Brewdog: Barrel Aged 77 Lager (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark gold with a small frothy off white head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Fudge. Pencil shaving and kiwi. Sea soaked wood. Blueberry. Freshly baked cake sponge. Crystallised fruit sugars.

Body: Sugar icing. Kiwi and passion fruit. Sour grapes. Slight chalk. Jiff lemon. Blueberry hints. Fresh orange.

Finish: Liquorice. Fudge and malt. Grain whisky. Light smoke.

Conclusion: When you list the beer styles that would take well to oak ageing you would have to move way down the list to find lager. Therefore this beer is a bit of a surprise.

Lightly aromatic with fruit and takes that through into the flavour. It is very carefully done and just slightly sweet with it. The oak has definitely had an influence, but for the most part not in the ways that would be expected.

It feels very fresh, almost bohemian in style, and with just the slightest wood in the flavours. Mostly the oak seems to have given it room to expand and refine itself. The sweetness reminds me of the crystallised sugar taste I had encountered with the HBC hop, though here it is much more balanced with a wider fruit range to smooth it out.

Frankly it is shocking how well this brewed up version of 77 lager does. It has so much more sweetness, subtlety and shine than base 77 does. In fact where 77 lager promised to bring back lager to being a noble beer, it is this version that finally delivers on that promise.

A beer that drinks great cold, drinks even better when warmed slightly to shift its range. A beer where the oak has influence but does not bury the base beer. This is an unexpected beer to really shine but it does. A fine job.

Background: I was never a huge fan of 77 lager, it was good but never really exceptional. Well except for the oddity of the cask version which ruled, but I could never find that again after the first time. Also I have always wondered about the point of oak ageing lighter beers. Therefore when I heard about a version of 77 lager aged for 18 months in grain whisky casks I was not really jumping up and down with excitement. Grabbed a few bottles though, as I have mentioned I am not unbiased on Brewdog beers so I tend to give them shot.  Over the weekend in Camden I tried it on keg and was blown away.  This I return to the bottle review with a lot more optimism than I otherwise would have. This version of 77 however is slightly different even before oak ageing, having been brewed up to a higher 7.7% abv.