Looking at the bottle, here we have an example of a design which drew me into the beer on the shelf. This beer looks dangerous from the start with radioactive dinosaurs on the label in an Alien-esque tango. The beer is a monster 10% alcohol. Their boast on the back is that this beer couldn’t be done, and it would be undrinkable. My advice in the shop was “sip it”. Here we gooooooooo!
First impressions are that it doesn’t look that dangerous. Here we have a rather pleasant golden ale-coloured beer, with a normal head and carbonation. It sits quietly in the glass like a Sydney Funnel Web spider in her burrow, or a charity mugger in a shopping centre. What could go wrong when you approach this gentle beer?
Well the first thing that gets knocked sideways are your olfactory senses. This is so peaty, I expect it to contain a rather good scotch, or at least an iron-age corpse. The peat smells of the chemicals that you would find in hospitals, and is an acquired taste and smell. It’s woody, with an open outdoor aroma, clean and fresh. But there are also aromas of fruit, pine nuts and candy floss too. Get around the peat, and there are other smells there too. But mainly the peat.
It cannot be done, they said. Sip it he said. This is not a beer for knocking back, but one to tackle and wrestle to the floor, before injecting with a tranquilizer and submerging in the ocean in a shark-cage. This is not a beer for the beginner. It starts out normal enough, the first taste is that of the high alcohol content. You taste the strong beer content first, together with a reasonably smooth beer feel. This cannot be too bad, I wonder what all the fuss was about.
This is just like flying, we’ve all gone through it. One moment you are nice and comfortable sipping a beverage watching the movie, then all of a sudden your wings fall off, and a pterodactyl is trying to make love to the fuselage. It is the same with this beer. All quite normal at first, then the horror starts. The peat starts to march over your tongue, all of a sudden as the crescendo of earthy goodness is clearing away all preconceptions that you had about beer, sharp staccato jabs of chilli and drawing pins hit your throat, not enough to be unpleasant, but just enough to remind you they are there. The aftertaste dies away, with a sweet alcohol flavour lingering with the earthy peat. Wanting to embrace you again, this elixir of doom.
Summary. Not for the fainthearted. The most complex beer I have drunk. I love it. If you do try it, please sip it at first.