First things first - Merry Christmas everyone. Hopefully you all had a great time and avoided any major catastrophes, like setting fire to your oven before Christmas dinner had been served. That's a fairly specific example of a catastrophe that absolutely did not happen in my house. No siree. Not at all...
But seriously - hopefully you all had a great time and drank way too much beer, much like I did. The problem - for me anyway - when I drink too much beer, is that it all starts to taste pretty similar after a while, making it difficult to write any kind of meaningful review for the site afterwards. But in fairness, it could be said that I don't usually write anything meaningful on here anyway, so jobs a good 'un.
For tonight's review, I've decided to go for a beer made by a brewery that could probably be described as local to me. Fallen Brewing is based in the village of Kippen, which according to Google Maps, is just shy of 22 miles from my current location. Twenty-two miles isn't exactly 'local' I suppose, but until I get round to reviewing any of Loch Lomond Brewery's fare (my actual only local brewery - for now...), then it'll do for starters.
Situated in the old railway station in Kippen and brewing since 2014, Fallen have amassed an impressive range of beers in such a short period of time. Some of their beers have puntastic railway inspired names (the aforementioned Chew Chew, being one and their 'mainstay' beer, Local Motive being another) which I found pretty amusing and that reflects the history of their brewhouse, something that they are obviously very proud of.
Back to the beer though (that's why we're here, remember?). As I mentioned briefly above, I tried two cans of Chew Chew through the week before deciding to write this review. I had high hopes for this brew - I've had a couple of caramel milk stouts before and they style is definitely one of my favourites - but after mulling over my notes on Chew Chew and drinking both cans to be sure, I'm a little disappointed by the end product.
Look, let me say this though: this is a good stout. It's thick and creamy. It's silky and smooth. There's a nice malty bitterness to it, but it's still fresh and hoppy. There's also the saltiness hinted at in the name, that's pleasant and adds to the flavour, unlike the overuse of sodium in The Wild Beer Co.'s Sleeping Lemons that Scott reviewed a few weeks ago.
What disappointed me though, was the complete lack of caramel - or sweetness for that matter - in the beer. I didn't mind the briny flavour of this stout, but what it really needed was that caramel sweetness to counter the salinity and I just didn't get any at all, which really detracted from my enjoyment of the beer. I wondered whether the first can was maybe just from a bad batch - that the flavour hadn't been given time to develop or something - but after drinking the second can, I realised that this was the expected end product and that no amount of sampling on my part could change that.
Again, I want to stress that this isn't a bad beer - on the contrary, it's really rather good. It's just that when the competition is something like Wild Beer Co.'s Millionaire, then the bar is set pretty high and anything other than perfection just won't do.
To end on a positive note though; I did sample a couple of other Fallen beers this week and I'm pleased to say that they were superb (New World Odyssey and Platform C) and may justify a review on here soon. I may have to buy in a couple more though - for research purposes of course!