Beers, it appears, are like buses. You wait around for a good one to arrive and then two come along at once. After discovering The Orkney Brewery's Dark Island last weekend (a beer I may or may not have had before), I then go and 'discover' Sharp's Seven Souls - a beer that may be as good, or maybe better (depending on the mood) than Dark Island. What a time to be alive.
And it's not as though I went out beer hunting on Saturday either. I hadn't even planned on having a drink. It might surprise you to hear it, but I don't drink every weekend. Yeah, alright most weekends I do - strictly for research purposes for the site - but not every weekend. Look, I need to drink a lot of crap beers just so you lot don't, ok? It's not like I enjoy it. Not much anyway. Sometimes though, you just happen to be wandering through Morrison's on a Saturday afternoon and you drift past the beer section and something catches your eye. In this case, I noticed that Morrison's had Dark Island in stock and after last weekend I thought "I'm having that". Then I noticed the bottle of Seven Souls beside it - a beer I'd never seen before - and I thought "I'm having that too". So I did. And one other as well (which I may have a rant about at some point). Well, it'd be rude not to, eh?
Later that evening, I decided to crack the bottle of Seven Souls first, my thinking being that it deserved to be tasted by sober me, rather than half-cut me, who might not appreciate it properly. And that was probably the second best decision I made that day (the first was actually buying the stuff in the first place).
Let's stop here for a second though to answer the question you've all been asking yourselves. No, I haven't recently escaped from a mental institute and yes, I am allowed out in public. But to answer the other question you've all been thinking - what is the meaning behind the name, Seven Souls? It's a good question and one that I'll answer by copying and pasting directly from the brewery's website...
"Sharp's 'Seven Souls' is named after a wild and inhospitable craggy outcrop of the ancient Rumps headland on the rugged North Cornwall coast. The rock is named in honour of the seven souls who perished there one dark and stormy night..."
And thus, because of one tragic incident that happened in the mists of time, we in the modern age are bestowed with an ale so smooth that Jesus himself rose from the grave and after drinking it proclaimed "Me" (because he's not going to say "Jesus" is he?), "that's smooth!" Probably. And to answer your next question, no, I haven't been drinking today.
Genuinely though, this is one great beer and after Dark Island last week then this, I think the conversation around the BOTY 2018 later in the year (if both myself and Scott survive till then) will be a bum fight of epic proportions, as we try to narrow down a winner. I mean, already I've got two contenders to throw down. I predict it'll be a Battle RoyALE, if you will. (I came up with that myself and I'm very proud of it).
Here's the thing though; I can't quite put it into words what it is that I like so much about this beer. I mean, yeah, it tastes great obviously. But it doesn't have the depth of Dark Island or the grandeur of Sam Smiths Organic Chocolate stout, two other tremendous beers. It isn't a flashy beer - it's not a Juicebox, or any of the hoptastic Brewdog range. To say it's simple would do it a great disservice - but it is simple, in that it's simply great.
For a dark ale, it's surprisingly light. I think I could neck a whole bottle in one go, due to the fact that there's no harshness there. It's carbonated, but not to the point that it feels like it's ripping your throat apart on the way down. It's smooth - as I alluded to above. There's a lovely smoky maltiness there and a sweet, almost caramel flavour, both of which are countered perfectly by a tart, fruity flavour. I can't even put my finger on what fruit it is, as before I knew it, the bottle was finished and I had none left to test.
It also reminded me of something else, another drink, which is going to sound weird and maybe put some people off. Cola. Alright, a malty, not as sweet, boozy, beery cola. But cola all the same. Same sort of texture, caramel/vanilla sweet flavours, same fizziness, easy to drink - almost like a beer alcopop or something. And I don't mean that comparison in any kind of derogatory way either. This is a great beer. Definitely one of my top 5 at the moment. And it scratches an itch that I never knew I had - that missing link between beer and rum n coke (without the rum - although there's an idea...).
And if that comparison hasn't put you off, get out and buy yourself some Seven Souls ASAP and when you're drinking it with an added rum, raise the glass and remember it was yours truly that recommended it. And you can send me some cash via PayPal while you're at it, as I'm trademarking that drink and called it an 'Andy'. You're welcome.