Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout




Review Date 2/15/2007   Last Updated 12/12/2019 By John Staradumsky

Here it is, February, and I’m still sorting through some of the Christmas beers I hadn’t yet got to try. There are just so many to enjoy these days, and well, you know, just not enough time to drink them all and still remain a respectable member of the community, Work is, as they say, the curse of the drinking class.

Anyway, my Beloved Barbara™ decided I had been a bit naughty this year. Well, really naughty actually, but in a good kind of way. So, when Christmas came around, she put a Lump of Coal in my stocking. But in this case, that’s a good thing. Because Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout happens to be a very tasty beer, not a carbonaceous fossil fuel.

Lump of Coal is brewed by the Ridgeway brewery of Oxfordshire, England. We actually picked it up as part of a Christmas gift set at World Market that featured four English Christmas ales for $20.00. Not a bad deal at that, since these are all half liter bottles. The brewer advises that this beer is very good on the label; in fact, they suggest that it’s much more than you deserve for Christmas this year..

Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout pours to a dark brownish black color, almost as dark as coal, but not quite. If you hold the beer up to the light a bit will poke through. Lump of Coal has a very thin head formation. Indeed, I was surprised as I decanted the liquid from half liter bottle to glass how lightly carbonated the beer seemed. The nose simply exudes chocolate, deep, dark, delicious chocolate. Then you take a sip, and get even more chocolaty flavor.

Rich, dark, bittersweet chocolate flavor. Powdery cocoa chocolate flavor. All in all, lots of chocolaty goodness. Although there’s a bit of roasty character here, there’s not as much as you might expect. A hint of fruit is discernible, a subtle suggestion of fig and raisin. The beer isn’t especially bitter, though a touch of grassy hop bitterness and lightly roasty espresso peak through in the finish. Just a touch, mind you. Finally, there’s some warming alcohol, too. Lump of coal is a bit stronger than most at 8% alcohol by volume, after all.

This is a very tasty brew, especially for chocolate lovers, and a fine holiday treat as well. Why, if I’d known getting a lump of coal in my stocking was going to be this good, I would have been a very bad boy a long time ago. But you know what they say. Better late than never.

Update 12/3/2017: I picked up a bottle of Ridgeway Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout at World Market for $4.99 this year. Pretty much the same price I paid 10 years ago. I enjoyed it outside on a cold December evening admiring my Christmas lights.

From the label:

Yet another bummed-out holiday? Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout is liquid consolation. It's a deep, rich, sweetly rewarding stout to take the edge off of that grim family gathering, that cheerless annual festival of alienation. This brew is as dark as it gets, as black as the lump of coal you'll be getting for Christmas. Because, let's face it, you've been pretty bad this year.

Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout has quite the roasty nose, quite chocolaty indeed. Taking a sip the smooth roasty maltiness come through robustly in the palate with a hearty chocolate component and and an eminent drinkability. Soft malty and wonderful, smooth and creamy, chocolaty and roasty. I love it. If this is what you get for being bad, why would anyone want to be good?

Update 12/12/2019: Main update this year is the price. Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout is its normal roasty self with perhaps a bit more dark fruity raisin than in years past. I paid $6.99 for my bottle at Cost Plus World Market, up a few bucks over years past. Still a beer I very much enjoy and worth the added cost.



And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.