Food & drink

Video: 8:01 the perfect time for a minty chocolate stout

THERE were some things we only used to get at Christmas. It's only recently that I discovered that Shloer was available all year round, that huge boxes of snowballs and teacakes weren't just a December thing and After Eights could be nibbled on at any time of the day, at any time of the year.

Still, that dark chocolate and mint taste can be quite evocative so it was with no small amount of trepidation that I approached a seasonal offering from Dublin-based brewery Rascals which found its way to us thanks to Prohibition Drinks.

Creators of some cracking canned ales such Big Hop Red and Wunderbar IPA, Rascals conjured up a beery take on the After Eight, cleverly called 8:01. It's billed as a mint choc stout and comes in a black can with green lettering in Rascals' own trademark style which should be enough to intrigue.

The first thing you notice is the pour. It doesn't glug out of the can or race into the glass. The beer unravels itself into the glass and the velvety texture continues into the tan coloured head and jet black body. There is a fresh, chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee, nodding at the unique take on a chocolate stout.

I mentioned my earlier uncertainty about this beer and on the first gulp I was fully expecting some sort overpowering minty flavour along the lines of menthol mouthwash or Trebor Extra Strong mints. My preconceptions were totally unfounded. This is first and foremost a beautifully crafted chocolate stout – smooth, milky and full-bodied at 6 per cent abv.

It has that bitter chocolate flavour that you get from the after-dinner wafer-thin mint it seeks to emulate but the mint is subtle, very subtle. In terms of time, if this is based on an After Eight, then the peppermint hits the back of your throat around about half ten – and that's no bad thing. It's just enough to cleanse the palate for another sip and your not short-changed here as the rolling flavours linger in a comforting fashion.

Coming from an adventurous starting point, this is a well put together ale and great achievement by Rascals. In a way, the slightly gimmicky name and marketing angle don't really do it justice, it's a mature beer which stands on its own and which can be enjoyed by a roaring fire in good company.

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