It’s been a while since I did a review, so before I dive into it I want to go over some new changes to the way I’m reviewing beers on this site. The first, and most notable, change is that I will no longer be giving the beer a final “score.” The reviews will be more focused on the aspects of the beer I do or do not enjoy and then some recommendations. I have a few reasons for this from the practical – who gives a shit what I rank a beer? – to the pretentious – you can’t “rate” art.
Now that that’s handled, tonight I’m having BrewDog’s Storm. According to the bottle this is a “malt beverage aged in an Islay Scotch whisky barrel.” Apparently this was originally an IPA before it went into the Scotch barrels.
For those of you that aren’t Scotch or whisky (whiskey) aficionados, Islay whisky tends to have a smoky character derived predominantly from peat. And if you don’t believe me, you can read it on the Wikipedia page I just plagiarized. If you’ve ever had Lagavulin or Laphroaig, you’ll recognize the character.
I bring it up because both the aroma and the flavor of this beer carry a strong Islay whisky character. The nose is full of smoke, but also a strong sweet vanilla note as well. Slight hints of caramel in the nose as well, but all of the hop aroma is gone. I imagine that’s partly from the barrel-aging and partly from the “Best Before 02/02/12” printed on the side of the bottle.
There’s no carbonation on this beer, which I don’t know if it is a help or a hindrance. The flavor is very heavy on the smoky peat and very light on the everything-else. There’s a slight hint of citrus-hop flavor lurking behind the smoke but it is overpowered.The mouthfeel is slick, but the smokiness gives it a dry finish like the aftertaste of a good Scotch.
As you can see from the pictures, this beer is cloudy and a tepid pale orange in color; not a pretty beer and honestly one I’m not too psyched about. But this is a perfect example of why the old rating system was fundamentally flawed. Would it be “fair” for me to assign a rating to a beer that I”m drinking over 2 years past its “best by” date? What exactly am I comparing it against; it’s not like there’s a glut of Scotch-aged IPAs on the market.
Overall, I’m not a fan of this beer. It has some of the characteristic I like in Scotch, but none of the characteristics I like in beer. If you’re a Scotch drinker looking to get into beer, this might be for you. Or if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, this definitely fits the bill. But ultimately I think this beer will miss the mark for most people’s tastes.