Brewdog: Ghost Deer (Scotland: Belgium Strong Ale: 28% ABV)

Visual: Copper to red. Still. No head, and did you really expect one?

Nose: Brandy cream and Christmas pudding. Liquorice. Plums. Dry brandy snaps. Cherries. Toffee. Smooth on the nose.

Body: Fruitcake. Brandy cream. Noticeable alcohol.  Glacier cherries. Fudge. Fortified red wine. Custard. Toffee. Dried apricot.

Finish: Liquorice and fruitcake. Quite clean. Red grapes. Thick chocolate cream, Dried apricot. Toasted crumpets.

Conclusion: Wow, the aroma on this is thick. It is like the most intense Fullers Vintage Ale, but condensed into a single neat hit. Fruity, heavy and spirity with brandy cream hanging heavy over it. Ironic really as brandy is one of the few spirits it hasn’t been aged in. I could chew on the aroma alone for ages.

The body isn’t quite as weighty. In fact for the first moment it hits the tongue it even seems light. Then moments later the flavours weigh in with such intentsity as to defy you to claim that they weren’t there the entire time.

Here the beer has a spirit feel, that while nowhere near say whisky burn, still has thickness and an alcohol intensity that I would associate with say calvados or cognac, all this used to back a heavy fruitcake body. The flavours are sweet and toffee element are present but you have to wait until the finish for the true range of flavours promised by the aroma to show up.  It’s as if the force of the alcohol moves away and finally lets the flavour come out to play. Fresh brandy cream and red grapes are just some of the elements that join in here. Very wine like and the liquid floats up to fill the mouth.

So main body is the weakest element, but it still has a thick texture to give what it can, and the whole thing has a very cognac feel to it, refined and even manages some apricot like flavours as the fruitcake soothes down.

Treat it like a spirit, and one that does not entirely hide the alcohol. I feel that most of the flavours probably came from the barrel ageing rather than be native to the beer but it is hard to tell.   It does manage a wide variety of sprit flavours mixed together in unusual combinations, and even manages to seem like spirits it was not aged in. A quite unique experience.

I very much enjoyed the beer, though it is far from a standard beer, a complex and delicious spirit styled thing. A tad burning but at 28% I’m not surprised. I’m going to say that this is a good one for flavour and novelty As a beer, not so much. You can’t treat it as you would a beer. As an alcohol drink it is well worth trying.

Background: Originally only available served from a deer head. I really wish I was making that up. This beer has recently become available in tiny 6cl bottles. At time of writing it is the strongest fermentation only beer in the world (as opposed to the freeze fortified ones which can reach around 60% abv). This beer has been aged in whisky, bourbon, rum and sherry barrels. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.