Tightarse Tuesday time again, and just for something different I’ve gone for another bottle of Coopers. This time it’s the Best Extra Stout*, as opposed to the Happy Super Pale Ale or the Superlative Triple Ultimate Porter. Silly names aside, it ticks two out of three boxes so far. On special at $5.49 for a big bottle it’s certainly cheap, and at 6.3% it should pack a bit of a punch. So, is it any good?
I’m going to get accused of being a Coopers fanboy after this but for me this is another surprisingly good beer. Maybe it’s because I forgot to mix up the yeast in it before I poured it and since my glass only holds about half the bottle I may have some nasty dregs waiting for me. I shall cross that bridge when I come to it. The top half at least then pours pitch black with a smallish mocha coloured sudsy head and while the aroma isn’t particularly prominent it’s a reassuring dark chocolate, coffee with hints of licorice. The flavour is again chocolate, molasses, slightly roasty, but not too bitter and at times I thought I picked up on something smoky, unexpected but agreeable. Quite yeasty as well as you’d expect once the bottom half is added. Others have accused this one of being thin and watery but I’d say both body and carbonation are more in the medium range and that’s decent enough for what it is; stouts get far heavier and stronger than this. Finish is short and bitter. It’s a fairly standard stout, undistinctive, nowhere near as full, rich and bitter as the better and stronger ones but few can compete with this in terms of value for money. For those who like their dark beers (as I do) I can recommend this one as a go-to sessionable beer.
The first band that popped into my head that suits this beer is HLAH – they’ve got the heaviness without being overly bitter, they’re messy and noisy (which is the nearest sonic equivalent to the Coopers’ cloudiness for mine) and these days they hold the same middle ground between indie and mainstream Coopers inhabits. Fine, that may be a stretch but it’s not like they’re unknown. The only thing is they’re not Australian, and that caused some problems not just because Coopers is quintessentially Australian but because the nearest Aussie bands tend to be angrier, faster and crappier. Case in point the Cosmic Psychos who I remember being pretty average and horribly uncouth, but wikipedia reckons they were favourites of some of the early Seattle grunge bands (and others – here’s L7 doing one of theirs) so maybe that’s the key here. Cheap, basic, rough but solid and lasts the distance (they’re coming up on 30 years with 13 albums under the belt) and makes an impression on (ahem) discerning patrons worldwide. Not my cup of tea but, well, it’s late and it’s past my bedtime, it’s the best I’m gonna do tonight.
In case you were wondering, yes I am getting towards the end of what might seem like a bit of a fixation with Australian beers. Once I find that Triple Ultimate Porter I’ll be done, I promise.
*Yes, I know the ‘Extra’ it means it’s stronger and meant for export but it still sounds daft.
Name: Coopers Best Extra Stout
Brewed by: Coopers Brewery Limited (Regency Park, South Australia)
Alcohol: 6.3% abv.
Price: $5.49/750ml bottle.
Purchased from: Thorndon New World
Verdict: Fairly standard, mild and sessionable stout, but being a Coopers the main appeal here is value and reliability (what other bottle conditioned beers come with a best after date?).
Score: Like all Coopers beers gets extra points (+7) for consistency, availability and for being proudly independent for donkey’s ages. 67/100.