Tag Archive: Brewdog


Brewdog: Slot Machine (Scotland: Speciality Grain :5.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red. Clear with an inch of browned bubbled head that leaves suds.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Choc orange. Lights nuts. Lightly creamy.

Body: Spicy, nutty and with malt chocolate. Peppery. Roasted nuts. Soft kiwi fruit. Vanilla. Toffee.

Finish: Cinnamon and dry ground spice. Coriander. Nutty. Rye crackers. Orange skin. Slight grapes and vanilla yogurt.

Conclusion: Hmm, giving this beer some time and with that some heat so it can develop, as chilled down this is really letting me down – however it has hints that makes me think it can do better – so let us see what some heat can do.

Initially this seems simple – nutty and spicy with a malt chocolate centre – a very middle of the road beer, with the grounding base but nothing done with this. I’m hoping that the fact I chilled this beer before I drank it just means it has been hiding the good stuff from me up to now.

So, how is it changing? Well it is more creamy, with some green fruit – also a touch more peppery, but the increased cream character easily balances that. Still doesn’t quite work – the sweetness comes with a vanilla character that starts as a pleasant vanilla toffee, but ends up a cloying vanilla yogurt style by the end – which is another savoury note that seems dull against the rest of the background.

It feels like it is overemphasising the grounding notes – the pepper, the yogurt, the roasted nuts – but with no high points against that. It has the roasted and bitter hop character, but few hop flavours to go with the IPA name it used. Instead it feels like a more bitter hopped Irish red. Not my thing – it feels leaden and so is not a beer I can recommend.

Background: Ok, usually disclaimer – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer and this was grabbed directly from the Brewdog online store. This is one of their new seasonal releases – they call it a red rye IPA – which is a whole mess of ideas. Basically a highly hopped amber ale made with rye to my eye. I really dislike how * IPA gets so overused these days – it seems to try and shove a wide variety of styles under one hat just due to them being well hopped. Drunk while listening to Praxis – Transmutation for some weird as hell backing music.

Advertisements

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: Prototype: Blond Ale (Scotland: Blond Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to blond. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Moderate whiteish head.

Nose: Cheese puff crisps to cheddar slices. Slight yeast funk. White pepper. Light lemon. Slight dry champagne.

Body: Vanilla and soft lemon. Crusty white bread. Dry. Light bitterness and hop character. Milky. Light orange. Light grapes. Dry champagne.

Finish: White bread. Lemon and lime cordial. Popcorn. Orange zest. Light hop character. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: This both feels like a good base to work from, and something that definitely needs some hard work to reach its potential.

So, let’s go with the good first – the feel of this beer is spot on. It is slightly dry and refreshing, with just a hint of yeast funk calling very mildly to Belgian blond ales, or good quality, slightly dry champagne. It lets out the light cheese funk into the aroma and backs it with a popcorn hop feel. As a feel this beer has range and delivers a very distinctive blond ale, making the most of the variety of what you can do with that. It leans towards dry, easy drinking lager influenced beer but with that milky blond ale middle.

So, let’s move onto the bad – flavour wise it adds little to that base – some light citrus, but it feels like you get a lot of setup for something bigger to happen and then get no pay off. It doesn’t need huge flavour, just something to feel like a capstone for the beer, and some subtleties to tease out over time.

It probably has the most promise of the four prototypes that came out this year, but also will need a lot of work to get it to be worth a regular release. The Double IPA prototype is significantly better as a beer in itself and would be a great regular beer release, however if they could add some better favour to this it could end up a very good beer in a style that Brewdog have not yet done a stand out beer in.

So, well worth giving a kick and if they do release a reworked version I will have my eye on it.

Background: So, the final prototype that came out from Brewdog this year, the one that came out too late to be in the original batch as they felt their first take on the beer wasn’t up to it. Grabbed from the Brewdog shop as part of a different batch pickup. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. This is a blond ale. Erm, that’s it. Not a style Brewdog does often, so interesting to see what they do with it. Drunk while listening to some Louise Distras – love the kind of folk punk mix of it.

Brewdog: Nine To Five Wizard (Scotland: Weizen Bock: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Overripe banana to browned body with huge ripe banana coloured mound of a head.

Nose: Dried banana. Light cloves. Moderate hop character. Raisins. Vanilla custard. Orange skin. Fudge.

Body: Vanilla custard. Orange crème. Banana custard. Some hop character. Crushed Blackpool rock. Hop prickle. Light greenery. Quite thick. Some crusty bready character. Hop oils.

Finish: Lime sweets. Vanilla custard. Candy floss. Raspberry hard sweets. Some bitterness. Slight peppermint and pepper. Crusty white bread. Hop bitterness and character grows over time. Tart grapes and bubblegum.

Conclusion: It is amazing how fast things can change with hoppy beers. I had one of these when it first came out and it had quite the fresh, bitter hop kick. Very much felt like an IPA meets hefeweizen beer. I broke this open for doing notes, under a month later and it has really mellowed in that time.

The malt is much more prevalent now, pushing banana and vanilla custard styling at the base, with light pepper and clove notes making its weizen style more evident despite that. It is a beer with a quite thick mouthfeel, and a lot of body brought by the nearly 8% abv – not traditional weizen feeling, but with enough calls to it that the style is not lost.

The hop character is now more in the flavour than in raw kick – there is still a moderate hop bitterness and character, and also some oily noble hop mix late on, but general it mixes smoothly with the malt base.

The flavours are grapes, orange and raspberry delivered from fresh fruit to sweet crème in style, to hard boiled sweets after that. It is quite artificial sweet feeling, giving a candyfloss and bubblegum style to the middle of the beer.

There is a lot thrown into this, a lot of mixed up elements from traditional weizen spice, strong malt load, noble hop stylings and flavours, to mashed up hard candy fruit flavours. It is enjoyable if slightly brash and a tad overwhelming and not completely coherent in how it comes together.

It’s lost a lot of raw power since I first tried it, but has gained a much greater range in those few weeks – so I have no idea where this will go from here. It is fun, but the overly candy sugar sweets notes may get wearing – however in moderation it gives a heck of a lot in a short time.

Background; This came out very close after the prototype beers did, so instead of another Brewdog shop order I just grabbed a pair of these on take-out from Brewdog Bristol. Another one of Brewdog’s canned lines with cool neon style art on the cans. This one a German style weisse beer but with new world hops. I had one shortly after grabbing it, but with all the prototype beers to do notes on, waited a couple of weeks to do notes on it. Let’s face it, if the beer gets notable worse in under a month and doesn’t warn you it is not a good beer choice in the first place. Drunk while listening to Selfish C**t – No Wicked Heart Shall Prosper. Grabbed in my youth where the name alone for a punk style band made me grab it. I was more easily impressed by rude words back then. The mix of stripped down punk, discordant electronic backing and angry lyrics means I do come back to it every now and then, so stood the time better than such a shock named band deserves to.

Brewdog: Prototype: Black Rye IPA (Scotland: BIPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large creamy browned head.

Nose: Kiwi. Muggy hops. Malt chocolate. Dry roasted peanuts. Slightly dry. Sulphurous eggs.

Body: Milky chocolate. Slight brown bread to wholemeal crackers. Kiwi and grapes. Slightly peppery. Vanilla toffee. Custard.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Black pepper. Moderate hops and bitterness. Milky coffee. Wholemeal crackers.

Conclusion: A lot of rye based beers overuse the rye element, in my opinion. I find it works better used sparingly to add something to the texture, and a bit of spice to the body rather than being something that dominates the beer. This actually uses the rye fairly lightly – it builds up over time to become prominent late on, but very gentle early in the beer.

The main black IPA base is fairly simply done – moderate chocolate, but actually leaning more towards toffee and custard notes than you would expect. Feels like some influence of a traditional IPA than you usually get in a BIPA. Don’t get me wrong, of course the chocolate and coffee notes are more dominant – here in a milky and smooth style, but it isn’t just showing those elements.

For an IPA, black otherwise, the hops seem to be lesser used than normal. You mainly get kiwi on the flavours side, and moderate levels of hop character and kick. This is probably the weakest part of the beer for me – while this manages to use the rye style well, the hop use only seems competent – very minimal in what it has for range, and seems lacking compared to the many other excellent BIPAS.

So, looking at this, the main difference maker in it is the rye. Even by the end it isn’t that harsh, just adding nice peppery weight to the beer. It is a generally competent BIPA, but feels like there could be so much more done with it. Keep the malt and rye as it is, but really fruit up the hops, then they may have something here.

As the beer is now, competent bit only competent in a world of exceptional Black IPAs.

Background: Third, and what was initially the final beer of this year’s Brewdog Prototype vote. I say initially as barely a week or so after releasing the three beers, saying that they would not release the blond ale as it was not up to snuff, well they released the blond ale. Considering bottling, posting, etc time I’m fairly sure they had an idea that the blond ale would be out shortly so I have no idea why they didn’t just wait a few weeks and release the lot at once. Sigh. Ah well. Anyway, this is a Black IPA made with rye. It is pretty much all in the name – oh, also it has a decent 70 IBU. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s shop, and drunk while listening to some of Jonathan Young’s Disney covers. Because of course.

Brewdog: Prototype: Double IPA (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Small bubbled carbonation. Medium off white head.

Nose: Fresh, slightly resinous hops. Grapes and grapefruit. Slight hop bitterness. Fresh, but slightly dry. Mandarin orange. Bready.

Body: Kiwi. Toffee and caramel. Clean mouthfeel. Grapes. Juicy. Clean hop oils. Slight bitterness. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Good bitterness and hops. Grapes. Pink grapefruit. Vanilla. Light peach. Hop oil. Mandarin orange. Passion-fruit.

Conclusion: This feels like a double IPA that ties to take elements from all ends of the IPA interpretation range and mash them together into a flavoursome, well balanced beer.

For example – the malt – pretty cleanly delivered and well attenuated to let the hop character show through clearly, yet still has a touch of that sweeter caramel style rather than the more neutral vanilla or toffee sweetness that usually comes in with the drier attenuation.

Another example – the hops – seems fairly fresh in a NZ style early on – tart grapefruit, grapes and such – but if you hold it then old school American peach hop notes come out matched with orange notes that seem to come from the new hotness of the hop range. It isn’t pushing one message, but giving high notes from each hop style’s strengths,

It is very well crafted and shows the advantage in working upon a well known style, rather than the raw enthusiasm of adding in cool new twists as the other two IPA prototypes do – the experience in brewing means that this is very layered, balanced and high quality. It delivers an attenuated, but not stupidly dry beer for easy drinking and big flavour and hops.

It fills the gap left by Hardcore IPA leaving their line up much better than Born To Die does and is a great well crafted beer – general enough to be a beer you can have nigh any time you are happy with the abv, and good enough that you will look forwards to doing so. This had my vote.

Background: Second of the Brewdog prototypes for this year, of which there are now four again as they finally got around to releasing the blond ale. Still debating on if I should pick one of them up. Anyway this is their double IPA, with 80 IBUs according the bottle – a decent kick – the most normal of the initial three IPA styles released. Everyone gets to vote on which one they want to become part of the main line-up. Disclaimer – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was grabbed direct from their Brewdog store. This was drunk while listening to some Akala – still continually blown away by that guy’s lyrical skill.

Brewdog: Prototype: Tangerine Session IPA (Scotland: Session IPA: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly burnished gold. Clear. Small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized off white head.

Nose: Very clear tangerine. Light hop character. Orange jelly to marmalade.

Body: Brown bread. Moderate hop character. Light greenery. Fresh oranges and tangerines. Orange jelly sweets.

Finish: Tangerines. Moderate hops and bitterness. Popcorn feel. Orange hard sweets. Blackpool rock. Bitterness grows over time. Brown bread.

Conclusion: A few things stand out here. First, and quite importantly, this manages to successfully avoid the overly dry character that seems to come with a lot of session IPAs. You can still feel the dryness and accompanying well attenuated character – especially in the finish – but due to its core tangerine conceit it bursts with sweetness that hides that aspect well.

Onto the tangerine then – it is very fresh and shows itself in several different ways throughout the beer. In the aroma it is very natural feeling, very fresh and very clean – it utterly dominates the nose. In the body it is now working against moderate bitterness – so not quite as dominant. It is still very present, but not as cleanly delivered – now with some soft orange sweets adding to the sweet character. Finally in the finish the sweetness takes on a more artificial kind of Blackpool rock and hard orange sweets feel against a growing hop bitterness. Not bad, but different and less cleanly done, much more artificial feeling.

While the orange is well done, this is not a varied beer in any way – you get orange flavours and bitter hop flavours laid over a dry attenuated bready base. It is well done but the simplicity means that it doesn’t play in the top ranges of beer. A one trick, fresh fruit, session beer. Probably has a place in the line up if they can add a bit of range to it – it fits a needed niche and is nice enough – however it really is not a beer for contemplation.

Background: Prototype time again! A time when Brewdog put out a bunch of new beers and the one I like least is voted to be the one they keep. Sorry. I may be a bit down on the results of voting these days. Mainly for reasons with nothing to do with beers. Anyway… They only put out three beers this time, they had a blond ale but decided it wasn’t up to snuff. All 3 are IPA variants, generally the darkest, strongest beer wins. Because of course it does. So my guess is the black rye IPA will win this year. It fits the pattern. Anyway, this is the session IPA – a style I have had many issues with over the years as 1) IPAs are by definition strong beers and 2) lots of session IPAs are crap. There have been a few good ones though, so I’ll give this a fair shake. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This is 40 IBU, low for the insane scales we have these days, but still a fair decent chunk of hops. Looking at the bottle they use actual tangerine to make this, which may be just what is needed to break the session IPA curse. This was bought from the Brewdog store and drunk while listening to Svalbard – Gone Tomorrow.

Brewdog: Beatnik Brewing Collective: Blond Export Stout (Scotland: English Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Small bubble carbonation. Large yellowed creamy white head.

Nose: Oatmeal. Cocoa and chocolate bourbon biscuits. Cloying cream. Bitter coffee. Roasted nuts. White chocolate. Milk. Orange zest. Chocolate dust. Light roasted bitterness and hop character.

Body: Cream. Bitter cocoa dust. Roasted nuts. White chocolate. Butter. Orange zest. Slight cloying cream.

Finish: White chocolate. Bitter cocoa. Dry roasted peanuts. Buttery. Lactose. Bitter roasted hops. Milky coffee. Oats. Light smoke – Applewood?

Conclusion: White Stouts, while not at New England IPA insane level popular, do seem to be popping up more often than they used to. Some try very hard to be exactly like a stout but blond – some have come close, but none have 100% succeeded. This goes with the approach I like better – working in a lot of the traditional stout notes, but emphasising elements you can only get with a blond ale.

There is definite bitter cocoa from a more traditional stout – delivered in a dusty, gripping, gritty kind of way, and it heads out with lots of milky coffee – there is no doubt it is in the stout area. However the main base is very blond ale influenced – kind of milky with a kind of traditional made butter thickness and white chocolate sweetness. It takes the thickness of a stout and uses it in its own way.

Also, while I have had a lot of oatmeal stouts, the actual oats used in making the beer seems much more evident than in those – the milky, creamy character really seems to give the oats a very definite muesli oaty kind of style. On the other hand the smoked malts used don’t seem to be as heavy influence. It comes out late on in what I think is an apple wood smoke kind of style, I think, my memory for different wood smoke is weak. It adds weight and, along with the roasted nut character, gives more notable dark stout depth.

It doesn’t all work – the cream can get a slight cloying note that doesn’t match here – but in general it is distinctly well done. I think we are still waiting for the classic blond stout to come out and define the style – but this is a good step in the right direction.

Background: Ah, “English Strong Ale” The style you use when you have no fucking clue what it comes under. I mean, is blond stout a recognised style yet? There seem to be enough of them these days. Anyway, I joke, but I had no idea either so just went with “English Strong Ale” like ratebeer and co. Anyway, this was voted for, brewed by and generally sold to Brewdog shareholders, which as you may guess means I am not an unbiased actor on this beer. This is a blond stout made with cocoa, coffee, vanilla, smoked malt and oats to try and give it that stout character but with a light colour. Grabbed directly from Brewdog’s online store. Drunk while listening to Propagandhi – Potempkin City Limits – it did lead to me wondering how the band would respond to Brewdog throwing their legal weight around recently about the word “Punk” in relation to beer. I would guess badly. Very badly.

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA V2 (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot with a large white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Slightly milky hops. Mango juice and white grapes. Nectarines. Buttery shortbread.

Nose; Nectarine. Peach. Slight cloying cream. Low level bitterness and hop character. Light peppermint and greenery. Banana milkshake.

Finish: Milkshake. Grapes. Nectarines. Slight bitterness. Very light greenery. Slight cloying cream. Mandarin orange. Sour dough. Bready.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had two bottles of this – the first one was had the day I received it and was kind of average. This one was had a week later, so just over a week old and it is much more impressive. Another entry for the “It is possible to have an IPA too fresh” hypothesis.

This has low present bitterness, but still more than the average NEIPA – which is good by me. It still keeps the massive fruit burst I associate with the New England style though – kind of smoothie to milkshake style which seems to be the common trend in these cloudy IPAs. There is a lot of orange variety going on and some slightly tart white grapes as well. This part works perfectly – slightly creamy but not excessively so. I think the bit extra bitterness gives a punch to the flavours not seen in a lot of the style.

For flaws in the beer? Well it has a few minor ones – there is a cloying, slightly sour cream note in the middle – kid of akin to what happens with Punk IPA occasionally as a refreshing twist; Here it is present throughout the beer where it gets a tad wearing rather than refreshing. Apart from that – well there is a slight greenery that seems out of place – minor notes really.

Despite that this is another NEIPA that I can approve of. Again I think it is the slight extra bitterness that makes it work for me – it is small but does stand out. Another one that makes me respect the style more than I did before.

Background: While I wasn’t massively enthused about the first Cloudwater vs Brewdog New England IPA, the buzz around this one was big enough that I grabbed a few bottles from their online store – it has been whirlpool hopped with Mosaic hops, and dry-hopped with Citra, Mandarina Bavaria and Mosaic. Sounded a very tidy hop set to me. This one is an IIPA rather than just a standard IPA so I was hoping the extra weight could work to compensate for the slightly lighter character of V1. Drunk while listening to a random selection of my most played tunes, so guaranteed to have some stuff to put me in a good mood on.

Brewdog: Abstrakt AB22 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large creamy brown inch of froth.

Nose: Smooth chocolate fondue. Rich, complex coffee. Light salt. Lightly medicinal and spirity. Slight subtle green fruit. Slight bready character. Bitter cocoa.

Body: Slight medicinal and salt. Cocoa. Very smooth. Rich creamy coffee. Slightly light at the front. Light blended whisky background. Bready.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Clean whisky character. Toffee. Chocolate bourbon biscuits. Chocolate fondue. Clean alcohol feel. Slight tequila. Bready. Bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Hmm, it seems we are back in for very competent Imperial Stout time again. A very competent imperial stout that doesn’t really stand out from the glut of IS time again. A very competent barrel aged Imperial Stout that doesn’t stand out from the crowd time again. I need to think of new things to say on a well worn topic it seems.

Ok, the base beer is the very competently done coffee and chocolate stuffed imperial stout; So, as you can probably guess it is a mix of bitter cocoa and rich coffee. It is generally well done – though it does feel slightly light up front, probably due to the time ageing in the oak which tends to sooth bigger beers. Still at 12.5% it really should not feel light at times- that is just a let down. Apart from that point the coffee is complex, the cocoa well delivered – it is just that that look is really overdone at the moment. Brewdog alone have done metric shit-ton of beers in this style – so this doesn’t seem unusual enough or stand out enough to be worth the high cost an Abstrakt beer demands.

The whisky ageing on this is Speyside, but it I had to call it blind then the light medicinal notes in it would have called me to Island or Islay areas. It doesn’t have much of the fruitiness or extra sweetness I associate with Speyside, instead having mainly a generic kind of cheap blended whisky style. Not the good stuff either, just some vanilla and a generic whisky feel. I think more than anything this is what lets the beer down. It isn’t bad, but compared to the many better barrel aged beers, the ageing here seems very simple in what it adds to the experience.

It is worth noting that as time goes on it also loses some of the subtlety – becoming more dominated by the bitter coffee flavour. By the end there is not much else being done there. The coffee is still great but it feels kind of one note.

So despite being a very competent beer, and it does add something from the ageing – it ends up feeling a fairly standard Imperial Stout these days in the style -not something special that is worth dropping ten quid on, or worth treating as a one off release. A good enough beer, but nowhere near worth the cost.

Background: Been a long time waiting for Abstrakt 22 – originally it was to be a spiced brown ale I think, but that didn’t work out how they wanted so instead we get this – A speyside barrel aged coffee and chocolate stout. This was grabbed direct from the Brewdog store and was broken out to drink after coming back from an awesome Gogol Bordello gig. If you ever get the chance to see them live I recommand it, they have wonderful energy to their sets. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer.

%d bloggers like this: