Sunday 11 March 2012

Opened It!

Open It!, the great beer-stash-raid, happened two weeks ago. Things have been a bit busy so I’m only just catching up now...

For Open It! I went out into my garage, rummaged through boxes, um’d and ah’d, picked out bottles then put them back again and then picked out some more, finally settling on two beers: BrewDog AB:01 and Courage Imperial Russian Stout.

BrewDog AB:01 is a quad made with Westvleteren yeast and infused with vanilla bean. I drank it ages ago in a blind tasting with other similar beers and it was easy to pick out of the line-up. That was over a year ago and it’s changed a lot since. If you were going to recreate this in food-form it’d be banana bread topped with figs and drizzled in a rum, pepper and vanilla syrup, which sounds totally delicious, right? There’s some boozy warmth, a very peppery, dry bitterness, some cocoa and vanilla, plus loads of mushy banana. I drank it really quickly trying to work out whether I loved it or not and usually speed-drinking is a good sign. Occasionally time warps things in weird ways and this is one of them and I loved it.

Courage Imperial Russian Stout is a recreation by Wells and Youngs of the beer last brewed in London in 1982. This one was made in May 2011 and released in September 2011, with the whole batch shipped to America except for a few sample gift packs. It looks great – really dark brown with a thick foamy head – and smells great, too, with dark chocolate first then pungent, grassy hops. It’s loaded with flavour but remains light bodied, there’s liquorice, a big bitterness and a flavour which lines the inside of your mouth with hops and chocolate malt. It’s really good. I had it with a dark chocolate tart and that was a massive FABPOW!

The great news is I’ve still got another bottle of each stashed away for a future Open It and next time I hope to do things properly just like to drinkers of Leeds did by throwing a massive Open It! party in a few pubs.


  1. Courage IRS was last brewed in the early 90s, I remember buying it when it came out.

  2. But after Courage's brewery closed in 1982 it was brewed in Tadcaster until S&N killed it off, so Wells & Youngs are technically correct, though disingenuous, in saying it was last brewed in London in 1982.

  3. BrewDog AB:01 is a quad made with Westvleteren yeast

    Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as Westvleteren yeast. Westvleteren get their yeast from Westmalle.

  4. Over many generations of propagation, that original yeast has certainly evolved to be something that you could surely call "Westvleteren yeast", no? All of the Westvleteren beers have a definite ester character of their own. At least they do for my palate.