Stop the Press... I've found The One...
...as the title suggests here... I'm more than likely about to ruin drinking beer for millions. What you are about to read is an utterly unapologetic outpouring of gratuitous plaudits and slobbering compliments like never seen before. It should come with Government warnings or sanctions from the beer associations to try deter people from dropping all of their regular go-to beers in favour of tracking down this, somewhat elusive, Masterpiece. I'm not even going to be exaggerating - well mostly not - this really has raised the bar of expectation and quality. Inside it will make you feel things that... wait... let's not start to get too carried away before I have even really begun.
Where this ultimately started is where almost all of these things start - I was almost out of beer. Or worse yet, I might have actually been out of beer. I decided to put in a wee order with the wonderful folks over at Beer Hawk since I'd discovered I'd somehow managed to accumulate a bunch of Beer Tokens to use against my next purchase. I'd had my eye on a couple of their beers for quite some time - especially the Tiny Rebel: Stay Puft Marshmallow Porter. Which, although excellent in its own right, is NOT the subject of this sickening declaration of love masquerading as a beer review. Among their far ranging selection was a Wild Beer Co offering I'd seen someone else rave about only weeks before. At over £5 for a 330ml, WBCo's WILDEBEEST had a lot of living up to do to prove worthy of such a price-tag but I thought F*ck it and fired it in the basket anyway.
Now, before I get too flustered and ranty - I'd like to go back a little bit with my Wild Beer Co history. When I first started paying attention more to what I was drinking beer wise and documenting/reviewing etc. I was lucky enough to land a bottle of Millionaire in either a Flavourly or Beer52 sub box. It was just sublime - never got around to reviewing - but imagine a luxury millionaire's shortbread with all that gooey caramel and chocolate on a sweet biscuit base - somehow reduced down and injected into a milk stout... and instantly I am reduced to a caricature of Homer J Simpson lost in a trance-like state muttering "Beeeeerrrrr!!!" It really was that good - so there you go - a micro review right there. You people are just spoiled. My 2nd encounter with them though was a little more "Hmmmm!?" I picked up Sleeping Lemons - Sour Gose based on the fact I'd decided from that 1 experience that Wild Beer Co could do no wrong. And it's not that I was sorely disappointed it's just that I didn't get it. I think it helped highlight my dislike of specifically Sour beers but it really offered more questions than answers, and the jury remains out. It ended up feeling like lightly carbonated lemon water. Full Review Here. So a hit and a miss to date but there was a preconceived positive feeling that Wildebeest was going to tip the scales back into the favourable side.
Taking a slight step back first, what really is the point in what Andy and I do here on the site? Ultimately it's not to get rich and famous, as we are both acutely aware we neither have the chiselled looks for such a position nor the cleavage. It was more as a way for us to commit ideas and conversations to a physical (virtual?) form and also, like many, to search out that perfect beer. I mean, that's what it's really about folks is it not? The beer journey - the discoveries - the highs and the lows - the surprise packages and the bitter disappointments. An epic, and if I may say so, noble quest, undertaken by 2 simple beer fans and their rather diverse tastes. I have enjoyed the journey a great deal. I have a host of favourite beers now and some really inspired Brewers that I keep going back to for new discoveries.
Wild Beer Co though have absolutely outdone themselves with Wildebeest. In the irrefutable words of Eddie Izzard "Your eyes flashed fire into my soul. I immediately read the words of Dostoyevsky and Karl Marx, and in the words of Albert Schweitzer, I Fancy You!" This genuinely is a declaration of love. Obviously I don't expect everyone to feel the same as I do, but the combination of style and flavours here just align perfectly with my tastes for a spectacular result.
Jeez Scott, 1000 words in and we don't even know anything about the beer other than the brewer and the name. Sorry, I know I've been waffling. So, what do we have? Well, Wildebeest is an Imperial Espresso, Chocolate & Vanilla Stout. I'm not sure there are 5 better words to put in a sentence other than possibly "You've just won the Lottery". This isn't one for the faint hearted though as although it is packed with sweet decadent flavours it packs a serious punch with the 11% ABV that cannot be ignored. If I am not found drinking beer I am probably drinking coffee, so from the first whiff of the roasted Columbian coffee I'm hooked and my synapses are firing on overdrive. This appeals to me on a base primal level (that is if early man had developed caffeine addiction). On top of the intense espresso aroma is a sweetness to take the edge off and an early indicator of the strength of the contents to come. Pours a smooth silky black with a mid-sized caramel coloured head. The flavour is huge - a big bold statement of a beer - the coffee as prominent in the taste as it was the aroma, with chocolate to sweeten on the palate. The stout is rich and velvety and it is very strong, but saying that is no bad thing. This is very drinkable. I found myself savouring the experience rather than chug through it but I can't see any reason why you would anyway. It's such a rewarding flavour, a perfect combination of some of our daily desires with a great vanilla tone to the end that compliments all that has gone before. My only regret in the end was that it wasn't a bigger bottle or there wasn't another waiting for me in the fridge.
In all honesty, it may look like I'm just pouring endless superlatives into this review for effect - but even reading back I don't feel I have gone far enough to do justice to just how phenomenal this beer is. For me, and the tastes I have, the bar has well and truly been raised and set at such a height that is going to take quite some beating. I am as excited now, describing Wildebeest for this review, as I was a week or so ago when I actually drank it. It has made a serious impression and one which I have been keen to convey to anyone that normally asks me what decent beers I've had of late. If this even sounds remotely up your street I guarantee you will love it. I don't think it is going to be something you stumble upon in pubs n bars too often - although it is out there. There are enough online stockists though that should have it and as I said before, although £5+ looks steep for a standard bottle, on this occasion it is worth every penny. I paid far more for the KBS and in all honesty I much prefer this. Wildebeest blows everything away that I have tried so far, especially in this kind of style. I don't know what Wild Beer Co see as their flagship beer as they probably have several highly impressive ones - but Wildebeest must be right up there with one of the very best things they have ever produced. I cannot wait to get my hands on some more - or indeed some of the alternatives in between this and Millionaire. Keep up the brilliant work guys. Fan Club member #0000001. Cheers.