Brewdog Paradox Islay (2016)

Brewdog: Paradox Islay (2016) (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15%)

Visual: Black. Brown froth edge, and light brown dusting across the still main body.

Nose: Iodine. Wet rocks. Black coffee. Bitter cocoa. Light salt. Brown bread rolls.

Body: Charred oak. Medicinal dryness. Bitter chocolate. Dry character. Riesen chocolate chews. Toffee. Resinous middle.

Finish: Charred oak. Drying. Bready. Popcorn. Medicinal. Bitter cocoa. Nettles. Slightly resinous. Chocolate toffee. Liquorice. Treacle. Smoke.

Conclusion: This is drier than I expected. I don’t know if it is due to the medicinal barrel ageing, or if they have changed the recipe, but this is very different from the usual intensely sweet and frothy Paradox we have generally seen since the jump to 15% abv.

It still has the chocolate and coffee notes, but then now lean more towards the bitter side rather than the creamy or sweet interpretations – less booming and less boozy, which I would imagine would be welcome for some. For me it seems slightly weird, slightly more restrained the base beer feels closer to the old 10% abv Paradox style from many a year gone by.

With a smaller base it instead become all very big in the medicinal influence, a reasonable bitter chocolate kick, but it definitely feels like it is letting more of the oak show. Also oddly it is slightly more resinous alongside that Islay character. Now, I loved the 2015 version of this as I felt it provided the perfect balancing of the base stout’s character and the Islay punch. This leans too much towards the Islay for me and because of that a lot of the complexity of the base beer seems to have got lost beneath it.

It doesn’t make it a bad beer as I often say, but it does mean that is basically exactly what you would expect from this kind of barrel ageing, but not really more than that. It is still fine, but for me the Islay ageing always works better with a bigger character to complement it, otherwise they will end up the same as every other Islay aged stout.

It is still a competent beer and does show the barrel ageing well, but hasn’t anything really on top of that. Not disappointing if that is all you want, but it doesn’t stand out.

Background: Back in 2015 I tried on tap a 13.8% ABV Paradox Islay and it was amazing, at 15%, and bottled I’m guessing this is a bit of a different recipe, and probably aged in a different Islay Distilleries cask – so a great excuse to do another set of notes then 🙂 Grabbed directly from the Brewdog online store along with a few other beers, this was drunk while listening to Garbage: Strange Little Birds. Not quite as exceptional as their first two albums, but still a great one burst of alt-rock whateverthehecktheyare. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

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