They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


Ska Steel Toe Working Class Milk Stout

Ska Steel Toe Working Class Milk Stout

Steel Toe Working Class Milk Stout

ABV: 5.4%
Origin: Durango, Colorado, USA

With my soft spot for the smarter and sharper side of mid-1960s music and fashion and its later revivalist derivatives, I was intrigued to find a Colorado craft brewery calling itself Ska and borrowing its imagery unashamedly from the design vocabulary of 2-Tone Records.

In the cartoon art on their website, former home brewers Bill Graham, Dave Thibodeau and Matt Vincent, who founded Ska in 1995, appear in the standard issue US craft brewers’ uniform of T-shirts, baggy shorts and baseball caps. So I’m not quite sure how they’ve come to reference a largely working class youth culture movement from the English West Midlands in the late 1970s, which itself drew on an even more proletarian youth cult of the previous decade with a somewhat violent reputation.

Still, the graphics look great, the humour engaging, and the product is unquestionably excellent. I’d had several Ska beers before, but Steel Toe, which I bought in a bottle from the pioneering craft beer list at a branch of independent gourmet burger bar chain Byron, was the first one that moved me to write about it.

It’s particularly interesting as an example of a revival of a threatened style, milk stout, which uses lactose, an unfermentable sugar derived from milk, to add sweetness and texture to the finished beer. Ska’s beautifully balanced example is a near-black beer with a ruby tinge and a creamy, light beige head.

The aroma is dark, malty and sweetish, with a creamy and very toothsome palate, sweet and slightly treacly but dried by roast notes, and revealing deeper layers of ripe fruit, toffee apple, leather and moist cake. A soft swallow leads to a tasty lightly drying finish with rounded, burry hops and a hint of ashy roast.

You have to raise your eyebrow at the name – skinheads shod in steel toed Doctor Martens would surely have regarded milk stout as the sort of drink their grannies liked.

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