Oh look what the postman has brought today, a couple of bottles from St Peter’s, unasked for, unexpected, how nice of them. Haven’t had their beers for ages — went there in 2005 (or was it 06?), but was driving some members of the British Guild of Beer Writers around on a Suffolk visit, which was a pain as I really wanted to tuck into their Cream Stout. So let’s have a look: first opened there’s this appalling nose of lint, TCP, bandages; the Islay effect I suppose (never been fond of it myself, but then I don’t drink whisky). And then I think it’s like the sort of old canvas tent I used to sleep in when out on Snowdonia with mates (not that sharing tents with mates lasted that long after 10 pints and a curry). It’s got that whiff of the outdoors, the tent, the climbing boots, the age but also a sweetness that saves it from being too savage. On the palate it’s bready, smoky, peaty, phenolic, and seems to marry well with the cashew nuts I have been cooking for a curry. It then sits in the glass and gets as mellow as some Forties crooner on the pull, but still retaining its semi-edgy peaty, medicinal edge (a member of the nascent Rat Pack perhaps?); there’s a sweetness in the palate that I rather like. There’s also a this-side-of-good harsh bitter note in the background — on first tasting I did think that it might need more alcohol to give it a fatness and maybe some darker malt (it poured into the glass with a very light and translucent chestnut brown), but it’s improved. It’s got that right balance of a challenging start which is then followed by a more appealing sweet smokiness — the TCP is still here but for me it’s an easy, peaty kind of beer. Make of that what you will.