Brewdog: Dog D (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 16.1% ABV)
Visual: Black and still. Fizzing up brown head. A viscous sheen left on the glass. After a few moments the head becomes just a chocolate brown froth at the rim of the glass.
Nose: Rye. Thick caramel. Habanero chilli. Black cherry. Bitter chocolate. Riesen chocolate chew. Chilli seeds. Nougat.
Body: Smooth. Bitter cocoa. Light chilli tingle. Coconut. Chocolate liqueur. Caramel. Grapes. Black cherry. Nougat. Choc orange. Cadbury’s creme egg centres.
Finish: Bitter chocolate. Coconut. Black cherry. Chocolate chews. Bitter coffee with a touch of milk. Light greenery.
Conclusion: 8 years, 4 dog *s. one AB04, and – for me at least – they seem to have finally hit the balance just right for this beer. AB04 was lovely but sweet as hell – Dog A-C were more towards the Speedway Stout end of the spectrum, a tad too heavy on the bitter chocolate and coffee while still being a very good imperial stout. All good beers, but the Imperial Stout category is a hard fought one.
Here in this beer the bitter chocolate and coffee base is still there, but the barrel ageing has brought back a big chunk of the sweetness, which allows it to merge and bring out a lot of the classic dark fruit flavours – while not letting either side get too dominant.
The chilli does take a back seat because of this, and let’s face it, it was never the strongest element in this beer. Now it is but a soft tingle and a bit of greenery notes but not much more. The heat was never really a strong point. For me generally that is fine, as I find a little chilli goes a long way, though even I think this could handle a touch more.
As you get used to the beer so many elements rise up out of the depths – a nougat thickness, touches of my beloved coconut – what initially seems a delicious but comparatively simple beer grows in stature until it goes head to head with the greats.
As a side note, I wonder what they used to age this. Smart money would guess some kind of lighter end of the scale Scottish whisky, however from the flavours I could swear they used bourbon. There is a huge heap of those toffee and vanilla notes brought out that associate with that ageing. Though, as I say, smart money is on Scottish Whisky – with Brewdog being in Scotland it would seem the obvious pick.
Overall – oh come on, you’ve guessed it by this point – it is excellent. Boozy enough for my tastes, but smooth enough for those who hate tasting the abv, bitter enough to give character, but sweet enough to be so easy to drink. This beer finally see one of the Dog *s as one of the best in the style.
Background: The … erm, 8th anniversary imperial stout from Brewdog. Initially Based on AB 04, it has shifted a bit over the years. Made with cocoa, coffee and chillies, this version has added to that some barrel ageing as well. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to B Dolan’s Kill The Wolf. Pretty solid album.