8 Wired Mighty Imperal Ale

8 Wired: Mighty Imperial Ale (New Zealand: American Strong Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Dash of off white head. Head becomes larger and somewhat toffee edged when I filled up the glass with the last of the bottle.

Nose: Smoke. Smoked bacon. Fruitcake. Caramel. Shortbread. Thick. Cherries and cream.

Body: Thick. Salt touch. Smoked meat platter. Toffee. Very smooth. Lots of cherries and cream. Vanilla. Somehow rough edges right at its core. Oak.

Finish: Liquorice. Dry smoke. Drying feel. Light cream. Salt touch. Chocolate. Meat platter.

Conclusion: Now this is an interesting work. Smooth cherries, vanilla and fruitcake in a very layered, decadent silken style. Then, against that, there is a heavy oaken, salt touched and hugely smoked meat style that is actually quite punishing and thus utterly unlike the underlying sweetness.

So, that means the beer is a mess, right? Somehow, no actually. The layers, in their two distinct groups are layered carefully over each other. The weightier elements seem to sink through permeating everything over time. So the beer starts sweet but smoke touched and slowly builds to a rock salt and smoked meat crescendo.

That extreme smoothness of texture means that all the rough edges it has must come from the flavour and it certainly uses them well, mixing the flavours where they meet to create contradictory sensations.

The best part of the beer is the build up, the slow progression. About three quarters of the way in it peaks too early, and, while still good, the rest of the beer doesn’t have the same feeling of rich contrast or the promise of more to come.

So, 50% a beer of sheer joy and class, about 25% of peaked awesome, and 25% of merely ok. I’ll take that

Background: 8 Wired are probably my favourite of the New Zealand craft beer scene at this point, and that is a fairly skilled group of brewers. As is often the case, Brewdog’s guest beer section is facilitating my 8 Wired needs. Not much else to add to this one, was listening to Scroobius Pip’s/B Dolan’s Soldier Boy (Kill Em) while drinking.