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

Beer Here Dark Hops

November 1st, 2009 beckel

I found this bottle of Dark Hops from the brewers of Beer Here who hail from Norway a month or so ago on the shelves of The Four Firkins. I also picked up a bottle of their Pumpernickel Porter but that will be for another day. I know very little of the Beer Here Brewery but if you can read Norwegian perhaps you can learn a bit more about them at their web page above. The Dark Hops bottle states that it is a hoppy black ale and lists it’s ingredients simply as “water, barley, rye, sugar, hops and yeast”. While also noting that “hops were harmed in the making of this beer”, which I can dig, so long as they were treated in the most humane way possible. This ale pours an incredibly dark black color that is completely impenetrable by light, producing a massive tight creamy dark brown head that is over four fingers and fades quite slowly, leaving only a small amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is incredibly rich, smelling of dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, toffee and a solid dose of alcohol. A strong does of hoppy citrus & floral notes prevail in the aroma  but still takes a back seat to the massive dark roasted notes. Dark roasted malt and burnt coffee flavors are noticed first followed by plenty of alcohol and finishing with some serious floral and citrus notes from the Zeus and Saaz Hops used in this brew. An additional sharpness is added by the use of rye in the grain bill and compliments the hops quite nicely. A decent amount of sweetness is present but I still find myself overwhelmed with dark roasted coffee notes even though there are plenty of other flavors present. The combination of roasted and citrus notes occasionally creates a somewhat tart flavor that is really quite unique and enjoyable. The 8.5% ABV of this beer is partially masked by the melody of flavors present but is a bit overpowering even for my tastes, though it does smooth out a bit as I progress though the bottle. Body is somewhat heavy but less viscous than most ales that are this dark. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Simply this is one interesting ale. At first I found the contrasting flavors to simply be too much, particularly in the roasted malt and alcohol categories. After drinking most of the bottle I must say I find some of the flavor profiles present very intriguing and unique, but could perhaps use a bit of fine tuning. If you love coffee and dark roasted malts as well as India Pale Ales this might just be the perfect beer for you. Unquestionably the most coffee like and hoppiest IBA (India Brown/Black Ale) I have ever had the opportunity to consume. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Beer Here Dark Hops

Southern Tier Iniquity

March 30th, 2009 beckel

Today I have a beer I am incredibly excited about so I will keep this part brief. The good people of Southern Tier have recently created an Imperial Black Ale  sometimes referred to as an India Brown Ale. The only similar beer I have had of this rare style is Dogfish Head’s India Brown Ale which was delightful and you will eventually see reviewed here as I still have two bottles in the fridge. I have been anticipating this beer as much as their Gemini [review] so lets see how she tastes. As the label states this beer pours a pitch black color with some red hues barely seeping through the top of the glass when brought to light. Head is off white and a bit over two fingers that quickly becomes loose large bubbles fading within a few minutes. As with most of their beers the aroma came to my nose as soon as I opened the bottle, though it is a bit less pungent than their Creme Brulee and Choklat for example. The aroma is full of dark malts and has hints of something like anise as well as some hop bitterness and a bit of alcohol. Wow this is an interesting tasting brew. Dark malts create a myriad of flavors from bitter coffee hints to sweet chocolate in the middle, finishing with a distinctive hoppy bitterness. The roasted flavors of this beer attempt to balance its 9% ABV though you still get a moderate amount of alcohol on the tounge, but what do you expect? Frankly this beer has more dark malt flavors than I typically prefer but it’s certainly not a bad beer. As I continue to let this beer warm and start to get accustomed to the flavors floral hops come through much more strongly. Overall this is a pretty darn tasty brew that like most Southern Tier brews really pushes the boundary of what you can do with the simple ingredients that are beer. There were plenty of bottles on the shelves of The Four Firkins when I picked up this brew last weekend but unique beers like this tend to go fast! So get it while you can, particularly if you are a fan of dark malts. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale