Mills and Hills
Brewery: Fyne Ales (Scotland) / Brouwerij de Molen (Netherlands)
Style: Stout- Imperial / Double
9.5% ABV / 100 IBU
This was recently recommended by a beer enthusiast who described it as the ultimate imperial stout. I think it’s important to leave the door open for further discovery, but I will go as far as saying that this is the most interesting imperial stout currently on the market, and by that metric, probably the best. If you’re already bored, skip the rest and just seek this out, buy it, savor it and enjoy the deep narcotic slumber that this 9.5% ABV brew will inevitably promote. Mills and Hills–brewed by Scotland’s Fyne Ales in collaboration with traveling brewers from Dutch masters Brouwerij de Molen–is a clever reinvention of the chocolate stout with an attractive pitch-black color and deeply satisfying character.
It’s worth noting that Mills and Hills is not beholden to either of the trends that have dominated imperial stouts: It’s not barrel-aged (although there is another version aged in grappa barrels) and it’s not flavored like a Girl Scout cookie. Mind you, both of these things are fine – they just lose their luster when ever brewery is like “You’ll go bananas for this stout that tastes like every component part of a banana split!” The dominant flavors of Mills and Hills are chocolate and prunes, which comes from six different types of malt, including chocolate malt and the familiar roast barley. That”s pretty clever alchemy right there, but Mills and Hills also features five different types of hops, including the stupid trendy Sorachi Ace and Calypso.
This stout is very hop-forward, but not aggressively hoppy, and the hops harmonize with the malt in a pretty genius way. Compare to something like Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute Imperial IPA, which actually describes itself as “extremely hopped,” and you’ll see that Mills and Hills is actually slightly more bitter (in terms of the IBUs) but way more balanced because of the consideration given to pairing hops and malt varieties. Speaking of pairings, this would be killer with a sharp cheddar or an aged dry cheese like Reggiano or Manchego, especially if “sweet and salty” is your jam.