Brouwerij Kees (NE), De Molen & Marble – Lapsang Souchong (£3.70, 6%)

THOSE of us who’ve been drinking Marble beers for a while will likely remember the impact its Earl Grey IPA had when it first hit the handpulls.

At the time, Earl Grey IPA was a collaboration brewed with Kees Bubberman, head brewer at Brouwerij Emmelisse. Nearly seven years on, Marble and Kees are together again, this time brewing a series of Lapsang Souchong beers with Marble friends De Molen along for the ride.

Pouring a deep, dark walnut, this batch of Lapsang Souchong is modelled on a German alt bier. With forthright carbonation, a full and towering head of butterscotch foam demands a slow pour, while a blend of smoked and peated malt whisps from the glass. Bitter treacle, sweet syrup, and a moist woodiness meander through the aroma, though what comes from tea and what comes from smoked malt is hard to decipher.

Medium bodied, Lapsang Souchong opens akin to a schwarzbier; sweetly malted with caramel and walnuts, while a bright birch and lemon accent cuts through. The flavour profile is dominated, however, by rich, velvety smoke. With a liquorice and nutmeg flourish, Lapsang Souchong is thick and smoky with a hint of cola.

Lapsang Souchong is a full and intense ale that, while not heavy going, falls firmly in the ‘slow sipper’ camp. What else these three brewers can brew up will be very interesting to see, and taste, as it appears.

Recommended by Michael Bates, Trembling Madness, York