First World Problems is a 4.5% salted caramel stout from Harrogate brewery Rooster’s. It’s dark, malty and bitter, laced with burnt caramel sweetness. It’s not especially complex and the carbonation brings a sourness that doesn’t play well with the other flavours, but it’s a nice enough way to warm up a cold November evening. First World Problems contains lactose, so isn’t suitable for vegans.
I have had a difficult week. My partner and I just moved into our new home so we’re exhausted from carrying our belongings across town. The change has freaked out our tiny dog Chico, causing him to piss liberally all over the skirting boards my friend painstakingly cut for us. To top it all off, the beautiful furniture we’ve ordered won’t get delivered until after Christmas.
Appropriately enough, this week’s beer is called First World Problems.
It wasn’t just the name drawing me to this beer. As the year draws to a close and my vitamin D deficiency worsens, the siren call of darker beers grows ever stronger. Oktoberfest has been and gone. We are officially into stout season. And so I was delighted to find an unfamiliar label on the shelf at Sainsbury’s this weekend. Rooster’s promised me a can packed with deliciously complex, luxurious stout filled with chocolate, sweet caramel and roasted malt.
The name did play a role, however. You see, this isn’t the first beer I’ve tried named First World Problems. It isn’t even the first can from Sainbury’s I’ve reviewed this year with that name: Stewart Brewing’s IPA only showed up on the blog back in January. One wonders whether a store manager saw the same beer name and clicked order, with no inkling that this is an entirely different beer.
FWPs looks reassuringly stouty, with a jet black body and a creamy, toffee head. The aroma bodes well too: roasty, smokey dark malt with layers of chocolate and burnt caramel.
I feel a little let down by the palate, however. The promised complexity and depth turns out two dimensional, with just patent malt bitterness cut with a hint of caramel. The high level of carbonation adds a level of acidity that doesn’t play nicely with the dark, roasty flavours, pushing the flavour into underextracted coffee territory. Holding off until the bubbles die down a little it’s nicer, allowing the caramel sweetness and salt to come forward.
It’s not the end of the world, having to wait a little while for a beer to settle. You might even say it’s an example of a first world problem. But given the wealth of beers available to try, it’s not a problem I’ll face with this beer again any time soon.