Ghosttown Stout

He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Like a pride of malevolent cats, hiding behind a shelf of Great Lakes Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale, dozens of pairs of eyes stared me down as I crept my way around the Yonge & Wellesley LCBO. Patiently, they waited for me to spot them. As I filled up my basket with seasonal goodies, saving what I presumed to be the best shelf for last, I spotted a beer like none I had ever tried before… Brasseur De Montréal’s Ghosttown Stout.

Having never tried anything from this myserious brewery, I immediately looked up their selection of beers, all of which feature a pair of eyes on the bottle. I enjoyed this delicious beer in good company, deliberating the unusual flavours found within it.

Ghosttown stout is a self-proclaimed strong flavoured beer. It draws its repetoire of flavours from the controversial spirit absinthe. Absinthe (from the Greek apsínthion, “wormwood”) is a strong spirit made with various herbs, including anise and wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Wormwood contains various semi-toxic volatile oils which are of use medicinally. An alcoholic extraction of these chemicals, particularly of thujone, has been said to be psychoactive, though the claims have been shown to be largely exaggerated. It seems unfair to blame wormwood for all this, given that wormwood is also used innocently in certain desserts, such as Korean rice cakes. In the 1840s, absinthe was given to French soldiers as a treatment and precaution for malaria. When the soldiers returned home, they brought back absinthe culture with them. Drinking absinthe was reported to makes its drinkers delirious, and would allegedly bring about distorted visions of the green fairy. Because of this, 5 pm came to be known as l’heure verte (the green hour) in absinthe-era France. Due to its controversy, absinthe was banned in many countries in the early 20th century. More recently, Absinthe is making a glorious comeback, thanks to companies like Lucid, the bottle of which looks quite a bit like our Ghosttown Stout…

Both bottles are, of course, green and black. The green probably comes from true absinthe’s usual colour, and its connection the green fairy, as well as the colour green’s toxic connotation. The black has more to do with darkness and mystery– two things which, in this beer, abound.

This beer is very complex, and definitely not something you could comfortably drink within ten minutes. Set aside a good half an hour, or more, to polish off a bottle. The tongue’s first impression is of coffee or chocolate, but that soon gives way to a very noticeable cigar-like copper, which in turn is followed by a smoky, herby complexity which goes beyond that of pure wormwood, or even the Lucid absinthe I recently got to try. According to the website, the recipe includes raisins, herbs, and profoundly-roasted malts. This beer keeps you on your toes with its “concerning amount of flavour.” It is extremely opaque, and possibly the darkest shade of brown known to man.

If you come across one of these bottles in your LCBO, I urge you to take one home. Be warned, however, that the taste is not for everyone… And please, tell the green fairy I say hello.

I would give this stout 3.5 heads out of 5

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4 Responses

  1. Ahh I just remembered that I picked up one of these a few weeks ago. While holiday beer shopping I very nonchalantly picked up one of these without really even reading it. I just saw “Stout” and I grabbed it. Its been sitting in a box ever since. I will look forward to sampling this one. I definitely have a half hour to blow on drinking cigar, herb, raisin and absinthe beer. Great review!

  2. Awesome. Thanks again for bringing me one! I totally would have missed out considering,Lindsay’s rather poor beer selection. Even though the Christmas beer gift sets are in full spring elsewhere, the only ones I have seen here are the haneous Leffe/Stella Belgian combination packs, the German beer gift set, and the Steam Whistle pack with the pint glass. Nothing else.

    Anyhow, that beer sounds completely amazing. I left it at Robs unfortunately, so I will have to wait until my break in 2 weeks to try it.. But what is your rating, and what kind of beer is this? Give me information!!

  3. You bros stole both of my ideas for reviews. These are both beers that I have been enjoying quite a bit as of late.

    St. Peters is a classic treat, and the Ghosttown Stout is one of the most unique beers that I have had in quite a while. Two winners, for sure.

    Thanks again for that Ghost, Iony.

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