The next in my weekly series of unsung Scottish beers hails from the same part of the world as the beer before last (Cromarty’s Brewed Awakening) and is also a stout – in fact there have been three in a row now in this feature. That’s a complete co-incidence, but maybe there is something in the water north of the border that lends itself to the production of dark beers. There are plenty more to come, but for now we head back to the Black Isle and take a look at an oatmeal stout from the brewery of the same name.
The eighth in this series of fifty-two beers showcases another one that you should consider hunting down if you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting it yet. With so much amazing new beer in Scotland, I’ve decided to take a look instead at the untold classics; the beers that maybe don’t get the headlines they deserve or are overlooked by others in the same style or from different parts of the UK or further afield. Scotland, despite its near neighbour to the southwest, is an amazing country for stout. And one of the very best in that regard is Black Isle Hibernator.
8. Hibernator (7.0%)
Black Isle Brewery, Black Isle
Style: Oatmeal Stout
330 ml bottle
Of all the additions to the family of stouts, it is the oatmeal stout that I have the softest spot for (pun intended). The crucial addition of those flaked cereal grains gives a creaminess that settles the body of the beer and also goes really well paired up against the remaining dark, roasty components of the malt bill. Hibernator is a name that Black Isle are certainly fond of, having used it for a 4.5% stout (the progenitor of this one) and also a 7% Barley Wine/Old Ale which if you can still find is truly amazing. But the most recent arrival to have borne the name – usually extended to Hibernator Organic Oatmeal Stout – is a fantastic beer and hugely underrated.
It has one of the best aromas of any dark beer on the market, and the flavour follows; big peaks of roasty, dark chocolate and coffee. The great thing about the flavour is how it changes, with the roastiness giving way to dark fruit and a touch of sweetness (from the oatmeal I guess) before the finish arrives very dry and bitter, with a coffee-like aftertaste. There’s also a fair whack of liquorice in there and the fact that it rounds out at 7% will be a huge surprise to anybody approaching this with no idea. In short, it’s a masterpiece and one of the best stouts – from any part of the UK – you can find.
Pick it up here:
At Black Isle’s online shop (as individual 330ml bottles)