Nøgne Ø: Dark Horizon: 4th Edition (Norway: Imperial Stout:16 % ABV)
Visual: Black. Brown bubbles at the edge and dashes across the body.
Nose: Chilli/Green peppers. Coffee in a bitter and black fashion. Sour cherries. Fresh baked white bread. Subtle bitter red wine with sediment. Avocado. Slight sour tartness touch.
Body: Caramel. Brown sugar. Treacle. Coffee. Green peppers. Madeira. Musky grapes. Spicy. Red wine and cherries. Bitter chocolate mixes with chocolate liquore. Almonds.
Finish: Bitter coffee, yet creamy. Cinder toffee. Madeira cake. Spiced cherries. Raisins. Tart grapes. A touch of chilli like heat.
Conclusion: Well…fuck. This is bloody amazing. Bitter. Coffee infused but with spiciness dark fruits and a mix of subtle red wine touches.
It opens with a bitter coffee and lightly spiced nose. Impressive, but hardly a hint of what is to come. The body is the thing. Bitter coffee and chocolate, it feels like it has been soaked in Madeira and bitter red wine. The slight spice is braced against that huge chocolate liquore and toffee sweetness. It just feels so very full. Each element is present at the same time
With most complex beers they seem to shift from one note to the next, here it all seems full on all the time. The Madeira is infused into the cherries which seem to have been left in pepper seeds for the spice. Everything is mixed in together, nothing feels small.
The beer feels its abv, but it comes out in a spicy heat rather than a direct alcohol burn. Similarly warning, but not as off putting in other words. The texture is smooth and slightly viscous. The flavours, while all up front, are so numerous that you could be examining the beer to the last drop. The wine feel and flavour is both subtle and yet omnipresent. To explain, it is not a distinct element of flavour but a mix of elements that call the varied wines to mind as you drink. The heavy and musky grapes mixing with sweet Madeira in the same breath.
It takes a lot to surprise me in the Imperial Stout race but this one did it. More full of flavour than most barrel aged beers, more drinkable than lower abv beers and more flavoursome than most beers full stop.
If you get the chance, drink it.
Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. The combination of odd triangular box and tiny bottle got me some odd looks, but considering the beer’s reputation I had to give it a try. From the box it sounds like they use coffee bean and Muscovado Sugar in brewing it. Half way through I was given a small glass of cold drip coffee to try, and I found afterwards that it set off the beer wonderfully making each note stand out much more obviously. The pub had live music on at the time as well, combined with a lovely day it made for an excellent environment in which to enjoy the beer.