Brewdog Bashah

November 24th, 2010 beckel

Today I have what is sure to be an intriguing beer, for better or worse. Bashah is a collaborative brew made by two fantastic breweries; Brewdog of Fraserburgh, Scotland & Stone of Escondido, CA. Both breweries are big fans of collaboration and have made at least a couple beers together. This time around Stone went to Scotland to manifest this intense Imperial Black IPA (or Cascadian Dark Ale). First brewed in early 2009 I was very happy to see this beer on the shelves of South Lyndale Liquors a few months ago and couldn’t help but pick it up. According to the bottle this is batch 378 and it was bottled on 25/11/10…unfortunately that doesn’t make any sense as that would mean it was bottled tomorrow. Regardless I always appreciate well labeled bottles, perhaps they intended to suggest consuming it before or after that date. When purchasing this brew a friend at the store noted that he had sampled Bashah cold and couldn’t stand it, but had allowed it to warm and found it very enjoyable. While IPAs are one of the few ales I suggest consuming colder this is a good example of how important it is to allow complex brews to warm before serving. I have let this beer sit out for about 15-20 min and I think that will be just about right for serving.

Upon pouring a pitch black hue spews from the bottle that is completely opaque and slowly creates a solid two fingers of tight, light brown bubbles. After settling for a few minutes very little lacing is left but a millimeter or two of residual bubbles persist creating a very nice presentation. Massive aromas of dark malt provide esters of coffee, tobacco and notable bitterness. Fruity hops are obvious but play a supporting role to the intense malt profile while adding some additional bitter esters. Esters of wood, tootsie rolls (minus the sweetness) & a slightly sour note on the nose are reminiscent of barrel aging, but this version of the ale is not (earlier this year two Reserve editions were released, each aged in different whiskey barrels with different fruits added). Dark malt flavors are so diverse it is hard to pin them all down. Intense coffee, roasted esters & fruity hops are most notable. The contrast between malt and hop bitterness is truly lovely and surprisingly not overpowering. Body is medium, but surprisingly light as is characteristic of the base style. Mouthfeel is smooth, but has a slightly chalky dryness that lingers a bit. Though Bashah boasts a solid 8.6% ABV it is almost completely hidden by the intense malt profile and notable bitterness present in this ale. Gentle sweetness and soft chocolate esters add nice contrast to the strong roasted and bitter esters present creating a surprisingly well rounded ale. Unquestionably the most complex India Dark Ale I have ever sampled and one of the strongest brews of its style. Overall an impressive ale that while not hop forward, does an amazing job playing with dark malt and solid hop profiles. If you enjoy the new(ish) style of Cascadian Dark Ales and are looking for a delicious, complex example of the style this brew is definately worth picking up, even with its ~$10 price tag. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

BrewDog Bashah

Deschutes Hop in the Dark C.D.A.

July 21st, 2010 beckel

While this is the first beer from Deschutes Brewery I have gotten around to writing about it is certainly not the first I have enjoyed. Hailing from Bend, Oregon Deschutes first hit our market a few months ago and has been a welcome addition with tasty year round brews such as their Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter which are available in both 6-packs and very reasonably priced bombers at around $3. Today I have a brew from their Bond Street Series, a series of hoppy ales that started at their brewpub. Cascadian Dark Ales, India Brown Ales, India Black Ales; whatever we want to call them are definitely the style of the moment but simply from the aroma I already have high hopes for this ale. Lets see how it goes. This very carbonated ale quickly produces over four fingers of tight light chocolate bubbles that quickly open up into large bubbles even when carefully poured down the side of a glass. Color is a very dark brown hue that is completely opaque. Aroma is a lovely contrast of dark roasted malts and bright bursts of citrus and floral hops that can be smelt from a foot away. The play between aromas creates a variety of esters from chocolate to bitter dark malts that is quite enjoyable. Consumed at room temperature diverse notes of plum, grapefruit, lemon, orange, roasted malts, coffee, and a solid bitterness are present. Making for one diversely flavored ale. I put the bottle back in the fridge to see how the flavor would change served a bit colder and I must say the balance between smooth roasted malt and wonderful grapefruit forward citrus is much cleaner and more well defined. The contrast between gently sweet but equally bitter roasted malt and the wonderful bitterness and vast variety of citrus esters produced by the Cascade, Centennial and Citra Hops used in this ale are really quite fantastic. Body is full but not overly heavy with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. At 6.5% ABV this ale is full of flavor, but not so strong you can’t have a few. For those interested in the style I think this was a very enjoyable and approachable take on it. If you enjoy buoyantly hoppy ales and roasted malts you might just be in heaven. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Hop in the Dark C.D.A.