Craft Beer: My first pub pint might be a No23: Nitro Stout, were that possible
I'VE not thought too much about what might be my first pint when the inside of a pub is once again visible to the naked eye in the weeks ahead. I wasn't really up for playing Russian roulette with the notorious Irish climate by queuing to get into a beer garden so have reserved my planned return to the pub for the certainty of an indoor sup.
But back to that first pint, and for a number of reasons which relate to the limited choices available and the yearning for something familiar, it's likely that a freshly pulled pint of Guinness will be the maiden jar sat in front of me.
"What about standing up for the little guy?" I hear you cry, and with some merit. Don't get me wrong, if there were line of Irish (or otherwise) independently brewed stouts on tap in my local, that's just what I would be doing.
There's something about a nitro stout which tantalises the senses, though, from the almost reverent way it is pulled to the visual treat of watching the tan cloud of bubbles eventually settle into a jet black colour.
Lockdown has prompted many to attempt to simulate the experience at home, although there is a school of thought which believes that the ritual of watching a pint of Guinness settle is little more than a highly successful marketing campaign.
Craft brewers have gradually hopped on to the nitro train and even the idea of an Irish brewer canning a nitro in the shadow of that style's best-known behemoth is commendable.
Of course, getting a nitro stout to behave the way you want to out of a can in the same way it does out of the tap can be tricky. Hope's Limited Edition No23: Nitro Stout tries to pull it off without the aid of a widget.
Although you still get that smooth pour and creamy, off-white head, you're not gazing into the glass as old Satchmo croons away about all the time he has.
What you do get from this, and from nitro stouts in general, are more understated flavours. So while there are notes of coffee and bitter chocolate, the mouthfeel gives them a velvety smoothness, a bit like dipping a bar of Galaxy into an Americano.
The addition of oats to the malt bill add to the creaminess and overall this dry 4.8 per cent Irish nitro stout is a satisfying sup.