks goes to Galbraith’s Manager, Dave Scicluna. Dave has done heaps for me over the year, from inviting me in to try amazing beers like the Romanov, to agreeing to hook up a keg of me, Kate and Richard’s homebrew for Tuesday’s party. He’s also put loads of incredibly exciting beers on the Galbraith’s taps, many of which I’ve written about. Thanks Dave!
PS – As you may know I’ve become highly suspicious of Keith Galbraith’s existence of late – given the hours I’ve spent at the pub and the fact I’ve never seen him – but today he sent me an email which said he was 99% sure he would be there on Tuesday night. In the event he doesn’t show, he has promised a cardboard cut-out will be there in his place.