BrewDog - Mr. Squirrel 11.3%
Nuts. I said it, and you thought it.
I mentioned in a review last month how BrewDog like to do hype, well they also do skewed brews too. Call it pushing the boundaries or call it brew and hope, they like to chuck it in the kettle and give it a good old stir. Take Euston-Tap-managing-Masterchef-winner Tim Anderson brewing a black lager with some Miso, Sorachi Ace hops (reflecting his Asian influenced cuisine) and some toasted walnuts for conditioning and you can see where this is going. Age it on apples in Bourbon barrels, ramp-up the alcohol and it sounds like a huge confusion, a real mish-mash of ideas and half-notions all shoved together to see what happens.
Genius or folly ?
Pouring a dark, dank brown with a beige head that flourishes then withers to a light cap of foam, it has masses of the oaky vanillins that you would expect to find in a barrel-aged beer. There's also a big scoop of chocolate ice-cream with a booze-soaked raisin topping giving a not-so-subtle warning of its strength. Initially silky smooth over the tongue it drags and bites at the back of the throat as if resisting being swallowed. There's a creamy burnt-sugar nuttiness that spreads itself over the tongue before some wonderfully rich alcoholic raisin and date flavours rise up in a huge wave bringing with them a light tang that reminds me of a crumb of stilton. Whatever it is, it really seem to work in there. Some oily chocolate with an abrasive edge takes you by the hand and leads you into the unctuous finish with more of those vanillins and the echo of those boozy raisins.
I can't really seem to categorise this beer mentally, but I'm guessing that's the point and while I enjoyed the ride there's something nagging at me that wonders if it actually really works. There are flavours in there that I've certainly had in other beers with less esoteric ingredients, and I think that the barrel-aging may have wiped out some of the subtle nuances.
I'm not saying its a good beer, it certainly is, very drinkable and packed full of flavour. Perhaps I was expecting too much given its pedigree but I'm just not sure it really equals the sum of its parts.