Years ago, I used to be something of a Scrooge when it came to Christmas time. These days, however, I’ll take every inch of joyfulness I can get. As soon as the artificial cobwebs come down post October 31st, I’m ready to launch myself into the festive season with aplomb.
Colder days and darker nights also signify stout season, and what better way to embrace the darkness than with rich, roasty and comforting beers? The answer is to combine the two, merging the glee of the approaching Christmas season with beers of an increasingly nocturnal persuasion. By which I mean spiced and flavoured stouts that both warm and stimulate the senses.
Take Titanic's perennially uplifting Plum Porter, for instance. When I wrote about this beer for HB&B in 2016, I described it as one that “bites so many other flavoured beers in the arse”. Seek it out in bottle or. even better, on cask, and see what I mean.
Today’s beer is something of a departure from Plum Porter, however, in that it foregoes any remainder of subtlety for an intense and satisfying flavour hit you’ll want to keep coming back to. Brewed by the excellent Left Handed Giant in Bristol, in collaboration with The Netherlands’ Ulitje Brewing, Woodland Creatures is a milk stout (meaning that it contains lactose, which adds sweetness and body to the beer), flavoured with pistachio and honeycomb. Pistachio is one of my favourite flavours. It makes me recall heaped scoops of vibrantly green ice cream enjoyed on summer holidays in my youth, and endlessly piling handfuls of salty nuts into my mouth throughout the Christmas holidays. Yes, you read that right. No, I’m still talking about pistachios.
Combined with the velvet-smooth body of this stout, along with the honeycomb and lactose sweetness, the pistachio flavour adds an almost floral character to this beer – think Turkish delight. But it’s not overpowering, and neither are any roasted or bitter notes. This is an unabashedly sweet stout, but one that is dry enough so as to command repeated sips in quick succession. Best paired with handfuls of salty nuts, while putting up the tree early enough to force concerned stares through your neighbours’ blinds, as they wallow in the miserable late November cold, while you enjoy an early glass of Christmas spirit.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Pick up a can of Woodland Creatures here and to be first to read articles from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen, why not subscribe to our All Killer No Filler subscription box?