I respect BrewDog for their beer-as-art Abstrakt series. Anything that does something different with beer in terms of ingredients, processes and flavours is good in my book. Not that I would ever considering buying any Abstrakt beer, of course: it's hideously expensive and for as long as there's other, cheaper, interesting stuff on the shelves I'll go for that instead.
So I owe this post to the wonky packaging plant at BrewDog HQ, and the time it sent a batch of AB:03 out into the world with no labels on the bottles. Having secured saleable replacements, DrinkStore gave the defective ones away and, after a year or so of ageing in my attic, I'm finally getting round to drinking this one.
"Imperial Ale Aged Over Two Years In Whisky Casks With Raspberries And Strawberries" is the official description, with a strength of 10.5% ABV. The pour gives a hazy chestnut beer, quite thick of body with big floaty bits and topped by an ivory head. Brown sugar and molasses on the nose, and it's definitely malt-driven on tasting, though not cloying or overly sticky. A piquancy from the fruit cuts through it quite beautifully, the way we normally expect hops to, and this sits next to a pleasant pepperiness which I'm guessing is yeast-derived.
It's a sipper, no doubt, and one that could pass easily for much stronger than it is. The whisky barrels have put a boozy edge to it that sets me on my guard. If you've bought one and still have it, treat it as an after-dinner beer in place of a liqueur.
And before you ask, no: much as I enjoyed it I'm not now an Abstrakt subscriber at current prices, but I can understand why someone with the money to spare would be. A freebie is always welcome, though. Give the labelling machine a nudge if you're passing.