Tag Archive: Stout

Brewdog Beatnik Brewing Collective Bounty Hunter Coconut Milk Stout

Brewdog: Beatnik Brewing Collective: Bounty Hunter Coconut Milk Stout (Scotland: Stout: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Creamy beige cm of a head that leaves suds.

Nose: Coconut. Lightly nutty. Creamy. Lactose. Milky chocolate.

Body: Roasted. Milky. White sugar. Light coconut. Sugared almonds. Light orange and fruit sugars. Very milky coffee. Vanilla. Caramel undertones.

Finish: Lactose. Light fresh and slightly fruity notes – ester like. Cane sugar. Bitter coffee. Coconut. Chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, it is well known that I love coconut. Therefore this is the greatest thing ever. Review over. Natch.

Or is it?

Well it depends, chilled down this is a pretty standard, if well done – milk stout. Ok, I lie, maybe not quite standard but close to it for the most part. The sweetness is high even for the style, with the milky coffee made more flamboyant by sweet sugar and fruity notes that remind me of Belgian yeast ester. The fruit is a very subtle note, but gives a kind of jolly rancher hard candy thing going on there.

Warming it brings out the beloved coconut, not pushed heavily, but there is a coconut macaroon base that the milk stout is sieved through to get to your tastebuds.

So, how does it all come together? Well I know this called a Milk Stout, so calling to the sweet stout style but it is really pushing that – with toffee coming out on the body on top of everything else. An Imperial Stout can manage to soak up all that sweetness, but here it is a big deal, and comes through a bit too heavy.

Yet, somehow, it isn’t bad. It overdoes everything but the coconut (warm it gets it about right, cold the notes are nigh non existent) but those lovely fruit touches, and the combination with milky coffee is actually quite charming – if not on the style guidelines I would expect. Fun, but not one that gets beyond charming.

Background: This was brewed by Brewdog shareholders, after voting and discussion by Brewdog shareholders. It is pretty hard to get if you are not, in fact, a Brewdog shareholder. Sorry. I’m doing a tasting note for posterity anyway. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers as you may have guessed from the above. Drunk while listening to some calming Ulver. Was unsure on picking the style, flavour wise it aims for sweet stout, but abv plops it as a more standard stout.

Brewdog Stereo Wolf Stout

Brewdog: Prototype: Stereo Wolf Stout (Scotland: Stout: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Inch of chocolate coloured froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Roasted. Milky chocolate. Lots of bitter coffee. Vanilla. Brown bread.

Body: Roasted and bitter. Thin when cold. Nutty. Walnuts. More roasted than thick as it warms. Bitter chocolate.

Finish: Roasted nuts. Bitter hops. Chalk. Rounded bitter coffee. Bitter chocolate. Lightly earthy. Very bitter.

Conclusion: So, about three months after the rest of the prototypes arrived, this finally deems us worthy of actually turning up – shuffling its feet and pretending it had always been there. So, was it worth the wait?

Actually it is pretty solid – though it needs a bit of warmth to it, it doesn’t play well when cold. I had chilled it down a bit too far initially and it felt quite thin – however given time and heat it rose back to become a robustly bitter stout.

It is very roasted like that, with lots of nut character backed by a nicely rounded bitter coffee character – especially in the finish. The depth they put in the coffee is probably my favourite element, they do use it very well, especially considering no actually coffee beans were used in making it.

It is never remarkable, but it is definitely the best Brewdog prototype of 2014 – there is the growling hop bitterness in the finish and a more roasted bitterness throughout that makes it different to most stout interpretations in Brewdog’s existing range.

As well as being different from what they already do, it is also good quality – nothing too unexpected – bitter coffee and chocolate – everything bitter, and very little in the sweet range. Pretty standard flavours, just done in a way the Brewdog tend not to emphasise. The texture is never massively thick, I’m guessing that is deliberate as thicker stout texture can interact badly with the more hopped beers. This way, and at the abv, you can drink several without too much bother, and the roasted character covers for the lower thickness.

Not bad, nothing stand out, but a solid hopped stout.

Background: The final of the Brewdog Prototype beers from 2014, this is a hopped stout. Now, Rate beer lists this as a Black IPA, and I can see why, with the hopped character – however I decided to go with stout, as it is the aimed for style and it does seem to match it despite the hop levels. I don’t often get along with highly hopped stouts – the thickness of character tends to make the hop levels stick around too long so they start getting leaden, but there are exceptions. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Beer Weak Brunch Weasel

Mikkeller: Beer Weak Brunch Weasel (Denmark: Stout: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large frothy beige head, that descends quickly into a small covering of the base beer.

Nose: Cloyed cream. Smooth, complex, coffee. Praline. Chocolate liqueur.

Body: Chalky. Bitter coffee. Roasted. Nuts. Very bitter. Charring.

Finish: Chalk. Heavily roasted character. Bitter coffee. Charring. oats. Very bitter. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Could it be? Could it really be? The awesomeness of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – the intense complex coffee flavour and thick frothy texture – all at under 5% abv?

Somehow I doubt it.

Then again, Drink in the Sun and Snow exists, and I doubted that, so….

Well, the aroma is wonderful, lots of complex coffee – it is more traditional stout style, with that cloyed cream aroma, rather than the smoother BGBW style, but still you get the elements thick and showing that full on coffee character

So, a good start.

Dare I hope?

The first sip shows the major, and somewhat expected, difference between the two beers. The texture is – naturally- not as thick. It has more chalky character, but with still that massive complex bitter coffee. Here it is rougher and more intense due to the lack of a comparable sweet contrast and the lack of a thicker creamy texture. If anything this seems closer to Beer Geek Breakfast in influence and style.

It is more chalky and charred, but that core of coffee is there, uncontested and huge. It is definitely a different beer, but it shares the most important characteristics. There is some contrasting sweetness, but not much – the chocolate is bitter here, the texture is roasted, it is a much more traditional stout in a lot of ways and that makes it harsher edged when combined with the coffee.

Still, that coffee is awesome. It isn’t a patch on Brunch Weasel, and it is too rough with all the bitter intensity and lack of contrast. For a “Session” beer the flavour sure isn’t sessionable, but it is an ok one for slipping one into an ongoing session. I am impressed technically with what they have done here, even if it doesn’t all work.

An impressive accomplishment, and an ok beer.

Background: Beer reviews. Yes I should do them. Or at least write them up. I have a bit of a backlog, but took a break after the epic collabfest 2014 write ups. Can you blame me? Anyway, a lower abv version of one of my favourite beers of all time – Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. A stout made with high quality coffee beans.

Brewdog Tempest False Provenance

Brewdog: Tempest: False Provenance (Scotland: Stout: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin dash of greyed head around the edge of the glass only.

Nose: Quite smooth. Treacle and chocolate liquore.

Body: Treacle. Light hop bitterness. Light chalk. Chocolate liquore. Bready. Chocolate malt drinks. Light cinnamon spice

Finish: Bready and bitter. Charred oak. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: This seems oddly simple, especially for a dark beer of not slight abv weight. Which is a pity. The main flavours are treacle and chocolate, and is backed by a hop bitterness which comes quite forceful and somewhat rough. The individual flavours in the main body are well defined, but since there are so few they come in without much contrast, so the sweetness is kind of sickly, even on the third I was having. Then in the finish it is full on harsh with a roasted bitter character with little holding it back.

Each individual elements is ok, but just pushed a bit too far, to create an unbalanced beer that I can’t get into. It needs to bring some contrast or compromise, but no, when it is sweet it is sickly, when it is bitter it is rough, with no half way point. Sometimes I can get behind the intense experiences, but they need to be very carefully crafted, maybe some people will get into this one, but for me it just felt rough and didn’t give me any grip to get a handle on it.

Odd, as it calls itself a Belgian Black, and for all the rough edges Belgian beers can have they tend to be incredibly complex and with a smoothness of base that make those rough edges work. This really doesn’t seem to be channelling those elements, either in the native Belgian rough edged gem style, or the craft beer intensely smooth interpretation.

Probably the weakest of the collabfest 2014 beers and from a style that promises so much.

Background: Day one of Colabfest ends for me. Ten beers, and I realised it was time to call it a night. The description calls it a “Borders Belgian black” I’m not quite sure what the “Boarders” part refers to – if anyone knows, let me know in the comments. It seemed a bit more porter or stout style to me, so that is what I am going with. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. With being the last beer of the day I may have been not at my best, but a discussion with more recently arrived friends came to similar conclusions.

ilkley brewdog westwood stout

Brewdog: Ilkley: Westwood Stout (England: Stout: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold. Small white head.

Nose: Tiramisu. Very milky coffee. Fudge. White chocolate. Toffee liquore.

Body: Tiramisu. Slight prickly spirit feel. White chocolate. Milky coffee.

Finish: White chocolate. Toffee liquore. Tiramisu. Light dry crushed digestives. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: You know, people looking at the notes may come to the conclusion that this is a simple and one note beer. That would not be entirely correct. Basically it is very much tiramisu, in all that entails. Chocolate, spirit soaked sponge (well at least in my favourite Tiramisus), coffee, cream. Basically it is all that summed up in one word. Tiramisu. I’ve tried expanding out a bit, with exactly how the coffee is milky, the spirit touch, but frankly it is mainly padding. The one word describes so much.

This is kind of a spiritual successor to AB08 in that it is not a standard stout. For one think it is pale, paler than AB08. However it still has stouty feel, milky instead of bitter coffee, white instead of dark chocolate, tiramisu because, well tiramisu and fuck you if you have a problem with that – it is awesome.

This is just lovely, the spirity touch would normally seem a bit high, but feels perfectly integrated into the dessert styling here. It is thick, but smooth – such that it feels barrel aged in a lot of ways. In fact maybe there should be a barrel aged version, just because.

It is to tiramisu what AB14 was to banoffee pie, to me that is a heavenly beer, to you?- well that is your decision, but I would recommend at least giving it a try.

Background: Should I list this as stout? Erm, erm, ok yeah lets go with that. Anyway, third beer of COLLABFEST 2014! I was going to have this later, but on a recommendation I tried a sample and it instantly became the next review. It is a white chocolate stout. yep, white stout – I’m giving up on beer styles making sense. Again. I’ve forgotten to mention for the past few reviews – I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I was keeping to thirds as there were 16 new beers to try, and I was going to try and get through them in the weekend (it ended up taking three days)

Dead Metaphor

Brewdog: Dead Metaphor (Scotland: Stout: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Darkened brown froth that leaves rings.

Nose: Smoke. Bitter coffee.

Body: Flap jacks. Honey. Bitter coffee. Milk. Condensed cream. Bitter chocolate. Cinnamon. Frothy sweeter chocolate.

Finish: Bitter coffee and condensed cream. Honey and oatcake. Cinnamon. Strawberry cereal. Malt drinks. Lactose.

Conclusion: Smooth. Very smooth. This is a mash up of pretty much everything you can do with the style. Ok, I exaggerate, but still, you get the point. Oatmeal, honey (in flavour, not sure about in ingredients), lactose, bitter chocolate, bitter coffee, and of course smooth. Very smooth.

I’m repeating myself, a bad sign, but I feel it is worth emphasising.

The mainstay of the beer is the bitter coffee and chocolate, harsh edged when compare to the texture and that is what is needed. They alternately take the edge off, and liven up the opposite aspect. There is so much behind that front to enjoy, and that punch of bitterness up front means the sweeter flavours behind don’t get sickly.

This is a very competent and very drinkable beer. The sweetness and texture sooths it down your throat with ease, the bitterness keeps the flavour hanging on your lips after you have swallowed and brings you back for the next sip.

The lactose is very noticeable, and it is that which I guess the soothing edges that make this beer can be attributed to. No element gets a chance to be too harsh before soothing milky chocolate soothes it back down.

Overall a very drinkable beer, and one that reminds me of Aberdeen’s Flapjack Stout, no one element makes it a great beer, but is still very high quality and the fact it has no real discernable flaws means I can highly recommend it despite that. Very goo.

Background: Made by people from the Hopzine and Beer Cast blogs at the Brewdog brewery this stout was made with coffee, chocolate and oatmeal into a milk stout and last I checked its keg only. This was found at Brewdog Bristol, where I sipped a half before going to see Ed Byrne do a stand-up comedy gig. Good times. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Raspberry Beret

Brewdog: Quantum: Raspberry Beret (England: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Caramel coloured bubbled head.

Nose: Slight sour raspberry. Sour dough. Slight pineapple. Freshly baked bread. Slightly cloying.

Body: Bitter. Some charring. Raspberry at the back, rises over time. A sour touch. Chocolate liquore and Belgian style biter chocolate. Cranberry.

Finish: Raspberry tart which rises. Charring. Bitterness and bitter chocolate, again Belgian style. Style Belgian yeast feel.

Conclusion: I feel that my thoughts on this beer may be slightly unduly influenced by my memories of Bristol Beer Factory’s Raspberry Stout. Mainly because that was awesome, however expecting this 5% ABV stout to compete with an Imperial Stout on sheer level of flavour is very unfair as it cannot hope to compete at that level. So I look again with kinder eyes.

The use of raspberries in this beer is far from overpowering, but, when present they are used well. There is a tart and refreshing edge to the end, an understated element in the aroma, and a background layer in the body. It is easy to drink from the light tartness and layered with quality Belgian bitter chocolate flavours, the mix of the two bringing memories of the excellent Old Numbskull in how they interact, if not in beer style. This is a good thing.

So, the use of raspberries is good, but there is the issue that there are moments where the beer seems to lose a lot of its character and you just get the charring coming through and nothing more. It is like a black hole in the heart of an otherwise very good beer.

Even with that flaw the mix of sour raspberry to harsh charring and quality chocolate means that it comes out of it still as an above average beer. So, flawed, but still an enjoyable raspberry and Belgian chocolate delight when it is on. There is a hell of a lot worse than that out there, and anything that can be compared to Old Numskull in even a small fashion cannot be bad.

Background: Collab Fest 2013! Every Brewdog bar collaborated with a local brewery to make a beer for the fest, resulting in a grand total of twelve beers released over one weekend. So, what could I do? Normally I limit myself to two of three reviews in a session, but these would only be on for the weekend. So, for you, my readers, I sat in one eight hour stint, drinking thirds, with a glass of water and a chapter of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone between each drink to help clear my palette. I suffer so for you. This was the fifth beer of the day, a stout made with raspberry. By this point I needed some food so grabbed a pork pie platter to have alongside. It really is a hard life.

Dark Matter

Brewdog: Beavertown: Dark Matter (England: Sour Ale: 3.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Caramel touched head that doesn’t last very long.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Sour back. Brown bread. Coffee granules. Mash tun.

Body: Tangy. Sour cherries. Sour black cherry. Bitter chocolate. Sour white grapes. Fruit centred chocolates and chocolate liquore. Slight vinegar taste.

Finish: Sour fruit and bitter chocolate. Chocolate cake sponge. Belgium chocolate. Ok, so chocolate then. White wine. Apricot (sour-natch).

Conclusion: Wow, what the hell is this? It’s called a Berliner stout, but feels more like chocolate liquore that has been poured into a Rodenbach Grand Cru. There is that vinegar like element that I associate with that beer, and like that beer it is somehow not a flaw but a positive element, then there is massive sour black and red cherry, just as if you were sucking the fruit straight from the stone but backed by a rich stream of chocolate pouring through it.

There is so much going in, that almost holographic flavour that you get with the acidic sour beers, yet here it is delivered silky smooth. It is initially a mouth shocker, but you soon acclimatise and then you can really begin to enjoy it. Oddly the aroma barely hints at the sourness to come, instead calling to a very bare standard stout in style, everything you get is working underneath the surface of the liquid, ready to shake you with the first sip.

Even better, at 3.8%, and with that sourness offsetting the sweetness, you can drink this pretty easily. Ok, the level of flavour means it isn’t for a very long session, but the tartness works very well at keeping it drinkable much longer than you would think and doesn’t get boring quick (I will admit I am extrapolating from my experience here, so don’t take this part as gospel).Still, it seems like it will do pretty well as a session stout, I always find it odd writing those words.

So great flavour, great drinkability, low abv, I am loving this thing’s style. I highly encourage you to try it, for the experience, for the oddity, for the flavour and for the class.

Background: Collab Fest 2013! Every Brewdog bar collaborated with a local brewery to make a beer for the fest, resulting in a grand total of twelve beers released over one weekend. So, what could I do? Normally I limit myself to two of three reviews in a session, but these would only be on for the weekend. So, for you, my readers, I sat in one eight hour stint, drinking thirds, with a glass of water and a chapter of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone between each drink to help clear my palette. I suffer so for you. This was the fourth beer of the day, a Berliner sour stout. Seriously I am loving the odd beer styles here. By this point in the day I was deciding to have a longer than usual break after this, less for the abv, but more to give time for the taste buds to clear up again.

Brewdog: BD/AB/01 Flapjack Stout (Scotland: Stout: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Black, browned off white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Charring. Honey. Heather. Charcoal. Treacle. Quite roasted.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Oatmeal. Honey. Treacle. Actually, yeah kinda like flapjack in the middle. Toffee. Slight orange crème. Slight yeastiness underneath.

Finish: Honey and treacle. Flapjacks again. Quite thick sheen left on the tongue. Orange. Liquorice. Dry bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Quite a satisfying beer this one. The honey calls to the scotch ale version of Dogma and its similar offshoots. This however is much more grounded to keep the sweetness from getting sickly.

There’s charring up front that can be to almost charcoal style, and a big bitter chocolate body that runs straight through to the finish. These are rough elements, but much needed to brace against the sweetness. Ah yes, the sweetness, seriously, mid body this thing is a honeyed flap jack. It is only for a moment, compressed between the early opening and the later body to early finish, but damn if it isn’t there, especially on large mouthfuls.

I would never call it sessionable, despite its reasonable abv considering the weight, but it lasts a half much better than misspent youth, balancing the rough and smooth well to create a full bodied and enjoyable beer.

Like a reigned in oatmeal stout with the flavour pushed big and rough edges. All harsh initially, then big sweetness, it is odd but with lots of charm in its intentions.

Well worth a half.

Background: What a great idea, each Brewdog bar is going to get a chance to brew their own beer, which is then put on keg in the Brewdog bars. I have already suggested that the beer scene is a bit like the old music scene in that you tend to get very localized areas with great scenes and I think this can but help. Also because I am childish I started wondering if there were any Brewdog bars in cities that would be abbreviated to SM. Possibly made with insane amounts of chilli, horseradish and aged on leather. Anyway…. This, as you may have guessed, is the first beer which comes from Brewdog Aberdeen .This has been made with oats, all UK hops, blossom honey, golden syrup and cinnamon in an attempt to replicate Flapjack flavours. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Black Pearl
Ichijoji: Burakku Paaru (Black Pearl) (Japan: Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown, toffee froth in a half inch of head.

Nose: Roasted. Red peppers and peppermint.

Body: Milky chocolate. Sweet chilli. Peppermint. Miso. Dry roasted peanuts. Liquorice. Lemongrass.

Finish: Mint leaves and peppermint. Liquorice. Hazelnuts.

Conclusion: I seriously had no idea what beer style this was, it looked like a stout or black IPA, but the flavours…? Very fresh, minty and with light sweet chilli touches over chocolate and liquorice with roasted nut notes. Very fresh and unlike anything I expected.

It really is dominated by the peppermint flavours and can, at times, seem a bit single minded. The chocolate and roasted base however grows quickly enough to work against that and give the beer a certain charm.

There is some sweet chilli flavours as well, in fact the beer is dominated by various greenery and vegetables. Something about it just screams Japanese beer, and in fact I think it would complement Japanese food very well.

Oddly for what turns out to be a stout, this is a very refreshing beer that works a lot better than that heavy mint flavour would have you imagine. I think it might be an acquired taste as the mint is so intense. I can’t imagine having more than one at a time, but it did amuse me very much.

So, if you want a normal beer, this doesn’t hold up to those expectations. As a thing in itself I very much enjoyed it.

Background: This brewery is bloody miles out from the centre of Kyoto! Of course with my map reading skills I didn’t realise that so ended up on quite the amusing hike throughout Kyoto and managed to get to the little brewpub with just enough time to sample two beers before they closed. I also tried and honey and lemon ale which was very much like mead and cough syrup mixed in a beer fashion, odd and better tasting than that short description would make it sound.

I’m glad I reviewed this beer as I think it and, in fact, the Ichijoji brewery sums up the best part of the Japanese scene. There are a lot of beers infused with fruit and other odd ingredients there, in a way that would make many people not consider them beers. Then again a lot of people wouldn’t call lambics beers, so fuck ‘em.

The beers at Ichijoji seem to call to the old traditional ales before hops became popular and used many other ingredients to impart flavours, but here they do it with a craft beer twist.

In the case of this beer, a stout made with a Kumamoto fruit, which according to google auto translate is called the “Pearl citrus”. I get the feeling I lost something in translation. Anyway, I knew none of this on drinking. I didn’t quite catch what the bar tender said about this beer, so, instead of asking for him to repeat it like a sensible person would, I decided to order it and find out. This incidentally is also the train of logic that led to me finding out curry doughnuts exist.

Because of the peppermint flavour in the beer I originally thought this could be their peppermint ale but a quick struggle with the katakana led me to realise I was wrong. By the way, to really get a feeling for the range of infused ales they have check out their beer list (For those who don’t speak Japanese, google chrome does a passable auto translate)

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