This week, our intrepid reviewers combine two great passions: beer and chocolate for Alice, wine and pizza for Henry.
BEHEMOTH BREWING COMPANY TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MILK STOUT
6.5%, 440ml, $11.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co
If you’re anything like me, you’ll often be faced with the dilemma of whether to have another beer or move on to a cup of tea and some chocolate.
This beer is the answer to that dilemma (no, there’s no tea involved, but everyone knows the only point of having a cup of tea is to have a chocolate biscuit too).
What I’m trying to say is it’s essentially a deliciously chocolatey dessert, and who doesn’t love a deliciously chocolatey dessert? Even my usually strictly green-bottle-only sister, whom I forced to take a sip, admitted it was quite tasty, equating it to a frozen Coke, or, in a classier comparison, cold brew coffee.
Behemoth is run by Andrew Childs, a former lawyer who, as hinted at by the name of his brewery as well as his nickname, “beer giraffe”, is quite a large fellow. Childs has made some very good limited edition chocolate beers over the years — the likes of Chocolate Fish, Mocha Madness and Notella — and the Triple Chocolate Milk Stout, which won people’s choice at Beervana in 2016 and is now part of the core Behemoth range, is up there with the best.
Beervana beers always attract creative reviews — see ‘R’ for an example from this year — and one of the 2016 reviews of the Triple Chocolate Milk Stout was so catchy it became the beer’s semi-official slogan. “Just like a chocolate milkshake only beery” — couldn’t have said it better myself.
This beer is a milk stout, which means lactose has been used in the brewing process, adding a touch of sweetness. The “triple chocolate” bit comes from the iconic trio of chocolate malt, Dutch cocoa and cocoa nibs it was brewed with, and there’s a touch of vanilla too.
I drank it by itself as a post-dinner digestif of sorts, but really wished I’d gone the extra mile and turned it into a spider by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, as Behemoth suggests.
Verdict: Is it beer? Is it pudding? Who cares, it’s yum
CATENA ZAPATA ALAMOS MALBEC 2017
14%, $18.99 from Fine Wine Delivery Co
In 2009, a band called Girls appeared seemingly out of nowhere with an album called Album. It opens with a hurried monotonous strum of a single trembly guitar chord which breaks in a kind of Elvis Costello via The Strokes via California via hard drugs song about desire and aspiration. The first verse is about love and whatever, but the second verse starts something like: I wish I had a suntan / I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine.
I’ve pretty much forgotten about Girls. They made one more album and broke up. People I know liked them a lot at the time, but they’re pretty much irrelevant now, a blip in indie rock history. But even now that I know nothing else about the band, I still often think about that line: I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine. So simple, so nice, so… true!
Last night I got my wish (to be fair, there are few wishes I get as often) with a bottle of Argentinian malbec by Catena Zapata and a mushroom pizza by Pizzeria Rosso Pomodoro. It was a perfect match: neither are the best in show of their own breeds – there are better wines and better pizza if money is no option – but, in both cases, it’s hard to find better value for money.
Catena Zapata’s Alamos Malbec (grown at over 900 metres on the foothills of the Andes) is dark, firm and spicy – an iron fist without a velvet glove. Grown in intense sun, hot days and freezing nights, it’s dense and sharp, with a blackberry acidity and a strong tannic structure. A mushroom pizza is probably among the lightest foods you’d want to eat with it – this wine could stand up to anything. It has an inky purple colour and stays on the palate longer than it needs to. Just don’t spill it on anything – you’d never get it out.
Verdict: Intense flavour! Intense colour! Intense value!