Meet Sonnet 43’s The Raven – a spectacular bourbon milk stout as dark and velvety as an October night.
What makes for an ideal October evening? As nights get longer and the spookiest night of the year approaches, it’s time to curl up by a roaring fire with a warming drink and a scary story or two. Enter The Raven – a rich stout with links to one of the most famous horror writers of all time.
Like the work of its namesakes – Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe – this beguiling beer contains multitudes. Raven-dark in the glass, on the palate its sumptuous base is elevated by a silky chocolate flavour that melts away into smoky sweetness imparted by bourbon liquor and time spent aging in oak.
These flawlessly offbeat flavour combinations can only be the creation of one brewery: Sonnet 43, where Poetic License’s visionary master distiller Luke got his start. As at its sister distillery, invention is the name of the game at Sonnet 43.
The brewers here take inspiration from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet and social campaigner who overcame the rigid gender roles of Victorian England and her own ill health to become one of the most revered and respected poets of her time – and ours.
“She didn’t conform to societal norms or follow the crowd – attributes we find very admirable,” founder Mark says. Barrett Browning is the inspiration for the brewery’s philosophy, but also something a little more concrete: the brewery’s name, along with those of many of its beers.
The brewery itself takes its name from Barrett Browning’s sonnet, which so famously begins, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” The poet may have been writing about her love for her soon-to-be husband Robert, but for Sonnet 43’s brew masters the work describes perfectly how they feel about craft beer in all of its aspects.
As for the beer in this month's box, that also has a rich literary history. But this one spans the Atlantic, and brings us into contact with one of America’s most unnerving and misunderstood writers: Edgar Allen Poe.
A huge admirer of Barrett Browning, Poe is said to have borrowed the meter from her poem “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship” for his most famous work: “The Raven”. The now iconic work, with the hauntingly repeated line “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’”, made Poe a household name overnight, and served as the inspiration for the inky beer in October's Gin of the Month box.
3 eerie facts about America’s strangest poet and writer
Crack the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe and you’re in for an eerie trip through a twisted world of murders, ancient curses and talking birds – but the real life of the author is almost as strange. Here are three strange facts about E.A.P.
1. All three of the women Poe loved died young, and of the same cause: tuberculosis. Poe’s mother passed away just a year after his father abandoned the family, he lost his adopted mother to consumption when he was a young man, and his wife – a cousin he married when she was just 13 years old – fell ill and died at the tender age of 24. It’s almost as if Edgar Allen Poe was cursed…
2. All the rumours you’ve heard about Poe’s drug abuse and erratic behaviour? They may have been lies. While he did struggle with poverty and a drinking problem, the most outrageous accusations are actually just as fictional as his stories. After his death, Poe’s sworn enemy was somehow able to make himself the role of Poe’s literary executor, and spent the rest of his life defaming the writer’s reputation through a series of fraudulent letters and a fictionalised biography – which remains the commonly accepted story to this day.
3. Poe’s cause of death is still unknown. While some say he died of a drug overdose or drunkenness, all of his medical records and death certificates have been vanished. And there’s another mystery: nobody knows why Poe spent his last hours calling for an unknown man called Reynolds – or why he was found in this state wearing person’s clothes.
Half-fill a Champagne flute or half pint glass with The Raven Bourbon Milk Stout and slowly top up with your favourite sparkling wine.