Two beers that I received this Christmas (thanks Mum!) were Fire in the Hole (4%) and Black Death (5.2%), both from the Fallen Angel microbrewery in Sussex.

The first thing you notice when you look at the two bottles is that there is no continuity between the bottles, nothing in the imagery which would make you even think that they were linked. I don’t know why but that puts me off some of the smaller breweries, curiously though, not when the bigger brewers do it. The other thing that you notice is the “CAMRA says this is real ale” label on the side. Well, it is nice to know that they approve.

Fire in the hole – 4%

Pours a hazy strawberry blonde colour, lightly carbonated but still noticeable.

Big hit off the nose, some sweetness, definite green chilli, vegital in a not too displeasing way. Fruit sweetness like apricot jam or the sweetness from ketchup.

Taste: more of the same as from the smell. Definitely ketchup, some vinegar, but in a good way.

The after taste had most of the heat from the chilli’s. There is a slight burn to the back of the throat. Tingling on the tongue which lasts for long after the beer had been drunk.

Black Death – 5.2%

Pours a deep, dark  maroon-y brown, not quite black, although looks it at first glance. No head retention at all.

Same big hit of chilli when poured. Immediately filling the room with the thick sweet smell. Although the sweetness was more strawberries than apricot.

More heat when first tasted that in the first beer. A definite stronger burn on the afterwards as well, leaving the back of the throat with a real kick and the tongue tingling a lot. A more yeasty element to the taste. There was a raw, nutty after taste.

I can see why it says on the bottle to serve this one cold. The more you drink, the more you need a drink and, inevitably, grab a beer. By the end of the bottle I was drooling and with ever sip the burning got a little worse. I felt a little dizzy by the end, I could’t work out if it was from the chilli’s or from the alcohol.

Verdict:

I give the Black death a 5 / 10. This was quite nice to start with and is a nice drink, but to have more than half a pint it becomes less enjoyable and more of a challenge to finish. Male bravado does however pull you through to the end, however afterwards you have no idea what you are drinking because taste-buds have been slightly stripped away.

I give Fire in the Hole 8 / 10. A pleasant drink with a ripe sweet taste. Some of the chilli kick, which you want in a chilli beer, but remains enjoyable throughout.

Note: Black death does come with a health warning on the label. Is this just a publicity stunt or a legal requirement  I don’t know but we have all been warned!