Friday, 27 April 2012

BrewDog AB:09

Good afternoon all. I received a nice little order from BrewDog yesterday that included the new offering in their ever-growing Abstrakt series- AB:09, an Imperial Stout modeled on cranachan, the popular Scottish dessert containing oatmeal, heather honey, whisky and raspberries. As a result of consuming this and a number of other libations last night I'm definitely not functioning as well as I should be, but my desire to express how I feel about this beer is too great so I'm pushing on regardless. Well, that and I have some coursework to do later and this should be a good warm-up. Review after the pic....

AB:09 (17.1% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a light head formed during pouring that dissipates to a very thin halo around the inside of the glass, as can be expected based on the elevated alcohol content. Looks like a standard high-ABV stout, nothing new to report there! The aroma is amazing, with yeast extract, raspberries, roasted malt, coffee, licorice, chocolate and a significant amount of alcoholic character from the whisky. At first there was a slight funkiness from the fruit additions, but this went away shortly after the first inhale. The whisky barrel ageing imparts a significant boozy aspect to the beer, with plenty of characteristic whisky aromas evaporating readily into the nose even from a distance. The roasted malt imparts subtle aromas of coffee and chocolate, but this is quite hard to determine at first behind the significant alcohol burst. The scotch and fruit aromas coalesce to provide a caramelised sweetness that is very reminiscent of a barley wine, with similarities to candy sugar and fruity hops. A lot to comprehend, but it really blows you away with how composed yet volatile it is. Tasting the beer is just as interesting, bringing whisky, dark fruits, licorice, chocolate and a candy sugar sweetness. The finish is quite dry and piquant, with bread and toasty notes in the aftertaste accompanied by a significant amount of yeast extract. The flavours are very much the same as what you would find in port, and it also reminded me of Tactical Nuclear Penguin but with a diminished alcohol kick. The roasted malt flavours come out more during tasting, particularly the coffee. The whisky imparts a distinct and pronounced warming effect on the body, and the characteristic flavours are present despite the additional competing flavours. The fruits are dark and sweet, and occasionally create a licorice flavour when combined with the sweetness. The mouthfeel is not overly thick and the beer is barely carbonated, with agitation producing short-lived clusters of foam but nothing substantial. Overall, this is a truly fantastic offering from BrewDog that amplifies the usual qualities of an imperial stout (dark fruits, roasted malt) and then takes it further with the whisky barrel ageing to create a powerful yet incredibly drinkable beer. All of these things might have been done before with beers (particularly imperial stouts), but when they're done this well you almost feel like you're experiencing something totally unique. Highly recommended, get a bottle to have now and a few for the cellar, you'll want to have it again in the future!

Until next time....

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