Reader, I am tired. In the last week I have moved to a new flat, been to two Christmas parties, attended a friend-of-a-friend’s 40th birthday celebrations, hosted my own birthday dinner, and celebrated my anniversary with my partner. With all that going on, it’s no wonder I didn’t find the time or creativity to pick up a new beer to review this week.
Fortunately, after a year with me, my partner has me sussed. Into my hands she placed a bottle of a beer she claimed I could never have tried before…and she was quite right. Of all the things you might guess Hotel Chocolat sells, I suspect beer is not one of them.
It’s a moderately classy looking bottle, at least. The Hotel Chocolat branding is simple and understated, the largely monochrome label is attractive. A badge informs us that this beer won a Good Taste award in 2014. The more cynical amongst you may wonder why it hasn’t won any Good Taste awards since.
This Cocoa Beer pours inky black with a wispy cream head. The aroma is less chocolatey than I was expecting and certainly less overwhelmingly chocolatey than those on offer from brewers such as Weird Beard. It smells malty, with an underlying richness like sherry or port.
The mouthfeel is a little on the light side for a dark beer; I see no vegan-friendly markings on the bottle, so perhaps the brewers have been a little overzealous with the isinglass. It feels like the flavour is trying to be rich and malty, but there’s something there – the lack of body, the relatively low alcohol content (4.7%) – holding it back. Dark cherry and raisins mingle at first, with a light kick of dark chocolate towards the end and a lingering finish of raisins soaked in sherry. It’s like a slightly chocolatier, more refined Hobgoblin.
This is a lovely gift for a bit of novelty. If gifted to the beer lover in your life it brings something a bit unusual in a pleasant beer. The chocolate lover may struggle, however, particularly if they’re not a beer fan, since the cocao in this seems to contribute more to berry and raisin flavours than chocolate itself. 3/5