Mikkeller: Brandy Barrel Aged Raspberry Quadrupel (Denmark: Quadrupel: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black with a thin brown head. Had a slightly purple hue on pour as it hit the light.

Nose: Raspberry. Fig rolls. Suet and mince pies. Raisins to fruitcake. Brandy cream hints. Sweet sherry. Marmalade. Crusty bread rolls. Calvados.

Body: Thick. Raspberry. Cream. Cognac. Marmalade. Tart grapes. Sherry and port. Malt chocolate and oatmeal biscuits. Apples. Stewed apricot. Raisins. Toffee. Liqueur.

Finish: Marmalade. Raisins. Oatmeal. Port. Tannins – tea. Calvados. Raspberries.

Conclusion: OK, this has a lot more beer at the base of it than the recently tried Trippelbock did, and the barrel ageing has given it a lot of spirity high points to make it interesting. Which means, unlike the Trippelbock, that as big as the raspberry character is in this thing, they don’t run the show – and the beer is much better for having that range.

I have the feeling that the base quad is slightly dry – it delivers figgy, sweet dark fruit notes, but in a seemingly a slightly dry way. I have to say “I have the feeling” as it is hard to tell with everything else that is squashed into this beer. The barrel ageing mixes with the tart fruit to crate a cavalcade of spirity expressions – from sherry, port, to apple Calvados. The mix creates so many of the high, spirity notes that I mentioned earlier. The most obvious of them is the thick cut marmalade character, a sugary sweet cognac chunk of character squatting in the middle of the beer, which I presume is the Brandy ageing. By comparison the raspberry influence seems fresh, tart and natural, offsetting the artificial feeling, spirity flavours.

So, does it work? As a quad, probably no – the base beer is recognisable, but is surpassed massively by the other elements. The artificial feeling spirity notes colliding with the tart natural raspberry take up the vast majority of the beer.

It is big, brash and … yes, enjoyable – pretty much by shoving everything in at once and hoping it works. It is about as subtle as a sledgehammer shot. It is far from a carefully layered masterpiece -more a dodgem car collision of notes- but it has character and value as that. Make of that what you will.

Background: OK, this I had to grab, a big quadrupel, barrel aged in brandy, and stuffed with raspberries. The barrel ageing is indicated by a discreet BA on the label, and the specific type is only detailed in tiny text on the back. They seem to be almost anti-advertising this. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and poured into a Westvleteren glass – I decided a huge beer like this deserved the glass. Continuing my attempt to revisit classic albums I put on Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death while drinking this. Easily my favourite of the Iron Maiden albums since their resurgence with Brave New World.