Bottled Up: Marble Decadence

I love beers and brewers who seek to challenge expectations. Marble turn out a solid range of keenly-hopped organic beers from two breweries, one in the back of a Grade 2 listed pub and another underneath nearby railway arches. Their beers are always forward with flavour and style; sometimes, they take brewing to another level. Decadence is proof positive that world-class beer is alive and well and living in Manchester.

As with many great beers, Decadence has a history. First brewed in 2007 as a small batch to celebrate the breweries tenth anniversary and one-thousandth brew, Marble decided to rework the recipe in 2009 and bring the beer to a wider audience. Lashings of chocolate malt in the double-brew mash vie with berryish Willamette and stacks of the New Zealand hop Rakau to produce a complex imperial stout.

Bitter chocolate is undercut by something fruity - it starts off hedgerow-like and ends up more exotic, more plump and fulsome and passion-fruity perhaps. A coffee-wash banters with just a smidgen of salt, soy and liqorice before juicy hops turn the lactic tang into an ever-dryer finish.

The beer's presentation is as stunning as the flavour. Marble's in-house designer, John Macklin, wanted Decadence to look as good as it tastes and it doesn't disappoint. The intricate silk screen design caresses the bottle as it it were lace. Renowned Dutch brewers De Molen supplied the corks, which have been caged before sealing with wax to optimise the beer's cellar life.

The beer went down well with a steak pie when I drank it a few weeks ago. Dominic from Marble says it's a perfect accompaniment to gamey meats and rich stews. I think it will go with anything it damn well wants to. Let's be honest, any beer borne of a brewday where Metallica's 'Death Magnetic' was playing constantly is going to be chock-full of attitude. It's assertive without being cocky. It knows it truely deserves a place at the top table.  Decadence has escaped from Marble's arches and is now taking on the world - and about time.