Cans Across The World! #1 – 2 Lads, 2 Beers (Jet Black Heart & Howdy Ho)

I’m sat here with my head in the laptop cos the missus is midway through a Love Island marathon. What better time then to write the first in a series of posts about beer?

The format for this series will be : 2 lads buy a “weird beer” and give an honest review of it independantly of one another. No pretentious swilling, sniffing or spitting. Real language and real terms.

So I’ll take this opportunity to introduce my companion on this journey – Sean O’Neil :

Hi, I’m Seán – a musician and lover of food. Here I am, just about to wax lyrical about two beers instead of just tanning them and heading to the pub. I’ve stuck on Herbie Hancock to soundtrack this venture because if you’re going to be drinking alone for research purposes, it had better be both a tasting and classy.

So there you have it. We’ll be pumping one these out once a month or so and who knows, if theres enough support we may even podcast or vlog it!

This post we’ll be reviewing Jet Black Heart and Howdy Ho. Let the reviewing commence!

Jet Black Heart – Vanilla Milk Stout(by Brewdog)

Stu’s thoughts : 

How do you milk a vanilla stout? I’ll be honest – I’m not a fan of boutique beers in general. That’s an opinion based entirely on taste and price, honed over years of being a skint mass-produced-beer sinker. I’m aware of the Brewdog name but more in passing and with a fleeting smirk as I marvel at the names on the bottles. In this case Jet Black Heart is no exception.

JBH smells interesting. Musty but in a good way. I had it chilled but I’m starting to think a room temperature tasting may have also been an option for this one. Taste-wise there’s a weight to it along the lines of Guinness but nowhere near as thick as that black gold. To my surprise it’s quite easy to drink and not so much a “one and done”. I would say it’s more along the lines of a “3 and flee”. And not a brew to be downed either.

Halfway down the bottle I genuinely begin to enjoy this Vanilla Milk Stout. At 4.7% it’s safe to say this one will set you up for an afternoon of catching up with friends or an evening of jigsaws. It’s not a pre-drink drink or a springboard for a night of adventuring, but it will make you feel like a hairy old Viking dispensing knowledge from beside a ceremonial feasting fire.

I enjoyed this one. I’m not sure I’d necessarily buy it again but I no longer fear it. JBH garners 2.5 doggies out of 5 windows. Well played you fur-clad, aged Norse warrior, you.


Seans thoughts :

Our first visitor is one I’m both excited by and frightened of. This is none other than Brewdog’s Jet Black Heart and it calls itself a vanilla milk stout. Sweet Jesus! What? Rewind. Vanilla milk stout. How can you be a milk, a stout and vanilla. There’s nothing vanilla about this state of being and that’s only from reading the label – this concept sounds mental. It reminds me right away of Charlie Kelly’s Milk Steak from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, where the aforementioned dish is to be ‘boiled over hard’ and consumed with a side of jelly beans. But I digress…

This bevvy is a healthy 4.7% and in a bottle so I’d imagine it’s a good Sunday dinner beer. To be enjoyed with a lovely roast dinner of course. My Stormtrooper keyring proudly cracks the bottle cap, I fumble and the cap hits the floor. The cap is met my an eager puppy and the next 5 minutes are spent wrestling the bottle cap off him. I know he’s only trying to help – bless.

But I’m back and smell the vanilla notes wafting out from the bottle. I head in for the first sip and it drinks surprisingly smoothly. It’s not a thick stout as you’d find with Guinness or Murphys, where you’d feel like you’ve just had a massive dinner after 1 pint of either and immediately have the urge to go lay brick. If you… Get my meaning.
There’s definitely a chocolate taste there which is probably the cacao coming through. I just finish the bottle off after many sips, trying to taste everything that’s in there. It’s a nice bottle to be sure but I couldn’t see myself having more than one of these. There’s a sweetness to it that I love but as you get down the bottle, the taste of pure sugar starts to accumulate on your taste buds and I feel that it got a bit over powering. So, I’d say just enjoy the one as it’s tasty but might turn the stomach after the 2nd bottle.

Anyway, to sum up I’d give it a 4.1/5 on the class-o-meter. It’s a wee treat to be fair but this is a one and done beer for me.

HOWDY HO (by Electric Bear Brewing Co.)

Stu’s thoughts :

The most striking thing about this can is the can itself. It’s beautiful. In the past I’ve had feelings for cans but nothing quite so strong. Nothing quite so ………. WOW! The artwork, colour scheme and textured grip not only make the receptacle aesthetically pleasing but excites me for the journey that lies ahead.

Here we go. The initial opening did not render the pleasant hiss that I’ve grown to love from these 330ml boys. instead it was a nod of acknowledgement – I’m open, commence. The cola-tinted beverage is pleasing upon first contact, almost refreshing. but then something strange happens – it doesn’t go where your taste buds naturally want it to go. This works to keep the gulp interesting. I inspect the ingredients for affirmation but alas, NO – this beverage is NOT made from real leather boot. It just tastes that way. It’s a very hoppy American Brown Ale made in a Bath.

Immediately I feel a tinge of guilt that I’m not “getting” this hipster beer thing but then I remember i liked weird beer before it was cool so that quickly passes.

This is a heavy ale and a hefty one (weighing in at 5.1%). It’s just heavy going. It is an experience of a brew and I’m glad i began my tasting career with it.

The can (the beautiful beautiful can ) however made promises that the brew could not live up to. If this tin produced root beer of Mug quality i’d honestly renounce my blogging ways and go live in the mountains worshipping it till the day i die at 109. Howdy Ho gets a solid number 2 out of 5 Mr Hankeys.


Seans thoughts :

The second and final beer of this mini-tasting is the fantastically named Howdy Ho from Electric Bear brewing Co. It’s an American brown ale and at 5.1%, you’ll be ready to sing a few tunes after a few of these. This one’s in a can and the outside of the can has that lovely grip texture that you’ll find on the smaller brewing company cans, before they get all massive and the can production gets cheaper, to appease corporate no less. Or to maximize profits or something. I’ve no idea, I’m not a cannoisseur of can production. Here goes CRACK – Aww now, that really was a lovely sound. Can you get a sonic-ally perfect sounding can? This might be one of them.

A citrus note hits the air and I realise the milk stout must be kicking in as I just used the term ‘citrus note’ like I know what I’m talking about. The first sip is nice, bad, nice, bad, nice, bad and then you have a citrus after taste when swallowing. I say that because the taste is light and heavy, it feels like it’s trying to work out what the hell it wants to be, in your mouth. It’s on a journey in there and it’s sure as hell going to take you along with it. I feel the boot image on the front of the can as this tipple could have very well been brewed in one. I wonder what depths of utter depravity I would find myself in after a few of these hefty numbers?

That being said, I do like it but if I were to go for this beer again, it would have to be paired with a delicious BBQ bacon & cheese burger which is grand as we’re in the summer months where there’s no shortage of a good cookout.
To sum up, I would definitely grab a few of these rude bois again. As the great prophet Rihanna taught us, one should shine bright like a diamond and that’s what this can is capable of. It’s daring to be different in a world of cheap beers tasting the same. 3.8/5



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