Brewdog: Abstrakt:08 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 11.8% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany tinged honey gold with a white dust of a head. The head never froths heavily even mid pour.

Nose: Strawberry. Champagne and mandarin orange mix. Sugar cane and brown sugar. Brandy snaps. Milky chocolate. Very sweet. Dry malt and toffee.

Body:  Golden syrup and marzipan up front. Toffee and milk chocolate.  Some bitter chocolate depending on the moment.  Big amounts of fudge. All the stout like elements are mid body to end.  Strawberry and glacier cherry at the back. A moderate amount of pineapple hop moments but not heavily.

Finish:  Milk chocolate. Roasted nuts and deep bitterness. Tea like tannins. Coffee. Feels very fresh as it airs around the mouth. Fudge and bitter chocolate towards its last moments. Creamy in its bitterness. Still a touch of pineapple.

Conclusion:  Ok, it’s a blond stout. Ok.

I’ve accepted the existence of Black IPAs for a while now; blond stouts really shouldn’t be that much for my brain to handle.

Though, looking at it, it seems a more deep honeyed gold than blond. If I had to eye it I would have guessed the beer as a Barley wine.  But enough about the appearance, lets get stuck in. The aroma is similarly barley wine sweetness, to sugar shock levels in fact.

The first sip was while the beer was chilled, and it kept to the sweet fruit barley wine style. Very smooth and thick. Insanely sweet.  So I let it warn a while.  Now I’m not going to claim a bit of heat magically changed it into a stout. For one because that would be bullshit.  It kept its barley wine characteristics top and tail, but then into the centre like a depth charge came chocolate fudge and coffee.

It was like a shot of stout had been dropped in becoming a stout heart of the barley wine body.  The finish similarly sprouted a mix of chocolate stout and barley wine sweetness. Even the aroma shifted for a more dry, muted and less sweet character.

So it’s a bloody mixed up beast then, but what would you expect, it’s an attempt at a blond stout.

Stylistic pixelbitching aside, is it any good? Well the insane sweetness is overwhelming, all sugar fruits and candy cane. This can get a tad sickly, but when warm the surprisingly bitter finish does a nice offset. It s a bit too random to be a great beer, but it is a beer that gets better towards the end of a gulp. That’s when the real richness of the flavours hit.

Its problem is its stuck half way between stout and barley wine, with maybe just a hint of blond ale finish. It has that slightly creamy yet dry touch of blond ale there.  It’s an experiment that doesn’t quite work, but I love the fact it has been tried. As I have said many a time, I prefer a beer with ambition that doesn’t quite work to one that aims for the middle or the road and succeeds.

This is a wild Frankenstein fusion that enthrals me with its attempts for all its flaws. It’s up to you if you think you will have a similar response.

Background: When you can’t tell an April fools joke from an actual beer its time to get worried.  Brewdog did a joke about a blond stout last April fools, then the buggers only decided to go and make it. Liqorice roots were added to the beer, and it was aged on coffee beans to give that stout flavour.  Despite Brewdog calling it a “Deconstructed Blond Imperial Stout” there is some discussion of the actual style it belongs to. Obviously it has stout like qualities, but I would tend to call the beer a Barley Wine myself.  Ratebeer has it listed as an American Strong Ale, which is a loose enough grouping of beers that covers a wide range so in the end I decided to go with their category choice until further notice.  Drunk while listening to the album “After” by “Ihsahn”.