My first venture into the world of BrewDog starts out with their interpretation of a Russian imperial stout. I found this bomber at the bottom of a shelf tucked behind a couple other singles. While I’d love to have reviewed a fresh bottle, I must report that my bottle had a “best by” date of July 2009. Coming in at 8% ABV I’m sure a little cellaring never hurt a beer of that strength. Diving right in…
My expectation was something along the lines of a high viscosity liquid that produced a thick blended mocha head and smell that preceded the initial pour. What I found was only partially true. The head was the color mentioned, but lacked a slow forming creamy head. Instead, the carbonation was lower resulting in a one finger quick fading topping. Not to worry, it did have a big nose that wafted up to meet me with hints of licorice, burnt grains, and dark bitter chocolate. Interestingly enough it was not as dark as most imperial stouts I’ve had. It carried a dark coffee hue with brown edges. Some of the additional aromas (some of which developed as the glass warmed) were dried cherries, darker fruits, and a strong brown sugar/molasses notes.
Checking the fact sheet on their website I found out that the twist they uses involved the addition of dark Muscavado sugar which is essentially an unrefined brown sugar. This served to give Rip Tide some depth of flavors and add to the roasted/burnt grain characters. These flavors were obtained without the brew being syrupy or thick, if anything it is similar in mouthfeel to a lighter Porter (honestly a little watery). An earthy quality was prevalent throughout the brew along with an astringent bitterness which was a combination of burnt grains and hops. The hops used were Galena (high in AA%) and an English variety First Gold (a spicy, earthy hop). The aftertaste is pretty dry leaving a taste that I would possibly equate to a chocolate covered date or fig.
Side note: In 2007 it won world’s best stout-imperial from the World Beer Awards.