Brewed: Surbiton, Surrey
Initially set up as a microbrewery behind The Antelope pub in Surbiton, Big Smoke Brew Co. have become massively renowned for their beer over the past two years, most of which are vegan-friendly. Operating from an old stables premise, Big Smoke’s produce is representative of the beer that the brewery founders personally enjoy drinking, which is all flavoursome, hard-hitting and additive free. The brewery also makes a clear point of refraining from using Isinglass finings – a byproduct obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, used by many breweries to make their beers clear.
Of the seven core beers available, it is Big Smoke’s Underworld Milk Stout that’s perhaps the most promising. Brewed with lactose (sorry, this one is non-vegan), raw cacao nibs, espresso beans and vanilla pods, when poured the beer is unsurprisingly cloudy, given the lack of finings used, and is topped with a lasting tan head. On the nose, plenty of sweet aromas are prevalent, including notes of chocolate and treacle, joined by bitter notes of coffee, and an ever so slight smokiness that follows the complex malt character. A prominent sweetness continues onto the palate, with hints of milk chocolate, vanilla, and a faint taste of malted milk biscuits. There’s also some roasted espresso bitterness there, too. What’s most impressive, however, is the balance of sweetness and bitterness that continues into a creamy finish that’s both long-lasting and extremely pleasant.
Further information on Big Smoke Brew Co. can be found at bigsmokebrew.co.uk.