The big day is finally upon us; the beers are lined up and ready to go, the beer buddies are here and the tasting glasses are clean. Yes, its time to drink the Abstrakts. There have been ten beers released in this experimental "small-batch" range; so decided to try them all in one evening in reverse chronological order. They have nothing in common bar being brewed by Brewdog. I know people may find this post a bit redundant and fanboyish because they're all sold out, but as I've forked out the money I want to get a post out of it!
|Beers one to ten.|
Myself, Reuben (Tale of the Ale) and a couple of CAMRA friends sat down after a hefty curry to work our way through the bunch.
AB:10 is an 11.5% Imperial Brown Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels and was released in July 2012. As the most recent beer this could probably do with ageing for a bit longer, I have a bottle left in any case. It has a vanilla-scented port nose with fizzy chocolate limes on the tongue leading to a dry red fruit, vinous finish.
AB:09 is Cranachan Imperial Stout (17.1%), released April 201. Thanks to Ghosty for sorting this bottle for me. Pours thick black with slight fizzy tan head. Tart raspberries on the nose. Leather, tobacco, chocolate, thick bodied. Alcohol on swallow. The flavours individually are good, but they don't seem to meld very well, making the final product less than the sum of its parts.
AB:08 is a Deconstructed Blonde Imperial Stout (11.8%), released December 2011. I've had this beer on a few occasions now. Its never tasted as good as the draught version on keg in Brewdog Camden, though whether it was the place made the beer great is to be debated. Its started to get rid of those vegetal notes and give coffee and chocolate again. Roasted coffee and chocolate on the nose, thick in the mouth with delicious fruity coffee finish with a balancing sweetness and well-hidden alcohol.
AB:07 is Whisky Cask Aged Imperial Scotch Ale (12.5%) , released September 2011.Another one I'd sampled before. Peaty brown with a ruby tinge. Aroma of caramel, liquorice toffee and vinous fruits. Medium mouthfeel with gentle carbonation and lots of red fruit character plus a warming, slightly burnt finish.This time around it had a slightly unpleasant acirdity in the finish but overall still a good digestif.
AB:06 is an 11.2% Triple Dry Hopped Imperial Black IPA released May 2011. When fresh, I wrote; "Very dark brown beer with a fresh hop aroma with pineapple at the fore and piney undertones. Lively white head disappears in short measure. Rich and thick palate with legs and a lively alcohol kick. Sweet and fruity with a lot of aggressive hoppiness but quite restrained bitterness. Sweet finish with alcohol and lots of umami." Its mellowed somewhat over the last year and a bit, with marmalade and some chocolate coming through. Still a favourite thus far.
AB:05 is a Belgian Imperial Stout Aged on Toasted Coconut and Cacao, released in February 2011. This was a bit one-dimensional, a shame. Ruby tinged black. Slight acetic note on nose, quite sweet, chocolate, light toast, long sweet finish.
AB:04 is a 15% Imperial Stout with Coffee, Cacao and Chilli, released October 2010. This is the highest rated of all the Abstrakts and its easy to see why. Chocolate coated orange bell peppers are prevalent on the nose. Very thick, sweet, chocolate runs down the throat, chased by chili heat, with more chocolate and toasted marshmallow for afters, leaving a slight alcoholic warmth in memory.
|2nd edition of a one-off?!|
The beer was actually re-released as Dog A for Brewdog's 5th Birthday Party. I sampled this at the AGM, but acquired a second bottle for everyone else to try. Dark and unctuous with an enticing sweet chocolate nose. In the mouth there’s more chocolate, coating the whole tongue, then comes the chili nipping at the back of the tongue. On the swallow its all about the coffee.
AB:03 is a 10.5% Imperial Ale aged for 2 years in Whisky Casks with Raspberries and Strawberries released in September 2010. Strawberry and raspberry nose. Tart light red-brown, sweet, fruity, sucrose, artificial sweetener, slight medicinal note. This one brought mixed opinions, but I actually quite enjoyed it, perhaps one which would have been better fresh.
AB:02 is an 18% Triple Dry Hopped Imperial Red Ale released in June 2010. (no photo of this one, sorry!) Rich vinous fruity nose with some alcohol and fudge. Pours a murky brown with light carbonation. Rich fruityness and chocolate quickly gives way to strong alcohol and some coffee bitterness and a sweet/marmitey yeast finish. Very little hop character remaining. Legs obviously in attendance with a fairly heavy palate as could be expected for this strength.
AB:01 is a 10.2% Vanilla Bean infused Belgian Quad, released April 2010. The final beer! But unfortunately a bit of a let down. Scarlet tinged, noble hops, sweet honey,heather,toffee, sweet, long finish. It was just too sweet, with not enough bitterness to balance all the sweet elements and the vanilla had long since given up the ghost.
I think it would be difficult to rank them in order, but you can probably see I enjoyed 08, 06 and 04 the most, with AB:10 looking promising. Perhaps the even-numbered beers are better? AB:11 is aging as we speak. According to James it is: "an imperial black barley wine brewed with ginger, black raspberries and chipotle peppers. An 11.9% rollercoaster of ginger zestiness, chipotle smokiness all bound together with dark berry tartness and the decadent residual body of a black barley wine." A great range of ingredients again, it remains to be seen how it turns out. Well done if you've got this far, was a bit of a slog but on the plus side I have some cupboard space freed up again!