Review: Hogs Back Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager

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Here’s a novelty. During a Reprobate Important Business Meeting, we found ourselves communing with pink flamingos in a roof terrace in Kensington High Street, enjoying the novel ambience of Church Street’s Churchill pub and a fine meal in the wonderous Maggie Jones’s (full review of that imminent). It had been a day of mild eccentricity, and so while making our way home through the backroads of Notting Hill, it made sense that we would stop in a pub that had several small rooms separated by doorways seemingly made for dwarves – and, with the reduced size made even more awkward thanks to high steps –  presumably a hazard for anyone who had been doing what pubs are mainly designed for – i.e. drinking profusely. No amount of ‘mind your head’ signs can compensate for a drunken indifference to sensible walking.

Oddness being the benchmark of the day, the idea of a chocolate lager made a certain sense, and upon discovering that this kegged delight was a very unLondon-like £3.50 a pint, it would have been rude not to try it.

Now, I’m partial to a chocolate stout, even if the results are sometimes less impressive than the promise. But a chocolate lager? What sort of witchcraft was this? Our eyebrows were raised further when the drink poured a distinctly golden colour. How could this possibly be chocolate, we wondered, when it isn’t dark and mysterious?

However, any doubts were dispelled with the first sip, which revealed a crisp, fresh taste that had a distinct but not overwhelming chocolate taste, one that develops further as you swill the stuff around your mouth and swallow – a pleasant, smooth and not too sweet aftertaste.

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Apparently, this wonder was the result of Hogs Back teaming with Montezuma Chocolate and figuring out a way of burning off the fat from the chocolate (Lordy Lord dark chocolate, fact fans). The result is one of the finest lagers I’ve ever tasted – proof that lager can be more than the foul nonsense that the corporate giants churn out for the great unwashed.

In fact, the only downside to this 4.5% beer was its decided moreishness, which ensured a slightly wobbly final leg of our journey home, several hours later than anticipated. A price worth paying.

Available bottled from Hogs Back, and highly recommended.

DAVID FLINT

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