Style: English Strong Ale
Brewed in 2013
From: Tadcaster, UK
Brewery: “Some of the oak casks at Samuel Smith’s date back more than a century with the individual oak staves being replaced by the Old Brewery coopers over the years. Gradually the casks soak in more & more of the character of the ale fermented in stone Yorkshire squares. Yorkshire Stingo is aged for at least a year, matured in these well-used oak casks in the brewery’s underground cellars deriving fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding and slight oaky flavours, before being further naturally conditioned in bottle. LIMITED AVAILABILITY. Best served at about 51°F (11°C). Ingredients • Water, malted barley, cane sugar, hops, yeast.”
The beer pours a dark, murky, amber orange with a small head of creamy bubbles the color of a yellowing book page. The head displays decent retention, and leaves a droopy lacing of thinner bubbles on the sides of the glass. In body, the beer has a clean murk. It is opaque, but free of particles. On the nose, the beer displays roeselare-like acetic character, bringing malt vinegar and tart cherries to the nose, along with a touch of iron fillings. As the beer warms, dark fruit characters start to wheedle their way into the nose, bringing plums, raisins, and some soft pear character. There are subtle hints of caramel and toffee, but the fruity and acetic scents drown out a lot. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and tart, while the finish drags in soft bitter tannins and a touch of bitter hops that leaves a pleasant astringency on the back of the palate. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet cherries, transitioning into tart plum, raisin, and then acetic malt vinegar with a touch of cider. The finish is of herbal tannin bitters, raisin caramel bread, a touch of iron, and pears. The aftertaste is of lingering vinegar and earthy tannin. On the sides of the taste are hints of light roasted coffee, like in a nice brown ale, which I think I want pulled forward more. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a prickly mouthfeel that has the characteristic ‘sting’ at the finish. The beer is a touch astringent at the end, but I think that works with the sweeter and more acidic nature of the beer. It is strange beer, for sure, but I think I like it. Overall, it is complex and strange. As it warms, a musty character works its way into the sip, and the acidity is very balanced with other characteristics in the beer, which I love and hate. This is a fascinating slice of history, and a great sipping beer. There is a tad too much metallic flavor in it for me, but it was a new adventure, and is a style that needs to be explored more. I’ve been meaning to try this beer ever since I tried Pretty Things and Boulevard’s collaboration Stingo, and am glad to have finally ticked this off the list. It’s definitely a nice sipper, and would play supremely with heartier English foods, like a good beef stew.