Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 25 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 13.3% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black-cherry red. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Treacle. Fudge. Vanilla. Toasted marshmallow. Liquorice all-sorts.

Body: Treacle. Liquorice. Vanilla. Toffee. Buttery notes. Charred meat ends to charcoal. Chalk touch. Black cherry. Brown sugar.

Finish:Liquorice all-sorts. Butter. Charred notes.

Conclusion: This is … very buttery, very buttery indeed. That is not such a good thing. There is a good base beer apart from that; Solid treacle notes, very smooth body that hides the alcohol and good toffee and vanilla from the bourbon barrel ageing. I mean I even enjoy the liquorice that they manage to use in moderation and have slight liquorice all sorts sweeter notes.

But…. yeah, as you go on that real thick buttery character just grows and grows. Now I don’t know if it from a brewing fault in the base beer, from the barrel ageing, a combination of both or what, but something just doesn’t click here. Generally butter notes are considered off notes in beer, but I have defended them from time to time where they seem to accentuate the high points of the beer they are in, but that doesn’t apply here – they are distinctly off notes.

Now, to look on the bright aside of the beer – it is very good at concealing its high alcohol – I’ve seen beers of roughly half the strength seem far rougher, and the smoothness doesn’t stop it playing with big flavours either, dodging another common flaw in aged beers where the smoothness comes with an associated lightness. This all grinds to a screeching halt sooner or later though as the buttery notes come out again. Now, maybe this is another beer where a bit of ageing may sort it out, but since they are selling it now, I expect it to be good now.

The buttery character is a greenery pocked, thick and fatty thing – so, I guess high quality for butter? But that doesn’t make it a better experience – it keeps hiding the better notes underneath it. Late on black cherry and similar dark fruit notes come out from under that shell, and it would have been nice to see more of them.

At a cheaper price this would be flawed but with a quality of the base against it that makes it worth investigating, At ten quid a pop this cannot be a worthwhile purchase I’m sorry to say. A potentially good beer stomped by its worse elements. So there we go.

Background: Another of Brewdog’s one off speciality beers – this one a Barley Wine that has spent 6 months on a bourbon barrel. That actually doesn’t sound that unusual. Ah well, they can’t all be super odd high concept brews. Let’s just hope it is really good to make up for it. Anyway, another one grabbed directly from their online store. Put on Ritualz –CDR for this. Not listened to it for a while and it is a really out there, moody electronic set of tracks that I felt the need to jump into again.

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