Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB09 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 17.1% ABV)
Visual: Black, coffee froth head comes up easily with a fizz but never stays.
Nose: Roasted coffee beans. Cashew nuts. Porridge and a slight sourness. The sourness develops into a fruit tartness over time. Maybe raspberries, Mild fudge notes. Smoke.
Body: Very smooth. Oatmeal flakes. Bitter chocolate and milky chocolate interspersed. Some alcohol feel at the back. Bitter coffee. Quite bitter overall. Toffee. Lightly medicinal. Slowly raspberry influence builds, but is never really forthright.
Finish: Bitter chocolate very heavily. Quite a fresh air over it. Alcohol that hangs at the back of the throat. Very light raspberries in the air. Cashew nuts back again. Brown bread. Salt touches.
Conclusion: This one weighs pretty heavy on you. The thickness of the body means that you get ladles full of bitter chocolate coming through. In fact it is possibly a touch too heavy for its own good. Considering all the unusual ingredients that went into making it, it still seems primarily a heavy chocolate and coffee stout.
It does have other elements. The alcohol it high in its influence and burn, but it does also have a distinctive sweetness to the burn that hints at its whisky ageing. Top and tail has a slight tartness which seems to have a raspberry influence. All these elements are understated though, leaving booze and chocolate to come through. The biggest difference comes from the oats which gives a much thicker texture and that usually telling flavour that comes with all good oatmeal stouts.
The most unusual twist this beer has is the aroma. Left still it had dry fudge sweetness, but when swirl it seems much more roasted in character. An intriguing element.
It’s solid and wonderfully thick, but for all its show its inability to make use of its ingredients means that it is a slight disappointment. Oddly I think it needed a slightly lighter beer to let them show through. Not a statement I will say often. It is left then as a tasty, but expensive for what it is, Imperial Stout.
Background: As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This beer was made in response to a competition to design a beer for Brewdog. So they got this the “Cranachan” Imperial Stout based on a Scottish dessert. The beer is made with heather honey, raspberries and oats then aged in a grain cask. Notably the abv is a lot higher than was originally pitched for it. Drunk while listening to Paradise Lost’s “Tragic Idol” album.