Craft Beer: Nothing freaky about Magic Rock's Bearded Lady barrel-aged stout

Bearded Lady Dessert Edition from Magic Rock
Paul McConville

IF YOU have young children, or personally prefer Hugh Jackman with a little less Wolverine and bit more song and dance, then you'll probably have found it impossible to escape the smash hit that was The Greatest Showman.

Crammed full of memorable numbers, the movie itself is a broad brush, rounded-edged version of the life of PT Barnum.

The American purveyor of all manner of entertainment was a self-confessed huxter, a dubious businessman and had questionable politics which changed with the wind. Not that Jackman's all-singing, all-dancing ringmaster had any of that.

Barnum loved a freak show, one of the staples of which was a Bearded Lady. Of course, Hollywood had to give her a belting set of pipes too for the movie. Her songs were a treat for the ears, but another Bearded Lady is a treat for another set of senses.

As summer has been well and truly blown away, the need for a little bit of warmth and comfort increases and there's no better beer to curl up with than a barrel-aged ale or an imperial stout or both.

Bearded Lady is a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout from Magic Rock. The most recent incarnation of this beer is labelled ‘dessert edition' and it's easy to see why.

It comes in a black can with orange writing, very different from the colourful cans you'd normally expect from Magic Rock. It also comes in 330ml cans rather than 440ml, which is understandable considering it clocks in at north of 10 per cent abv.

It pours a jet black colour and has a slightly off-white head, which doesn't hang around, considering the strength. The beer is brewed with cacao nibs, vanilla and cinnamon, which gives you an indication of what sort of flavours to expect. Before you get to all that, though, there are rich, comforting chocolate aromas.

The taste puts you even more at ease. It's sweet and sticky, with the barrel-aging giving it a rounded and soft feel before the sweetness of the vanilla comes in and the warming spice of the cinnamon settles in. It's also got a nice vinous quality to it.

It's one to be sniffed, swirled and sipped. A lush, comforting stout, it's been beautifully crafted and this Bearded Lady definitely doesn't belong in a freak show.

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