I’m going to assume if you’re reading this column that you’re pretty into beer already. If so then you’ve probably already heard of Cheltenham’s mighty DEYA. And if not, then what rock have you been hiding under?
DEYA’s flagship, Steady Rollin’ Man has become one of the most dependably consistent juicy pales on the market. It seldom disappoints. Plus it has that rare trait among foggy, yellow, hoppy beers: drinkability. Seldom do I see a keg tapped at one of my local haunts and witness all 30 litres last more than a couple of hours. Well done DEYA, you’ve created a modern classic and you should feel pretty damn smug about it.
However, you might not have heard of Southampton’s Unity Brewing Company. Like DEYA, it was founded in 2016. It brews well-hopped, opaque beers (albeit often with a Belgian inspired twist), packages them in delightfully labelled 440ml cans and has a popular, community-focused taproom. It has an ebullient, charming founder in the form of Jimmy Hatherley, something of a veteran of the London scene with stints at London Fields and Camden back in the day. He’s also a big fan of flannel shirts and math rock.
Unity also brews a killer, super smashable NEIPA called Collision. It hasn’t quite grabbed the beer-drinking public’s attention like Steady, but let me assure you it’s the kind of beer you should drink when you see it.
Imagine my delight, then, when I found out these two young stalwarts had produced a collaboration. Only, there’s no hop squash to be found here. The result of this union is a chocolate stout that draws heavily on Hatherley’s Belgian inspiration. This Pepsi-brown beer features additions of cacao nibs and black flame raisins adding further layers of complexity to the dark malts and Unity’s house strain of Belgian yeast.
However, it’s not the playful chocolate sweetness or the estery Belgique overtones that make this so satisfying. It’s the way these flavours build up steadily in unison before panning out into a dry, clean finish with just the right amount of focused hop bitterness. There’s no cloying aftertaste, there’s no volatility to the fermentation character, it’s just precise, satisfying flavour neatly wrapped up in a bow at the end. It’s a hallmark of Unity’s beers – they show off great complexity while still remaining balanced, and are always at the height of drinkability. Don’t let this Southampton brewery, or this beer, fly under your radar this year.
Matthew Curtis is a freelance writer, photographer and author of our award-winning Fundamentals column. He's written for publications including BEER, Ferment, Good Beer Hunting and Original Gravity. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis. Pick up a can of Unity x Deya 5º Of Separation Belgian Chocolate Stout while you can.