Experiments In Drinking: Northern Monk’s Northern Star

Savouring the hugely impressive chocolate, caramel biscuit porter from the craft beer favourites.

Northern Monk is a craft brewer with a taste for the eccentric – some might even say novelty – beer, but behind the Prawn Cocktail and Sunday Roast experiments lies a brewery with a solid core range of impressive brews. None more so, I would argue, than Northern Star, a particularly fantastic porter that is the very epitome of smooth.

Porters and stouts are increasingly the most interesting areas of the craft beer world Perhaps, on a sweltering summer day like the one we’re experiencing as I write this, not the most immediate choice when you might understandably choose something lighter, but I would suggest throwing convention to the wind and giving this a go no matter what the weather. nicely chilled, it has a deliciously relaxing feel to it – luxurious but not as heavy and thick as some rival brews, it is every bit the summer drink as far as I’m concerned.

The stour and porter experiments with fruits, chocolate and caramel feel less of a stretch than some of the more exotic IPAs and other ales out there – as well as a tradition in chocolate porters stretching back beyond the craft explosion, the combination of flavours seems more natural and less bolted together than some of the other oddball combinations that you might drink as a dare rather than for pleasure. This is, unquestionably, one of my favourite beers like many porters and stouts, it makes its presence felt and while it is unquestionably quaffable (and, at 5.2% relatively lightweight compared to some rivals), it’s also substantial enough to discourage you from just knocking it back. For some, beer drinking is some sort of challenge to knock back as much as possible in the shortest amount of time; this isn’t the beer for those people. You’ll want to savour this, taking your time and enjoying the flavours as it swirls in your mouth.

It’s curiously absent from the Northern Monk shop as far as I can see, but – at the time of writing – your larger branches of Tesco have it at curiously low prices. Does this suggest that it has been discontinued? I hope not – I’ll consider launching a petition if that is the case. It might be one of the more ‘ordinary’ Northern Monk brews in terms of wild experimentation, but it’s far from an average beer. Seek it out.

DAVID FLINT

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