Brewdog Abstrakt AB:08

As I mentioned in my last Brewdoggy post there’s a new beer of theirs that I intended to write about – Abstrakt:08, aka AB:08 (that should be enough for Google to do some indexing on all the regular search terms). It’s the next in the Abstrakt series, one off beers that occasionally have ideas folded back into their expanding regular range. This one is a bit more experimental than most of the range, which is saying something when you see the craziness in some of the beers, hence the expanded post rather than just a mention in the last one. I also wanted to have a go at taking a photo of it as I got a new and appropriate glass…

AB:08

So, what is it? Brewdog describe it as a ‘Deconstructed Blonde Imperial Stout’ which, as with many of the Abstrakt range’s descriptions doesn’t tell you very much. It started off as a made-up collaborative beer, Luciferin – the Light Bringer, in an April’s Fools day video recorded by James of Brewdog and Greg Koch of Stone that appeared in 2010, before I was paying attention to their website. Here it is:

Brewdog then decided to go ahead and make it. The final product is even the same strength as the Luciferin…

Now, the idea of a Blonde Imperial Stout doesn’t really work, as the flavours that you get in stouts are in a large part brought in to the mix (as far as I know) by the malt, which in turn makes the beer a dark colour. So to keep the beer as light as possible you need to get all the stouty flavours in some other way, hence the ‘deconstructed’ part of the name. They did this by making a list of the sorts of flavours you get in stouts and then adding things that would add them – simple…

So, they added in some smoked malt to the mash and then aged it for six month with cacao, coffee beans, liquorice root and oak chips to give it the dark and smoky flavours you get in stouts. They also added oats to the mash to thicken up the mouthfeel and further add to the sensation that you are drinking a dark stout. At the Brewdog Camden tasting where I first tried it they handed out blindfolds before we given the beer and asked us to think about what type it was. Unfortunately I already knew and my expectations weren’t smashed, but many others around the room were – if tried blind (and even if not) it’s not what you’d expect from its appearance.

There were 6500 bottles of it released and it sold out in the manner of the other Abstrakt’s – very quickly (about a day?). However 6500 bottles is double the run of the first few editions, with 3200 being the standard until AB:05, which did 3600. Since then there’s been a ramping up of numbers (although it looks to dip with AB:07, but as that was aged it was made before AB:06 and thus still fits the curve) which suggests that Brewdog are responding to the popularity. Add to the regular demand another few thousand shareholders from the latest Equity for Punks and the fact that AB:08 was released to them (us) before the hoi polloi and you can see why they’d want to up the numbers. Well done them for doing so. Now all they need is a new brewery so they can actually brew enough of their regular beers without contracting them out…

So, what is the AB:08 like? On the nose it has lots of vanilla and coffee, like Montezuma’s Bean Machine chocolate in a glass, as well as heavy honey syrupy sweetness. To taste it’s got lots of sweet fruit to start, the ‘Fruit!’ you get from randomly coloured gummi sweets, crunchy nut cornflakes, thick dark caramel, used coffee grounds, some green hoppiness and milk chocolate. As the taste fades it has some tropical fruit (banana and pineapple?) before going very bitter with burned coffee, but with a lingering syrupy sweetness fighting it. If you didn’t know what it was, and when I open my next bottle it will be served to blindfolded people to test this assertion, it can come across as a dark beer, although I think (having never having properly tasted it blind) that it’s not quite right.

It has all the elements of a dark beer, but each of them isn’t quite right: the mouthfeel is too glossily syrupy, rather than just thick; the dark roasty flavours are obviously coffee, chocolate and wood, rather than heavily roasted malt; the sweetness is just ‘wrong’ for a stout – not wine-like as I find in many, but more sticky and sugary. That said, it is an interesting experiment, although not one that I’m distressed won’t be reappearing.

Roll-on Abstrakt:09 – the first beer I should be receiving as part of my joining the Abstrakt Addicts club…

Brewdog Abstrakt AB:08
Deconstructed Blonde Imperial Stout, 11.8%. £10.99 a bottle, now sold out.

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