Brewdog Abstrakt AB 18

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 18 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 11.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin browned head that doesn’t last long apart from some few islands. Still main body.

Nose: Thick. Shortbread. Vanilla. Black liquorice. Blueberry pie. Salted toffee. Toasted crumpets and toasted teacakes.

Body: Liquorice. Salted toffee. Blended whisky. Lightly oaken. Low level bitterness. Sour berry touch. Light earthy note. Malt chocolate. Red wine. Crumpets. Blackberry and blueberry.

Finish: Gooseberry. Liquorice. Salted toffee. Slight dry dustiness. Malt drinks. Alcohol air. Spiced red wine.

Conclusion: I do like an interesting brown ale. They are hard to find though, and probably even harder to make. This makes an interesting beer definitely, unfortunately pretty much everything that makes it a brown ale is lost in the process. It makes for a fun beer, but it doesn’t manage the far harder task of making an exceptional brown ale.

There are hints of malt chocolate drinks, but it is basically just a base – there are some good uses of liquorice as well, which is normally a hard sell for me but works here. I think it could be because of the tartness and spicy red wine notes, which means that the liquorice comes in as a dry back. However that is about it from the brown ale, there are no interesting takes on the base style. This means that the beer is going to live or die on its use of the special ingredients.

So, the special element – well you get touches of spicy red wine accentuated by tart berry characteristics There is quite the alcohol air to it, which actually helps here for once – giving a drying contrast to the tart fruit.

However, in the end it is a bunch of additions with no real base to add to – fun, oh yes fun, but when you get down to any beer…. Ok that would be a lie, many beers can be made competent with barrel ageing, berries and the like – but if they have nothing to build on then they aren’t really taking advantage of the opportunities brewing gives.

That doesn’t make it bad, it does make it spirity, spicy and berry filled but not in any way balanced or well integrated. A bit of a missed opportunity, but not a bad experience.

Background: Ok, Brewdog call this an Imperial Brown Ale (Specifically barrel aged with berries)- however as I mentioned in the notes I didn’t get much of the brown ale style, so I am happy to go with rate beer’s description of American Strong Ale. Broken open the day after the election results, as, yes, I was still miffed. As a result this was drunk while listening to some Against Me! Black Crosses. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.