If you’ve ever been to Victoria and found yourself in a bar in the wee hours, there’s a good possibility that you’ve been Shafted. The Shaft is a Victoria tradition: a shooter consisting of vodka, Irish cream, coffee liqueur and cold brewed coffee, served over ice, and consumed in its entirety as fast as possible through a straw. Apparently this is also a thing in Whistler and Calgary, but nowhere is it more ubiquitous than in our province’s capital. Loaded with caffeine and alcohol — yet dangerously smooth — the Shaft is the post-work beverage of choice for long-suffering underpaid hospitality workers looking to catch a second wind before they close down Darcy’s or the Lucky Bar.
Victoria’s Moon Under Water Brewery is honouring this local legend by turning it into a beer — a really good beer. This version of the Shaft is a Russian imperial espresso stout, and it tastes and smells almost exactly like its namesake — and at 10.5 per cent ABV, it can do just as much damage if you’re not careful. In addition to the requisite espresso, Moon Under Water added hazelnut extract, Mexican vanilla, cocoa nibs and lactose sugar to achieve the full effect. The result is a rich and creamy dessert stout that’s deceptively smooth. (If you want the real thing, Moon’s distillery also does a premixed Shaft liqueur.)
While many dessert stouts have a tendency to be cloyingly sweet, the Shaft manages to avoid this with the bitter espresso balancing out the lactose sugar. This is still a very sweet beer, obviously, but that sweetness thankfully doesn’t overstay its welcome — unlike that four-top that ordered well-done steaks five minutes before closing.
The Shaft by Moon Under Water Brewery
Dessert Stout • 10.5 per cent ABV • 650 mL bottles
Appearance: Inky black with a thick and creamy dark brown head.
Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, hazelnuts.
Flavour: Cocoa, espresso, vanilla, Frangelico, chocolate milk, roasted malt, sweet, dangerously smooth with a shocking absence of alcoholic heat.
Body/Finish: Thick and creamy with a semi-sweet finish that doesn’t linger.
Pairs with: Ferrero Rocher, Nutella brownies, having your Saturday on a Monday and diabetes.
More beery adventures at the thegrowler.ca.