Tag Archive: 10-13% ABV


Mikkeller: Beer Geek Fudgesicle (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick with a small brown head. Still main body.

Nose: Creamy to condensed cream. Liquorice. Bitter coffee. Marshmallow. Toffee.

Body: Creamy fudge. Liquorice. Bitter cocoa. Marshmallow. Chewy. Light rougher nut character. Praline.

Finish: Cocoa. Marshmallow. Fudge. Toffee. Hot chocolate. Butterscotch,

Conclusion: Ok, this is very creamy, big, sweet, thick and …very liquorice touched? Ok, there is one element I did not expect in there. Wonder if you can guess which one?

Though in the description above I have kind of reversed the order. From the first moments after pouring the beer I was surprised that a beer with such a sickly sweet name as Fudgesicle opened with such a strong dry, savoury set of black liquorice notes in the aroma.

As you sip your way slowly through the beer it becomes easy to see how it earned its name though. – there is very thick marshmallow to condensed cream mouthfeel and flavours that create a very heavy and chewy beer. Oddly the fudge flavours are probably behind the more bitter cocoa in the list of flavours by intensity, but there is still definitely enough creamy fudge for it to earn its name.

It is also slightly savoury backed – a the liquorice grounding never really goes away. It works well at keeping the beer from becoming sickly sweet, but I will admit I would have preferred a different grounding notes as the liquorice can get wearing over time.

Now it is still bloody enjoyable – one note in the sweet flavours side of things, but very thick and well done. A simple, but enjoyable party of a beer where everything is layered over with sweet heavy creamy weight.

Not Brunch Weasel level awesome, but a creamy, heavy beer that is technically impressive in the grand scheme of things, even if not every element is to my tastes. It you want sweet boozy fun, grab it. With polish I think they could take this even beyond that if they manage to add a few layers. As is, I loved my time with it, even if it is a tad simple.

Background: So, I am a huge fan of the Beer Geek series, with Beer Geek Brunch Weasel probably still being my favourite, and still one of the best imperial stouts of all time. So, when Independent Spirit got in this oatmeal stout made with cocoa and vanilla it damn near leapt into my hands. This was done by contract brewing, rather than at their new USA based brewery, hence still listing it as Denmark where Mikkeller is based (I generally gave up listing by where it is contract brewed as that just got confusing). Put on Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance while drinking. Amazing album, a kind of Clash meets post hardcore punk with emotional openness, self respect and utter contempt for toxic masculinity. Great stuff.

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Mikkeller San Diego: The G.O.A.T. (USA: IIPA: 12% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Some sediment. Large peach touched head that leaves suds.

Nose: Pine cones. Pineapple. Oily. Resinous. Light cannabis. Sage. Vanilla custard. Wheaty bitterness. Peach. Sushi rise and pilau rice.

Body: Peach. Creamy. Strawberry. Oily, resinous bitterness. Slight olives. Cake sponge. Brown bread. Light pepper.

Finish: Oily bitterness. Flour. Olives. Slight charring. Lots of hop oils. Good hop character in general. Greenery. Honey. Slight pepper and rye. Brown bread.

Conclusion: This is so very, very average. Which is highly disappointing for two reasons. The first being that usually Mikkeller blows my expectations out of the water with beers like this. The second is that this beer costs over ten quid. I expect a hell of a lot more when I am dropping that much on a beer.

I mean, I do enjoy the beer – when I say average that isn’t some passive aggressive way of saying bad, trust me on that. It uses New England style creaminess but being a triple IPA it is far more full bodied than they usually are – oily and slightly resinous to give a very solid hop backing to the main peach sweet body.

It is decent, ya know. Thick in a cake sponge kind of way with slightly peppery grounding, moderately oily and resinous in a way I would not usually associate with the New England style of IPA. In fact, if I was just going by the base texture/body/mouthfeel etc then I would be saying that this beer is very well done. It has a nice balance of savoury and sweet, spice and sponge, elements mixing for a nice balance, feel and weight.

The problem is that on top of that well done base is a simple peach and vanilla set of sweet notes that just don’t excite at all. There is no real progression, no spark, nothing I haven’t seen done better in a thousand IPAs before. It is a pity as so much is done right on the technical side of brewing – impressively done but with a very mediocre set of flavours used that do not show that impressive brewing off at all.

So, a wonderful base that does absolutely nothing with it. As a standard price IIPA I would call this worth grabbing in a pinch, but not one of the better ones. At its cost this is not worth it at all.

A great base, a very average beer overall. Lots of good ideas that I hope they use later in a more exciting and hopefully cheaper beer.

Background: You know when I bought this is didn’t know what G.O.A.T. meant. I was wondering if it was like S.P.E.C.I.A.L from the Fallout games. Anyway, I googled. It means greatest of all time, but I’m guessing most of you already knew that. My finger is on the pulse of modern culture. Anyway, while Mikkeller usually contract brews their beers at other breweries this one is from their own brewery in San Diego. Which is kind of obvious from the breweries name. I am stating the obvious here. Other obvious facts, this was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit in Bath. I get a lot of beers there. Had been to see Garbage live recently, and found a new band called Honeyblood as one of the warm up bands, so was listening to some of their stuff while drinking – nice alternative indie pop kind of stuff, light but far from empty if that makes sense.

Stillwater Artisanal: Casita Cerveceria: On Fleek (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Pours thick. Small brown head.

Nose: Caramel. Milky chocolate. Cream. Marshmallows. Praline. Nougat. Smooth. Rich milky coffee. Brown sugar.

Body: Thick. Fudge and chocolate fondue. Rich creamy coffee. Very smooth. Toffee liqueur. Nougat. Bitter cocoa. Chalk touch as it warms.

Finish: Toffee liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Easter egg chocolate. Milky coffee. Cocoa.

Conclusion: This is a very sweet Imperial Stout. Very creamy, using the malt load for a thick character but with the barest hint of its 13% abv. Well, my current pissed squiggly handwriting is probably a dead giveaway, but thankfully by the time these notes are typed up that will be hidden from you.

Whew.

Anyway this is a very well balanced imperial stout – showing a lot of the usual coffee notes, expressed here richly and creamily. It also shows the expected chocolate notes, expressed creamy and and as bitter cocoa dust. It manages big flavours without becoming sickly sweet or harshly bitter.

The sweet high notes come in liqueur like with chocolate and toffee elements, laid over a chewy, thick nougat and creamy mouthfeel and taste. Bitter cocoa and more savoury notes ground it, making for a rewarding imperial stout experience. As it warms a light chalk note adds itself to the grounding – very subtle but underlining the beer along with slightly more bitter, but still milky coffee notes – all making it very robust and keeping the sweeter notes under control.

For the first half this beer is perfectly done, but as you go into the second half you hit the only real flaw – a lack of any real progression in the beer. It is always the same creamy and coffee, bitter and sweet notes. It is still, very good in fact, but there are no surprises as it goes on.

That is a very minor nitpick though – it keeps it from being one of the world’s greatest imperial stouts – but that is just because there are so many great imperial stouts out there. It is still super well crafted and well worth grabbing.

Background: Ok, I only own this beer as my mate hates the idea of it. Long story shot – my mate had to explain to me what “On Fleek” means as he saw this thing’s name and the can design and hated the “Hipster” idea of it. So, anyway that stuck in my mind, so when I saw it on Beer Hawk I had to give it a try. Odd how these things happen. So if I hate it, it is indirectly his fault for hating it for different reasons. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with … dark sugar and molasses if a quick google is to be believed. Which possibly it shouldn’t. Anyway, put on Arch Enemy: Will To Power for this – big metal for big imperial stouts.

BFM: Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien: 2015 (Switzerland: Sour Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Hazy. Lots of small bubbled carbonation and a thin off white head.

Nose: Gummed brown paper. Sour black-cherry and sour red cherries. Cider and perry. Booming red wine. Fruitcake. Tart. Lightly woody.

Body: Acidic. Perry/pears. Cider. Caramel. Gummed paper. Twigs. Raisins. White wine. Cardboard. Blueberry. Light waxy sheen. Dry fudge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fruitcake. Fresh. Raisins. Dry cake sponge. Tannins. White wine. Blueberries. Cardboard.

Conclusion: This feels like Rodenbach Grand Cru’s more easy going, but still prickly, cousin. Initially it comes across fruity and sharp with acidic, and almost but not quite Rodenbach like vinegar, notes. It soothes over time from that more prickly front to reveal a complex drink if you let it open up.

Early on is the cider like acidic notes that you would expect from a sour, albeit it with the less expected, but not completely dissimilar, pear perry notes. These are matched with gummed paper and light vinegar notes that call to the harsher Flemish bruins – tidy, but not unexpected.

This soothes into a softly caramel backed tart character over time, and soothed down it not shows itself to be brimming with fruit. It isn’t always the fruit you would expect though. The aroma always promised cherries and red wine from the oft, but the fruit was slow to develop in the main body, and when it does develop it is very different to that. What you get is blueberries, raisins and lots of similar darker fruit rather than the red roaming aroma. Still good stuff, just not what was expected.

The red fruit does come out a bit in the end though – with red wine and similar fruit coming in the finish that gives a little pep on the way out. Along with this development a light waxy touch adds to the body – calling to the Biere De Garde style that the body references ( though since that literally means beer to age I’m not sure if that is an intentional style reference, or just saying that the beer is aged…) . Any which way it gives a bit more grip to the beer, and a bit of variety in the feel that adds to the experience.

It is well set, calling to tarter, more acidic and harsher Rodenbach Grand Cru style notes but soothes into toffee and sweeter fruit against a more lambic like set of twigs and white wine notes. Not a beer that is always 100% on point – there are some off, cardboard like notes, but pretty much any sour seems to walk the tightrope over such risks. More approachable that Rodenbach Grand Cru, but still brings its own rewarding style. Very much worth trying.

Background: So, a quick google tells me BFM stands for Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes. Which admittedly doesn’t tell me much, but at least now I know. Taking a look online also told me there have been many vintages of this, some barrel aged, others I’m not sure of. Anyway, that is the 2015 vintage and I grabbed it from Independent Spirit – they have had it for a while but I have always been wary due to the ten quid plus price tag. Still, it had a good rep so eventually I wavered and bought it. It was way too warm as I broke this open from its chilled bottle, so I put on some Andrew WK to try and keep my party spirits up. Pretty much worked.

Founders: CBS – Canadian Breakfast Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11.7% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted, rich coffee. Vanilla. Toffee. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Peanuts. Slight bubblegum.

Body: Maple syrup. Black cherry. Chocolate liqueur. Oily mouthfeel. Eel sashimi. Liquorice touch. Toasted teacakes. Cashew nuts. Muted but complex toffee. Fudge. Frothy milky chocolate.

Finish: Oily sheen. Riesen chocolate chews. Light liquorice. Maple syrup. Vanilla toffee. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Caramel. Cashews. Bitter coffee. Ash. Bitter cocoa. Cloyed sour cream touch and chives.

Conclusion: Oddly, my mate also got a bottle of this – and he handed it to me to try once without telling me what it was. On fist sip I went “Hold on Maple syrup? This tastes of maple syrup. Wait, is this the CBS?” So I’m fairly confident that when I say I taste maple syrup notes in this that, for once, I know they are not psychosomatic.

So how is it? Surprisingly bitter considering both the maple syrup and the barrel ageing. Both the coffee and the cocoa push out in quite a bitter but complex way – holding the middle ground of the beer nicely.

The maple syrup gives a more oily sheen and some sweetness against that bitterness. The bourbon barrel ageing seems to be lost within that heavier maple character – it gives lighter vanilla notes than usual, mainly showing itself in the very smooth character of this high abv beer.

So, as a beer it definite rocks the maple syrup – despite the high bitterness presence this still comes in over that and stomps all over it. I kind of wonder what the base beer would be like without the coffee, cocoa, barrel ageing and maple syrup, as it is pretty much lost under them. Then again I think that is kind of the point.

I do feel that its reputation is somewhat exaggerated by its original rarity but … it is still a good beer; this has tasty contrasts – bitter coca vs sweet maple syrup. Bitter coffee smoothed by barrel ageing. It is a good look – a tad artificial tasting – but you know – maple syrup. I kind of expected that.

I would say that their KBS is a better beer on the technical side of things, and more balanced, but this has an element of silly fun amongst a solid beer and I dig that. If you can get this at a non silly price then it is worth it. It is fairly single minded but with subtle bitter, umami and savoury notes so it is balanced better than you would expect.

Is it a top 50 Imperial Stout, let along top 50 beer? No. It’s bloody good though.

Background: So, this is a beer that used to go for about a hundred dollars a bottle on resale when it first came out, It had jumped straight into rate beers top 50 beers and people were desperate to get hold of it. Though it is is still in ratebeer’s top 50 I managed ot get it at a far more reasonable price of seven quid fifty from Beer Hawk. Which was nice.

Anyway, this is the same beer as KBS, but while this has also been aged in bourbon barrels, those bourbon barrels previously held maple syrup. Hence Canadian Bourbon Stout, despite the fact this was not made in Canada. Makes sense, right? Anyway, this was drunk while listening to Two Steps From Hell – Archangel, aka epic music made for movies and trailers, which always makes for great backing music when chilling and drinking.

Little Earth Project: The Brett Organic Stock Ale 2017 (England: English Strong Ale: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot.

Nose: Funky. Lemon curd and lemon cake. Crushed nuts. Oaks. Stewed apricot. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart yet oily. Acidic apples. Tart grapes. Stewed apricot. Dry white wine. Dried apricots. Hop oils. Lemon. Slightly dusty. Yeastie. Raspberry late on. Toffee.

Finish: Dried apricot. Tart jiff lemon. Lemon cake. Dry white wine. Gooseberry. Hop oils. Popcorn. Brown bread. Raisins and dry sherry. Vanilla yogurt. Dusty bitterness. Funky.

Conclusion:This is both heavy duty and tart freshness, with both elements complementing and contrasting the other so neither become too overwhelming. A good start.

First impressions are of a yeast funkiness worthy of a lambic coming out in the aroma, with oats, nuts and similar backing it up in that lambic way. However, instead of the crisp dry notes of a lambic what it is backed by is thick, heavy stewed fruit that tells you instantly that something different is coming up.

The body is next, tart but thick with hop oils giving an oily base of stewed fruit acting as a solid middle. The tarter lambic like notes are laid on top of that robust body, used sparingly like spice to add to a meal.

The after that tart notes lead out into the finish and it then it finally sinks back into hop oils, darker fruit and dry sherry notes as a distinct contrast to the brighter middle. Even here though there is a white wine air that the brett uses to bring more lambic imagery.

Despite the lambic like calling this is a thick oily, almost old ale feeling traditional styled British beer. There is lots of the slightly more cloying tartness and thickness rather than the clean lambic sheen – however in the middle of the beer the flavours owes little to the dark heavy old ales. While it has the tart and thick old ale character mentioned, but here it is pushed in a brighter, lighter fruit and tarter notes. Mixing the thickness of an old ale with the freshness of a lambic, and pushing stewed apricot and lemon fruit notes that actually feels like a call to new world hop stylings. Eventually these bright notes do descend though and it falls back into those darker fruit notes of the more traditional take in the finish.

This isn’t super polished, it feels more like a beer that evolved naturally, left to find its own way rather than being polished and designed to an ideal. It feels organic in how it developed within the guidelines of the ingredients used, and it shows that in the wide range of elements delivered. It is nowhere near single minded as a beer, nor organised -scatter shot in how it throws things out. However it throws them out full bodied, mixing traditional elements with twists of style. Well worth trying as long as the idea of something a bit more haphazard does not put you off.

Background: This one caught my eyes for a number of reasons – the very simple label, with seemingly hand stamped details upon it of the beer’s name. The fact it is a take on the old stock ale that was traditional for so many years in the UK, the fact it is loaded with brett which is always an interesting yeast to see that adds acidity and funk to a beer, or the fact that over 10% abv this is never going to be dull. Any which way I grabbed it from Independent Spirit and tucked it away for trying on a later day. So, the day finally arrived, I put on the ever good for slow, heavy duty drinking music – Godspeed You! Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, and broke it open.

Evil Twin: Prairie: Bible Belt Even More (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large, small bubbled packed dark coffee froth brown head.

Nose: Cashews. Subtle bitter cocoa. Smooth coffee. Treacle toffee. Figs. Prunes juice. Barbecue ribs.

Body: Complex bitter coffee. Light chalk touch. Frothy chocolate. Walnuts and pecans. Touch of barbecue glaze. Slight treacle and liquorice. Chilli tingle.

Finish: Bitter cocoa dust. Pecan pie. Milky coffee and bitter coffee. Coffee cake. Barbecue glaze. Black liquorice bits. Spicy rum.

Conclusion: This is well textured beer – chewy and frothy with substance that doesn’t become syrupy or clinging – heavy but clean is the best way I could describe it. Despite that the beer is a slightly slow developer flavour wise. Early on it plays the standard Imperial Stout notes – big coffee, albeit rounded complex coffee that gives a lot to the beer – bitter coffee notes against smoother coffee cake richness. Similarly in the expected notes there is a big chunk of cocoa -just bitter enough to add some weight, but still nothing we haven’t seen a million times in the crowded quality Imperial Stout range that comes from living in these halcyon beer drinking days.

Now I will admit that at this point I looked at the can and thought “Chilli was used in making this? I don’t taste any chilli notes” So what I say next may have been influenced by that realisation. Disclaimer over.

I spent some time enjoying the generally nutty, with specific pecan notes, style character that adds some savoury depth to this beer when … oh, look what came out but some kind of meaty, barbecue glaze kind of note waiting at the underside of the beer to warm it up. Am I being very easy to influence or is this the chilli elements kicking in?

It rocks a balance between meaty, chives and barbecue sweetness as an undertone to the cocoa and coffee. It isn’t a must have, even with the extra notes, but it has become a lot more interesting and is undeniably high quality. It uses the elements of the base beer, and the mass of added ingredients to make for a beer with a wide range of notes while still rocking the base imperial stout very clearly.

Now imperial stout is a category that has been spoiled with so many super high quality beers, and this can’t fight the best of those beers, but it is a fine beer it itself with subtle chilli usage and meaty notes that sets this apart from the rest as something different and very good.

Background; Ok, is this “Even More Bible Belt”, just “Bible Belt”, “Bible Belt Even More”? I give up. Googling does not help. Even more Bible Belt makes most sense, but the bottle seems to lay it out as Bible Belt Even More, so despite that sounding silly that is what I am going with. This is a big imperial stout made with coffee, vanilla, chillies and cacao nibs. From the name I guess it is a spin off from Even More Jesus, but that could just be the name fucking with me. Again. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, and drunk while listening to Eels – useless trinkets and B-side. Despite being an Eels fan I never really listened to that one that much, so decided to give it another spin.

Omnipollo: Amurga (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy brown head that leaves suds.

Nose: Grated chocolate and chocolate dust. Wholemeal bread. Smooth. Light butter.

Body: Smooth. Wholemeal bread. Treacle. Bitter chocolate. Bitter nutty character. Cashew to walnut notes. Light butter like fatty character. Cherries come over time. White chocolate.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Thick maple syrup. Charring. Charcoal. Light greenery. Salt touch. Cocoa. Bitter nuts. Grapes. Lightly peppery. Cashew shell green flecks. Rough hop character. Butter fatty character. Apple liqueur. Fortified red wine.

Conclusion: Considering the wealth of ingredients that I presume went into this, based on the description anyway, it turns out to be a pretty single minded beer in the imagery it delivers.

It is thick in a fatty, buttery kind of way with solid bitter chocolate into bitter hop character that works as a solid weight on your taste-buds. It pushes through that into heavier charred to charcoal bitter black notes and bready weight. Dark heavy notes are the story here, bitter but on a smooth, if thick, texture all the way.

It is only in the final third of the beer that it starts to push back against that imagery that dominates the first two thirds. White chocolate notes mix into the darker chocolate, and vague hints of cherries escape occasionally, bringing with it light spirity to liqueur sweet notes that work underneath the main notes – an odd mix of apple liqueurs and red wine. This manages to open up the beer in a way that the simpler, heavier front did not.

So, the front is ok but far too simple, all basic rough heavy weight notes. The end however has spicy, spirity subtlety that makes the heavier notes dance and uses the fatty, buttery character to give those notes grip.

It is good, in fact by the end it is very good, but it does take a good whole to get there – the rough charcoal and slight salt notes that are rewarding grounding late on are simple and annoying early on.

So, a good beer that takes a tad too long to get going and reward you for your time.

Background: Ok, this is another beer trying to set the record for most odd ingredients used in ak beer. This is described as a black butter vanilla volcano salt mocha maple white chocolate ganche. Presuming they did not put actual ganache in this means I have no idea which of those are ingredients and what is what they were aiming for. Ah well. Anyway, Omnipollo are a bloody good brewery so I grabbed this from Independent Spirit a while back and waited for a good opportunity to try it. Put on Mclusky: Mcluskyism – still love the utter insanity of their tunes.

Lervig: Toasted Maple Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 12 % ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin dash of a grey head.

Nose: Liquorice. Toasted teacakes. Vanilla.

Body: Treacle. Marshmallow. Maple syrup. Very thick. Toasted teacakes. Vanilla. Light butterscotch. Fudge. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Maple syrup. Liquorice and blackcurrant hard sweets. Chocolate liqueur. Vanilla. Molasses. Light charring. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, between this and the Barley Wine I had recently Lervig are really wooing me back into the fold. Why did I ever doubt them?

I have to admit the first impressions weren’t in its favour. While it had lovely toasted notes in the aroma they were matched and quickly overcome by masses of liquorice. As I think has been established over the years, I don’t mind liquorice in moderation, but I think when it is overused it can ruin a beer.

So, I was nervous as I went in to take the first sip aaaandd – this thing is intense! It is thick as heck, frothy and syrupy, but just about manages to not do those elements to excess. There is a toasted teacake breadiness as just a hint under the thick maple syrup and treacle notes that make up the main stay with other, softer, notes coming out over time. The vanilla beans and smoothness makes it feel like a barrel aged beer, but without the loss of intensity and weight that ageing sometimes brings

The finish bring in the heaver contrasting notes. The liquorice comes back, tied now to blackcurrant notes in a hard sweet like fashion that keeps in manageable. There is a light charring and sweeter notes that slowly fade out into bitter cocoa. That bitterness is just what is needed to keep such a heavy sweet beer manageable.

This has a very distinctive feel – half way between toasted marshmallows and toasted teacakes in a super thick beer. It has a distinctive flavour as well with the maple syrup very evident while not being too dominant. It is distinctly rewarding with huge complexity and manages to feel barrel aged but without the drawbacks.

A great beer then.

Background: Grabbed this a while back – basically saw the words “toasted” and “maple syrup”, followed by “Imperial Stout”, and grabbed it. Since I grabbed it I started becoming less enamoured with Lervig, then back totally into them again. I have been very changeable recently. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – not sure what is going on with the can image – looks kind of like what would happen if Mr Fantastic from the Fantastic Four burnt to death. Don’t think that was the intended imagery. Anyway, put on The Germs’ MIA compilation CD. Really stripped down punk that I got into after hearing they were an influence on Bad Religion. Pretty fun, if kind of rough sounding.

Lervig: Barley Wine 2017 (Norway: Barley Wine: 12.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vanilla, liquorice and fudge. Caramelised brown sugar. Treacle. Almonds. Light strawberry.

Body: Light charring. Chocolate liqueur. Heat at the back of the throat. Chocolate toffee. Brown sugar. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallow. Vanilla fudge. Light strawberry. Black cherry. Quality bourbon undertones. Sticky toffee pudding.

Finish: Sticky toffee pudding and treacle. Fudge. Liquorice. Vanilla. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallows. Charred touch. Bourbon.

Conclusion: Ok this smooth. Has big flavour. Has evident but not overpowering bourbon ageing influence. Huge and rewarding range if you hold the beer on your tongue. We have here an entry for the fuck-yes-this-is-how-you-make-a-barley-wine contest. They were only allowed one word for the name of the contest so they cheated by using hyphens.

So, this is deeply sweet with sticky toffee pudding, treacle and chocolate liqueur at the base. It somehow has those very sweet flavours restrained so as not to become sickly – as would be very easy to occur with a barley wine of this type and strength.

I think that some of that restraint is due to toasted teacake undertones – bready but still slightly sweet matching but also grounding the flavours. Similarly a toasted marshmallow character gives some sweetness against light burnt notes that segue nicely into the light charred character into the finish.

All of this delicious character and I’ve not even touched on the bourbon influence yet. Early on it just shows in how damn smooth the beer is, then comes out in vanilla and fudge notes, then finally it shows in its rawest form in smooth but present actual bourbon spirit flavours – coming out as subtle elements beneath the rest of the beer.

So what downsides does it have? Well, I’m not a huge fan of liquorice notes in beer, and this does use it heavily early on , but a) it actually isn’t used half bad here and b) the liquorice notes left before they started to wear on me. Shockingly they were actually used to add to, not detract from the beer.

So, that is the worst I have to say, this is a great beer. Buy it. Drink it.

Background: I’ve had a few Lervig beers over the past year – some have been awesome, some have been ok but not stand out. I was beginning to think I was mainly grabbing them for the odd names and labels. However enough have been good that I don’t regret grabbing them. Decided to grab this to see how they do with the non hoppy beer styles – especially as this one has spent 12 months in bourbon oak. Put on Jack Off Jill – Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers – a mix of melodic, screaming, anger and sorrow in a gothic punk style. Such an awesome album.

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