The first time I ever went to the Malthouse in Wellington, this is the beer that I drank.
I remember I was overwhelmed/over-excited by the menu and couldn’t decide what to get. One of the staff, sensing that I needed some guidance, asked if I liked chocolate – to which I probably said something clever like: “aduuuuuuuh“.
He suggested I get this, and was right on the money. The concept of putting chocolate in beer was still a complete mind-bender to me then (If you’d told me about cock ale I would have fainted), and the sheer novelty combined with the sheer chocolateness of it won me over.
This glass was the first I’ve had since then (I’d soon after discovered Renaissance Craftsman which became my go-to chocolate beer), and I’m pleased to report I still found it quite lovely.
On the nose it smelled of toasted grain, hot chocolate, and a little hint of coffee. In the mouth there was a moment of sweet milk chocolate, which gave way to building roasty flavours and a gentle bitter finish. It was smooth, dry, and not nearly as sweet as you might expect for a chocolate beer.
Without wanting to getting too soppy, drinking this beer and thinking about my first trip to the Malthouse made me feel a little teensy pang of nostalgia. My relationship with beer was simpler back then – I was impressed by everything (OK, so that hasn’t changed a lot) and I had this little red notebook that I would drunkenly write really bad notes about the beer in.
On second thoughts, perhaps nothing’s changed at all.