Tag Archive: Abstrakt

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 25 (Scotland: Barley Wine: 13.3% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black-cherry red. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Treacle. Fudge. Vanilla. Toasted marshmallow. Liquorice all-sorts.

Body: Treacle. Liquorice. Vanilla. Toffee. Buttery notes. Charred meat ends to charcoal. Chalk touch. Black cherry. Brown sugar.

Finish:Liquorice all-sorts. Butter. Charred notes.

Conclusion: This is … very buttery, very buttery indeed. That is not such a good thing. There is a good base beer apart from that; Solid treacle notes, very smooth body that hides the alcohol and good toffee and vanilla from the bourbon barrel ageing. I mean I even enjoy the liquorice that they manage to use in moderation and have slight liquorice all sorts sweeter notes.

But…. yeah, as you go on that real thick buttery character just grows and grows. Now I don’t know if it from a brewing fault in the base beer, from the barrel ageing, a combination of both or what, but something just doesn’t click here. Generally butter notes are considered off notes in beer, but I have defended them from time to time where they seem to accentuate the high points of the beer they are in, but that doesn’t apply here – they are distinctly off notes.

Now, to look on the bright aside of the beer – it is very good at concealing its high alcohol – I’ve seen beers of roughly half the strength seem far rougher, and the smoothness doesn’t stop it playing with big flavours either, dodging another common flaw in aged beers where the smoothness comes with an associated lightness. This all grinds to a screeching halt sooner or later though as the buttery notes come out again. Now, maybe this is another beer where a bit of ageing may sort it out, but since they are selling it now, I expect it to be good now.

The buttery character is a greenery pocked, thick and fatty thing – so, I guess high quality for butter? But that doesn’t make it a better experience – it keeps hiding the better notes underneath it. Late on black cherry and similar dark fruit notes come out from under that shell, and it would have been nice to see more of them.

At a cheaper price this would be flawed but with a quality of the base against it that makes it worth investigating, At ten quid a pop this cannot be a worthwhile purchase I’m sorry to say. A potentially good beer stomped by its worse elements. So there we go.

Background: Another of Brewdog’s one off speciality beers – this one a Barley Wine that has spent 6 months on a bourbon barrel. That actually doesn’t sound that unusual. Ah well, they can’t all be super odd high concept brews. Let’s just hope it is really good to make up for it. Anyway, another one grabbed directly from their online store. Put on Ritualz –CDR for this. Not listened to it for a while and it is a really out there, moody electronic set of tracks that I felt the need to jump into again.


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.

Brewdog Abstrakt AB 21

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!


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.

%d bloggers like this: