Brewdog Mashtag 15

Brewdog: Mashtag 15 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Good sized coffee froth style dark bubbles.

Nose: Peanuts. Roasted. Malt chocolate. Lime touch. Dry liquorice.

Body: Bitter front. Bitter chocolate. Aniseed. Liquorice. Traditional lemonade sweet touch at back. Froths up easily. Vanilla toffee undertones. Roasted hop feel. Brown sugar. Dried apricot. Cherries. Kiwi fruit. Coffee.

Finish: Liquorice and bitter malt chocolate. Coffee touch. Roasted hop character. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: The level of roasted character in this black barley wine actually makes me think a lot about a stout, as does the chocolate notes laden throughout. However , before anyone thinks I am accusing this of being a stout in disguise I will say that the rawer sugary character at the back definitely reinforces this barley wine’s base as true to the style.

It plays the heat changing game, rawer and more bitter when cool, it gains a treacle sweetness and brown sugar notes as it warms, along with some subtle hop fruit flavours coming out. It is definitely a better beer when warmer – the coffee and chocolate notes still calling to a stout, yet there is this brilliant traditional lemonade freshness right in the middle that you would never see in a stout. It just hits the right notes, fresh, sweet yet deep, and with so many layers to dig through. The hops start out rough but end up the rounding mellowed fruit which is just right.

It has a little of everything. Considering how many special ingredients and strong flavours it had brewed in I was originally worried it was going to end up a mess, pulled in every direction. What we get instead is a beer that has managed to work every element in its place.

So, flaws? Well, mainly the liquorice flavour. Initially it fits pretty well into the flavour profile, but by the end it is a bit wearing. Still, overall the beer is a hell of a ride. So I can forgive a few slip ups. So, erm, go democracy!

Background: Democracy! The worst system apart from all the other ones we have tried! here tried by Brewdog to see what the general public would vote for in a beer. I’m sure there is no way this could go wrong. In this case they voted for a black barley wine with oak chips and vanilla, and 100 IBU US hops. Of course! As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Drunk while flicking through Miracle Of Sound’s music selection for a bit of fun.