Brewsday: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
Look, if it isn’t obvious by now that I’m a sucker for novelty beer, then I don’t know what to tell you. I am that guy at the local pub who is preternaturally sensitive to the changes of what’s on tap; I am the annoying one who will make the server recite everything available, just in case there isn’t something new I could try. I drink the organics, I order the brews made from hemp, and I crave the beers that I think nobody else might know about outside of my neighborhood.
I am fooling myself, I know. But it makes me happy, and I feel like it sets me apart from the people who joylessly gargle Carlsberg and decide that’s a good enough life for them. I need more! More, I say! Beers themed after large gourds or unions! Beers that look like they took a little imagination! Beers, for example, that purport to taste not only like chocolate… but like double chocolate.
Available in a 12 ounce can or a half-litre bottle (I’m mixing my measuring systems and I don’t care!), Young’s Luxury Double-Chocolate Stout makes its all of its promises right up front: “Silky rich & creamy smooth.” Made with pale ale, crystal and chocolate malts, it makes a valiant effort, but only ends up making it halfway to the line.
I should mention that Young’s is fairly good at seasonal, novelty beers. I expect that if I lived in the UK, I’d fit right into their demographic — among their other offerings are items like Ram Rod, Waggle Dance and most intriguingly, Christmas Pudding. The Double-Chocolate is conspicuously absent, now that I look, from their website, which makes me wonder whether other angles were more interesting and marketable than this one turned out to be.
Which is a shame, really, because Double-Chocolate Stout is a perfectly enjoyable beer. It pours a beautifully dark color, produces a stiff and foamy head that adds real flavor to the first sip, and offers a reasonably full flavor throughout. It’s as if someone took Guinness aside and said, “Listen, we respect the in-your-face-stout thing, but honestly, do you really have to be so heavy all the time? Sometimes people just want to have a little fun, you know?” Double-Chocolate slots right in there, giving you a stout that you can enjoy without feeling like you’re making some kind of an investment.
Ironically, that’s also where the beer falls short: while it’s smooth & silky, I’ve been having a hard time finding any of the rich & creamy. When I hear the word “chocolate” relating to a beverage, I brace myself for a combination of sweet and earthy bitterness (kind of like me through my 20s ha ha ha ha ha ha okay let’s move on); when I hear the words “double chocolate”, I strap myself in for flavor. But after having this light, pleasant, slightly sweet stout, I am left wondering what I strapped myself in for. I loosen my straps, so to speak, and slouch in my seat, relaxed when I should have been challenged.
In the end, that makes Young’s Double Chocolate Stout a mixed success at best — it falls well short of its promised as a balls-out DOUBLE-FLAVORED stout, but it succeeds as a pleasant dark beer on the mild end of the spectrum. Those who buy it expecting a flavorful thrill-ride will end up disappointed; those who would be best served by it, unfortunately, are likely the ones who’d end up avoiding it in the first place.
Rating: 3 chocolate bars out of 5