Bunhill: Chocolate beer

THINGS are getting out of hand when a chocolate-flavoured beer launched in limited quantities by an English brewer results in interviews on every American TV network - and front-page treatment in the South China Morning Post. It has even attracted the attention of someone called Louis Armstrong (no relation) of the Nubian Shine Company, which sells dry goods, beers and wines and wants the agency for the British Virgin Islands.

Such has been the fate of Fuggles Chocolate Mild, launched by Whitbread last week as the fourth in its series of Classic Ales brewed in minuscule quantities (between 150,000 and 200,000 pints) in an effort to show that even the much-reviled beerage can do better than pissy lager.

So far the effort seems to have been successful: even the ultra-sophisticates at Camra have been wooed by its predecessors: Glorious Goldings - made with a single hop of the same name; Ryman's Saaz reserve - brewed by wine-maker Hugh Ryman; and Fuggles Imperial IPA.

And the new offering - enhanced by 'chocolate barley malt'? It's agreeable enough, and tastes of cocoa rather than chocolate. A bit disconcerting for those of us who expect our beer to taste of, well, beer.

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