Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 21 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of caramel brown froth. Redish if held to the light

Nose: Dry black liquorice. Blackberry. Sour cream.

Body: Liquorice all-sorts. Blackcurrant. Sour chewy sweets. Sour black cherry. Dry. Slight charred wood and charcoal. Slight funky, yeastie note. Some bitter chocolate. Light toffee. Creamy as it warms, yet still dry late on.

Finish: Black liquorice. Tart black cherry. Black currant. Bitter and lightly charred. Black pepper and pepper seeds. Charcoal dust. Gooseberry and Ribena as it warms.

Conclusion: Erm, well, it does what it says on the tin – well, bottle anyway. Blackcurrant? Somewhat. Liquorice? Very much so. Aaaand, that’s kind of it.

The base Imperial Stout is kept to simple notes – fairly polished simple notes though – predominantly using a charred, bitter back with some hints of bitter chocolate, but not much. The main thing the base gives is a very good texture – it is a nice, kind of oatmeal stout thickness kind of thing – just the kind of feel and grip the beer needs.

The berries come out more with warmth, the liquorice plays with the cold. With the liquorice ascendant it feels very dry, and very, very liquorice filled. I will admit it tastes better than most uses of liquorice in a beer – there is a slight sweetness that makes it feel like all-sorts, and that helps it get not too dry, which is a common problem I find. However it is much better as it warms, the light tart edges becoming a more fruity front face.

It gains a mix of Ribena, tart black cherry and tart fruit gum sours. A more bright mix and far more enjoyable for me, plus a bit more complex. However, while it is more complex than before, it still isn’t very complex in general. It is a good drink, but very similar to already existing blackcurrant and liquorice stouts that aren’t ten quid a bottle. It is well made enough, but not better than those, nor is it particularly innovative or unique. As a standard Brewdog beer, I would give this a thumbs up. As an expensive Abstrakt it doesn’t earn its place with either ingenuity or complexity, Good, but too costly for what it is.

Background: This seems kind of normal for an Abstrakt beer – for those who don’t know Abstrakt is Brewdog’s one off specials, and tend to be pretty out there. This one is an Imperial Stout made with liquorice and blackcurrants. Grabbed straight from Brewdog’s shop, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Abstrakts have started waxing their bottles – eh, it is done kind of ok – wax does get on my nerves these days due to overuse, but at least this one was fairly easy to get off. Think that is everything for this one.

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