Brewdog: Paradox: Isle Of Arran (2012) (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dash of browned head.

Nose: Caramel. Thick aroma. Slight sea air. Toasted oak and toasted marshmallows. Crumpets.

Body: Black cherry. Toffee. Treacle tart. Slight salted rocks. Coconut. Chalk. Milk chocolate. Vanilla. Marshmallow. Blueberry.

Finish: Treacle. Charring. Oak and bitterness. Milk chocolate. Whisky. Cranberry and raisins.

Conclusion: So, they’ve taken the abv up to 15%. That’s quite a big hike and is a heavy hit to drink. The question is, does it improve the beer enough to be worth the extra weight?

Well, the jump in abv seems to come with a corresponding rise in sweetness. This thing comes close to Tokyo* territory with the sugary sweet flavours breaking free. There is lots of toffee, chocolate and sweet dark fruit and the base stout seems less hard edged than the 10% version because of that. That’s saying something considering the original was no slouch in that department either. The texture feels more tongue coating as well, holding the sweetness for longer. You get nice toasted offset, such as crumpets and the like, but even that has a sweet pastry edge to it.

Oddly, considering Arran is such a smooth whisky, there is some salted rock and sea air elements which I wouldn’t have expected. Very understated but utterly necessary against the sweetness of the beer so it isn’t sickly.

So is it better than the 10% version? Well it is definitely bigger. Everything is more evident  and in your face and there are notes that remind me of the Cask aged version of Tokyo.  On keg it even smoother and bigger than the bottle and that version I would without reservation say is superior. In bottle, it isn’t better, just different. As mentioned several times it is closer to Tokyo and its variant which pushes it into the insanely sweet and somewhat fruity stout territory and makes it an event beer. The 10% Paradox was never a slouch but more manageable, you could have it with a heavy meal to have maybe a half of something else after it. This thing is pretty much a beer of the night at anything above a third.

Still a great beer, lots of range, lots of flavour and lots of kick. The kick isn’t alcohol, it is smooth as can be, there is whisky flavour but not alcohol burn.

So a very good beer for anyone with a sweet tooth to enjoy.

Background: So, revisiting the Paradox beers. The beer range has recently had a facelift with a jump in abv from 10 to 15%. Since they are all barrel aged Imperial Stouts this takes them from merely very strong, to ouch that’s strong.  I guessed that anything with that big abv difference would need a pretty different recipe – so its time to give them a review again. I have previously tried this on keg, but this is my first time trying it in bottle. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.