Remember the feeling of being a kid, and standing in front of the pick’n’mix counter?
All of those colours and shapes: fizzy cola bottles, sour cherries, red bootlaces, liquorice allsorts, and all the chocolate buttons you could eat. The anticipation when asking your parents or guardian if you could have a bag, the release experienced when it was granted – imagine if you could bottle that…
Turns out you can – in grown-up, alcoholic form too. Over the past couple of years, pastry stouts have become de rigueur on bottle shop shelves, from instigators like Sweden’s Omnipollo to Amundsen in Norway, which built its reputation on the back of its Dessert in a Can series. We Brits have had a crack of the pastry whip too, with breweries like Neon Raptor maxing out the Untappd charts with sweetened-to-the-eyeballs beers like Centaur Army.
Now, those that read my tweets will know I haven’t got much of a sweet tooth. I’m a starter, main and cheese course kind of diner, and I often skip dessert to make room for more salty, savoury, umami goodness. I also love a good whack of bitterness in my beers – a quality often lacking in a lot of modern beer styles.
There is a but, however. A dish I can’t resist ordering if I see it on a menu is panna cotta. Wibbly, wobbly, delicious panna cotta. There’s something about the combination of its slick texture and hit of vanilla that I can’t stop myself from having, regardless of how full I am after a big meal.
That’s kind of how I feel about pastry stout. I can say it’s not my thing, but sometimes that kid in front of the sweet store instinct kicks in and you can’t help but indulge that desire for sweetness. This is exactly what happened when I cracked into this beer, from the Netherlands’ Brouwerij Kees.
Daring to invoke the wrath of the lawyers at M&S [and succeeding - Ed*], this is an homage to everyone’s favourite supermarket cake – milk and white chocolate, but really amped up, to the point where you might as well be eating cocoa straight from the jar. It’s intense, unctuous and has a satisfying boozy warmth as it slides down your throat.
It’s definitely one for beer lovers who enjoy a sugar rush. And if not, maybe it’s time to treat yourself to dessert, just this once.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.
* It comes as a surprise to literally no one that Marks & Spencer has indeed decided to step in and protect its trademark. The company has asked - as of today - that retailers sell through all cans of this beer within 14 days. So if you want it, better be quick! Head here to purchase - this beer won't be seen again...