Brewdog: Mr Squirrel (Scotland: Dopplebock: 11.3% ABV)

Visual: Black, or just deep black cherry red in the light. A coffee froth beige head.

Nose: Toffee. Apples. Walnuts. Sherbet lemon. Vodka spirit touch. Gingerbread.

Body: Greenery. Toffee and fudge. Walnuts. Apples. Bitter but fluffy hop character. Sherbet. Malt drinks and chocolate.

Finish: Spinach. Hop bitterness. Lemongrass. Watercress. Black cherries.

Conclusion: Some beers just blow away everything you expect. I mean, I was hoping for a good beer here, but more honestly I was expecting a jumbled mess. What I got? What I got was a beer that not just showed all the oddities that went into making it, but also transcended them.

Herbal and greenery filled, this is still as smooth as silk to drink, yet holds a decent hop character despite that. It’s hard to describe the herbal influence correctly. For example chilled down this is toffee sweet, amazingly easy to sip, and most obviously a bourbon aged beer, the greenery and walnuts lurking around the edges.

With warmth you get the nuts and herbs that make you look twice at what you just sipped. It’s always easy to drink and the full range of flavours show themselves slowly and carefully.

I am sometimes critical of the over use of barrel ageing these days – it can oft be used as a crutch to prop up lower quality beers.  I cannot aim the criticism at this one. It’s used perfectly, the bourbon sweetness gives somewhere the nuts can grow from and blossom into full flavour. The result is a beer that has unusual dry flavours that seep out of an unfairly slick body and then matched to just right bitterness.

Even as just a sweet bourbon aged black lager I think I would find this amazingly nice, it had nigh stout like touches that are very potent. With all the added miso, walnuts, apples and the like so very evident, well it’s just brain meltingly odd and delicious.

Heck, even the hop choice, Sorachi Ace, ever the unusual one, adds that lemon grass and nigh bubblegum freshness and helps again the expansion of the beers flavours. The lemongrass, like the apple, helps the flavours subtly when the beer would otherwise be just too heavy.

Style defying and excellent. I cannot recommend it enough.

Background: Ok where the hell do I start on this one. Well beer style for one, Brewdog call an Black Pilsner, Ratebeer have one version under herb, and another under doppelbock.  After close consideration I put it under doppelbock as flavour wise it seemed a good fit, but frankly it’s a mess of styles. Why it is a mess of styles? Well Brewdog got Tim Anderson who won Masterchef to make it. It uses sorachi ace hops, which I adore. Miso, which I’ve only ever had in soup, but enjoy. Add in walnuts, aged on apples in Bourbon Barrels. I mean the hell? Anyway with all that madness I was really excited to try this one.  As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I do wonder if the line “certified reality product” is a shot at real ales.