Brewdog Mikkeller Nøgne Ø: Black Tokyo* Horizon (Scotland: Imperial Stout:17.2% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Quite a fizzy pour but no head results from it.  Leaves a brown sheen around the glass but the beer does not seem quite as viscous as you would imagine.

Nose:  Roasted walnuts, liquorice. Alcohol but not burning. Slight coffee beans. Wood fire. Blueberry jam and brambles. Gin. Lots of candy floss sweetness or possible even toasted marshmallows.  Toasted teacakes.

Body: Very sweet. Blueberry. Very distinct alcohol. Red cherries and sugar cane.  Chocolate fondue. Light coffee at the back, very smooth.  Lots and lots of cocoa. Oddly toasted crumpets.

Finish: red cherries and milk chocolate. Still distinct gin styled alcohol. Marshmallows and strawberry jam. Dry malt drinks. Toasted teacakes again.

Conclusion: It is a pity that the term sweet stout has already been taken for a particular variety of low alcohol stout because if it had not then it would have been the perfect descriptor for this imperial stout.  This is damn sweet, a mix of sugar shock and evident alcohol that comes with fruitiness and force.

Even on the nose there is alcohol on show, though without the burning sensation that comes from low quality examples of “extreme beers” (“Start the Future” I’m looking at you, you foul tasting piece of.. anyway) Throughout the rest of the beer though there is a significant alcohol punch, probably a tad too much, and I got the feeling very quickly that it is one that would benefit from a while in the cellar to smooth it off a tad.

However we are not talking about a hypothetical future beer, we are looking at the one in the glass in front of us. Even with the fire, there is a lot going on. Rich chocolate, some light coffee notes at the back and a huge range of sweet and fruit notes that frankly dominate the character.  With the chocolate and coffee it feels like good quality examples of the items as well, reminding me somewhat of the highly expressive range of coffee flavours in Mikkeller’s  Beer Geek Brunch Weasel in quality.

If it wasn’t for the over evident alcohol then this would easily be a showstopper, and I have a bottle ageing for a future retrospective to see if it lives up to its promise.  For now it is an insane sweet sugar sledgehammer of flavour that is very highly complex and sweet. Frankly it shouldn’t be possible to have this much subtlety behind so much force.  The especially odd toasted flavours (be it marshmallow, teacakes or crumpets) are welcome and completely unexpected.  A fine drink for slow inspection, in fact it would be an insult to try it any other way.

Well worth a bottle to cellar, and if you are impatient and have it sooner rather than later, well it’s still an impressive beer.

Background: Mikkeller Brewdog and Nøgne Ø are pretty much the big three of craft brewers from their respective areas and this is a collaboration beer based on their three respective massive stouts. When finished the stout has then been aged in whisky casks and on pure cacao.  Finally it gets put in a little cardboard box for some reason.  Maybe to allow the bottle privacy, I’m not 100% sure.  As a fan of the respective stouts this was one I was looking forwards to and gave a lot of time to enjoy.