First off, a hearty thanks to Ghost Brewing Co for hosting tonight’s festivities – sadly, once again I wasn’t able to procure their wares, but they look awfully nice, with understated but very nice branding, and there were plenty of compliments bouncing around Twitter regarding the contents of the cans.
Secondly, before I come to tonight’s adventures, I’d like to report that I had the privilege of trying BrewDog’s Tokyo* this week, something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I have a bottle of this slumbering nicely in the cupboard, but at 16.5% (in a 330ml bottle) I feel like it’s going to take a particularly special occasion to justify opening it (and preferably someone to share it with and compare notes).
And so it’s fair to say I was very excited to see that BrewDog Nottingham were offering a rare opportunity to try it on draft.
I didn’t take proper tasting notes – despite this being very, very high on my beer bucket list – as for once I wanted to relax and enjoy it without analysing it too much. It’s brewed with jasmine and cranberries, then aged on oak chips (check out the website for more details), so inevitably it’s going to be an indulgent, complex beast. It’s actually not that heavy or overpowering; the whole thing reminded me of a fine port more than anything, and I’d wager that this would easily do the same job, but far better.
It’s absolutely astonishing, and I loved it.
Now, on to tonight – by coincidence I’d managed to stumble across two coffee black IPAs in rapid succession, so I paired them up for tonight’s exercise.
Eyes: black / lively
Nose: coffee / berries
Mouth: as above / citrus finish
Notes: I love coffee, and I’m getting into it more and more (as with beer, I’m no “expert”). Black IPAs are still probably my favourite style, so I had high hopes for tonight.
The aroma of this one was very reminiscent of my favourite coffee stouts / porters (e.g. Common Grounds and Northern Star), and stayed that way at the start of tasting, but the finish turns into pure citrus (particularly mandarin). There’s a load of flavour here but the whole thing is nicely restrained and controlled, so it never gets cloying, muddled or overpowering.
Eyes: black / fairly still and menacing
Nose: coffee / booze / stonefruit
Mouth: as above
Notes: this one definitely illustrated the benefit of giving it a few minutes to settle; on pouring I thought this one smelled horrendous, as though it had gone off. Given a bit of time to breathe, everything calmed down and settled into its rightful place. It almost refused to generate a head as well, but once it appeared right at the end of pouring, it stayed. In fact it’s still there now.
This is not for the faint hearted, nor should it be. The coffee is actually dialled back in comparison to the one above, but still definitely makes its presence felt, adding a burnt edge to the usual roasted characteristic of a black IPA.
There’s a definite alcohol characteristic with this one; that sounds like a negative, which it’s not meant to. It gives it a liqueur-ish air, and contributes to the rum-like molasses note that appears as time passes.
This is an unfathomable beer, but a very good one, and a worthy end to the evening.