As I crawled through a packed Calls Landing in Leeds in May this year, I never knew that a forced choice of beer would lead to something remarkable. A Vocation Brewery Pride & Joy was in my glass as I surveyed and judged the packed bar, but my eye kept returning to my glass and thinking "Who the heck are this brewery?"
I was soon to learn of the Hebden Bridge based brewery and their founder, John Hickling, formerly of Blue Monkey brewery, We all were. As those well branded bottles started to pop up everywhere, they soon turned to stunning cans and some of 2015's most memorable beers.
In the past week, they've had many mentions in "Golden Pints" posts - and feature in mine too (coming this week.)
With that I am pleased to see them enter my Beer Advent Calendar behind Window Thirteen with their Naughty & Nice. The can was kindly provided by Rachel (pictured) and had to be drunk in the pub itself so that this particular window could be completed.
Naughty & Nice is a Chocolate Stout brewed just for the season in collaboration with creative design studio Robot Food. There were a limited number of 750ml bottles released to celebrate this beer, but thankfully some made it into those wonderfully designed cans too.
Vocation Brewery - Naughty & Nice A Strong Chocolate Stout 7.5%
It's going to be difficult to say much here that isn't the word chocolate. This pours a luscious dark chocolate colour with white chocolate head. There's big flavours on the nose of dark chocolate, woodland scrubs, dark chocolate, cacao nibs, dark chocolate, cooked winter berries and dark chocolate. I'll try to describe the taste in as simple terms as I can muster:
Willy Wonka was looking at his chocolate river and was tired of its milky flavouring. He liked good, strong cocoaed chocolate. He liked it robust, flavoursome and dark. So the lactose addition was taken away from the river and it ran a pure dark chocolate colour. It oozed and boozed through the factory, picking up honey, tannins and maple syrup along the way, to provide a little difference, but mostly the river retained this powerful chocolate flavour, that flowed best at the most indulgent times of year. Willy Wonka dipped a can into the river, retrieved some of its liquid and took a sip. It was long lasting, mouth-filling but tasty. Above its subtle hints of Eccles Cakes and evergreen leaves, it was definitely chocolate; the darkest and richest chocolate you can imagine He knew drinking from the river was Naughty but the drink was so Nice. "That is what we shall call it," he thought.
That is the best way I can describes Naughty & Nice to you, without repeating the word "chocolate" over and over.
Mince Pie Rating: N/A - damn pubs and there lack of mince pies at this time of year
Best Paired with: Augustus Gloop.