I have sung the praises of BrewDog over and over again. Their latest stunt is to take over London. Last weekend saw the White Horse Old Ale Festival, where they had four BrewDog ales on cask, including the new Isle of Arran and Smokehead, both imperials touts aged in whisky barrels. I have told y0u about the fine quality of the bottled versions before.
The Pig’s Ear beer festival in East London also had a special beer from BrewDog in their programme, bit it was not on when I was in on Tuesday evening.
But the real event for followers of the Scottish maverick brewers has been going on at the Rake in Borough Market. As you can see, they have offer a broad range of cask beer, including two new ones. the Zephyr and the Rake Raspeberry Smokehead.
I arrived on Monday with my mate Tom, and were firstly met with a rather dismissive message that they did not have all the beers on at a given time, and that we should settle for the Speedball and the Smokehead, which were the flavours of the day.
Well then. They had the full range of bottled beers from Aberdeenshire as well, but, still.
We started chatting to the man in a black leather hat at the end of the bar, who seemed to be associated to the pub. It turned out that this was Tony, the assistant manager, and Tom’s Scottish accent convinced him that he should step down int the cellar to bring a few samples.
Now, the Zephyr is a13% India Pale Ale (IPA) matured in a grain whisky cask for 18 months with 30kgs of fresh strawberries, no less. It is vinous, very dominated by the whisky aroma, there was not much fruitiness to discover. Not a bad beer at all, but all their experiments cannot be stellar, can they? It will possibly eveolve into something more sophisticated over time.
But the Rake Raspberry Imperial Stout is a new version of the Smokehead, a 10% stout aged with fresh strawberries. I sniff. The aroma is mostly smoke, as with the regular Smokehead. A small sip. The smooth body of the stout, belying its alcohol strength, the strong smokiness filling in the picture – and, to top it all, a wonderful strong fruitiness, not too sweet, that matches this perfectly. This is there best so far. There are rumours about a limited bottling of this, but is surely not a product that will be available on a large scale. If you get any opportunity, get your hands on a glass of this brew! And, if you are in London, there is still a chance they have a few drops left this weekend!