Thursday, 6 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 6- BrewDog AB:11

Good evening all. Behind tonight's cardboard door is AB:11, a Barleywine from BrewDog (Fraserburgh, Scotland). This is part of BrewDog's ongoing Abstrakt series, and has been brewed with ginger, brambles and chipotle peppers. At the time of writing it's raining like a beast and it's been consistently cold throughout the day, so I'm looking forward to the warming qualities of this quite a bit! Review after the pics....

AB:11 (12.8% ABV) pours a dark brown colour, verging on black, with a thick beige head that gradually settles to a light coating over the surface of the beer. The aroma is light and characteristically sweet, with caramel, brambles, grapefruit, coffee and some lingering alcohol in the background that slightly stings the nostrils when inhaled deeply. The usual barleywine sweetness and hoppiness is somewhat subdued, allowing the brambles to come through relatively unimpeded, but there's still enough caramel and tropical fruits to keep things interesting. The chipotle and ginger don't make much of an impression on the olfactories, and there's a distinct aroma of roasted malt that brings with it some coffee and licorice notes. So far it's nice, but not as stellar as I was expecting when considering the track record of the Abstrakt series. Fortunately the taste delivers more power, with ginger, brambles, booze, fortified wine and some light grapefruit in the finish. The ginger is noticeable through retro-olfaction and delivers some satisfying spice notes during drinking, which compliments the tartness of the brambles nicely. Some light bitterness and an alcoholic burn swiftly follows, leading to the finish which has some fruity hop remnants and a medley of flavours (fortified wine, roasted malt, burnt sugar sweetness) popping up. Towards the end of drinking the flavours coalesce and the beer resembles a Belgian Quad but without the usual yeast-driven spice and phenols. The alcohol sneaks up on you during drinking, and this is definitely one to sip slowly over a couple of hours if you hadn't guessed already. The mouthfeel is on the thin side and the beer is lightly carbonated, which definitely compliments the higher alcohol content of this bad boy. Overall, this is an interesting adaptation of the barleywine style; the usual sweetness and hop impact are more subtle than I would've liked, but the ginger and brambles add enough to just about compensate for this and the darker malt seems to round out the overall experience. Not my favourite Abstrakt offering or barleywine by far, but it's still worth trying at least once.

Until next time....

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