Tuesday, 1 March 2016
Half Bastard Stout
Waiting, as I often do, for my over-taxed spouse to get off work so that date night could begin, I sucked into The Wren, an east Toronto taproom and restaurant, for a pint or two. The first I selected was Half Bastard Stout. Half Bastard is brewed up nice by Nickel Brook Brewing Co., which operates out of Burlington, Ontario. HB is a junior sibling to two of Nickel Brook's more substantial stout offerings: Bolshevik Bastard, a Russian Imperial Stout, and Kentucky Bastard, its bourbon-laden counterpart.
Compared to its high octane relations, Half Bastard has a relatively low alcohol content: just 4.5% according to the tap list at The Wren. I had a pint on tap. It showed up looking stoutly--that is to say, nearly opaque black. As for head, there was disappointingly little, manifesting as a thin, sudsy ring. Through that, a nice, stalwart aroma wafted up: bitter, with notes of coffee, leather, and roasted malts. For a low-alcohol ale, the level of flavour packed into this stuff is quite remarkable. There are robust French roast coffee elements, layered over a well-roasted malt frame. These precede a decently hoppy finish.
On the down side of the ledger, the mouthfeel proved to be a little flimsy--not surprising given the low percentage, but mildly regrettable nonetheless. Really, though, that was one of the only things holding Half Bastard back from excellent beer status. It'll have to settle for very good. If you're in the mood for a sessionable stout, and you're not feeling a Guinness-style dry stout, give Half Bastard a chance. I'm confident that you'll dig it.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.