Liquorice beer — how sweet it is

If you drop into Edgars at Ainslie or All Bar Nun, O’Connor, you might sip an extraordinary one-off, draft brew from Chuck Hahn and Tony Jones of Sydney’s Malt Shovel Brewery.

The latest in their occasional “Mad Brewers” series is “Noir Stout” – a black, seven-per-cent alcohol, imperial-style, seasoned with liquorice.

Hahn and Jones write, “the powdered liquorice root added at the boil along with super alpha hops, rounds out the middle palate and provides that mysterious finish”.

Of course, their intimacy with the beer means they can see what characteristics the various components add. And in this instance, there’s lots going into the vat: chocolate and crystal barley malt, roasted black wheat malt, Australian super pride hops and New Zealand super alpha hops – as well as the powdered liquorice.

An outsider looking in might taste the rich, roasted-malt flavours and detect a crisp acidity, courtesy of the wheat malt. And the palate’s certainly luxuriously textured and deliciously sweet – before the hops dry out the finish, adding a subtle bitterness.

The sweetness and body, apparently come from the liquorice, which also reveals itself in a pleasant, albeit faint, fennel-like aftertaste. Noir Stout was released on 23 August and is available only on tap.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010