White or albino stouts—beers that are pale in color but still attempt to taste like a classic stout—are nothing new, but though the taste of these beers is deceiving, the appearance is pretty typical: They usually just look like your average pale ale. But Sue Hayward and Gazza Prescott—the duo behind the Liverpool-based beer brand Team Toxic—had an idea to truly turn the idea of a stout on its head.
“I got fed up with seeing releases of white stouts that were, well, gold or pales,” Hayward told me via email. “I've never seen a white stout that's white! From there I decided I needed to make it an actual reverse of the look of a Guinness—purely as it's the archetypal stout in appearance and very iconic.”
The result is the newly released Team Toxic Sinistral White Stout. And if you think pouring a Guinness properly is hard, well, brewing the perfect “reverse Guinness” proved far more difficult. “That was 5 years ago,” Hayward said of her initial idea, “and it's taken this long to be happy with the color of it. We are still tweaking the dispense of the head.”
Speaking of that impressive black head, Hayward wouldn't reveal any secrets on how the team pulls it off—other than clarifying that both the beer and the head are vegan and vegetarian. (No, it's not squid ink!) However, she did say that, beyond its all-important color, the odd foam brings a touch of something else to the table. “It does have a subtle Caramac flavor to complement the stout flavors.” (For us Yanks, Caramac is a caramel-flavored British candy bar brand now owned by Nestle.)
And speaking of flavors, talking to the U.K. site Unilad, Hayward described the beer as “rich, cakey and chocolatey—but the most important thing is it tastes unmistakably like beer, which is what we set out to do.” Trying it for yourself, however, will also be extremely tricky. Despite tons of requests, for now, there's only enough Sinistral to fulfill orders for some of Team Toxic's regular pub customers. However, Hayward did tell me that, eventually, she hopes the reverse stout will find its way out to where I live in Sheffield, about 80 miles away. “We just have to fit in time to do it!!” she exclaimed. I guess it took them five years to develop Sinistral; I can wait a few more weeks.