Tag Archive: 10-13% ABV


Mikkeller: Raspberry Trippelbock (Denmark: Fruit Dopplebock: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Thin brown head.

Nose: Boozy raspberry – tart with sweet edges. Raspberry syrup. Dried banana. Creamy, boozy chocolate. Raspberry pips. Gooseberry.

Body: Raisins. Raspberry ice cream syrup. Tart, fresh raspberries. Chewy caramel. Malt chocolate. Hop oils and oily bitterness. Nutty. Dates.

Finish: Strawberry syrup. Red cherries. Tart raspberries. Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Hop oils. Oily bitterness. Slightly nutty. Treacle.

Conclusion: This is another super thick beer – treacle, chewy caramel – lots of boozy sweet characteristics. There is no alcohol burn to it, not even heat, just a syrupy thick weight that tastes alcohol strong. The flavour is just solidly sweet – a hair’s breadth away from being sickly. The beer is utterly reliant on the raspberry to make it a beer that actually works, as without it this would be a sugary disaster.

The raspberry is big and very prominent – there are tart, fresh elements to it, but a lot of the raspberry character has been co-opted by the sweet, thick malt. Thus what you get is an ice cream syrup styled set of raspberry to cherry notes. So, you do get that much needed fresh element, but mostly it doubles down on the the thick, thick sweet notes, just now in a raspberry style.

Now, there is an attempt at contrast – a thick, oily bitterness that comes in like a mix of nut and hop oils. It is an intense oily character, but rather than contrasting it feels like it adds to the thick boozy character.

Now, I wont lie, I’m having fun with this but it is simple as hell and boozy as hell. It is far too thick, too boozy and too sweet. Fun, depending on your tastes, and impressive in how it avoids rough edges despite that alcohol, but not one I can, in general recommend.

Background: Mikkeller! Love the brews from this lot – the so called “Gypsy brewers” who are probably the best known of the large number of brewers that rely on contract brewing to make their recipes. This one, a tripplebock made with raspberries has a pretty good rep all round, and is one I never quite got around to grabbing. So, when independent spirit got both the raspberry trippelbock, and the barrel aged Quadrupel made with raspberries, I grabbed one of each and prepared for some heavy, boozy times. Interesting fact – the quad is also 13% abv, partially because quads are a Belgian style and bocks a German style so they don’t have to line up – partially because the whole double, tripel, etc really never works as an actual multiplier on the alcohol if you ever think about it. Anyway, drunk while listening to New Model Army’s live album – love NMA and I really feel they should be better known in and out of the punk scene.

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Deschutes: The Dissident: 2016 Reserve (USA: Sour Ale: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy cherry red. Thin off white head. Still.

Nose: Massive cherries and black cherries. Smoke wisps. White chocolate. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Oak. Vanilla. Buttery shortbread. Sherry trifle. Bourbon.

Body: Figs. Cherries. Apple pie. Pears. Smooth. White chocolate. Gummed brown paper. Vanilla toffee. Malt chocolate. Bourbon.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Sour red wine. Port. Light oak. Figs. Gummed brown paper. Tinned tropical fruits.

Conclusion: Ok, going to have to take some time to unpack this beer – first impressions are a big, very sweet beer, barley wine in style more than a sour red. Considering the abv a big beer is unsurprising, but the sweetness did take me a bit by surprise. There are big chewy cherry notes, port soaked raisins – lots of dark fruits and even an unusual smoke wisp acting a a lead in to the second big element of the beer – the oak influence. The oaken notes themselves are fairly low – instead it shows itself as white chocolate, toffee, vanilla and tinned tropical fruit notes similar to what I expect from bourbon aged whisky. Together they are very big, very chewy, very flavoursome, but stills feels like a big barrel aged barley wine. Good but not what I expected.

Time exposes what was previously missing elements – a mix of malt chocolate and gummed brown paper that gives hints of the Flemish brown base. Even here there is barely any sourness or tartness, just light backing notes that gives a slightly more vinous feel backing the sweet notes and an even more chewy character. While not heavily done that light tartness and distinct gumminess final makes it stand out from the barley wine it otherwise feels like. Late on you start getting those odd flavour mixes you would expect from a more sour, acidic, beer – soft green fruit starts coming out along with sour red wine notes – all the odd flavours, but without the harshness.

Here, it now has all the sweetness and big flavours, all smoothly delivered, but with that slight freshness so that each sip feels now with renewed decadence. It is so dangerously easy to drink for the abv, you can feel the abv hinted at in the flavours, but it is so smooth you don’t care. The oak aged Flemish bruin and barley wine mash up you never knew you wanted. Very impressive. A decadent dessert treat for yourself.

Background: Grabbed this a short while ago from Brewdog’s guest beer selection – I figured as a sour beer of high abv it was unlikely to go off so could save for when I wanted something big and good – getting back from the China trip seemed to deserve something like that to welcome me home. This is a sour Flemish style bruin made with cherries and with 40% of the beer aged in French oak. I think the ageing varies year by year so your experience may vary with future years’ releases. I’ve tried Deschutes a few times at Real Ale festivals, and some of their collabs, but this is the first time I have done notes and tried them in an environment where I have not ruined by tastebuds beforehand. Drunk while listening to a mix of cheery Jonathan Young tunes – mainly Ducktales and the Zootropolis tunes.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 23 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale varnish red. Thin off white head.

Nose: Red cherries. Boozy. Brandy snaps. Treacle. Rum Soaked Raisins. Hop oils.

Body: Smooth mouthfeel, yet with boozy notes. Vanilla. Flapjacks. Fudge. Hop oils. Sesame seeds. Bready. Cherries.

Finish: White bread and oat slices. Light oily sheen. Oily hop character. Peppermint. Milky. Raisins.

Conclusion: Not bad, but, somehow, sometimes overly smooth, yet with boozy notes? How does it managed that?

Ok, with that quick overview for the TL/DR crowd done, let’s get down to the details. This is both an impressive base, and seeming to lack much to build on that. At that base it is smooth (Generally – see the comment on boozy notes above) with a bready and oaty character that generally keeps it from feeling light as barrel aged, or just generally aged beers can be (Again generally – as mentioned it does run to overly smooth at times) . It has a good hop oil character as it warms, giving needed extra thickness and you can see the bourbon ageing in full swing on top of that – bringing lots of vanilla, some fudge and lots of smoothness (yeah, that smoothness is something that keeps coming to mind while drinking).

Beneath that base there is … not that much. It is kind of milky, mixed with bready character to give a bread pudding sort of imagery. Which is odd as the aroma booms with hints of things to come – You are enticed in with brandy snaps, raisins, cherries and rum – all of which are very muted to non existent in the body when you get there. The hints you do get are more in the cherry direction than the others – and even there they feel light compared to the vanilla that dominates the base.

The quality of that base in ease of drinking despite the abv and occasional boozy notes is what keeps me at this, but at ten quid a pop it desperately needs more than that to be worth it. Maybe a bigger brewed base so that more survives the ageing, maybe a different, more character filled barrel for ageing, maybe a bit more done with hops. Just something. It feels supremely crafted as a base and it is begging for something more to be done with it.

Not bad, but definitely a disappointment.

Background: The latest in Brewdog’s one off special beer releases – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This one is a bourbon barrel aged barley wine. That actually seems fairly ordinary for an Abstrakt release – hope it brings more than that into play on drinking. This was grabbed directly from the Brewdog store and drunk while listening to some Bikini Kill. Still an awesome angry punk band.

Lervig: Way: Three Bean Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thick look on pour. Thin creamy brown head.

Nose: Thick. Tofu. Liquorice. Crushed hazelnuts. Aniseed. Oily coffee notes. Cinnamon. Cream. Chinese stir fry. Sherry spirit soaked sponge and raspberry jam.

Body: Thick. Oily. Jam sponge. Tofu. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Liquorice. Bready. Savoury core. Cocoa.

Finish: Fudge. Savoury beans. Brown bread. Cinnamon. Sherry soaked sponge. Liquorice. Vanilla. Slight charring. Oily.

Conclusion: This is a very savoury stout at its core, wrapped in sweet trappings. A lot of the savoury character I’m guessing is due to the tonka bean used in making it; I’m not overly familiar with tonka beans so I can’t say for sure if that is the cause. The best way I can describe it is like a thick, tofu character mixed with green bean savoury taste. Similarly there is a moderate liquorice character which also adds to the more savoury side of the beer.

Outside of that thick, unusual core is a more traditional chocolate stout style – oily sheened with coffee notes. Even here is the more stouty side it has some less common elements with cinnamon and spirit soaked sponge thickness to it.

That thickness really is the thing that stands out about about this beer. In all elements this has it is very robust – now that level of thickness is not unexpected at 13% abv but it doesn’t bring a lot of the other elements you would expect at that strength. For one the alcohol is very much hidden in a thick, complex beer, it does not feel boozy nor burning. It doesn’t have insane sweetness from the malt, nor heavy bitterness from coffee. Lots of the usual notes from high abv stouts are not here.

So you end up with a very interesting, very savoury tasting beer with only some sweet edges. Unusual in that it really builds a range of oily and savoury notes and uses the stout weight with them. It may not be a beer to have all the time, but damn it is good for an occasional try.

There are lots of elements here that could be intrusive if used too heavily, but instead delivered in a restrained fashion, especially shocking for a 13% abv beer. If you are bored with there being too many identikit imperial stouts, then give this one a go. You won’t regret it.

Background: This was listed as a collaboration beer, made with the Brazilian brewery “Way Beer”, however the bottle doesn’t mention that. Looking online there are bottles with both brewers logos on so I’m guessing the collaborated on the original brew, and this is a re-brew made with the same recipe. Probably. This is an imperial stout made with cocoa, tonka and vanilla beans. I grabbed it from Brewdog’s guest beer a while back – let’s face it imperial stouts don’t go off easily. Again drunk while listening to some Jackamo Brown – very cool and chilled.

Founders: Lizard Of Koz (USA: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Medium sized frothy brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla toffee vodka. Sugared blueberry pie. Chocolate syrup. Treacle. Light liquorice. Black and red cherries. Coconut macaroons. Nougat.

Body: Sherbety lemon. Tart blueberry. Chocolate fondue. Light aniseed. Glacier cherries and sultanas into fruitcake. Nougat. Liquorice. Slight prickling alcohol. Bourbon.

Finish: Blueberry. Sweet milky chocolate. Vanilla fudge. Fruitcake. Nougat. Slight prickling alcohol air. Light nettles. Light charring. Golden syrup cake.

Conclusion: Whelp, this is a very sweet one and a spirity one at that; A combination that creates an odd but not unpleasant contrast – and definitely tells you that this is a very big beer that you have in your hands.

Right from the off you get the blueberry nestled amongst heavier, syrupy chocolate and treacle flavours – however even against those heavy flavours there is no mistaking the blueberry pie character. A similar thing comes as you take a sip – distinct sweet and lightly tart berries amongst a deep, thick, syrupy sweet imperial stout base. What is unusual is how the bourbon ageing shows itself so roughly – the traditional vanilla does show itself in the aroma, but in a very spirity way; Once you get to the main body it is very much raw bourbon spirit coming through , or even some blended whisky style – rather than being a subtle influence on the beer you can really taste the bourbon itself.

Around that set of big notes there goes manage to be a good chunk of more subtle notes – coconut to nougat notes float in the aroma delicately – though only a thicker, chewy nougat survives through into the heavy body. Similarly a mix of cherries becomes heavier, stodgy fruitcake flavour when it reaches the body. The aroma works the subtle notes, the body brings the force.

Together? Well it is a tad raw – lots of sweetness, lots of tells to the alcohol weight, lots of spirity character; Enjoyable as hell, but refined it aint. Maybe some time ageing will sooth that out. Right now it is fun but very rough around the edges. It definitely uses the blueberries well, but the use of oak ageing feels too overt. Still good, but unbalanced as fuck and stupidly sweet. Make of that what you will.

Background: I nearly grabbed this in Germany – I had seen it there and thought that the odder Founder’s beers don’t turn up very often so it may be worth grabbing. I decided against it and instead grabbed some more local beers that I just could not get in the UK. Good thing as well – The week I returned to the UK Independent Spirit got it in. The amount of times I grab beers abroad only for them to turn up for the first time in the UK weeks later, I was glad to dodge that curse this time. Anyway this is a blueberry, chocolate and vanilla infused Imperial Stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels. Which sounds awesome I have to admit. A big beer like this needed big music, so I shoved on some Meshuggah! Oh yeah!

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB22 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large creamy brown inch of froth.

Nose: Smooth chocolate fondue. Rich, complex coffee. Light salt. Lightly medicinal and spirity. Slight subtle green fruit. Slight bready character. Bitter cocoa.

Body: Slight medicinal and salt. Cocoa. Very smooth. Rich creamy coffee. Slightly light at the front. Light blended whisky background. Bready.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Clean whisky character. Toffee. Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Chocolate fondue. Clean alcohol feel. Slight tequila. Bready. Bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Hmm, it seems we are back in for very competent Imperial Stout time again. A very competent imperial stout that doesn’t really stand out from the glut of IS time again. A very competent barrel aged Imperial Stout that doesn’t stand out from the crowd time again. I need to think of new things to say on a well worn topic it seems.

Ok, the base beer is the very competently done coffee and chocolate stuffed imperial stout; So, as you can probably guess it is a mix of bitter cocoa and rich coffee. It is generally well done – though it does feel slightly light up front, probably due to the time ageing in the oak which tends to sooth bigger beers. Still at 12.5% it really should not feel light at times- that is just a let down. Apart from that point the coffee is complex, the cocoa well delivered – it is just that that look is really overdone at the moment. Brewdog alone have done metric shit-ton of beers in this style – so this doesn’t seem unusual enough or stand out enough to be worth the high cost an Abstrakt beer demands.

The whisky ageing on this is Speyside, but it I had to call it blind then the light medicinal notes in it would have called me to Island or Islay areas. It doesn’t have much of the fruitiness or extra sweetness I associate with Speyside, instead having mainly a generic kind of cheap blended whisky style. Not the good stuff either, just some vanilla and a generic whisky feel. I think more than anything this is what lets the beer down. It isn’t bad, but compared to the many better barrel aged beers, the ageing here seems very simple in what it adds to the experience.

It is worth noting that as time goes on it also loses some of the subtlety – becoming more dominated by the bitter coffee flavour. By the end there is not much else being done there. The coffee is still great but it feels kind of one note.

So despite being a very competent beer, and it does add something from the ageing – it ends up feeling a fairly standard Imperial Stout these days in the style -not something special that is worth dropping ten quid on, or worth treating as a one off release. A good enough beer, but nowhere near worth the cost.

Background: Been a long time waiting for Abstrakt 22 – originally it was to be a spiced brown ale I think, but that didn’t work out how they wanted so instead we get this – A speyside barrel aged coffee and chocolate stout. This was grabbed direct from the Brewdog store and was broken out to drink after coming back from an awesome Gogol Bordello gig. If you ever get the chance to see them live I recommand it, they have wonderful energy to their sets. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer.

Gusswerk: Dies Iræ (Austria: Barley Wine: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin greyed head.

Nose: Brandy cream. Buttery shortbread. Black liquorice. Port. Butterscotch.

Body: Fruitcake. Liquorice. Port. Rum soaked raisins. Very smooth. Dried apricot. Tart blueberry. Light chalk. Cola. Werther’s Originals. Vodka. Slight fudge. Pear drops.

Finish: Brandy cream. Fig pudding. Liquorice. Port. Blueberry. Brown bread. Cola. Vodka. Pears.

Conclusion: Ok, this has a lot of liquorice flavour in it. I can deal with that. Not my favourite element in a beer, but not one that causes instant hatred of the entire beer either. It just needs to be used carefully ya know?

Anyway, for all its strength this beer is very smooth – there is a kind of alcohol edge to the flavours, kind of a vodka weight, but no fire or roughness which is impressive. Since this was a 2015 bottling and it is now 2017 its possible that is the ageing going to work – I’m not sure if they hold back releases deliberately, or if I was just lucky to get an aged one. Either way it seems to have worked.

As can be guessed from the colour in the photo, this works on the darker side of the barley wine scale for flavours. (as a side note – is it just me or do a lot of barley wines seem to do that these days? – I kind of miss the brighter barley wines at the moment.) Obviously it has the heavy liquorice I already mentioned, but also deep ESB like notes such as a fruitcake character, brandy cream, blueberry and port. The strangest thing about this, is that when it all blends together it can taste kind of like alcoholic cola. Another set of words I never thought I would type.

It’s good – not out of the normal range of quality for a barley wine, but good enough. It is also a tad expensive, so it needs to be a bit above just good for it to be worth the price tag unfortunately.

It does have a good range for the most part – tarter notes in the blueberry, obviously the heavy dry liquorice, and even some green fruit fresh pear notes. It is smooth, but with that it also seems to lack a bit of weight to the flavours. Probably part of the old ageing trade off. Also in the latter half of the bottles it did seem to tend towards the heavier, drier and less exciting flavours. Another beer where sharing helps it show itself to its best.

So, pretty good, but with some small flaws, the dominance of the liquorice, the lighter flavours due to age and the wearing nature over time – between them I cannot recommend it at going cost – you are really paying for the ceramic bottle – but if you find it at a more reasonable price this is a good barley wine.

Background: Final beer grabbed from Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover, and to many people’s shock, this is not a German beer! Turns out this one is from Austria – now at the time I thought “cool, I’ve not done a beer from Austria before.” Turns out I was mistaken on that one, I have done a couple, still, always good to expand my brewery horizons. I will admit I grabbed this mainly for two reasons 1) Because I haven’t had many barley wines recently and 2) Because the ceramic bottle looked fecking cool. I am shallow. Dies Iræ is apparently a Gregorian chant describing the day of judgement – pretty cool imagery even for an atheist like myself. Anyway, this was fairly expensive – I’m guessing mainly because of the bottle – ah well. Also this, the 2015 edition,was drunk 2017 – and oddly lists on the bottle as 10.9% but on the attached cardboard as 9% abv. Googling suggests the 10.9% is accurate so I’m going with that. Drunk while listening to Praxis: transmutation. I considered going for Gregorian chants, but decided that would be a bit too much dedication to the theme.

Siren: Bourbon Milkshake (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin off white head.

Nose: Lots of toffee, caramel and vanilla. Milky chocolate and bourbon. Rye notes. Vanilla custard.

Body: Massive cherries – both red and glacier. Treacle. Chocolate milkshake and chocolate liqueur. Nougat. Lots of toffee and caramel. Light pepperminty and menthol. Golden syrup.

Finish: Treacle. Palma violets. Red cherries. Chocolate milkshake. Light greenery and peppermint. Lactose. Vanilla toffee. Light oak and menthol. Bourbon. Slight liqueur notes.

Conclusion: There’s a lot more going on to this that I first thought, or even expected. It opens with an aroma that hollers out the bourbon ageing; Lots of caramel, toffee and vanilla notes; Lots of spicy rye bourbon influence, and lots of smooth vanilla character from American oak. It is like a whole wodge of bourbons pushed into one. Pretty great, but, frankly hardly unexpected from a bourbon aged imperial stout. So after taking in the booming, detectable from afar, aroma I took my first sip.

Boom. A complete change. The first thing that hits is cherries, sweet like a barley wine with golden syrup and nougat coming in against the more expected chocolate character for an imperial stout. Still toffee and caramel from the bourbon showing through here, but with so much more as well.

So, at this point it is a milky imperial stout meets barrel ageing, meets barley wine, meets ESB fruitiness. Already thick and packed with character and varied notes. There is, however, one more, final element. And here it is both kind of good and kind of bad. A kind of minty, greenery, menthol peppermint note. It is a refreshing note, and that works well to lessen the overwhelming intensity and sweetness of the rest of the beer. However, occasionally it could do with being a bit lighter and let the rest of the beer shine more – it can be a bit too dominant at points.

Still, it is a minor weak point in a hugely complex, rich and rewarding imperial stout. Not 100% spot on, but still just managed to claw itself in as one of the all time greats of the style If you like Imperial Stout, definitely go for it. It has all the thickness and richness of a good IS, but takes it in its own distinctly awesome direction.

Background: This one was highly recommended to be by the good people of Independent Spirit, so I grabbed a bottle and put it aside for a later date. It’s an imperial stout, hardly like it is going to go off, right? It’s an imperial milk stout made with vanilla, muscavado and honey then aged in mixture of George Dickel, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and other bourbon barrels. This was the first beer I did notes on after a gap after returning from Germany and was drunk while listening to some of the excellent Miracle of Sound.

Brewdog Vs Beavertown: Coffee and Cigarettes (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Brown coffee rim of a head and a dash of a head across the main body.

Nose: Tar. Peat. Brown sugar. Smoke. Thick treacle and caramel. Ash. Honey. Rich coffee. Crushed muscat grapes.

Body: Ash. Smoke. Mild bitter chocolate. Rich coffee beans to coffee cake. Light carrot. Smoked meat. Spiced red grapes.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Smoke. Smoked meat. Shortbread. Bitter coffee. Slight salt air. Slight carrot cake. Cocoa dust. Ash. Spicy grapes. Treacle.

Conclusion: You know, you can rarely criticise Brewdog beers for not matching their concept. This, well it matches the concept to a tee. This has coffee, rich and full up front with thinner and more raw notes at times; This also has ash, smoke and such cigarette imagery. Quite peated and full up front, dry and smokey at the end, with smoke meat dished out throughout to help the idea.

Despite all this, which is impressive, I am a tad disappointed. Please let me explain why. The aroma is a booming beast – tarry, smokey and meaty. It hints and brown sugar and rich, sweet and spicy dark fruit. Frankly amazing. Not quite explaining the disappointment, am I? Give me a mo.

None of the above is entirely absent from the body, but it is far more restrained. Drier really, and a touch lighter. Not thin, but far from the beast of an aroma that dragged you in. A lot of the notes aren’t their at the start as well, they take a long time to develop. The spice grapes especially take some time to build up, so the initial impression are a distinct let down from the wonderful aroma.

When it has built up is is a) Very good and b) still nowhere near as booming as the aroma. While the nose is tarry, caramel thick and full of the burnt sugar the body is dry coffee cake and cocoa dusting. Not bad but distinctly different in intensity.

It is still good though – lost of coffee, spice grapes and caramel taste late on – lots of salt air but far from Islay heavy duty. It is drier than most Imperial Stouts, lighter all times but still complex with tons of well defined smoke and coffee notes. So, despite my criticism I enjoyed it – just a tad too dry, a tad too reined in. Small flaws but with a bit extra boom this could have been a classic.

So, good beer that does the concept well and well balanced. Maybe they made it how they did as a bigger beer would have blown out the balance. Who knows? Any which way, very good, but not ten quid a pop good. For that cost I demand a lot from a beer. Nearly worth it, but not quite for me. Hopefully I’ve given you enough info to decide for yourself if you think it would be worth that much to you.

Background: As I always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This one, a collaboration with the excellent Beavertown brewery, is one with a heck of a lot shoved in. Made with oats, muscovado sugar, coffee then aged in three different whisky casks – Islay, Rye and Bourbon it sounds like from the description at the Brewdog Store. This was drunk while listening to the experimental funk, guitar mash up wonder that is Praxis: Transmutation. Not broken that out for a while, still weird and awesome.


Black Friars:Hanging Bat:Nanban:Wild Beer Co: Barrel Aged Yadokai (England:Belgian Strong Ale: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark hazy apricot to brown. Short lived loose bubbled white dash of a head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla and caramel. Slight oily feel. Slight fruitcake. Slight strawberry. Stewed fruit.

Body: Slick and viscous. Bourbon and alcohol touch. Oily character. Fried tofu. Banana bread. Brown sugar. Slight fizzy mouthfeel – sherbet lemon, Crushed buttery shortbread. Raspberry coolers. Malt loaf and stollen bread.

Finish: Fried tofu. Vanilla. Bourbon. Oily sheen. Alcohol taste. Sugared orange. Seaweed wraps. Buttery shortbread. Fish skins. Salted caramel. Shouchuu.

Conclusion: This is both very like, and yet also very like the unaged version of Yadokai. Which may be just my way of covering all my bases with the vaguest description ever.

It has a similar, if smoother texture, with oily and seaweed wrap notes matched by similar fruity flavours. However the bourbon has had a massive influence here. It has a spirity character despite the smooth mouthfeel – a tingle and with definite bourbon flavour – packing in lots of vanilla, caramel and such like. Where the original beer just about held the rustic calls to its saison base, they have been pretty much lost in this one leaving the more unusual notes and the bourbon influence.

This is still very nice – with a recognisably beer centre matched with the very umami bringing unusual and more savoury notes. It has the very sake influenced (well, more Shouchuu influenced) and Japanese food styled influence that made the original so great – Though it has lost a lot of the subtlety of the original. You get a lot of bourbon in exchange for the loss of the lighter notes, and while they are not bad they don’t feel like a fair exchange for the great complexity of the original. It also shows the alcohol more with the spirit influence, where, even at 13% abv the original never really did.

Still, let’s not be too harsh here- While not as good as the original this is still a very good and fairly unusual experience ( I can no longer say unique, since, well the original Yadokai exists!) It still gives lovely oily and yet smooth mouthfeel texture, still slight sherbety and fruity core and with lots of savoury notes blended in.

So, if you can get the original yadokai, grab that one. If you can’t this this still a very good way of experiencing a very distinctive beer,.

Background: Man, I loved Yadokai – A saison, kind of, made with sea buckthorn, sea salt, seaweed (Kombu and Hijiki if that means anything to you) and yuzu juice. It was a beer inspired by Sake and was made with Black Friars, Hanging Bat and Nanban. Absolutely lovely. Anyway, so when I saw this – a two year aged in Bourbon barrel version of it in Independent Spirit – I grabbed it straight away. This was drunk while listening to Iron Maiden- Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album. Still love the Irons, even after all these years. Anyway, this was broken out after a session on the original Lemmings – decided to revisit it and try and finally complete it in my old age.

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