When, a few weeks ago, I answered some questions here, I mentioned that I always grab any new Brewdog Brews that I see, and that I’d invested both in the Mystery Brewing Company and Wilderness Brewing… well I also invested a few quid in Brewdog’s latest public share offering, not necessarily as an investment that might return huge dividends, but mainly to support an innovative brewer.
It’s not ALL altruism though; Brewdog offer certain shareholder ‘perks’, a discount card for their bars, and first dibs on new brews. The first of these was a pack of prototype ales, these may or may not make it into production. They weren’t particularly cheap (about six bucks a bottle including shipping) but I figured they HAVE to be worth investigating.
These prototypes were described thus:
Blitz! – A 2.8% caramalt only west coast hop bomb.
Prototype 17 – a 4.1% pale ale with American hops, Belgian yeast strain aged with fresh Scottish Raspberries.
Scotch Ale – a 7.5% indulgent malty treat combining heather honey and 8 different malts.
Hops Kill Nazis – a 7.6% red ale loaded with Chinook hops.
So… here goes:
Blitz! 2.8% – ABV
Caramalt is described as the “palest of all crystal malts, this grain is used when a crystal character is required without unduly darkening the beer” as such it’s “particularly suitable for pale ales and bitters”; despite this it poured a deep burnished gold colour with a rich, buttercream coloured head.
The nose was deep, rich and spicy. A ‘hop bomb’, but comprising older, darker aromas, not the vivid floral scents of ‘new world’ hops.
I found there to be stacks of hops on first taste, a real ‘hop attack’, followed by a rich ‘salty caramel’ aftertaste. It’s not particularly full bodied, but at only 2.8% that’s not wholly unexpected; it would make an ‘excellent session’ beer.
I gave it three stars out of five.
Prototype 17 – 4.1% ABV
I moved on to ’Prototype 17’ – which frankly sounds like a dodgy 1960’s science fiction film. This poured a classic bright gold colour with a crisp white head.
The nose was hoppy, but very ‘dry’ – difficult to define, and not altogether pleasant, maybe hints of cranberries – you know that ‘dry’ cranberry tartness?
The flavour was much the same as the nose, buckets of bright hops, and definite hints of Belgium, although thankfully without that candy sugar kick that defines a super strength Belgian ale. But again there’s that dry cranberry flavour lurking… it must be the Raspberries, but they really don’t do it for me.
Sorry guys, this one only gets two stars out of five.
Scotch Ale – 7.5% ABV
This brew ticked all my boxes. I LOVE strong, dark ales, especially if they have a hint of sweetness.
It pours midnight dark with a rich toffee coloured head… this looks promising!
The nose is rich, smoky, tarry with hints of toffee, they’ve definitely eased off on the hops with this one.
The taste? Well it’s full bodied and rich – I wrote ‘rich’ four times in my notes – there’s dark, bitter chocolate and smoky tar, but moderated by sweet notes of honey.
Oh yes… this works for me, I guess it’s the heather honey that differentiates it from, say, a porter, but this is something I would turn to on a cold winter’s evening. I gave this four stars out of five, I hope it goes into production.
Hops Kill Nazis – 7.6% ABV
I have no idea where Brewdog get their names from, this might be a nifty acronym to recognise a recipe, or it may allude to the 2nd World War ‘Battle of Britain’ which was fought over the hop-fields of Kent. Either way at 7.6% ABV this promises to be a mighty brew.
It pours a dark garnet colour, darker than most red ales, with a pale caramel coloured head.
The nose is a rich aromatic blend of hops, yes Chinook to the fore – that’s, pine, grass and lemony notes, but with deeper hops and some malt in the background.
Flavour-wise again you get that initial bright citrusy hit, before the deeper resonant flavours kick in… this is on the edge of hoppiness for me, as Mark Dredge observed in his excellent ‘pencil and spoon’ blog “ I love hops but recently I’ve tasted too many beers which use too many hops.” – okay so maybe killing Nazis might be a justification, but I gave this particular brew a still quite respectable three stars out of five.
So, as I said in my answers to Scott’s questions “I know I’m going to be in for something different”… in this case, of the four prototypes I tried, I would happily drink three of them again. As beer prototypes go, that’s a pretty good hit rate. I’ll keep an eye out for the next set of prototypes, and for a couple of these brews on the shelves of my local beermonger.
And… at the type of typing this, there are still a few Brewdog shares available at ‘Equity for Punks‘.
Bob the Brit