Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


Electric Bear Cherry Blackout

Electric Bear: Cherry Blackout (England: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown head.

Nose: Black forest gateaux and chocolate liqueur. Tart cherries. Sweet chocolate fondue.

Body: Cherry liqueur. Brown sugar. Chocolate cake. Slick and smooth. Light milky coffee. Bitter chocolate. Vanilla. Black forest gateaux.

Finish: Chocolate cake. Low level bitterness. Bitter chocolate. Black forest gateaux.

Conclusion: Man, if only everything could live up to the nose on this one, a nigh perfect expression of fresh tart cherries and Black forest gateaux. It smells like a dessert drizzled in thick fruit liqueur. Stouty, fruity, sweet and stand out – it is excellent. Now, if only everything was as good as those first few moment…

A tad ominous sentence there, maybe a foreboding of bad sentences to come?

Actually, the main body is actually ok – solid chocolate cake with bitter cocoa and chocolate backing. A few rough edges are there with the brown sugar not quite integrated, but the main disappointment is how much the cherries fade out. They are still there as a backing tart liqueur style but it is the chocolate cake that blacks out most of the other notes. Larger mouthfuls do make more of that tart cherries but at 8% abv big mouthfuls are a bad plan for health. The bitter cocoa really leads the beer, still it isn’t all bad, as the beer warms the cherry does gain more foothold, but it never sparkles like it does in the aroma.

It results in a solid and yet still underwhelming beer. It is a solid chocolate cake stout, but it promised so much more and really needs to deliver on that promise to be worth the abv. Still, it is early days for the brewery and there is a darn good base idea for this, so if they can tweak it around the elements that work it could end up something very decent.

Background: Electric Bear are a reasonably new Brewery in Bath, and so I thought it was about time I should pull my thumb out and do tasting notes on one of their beers. I decided to go with this one, picked up from Independent Spirit, an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, brown sugar,vanilla and morello cherries. Drunk while listing to the band “Heck”. I saw that they were touring soon so checked out their free album Knockout Machine.

Stewart Elysium 1 Bourbon Edition

Stewart: Elysium 1: Bourbon Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thick brown head that dissipates to a dusting quite quickly.

Nose: Vanilla. Cherries and fruitcake. Big fudge. Vanilla yogurt. Plums. Big but smooth. Rum soaked raisins. Shortbread. Rye bourbon.

Body: Smooth, almost light. Cocoa powder. Vanilla yogurt. Strawberry yogurt. Plums. Red wine and red berries. White chocolate.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Vanilla yogurt. White chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, this tastes like a white stout. Okay, okay, white stout seems to have many definitions these days, some just based on stout meaning strong. This one tastes like an imperial stout, but with everything switched to white; White chocolate, the vanilla delivered as vanilla yogurt. In fact that yogurt is the element that really makes my point here. Lots of imperial stouts can feel like a chocolate milkshake – this turns that on its head and feels like its yogurt smoothie cousin.

Now the traditional stout flavours aren’t missed out, with dark fruit embedded in it and dark cocoa notes, but that different vanilla yogurt feel and taste mid body puts those traditional notes into a completely different context.

This different take on the Imperial Stout works better as it warms. Cool the yogurt dominates too much and it can make the beer feel kind of empty. Warm you get deep red wine and fruitcake notes that fill the emptiness and create contrast, like raspberries pocked in white chocolate.

In really intrigued to see how much of this is the base beer, and how much the barrel ageing. I’m used to vanilla and toffee notes from a bourbon barrel but not so much that they overpower the base imperial stout character.

Even as it warms it feels a tad too yogurt influenced to be special, a bit thick and cloying. It is very different though and I always appreciate that. I wonder if the Elysium would take better to a heavier barrel ageing. They have other variants so it may be worth a test. Anyway, overall more interesting as an experience than a beer in itself, but it has a lot of promise to make a very different take on the beer if they can just fine tune it.

Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is one of three barrel aged version of their Elysium imperial stout. The other two being Speyside whisky casks, one ex-sherry and one, I presume, ex-bourbon cask. I decided to go for the bourbon version as I have not tried Elysium and bourbon is often the smoothest and less intrusive barrel ageing method for me, so may give the best idea of the base beer. Or that is the theory at least. Drunk whilst listening to Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: Repent Replenish Repeat. I love that album.

Brewdog Black Eyed King Imp Vietnamese Coffee Edition

Brewdog: Black Eyed King Imp: Vietnamese Coffee Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.7% ABV)

Visual: Black, looks like tar on the pour. Treacle touched thin head.

Nose: Treacle. Complex coffee. Fudge. Coconut macaroons. Black cherry. Condensed cream. Bready.

Body: Thick. Shortbread. Honey. Creamy coffee. Mead. Treacle. Chewy. Bready – toasted teacakes and butter. Coconut. Black cherries.

Finish: White chocolate and vanilla. Mead. White grapes. Bready. Light yeastie. Lots of coffee.

Conclusion: This may be the beer that finally pays off the promise that Black Eyed King Imp showed but did not quite reach. Long time readers may guess what I mean by that. I mean that there are coconut notes in the main body baby! Seriously, that was the let down of standard BEKI – the nose teased coconut and the body gave me none. Damn coconut tease.

So, it has coconut. Does that mean it is the greatest thing ever? No, but it is just a notch above the already excellent standard Black Eyed King Imp. It feels even smoother. It results in an odd contrast – there is a mix of big flavours and a very chewable texture at times, but due to the smoothness can feel oddly empty at times. A minor element as 90%+ of the time it works just fine, just an odd glitch that can come from going this smooth.

The breadiness of the main body is interesting, it feels similar to what you can get with Belgian yeast and here mixed with buttered toasted crumpets in a very pleasing way. When the beer gets over smooth the new addition, the coffee, leaps in to save the day. It is a clever contribution – the bitter coffee never becomes the sole string to the beers bow, but works against what would otherwise be a weak point of the beer.

The beer leans primarily bitter, both in chocolate and coffee, but there are soft sweet notes throughout, all adding to the smooth experience. The oddest of which is a honey sweetness which is also the strongest note, though thankfully also sparingly used. It adds a few high notes then sinks back into the midst of the beer until it is needed again.

Anyway – coconut! Yep it is there, used sparingly but there. So I am a happy bunny. The beer just lacks a certain something to be an all time great, just those few empty moments, but despite that is a seriously good beer.

Background: Bias warning first, my bias relationship with Brewdog is, well, complicated. As always I try to keep my tasting notes bias free despite that. This is, at the time of making, the world’s strongest canned beer, another version of Black Eyed King Imp, this time made with Vietnamese coffee, as well as the previous cocoa nibs and barrel ageing. Drunk with a little iron Maiden to accentuate the metal theme. Ok, that is lie, listened to with Iron Maiden because Iron Maiden are awesome.

Buxton Omnipollo Yellow Belly
Buxton: Omnipollo: Yellow Belly (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown bubbled head.

Nose: Snickers bars. Chocolate ice cream. Lots of peanuts. Creamy. Very milky coffee.

Body: Creamy – condensed cream. Snickers. Big amount of peanuts. Or possible Reeses peanut cups. Bitter cocoa. Sugar dusting. Boozy feel. Thick texture. Treacle. Brown cane sugar.

Finish: Caramel. Peanuts. Bitter cocoa dust. Digestives and shortbread. Treacle. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: Damn. Think of a blended up snickers bar, but in a beer. I would say a “marathon” bar for old times sake, but, let’s face it – fighting long dead linguistic battles is not going to win me any favours here.

Anyway, this is stupid levels sweet, awesome stupid that is. There is not a huge range of notes but they are very well defined and well themed as well. Very sweet imperial stouts can become over exposed very easily, but thankfully this came when I have not had many of them for a while, so as a fresh again experience I absolutely loved this.

This is a very creamy beer as well, doesn’t hide the alcohol character either, but instead uses it as a boozy thick character. No burn, no harsh edges, but there is no mistaking this is a big beer.

I want to talk more about this beer – about its creamy texture, the sheer dominance of peanuts to peanut butter flavours over the bitter cocoa – but so much can be summed up in the few short words. Snickers bar beer. It deserves a better description than that, more detailed and florid, but that is what it is. I mean I could go more into comparing to Reeses peanut butter chocolates but I would kind of be over egging the whole thing. You get the idea, right?

So, please accept my apologies- I’m saying less than I should. Let us all just accept that this is a dangerously sweet, dangerously high abv, dangerously high quality beer. Take your time, keep off sweet imperial stouts for a while, then treat yourself to this. It is worth it.

Oh and fuck the far right and racists in general.

Background: Grabbed at Independent Spirit. First made as part of the rainbow collaboration where each team of breweries was given a colour theme to use. Ok, that bottle kind of looks like a Klan uniform, which kind of worried me until I realised that was the point, and why it was called Yellow Belly. I can’t find the original quote but to paraphrase they said this was brewed with no nuts, because the Klan didn’t have them either. I loved that so I grabbed a bottle.

I was going to disagree slightly with the bottle quote about acting anonymously as part of a group being one of the worst cowardice, by pointing to a counterpoint of protesting groups who require anonymity to prevent retribution from the authorities, until I found a fuller quote to put it in context

 
“The political situation throughout Europe is in turmoil right now, National Front, Sverigedemokraterna, British National Party, EDL, Dansk Folkeparti, Vlaams Belang, Lega Nord, Fremsrittspartiet, Sannfinländarna, Golden Dawn….the list goes on and on. From Omnipollo’s Henok Fentie; “One thing that struck us while the preliminary political polls where being presented during election night was that the actual support for the Swedish fascist party was in reality 40% higher than what people had disclosed when asked (face to face) what they voted for just after casting their ballot. At the same time the polls were more or less accurate when it came to other parties on the political scale.” What does this mean? One thing that it could mean is that although people vote extreme right they are on average not as prone to admitting to it as people voting for other parties are. Being a coward can mean many different things, but protesting anonymously at the expense of people’s freedom and right to co-exist without showing your face is one meaning that is particularly relevant at this moment in time.

 
So, with all this in mind, for our ‘Yellow’ beer, we made an 11% Peanut Butter and Biscuit Imperial Stout. Except there are no peanuts or biscuits in it. And then we dressed it in the most hateful, cowardly-anonymous costume we know of.

 
This beer, whilst attempting to make a commentary on the current political winds blowing through Europe, is above all, meant to be enjoyed as a celebration of all things new, open minded and progressive. Taste, enjoy and don’t be prejudiced.”

 
I can’t disagree with that, and will raise a glass to mocking racists everywhere.

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

Mikkeller: Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Massive dark coffee froth rock solid head.

Nose: Spiced grapes. Bitter chocolate. Strawberry yogurt. Cinnamon. Carrot. Bitter coffee. Vanilla beans. Bourbon. Cherries.

Body: Spicy. Paprika. Cherries. Bitter coffee and cocoa powder. Pepper. Tingling feel – spirity. Bourbon.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Smoke and embers. Peppery. Vanilla beans. Bourbon. Rye crackers. Port.

Conclusion: Not as good as you would hope. Wow, that is a good start isn’t it? yeah, Well, I guess they are right – too many cooks do indeed spoil the broth. Now, it still has a lot in its favour. For one it is complex as fuck. A very complex fuck involving pulleys, diagrams and advance planning. I may not be very good at analogies. Anyway, yes, complex – I don’t think it could be anything but that considering its roots, but it ends up pulling itself in far too many ways.

An example? Well, for one the insanely complex coffee I loved in Beer Geek Brunch Weasel is there, but a lot of the subtlety is lost – there is a lot of spicy packed in at the high end of the notes and it covers up a lot of the base character there, while there is a sparkling spirit character at the base doing the same to the more complex chocolate notes. The tingling isn’t so much raw alcohol – it actually feels quite smooth on that front, but more tingling with the barrel ageing notes. So what is at its base a very smooth beer ends up feeling slightly rough as all the other elements clash with each other.

Now the base beer isn’t everything – you have to expect something to be lost as well as gained when barrel ageing is brought in, but it is a bad sign when you lose too much. So what do you gain? Well, one of the best things is that you get some lovely sweet cherries into the mix, which complement the coffee and chocolate perfectly. Fantastic as the ninth doctor would say if he were a pisshead like me. In fact the best is generally the sweet notes added to the midst of the bitter chocolate and coffee. The worst is probably the excess spicy character which hides more than it adds.

Still a solid, frothy, well textured beer at its base, but it tries to do too much at once.

Background: Grabbed at Independent Spirit, this is a mix of (deep breath) bourbon, brandy, cherry wine, cognac, tequila and whisky aged imperial stout. Think it may also be a mix of Beer Geek Breakfast and Beer Geek Brunch Weasel as well, but that is a guess based on the name. The abv is closer to Breakfast, but the imagery on the bottle makes me think they may haves used the same coffee as Brunch Weasel. Google hasn’t helped out much, so much of this is guessing. I deliberately didn’t refresh my memory on what barrel ageing had been used before doing the tasting note so to keep psychosomatic influences to a minimum. I adore Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, so have been grabbing many variants over the years. Drunk whilst listening to more ocremix stuff.

Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2015

Stone Farking Wheaton: W00tstout 2015 (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Grey dash for a head with brown bubbles at the edges.

Nose: Boozy. Coconut macaroons and pecan pie. Black cherry. Milk chocolate. Vinous red wine. Marshmallow. Bready notes.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Nougat. Vanilla toffee. Cherries. A quite clean high end. Light pepper. coconut. Light pecan. Crumpets. Forthy feel.

Finish: Quality bitter chocolate. Gin or perhaps just juniper. Vodka touch. Rye bread. Light pepper. Vanilla toffee. Pecan pie. Nougat. Crumpets and toasted teacakes. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: Hmm, time to try and work out – is this good, great, or one of the all time greatest? Ok, no bones about it, this is , at the bare minimum, good. The only question is how good?

I wasn’t expecting to open up this enthusiastically, taken from my previous year’s experiences this was solid but didn’t stand out amongst the packed Imperial Stout crowd. It did catch my attention enough to grab this bottle, and I am glad that I did. Now this, part bourbon aged, third edition, this is far above last year’s.

Good opening hints at what is to come with the nose – coconut notes, I always love coconut notes. Entering the main body the bitter chocolate which was stereotypically over emphasised in last years beer is now matched with lots of nougat and a toasted teacake set of notes which gives a sweet, yet frothy and substantial body.

Cool it can feel slightly overly clean- losing the high and low end of the notes, but as it warms more chocolate, toffee, pecan pie and such, come out. Like this it has such a lovely chewy texture, yet not too thick – it is like a mouthful of marshmallows in feel – they resist if you push down, but still crumples easily.

Because of the above elements it manages to have its own identity amongst imperial Stouts. Yes it calls to the bitter chocolate, the bourbon aging ,the coconut touched, and many other mainstays of imperial stouts – and it does take hints from each of these, but it constructs its own interpretation with the texture and with the more unusual added notes.

So, in the end, yes this elevates itself to the quality of high end beers, but also manages to be atypical, and that makes is something special. So it is beyond just good. So, is it great or one of the all time greats?

For now I will say it is part of the all time greats – the texture is very unusual, probably this is a result of the wheat and rye into the mix. The flavour is complex and the bourbon ageing makes it smooth indeed. So, yeah, this is one of the all time great imperial stouts.

Just remember, while I am saying that, this is 13% and a good sized bottle, so I may be a tad merry as I write that, but even with that said …. Damn this is good.

Background: I’d tried last year’s edition of this, mainly because WILL WHEATON! You know, that kid everyone hated in Star Trek the Next Generation, but is now grown up and awesome. Also made with Drew Cutis from Fark.com. Anyway last year I found good, but not exceptional, however this years edition is made with 25% last year’s edition that has been aged in Bourbon barrels, which sounded like it may add just what the beer needed, so I grabbed a bottle. It is also made with wheat, rye, cocoa and pecan. Because of course. I have to admit wheat in an imperial stout did intrigue me. This beer is best know for being one of the answers to “What will always get you laid” in the Cards against humanity episode of Tabletop. Drunk whille listening to some Svalbard, because big music is needed for a big beer.

Mikkeller Crooked Moon Tattoo Stockholm Stout

Mikkeller: Crooked Moon Tattoo Stockholm Stout (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large creamy brown froth.

Nose: Crushed peanuts. Mashed figs and raisins. Malt chocolate drink. Black olives.

Body: Black olives. Bitter. Cloying. Sour dough and cream cheese. Very bitter black chocolate and bitter black coffee.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Brown bread and black olives.

Conclusion: Well, I often muse, (or perhaps mildly complain is more accurate) about the fact that a lot of recent imperial stouts feel like they are trying to be similar to what is popular at the time rather than carving their own identity. This is a beer that does not suffer from that. This is a beer that is odd. This is a beer that is very distinctive, not quite unique, but definitely taken the less walked road.

Now, with figs in this I was expecting this to lean towards the sweeter end of the stout scale. I was wrong. Damn wrong. This is bitter. bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Without contrasting sweetness when cool I actually find this more punishing that a lot of high alpha acid IPAs.

Bitter chocolate and coffee may not sound that unusual, in fact it may sound like every other Imperial Stout out there – however while chocolate and coffee may not be unusual the level of intensity is. What makes this odd is a cloying kind of feel and big black olives flavour – it makes it feel like the beer equivalent of that bread, oil and olives starter you get in some Italian restaurants. But in a stout. Go on, tell me that is a common thing. No, right? An odd one this. I have run into olive notes before, but never so intensely.

The actual expected odd element – the figs – well that only comes out when the beer warms, and not even that heavily then. However, boy is it needed. Without it the beer is too intense on the single, bitter, end of the scale. With it, it is still punishing but now more manageable.

It still feels a bit too lob sided for me, a bit over cloying and heavily olive dominated – but with the slight mashed fig sweetness I can respect it, if not overly enjoy it. Not one for me, but it is well made and I think it will be for many of you. If my notes have not put you off and you want something different then you may want to check it out.

Background: Made with figs, which is the main reason I grabbed it. That and the fact Mikkeller tend to be awesome with Imperial Stouts. Crooked tattoo look to be a bunch of guys who run a tattoo convention and they asked Mikkeller to make this beer for them for that. Bought from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to a bit of Within Temptation, which seemed to suit the mood for this.

Brewdog Hinterland

Brewdog: Hinterland (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black – pours like chocolate liqueur, has a short lasting brown bubbled head.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Crushed chocolate bourbon biscuits. Light roasted character.

Body: Bitter chocolate and cocoa dust. Dry roasted nuts and hazelnuts. Chocolate cake. Black cherry hint. Liquorice hint. Chocolate icing. Light sugar cane. Cream.

Finish: Vanilla. Cocoa. Bitter chocolate cake. Light sugar dusting.

Conclusion: This is one of those beers that would have blown my mind early on in my beer drinking life, but with all the water under the beer bridge I have become slightly blasé to.

Basically, this is chocolate. Mainly bitter, sometimes creamy, sometimes cake like and sometimes icing like, but in general – chocolate. That is the strength and the weakness. Strength as well, about five years back this level of layered, varied chocolate would have put me in the mind of a chocolate equivalent of what Beer Geek Brunch Weasel does for coffee – layered and lovely.

Thing is, these days it seems kind of one note – a fricking impressive note, but one note. I have now tried other beers have done the wonder of many layered chocolate and managed to add other elements to match and oppose it. I promise I’m not just being picky as I recently disagreed with Brewdog on some stuff – I still genuinely like a lot of their beers and what they do. This is nice, impressive even – but doesn’t stand out as an exceptional Imperial Stout amongst Brewdog’s range, let alone the insane range of high quality Imperial Stouts in the world.

Still, thickness wise it has a good texture. Chocolate wise it has a good range; Creamy, rich, bitter, heavy and tasty. It is just not as good as some others. You won’t be let down though if you want a chocolate Imperial Stout – I am just spoiled.

Needs something none chocolate added to it to make it special, but still pretty good.

Background: An imperial oatmeal milk stout made with cocoa and vanilla pods. Again Brewdog are making me pack in the extra words to describe their beers This thing has an awesome pretty label, which is cool – The photo doesn’t really show it off. With it being so dark I either got it looking like a black bottle, or with a level of flash back depending on the setting. An expert photographer I am not. Bias warning, despite my recent disagreements with Brewdog, I still benefit financially from them doing well as a minor shareholder. Despite that I still try to be as unbiased as possible. This was drunk after blowing yet another promising Binding of Isaac The Lost run. Grrr. Drunk while listening to the great fun Television Villain! Check them out. Bias warning – a friends band.

Dark Horse Plead The 5th Imperial Stout

Dark Horse: Plead The 5th Imperial Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Half inch of creamy coffee froth for a head.

Nose: Big. Milky coffee. Hazelnuts. Bitter cocoa. Dry roasted peanuts. Chocolate cake. Tobacco. Sour dough and fresh baguettes.

Body: Thick and bitter. Smoke. Bitter chocolate. Tobacco. Coffee cake. Roasted. Belgian chocolate. Toffee.

Finish: Dry. Bitter chocolate. Smoke. Tobacco. Light gin air. Doughnuts. Toffee.

Conclusion: I am, personally, of the mind that far too many imperial stouts are trying too hard to copy the pack leaders these days, ending up with a lot of beers than end up very similar. Often also with the copies not being quite as good as what they are trying to imitate.

This, therefore, makes me happy. While it has a lot of bitter cocoa and bitter coffee, that matches the current imperial stout trend, it is a very chewable beer, and isn’t afraid to be a bit rough and different.

As well as the thick, chewy, texture, this also manifests itself as having a light tobacco and smoke character throughout. You can feel a wish to masticate upon the imagined chewing tobacco within the beer, and that gives the beer a weight even more so than its respectable 11% abv.

Despite the strength, it feels very manageable – the aroma keep this bakery fresh filled baguette ploughman’s kind of character to it, which then tends in the finish towards a doughnut thickness. Not so much as flavours than as a solid base character that means that the heavy tobacco, coffee and chocolate have something to stand out against.

The tobacco actually makes me think of the imperial stout equivalent of Hair Of The Dog Adams – a lovely beer which had similar notes at various points in its ageing life. That is a hell of a beer to be compared to and this one holds up nicely.

So, high quality, different and big. Definitely earns its place as an Imperial Stout amongst the greats of this world.

Background: Not too much to say on this one, I have no idea what the image on the front of the bottle is supposed to be. Felt like a big imperial stout this night, looked in the cupboard, had several, drank this one. Drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. Lovely relaxing yet big tunes.

De Molen Hel and Verdoemenis Bruiladdich

De Molen: Hel en Verdoemenis – Bruichladdich Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head. Viscous sheen.

Nose: Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Salt touch. Nougat. Sour black cherries. Sour cider notes.

Body: Smooth. Salt and charring. Bitter cocoa and chocolate liquore. Medicinal touch. Milky chocolate. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Salt. Toasted marshmallows. Medicinal touch. Malt chocolate and brown bread. Light peanuts. Charred oak. Sherry trifle. Apples.

Conclusion: After last year’s Octomore Aged beer I was raring at the bit to try this years barrel aged beer from De Molen. Seriously, the Octomore Aged beer was a legend.

This. Well this is not a legend, but it is a very interesting beer in itself. It seems to be a mix of three main strands. The first strand is a deep bitter and charred stout; Bitter chocolate is the order of the day – lots of slow and heavy set flavour. It is a brutal backdrop that the more medicinal Islay character actually adds to rather than subsumes. Speaking of that second strand, this is actually more salted and medicinal than I expected from the lighter Bruichladdich distillery. It is actually done a bit too harsh – leading for an overly charred and charcoal beer that is what lasts out into the finish.

What saves it, to a degree, is the third strand. There is a soft nougat and sherry trifle sweetness that rises up from underneath the darker notes. This, if just against the chocolate of the first strand, would be spot on, and as the beer warms it does get much closer to this ideal. The body thickens and the charring level drops. Still a tad rough edged, but much better than at first.

The barrel ageing for this one doesn’t seem quite to work, but doesn’t manage to ruin what is a solid beer. Ok, and heavy duty, but not special.

Background: I didn’t have my tasting note kit last year, so I was intrigued to see what De Molen had for us at the Great British Beer Fest this year. This didn’t sound as instantly awesome as the Octomore, but I had my tasting note book this time so decided to give it a go. De Molen have been solid as hell so far, and as the lighter end of Islay I imagined Bruichladdich would let the base beer open up a bit. My friend Adam who also tried it was probably more disappointed with the beer than I was, so take that as a counter point.

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