When we last left our intrepid brewer heroes (brewoes?) over at Brewdog, they were busy giving The Man a healthy dose of what-for in defense of their potent beer. Battered and bruised, The Man attempted to quietly slink away back into Mordor to be spared further ideological spankings, but their tender buttocks would receive no quarter from Brewdog.
Parliament and fellow Brewdog detractors didn’t bargain for the depth of Brewdog’s angst. Brewdog was like a lumbering golem with the brain of a dejected teen, powered by the nuclear fusion of old Linkin Park albums. If high alcohol beers were an affront to all that was civil and decent, Brewdog was going to be the intemperate biker gang that terrorized the conservative township and rode off into the horizon with the town’s daughters riding bitch.
Thus it surprised no one when Brewdog announced back in 2009 that they had created the world’s strongest beer at a staggering 32% ABV. Tactical Nuclear Penguin was named in tribute to their process of chilling the beer in an ice cream factory to skim ice off and nudge the alcohol content higher and higher. And also because otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to take a picture this silly:
The text on the bottle pretty much says it all:
This is an extremely strong beer, it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.
This was the best of times. The Man was slain. The world record was snatched out of the clutches of Schorschbräu’s 31% ABV “SchorschBock” (which I believe is German for “Failure Beer”). All was right in Brewdog’s tiny, drunken corner of the universe. For about a month.
Brewdog had awakened a slumbering giant in Schorschbräu. Ze Germans cared little for Brewdog’s politics or perpetual donning of sassypants, but what they did treasure was their precious record. A 40% ABV SchorschBock was birthed to the collective awe of the beer world. It’s difficult for me to imagine how Brewdog felt upon hearing this news, so instead I rely on my truest emotional touchstone to explain it for me:
Will Brewdog summon the courage to stage a comeback?
Has Brewdog finally met its match?
Have any of you actually seen Rocky III?
All these answers and more in next week’s exciting conclusion to the Brewdog Saga!
Devine Rebel (12.1% ABV)
I was originally planning to use the “divinity” of this beer to discuss the patron saint of beer, but it turns out that title is hotly contested by a dozen or more folks. The Catholic church didn’t formalize the canonization process until after the 10th century, meaning that all prior saints were designated by informal straw polls. Back then all you really needed was two or three buddies to proclaim you the Patron Saint of Serious Deep Dicking and you were immortalized as such. Bureaucracy ruins everything.
Devine Rebel (DR) is a collaboration brew with Mikkeller, another freewheeling European brewery. This barleywine was twice fermented (secondarily with champagne yeast) and partially oak aged. But it only comes in at 12.1% ABV so who gives a shit?
This is what you get for spoiling me, Brewdog.
DR is a cloudy brew with a brownish garnet tone. The nose has the lightest suggestion of wood and vanilla, but not much else.
The first sip feels silky in the mouthfeel, but it’s definitely on the thinner edge of that space. The flavors, however, are big and unusual. I get bits of whisky, wood, brown sugar, spice cake and a bit of orange peel on the back end. The whole experience tastes a bit “candied,” which renders it easy drinking, if a bit sweet.
The alcohol profile would make this a sipper, but it’s lightness and lack of serious bite could totally render this one a pint glass candidate (provided I didn’t have to go anywhere for a few hours). It’s a very pricey single, but well worth sipping away on while cooler weather dominates.
I Hardcore You (9.5% ABV)
The “I Hardcore You” is another collaboration with brewer BFF Mikkeller, blending the Brewdog “Hardcore IPA” and the Mikkeller “I Beat yoU” [sic] IPA. I’ve not had the pleasure of sampling the latter, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume it tastes like hops. If you’re impressed by that prediction, you’re going to be floored by the prognostication in my March Madness brackets:
This is a hazy, golden amber brew with a thin taupe head. The additional dry hopping imposed on this beer has resulted in a complex, layered hop aroma. The grass and pine notes are most prominent, but the citrus is there if you really huff on it.
The hop profile is no less unique in the taste. It has big pepper and menthol notes with some grapefruit as well. There’s a little bit of a malt backbone in this, but the hops definitely hold your attention through the whole sip.
For the massive hop flavor this delivers, it resolves relatively clean. I like it for most of the same reasons that I liked the Hardcore IPA so there’s no need to belabor the description since each of you probably have that article memorized. It’s the least you superfans can do if you won’t even take the time to stalk me.
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