Tag Archive: Abstrakt


Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 21 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of caramel brown froth. Redish if held to the light

Nose: Dry black liquorice. Blackberry. Sour cream.

Body: Liquorice all-sorts. Blackcurrant. Sour chewy sweets. Sour black cherry. Dry. Slight charred wood and charcoal. Slight funky, yeastie note. Some bitter chocolate. Light toffee. Creamy as it warms, yet still dry late on.

Finish: Black liquorice. Tart black cherry. Black currant. Bitter and lightly charred. Black pepper and pepper seeds. Charcoal dust. Gooseberry and Ribena as it warms.

Conclusion: Erm, well, it does what it says on the tin – well, bottle anyway. Blackcurrant? Somewhat. Liquorice? Very much so. Aaaand, that’s kind of it.

The base Imperial Stout is kept to simple notes – fairly polished simple notes though – predominantly using a charred, bitter back with some hints of bitter chocolate, but not much. The main thing the base gives is a very good texture – it is a nice, kind of oatmeal stout thickness kind of thing – just the kind of feel and grip the beer needs.

The berries come out more with warmth, the liquorice plays with the cold. With the liquorice ascendant it feels very dry, and very, very liquorice filled. I will admit it tastes better than most uses of liquorice in a beer – there is a slight sweetness that makes it feel like all-sorts, and that helps it get not too dry, which is a common problem I find. However it is much better as it warms, the light tart edges becoming a more fruity front face.

It gains a mix of Ribena, tart black cherry and tart fruit gum sours. A more bright mix and far more enjoyable for me, plus a bit more complex. However, while it is more complex than before, it still isn’t very complex in general. It is a good drink, but very similar to already existing blackcurrant and liquorice stouts that aren’t ten quid a bottle. It is well made enough, but not better than those, nor is it particularly innovative or unique. As a standard Brewdog beer, I would give this a thumbs up. As an expensive Abstrakt it doesn’t earn its place with either ingenuity or complexity, Good, but too costly for what it is.

Background: This seems kind of normal for an Abstrakt beer – for those who don’t know Abstrakt is Brewdog’s one off specials, and tend to be pretty out there. This one is an Imperial Stout made with liquorice and blackcurrants. Grabbed straight from Brewdog’s shop, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Abstrakts have started waxing their bottles – eh, it is done kind of ok – wax does get on my nerves these days due to overuse, but at least this one was fairly easy to get off. Think that is everything for this one.

Brewdog Abstrakt AB20

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB20 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 14.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown, though reddened if held to the light. Loose fizzy off white bubbled head that has a short lifespan.

Nose: Milky coffee. Coffee cream. Coffee beans. Light bourbon. Roasted character. Rum.

Body: Milky coffee. Toffee liqueur. Liqueur soaked cake sponge. Chocolate liqueur. Caramel. Spicy rum, Condensed cream.

Finish: Coffee liqueur. Condensed cream. Light roasted character. Port and mulled wine. Milky coffee. Cake sponge. Bitter chocolate. Fruitcake.

Conclusion: Ok, I could have saved a lot of effort in writing the notes above if I had just written “Tiramisu” for half the notes. However, since the beer is described as a tribute to tiramisu I kind of felt like that would be cheating.

This opens up with pretty much all the coffee – sweet, roasted, whole beans, creamy, it just has layers of coffee aroma wafting out of the glass. The body that follows is what really makes this hit peak tiramisu – lots of cream and liqueur soaked sponge notes now mix with the coffee.

It is interesting to compare this to the Ilkley/Brewdog Westwood Stout which also had a very tiramisu style character This is a darker beer, heavier, with lots of port, red wine and cherries making for a heady heavy base for the tiramisu to work from, more spirit and wine dominated.

By comparison the Ilkley white stout is comparatively more easy drinking,if only comparatively, smoother and more of the white chocolate notes. This is instead one of the dark decadent beers. It feels like it has more of a beer character to back up the tiramisu concept. Feels somewhat like a ramped up ESB to English Strong Ale fruity beer style. This never forgets that it is a beer at its base – albeit, at this strength, a strongly spirit influenced one.

So, unless the base concept wildly disagrees with you – say that you don’t like tiramisu, or you don’t like strong spirity beers, if you don’t like the idea of a tiramisu beer – if none of these apply, then this is a lovely dessert style beer for you.

Background: This was designed to be inspired by the Tiramisu dessert – it is a mix of rum aged Paradox Imperial Stout and milk Barley Wine made with oats and coffee beans. As of such I had pretty much no idea which beer style to shove it under. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Drunk while listening to more of The Algorithm: Brute Force.

Brewdog Abstrakt AB 19

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 19 (Scotland: Saison: 13.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vinous. Rum soaked raisins. Brandy cream. Creamy. Honey snaps. Dry white wine. Very mild coffee.

Body: Very smooth. Sponge cake. Raisins and figs. Slightly dry mouthfeel. Dry white wine. Cherries. Slight noticable alcohol character. Malt chocolate. Vanilla.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Dry alcohol air. Sultanas. Tart white grapes and dry white wine.

Conclusion: A very big beer this one, feeling like the offspring of a brewed up ESB and a dry white wine. An unexpected pairing to say the least, but it could be an interesting one, though frankly the declared beer style – the saison – barely gets a look in.

The ESB side of the family brings raisins, brandy cream, figs and chocolate. Robust, heavy and hearty notes. Beer that puts hairs on your chest. The white wine like side is tart and drying – white grapes filling out the air along with a slight alcohol air that comes behind it. They create odd sensations in their combination. Despite the heavy spirit touched character the body feels dry, which creates a cake sponge like feel where the two mix. Slight dry but sweet at the same time.

It aims for the almost spirit touched strong beer style that is almost a genre in itself – though it manages to avoid the worse excesses of harshness and rough as a badger’s arse character that some of the badly brewed beers out there have. The wine like characteristics are the most interesting, but are also when the most obvious alcohol elements come out to play.

It is nicely complex, but lacks the panache or utter decadence of the top end of these kind of beers. Maybe in a few bottle years it will integrate better. In fact I would bet on it. However right now it feels a bit young. Nice, but young. There is a lot to it, but I think it needs a while to let the heavy alcohol out of its system

Background: Brewdog call this a mix of two saisons, one black – one red, that have then beer aged in rum barrels. At a guess that would be Everyday Anarchy and Black Jacques then. Neither of them were massively like what I would call a saison, but the style is a varied one, and I tend to go with the Brewers choice when listing style, unless it is blatantly wrong. So, saison it is. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while waiting for Windows 10 to update and hoping it did not break the start menu again. Windows 10 is terrible is what I am saying. Thankfully it is not on my main machine. Also was listening to Sigh: Gallows Gallery – a very odd metal album – very experimental – Best description would be almost vaudeville metal, but that may be just my odd associations.

Brewdog Abstrakt AB 18

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 18 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 11.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin browned head that doesn’t last long apart from some few islands. Still main body.

Nose: Thick. Shortbread. Vanilla. Black liquorice. Blueberry pie. Salted toffee. Toasted crumpets and toasted teacakes.

Body: Liquorice. Salted toffee. Blended whisky. Lightly oaken. Low level bitterness. Sour berry touch. Light earthy note. Malt chocolate. Red wine. Crumpets. Blackberry and blueberry.

Finish: Gooseberry. Liquorice. Salted toffee. Slight dry dustiness. Malt drinks. Alcohol air. Spiced red wine.

Conclusion: I do like an interesting brown ale. They are hard to find though, and probably even harder to make. This makes an interesting beer definitely, unfortunately pretty much everything that makes it a brown ale is lost in the process. It makes for a fun beer, but it doesn’t manage the far harder task of making an exceptional brown ale.

There are hints of malt chocolate drinks, but it is basically just a base – there are some good uses of liquorice as well, which is normally a hard sell for me but works here. I think it could be because of the tartness and spicy red wine notes, which means that the liquorice comes in as a dry back. However that is about it from the brown ale, there are no interesting takes on the base style. This means that the beer is going to live or die on its use of the special ingredients.

So, the special element – well you get touches of spicy red wine accentuated by tart berry characteristics There is quite the alcohol air to it, which actually helps here for once – giving a drying contrast to the tart fruit.

However, in the end it is a bunch of additions with no real base to add to – fun, oh yes fun, but when you get down to any beer…. Ok that would be a lie, many beers can be made competent with barrel ageing, berries and the like – but if they have nothing to build on then they aren’t really taking advantage of the opportunities brewing gives.

That doesn’t make it bad, it does make it spirity, spicy and berry filled but not in any way balanced or well integrated. A bit of a missed opportunity, but not a bad experience.

Background: Ok, Brewdog call this an Imperial Brown Ale (Specifically barrel aged with berries)- however as I mentioned in the notes I didn’t get much of the brown ale style, so I am happy to go with rate beer’s description of American Strong Ale. Broken open the day after the election results, as, yes, I was still miffed. As a result this was drunk while listening to some Against Me! Black Crosses. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Abstrakt AB 15

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 15 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 12.8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark burgundy red. Small layer of off white head.

Nose: Trifle. Salted toffee. Liquorice. Port. Cherries. Chocolate. Fruitcake.

Body: Treacle. Salted fudge. Madeira cake, Cherries. Liquorice toffee. Liquorice. Black cherry. Dessert wine. Trifle. Shortbread. Raisins.

Finish: Raisins and cherries. Rum soaked. Salted toffee. Vanilla slice. Shortbread.

Conclusion: So, salted caramel popcorn beer. Well it is definitely salted, and while I would have called fudge or toffee the sweetness is definitely in the caramel milieu. Popcorn? Well no one element really calls popcorn, but there is a dryness to the body despite the high sweetness levels, and that does give a style you could just about describe as popcorn. Maybe. So, analysis of the high concept album styling of the beer done, is it good as an actual beer?

Hmm. Very sweet and fruity as a backing to all the concept elements. OK, maybe more than just a backing, the flavour has big wine, fruitcake and fruit which makes up the real mid range of this beer. Very smooth though, the saltiness and a well used and understated liquorice gives some contrast, but there are very few harsh edges. It makes for an exceptionally sweet dessert like beer. More than anything else the mid notes come together in a trifle like fashion, fruit, alcohol, creamy and smooth.

If you let the beer get too warm the individual elements start to get a little disjointed and the beer suffers. Slightly chilled down it all integrates wonderfully. It is almost too sweet, no actually it is too sweet at times, but for the most part that salt character keeps it in check.

A bit too big and sweet but still a very flavoursome dessert beer, and as a dessert wine replacement it is a rich alternative. Very good.

Background: Every time I think beers have hit the limit of their oddness. A salt caramel popcorn ale. What does that even mean? Well in this case that it has been part aged in bourbon and rum barrels, and I dunno about the rest, if they actually used salted caramel. It wouldn’t really surprise me. Anyway ,as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was drunk while listening to 8 bit zoo, snooglebum. Because I am a geek. SUPERSHARK AND TINY LION!

AB14

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB14 (Scotland: Weizen Bock 10.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy bronzed red with a large browned creamy head.

Nose: Very ripe banana. Candy floss. Cream. Toffee. Treacle sponge. Brown sugar. Yeasty.

Body: Banana. Honey and syrup. Caramel. Touch of spirity character. Gingerbread. Candy floss.

Finish: Oak. Honey. Liquorice. Light ginger. Banana yogurt. Slightly spirity like blended whisky in alcohol feel.

Conclusion: Normally when I put down Banana as an element in a review I more mean banana like, or hints of banana, or banana syrup, or something like that. Not here, here the aroma is the thickest, purest ripe banana I have ever run into outside of an actual banana.

Well, second place because, oddly, even this strong banana is less evident than when I first tried it on keg a few weeks ago. I am unsure if the keg made the difference, or just how supremely fresh it was back then compared to mere weeks later. Any which way, I am impressed.

In body it is more dessert like and syrupy with the honey and toffee flavours barging in. This is another difference from the keg where it was more banana and toffee single minded all the way through. Here in the body the alcohol spirit like presence is more noticeable, also there is a slight Belgium yeast like feel. Smooth but slightly funky which suits the beer well and adds extra layers of complexity in feel compared to the simpler expression of flavour.

The alcohol presence leads to a bit of a beer ageing dilemma. I think a bit of ageing will calm the spirit feel and sooth it, but will it also ruin the seemingly fragile awesome banana aroma? I think I will break one open in six months to see how it is going and decide then.

Any which way this is a very different beer with unusual identity and I must say I like it, the aim to do a banoffee pie like beer is cool, because banoffee pie is the dessert of champions. The fact that they do such a good job of it as well is just great.

It is sugar shock sweet and treat to give to yourself. It is slightly simple in flavour but that unique selling point of ultra distinct banana character is cool. So on a technical scale is it quite simple and slightly alcohol heavy in feel. On the more nebulous “fun” scale it is great, not one to have often (Says I who has hypocritically has had it on tap every weekend I could), but this more than many of the abstract beers shows the strength of pushing unusual experiments.

So thumbs up for innovation and fun.

Background: OK, there’s a lot to write here. First: This is an “Imperial Weizenbock” aged on oak chips, I tried it on tap a few times at Brewdog Bristol while waiting for my bottles to arrive, as mentioned in the review there are some differences between bottle and tap. Secondly this was drunk while listening to Spektrmodule 29, a collection of relaxing music collected by the writer Warren Ellis, I oft find this music good for enjoying a strong beer at the end of day and winding down. Third, while not reviewing I was reading a newly picked up collection of “The Devils Panties” comics (note the comics are a) Far less creepy than the name would indicate, and b) awesome). Finally this was drunk while lounging over newly picked up plump pillows of relaxing. All in all could the situation be better for drinking? As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Abstrakt AB 13

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB:13 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.3% ABV)

Visual: Black, leaves a viscous sheen. Brown chocolate froth for a bare smudge of a head.

Nose: Black cherry. Condensed cream. Smoke. Spiced rum. Brandy snaps. Honey. Red cherries. Spiced oranges.

Body: Thick and smooth. Milky chocolate. Liquore feel and strength. Big cherries and raisins. Honeycomb. Black cherry. Honey. Trifle.

Finish: Cream. Cherries. Black forest gateaux. Roasted nuts. Belgium in feel, Smooth. Chocolate. Blood orange.

Conclusion: Every time I worry that I am becoming blasé to Imperial Stouts they end up surprising me again.

With a base beer half way between a milk stout and a Belgium style Imperial Stout this thing is already something interesting. Very smooth rich and liquore like. The fruitiness added in is the next element. I expected the cherries, and the spiced rum wasn’t entirely unexpected with the extra ingredients and barrel ageing. What gets me is the raisins, blood orange and blackcherry. Lots and lots of elements layered on for a sweet jelly trifle and dessert feel.

This mix then gets a furthered layer of honeyed and dessert sweetness, thick and feeling the alcohol weight with just a tingle of alcohol burn evident amongst the creaminess. The fruit and the strength give a feel similar to many liquores and spirits and that part is very evident in its influences.

The joy in the beer comes from the way the gateaux and trifle flavours rise. Initially the beer is very chocolate filled, but then peels back to let these additional dessert flavours just float to the surface blending in naturally with the rest. It is always integrated and no element ever feels out of place.

So, maybe the slightest flaw in the alcohol burn being evident, and hopefully that will age out, but don’t let that put you off this massive fruity, chocolate, black forest gateaux dessert beer. It really is a treat.

Background: Made with lactose, this imperial stout has been aged for over 14 months in sherry whisky barrels and made with cherries. 13 is considered an unlucky number by some, so may view this beer with some trepidation, I on the other hand don’t, so don’t really care. Drunk while listening to At The Drive In: relationship of command album which is still excellent years on. As always I am not unbiased on Brewdog beers.

Another Thus Drank Zarathustra. This one basically one extended idea that came to me. Trying a bit of different balanced of review to messing about. Let me know what you think. As always these take longer to do than a normal review so all constructive  feedback and help in promoting is welcome.

CIMG2145

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB12 (Scotland: Black IPA: 11.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large coffee froth. Creamy head.

Nose: Blackberry. Gooseberry.

Body: Bitter chocolate and creamy chocolate. Black berry and black raspberry. White grapes. Cadbury cream eggs. Glacier cherries. Thick texture. Raisins.

Finish:  Blueberry pie and chocolate cake. Lightly tart. Bitter chocolate. Slight hop bitterness. Coffee rises up over time. Raisins. Baileys.

Conclusion:  This is thick. Very thick. The beer just fills you mouth and sits there, creamy and dessert like. The flavours are similarly dessert like. Bitter and creamy chocolate layered on against blueberry pie and blackberry, fruity and tart all against a solid bitterness backing it up.

It is a beer that sounds delicious, and it does taste good, but is not without flaws. The first flaw is hinted at in the aroma.   It is very nice fresh fruit, but very simple with so subtle side notes or short lived variances.

Not a huge crime, but there is similar lack of variance in the body. The flavours are distinct, chocolate and fruit, but it never shifts off that. The thickness of the body feels like it deserves more and feels like it could hold a vast amount of extra flavours to explore as you roam it around your tongue and leave it into that long bitter finish.

In a way it is that great strength of brilliant texture that betrays it, it just feels like it could do more. This isn’t to call it in any way a bad beer – the flavours it has are full and very easy to pick out. The finish is long and well expressed bitter chocolate. You just never find anything new in there after you get the initial measure of the beer. For a whisky aged beer there feels a surprising lack of influence on that part.

The balance of the flavour in the beer is well done, the tart fruit swims above the bitter chocolate and only as the tartness falls does the bitterness rise to penetrate it. The thick and sweet nature of the beer makes it liquore like. The bitter finish is a good counterpoint and provides the expected bitterness of a black IPA.

Heat does give a bit of variance, and is thus a grace against the beers only big weakness, bringing out raisins and bailies elements which are welcome by this point.

So a tart, wonderful dessert fondue textured beer of limited room for experimentation but high in luxury and well defined balance. The fruit is tantalising, and the beer is delicious, you just get the feeling it could do that bit more with what it had. A flaw in not reaching potential, not a flaw in the beer itself.

Background: Ok, this one is a black IPA that has raspberry, tayberry and blackberry and has been aged in Invergordon whisky casks.  Kind of a follow up to the Bashah Reserve beers. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers, and also I am a huge fan of Black IPAs.

CIMG1987

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB11 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 12.8% ABV)

Visual: Black, good sized frothy coffee brown head. The body leaves a viscous sheen after a swirl around the glass.

Nose: Barley and a gentle ginger warmth. Smoke. Gingerbread. Touch of chilli seeds. Black liquorice bits. Crushed mint leaves.

Body: Liquid liquorice. Mild bitterness. Gingerbread snaps. Toffee. Grapefruit and pineapple. Smooth. Chocolate liquore. Gentle warmth in ginger beer style.

Finish: Gingerbread. Light warmth. Golden syrup. Salt and rocks. Barley. Some bitterness. Christmas mulled spice.

Conclusion: Gently warming, this may be the alternate winter warmer for the year. Maybe. It’s gingerbread dunked into liquorice chocolate liquore and then Christmas mulled. It’s also ginger beer with all the warmth that entails but kicked by barely wine sweetness and dipped into dark flavours. You know, I’m started to get the feeling I won’t manage make a one line high concept statement to sum up this thing after all.

Ok, lets look at it a different way. It’s got a lovely mix of flavours, even in the wordy run on sentences above I didn’t manage to include mention of the toffee malt and grapefruit that keeps turning up.  So from that you can probably guess it isn’t lacking for depth nor sweetness. It does feel very ginger beer influenced, but when you dig below that you get into the shark infested water of flavour below.  Ok, this beer is messing with my ability to use metaphors as well, let’s continue anyway.

Below the ginger beer flavour is chocolate liquore elements which seem to mix naturally with the black barely wines expected flavours. This works well with the heat, making it feel both luxurious and challenging at the same time. So with that we have established it is a pretty complicated beer, but is it any good?

Probably yes. I say probably as there is part of me permanently scarred by the mass of adverts for alcoholic ginger beer that cannot acknowledge that anything that has even hints to that style can be any good. I’m ignoring that part of me for now though. This is enjoyable with a lot of flavour and just enough hints of alcohol strength but only to warn you. Similarly the heat is balanced as warm but not burning. It is therefore very good. One of the top Abstracts so far.  If there is justice in the world this will become a praised catch like AB04 was.

Background: Ok this thing has ginger, black raspberries and chipotle peppers in it.  One day Brewdog will run out of odd stuff to shove in a beer. One day.  This turned up while I was away on the road trip of awesome and I only just got around to giving it a try. Hopefully should have given it time to settle. Early on in my drinking days I was not a fan of chilli beers due to trying some truly dreadful ones. They are starting to grow on me now as long as they don’t go to lava levels. Oddly I’ve not seen this one at Brewdog Bristol on tap yet.  Hmmm. Anyway, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Note that after I looked at the description and saw there were raspberries in this I started tasting them, however since I may have only got them due to reading that description I left it out of the main review.  Drunk while listening to Bad Religion: 30 years Live Album

%d bloggers like this: