Brewdog: Arcade Nation (Scotland: Black IPA: 5.2% ABV)
Visual: Black. Massive brown mounded froth.
Nose: Kiwi. Fluffy hop character. White grapes. Pineapple. Malt chocolate. Cloying note. Light bitterness. Barley. Strawberry.
Body: Bitter hop kick. Bitter chocolate. Cloying touch. Light, clean, fresh character – Grapes maybe? Roasted character. Nuts.
Finish: Bitter cocoa dust and hops. Sour dough. Grapes. Pineapple. Cashew nuts.
Conclusion: So, the revisited Black IPA, prototype no more. Well, I say revisited, it has been barely two months since the original came out. So, they obviously had plans for this, is it an improvement?
Meh. If anything it seems even more simple than the original – less sweet, more bitter and roasted. So, closer to the prototypical Black IPA style, with even less twists to it than before. Before things get too negative, I will look at what has improved. The aroma is now exceptional. It is very fruity and hints at a much more complex beer than we end up with, tart and kiwi heavy. This really had me expecting something very good after it.
The base loses that for a simple roasted and bitter backed BIPA – nutty in its roasted character but it feels like a base to build on, not the destination of the beer. A pity considering that this is the second iteration. It is odd as Brewdog have turned out some utterly excellent Black IPAs, yet this feels distinctly lacklustre. It could be the lower abv. I am happy for lower abv beers, but the IPA range pretty much demand a bit more weight if the hops are going to have a grip for flavour as well as bitterness. This seems to be aimed at the craft ale session range of an abv ( i.e. at way above what I would call a session abv, but lower than a lot of craft beers). Like session IPAs it seems to be drier and suffer badly for the lower abvs.
So very mediocre and barely above base expectations for a Black IPA. A rare swing and miss on beer quality from Brewdog.
Background; Ok, I did deliberately pour this quickly in an attempt to get a pretty big head for the photo. Mostly worked as well. This is a tweaked version of their prototype Black IPA – though based on how long it takes to get a beer made, I’m guessing this was being brewed before we had even tried the prototype, which seems to go against the whole point of the prototype release, no? Anyway, decided to give it a shot to see how it had changed. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.