Brewdog: Paradox Rye (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)
Visual: Black. Short lived brown creamy head that settles to a loose bubble dusting.
Nose: Milk chocolate. Tiramisu. Bourbon. Caramel. Crushed rye crackers. Praline. Crushed walnuts and coffee cake.
Body: Bitter chocolate and coffee cake. Smooth. Low alcohol character. Caramel. Vanilla fudge. Cocoa dust. Slightly bready. Bourbon comes out as it warms.
Finish: Coca dust. Rye crackers. Crushed peanuts. Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Crushed walnuts and pecan pie. Spirity air. Bourbon.
Conclusion: This has been less influenced by the rye bourbon ageing than I had imagined – at least at first. Initially the alcohol feel, and bourbon feel, in this is pretty low. Alcohol warmth but that is about it on that side.
Instead it is very smooth – chocolate cake and coffee cake styled luxury imperial stout. A lot more nutty that previous Paradoxes though – which I presume is a more subtle piece of influence from the time in the oak.
Strangely there is very little of the big vanilla notes that you tend to get with American oak ageing. Even as the beer warms, and a bourbon air comes out in the finish, it is more subtle than usual. This finally revealed oak ageing influence seems a mixed blessing. It gains a slight spirity feel as it warms. I prefer this sort of thing to feel integrated into the beer, while here it seems to float as a separate note rather than part of the beer itself. Also, for all the beer seems to gain a good nuttiness, in general the beer feels like a very smooth base Paradox separate from those spirity notes. There are comparatively few added elements outside the bourbon air.
So, a mixed blessing, but still a blessing to have spent time in the oak. The oak rest has made it smooth as hell, and the base notes are emphasised in exceptionally good ways because of that. Praline for the chocolate, rich for the coffee cake, and the aforementioned great range of nuts. Very good – it just feels like it needs either less oak influence to ditch the spirity air and indulge the luxury, or more oak influence to add more complex layers to justify the spirit air.
So, not perfect, but a very luxurious smooth imperial stout. Feels like either a great example of what you would want from an unaged imperial stout, or a slightly weak take on an aged one. Make of that what you will.
Background: Ok, we all know the drill by now – big imperial stout. Aged in barrels – in this case Rye bourbon. As always I am not an unbiased actor in Brewdog beer. Grabbed from the Brewdog store. Think that covers the usual stuff. Despite being canned now, this still comes in a presentation box. Which seems a bit of a waste of material, and looks a tad silly. I used to be up for the more fancy things around beers, when they were used occasionally for really special stuff. They are used for so much these days the novelty has worn off and it just looks like an unnecessary waste of resources. Wanted some simple but heavy music for drinking this – so shoved on some Obituary. Nice, heavy and guitar led. Job done.