We find ourselves entering the 3rd act of the Brewdog saga. Our plucky heroes’ flirtations with glory have been thwarted by the evil Schorschbräu empire. Though the rebels at Brewdog had once annihilated Schorschbräu’s massive, world-destroying beer, they discovered it has been rebuilt and was more powerful than ever. It’s almost as if there was a light and dark side to the same Force that were due for a final battle. Fellow cinephiles can probably see where I’m going with this – this whole epic totally parallels The Karate Kid.
Brewdog now found themselves enlisted in the metaphorical All Valley Karate Tournament. If they were going to defeat Schorschbräu Kai, they were going to need cunning, determination and a healthy helping of Joe Esposito. However, unlike Daniel-San, Brewdog wasn’t just battling their personal demons, but the limits of chemistry itself. So it was more like this:
Brewdog’s response to Schorschbräu was as potent as it was insensitive:
Sink the Bismarck, a 41% ABV IPA, was named for a World War II German battleship that the British navy torpedoed into oblivion. As nautical disses go, this is pretty scathing.
Schorschbräu, their bloodlust renewed, refused go gently into the nacht. Using trademarked German precision (and considerable refocusing of the energy typically dedicated to their trademarked German sexual deviance), they countered with a 43% ABV Schorschbock. Needless to say, this shifted the match to something more along these lines:
The carnage in Brewdog’s knock-out punch is better shown than explained:
The blonde Belgian ale residing in the dapper husk of that stoat is The End of History. Only 12 bottles of this 50% ABV juggernaut were produced, using the finest nettles, juniper berries and roadkill available. At $755 per bottle, this was both the world’s strongest beer and the most expensive.
Brewdog says they are out of the high ABV beer game, but I somehow doubt that. Even when Gotham City is 100% crime free, the city can never be sure if Batman has retired…or lies in wait.
Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32% ABV)
The Tactical Nuclear Penguin (TNP) is a deep, ruby red brew. The nose has all the astringency of a shot of vodka. It there was ever a beer that smelled like you could clean your floor with it, this would be the one. There’s a mild oakiness and a little vanilla aroma to it as well, but those notes are pretty well obscured.
Drinking a TNP is most comparable to sipping a whisky with prominent maple notes. If you really stretch you can pick out caramel and some tart berry sweetness, but the alcohol note is what rocks this. It even has the tell-tale whisky burn that resonates through your chest, biting at your tongue and lips. You could almost sip it on rocks if this weren’t a beer and you had no reservations about being a sissy.
Drinking a rare and over the top beer like TNP is kind of like being given the opportunity to lick Justin Bieber. You know objectively it may taste like a horrendous mix of Proactiv and Axe Body Spray, but, on the other hand, OH MY GOD I JUST LICKED JUSTIN BIEBER! The novelty value trumps any reservations about the taste.
Tokyo (18.2% Abv)
If the tasting notes on this one seem a little thin, it’s because I started the review immediately after the Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Apart from TNP effectively being mind-numbing shot of hard alcohol, most any beer would taste like tap water comparatively. It’s a tribute to Brewdog that I was able to detect any flavors in the Tokyo at all.
The Tokyo has the opaque brown color of your standard cola. The nose is heavy with wood, alcohol and plums which is unique to say the least. The flavor of the beer does an excellent job of delivering on the promise of its aroma, delivering a dark fruits, figs, wood and the sweetness of one of those juices that needlessly fuses cranberry with everything.
At 18% this is certainly a boozy beer, but nowhere near as much as you’d expect. It’s reminiscent of a port with it’s capacity for warming and pairing with dessert.
This is sweet, sweet and sweet. I’d love to see it balanced to the bitter a bit more, but this beer is all about a unique experience. It provides that in spades.
Isle of Arran Paradox (10% ABV)
This is a Brewdog stout aged in whisky barrels from the Isle of Arran distillery. It has a dark, cola brown hue to it similar to the Tokyo, but with more of an orange undertone. It smells of whisky, wet wood and a peaty smokiness.
Per the Brewdog standard, you can certainly taste the alcohol in this one, but it presents some interesting cinnamon and roasted malt notes as well. It’s definitely on the watery side for a stout, but the flavor is big enough to compensate for it. I think was gives this the extra push into excellence is the finish. It is pleasantly smoky which adds some bitter character without the sensation of licking a charcoal briquette.
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