Now that the nights are drawing in, to the point where there's barely enough daylight to tell the difference between 'day' and 'night, its customary to cosy up indoors and only venture outside when truly necessary. One of the best ways to keep warm with your clothes on, is to cosy up on the couch with a hot drink. I'm not a massive fan of tea - I don't really understand why the British Empire felt the need to wage war over the stuff - and I can take or leave coffee. But I do enjoy chocolate and in turn, a cup of hot chocolate from time to time.
I'll eat pretty much any chocolate too. It doesn't need to be the expensive stuff either - the cheapest stuff you can get out of Aldi will do. I will draw the line at that American Hershey's stuff though - anything edible shouldn't smell like it's already been ingested and then brought back up again...
Here in the UK, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to good tasting chocolate though. Cadbury still bangs out decent fare, despite being bought over a few years back. The Galaxy line is good too. Alright, we're hardly in the same league as the Belgian's, but we're still leagues ahead of the US, so it's all good.
Another brand, who are well known here in Britain and who create great tasting chocolate, is Terry's (who I've just found out are owned by Cadbury, who in turn were swallowed up by Mondelez International Are there any companies here in the UK who haven't been bought by someone else!?). They have all sorts of different variations on the humble bar of choco, but the one product that they're probably most famous for - at least, in my mind - is the Chocolate Orange, not least because of the adverts that used to run in the UK featuring Dawn French.
For anyone who hasn't tried one of these, basically its some orange flavoured chocolate, shaped into a sphere and segmented like an orange. There are different variations - I had one with popping candy in it before which was pretty good - but big seller for them, especially at Christmas, is the standard orange version.
Which brings me nicely onto Black Sheep's Choc & Orange Stout. I purchased this from Morrison's a few weeks ago when they had it as part of their Beer Festival section in my local store. I'd tried a couple of chocolate stouts before which were a bit hit and miss, but I thought I'd give this a go. Given my fondness for beer, chocolate, chocolate beer and oranges, I figured this might be alright.
Alright? Boy, was that an understatement.
Going back to the Terry's Chocolate Orange comparison for a moment - imagine that Terry's, in their infinite wisdom, decided to melt down their chocolate so that you could drink it. Now, after you've wiped the drool from your chin - and because you're reading this on a website dedicated to beer - imagine that they poured this into a good quality stout and whizzed the whole thing together.
Let's get it out of the way quickly here: I like this stuff. I really like it. It mixes three of my favourite flavours together - orange, chocolate and stout - so perfectly, I could happily drink this stuff every day, forever. My liver wouldn't thank me for it, but hey - livers are overrated anyway. Everyone knows the kidney is the true hero in your body.
Unlike some other 'chocolate' stouts - which just use chocolate malt in them - this beer actually has real chocolate in it. And orange too (well, orange peel)! And this isn't a gimmick - you can actually taste both ingredients. There's a lovely smoky, malty, chocolate taste - not too bitter, but not overwhelmingly sweet - with a zesty hit of orange that doesn't overpower, then a bit of hoppy bitterness on the way down, all packaged with a smooth, silky finish.
I have no idea how Black Sheep have managed to balance everything so perfectly. It is like the best chocolate drink you can think of, cooled down, boozed up and bottled. I actually think you could heat this up on a cold day (and I might try this, if I can get my hands on the stuff again) and drink it warm.
And that brings me to the pinch. I've been into Morrison's a few times since I purchased this and haven't seen it again. There also doesn't seem to be any way to purchase it from Black Sheep's info page for the beer either. Sad times.
To sum up how good this stuff was, my wife - who isn't a big drinker here and who definitely isn't a stout drinker - tried this and thought it was lovely. High praise indeed. If you can find this, buy up all the stock immediately - you'll thank me afterwards.