I don't really enjoy siding in massive debates which can sometimes get out of hand, I just like to drink beer.
Tonight I'm breaking out two new beers from Brewdog for scrupulous examination; AB:08 and their collaborative brew with Lost Abbey - Lost Dog.
Lost Dog comes out of the cage first. An 11.5% Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Porter has a lot to live up to, so let's get the crack. I was really exited about this beer, not just because of what it is, but because it's made with the guys at Lost Abbey. I've had a lot of beer from the guys from Southern California, and I've been blown away by all of them, so let's hope that they lost nothing on the way over here.
It's not as dark as I thought it would be. It's more the colour of a very dark rum rather than a dark brown/black porter. There's no getting away from the aroma, it absolutely stinks of rum drenched raisins and fire kissed vanilla coming from the heart of oak barrels.
The flavour is instant, rich and intense. I do wonder however, if aging the beer for almost a year was a little too long. It's a very sweet beer, plenty of almost dried fruits, you can't really get any note of alcoholic strength. (not sure if that's good or bad here) It's a rather strange beer, I get no real presence of hop bitterness or malt backbone, in fact after the swallow the flavour just seems to drop away really. It's sort of like a watered down dark rum. I think it would have been a lot better if it was backed up by a long thick, dark and full malty flavour - maybe a Rum Aged Imperial Stouts is due here.
While it may have the fantastic packaging and look as the Paradox range, I'm afraid it fails to deliver in the way I expected. It kind of reminds me of Innis & Gunn's rum cask beer, and while that's my favourite I+G beer, this has a much higher strength which doesn't really come across. An interesting beer which I'm glad I tried, but not one I'd get again.
I think I'm right in saying the idea was to create a beer with all the qualities of an Imperial Stout, but without the colour. I can't really see the point apart from it being gimmicky, but hey let's give it a go. Let's face it, if there's one beer I know - It's Imperial Stout, so let's see if it's a crowd pleaser, or just another April Fools.
Aroma wise, there's lots to pick out. It has a predominant burt ash scent which is worrying, but there's hints of chocolate & coco, some vegetal/tomato skin and a big bite of strong espresso to back it up.
Sorry guys, this is not an Imperial Stout. What it is though is one hell of an interesting and tasty beer! I'm not sure you'll ever be able to replace and recreate those full on flavours which come about from the darker malts but It's full on in flavour and complexity. Lots of coco nibs, you can tell there's a decent amount of hop bitterness under quite a bit of chocolate smoothness. The smoky nose comes into play quite a bit with the flavour, but it's nothing bad. Marshmellow, caramel and vanilla, sweet bonfire toffee, orange rind, a little sticky pine and a lot of complex complexity!
I'll tell you one thing, I couldn't shake the flavour of Coco Pops out of my mouth with this beer. Suits me just fine, I love me some Coco Pops!
Is it fair to pump a beer full of flavour adding elements to take away from what it should be in the first place?.... I'm not really bothered. At first I didn't want to like this beer, but by the end of it I was kinda in love with it. Is that what strong beer does to you? Well if so, that's part of their charm I guess.