Here’s something different from Brewdog – Russian Doll – which comprises the same beer brewed to four different strengths – 4%, 6%, 8% and 10%.
Each brew uses the same malts, hops, and yeast – the differences are down to the ABV.
Brewdog claim “There’s a great complexity when trying the beers side by side – the aromas & flavours from extra pale, cara and dark crystal malts vary from biscuity through caramel, toffee and treacle as you might expect, but the hops (simcoe, citra, cascade and centennial) present differently from style to style – from zesty to tropical through stone fruit to jammy.”
I bought a single set, so this is a one-off, but it promises to be an interesting journey.
The labels feature exclusive artwork by Esther McManus, each depicting a Russian Matryoshka doll. They don’t ‘do it’ for me, but hey, “It’s about the beer”.
Russian Doll Pale Ale – 4% ABV
I started with the 4% ABV Pale Ale, which pours, as expected, a pale apricot colour, the head is full and enthusiastic. It laces as it slowly fades.
The nose is citrus and pine, no surprises there, but the flavour – and I never thought I’d write this about a Brewdog beer – is slightly bland and disappointing. The citrus is in there, along with a crisp, biscuity underpinning, but there’s not enough ‘oomph’ to satisfy.
Russian Doll IPA – 6% ABV
The 6% IPA pours a little darker and the head a little more timid. The nose is bread and honey, with the citrus further back in the mix.
It’s fuller bodied than the 4% brew, the flavour is rich and warming, the bread and honey are still in there, along with some hints of citrus, but there’s a spicyness that warns of this brews potency.
It’s well balanced and satisfying, an enjoyable brew.
Russian Doll Double IPA – 8% ABV
The 8% Double IPA pours darker still, a rich dark amber colour. The nose is richer, more honey and spice, the citrus is being scared into hiding. There’s less head, but more lacing.
The flavour is rich and spicy, that citrus is cowering somewhere, what we’re left with is a rich glass of alcoholic Bread Pudding – that’s not, you understand, Bread & Butter pudding – but a rich, dark, spicy pudding. Check the recipe here… of course it won’t be as good as my Father used to make, but it’s an interesting culinary journey.
I digress… back to the Russian Doll Double IPA – this is a fine, potent brew. Brewdog are good at fine, potent brews and this is up there. Rich, balanced, spicy and warming.
Russian Doll Barley Wine – 10% ABV
The last in the set, the darkest and most potent. There’s not much of a head and what head there is clings reluctantly to the glass as it fades.
There’s not much nose to speak of, some raisins maybe, but the flavour? Woah! We’re talking dried fruit, treacle (molasses), spice, toffee, caramel… and then the underlying alcohol – 10% now – gives a warming, comforting glow.
It’s been an fascinating journey. It was interesting to see how quickly the hop influence faded as the potency ramped up.
I know I rated the Barley Wine the highest, but I think that I would probably reach for the Double IPA first.