Had Thornbridge’s Bracia at the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner a couple of years ago. I felt it was the best beer on the table, but hadn’t had any since. And now I make its re-acquaintance and I just had to wax lyrical about it. Soothing, smoothing, creamy, rustically roasty, burnt and burnished are the words that flash onto the screen of my mind. And look at it: beneath its crown of espresso white foam, it is the darkest beer I have seen for a long time. It’s a big beer as well, a big slab of a beer. Coffee beans, chocolate, almond paste, alcohol, fiery bitterness with a tongue-tingling bite on the end of the palate; but I also think sambuca, chocolate coated coffee beans, honey — the bitter bite of chestnut honey. The chestnut honey adds a herbal-like sweetness to the beer, a breakfast honey coated toast character. This is a beer that really stands up and declares itself — it is impeccably made, an imperial stout porter style with honey adding a restrained sweetness to things. It’s the beer world’s equivalent of a sauternes albeit with hops and roast barley; it’s a sumptuous coffee cup of a beer, a dessert beer, a beer that I reckon would man up to a creamy, salty, stinky, sloppy blue cheese that oozes across the plate like an oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe, more prosaically, even link arms with a dish of baklava and serenade the palate with a sweet song of reflection; it’s a beer that demands of me study and contemplation for its liqueur-like qualities. Stunning. I think I like it.