Shipwrecker Circus

Brewdog: Oskar Blues: Shipwrecker Circus (Scotland: Barley Wine: 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red to brown. Mound of beiged head.

Nose: Gritty hops. Charring. Pineapple. Bitter. Pencil shavings. Malt chocolate. Stewed fruit. Blended whisky air. Jam.

Body: Grapefruit hops. Treacle. Cherries. Quite bitter prickling. Apricot. Smoke. Shortbread and strawberry jam. Condensed cream. Malt chocolate. Pineapple hops. Blended whisky and toffee.

Finish: Treacle. Black cherry. Hops. Resin. Gooseberry jam. Pineapple hops. Diced nuts.

Conclusion: Have you ever wondered what a black IPA barley wine would be like? No? Well why bloody not? Such a thing would be so cool, hypothetically at least. Anyway, I’m guessing it would taste not entirely dissimilar to this.

Lots of hops for a barley wine, lots of citrus, resin and prickling. The base however is still sweet as expected, thicker though with treacle and jam laden shortbread in big doses. It is that contrast that gives rise to the comparisons to the Black IPA style, ok that and beer colour, but mainly that the dark treacle sweetness, the hops, charring and harsher edges all remind me of the BIPA rather than its lighter IPA cousin.

While there are some whisky like flavours the body is smooth and not alcohol burning, instead giving condensed creamy style elements that are a remarkable contrast to the hop prickle. You do get hints of the alcohol in the flavours, but never in the burn, and that bodes well for it now and for when it is aged.

The beer is a distinct hit, lots of pineapple and citrus flavour, lots of hops, lots of dark sweetness and good shortbread and jam with a much needed malt backbone. So lots of everything.

It is worryingly easy to drink for the strength and delivers the flavours as easily. Not one you forget in a hurry either as the flavour lingers long after each sip. A full on BIPA Barley Wine, and the answer to the question of what the hell that would be like.

Background: So, shortly after the joys of Oskar Blues they do a collaboration barley wine with an eye punishing garish coloured bottle. Not much to mention on this one, apart from the usual admitted bias for Brewdog beers I had little expectation going in and had just broken it open for a nice relaxing night.

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