It seems that more & more weird & wonderful beers are being created these days as breweries are determined to explore the possibilities of this versatile beverage. These beers tend to be a big part of many breweries in the US but not all breweries have this approach in the UK of course, many are still happy to simply show us what good old hops can do & that’s all fine and well, my favourite style of beer is a good IPA after all! But don’t get me wrong, I love to try a beer that is completely different to anything I’ve had before; this is surely one of the main things that helps keep the world of beer so interesting. So I thought I’d aim to do a running feature titled ‘Bizarre’ Beer to celebrate those wacky creations that come along & really change the way we think about it.
The ‘bizarre’ beer in question today is Bitch Please which comes from those crazy dudes at Brewdog, surprise surprise! In fact it’s a collaborative brew with 3 Floyds so I guess that was always gonna put the wacky level up to 11!
I must be honest I didn’t actually know much about this beer before I tried it on Keg in Northbar (@northbardrinks). All I knew was that it was a big Barley Wine and that was enough for me to order a half at the end of the night, although I had been warned by Rob Derbyshire (@BGRTRob) that a half may be too much for me to stomach but I gallantly soldiered on! 🙂 As I took my first sips I struggled to work out the flavours I was getting, this certainly wasn’t like any other beer I’d had before. Luckily Josie (@brewdogupnorth) was on hand to shed some more light on the subject. It was then I discovered Bitch Please is not your average Barley Wine. It is brewed with peated Islay whisky malt (Laphroig I believe?), shortbread & toffee! You can see why I have put this under the bizarre heading. After fermentation it is then aged in old Jura single malt whisky barrels for 8 months! A beer like that certainly sounds good to me.
I only made mental tasting notes that night but I do remember a big burnt toffee taste & also a smoky, phenolic quality which obviously came from those whisky malts and the fact that it’s aged in a Jura cask. It wasn’t the easiest beer to get through feeling quite heavy at the end of the night but I found it interesting & enjoyable none the less.
I knew many people wouldn’t enjoy this half as much, it had a love it or hate it feeling to it so it came as no surprise when numerous people on twitter had the opinion that the beer was a bit of a mess, or words to that effect. I started to doubt whether the other beers I’d had on that night masked my true opinion of Bitch Please so now is the time to open a bottle & see if I am still a fan…
The nose is filled with peated malt but that’s about all I am getting. The flavour was pretty much similar to the one I had on keg, the big peaty whisky qualities are there but seemed less in your face & as the beer warmed became more & more enjoyable. I certainly don’t get any of the toffee or shortbread coming through, I’m not even sure what quality shortbread would give to a beer, any ideas? There may be a slight burnt toffee sweetness in there but I certainly remember that being more prominent on keg which may have been why it didn’t seem as easy drinking. Saying that at 11.5% this is still a sipper! There is a big bitterness that hits you towards the end and happily stays around in the back of your mouth for a while. It reminded me of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot which is a lot more bitter than many other Barley Wines. I imagine ageing would soften this a little.
Overall I really enjoyed this beer, it seemed a lot more balanced from the bottle so maybe the bit of time it’s had in there has helped it out. It’s a shame that many people I have discussed the subject with on Twitter have extremely disliked it, but no beer is ever going to be liked by everyone I suppose. If you want to explore the flavours that can be achieved in beer then this is certainly one I’d recommend you check out. You may love it, you may hate it but you just have to keep on exploring!