Headquartered in Blenheim in the heart of the province of Marlborough, New Zealand, the Renaissance Brewing Company is situated at the old Grove Mill on Dodson Street, the oldest commercial building in Blenheim. Over the years it has housed an ice cream factory, a malt house, two very famous wineries (Grove Mill and Whitehaven), and more recently a craft brewery.
Craftsman is the big brother to the popular Elemental Porter Ale. Building on the flavors of the crystal, brown, and black malts, the brewers added a portion of organic rolled oats for a silky smooth mouthfeel and then a small amount of cocoa nibs to the mash and brew kettle, plus a large addition of nibs to the fermenter. The beer then matured on those cocoa nibs.
This beer pours a superdark opaque-brown color. The head bubbles up at first but quickly settles into a mousse around the rim of the glass. Toffee, roasted oats, toasted almonds, cocoa, and rich dark chocolate explode out of the glass, with a hint of port.
Bittersweet chocolate and coffee fade, and the finish is somewhat dry, with a nice balance of bitterness. This is a lovely drinking stout that goes perfectly with fruit desserts, rich cakes, and cookies.
Review originally printed in The Handbook of Porters and Stouts.
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