Tag Archive: Abstrakt


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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.

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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

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB10 (Scotland: Brown Ale: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: A large creamy cinnamon coloured head, with a body that looks black initially but is possibly just a very dark red.

Nose: Raisins. Cinnamon. Bitter red wine, yet spicy and grape filled. Liquorice and malt drinks. Sour dough. Fortified wine.

Body: Quite thick. Red grapes. Frothy milk chocolate. Raisins. Brown sugar. Treacle. Cinder toffee.

Finish: Dusty chocolate, slightly bitterly so.  Brown sugar. Dry yeasty character. Slight chocolate orange. Cinder toffee.

Conclusion: Another beer that feels like a style mash up. While it is an imperial brown ale the funky yeast styling to the finish and main body put me in mind of a Belgium brown. The heavy set flavours and chocolate put my friend Will in the mind of a porter. The red wine barrel ageing, well put everyone in the mind of red wine for some reason.

What impresses me is that it all meshes. The flavours are layers not contradictions. A sediment feel like some bitter red wine, and implemented in a not unappealing way. Slightly tart, but with sweetness brought in from the oak. Not toffee sweetness like Bourbon ageing, more crumbly cinder toffee.

It’s those little things that work well, the rough edges where smooth would seem superficial and out of place. That more than anything else it what puts me in mind of the rough edged gems of the Belgium beer range.

The flavours of chocolate and dark fruit, sour wine and sweet fruit all seem like dubbel style calls in this brown ale. Dark and rich.
While not as experimental or odd as some Abstrakts the beer earns its place by being very competent and complex. I have a feeling this will be a good one to age. Very nice.

Background: I have a sleight quirk that I always accidentally call this AB010, I’ve got so used to the single digit entries of the Abstrakt line that I can’t stop doing it.  I first tried this on keg at a Brewdog Pub, but held off doing a tasting note until the bottle version. For the record I like both but slightly prefer the bottle as it seemed to have more complexity.  As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.  Oh yeah, the beer itself. This is an imperial brown ale that ahs been aged in sweet Spanish Malaga red wine barrels. I’ve been getting taste again for Brown Ales, and love the oddity of wine ageing beers so it was a beer I was quite excited for.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB09 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 17.1% ABV)

Visual: Black, coffee froth head comes up easily with a fizz but never stays.

Nose: Roasted coffee beans. Cashew nuts. Porridge and a slight sourness. The sourness develops into a fruit tartness over time. Maybe raspberries, Mild fudge notes. Smoke.

Body: Very smooth. Oatmeal flakes. Bitter chocolate and milky chocolate interspersed.  Some alcohol feel at the back.  Bitter coffee. Quite bitter overall. Toffee. Lightly medicinal. Slowly raspberry influence builds, but is never really forthright.

Finish: Bitter chocolate very heavily. Quite a fresh air over it. Alcohol that hangs at the back of the throat.  Very light raspberries in the air. Cashew nuts back again. Brown bread. Salt touches.

Conclusion: This one weighs pretty heavy on you. The thickness of the body means that you get ladles full of bitter chocolate coming through. In fact it is possibly a touch too heavy for its own good. Considering all the unusual ingredients that went into making it, it still seems primarily a heavy chocolate and coffee stout.

It does have other elements. The alcohol it high in its influence and burn, but it does also have a distinctive sweetness to the burn that hints at its whisky ageing.  Top and tail has a slight tartness which seems to have a raspberry influence. All these elements are understated though, leaving booze and chocolate to come through.  The biggest difference comes from the oats which gives a much thicker texture and that usually telling flavour that comes with all good oatmeal stouts.

The most unusual twist this beer has is the aroma. Left still it had dry fudge sweetness, but when swirl it seems much more roasted in character. An intriguing element.

It’s solid and wonderfully thick, but for all its show its inability to make use of its ingredients means that it is a slight disappointment. Oddly I think it needed a slightly lighter beer to let them show through. Not a statement I will say often.  It is left then as a tasty, but expensive for what it is, Imperial Stout.

Background: As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.  This beer was made in response to a competition to design a beer for Brewdog. So they got this the “Cranachan” Imperial Stout based on a Scottish dessert. The beer is made with heather honey, raspberries and oats then aged in a grain cask.  Notably the abv is a lot higher than was originally pitched for it.  Drunk while listening to Paradise Lost’s “Tragic Idol” album.

Old Beer: Good Beer: Brewdog Abstrakt AB01: 2 Years Aged

Its time to revisit old ales again. Well beers that have been aged, not the style old ale.  This time looking at the Abbey Quadrupel Style Belgium Ale made with vanilla pods, now with two years in the tank.  Back when I first tried it, I enjoyed it but found it a bit mixed up, like the flavours needed more time to harmonise.  It was with great interest I drew this out from its cool ageing area and prepared to pour.

Right from the start it was noticeably different.  A lot smaller head drawing forth, now kind of a thin sheen than the initial cascading head of might. Also the colour seemed a clear red, though an amount of sediment was clearly visible. Guess I sodded up the pour just a touch.  The aroma was significantly lighter, more sweet notes that before, and much more vinous.  Slightly dusty like eccentricities stores.  Not the most welcoming of openings. Though the vinous touch was a good sign.

Onto the first sip.  Very quiet top and tail, I was about to write it off on first sip, but the main body rolls in nicely.  Very chewy textured, it’s got a bit thicker over the years, and much smoother.  Lots of sweetness, the vanilla is much more evident amongst toffee and glacier cherries.  The smoothed out texture had lost a lot of the more unusual elements from before like the wheat character, and the sourness is much better integrated into the sour grapes and vinous thickness.  Slightly fruitcake like now as well.  A brandy cream style has been added as well.

It is a significantly different beer, for better or worse.  The ageing seems to have taken a very standard route of much more vinous, slight sour grapes and fruitcake.  It has integrated the flavours better but at the cost of loosing a few. A lot less heavy duty as well. Reminds me of how whisky ages at the high levels, a lot of the fire is lost, but the flavour is there and much mellower.  In some cases here, too mellow, hence the issue top and tail.

Overall a mixed package. Less complexity and force. Much better texture and integrated flavours.  The sheer change is worth the ageing I would say. It’s still a tasty beer and its very interesting to rate its progress. Flavour wise it can’t compete with the big guns of the Belgium word, the rochforts and the Westvleterens, both of which age marvellously.

A tasty beer, and lovely thickness and vinous outreaches.  Not a show stopper at this point though and a weak entry compared to its much cheaper competition.  Been a fun journey though, and one of the more fascinating alterations over a beers ageing.

Brewdog: Abstrakt:08 (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 11.8% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany tinged honey gold with a white dust of a head. The head never froths heavily even mid pour.

Nose: Strawberry. Champagne and mandarin orange mix. Sugar cane and brown sugar. Brandy snaps. Milky chocolate. Very sweet. Dry malt and toffee.

Body:  Golden syrup and marzipan up front. Toffee and milk chocolate.  Some bitter chocolate depending on the moment.  Big amounts of fudge. All the stout like elements are mid body to end.  Strawberry and glacier cherry at the back. A moderate amount of pineapple hop moments but not heavily.

Finish:  Milk chocolate. Roasted nuts and deep bitterness. Tea like tannins. Coffee. Feels very fresh as it airs around the mouth. Fudge and bitter chocolate towards its last moments. Creamy in its bitterness. Still a touch of pineapple.

Conclusion:  Ok, it’s a blond stout. Ok.

I’ve accepted the existence of Black IPAs for a while now; blond stouts really shouldn’t be that much for my brain to handle.

Though, looking at it, it seems a more deep honeyed gold than blond. If I had to eye it I would have guessed the beer as a Barley wine.  But enough about the appearance, lets get stuck in. The aroma is similarly barley wine sweetness, to sugar shock levels in fact.

The first sip was while the beer was chilled, and it kept to the sweet fruit barley wine style. Very smooth and thick. Insanely sweet.  So I let it warn a while.  Now I’m not going to claim a bit of heat magically changed it into a stout. For one because that would be bullshit.  It kept its barley wine characteristics top and tail, but then into the centre like a depth charge came chocolate fudge and coffee.

It was like a shot of stout had been dropped in becoming a stout heart of the barley wine body.  The finish similarly sprouted a mix of chocolate stout and barley wine sweetness. Even the aroma shifted for a more dry, muted and less sweet character.

So it’s a bloody mixed up beast then, but what would you expect, it’s an attempt at a blond stout.

Stylistic pixelbitching aside, is it any good? Well the insane sweetness is overwhelming, all sugar fruits and candy cane. This can get a tad sickly, but when warm the surprisingly bitter finish does a nice offset. It s a bit too random to be a great beer, but it is a beer that gets better towards the end of a gulp. That’s when the real richness of the flavours hit.

Its problem is its stuck half way between stout and barley wine, with maybe just a hint of blond ale finish. It has that slightly creamy yet dry touch of blond ale there.  It’s an experiment that doesn’t quite work, but I love the fact it has been tried. As I have said many a time, I prefer a beer with ambition that doesn’t quite work to one that aims for the middle or the road and succeeds.

This is a wild Frankenstein fusion that enthrals me with its attempts for all its flaws. It’s up to you if you think you will have a similar response.

Background: When you can’t tell an April fools joke from an actual beer its time to get worried.  Brewdog did a joke about a blond stout last April fools, then the buggers only decided to go and make it. Liqorice roots were added to the beer, and it was aged on coffee beans to give that stout flavour.  Despite Brewdog calling it a “Deconstructed Blond Imperial Stout” there is some discussion of the actual style it belongs to. Obviously it has stout like qualities, but I would tend to call the beer a Barley Wine myself.  Ratebeer has it listed as an American Strong Ale, which is a loose enough grouping of beers that covers a wide range so in the end I decided to go with their category choice until further notice.  Drunk while listening to the album “After” by “Ihsahn”.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB07 (Scotland: Scotch Ale: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: A very dark brown with an occasional black cherry hue if held to light. The froth comes up as a dark fizz, but it cannot last long.

Nose: Caramelised brown sugar/crème brulee. Raisins. Rocks and smoke. Possibly liquorice sticks.

Body:  Toffee sweet, backed by shortbread. Fudge comes in with huge doses. Quite a fizzy feel. Fruitcake and black cherry.  Figs.  Lots of malt. Bourbon. Rocks and smoke grows at the beer warms. Feels thick despite the fizz.

Finish: Lots of milk chocolate. Smoke. Did I mention quite a chunk of chocolate? Slight sea breeze and rocks.  Shortbread and raisins. Glacier cherries.

Conclusion:  The fact that me and scotch ales don’t always get along isn’t exactly hidden knowledge. It’s not that they are bad, just that they rarely shine.

This then is the crazy diamond that shines on from the rough. Or more absurdly mixed metaphors.  It is a very odd beer in one particular respect. How it responds to chilling. When chilled AB07 is this fantastic sweet fudge and malt bomb that I would swear had been aged in bourbon rather than whisky casks.  Lots of parallels to the wonderful bourbon county stout can be drawn in that lovely sweet and distinctly alcoholic air.

Warming then brings out the whisky influence, smoke and rocks setting up a second front against the sweetness.  Some people have compared the beer to “Bitch Please” but I just don’t see it. Ok they are both whisky aged, but for all the Methuselah lifecycle of whisky ageing this has had, the influence seems pleasantly understated in comparison to the “Jura in a beer” feel of “Bitch Please”.

Now for all the power, it is mainly straightforward in the flavour, with pretty straight forward scotch ale hits and whisky / bourbon influence. No bad thing though.  Lots of punch and well done beats a beer that has a lot going on but no really tying theme.

For all my raving this beer isn’t quite a showstopper though, but what it is however is a redemption of the scotch ale in my eyes up there with “Robert The Bruce. Also a rare thing in that it is a beer that will cause me to duel to the death in order to justify chilling it. The range you get from chilled to warm more than makes up for each expression being comparatively straightforward.

So a good beer, a great scotch ale, and a perfect defence of beer chilling, all in one glass.

Could do a lot worse.

Background: As mentioned many a time I am not an unbiased actor when I comes to Brewdog. I do try though.  I’m not a big fan of scotch ales as a rule; they often seem slightly simple if not done very well. This example has been aged in whisky casks. It was meant to be one of the last few Abstrakt releases but kept being delayed for extra ageing. I have no idea exactly how long this thing has been tucked away.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB06 (Scotland: Black IIPA: 11.2% ABV)

Visual:  A very dark reddened black with a solid fudge brown bubbled head.

Nose: Grapefruit, pineapple, all mixed in with a touch of custard. As that settles down roasted coffee beans come out along with hazelnuts. Hop character, but not overwhelming despite its strength. Dry., Strawberry after a while.

Body:  Roasted. Lots of nuts and a good amount of hop bitterness. Light fudge sweetness. Fresh grapefruit backing it up. Texture seems smooth, but the hops soon turn it to a prickly sensation. Lots of fluffy hop character builds. Bitter chocolate.

Finish: Good dose of hops with milk chocolate traces. Still a touch of citrus about it. Quite bitter and hop oils. The hops grow noticeably throughout the bottle to become a resolute presence.

Conclusion:  Straightforward, but potent.  With all its talk of triple dry hopping I was wondering if this was going to end up firmly in the assault (black) IPA camp.  While it is very bitter, it doesn’t quite go overboard, though it does build throughout the bottle.  Either that or maybe I just killed my taste buds off years ago, one or the other.

So then they have taken a roasted BIPA, added a hell of a lot of citrus hops and this is the result. The huge amount of dry hopping seems then to give it the great aroma, without making the beer itself undrinkable.  The beer seems very much a massively ramped up Bashah, and that was no light going itself.  It also has some calls to Stones Arogant Bastard Ale in its hopping style.

Despite this it doesn’t seem to make itself seem as special as the other beers in the Abstrakt line, possibly due to no simple high concept hook to hang itself upon.  The extra ABV doesn’t seem to have brought a huge amount extra to the table, it’s more the dry hopping that gives the extra character.

Now, as always with beers like this I may be being a little harsh. When you are asking a tenner plus for a bottle I tend to be a bit more critical of any flaws I find.

It’s a very solid BIPA, with its hop influence as its main selling point, a beer that fights you, but doesn’t thrash you.  This is the thing, for all it doesn’t have that high concept hook, a solid Black IPA done well is a bloody good beer, even without all the bells and whistles.  The halfway mix of a roasted stout and an American IPA, and oddly while I find highly hopped stouts annoying I don’t mean that as a bad thing here. This walks the line between the styles nicely. Don’t go expecting a revolution and you will find a lot to enjoy.

Background: As I have frequently mentioned I am not an unbiased actor when it comes to Brewdog.  Black IPAs are a style that amuse me, if only for the intrinsically contradictory involved in their naming.  This particular Abstrakt is a triple dry hopped version of the beer, with dry hopping being the process that tends to commit the most hop aromas to the smell of the ale.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB05 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: Black and opaque. Leaves a light sheen, but not that heavily viscous.  Middling toffee brown head which the alcohol soon kills.

Nose:  Lots of roasted nuts, molasses. Treacle, toffee. Alcohol is most definitely there. Very light coconut husks. Charring. Unsweetened chocolate.  Quite fresh all things considered. Brown bread.

Body: Black cherry, treacle. Lots of milk chocolate. Strawberries and red cherries. Very fruity. Very rich frothy chocolate. Caramel and toffee.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Blue berries and red cherries.  Fortified wine. Slight coconut. Gin. Traditional lemonade. Mocha and praline.

Conclusion:   It’s at times like this I remember that imperial stouts can be great. This is a really fruity stout, kinda like the Tokyo, yet in this case no actual fruit has been used in the making. The chocolate is massively evident, and like the beer geek brunch weasel each flavour element is fully explored rather than being a hint or a single note in the melody.  This makes it very much the chocolate equivalent to weasels coffee take on the imperial stout, giving full the full range of flavour to its added ingredient.

The chocolate is at turns bitter, frothy, sweet and creamy.  Such a simple element in most beers becomes an expressive range here.

The coconut influence is very different, being just a subtle rounding off at the end and hint at the front.  In the main body it is conspicuously absent.  Also while it’s pledged Belgium influence is very obvious in the smoothness of the beer, it does not go for the almost dubbel style that I’ve seen in a lot of the Belgium stouts.

I may be getting a tad over analytical here, so back to basics. It’s a very good beer, very good indeed. It isn’t as vigorously different experience as AB04 but is easily as high quality.

Problems come in that it has slightly too evident alcohol in the finish, though a year of ageing should sort that out.  Also whilst it does explore its individual flavours massively it does not play with a huge range of different elements to influence it.  Being a bit nit picky here though, mainly the quite evident alcohol at the end is the only bad point.

Apart from that, an absolutely great beer.

Background: Another of Brewdogs limited run experimental beers (usual disclaimer: I am not unbiased on Brewdog beers). This time a Belgium style Imperial Stout added with cocoa and roasted coconut.   I’m a sucker for odd beers, and a big fan of Imperial Stouts, though occasionally find that beer fandom concentrates on them to the exclusion of other great beers of differing styles.

Brewdog: Abstrakt 03 (Scotland: Fruit Beer: 10.5%ABV)

Visual: The froth rises quickly even as the cork leaves the lip of the bottle.  To give it time to settle I had to ease the cork back in. Moments later the cork ejected into the air, corkscrew and all resulting in a mad dash across the room to the pour the bubbling froth into a ready glass.

An energetic one then

Bitty as can be and fizzy, this bright red beer has a large bubbled off white head with just a hint of reddish hue.  On reflection, the level of bits within it looks almost like a fully working ecosystem.

Nose: Raspberries and antiseptic. Strawberry, smoke and jelly. Medicinal mixed with jam. As the beer warms more and more fruit becomes evident.

Body: Harsh wood, smoke and strawberry backed. Sour fruit, particularly grapes. As it warms the raspberries come out. Bready and wholemeal. Fizzy textured, slightly salty. Touch of fudge and barley.

Finish: Dry oak and bitterness, smoky. Tongue drying and gin. Medicinal, salt and sweet butter.

Conclusion:  Lots of odd thoughts on this one. For one don’t get in a fight with this beer, the pressure inside managed to fire a metal corkscrew nearly a foot into the air.  That’s pretty impressive.

Second, this beer really needs some heat to get going. I initially slightly chilled it and the fruit flavour nigh completely died.  Warmed up and the intense whisky air got something to fight with as the fruit came back once more.

Thirds, this beer reminds me of prototype 27, but whilst that was too sweet, this one if full on whisky influence that kicks like a mule and is better for it.

Still, I would say its the weakest of the four Abstrakts so far, but still good – its just the others rated from very good to fantastic.

A harsh and contrasting fruit whisky ride.

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