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Advent Calendar Window 9 - Black Santa

Advent Calendar introduction is here. 

"They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far 
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night." 

The day this beer appeared in the calendar, I had been sat in Stalybridge Buffet Bar drinking Great Heck’s Mount Mosaic. It was bloody delicious, a really decent, sat at the bar at tea time, interrupting commuters and acting like you own the bar kind of 4.5% bitter. The sort of brew you could quickly have a couple of before home (like I fortunately did) or the kind that you can sup ten pints of before you realise it's 10 o'clock in the evening, you have 38 missed calls and the only food you're going to get this evening will come in a paper bag and still be sat half eaten on the kitchen counter the following morning.

Why am I sharing this enjoyment of a beer that isn't the one featured for Window 9 of my Beer Advent Calendar? 

Because Shankar IPA is good.

Citra is good

Voodoo Mild is good.

Powermouse is good.

Treasure IPA is good.

Yakima IPA is good.

And Amish Mash is fricking hopfen excellent.

I think Great Heck Brewery might just be brilliant – and underrated.  I already knew this. I just didn't know I knew it.

I never had Black Jesus, but did manage to procure a bottle of Black Santa - a Vanilla Wheat Stout - for this year’s Advent Calendar which just happens to be sat behind Window 9.

For those of you that don’t know, Great Heck is a little village east of Wakefield and Leeds, that is one of those Yorkshire peculiarities that somehow classifies as being North Yorkshire, despite being further south than the afore mentioned cities. The brewery opened up in 2008 and has been popular in the county’s major towns since. The brewery is not – like some outsider’s believe – based on some form of colloquial Yorkshire term of shock or surprise. But, great heck, the beer is good.

Great Heck - Black Santa - 5.4%

This dark brown beer smells of so much goodness; Vanilla Ice Cream, dark, rich choclate, freshly made espresso and bourbon biscuits. It's the taste where Black Santa is a conundrum. I wasn't sure how the Wheat aspect would work, but what happens in this purposely bitter stout is that it is - is that the little drummer boy doing a drumroll there? - TOO hoppy. After that beautiful nose that evoked images of those old carte d'or adverts where the ice cream is perfectly scooped like a surfer's dream wave, this stout is quite hoppy and bitter from start to finish. The dark, roasted coffee flavours and chocolate digestive dark notes here are merely the chorus line to a punchy, banana hoppy star act that never leaves the stage to allow others to shine. The vanilla pods used in the brewing process are here for aroma rather than flavour. Let us not disparage too much; I've still emptied my glass before I've even had time to rethink the idea of a Wheat Stout. As the bitterness still fights with my tonsils, I'm left wondering if a little age to this would have let the hops die a little and given time for that chorus line to develop their own skills.

Christmas Spirit Rating: 50%. I'm in a divisive mood

Revisit: Julebryg from December 9th 2013, but never the beer from 2012

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