They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Friday, 2 September 2011

Black Tokyo Horizon

Blending beers together. An image is immediately conjured in my head of a man stirring a massive black pot with a big wooden paddle. We know though, that blending beers together can be a fabulous thing, just look at the black and tan!

But does it always work? Well tonight I have another attempt to find out! Brewdog's Black Tokyo Horizon is a a massive 17.2% Imperial Stout blended together from 3 separate Imperial Stouts. Let's look at the beers individually:

Tokyo*: A 18.2% Imperial Stout from Brewdog. The original Tokyo was a 12% Impy Stout which was brewed with jasmine, cranberries and aged on French toasted oak chips. I'd be surprised if much had changed apart from the % between the two.

Mikkeller Black: This beer is in my top 5 Imperial Stouts, possibly number 1, it really is something else. A monster of bitterness, it's made not only with ale yeast and champagne yeast, but with dark cassonade (whatever that is!) I've loved it from the first sip, and after trying it on tap in the Cask in London, it was cemented as a beer for all time.

Nogne O Dark Horizon: It's a beer which I haven't had the pleasure of yet. I have a bottle of the third series upstairs patiently awaiting a review. The third series is a 15.5% Imperial Stout, and if it's like the first series it should have a good dose of coffee, sugars and wine yeast used in the production. A beer I am very much looking forward too.

So back to the beer at hand then. Black Tokyo Horizon. Apparently, according to the box; "Individually, these progressive beers were small strides in the journey to provoke change through creativity and innovation in the world of beer." I wouldn't say so.... I would say they were bloody massive strides in the beer world... and I've only tried two of them!

The three beers (beers, not bears) used in the creation of this beer are all fantastic on paper, I think it's a great idea to think; 'what do you reckon these would be like blended together?' - It's shows a great deal of innovative initiative, and it's always great to be experimental in my books. How does this beer rack up though, does it work??

Well no. Not really....

The beer comes across the nose with aromas of raisins, rum, charred oak, hints of vanilla and a slight touch of burnt rubber.
     This beer is sweet... massively sweet. It's sickly sweet, almost cloying, and unfortunately it's so sweet, the massive bitterness I would have wanted never really manages to push through. The finish adds more of the same - syrup-like flavour, but now it's hidden under a massive unbalanced alcohol warming hit. As it goes down a touch, a slight meaty/woody flavour starts to come out, but it's a bit too late, I'm not going to get rid of that sugar now.

I'm left disappointed. But that's just my personal taste, I know plenty of others who have really enjoyed this beer, and more props to you, but I was left under-whelmed. Maybe it's because I was so massively fond of the beers in the singular forms.

So after all the hype, all I can say is: Give me the three beers on their own, and forget about the big black pot!


  1. Love it how we all get different things from beers.

    Personally I really dig Black Tokyo* Horizon. Yes it is sweet but it is very young. Come back to it in a year's time and see how the beers have settled together, nestled down in a love-in that only a bit of patience, understanding and respect will allow.

    Apparently it was aged in Glen Moray casks (12/16?) according to head scamp himself James Watt.

    I think if you crack open the Dark Horizon you'll get why it's so sweet. Both the Dark Horizon (3rd edition) and Sweet Horizon are massively sweet muthas akin to AB:05. They need time and sweet food to show some of the imperial stout bitterness and chalky backbones.

    Anyway, liking the post. Was gonna do the same myself but opening all four at once for a taste off. Still might do ....

  2. Rick - Great points as always. It is an amazing thing how we can all perceive beers differently - and just because I might not like a beer, that doesn't mean it's not interesting and valid in it's own right. It certainly doesn't mean it's a bad beer that's for sure!

    I will have to give it some time I suppose, it's usually the way I roll after all. I look forward to trying this beer in the future.

    For now though, I will much look forward to trying my Dark Horizon, and who knows... I still have enough of each beer to try a similar idea to yours... ;)