This year has seen the release of some wonderful beers on both sides of the Atlantic. The range of outstanding craft beers making the journey from North America is ever-increasing, and coupled with the fascinating beer scenes emerging from continental Europe, the UK has had to step up. Fortunately, brewers here have more than met the challenge. Over the next six days we’ll be highlighting our pick of British beers launched in 2010, in order of their release. We begin back in April with the first – a Belgian-style quad from the north-east of Scotland.
Abstrakt AB:01 (10.2%)
BrewDog, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire
(375ml corked bottle, released April 2010)
BrewDog really need no introduction – the current enfent terribles of the British brewing scene have been charging forward this year. Enlarging their production facilities, opening bars, joining SIBA – and producing high alcohol beers purely for the sake of it. Inevitably with the Fraserburgh duo, public relations and marketing are partly produced by them and partly for them by the press – BrewDog have a ‘controversial’ tag pinned to their collar (which they seem to revel in).
But alongside the Portman Group baiting and one-upmanship with Schorschbräu, 2010 saw BrewDog begin to release a new series of beers – the Abstrakt range. First announced at the end of last year during their flotation campaign, it was born out of their desire to have a more structured way of releasing limited edition beers. All packaged and labelled the same way (apart from slight colour differences), these beers were designed to be laid down – again showing the influence of American craft beer in BrewDog’s ethos.
The first of these was released in April – Abstrakt AB:01 initially had a run of 3200 bottles, and was a vanilla bean-infused Belgian-style quadrupel. We featured it on our 50th BeerCast – and it’s still in the running for a place in our 2010 Beer of the Year Show. Despite being widely sold out, I have two bottles tucked in a cupboard so it will be interesting to see how the flavours have developed. Back in April it had a fantastic sweet sugary vanilla aroma, with a similar first hit on the palate. Alcohol built throughout, before a sweet vanilla finish. Crucially it never felt cloying as AB:01 is quite balanced – the alcohol kick at the end really works with the rich mouthfeel.
Of course, BrewDog released three other Abstrakts over the course of the year – the most recent AB:04 was simply stunning – a 15% chilli and coffee infused imperial stout. But for us, the first one – launched almost quietly amidst the abv controversy – showed so much promise for the range that made the release of each Abstrakt a calendar date for Scottish beer enthusiasts.
Join us tomorrow for the second in our ‘best of new brews’ feature. The latest Abstrakt, AB:05 releases on the 16th February 2011