The annual launch of Nail’s Clout Stout becomes an interesting exercise for true beer lovers.
Each year’s release prompts a vertical tasting of the brew’s lineage and those fortunate to be involved spend a lot of time drinking previous instalments for comparison, probably more like concentrating on the sideshow than the main event.
The 2016 event wasn’t just about the 2016 vintage.
Since 2010 the limited edition Clout Stout has garnered a raft of awards with the Russian Imperial Stout, which is always plus of the 10 per cent ABV mark, keenly sought for the beer cellar.
After eight months of ageing in a temperature controlled environment, the latest Clout Stout, of which there are only 700 750ml bottles available, is ready to drink.
But in many ways the brew will be a better experience if left to peacefully mature.
Although Nail head brewer John Stallwood believed it took a while for the 2015 Clout Stout to “kick into gear”, when consumed side by side with the latest drop the older beer tasted slightly superior with a richer red fruit element and a smoother mouthfeel.
“Every year ages at a different pace. 2016 has aged at a quicker pace than 2015. Last year was a bit overwhelmed by alcohol and less carbonation,” Stallwood said.
“Comparing the two they are similar but different. The aged character comes out in the 2015 while 2016 has to age a lot more but it is very mature at six months of age.”
“This year’s is at 11 per cent so it is the highest Clout Stout we have done, most have been low 10s.
“We try to do something a bit different every year. Clout Stout is known for its power. We just gave it a bit more power by only adding more malt and a tweak to the procedure.”
The most common question Stallwood gets asked is how long will a Clout Stout last. Tough query.
However, Stallwood was kind enough to pop a 2010 Clout Stout – the first year it was made – and it proved that a beer will taste vastly different with age. Yet being able to enjoy a near-seven-year-old brew is very rare.
If you’re keen on drinking the inaugural Clout Stout it might pay to consider doing so within the next 12 months as the beer was starting to fall short on the tongue.
The 2011 indicated it still had some kick to go.
Because of the work gone into Clout Stout it sits at the high end of the market. But it is important to get two bottles for the collection.
One is to have soon and the other is up for comparison later.