It’s time again to look at the effect that ageing has on beer, and for this one we have what would by normal criteria be considered a perfect candidate for ageing. Brewdogs AB04, a Chilli, Chocolate and Coffee Imperial Stout that is one of Brewdog’s most sought after offerings.  Unfortunately a one off brew (if you don’t count the remix Dog A), this is my final bottle and has two years on the clock.

So what makes it such a good candidate? Well beer style is one, Dark beers tend to age better than light beers, and high ABV beers tend to survive better than lighter beers. At 15% ABV this Imperial Stout matches those categories well. Also hops tend to weaken quicker than malt flavours, and most Imperial Stouts are not hop dominated in the flavours.

On pouring this beer fizzes but does little more, the little head it had in younger versions is completely gone leaving a still body.  Swirling to get the aroma it seems a lot more dark fruit than before. Ageing does seem to have a way of bringing out fruit aromas and there seems to be a lot of plums and the like here. Chocolate seems better defined, more bitter and less molasses like super sweet. The fire of the chilli tingle, which as never very strong, seems to have died with age. There is a more present kind of juicy jalapeño aroma though, just without the heat. An interesting shift in focus here.

The body is very smooth, the years have done a lot to quell the alcohol and give a lovely texture.  While still powerful it seems more susceptible to chilling, the flavours seem to get lost quicker.  Its worth giving this one some heat, which shouldn’t be surprising considering it’s an Imperial Stout, but the young version could nigh kick through anything

Again there is flavour like juicy chilli, but no heat.  The chocolate is sweet here, with the smoother texture very chocolate liquore. Reminds me a bit of Older Viscosity in it’s smoothness. The blackcurrant and blueberry flavours are much easier to dig out, again ageing really seems to help dark fruit flavours.

Finally the finish is smoother and easier going. No charring or fire. The chocolate here is bitter, with a slight Dog A like power. Seems to be less going against it and it can play very well. The bitter coffee finally comes back here as well. The flavours her seem very well defined.

Some of the other expected flavours, toffee sweetness and the like are pretty much as they ever were.  The contrast between the body and nose is interesting, the nose more bitter, but body much sweeter. This is still heavy but less of beast than it was, much more refined and smooth. As always it is trade off of elements, but still a good beer. Not so different in some ways, the flavours are familiar if emphasised differently.  The texture, as is often the way, is the big change, lots less weight and much easier to drink, which is probably quite dangerous.

So, a mature beer, not the teenage sound and fire, but a more confident beer that can let carefully enjoy it’s charms.  This ones aged pretty well.