We have been a fan of Mad Hatter for a long while, so it’s a surprise that it’s taken us until now to do our first review of their beer here at The Drunken Goat. Mad Hatter are a noteworthy brewery in many ways: their beers are always peculiar brews, Smokey Bacon Banana being a prime example, but somehow, they always seem to work. Our only gripe with this eccentric brewing style is that we tend to find a great one, by which time they have moved onto something else in the brewery and so getting hold of that one great beer again proves tricky. With this in mind, we got to grips with this Belgian porter rather quickly in the hopes that if we liked it, we could get back to the beer shop and buy the rest of the stock before it disappeared.
Upon opening the bottle, you are enrobed in a chocolate malty aroma, thick with complexities. Coffees also come to the fore, entangling with subtle woody notes. Pouring this beauty out is like dropping oil into your glass; thick and obsidian in appearance, it leads to a very dark chocolate foam settling atop the midnight black liquid. The taste leads us into the realms of sweet dark fruits, unctuous in depth. This mixed with the heavy chocolate gives a quite thick, but not too overpowering mouth feel. Before it gets too cloying and sweet, though, a bitterness comes through to cleanse the palate with coffee astringency, balancing out all those fruits and malts.
Then and only then can you get another very subtle but noticeable flavour, the slight hit of the Belgian yeast, that little nod to those great quads and trippels we so love. Slight acidity and bitterness from these yeasts give this a very good balance and with the generous ABV of 7.1% gives it a good, all round thumbs up from us. Not a massive hitter in ABV compared to some, sure, but it’s still more than enough to carry the beer through with aplomb. The flavours and subtle blending of bitterness and sweet give this a great mix of complexity and taste, which makes this another great beer from Mad Hatter. It may be a crazy mix of flavours but that’s what they do, and they do it so well. Definitely grab them while you can.