Brewdog Abstrakt AB 16

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB 16 (Scotland: Quadrupel : 10.6% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry to brown. Large off white head.

Nose: Sultanas. Vinous. Light wheat character. Cloves. Light milky coffee. Carrot and coriander.

Body: Wheat. Raisins. Red wine. Milky chocolate. Vanilla pods. Banana notes. Coriander. Carrot. Coffee edges. Toffee.

Finish: Milk chocolate. Toffee. Wheat. Vinous. Liquorice toffee. Sour cream.

Conclusion: Ok, here’s where I start. This is significantly better in bottle than keg. I’ve had both and this is better textured and has more depth of flavour.

Right with that out of the way we move onto where this gets odd. This tastes like a dark wit beer. An odd term, but is it a stupider term than Black IPA? Actually, probably, yes. Live with it. OK, lets try for something closer, it is like a dark Belgian Quad meets a German style hefeweizen. That is probably slightly closer. Maybe. I’m fairly sure they didn’t use wheat in the making of the beer so I have no idea where these notes come from.

There are wheat like notes in the texture and aroma, and banana and clove notes from hefe, with carrot and coriander calling more to the wit. I repeat, I am fairly sure this is not a wheat beer. What is going on? It is however a dark beer, and those elements are the defining ones. Toffee, chocolate, raisins and red wine. The expected Belgian Quad style in the fore, which just makes the subtle backing notes even odder.

For all this, you know what I don’t get much of? The coffee. I mention it in the notes as you can get it, but you have to work for it. If you hold the beer for a while, or let it run around your mouth then there are coffee notes, but not that much, and not reliably expressed. For a coffee infused beer that is kind of unexpected, though it is better done here than in keg where the element was entirely absent.

What does come through though is vanilla, and in a call back to AB 01 you could almost imagine that vanilla pods have been used in the making.

This is a very nice beer with a lot of twists on the style, when compared directly it is weaker than a lot of Belgian Quads, but that wit/hefe mix of flavours at the back does make it fun. It mixes vinous and fruity with wheat and lightly spiced. If you are going to get it, get it for that, not for the nigh absent coffee. Do that and you get a mix of American smoothness in interpretation, Belgian fruitiness, German banana and cloves and more. It has just enough rough edges, enough smoothness and enough quirks. Not a classic, but definitely holds your attention.

In bottle at least.

Background: A Belgian Quad made with coffee beans. This is by far not the weirdest beer I have drunk. This week. Abstrakt is generally Brewdog’s one off mad experimental beers. Ok, I guess a coffee quad is at least slightly non standard. I had drunk this on keg before, and found the coffee elements nigh unnoticeable there. This was drunk while listening to Paradise Lost’s Gothic album, because some times you just want gothic growling. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.