I've never really been a big coffee drinker. I know of people (cough cough Scott cough cough) who can't function first thing in the morning without their caffeine injection, but I've never really been that way inclined. I'm fidgety enough as it is, without adding a caffeine buzz to the mix.
Don't get me wrong - it's not that I don't like the taste of coffee. Like dark chocolate, it's a flavour that I've only started to appreciate the older I get. It's more the caffeine that's the issue. If I drink too much of the black stuff, I get jittery and end up feeling like throwing up.
Judging this to be down to the fact that I don't drink enough of the stuff, I've decided to endeavour to increase my coffee intake, in a bid to try and give myself more energy. I mean I could exercise more, change my diet, get more sleep and - God forbid it - give up booze (booo), all of which would work together to increase my mood and energy banks. But why would I put myself through all of that, when I can just dope myself with a stimulant regularly instead??
It also helps that I recently read somewhere that drinking coffee can help increase your lifespan and is also really good for your liver. I mean, those stories are contradictory to some of the others that say coffee is carcinogenic and bad for you, but hell - when did people ever listen to what some idiot said on the internet...
"When did people ever listen to what some idiot said on the internet..."
And as if it wasn't enough for coffee to have life altering traits, it also turns out that in moderation, chocolate can actually be good for you too (again, contrary to some other sources too...). This being the case, I've obviously been increasing my intake of cafe mocha exponentially in the last few weeks. At the rate I'm drinking these things, I will live to see my great-great-great-grandchildren colonize Pluto (it is a planet, goddammit!) in the year 3001.
So I've already discussed the health benefits of both coffee and chocolate above. Orinoco has both of those in spadefuls. It also, according to the label, has milk. Now we all know milk is good for you, yeah? And it's a stout - which as we all know, is the king of ales. Putting all of this information together, can only mean one thing - forget your goji berries, or whatever other junk Holland and Barrett are touting as the next big thing - Orinoco is the real superfood (or drink, in this case) and drinking enough of it should be a clear path to immortality. Stands to reason, right?
"Orinoco is the real superfood and drinking enough of it should be a clear path to immortality."
The problem then, is this: most health foods taste like garbage. It seems to be that the better for you something is supposed to be, the worse it must taste. All the really tasty stuff - pizzas, burgers, sweeties - are all bad for you. Whereas all the good stuff - veggies, etc. - taste like guff. If I'm now touting Orinoco as a health food, does that it mean it tastes like the inside of a rugby players jock strap?
Hell no. It does not.
I'm a big fan of stouts. I'm a big fan of sweet stouts. I'm a big fan of milk stouts. I'm a big fan of chocolate stouts. Basically, I really like stout. And I'm a big fan of Orinoco. This stuff is second on my list of favourite stouts, with only the mighty Sam Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout, ahead of it. And even then, it's only slightly ahead. That's some high praise right there.
I tried Orinoco for the first time at Fyne Fest earlier this year, where they had it on tap in the main tent. I bought a pint of it on a whim, my head spinning by the sheer number of beers available there, with no prior knowledge to what I was actually buying. In truth, I actually bought it for the missus, who was after something a bit sweeter than the IPA's I'd been buying up till that point. As was the case with most of the beers bought that weekend, we swapped at some point, so we could see what each beer was like and it was pretty clear on the first taste, that Orinoco was a standout ale in a field of a couple of hundred beers. I even picked it out as one of my favourites in my Fyne Fest round up.
So, given the name, I'm not sure if someone at Drygate is a fan of the wombles, Enya or South American rivers. My thought is that it's probably the latter though, given that the Orinoco River weaves its way through Colombia and Venezuela - two countries that produce coffee and chocolate for export to the rest of the world, which make up the main flavours in this fantastic ale.
"I'm not sure if someone at Drygate is a fan of the wombles, Enya or South American rivers..."
"So what's it actually like then?" I hear you ask. Well, it's smooth. How smooth? Think of the last time you had a proper shave, with a brand new razor. In my case, that's probably about 1998. Remember how smooth your face was immediately after shaving? Well it's that smooth and then some. It's like someone melted up a bunch of marshmallows and made a beer from them (properly, this time though...). It's like Jazz had a beautiful baby with Soul and made the smoothest music known to man, called Jaoul or Sazz or something.
I'm going off on a tangent again here. What I'm trying to say is, that it is a thing of beauty. It's silky. It's sumptuous. It's sensuous. It's just really, really good.
What you get with Orinoco, is a lot of big, bold flavours, that all vie for your attention, but that are somehow all kept in check beautifully. There's a sweet chocolatiness there, that's tempered by the slight bitterness of the coffee and hops. There's vanilla. There's a slight caramel or toffee flavour. It's a little earthy. There's a hint of smokiness there too. A lot going on, but no one flavour overwhelms the others. It's like the beer version of true communism - everyone's invited, everyone is equal, everyone has their time to shine - except that it all works and no-one has to be brutally murdered in the process.
"It's like the beer version of communism, except that no-one has to be brutally murdered."
At this point in a review, I'd usually try to temper things by picking up on the bad points. Honestly though, I can't think of anything here. It tastes great. It smells amazing. Even the can looks great too (as with most of Drygates designs). I mean, I don't want to say it's perfect - is anything ever perfect? - but by God, it's pretty damn close.
So... bad points. Bad points? Hmmm... Well, I mean... it ended? As in, I drank the whole lot and had none left. That was pretty heart-breaking. Is that the fault of Drygate though, or is that more my own lack of foresight when purchasing my beer? You be the judge (it was my fault).
So next time you're at the shop and you see Drygates fare in stock, do yourself a favour and let the Orinoco Flow.