Thursday, January 21, 2010

BrewDog Rip Tide Review

Brewery: BrewDog Ltd. | Beer: Rip Tide
Style: Russian Imperial Stout | ABV: 8.0% | IBUs: 65
Serving Method: 22.4 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

BrewDog Rip TideAs much as I was looking forward to trying BrewDog's offerings, I wasn't exactly a fan of the first I tried, their Hardcore IPA. Luckliy it had an friend on the long trip from Scotland, an Imperial Stout called Rip Tide. Hopefully we have some better luck this time around—I'm optimistic.

Not the same beast as the Imperial Stouts we're used to in America, BrewDog describe Rip Tide as"a contemporary Scottish take on an age old Russian classic style." The first thing that tipped me off to that was the eight percent alcohol content, relatively weak for anything with the word "imperial" on the bottle. The ingredient list is hardly some wilting flower though.

First Gold and Galena hops provide bitterness, while the backbone is built from Maris Otter, Dark Crystal, Caramalt, and Chocolate malt varieties along with and roasted barley. What BrewDog list as the "twist" in the mix is dark muscavado sugar—an unrefined brown sugar with lots of molasses flavor. Here's how BrewDog describe the result:

A strong, silky smooth imperial stout with a deep, dark ruby appearance. Mocha, bitter chocolate, liquorice and dark cherry flavours prevail, before the balanced, warming and encapsulating finish.
Well, it's time to dig in. BrewDog recommend you enjoy this beer with "an air of aristocratic nonchalance," so I'll try to keep that in mind.

A dark and murky brown body with no distinct highlights. The head is slow to form, taking shape only after pouring is finished. What does manifest is half a finger tall, tan, and quickly fades to a thin skin that leaves little lacing.

Aroma: Dark fruit over moderately dark, chocolaty malt. There's a nicely bitter streak around the edges, giving it additional complexity.

Taste: The focus is a rich malt profile featuring great coffee and bitter chocolate notes. It's not all about the malt though, as there's a good dose of balancing bitterness coming from the hops. Some mild alcohol towards the end, but nowhere near what you'd expect from a bigger beer like a Russian Imperial Stout (the same can be said for the malt profile, too). The aftertaste is roasty and slightly bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied and velvety with light carbonation. There's the barest burn alcohol at times, but it's deceptively smooth. Dries in the finish.

Drinkability: About middle-of-the-road, just watch out for the alcohol content.

Verdict: Certainly an improvement over my first experience with this brewer, Rip Tide is somewhere between a regular and "Imperial" Stout, making it a bit of a unique proposition on the shelves. This is enjoyable, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what these guys can do with an all-out, ten percent Stout.

Grade: B+

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