Buxton, Storm Shadow

Storm Shadow is an imperial stout from Derbyshire brewers Buxton. It’s dark and thick, offering up coffee and chocolate notes on the nose and palate. Storm Shadow is vegan-friendly and contains gluten.

The great thing about having friends and family who share your passion for beer is that you receive lots of tasty beer presents at Christmas. The downside? A girlfriend furious that there’s forty beers in the fridge leaving no room for food.

Fortunately, the weather lends itself to this sort of thing. It’s far too dark and cold to spend much time outdoors, government has banned me from visiting the gym (as well as everyone else, they didn’t single me out), and there’s only so much green tea I can drink before the antioxidants leave me feel a little too healthy. Cold, dark days call for cold, dark beers, which is precisely what Buxton has created for us here.

Storm Shadow is a “brooding” imperial stout, or at least so claims the label. It pours dark and thick with a rich, caramel head, a darker and finer foam than most. The aroma is dark, roasty and inviting: coffee, dark chocolate, and black cherries.

You notice Storm Shadow’s mouthfeel even before you’ve fully taken in the flavour. It’s thick, almost oily, coating the inside of the mouth satisfyingly. It’s a bit of a journey on the palate, starting sour like light roast coffee and cherries, rounding out to dark chocolate and eventually to sweeter, milk chocolate. That flavour swings back around to coffee bitterness on the finish, hanging around for a long time after each sip.

There are many delightful imperial stouts that deliver chocolate sweetness and little else. Storm Shadow goes above and beyond this: it’s complex and satisfying, worth every percentage point of its 8.5% ABV. Splitting hairs, it is perhaps a little too bitter; it could stand to have an even thicker mouthfeel. But on balance, what we have here is a tasty stout that takes you on a journey through different dark malt flavours.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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