BREWER: Magic Rock Brewing, West Yorkshire

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 6%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @MagicRockBrewCo

INSTAGRAM: magicrockbrewing



If you could please just take a look at the bottom of the tin in the picture that Muse on Booze have provided for you.

Surreal describes something that’s a bizarre mix of elements, often jarring and seemingly nonsensical.

To call your stout Dark Arts is fine with me, not that you care what I think Magic Rock, but to describe your stout as surreal is just odd, though maybe that’s the point. Certainly got the noggin whirring before I had even lifted the ring pull on this one I have to say.

If this beer was to live up to its description it would have to be as the sentence at the top says, and I’m really not sure that would be a good thing. And if this stout didn’t live up to its description of surreal then frankly the whole unnecessary inclusion of the adjective would be pretty annoying to be honest. I mean not as annoying as walking all the way to the end of one’s 200ft driveway to fetch the Aston only to realise that one had forgotten their flippin car keys, but annoying nonetheless. However, should Magic Rock manage to pull off the unthinkable and deliver a good yet surreal beer then I’d be pretty impressed. I mean not as impressed as I would be by a cool cat pulling doughnuts in a convertible white XR3i, but impressed nonetheless.

Well first things first this beer smells great. An invisible cloud of coffee and cherry heads towards your hooter as soon as the tin is cracked and that only intensifies as you pour into the glass.

From the off taste wise I was initially taken aback. I didn’t really know what had happened. Had I enjoyed it? Was it surreal? What flavour was I picking up?  Was this a decent beer? I literally had no idea. So I went in again this time concentrating a little harder. Nope still no clue. And to be honest it took me the whole beer to really get to a conclusion of events and opinion.

So it turns out this stout IS surreal AND very good BUT not necessarily to my taste hence the confusion. The body is thin but the flavour is big which is where the mind begins to get a little boggled. Regarding the taste itself, well it’s a journey on the palate. Dark Arts begins soft, creamy and smooth. It then goes into the next stage which I’m going to call the break as nothing happens but all this is doing is preparing the taste buds for the massive liquorice finale. It’s quite the thing let me tell you.

It is because of the liquorice flavour that I don’t particularly like this brew but that is just my personal taste. Taking a step back from that I believe we are dealing with a very well brewed clever beer here with a description that sums it up to a tee.

Jymi’s Rating: 79%



Right, Dark Arts, a stout, unsurprisingly, is well named. There’s no getting away from it; it’s a good name for a stout. And the nose is what you might hope for: heady deep, dark coffee. But there’s also the hint of chocolate there in the background.

Those flavours carry through into the drinking. The interesting thing about Dark Arts is that it’s not as heavy as the nose might suggest. That’s not to say it’s not heavy, because it most certainly is first up. But not as heavy as you might expect. And the finish is actually very light and crisp. Together, this heavy first mouthfeel supported by the lighter support act is very nice.

The brew is well balanced. Dark Arts is an enjoyable stout. It’s got everything you’d expect. It’s definitely not sessionable, but it most definitely is entirely enjoyable.

Think winter. Think fire. Think stout.

Dark Arts ticks the boxes that it needs to. It’s like a nap on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. It knows where it belongs and it’s very happy there.

Happy, festive, days.

Sammy’s Rating: 81%



MOB review next weekend: JAIPUR by THORNBRIDGE






BREWER: Westerham Brewery Co, Kent

STYLE: Double Stout

ABV: 5.1%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle

TWITTER: @WesterhamBrew

INSTAGRAM: westerhambrew



Westerham used to be a place that filled me with dread as if I was passing through there it would mean that there was a problem with the South East of the infamous orbital known as the M25. But because of this brew I feel like I would like to visit this Kent  village under better circumstance. Westerham Double Stout hasn’t blown my Christmas socks off by any means but it has given me that warming feeling inside. One of tradition and times gone by. See my initial thoughts on the name made me think that this was going to be a high ABV dark beer as when it comes to the word DOUBLE in today’s world of beer lingo that is what you’re going to get. But no, Westerham’s Double Stout (though still weighing in at 5.1%) is not falling into the high ABV range. Instead this brewery have gone with the slightly older meaning of DOUBLE STOUT as the bottle explains…

The word Stout in the brewer’s lexicon means ‘strong’. In Victorian times ‘Stout Porter’ was a strong porter brewed with pale, brown and patent black malts. ‘Double Stout’ was therefore a stronger type of stout. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Black Eagle Brewery in Westerham brewed ‘Single Stout’, bottled as ‘Family Stout’, and a ‘Double Stout’, sold on draught and in bottles.

This Double Stout is brewed to the same strength as that brewed in 1938. It is brewed with pale malt, chocolate malt and roasted barley. In the copper we use the finest Kent hops and late hop with Kent Goldings. We also use the same yeast as used in Westerham Ales up until the brewery’s closure in 1965.

So although the word double here may be leading the beer drinker down a path they weren’t expecting there is good reason for Westerham Brewing Co. calling their brew by this name.

So to the inside of this most fantastic and traditional looking bottle we go…

WDS is lively in the pour and ends up with a two finger light brown head. It has a malty nose with large notes of coffee and chocolate playing a supporting role. In the sip WDS comes across as quite rich at first but with a light texture. I found this beer very dry I have to say which I was totally fine with but would probably only be able to sink a couple before it became a wrestle. There is a real malty and woody tone to Westerham’s Double Stout which is pleasant enough.

We have a very solid beer on our hands here that I’m sure would disappoint very few.

Jymi’s Rating: 70%



There is absolutely no denying it, Double Stout is a stout. It really does look like a stout in a glass. I know I’m stating the obvious, but seriously, it’s just the way it is.
It has a strong aroma of nutty coffee. And I like it. It’s warming and hearty, deep and dark. This is definitely teeing up to be a drink for a winter’s eve. And so onto the tasting…
Well, it’s not as deep as you might think from the hints coming off of the nose. In fact, it is quite a thin taste. But this is a good thing. It’s actually quite a refreshing brew for a stout. You might expect a beverage named as Double Stout to be deep and hearty but it’s not. It’s light, refreshing and very easy to drink. There is a pleasant and warming bitter overtone with some notes of chocolate.
While this doesn’t make it a behemoth of a stout, it certainly makes it a pleasantly quaffable drink. And it’s most certainly not one just for a winter’s eve as first predicted. It would be at home any time of the year.


Sammy’s Rating: 80%




MOB review next weekend: DARK ARTS by MAGIC ROCK BREWING 









BREWER: Bath Ales, Gloucestershire 

STYLE: Stout

ABV: 4%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle

TWITTER: @bathales

INSTAGRAM: bathales



I suppose all us beer lovers are ultimately looking for the beer that has everything…

That’s not to say that if we found it that would be the only drink we drank forever and ever and ever. A saison or sour in the sun would supersede a ruby red Christmas brew and of course if seasons were reversed the ruby red would probably be the beer selected. But still the quest goes on for that beer that has everything.
I suppose there are quite a few beers that we have each run into that tick all the boxes and the better they tick those boxes the better that beer is.

Well here we have the pagan and good looking Dark Side… and I’m going to say now that it isn’t necessarily the best beer in the world, but it does kinda have everything.

It looks great as a bottle and also once in the vessel you have selected to drink it from. It has a good strong burnt chocolate nose. It is a smooth and calm enough brew to enjoy a fair few of of a night down the local with some chums but also easily has enough punch to savour just one of very slowly. See, it’s got everything.

For me though the real star of the Dark Side consuming experience is what happens with the intensity of the taste journey in the gob. Up front there is this large richness to Dark Side that is of complex chocolate. But then, quite quickly, that huge flavour falls off a cliff… but in a good way. It enables the drinker to enjoy some large and heady flavours without it all getting too much too soon.

Hats off to you Bath Ales, very clever.

Jymi’s Rating: 82%



So, here we are again with a Bath Ale brew. And I’m going to start by being honest; I didn’t like the last offering I tested from this, er, Bristol based brewery.
But this time, it’s a stout! And this time, I like it. I really like it.
The nose is light and crisp and smells exactly what you’d hope for in a stout. It’s not overbearing and ,actually, if anything is a little non-descript. That’s not a problem though. Because what it does is give you an insight into what’s on the inside.
Where Dark Side excels is in it’s lightness. It’s great on the palate and slips down really easily. There is a hint of chocolate but it’s subtle and this works with Dark Side. This is a sessionable stout and one that you could enjoy in many-a-situation.
I thoroughly recommend this brew.
Well done Bath Ales; you have improved your standing greatly in my reckoning.


Sammy’s Rating: 85%







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BREWER: St Brides Brewery, Dorset

STYLE: Stout 

ABV: 4.7%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle 


INSTAGRAM: stbridesbrewery



Most of the time a beer consumer’s journey with each beer that they consume starts with the visual of the bottle or tin. Whether it be in a supermarket, bottle shop or in my case with St Brides Oatmeal Stout, an incredible farm shop named Washingpool in West Dorset, it all begins with the eyes glancing at the bottle.

Now, my eyes were drawn towards this bottle, mainly because I wondered just what on earth was going on with the label design. It’s not that I think it looks rubbish or that I don’t like it, I’m pretty indifferent to it to be honest, it’s just that I don’t get it. Oh well.

The next stop on the beer drinkers journey is the cracking open of their vessel and with that comes the first whiff of the brew. This Oatmeal Stout has a very light delicate nose. The actual notes that are picked up are of what should be typically robust aromas of liquorice and chocolate. But somehow with this beer they present themselves as soft and subtle. Pretty clever and certainly intriguing.

The beer consumer’s journey then continues to the pour and glance stage and this stout certainly got me thinking once again. There is quite high carbonation leading to a large and pronounced brown lid sitting on top of what can only be described as a bright black beer.

The final stop (which contains many mini journeys to be fair) is in the drinking of the beer…

The carbonation continues into the sipping of this Oatmeal Stout from St Brides, it’s not necessarily a bad thing but did come across a little fizzy for my liking. The lightness of the nose also transfers into the drinking here, it’s light and delicate with a good oaty finish accompanying soft coffee undertones.

Overall a solid beer from the smallest brewery in Dorset.

Jymi’s Rating: 68%



Well, it’s clear what Oatmeal Stout is about. You couldn’t come home with this in hand thinking you’d bought anything other than an Oatmeal Stout. And it’s Ronseal approach works…
The nose is earthy and nutty. It’s heavy and pleasant; warming and homely. It’s everything that you want in a stout. It really warms your toes.
Oatmeal Stout has a great taste up front, which is earthy and deep with coffee and oats coming through to play their part. But then it’s hindered slightly by its metallic after taste which pushes through a few seconds after the first sip. It doesn’t destroy the flavour, but it’s certainly not as strong as it’s first flavour punch.
In the mouth, Oatmeal is smooth. It’s bordering being on silky – great for a stout. This smoothness works really well with the heavy nose and earthy taste.
Overall, it’s actually quite light for a stout. I find this quite handy to be fair.
Put quite simply, I enjoyed Oatmeal Stout and would happily do so again.


Sammy’s Rating: 78%




MOB review next weekend: DARK SIDE by BATH ALES


The next views of the MOB SQUAD are coming in 4 weeks – THE BEER WILL BE JAIPUR by THORNBRIDGE

click here to see their previous thoughts and to see what it’s all about should you want to join the Squad 





BREWER: Siren Craft Brew, Berkshire

STYLE: Stout 

ABV: 6.5%

VESSEL: 330ml tin

TWITTER: @SirenCraftBrew

INSTAGRAM: sirencraftbrew



I know stouts are dark. But Broken Dream is really dark. And let’s be honest, the name is dark. It suggests a place that one doesn’t really want to go to. However, the key question isn’t about dreams per say, it’s about whether or not this particular Broken Dream is one that we want to have or not.

So, the dark theme continues beyond the name and look of this stout. The nose is packing dark roast coffee. It’s heavy and it’s enticing.

I have to warn you, be prepared when you drink Broken Dream: it’s heavy and thick. In fact, it’s almost fair to say the taste is dark. It’s syrupy, with a hint of cream that sits above the predominant coffee flavour.

Look, I love stouts. This, perhaps, will not be everyone’s cup of tea, or glass of stout for that matter. But Broken Dream is intriguing. It’s not a beverage that you could have a session on; it’s one for a special occasion. But it’s different. It’s rich. It’s heavy. It’s dark. And there’s nothing else out there quite like it.

This is most definitely another big hitter from Siren and it makes sense from inception to digestion!

Sammy’s Rating: 87%



I’ve always been a bit of a Siren advocate. Possibly as they are pretty local to me but mainly because every beer I’ve ever had of theirs has been exceptional to be honest. The one thing I was never totally on board with was the packaging of beers and taps heads in pubs and bars. It wasn’t the concept that I had an issue with, as was very much on board with that. It was more the delivery. I could never really put my finger on exactly what wasn’t doing it for me. Ratios? Colours? Layout? Never really did get to the bottom of it to be honest and found myself dreaming of what this branding concept could look like on a tin?

Well fast forward to not very long ago and Siren started canning and holy hell has it made a difference to the look of these already in my opinion, incredible beers.

Anyway, to Broken Dream. A little drunk birdie had once told me that this breakfast stout had won the champion beer 2018. It was time to see if BD not only lived up to that title but also to the huge pressure that I had heaped on Siren in my own melon to keep on delivering exceptional brews.

Well, let’s just start with… If you happen to drink this in a shed, it will blow the roof off. If you’re consuming in a garage, well the door is coming clean off. And if you happen to be drinking this cat in a bunker then you better get out quick as this beer is gonna blow the s#*t out of it.

My oh my this is one big boy brew!

When pouring this thing you instantly pick up the huge and delightful coffee and chocy (that was meant to say chocolate but I quite like the ring of coffee and chocy so it stays in, OK?!) aroma as well as the deep black colour of this stout and off brown thin head. You can just instantly tell you’re dealing with a major player. The very first moment of the sip is quite delicate, very smooth and subtle but then in come the flavour rockets and blow your brain apart. Coffee BOOM. Chocy BOOM. Cream BOOM. Cherry BOOM. It’s just huge and an absolute delight. Once all that is over and you’re feeling pretty drained the drinker is left with a long cream finish that fades to a bitter aftertaste, actually, afterglow. Then it is time for the second sip…


Jymi’s Rating: 93%











BREWER: Jopen, North Holland


ABV: 6.5%

VESSEL: 33cl

TWITTER: @Jopenbier

INSTAGRAM: jopenbier



Errrr.. nice enough beer this.

Errrr.. nose coming from da Mooie has a pleasant enough caramel tone.

Errrr… all in all this brew is packaged up well enough, I suppose.

To be really honest it’s hard to get excited about MNIPA but to be fair I wasn’t particularly disappointed either. This Dutch brew does have a piece de resistance but I’ll leave that until the end (no peeking now).
Look, Mooie Nel is an absolutely fine beer. The taste is good though doesn’t hang around long. There is a good bitter hit in the middle, though that bitter hit was a little clunky which suggests with a little more care in the brew this IPA could be elevated from pretty good to GOOD!

As said Mooie Nel is a decent enough beer but it won’t make it into the tales of ale when reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

MNIPA’s piece de reinvest (that is Dutch for Piece de resistance, if you’ve lost it a bit, which means masterpiece for if you’ve totally lost yourself recently) is that it is smoother than Rick the Slick sipping liquid silk from a Cashmere flute.

Poet, don’t ya know it.

Jymi’s Rating: 66%



If you were (or, indeed, are) Dutch, imagine how you might design the packaging for a beer. Chances are, you’d end up with something close to where the design team at Jopen ended up at with Mooie Nel IPA. Again, the chances are you’d end up being quite happy with it.
Mooie isn’t as lively as some of its Dutch counterparts in the beer world, but there are some other similarities. For one, it has quite the hint of caramel both in its colour and in its nose. Secondly, its well balanced in regard to its hop content and its alcohol. Together, this makes it a pleasant beer.
However, to nudge Mooie into greatness, it needs to pack a little bit more of a punch. It needs something in its follow through (pardon the pun) to give it an edge. A little more sharpness, or bitterness, perhaps would add to the overall feeling of specialness both in the mouth and in the aftertaste.
Would I turn my nose up at Mooie? Definitely not.
Would it top any of my beer lists? Definitely not.


Sammy’s Rating: 71%




MOB review next weekend: BROKEN DREAM by SIREN CRAFT BREW







BREWER: Robinsons, Greater Manchester

STYLE: Golden Ale

ABV: 4.7%

VESSEL: 500ml bottle 

TWITTER: @robbiesbrewery

INSTAGRAM: robinsonsbrewery



Can Trooper be classed as a novelty beer? I’m not sure. Is it genius or foolhardy? Again, I’m not sure. I mean, a band creating a beer smacks of novelty. But then again, I get it. It’s good business. More merch for the band to sell. But for it to be viable, it has to be good. I mean the beer, not the band, of course. (Just for clarity, Iron Maiden, creator of Trooper is not a band that I like, but I’ll put that aside for the sake of this review).

So let’s start at the beginning. Trooper is packaged up like you’d expect a beer from Iron Maiden to be. And if you like that sort of thing, that’s great. I don’t, but hey-ho (not a song by Iron Maiden). I do, however, like that each lid has a different album on it. For the purpose of the review, we are talking about special edition label here.

The nose is malty. It’s heavy and earthy, a little bit like Iron Maiden I suppose. But this vibe sits better with the beer than it does with the music!

The strange thing is, this heaviness doesn’t carry through into the drinking. Trooper is actually light and almost fizzes on the tongue. It’s not got much bitterness, but just about enough, and lacks a little in the flavour department with a hint of burnt caramel taking the lead here. But, yes I am going to say it, Trooper is a nice beer.

I get this beer. It does work. It’s definitely more genius than novelty and I can see many a fan enjoying this brew at a gig. And not just Iron Maiden ones for that matter.

In Trooper, Iron Maiden have crafted some very viable merch. I enjoyed it.

Sammy’s Rating: 79%



Well after years and years of avoiding this beer due to the bizarre packaging and concept I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this week’s offering. In fact, it went beyond that. I found myself thinking, saying out loud and writing… flippin’ decent drop this. 

And it really is…

There is a superb deep flavour to this brew. This is backed up by subtle citrus knocking about as well as a soft almost creamy texture during the sip. There is also a very very good yet subtle lemon aftertaste to Trooper which kind of takes it beyond just a good beer.

Look, as mentioned, I’ve never really got this packaging let alone it being brewed with Iron Maiden’s influence. I know it all makes pure business sense so I do get it really but you almost lose your soul when you start pumping out what could be described as a gimmick beer.

However, should you see it, then grab it, pop it, then finish it.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed

Jymi’s Rating: 82%




MOB review next weekend: MOOIE NEL by JOPEN