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    Thursday, 23 October 2008

    I Don't Love Islay

    I rated my 4000th beer on RateBeer recently. I happened to be in the pub knowing that the third new beer I drank that day would be the one that brought that milestone up. Fortunately, I was in The Criterion in Leicester so chances were I could choose something a little out of the ordinary.

    I espied BrewDog Storm in the fridges and decided that would be the beer of choice. My brain ain't what it used to be, so although I recalled it was a strong beer (8%), I didn't remember what was different about it. However I was reminded of its special feature when the request for the beer was met with the comment from the barman: "Have you had it before? It's horrible". It was then that I remembered: Islay!!! I really like BrewDog beers normally. Their Speyside Paradox Imperial Stout is top drawer as are number of their regular beers, especially the Punk IPA. However the Islay Cask Paradox was totally wrong according to my palate. I knew this was going to be a struggle.

    And it was! I'm sure this is a very well brewed beer, and the whisky flavours are certainly distinctive, and very noticeable. But Islay just isn't for me, and I really could not taste anything else at all. Beer experiments are sometimes a good thing. I love the way BrewDog push the boat out. Tokyo is another example of an extremely good extreme BrewDog beer.

    But please - in future - don't put beer in an Islay cask. Send it back to the distillery where it belongs.


    Karen & Mark said...

    An even worse sin is maturing cider and perry in Whisky cask. Rum cask matured cider and perry can be very nice, but the flavour of Whisky (particularly Islay malts) rarely complements that of cider, and totally ruins the more delicate flavours of perry.

    Charles said...

    hmmm interesting - I had my first Punk IPA the other day and am hooked but I haven't tried the Storm - what exactly is the problem about the Islay cask?

    YCC - Dubbel said...

    Storm is the one BrewDog beer (so far) that I find just too harsh. You're absolutely right in saying that the Islay whisky is too overpowering in this beer - you simply couldn't guess you were drinking an IPA.

    I would, however, challenge you to try the brand new BrewDog Paradox Smokehead. Smokehead is an Islay distiller but they are 'nu skool' like BrewDog. We think it's the best Paradox yet; even better than the Speyside and could bring you round to Islay?

    Jeff said...

    I didn't like Storm either, although I enjoyed the Islay version of Paradox.

    haddonsman said...

    You've got a real pussy palate, Mark. Storm is gob-smackingly good.

    Cards on the table: I love Islay malts. I love what Brewdog did with Paradox in Islay casks, I'm well chuffed that I still have the 'apprenticeship' beer of the style that is Thornbridge St P Reserve.

    I'm sitting here getting slowly wasted on Punk IPA (top shopping tip - my local ASDA sell it cheaper than the brewer's own website) and I'm loving it but inside I'm aching for an Islay echo.

    But, to be fair - just this once - I know that Islay isn't everyone's cup of iodine. So fair play to you. Leaves more of the good stuff for me ;-)

    And, Karen & Mark, I'd agree that Islay is a tad too far to go with cider/perry maturation... but I've had some Oliver's whisky stuff that knocked my socks off. Even my non-whisky-drinking-but-habitual-cider-imbibing wife enjoyed them.

    Boak said...

    We had a Storm last night. Fascinating beer. Can't say I'd drink loads of it, but a very interesting drop.

    Phil said...


    To each their own. I am not a whisky head, but I applaud James for trying this, it could have been awesome.

    FWIW, I struggled with it.

    and, like YCC Dubbel, the smokeheed is great - give that a whirl.

    Bigin' it up nuskool, styleeeeeee.... am I still talking about beer...

    be good, see you all soon.

    maeib said...

    It seems I'm in the majority here. Harsh, harsh, harsh.

    Would still like to give the Smokehead a go though.