Magic Rock - Dark Arts 6.0%
Redchurch Brewery - Hoxton Stout 6.0%
Twitter has a lot to answer for, however it does throw up some interesting challenges.
If you'll allow me a little poetic licence, I'll set the scene.
It was a dark a stormy night, rain was lashing at the windows and the sky was ablaze with lightning. Somewhere in North London Matthew Curtis aka @totalcurtis was drinking a bottle of Redchurch Hoxton Stout. Waxing lyrically about this brew from East London he had the temerity, nay the audacity to compare it to Magic Rock Dark Arts.
Somewhere in the North of England (ok the Stafford area, possibly) a certain Chris Dixon aka @ckdsaddlers was incredulous.
"Impossible!" he cried.
But Mr Curtis was adamant (not to be confused with 80s pop icon Adam Ant ).
There was only one way to decide it.
That's right, it's the Harry Hill way.
So here it is.
Hoppy stout fight club.
In the black corner we have Magic Rock - Dark Arts.
From Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Championing the North. A self-proclaimed 'Surreal Stout' and weighing in at a 'healthy' 6.0% abv, it's the older, more established of the two. A well respected beer.
And in the, er...., other black corner we have Redchurch - Hoxton Stout.
From Bethnal Green, East London, Darling of the South. The new kid on the block, also weighing in at that 'ideal' 6.0%, and using Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus hops, it's ready to play with the big boys.
The gloves are off.
First up is: Magic Rock - Dark Arts
Pouring a heavy, light-devouringdark dark brown, bordering on black, this has just the faintest muddy milk-chocolate hint at the base of the glass, with a carbonated milky-coffee head.The aroma is a muddle of tropical coffee liquorice fruit, with a touch of freshly sanded wood and some rum and raisin fudge. Quite coarse over the tongue, the flavour is a big, all-encompassing dry coffee smack which sucks away all the moisture from the mouth. Then there is a fleeting hint of mango and pineapple with some herbal notes, quickly replaced by a lovely coffee-raisin taste with a dark chocolate and tar backing. The finish has a lot more dryness with a sticky dark-chocolate coating.
So, a good start there with lots of good form. Next up its: Redchurch - Hoxton Stout
Pouring a very similar colour and texture to the Dark Arts, it is maybe the slightest touch browner but with a much creamier mousse-like head with much finer bubbles. The aroma has a huge nose-full of herbal chocolate orange, more resinous and with a light backing of milk chocolate, rather like having a chocolate fountain bubbling away in the background. Tropical fruit punches you right in the face initially, which quickly dries into some fruity blackberry roasted coffee bean flavour, whilst some basil and kumquat hover around. The finish is dry and fruity with a late chocolate orange taste.
So there you have it. The final bell has sounded.
And what a close contest it was.
A great fight between two surprisingly different light-heavyweights.
I have to declare a little southern bias here, Bethnal Green is an area of London I know quite well and the Dark Arts was, I would estimate a good 3-4 months older than the Hoxton, however I have had the Magic Rock beer fresher and have tried to reflect that, draw on my memory be fair and objective in my decision.
But, I have to choose a winner, and, on points with a score of 16-15 (hey,I had to think of some numbers and these were the first two that sprang to mind) that winner is:
Redchurch Brewery - Hoxton Stout
I prefer the flavour of the Hoxton, with its rounded orange-ness and being less mouth-hooveringly dry. It was close run thing though, and this is only my opinion but seeing as it's my blog then it's my opinion that counts. I'd recommend trying this comparison for yourself, and welcome your comments too.