In my brief tenure here on Brew Blog, I've had to reconsider a number of opinions. Mostly, it's the simple nature of a shifting palate, slowly changing to accommodate a broader and deeper range of beer in its many expressive forms. Flavors I once actively disliked, I've grown to love. Beers that, a year ago, would have found me ignorantly exclaiming "that's not beer," are now some of my favorites. It's been humbling and exciting in equal measure, showing me how little I knew, and how much there is to learn.
Most recently, I've had to rethink a certain taxidermist-cum-brewery, on the basis of a couple of stellar beers. Granted, these have both been collaborative brews, and I've had my share of less pleasant experiences in the past. That's the key, though. In the past, I didn't really care for heavily hopped beers. In the past, my initial reaction to a Sour was the assumption that it was some kind of joke. I'm trying to learn from my mistakes.
This lesson, paired ignominiously with Taco Bell crunchy tacos, poured a nutty brown. It was impenetrably hazy, with a shallow head that faded relatively quickly to a creamy, taupe cap.
The aroma is deep and nuanced. First coming on as sweet and boozy, it could be mistaken for having a simple, almost-one note. Once you get past that, though, nutty aromas creep in. The general alcohol vapor turns dark and ruddy, punctuated by raisin and dark chocolate tones. It's slightly smoky, and the casked, peated oomph of whisky comes across clearly.
For all the forewarning in the nose, I was still taken aback by just how pronounced the scotch is on the palate. It's like drinking an Islay, with sea breezes, peat smoke, belt leather, and tobacco spice galloping out of the glass. If you like big, peaty Scotch, you just might fall in love. If you're more of a delicate drinker, you might not be so tickled. At least not at first.
If you taste past that initial rush of spirit, there's a host of other flavors at play. It's smoky, savory, woody, and malty. Dark bread. Molasses. There's a bit of raisin, notes of black pepper and, if you hold it in your mouth for a bit, a subtle bite of gingerbread. It's deftly sweet, more in temperament than in taste. The finish brings a slightly bitter, vegetal element, tasting something like a hybrid of celery and chicory.
Surprisingly, it's also amazingly drinkable. With all those robust flavors, not to mention the double-digit ABV, I would expect it to be more challenging. I shared a bit with my wife and mother-in-law, part of a session that also included the supremely amenable, ridiculously drinkable Le Mort Vivant. Everyone agreed that Bitch Please was the star.
My wife loves Scotch and is learning to love beer. My mother-in-law prefers Disaronno, and steadfastly says that she can't tell the difference between a Budweiser and a Belgian Trippel. I think this beer might have started changing her mind about beer. I know it's starting to change my mind about Brewdog.