I have something of a confession to make. Throughout lockdown a craving has risen within me, a desire that can only be sated by giving in to its unreasonable demands: I really want a pint of draught Guinness.
I’m all too aware that by publicly stating my desire to drink a beer produced by global drinks conglomerate Diageo, I am going against many of my core principles. “Drink local,” I demand of my readership, all while supping the Black Stuff directly from the teat of Lucifer himself. There’s true ritual to enjoying a nice pint of Guinness, and mine usually takes place on Christmas Eve, perhaps something that stems from meeting friends in a nondescript pub with an average beer selection. In those situations, it becomes the default option. Moan I would, while gulping down my fourth pint in quick succession.
Missing rituals like these really came to the fore during lockdown. While I’ve enjoyed working through lots of interesting cans (mostly lager, with the odd West Coast IPA), it’s draught beer I love and miss the most. With that no longer playing a starring role in my life, my most base instincts have come to the fore. I need a pint that’s creamy, dry and sessionable. Nothing else will do.
Thankfully, salvation is at hand. Before Hell’s gate sucks me in, a can has appeared from the ether, promising a beer that describes itself as “unctuous and moreish”. There’s an aptness that the first nitro-serve beer to come my way post lockdown is not from a multinational, but from Berkshire’s Siren, which has canned a nitro version of its award-winning Broken Dream Breakfast Stout,
a beer so deceptive in masking its 6.5% ABV I once forgot its name midway through a publicly hosted tasting session I’d chosen it for.
While Siren may be best-known for its hop-forward beers like the ‘Suspended In…’ series, for me Broken Dream is the true jewel in its splendid crown. This nitro version is proof that, in fact, you can improve on perfection. Pouring hard into my glass (and I do recommend you try this at home), the beer cascades with tiny, nitrogenated bubbles; the visual aesthetic providing almost as much satisfaction as the drinking itself. The smoothness created by the smaller bubbles rounds off Broken Dream’s harder edges, merging notes of milk chocolate and dark-roasted coffee into one complete whole.
It may not be the perfect replacement for draught nitro stout, but it delectably fills a gap, as our beloved pubs ease back into a state that’s slowly beginning to resemble normality.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. This beer was so damned popular that it has now sold out, but sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this every month plus more great writing from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen...