This bottle of Bashah has been sitting in my basement for almost a year. I picked it up in Colorado last fall mostly because I'd never seen it before. I passed it up in favor of other beers in my basement until now because I haven't had a whole lot for Stone or BrewDog that I thought all that highly of. Bashah is a collaborative Belgian-style Black Double IPA, which means it doesn't really have a style at all... It seemed like a bit of a wildcard and I knew enough about BrewDog and Stone's style to err on the side of aging so the bitterness in this beer would die down a little. Well, I think more than enough time has passed, let's open this beer up...
Gruits have been pretty hit or miss for me but I really enjoyed the Fraoch when I first had it about a year ago. I remember the beer being light, herbal and a little fruity. When I saw this bottle of 20th Anniversary Fraoch that's been aged in Sherry and Speyside barrels I thought it sounded amazing partly because the regular Fraoch wouldn't hold up to barrel aging very well because it's such a light ale... It seems they've gotten around this by brewing a "triple version" of Fraoch before adding it to the barrels. If the original was good, the triple version should be three times a great then, right?
I've always wanted to try a good bottle of Speyside. I'm not quite sure why, because I'm not a Whiskey drinker... and I spell Whiskey with an E. I do enjoy a good barrel aged Stout every now and again, so when I saw this bottle of BrewDog Paradox Speyside I figured this might be something I'd like try. The few BrewDog beers I've had thus far haven't really been all that great. I'm hoping their limited release beers are brewed with a bit more care. Aging this beer in a 16 year old Glen Moray barrel is a good start.
I'm not sure what to make of BrewDog's 5 a.m. Saint... For starters, I'm pretty sure I've already had at least three different Amber style beers from BrewDog. Plenty of breweries do a Stout, Coffee Stout, Imperial Stout and maybe even another variation on the same style, but I've never heard of anyone making as many different Ambers as BrewDog. Secondly, I don't get the label. I can't tell if it's tongue-in-cheek or if BrewDog stole the marketing copy from a bottle of Arrogant Bastard. "You probably don't know much about beer." "You don't understand beer." Those are the first two lines on the back of the bottle... "lowest common denominator beer" is mentioned a couple paragraphs later. The name's meaning eludes me as well. Maybe this whole beer is just over my head.
Ola Dubh is a beer that's been on my bucket list for a while. Starting at about $4 for a 12 ounce bottle, the barrier to entry was something I never felt I needed to overcome right away. At least, that's how I felt up until last weekend when I had Founders Black Biscuit at a rare beer tapping. I really, really, really enjoyed the Black Biscuit, so much so that I drank four glasses of it before the keg blew. I've had a few beers like it, but there was something about that beer that made it exceptional. I forgot what that something special was after my second glass though... What I do remember is that someone suggested the Ola Dubh Special Reserve to me as a similar beer. On the way home that night I picked up this bottle of Ola Dubh 16.
BrewDog's popularity seems to be increasing just as fast as the alcohol percentage in its extreme beers. The rarity of their beers certainly helps. I finally spotted a bottle of BrewDog a couple weeks ago in a bargain big of all places. This bottle of The Physics is an an Amber ale that some claim is more of an ESB. I'm deferring to the brewer on this one and calling it an Amber since that's what they put on the label. Anyway, I decide to pull this beer out of the fridge tonight and see just how laid back this "laid back amber beer" really is.
Gruits are a style of beer I tend to stay away from. I enjoy regular ales and lagers that are brewed with herbs and spices but I've never found a Gruit that really struck me as a quality. I mean that in the since that if I were going to fridge to grab a beer to relax with and I saw a bottle of Gruit and any other beer next to it, I'd probably not reach for the Gruit... I'm still eager to try interesting Gruits though because sooner or later I'll find one that I really like. Today I've opened a bottle of Fraoch Heather Ale as I continue my search for a Gruit epiphany.
I first decided to pick up a bottle of SkullSplitter because it's got a righteous picture of a proud Viking warrior on the label. This son of Thor is decked out in a winged helmet, fur cape and a pretty sweet beard. I was sold the second I saw this label. Maybe it was buyers remorse but as soon as I got home I started planning for the worst. I thought this beer is probably all marketing and it just a light lager in a cleverly Vikinged bottle. As it turns out, this beer is definitely worthy of the label.
This was quite a rare beer for me. I've had beers that have been brewed with fruit flavors before, but most of those were essentially wheat or lighter beers. The Ebulum however, it's basically a stout... so this beer began life as a malty and roasted dark beer. Generally, when I drink a stout or dark beer I don't think to myself, "You know what this beer needs? Some fruit extract..." but I then I'm not Scottish. So here we have the Ebulumn Elderberry Black Ale from Scottland, a pitch black beer that smells like a coffee stout and promises an experience reminiscent of red wine. At least that's what the marketing on the bottle says, which to me is reminiscent of a load of bull... After drinking a pint of this beer I can say the comparison between this black ale and a glass of red wine is tangential at best. If you're not familiar with elderberries, the taste is tart and tannic. The elderberry tannens don't make it through the brewing process in any remarkable amount, I took me the petty part of a pint to pick up on them.