Mix Tape 8

Brewdog: Mix Tape 8 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 14.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Dash of off white head.

Nose: Resin. Pine needles. Toffee. Shortbread. Mash tun. Strawberry jam. Apricot jam. Slightly musty.

Body: Strawberry jam into cherries. Custard. Resin. Brandy cream. Cranberry. Apricot. Slight medicinal touch. Pear drops. Black cherry. Fruitcake. Smooth. Salt rocks. Shortbread. Slight brine feel.

Finish: Plums. Resin. White grapes. Cherries. Dry sake. Smooth whisky. Strawberries. Caramel. Salt breeze/ Brine touch. Pineapple.

Conclusion: Ok, head brewer Stewart Bowman, I will concede, this is, as you say “Fucking Complex”, no doubts about that. So is it also bloody good? Lets dissect this complex bad boy and find out.

For such a high abv IPA based beer it is not actually very bitter. There is lots of hop flavours, some resin, but the bitterness itself is near non existent compared to the level of prominence of the very fruity base. It does show some of its Belgian IPA roots in the very smooth, slightly yeasty texture though, a very easy drinking feel for such a high abv beer.

The sweetness of this thing though, oh the sweetness, all sorts of fruit, lovely jammy chewy character. This is where you get an idea of the huge hops that were used in it, and the massive amount of malt that must have been needed for this beer. You can get lost in its range, seeking out new elements as you roll it around your tongue.

There is a spirit touch though, brandy cream in the body and dry sake in the finish. I know that grain whisky has been used to age this, but what I find strange is the slight medicinal touch. They haven’t used even one of the lighter Islays to age this (The best I know) but there is a slight medicinal character that, when mixed with the texture, gives a slight brine and salt touch underneath. I am guessing it is part of the grain character as it meets the high abv, though I’m not sure. All I know is that there are slight harsher edges under the massive fruit and the beer is better for it.

What else is there going on? Well there is a tight core of crunched up digestives and shortbread all condensed together to give the elements all the others are built around, and there is a touch of custard sweetness to accompany the fruit.

Ok, that is pretty much an overview of what is going on, all laid out and cut upon the table. So now, I ask again. Is it any good? Yes. That simple actually. Yes.

It is smooth enough, big enough, sweet enough, spirit touched enough, complex enough, and almost harsh element touched enough. That last bit is the only element I would raise, me being an Islay fan, but hell it is still a beer that makes you go wow.

Now, is it good enough to be one of my favourite beers, or to declare one of the best in the world? Harder question. Its base IPA trappings make it less refined than say, Hair OF The Dog Matt, but also more energetic. It is pretty much head to head with Dogfish head 120 minute IPA in style and it has been too long since I drank that beer for me to make an honest comparison of quality.

Definitely a great beer, just some small thing that says not world best, I can’t easily pin them down. Possible the alcohol is too evident to be completely a refined beer, but not challenging enough to justify it. Very small point really. This is great, only the insane quality of its competitors keeps it from the title. It is amazing by any other scale.

Background: A triple IPA and a heavily hoped Belgian Tripel (I’m guessing what I would call a Belgian IPA), both aged in Grain whisky casks for then mixed together and released in a posh presentation box. Well it should be interesting if nothing else. This was drunk to celebrate some good job news, and was drink while listening to the Super Meat Boy soundtrack. Because I felt I hadn’t been geeky enough recently. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers