Tuesday, June 7, 2011

BrewDog and Mikkeller, Devine Rebel

The collaboration is all the rage these days.  Hopefully, you've all at least had a chance to taste one of  Stone's many beers from their collaboration series, which includes breweries like Ballast Point, Nogne O, BrewDog, Dogfishead, Victory, Jolly Pumpkin, and many other notable brewers.  But it's not just brewers that collaborating these days.  Some of you were probably lucky enough to check out the ColLAboration event at Tony's this past weekend. ColLaboration is a series of pop-up mobile craft beer gardens where true beer enthusiasts can gather and enjoy the best in brews under the warm California sun.  It's led by some of the best beer bars in the city joining forces: Verdugo/Surly Goat, Blue Palms, 38 Degrees, and Tony's/Mohawk Bend.  You can check out their page here.  So it seems only fitting that tonight I'm drinking one of craft beer's biggest collaborators and extreme beer makers, Mikkeller and BrewDog.
For those that don't know, and there can't be many of you if you've even read my blog once, Mikkeller is a "gypsy brewer," originally hailing from Denmark with a love of American Style Ales.  The self-titled term, "gypsy brewer," comes from his lack of a home brewery, relying on the kindness and collaboration of other breweries to make his beer.  BrewDog is the Scottish brewery created by the young brewmeister rebels James Watt and Martin Dickie.  They are known for their eccentric and high gravity beers, including the famous Sink the Bizmark and Nuclear Penguin, weighing in at over 40% abv.  When these two get together, it only makes sense that they should chase after a style that is one of the grandest of all, the English Barleywine.
For the uninitiated, a barleywine is in fact a beer, not a wine.  The term wine is applied because it has a similar alcohol content to wine and is one of the strongest beer styles.  They tend to load up on every ingredient characterized by rich malt and fruit flavors and often bold hop bitterness.  The color can range anywhere from amber to brown and the body is usually very thick.  The only thing that separates the American Barleywine from the English is the use of hops.  American Barleywines tend to use more high alpha acid hops than their British cousins.
According to the bottle, this Devine Rebel is inspired by the experimental and rebellious nature of the two brewers who made it, using ale and champagne yeasts along with partially aging the beer in Speyside whiskey barrels.  The color is a beautiful rich ruby with very little head. Aromas are of malts with sweet raisins and toffee.  Despite having a failry boozy taste, it's still very drinkable.  There's a very strong malt and rich raisin flavor with a roasted essence that wasn't apparent in the aroma, but is quite strong in flavor.  True to the style, the hops are present, but certainly don't dominate.  It's not overly carbonated, but has just enough from the champagne yeast to have a nice balance against the otherwise creamy mouthfeel.  Unfortunately, I'm not tasting any of the whiskey barrels in this.  Still an enjoyable drink though.
Devine Rebel: ***1/2

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