Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale

Total Score: 9.1/10 Nut1DarkFruits1Caramel1Tulipglass1

Nøgne Ø, which apparently means “naked island” in Norwegian… if I was in Norway I wouldn’t be spending any time naked on any islands lest frostbite become my new bestie, but hey I’m a pragmatic man when it comes to endangering my own life. So I’ve had a few Nøgne Ø brews now: Imperial Stout, Sunturnbrew, and their red wine barrel Quadrupel… all of them dark and heavy, in fact at 7.5% ABV this is the lightest Nøgne Ø brew I’ve imbibed yet! The main reason I even picked this up was on a recommendation, and if it’s as good as their other brews I’ll have to grab some more from my local Black Sheep Bottle Shop (Newmarket that is). Until then – bring on the naked island!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Nice murky Russet brown body with a fulsome 1.5 centimetre beige head that slowly recedes leaving some lace on the side of the glass – love shack baby! [I’ve decided for shits ‘n giggles to randomly inject B-52’s lyrics into my reviews – yep that happened since you were away]. 9/10.

S: Dark fruits and brown sugar with a side of molasses – this is going to be one sweet mother of a brew. Hint of nuttiness in there as well, so maybe it will having a dry character as well… you never know until you try hey? 8/10.

T: Top. Shelf. This is such a well-balanced IBA: Macerated figs, burnt sugar, pecan nut, caramel, touch of earthy espresso bitterness in the finish; well played Nøgne Ø, well played. The thing that really wins me over is how well managed the sweetness is – I was expecting a sugar bomb from the aroma, however this is not the case. It’s so very nearly a 10/10 for flavour, but then the aftertaste cuts in with just a little too much bitterness… so close Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale! 9/10.

M: Silky mid to heavy bodied with a dense but flat carbonation – near perfect here too but, ahhh, what the hell Nøgne Ø: 10/10.

D: Exceptional Imperial Brown Ale, up there with the best of them… well Embargo is my current favourite – however I appear to be one of its few champions (though I have no idea why, it’s a fantastic drop). Nøgne Ø have glimpsed at the heavens and said “what the f__k, we can do it!” and they very nearly cracked that ceiling with this IBA. Great work Nøgne Ø! PSA: This review has the most frequent applications of the ‘Ø’ character in any review I have ever written – yet I am still unaware of how to actually pronounce this character. Carry on. 10/10.

Food match: Flavourful cheeses and grilled meats: I must agree with that label.

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Nail Huge Dunn Imperial Brown

Total Score: 7.2/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1BrownSugar1Tulipglass1

Recommended by Jeremy @ Black Sheep Newmarket this Imperial Brown is the best Imperial Brown Ale he’s had. Well the one to beat for me is Black Market Embargo Imperial Brown… which scored a massive 9.15/10 from me – that puts it at #22 on my all-time list. Not sure if Nail have the gumption to dethrone that, however I am, as always, happy to be surprised. Nail Oatmeal Stout being the only Nail I’ve reviewed and I wasn’t overly impressed by it – Oatmeal Stouts should be an easy style to ace. However that said: Jeremy @ Black Sheep has proven to have a great palate when it comes to wine and spirits, so I trust him when he recommends a beer, looking forward to this one.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep black (getting dangerously close to Stout country there Mr. Nail) body with a mocha coloured head than quickly dissolves leaving a thin lace ring – which is perfectly acceptable at 8% ABV IMO. Regardless of whether it’s a Brown or a Stout, who cares if it looks tasty? 7/10.

S: Dark fruits thrown judiciously about with rhyme and reason – that reason being: Mmm, oooh yeah. Brown sugar, red coffee cherries, and touch of spirit round out a rich and bold aroma. It’s big and unyielding, and so far I can see why Jeremy is impressed by this – he seems to gravitate towards BIG beers. 8/10.

T: Dark fruits with a hit of coffee cherry and espresso begin transforming what was a classic Imperial Brown ale into an Imperial Baltic Porter… it’s very much in Imperial Baltic Porter country now… also, did anyone order a truckload of brown sugar? I have a delivery from a Mr, err, Nail… shall I return it to the postage depot? No, you’ll book in a dentist appointment then? Ok *signals to truck driver* dump it here *BEEP-BEEP-BEEP*. Tasty, but possibly requiring an Insulin shot afterwards. 7/10.

M: Medium and viscous bodied with a thin but dense carbonation – suits the style, which is clearly an Imperial Baltic Brown Porter Ale or IBBPA. 7/10.

D: I started getting a headache halfway through this – never a great sign, however when I wasn’t taking Ibuprofen tablets I did enjoy this beer. Probably won’t get it again – I need to cut back on these types of diabetes-inducing beers. Also Nail didn’t nail the style, typical of them being known for their Stouts that they produced yet another Stout to add to their collection of Stouts, which is also quite stout in size – pun, set & match Doc. 7/10.

Food match: Something chargrilled and steaky, perhaps steak.

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Black Market Brewing Embargo Imperial Brown

Total Score: 9.15/10 Chocolate1 DarkFruits1 BrownSugar1 Tulipglass1

So I’m in Plonk the other day like a kid in a candy store, or more aptly – like a tall kid with 3 day stubble who is really an adult in a candy store that sells awesome beers from around the world instead of candy – and I’m a beer short on selecting my mixed case. I say to my red-bearded friend/shopkeep Jamie “So what’s a stand out beer for you that I am yet to try?”. He goes straight for the Black Market Brewing Embargo Imperial Brown and mentions “I found this one quite interesting”, and here we are – the beer I was saving for last I’m reviewing now, as the bible (aka my beer review guide) states “And ye beer-hold the last brew will be first, and the first brew will be last, and thou shall sup on the nectar of Gods Ale in Beervana as on Earth”*.

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: In a word: Tasty. In more words than that singular and pathetic attempt at description: Deep dark brown, almost black body with a billowy tan 1cm head that holds up well. 8/10.

S: The vanilla and cacao nibs blend seamlessly into a brown sugar, molasses and heady over-ripe dark fruits – the aroma is already a feast for the senses, cannot wait to ‘tuck in’. 9/10.

T: Hell. Yes. Like a super concentrated dark beer syrup with flavours of: Cacao, brown sugar, molasses and over-ripe dark fruits (plum, black cherry and dates). The vanilla fades somewhat amid the jostling of flavours but adds an otherwise piquant note. There are some added toasty characters from the Whiskey barrels as well. The finish is a slight dark chocolate bitterness. Damn, damn tasty and BIG. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a light but dense carbonation… it just keeps impressing me with some added oiliness as well. 9/10.

D: This brew is one dark and moody tour de force that requires sipping rather than the heavy-handed gulping that some brews warrant. Despite being 9.8% ABV it really doesn’t slug you with alcohol burn or any concept of getting tipsy – it’s like the beer equivalent of slowly slipping into a warm bath… mmmm, toasty. IF however you are new to the world of beer and the craft of drinking said beers you may find this Imperial Brown Ale to be a bit of an assault on your senses, for me however this is pure gold – an absolute winner! 10/10.

Food match: This, a Romeo y Julieta número uno and a glass of Talisker 10yro – yes.

*The Gospel of Weizen; Chapter 20 Verse 16.

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