Last night Holyrood 9A saw the Edinburgh launch of BrewDog’s latest in their Abstrakt concept beer range, AB:05 – a 12.5% Belgian-style imperial stout aged on coconut and cacao. BrewDog split opinions – they revel in doing so – but across the beerosphere the Abstrakt series seems to have been met with almost universal praise. Indeed, we recently named the previous release AB:04 as our best British bottled beer. Being a BrewDog launch there were all kinds of other things on at the same time, mostly involving a box of shot glasses and some careful pouring.
First up we tackled one of BrewDog’s latest decisions – and unlike Abstrakt it’s one that hasn’t won everyone over. Their flagship Punk IPA had a change of recipe and was lowered in abv from 6.0% to 5.4%. Also recently launched in cans at 5.6% (which is the version bloggers seem to find unusual), there has been much discussion over the possible reasons for the change. A refreshed outlook for their most important beer? Or modifying a recipe to cut down on inconsistency?
The last couple of bottles of old Punk I had were incredibly biting, so much so that it really put me off. Trying the new version – on keg of course, rather than bottled – it was noticeably different. Gone is that bitter astingency at the back, instead there’s a softer fruit finish with a touch of sweetness. The bitterness is still there, but the whole thing feels a lot more balanced. I don’t think many people would notice the drop in strength – and I’ve yet to try the canned version – but the new keg Punk is much nicer.
Then it was out with the shot glasses on onto ‘IPA is Dead’. Four base 7.5% India Pale Ales, each one hopped and then double dry hopped with a single variety – Bramling Cross, Citra, Nelson Sauvin or Sorachi Ace. The differences the specific hops impart are really quite striking – from the sparky grapefruit of Citra (very much the hop du jour), to the vinous Nelson Sauvin. I won’t go into more detail here, as next week we’ll be releasing a special BeerCast of the IPA is Dead series – so stay tuned for that.
The main event was of course the launch of AB:05 – pictured in grainy cameraphone glory above. In truth, 05 is even more black than the picture makes it look – it sucks light from the room in a menacing fashion. Thick and viscous and with almost no head from the keg, the aromas are pretty weighty, as you’d expect. Dark chocolate and booze, a touch of smoke – not much coconut on the nose. Or the taste really, I struggled to pick out the coconut at all. At first it’s bitter, then the sweetness appears and leads into a smoky aftertaste with a really long finish. Hints of mocha coffee and rum as well – it’s complex stuff indeed.