BrewDog: Paradox Smokehead Whisky Beer (10%)on Mar 01 in Beer by dan
The Paradox Smokehead bottle has another of BrewDogs eye catching labels printed in gold on jet black, making it look ‘up market’, and a distressed font letting you know they are making every effort not to conform to the beer/ale stereotype. This is a craft brewed imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels at 10% ABV.
I’m drinking Paradox Smokehead in my sunny back garden during a BBQ with some freinds; they all tried some and chipped in. The bottle does however suggest that we might not like it, and that that’s OK with them.
Opening the bottle and giving it a sniff immediately says this is going to be interesting, strong and different. The smell is like pure single malt whiskey! There is a creamy mellowness to the nose which makes Paradox smell a little less like pure whiskey, but damned close. The lack of the ‘wet eyes’ syndrome I usually get when putting my nose over some whiskey is encouraging. Maybe I won’t die after all.
Nothing left to do but to taste the beer, put all pre-conceptions out of my mind and try to expect the unexpected.
The first flavor to come through the pallet is a really full bodied, slightly bitter stout with the burnt malt flavor expected from anything which is this black. It’s a slightly creamy stout flavor which is immediately and brutally replaced with the flavor of the whiskey. Not a cheaper, blend whiskey like Grants or Bells, but the closest whiskey I know the flavour of is probably Bowmore Single Malt, it’s very peaty and earthy. This beer from this point now tastes like a full shot of Bowmore has been tipped into it. The whiskey strangely brings out some of the bitterness from the stout too and a subtle toffee flavor at the back of the mouth.
After tasting this beer you’re left with an alcoholic taste on your breath. Great if you like decent whiskey, not so good if you don’t.
For me the two flavors in this beer are nice, but Paradox Smokehead is a lot like a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s brash and offensive, it’s violent and not everyone will like it. But it is without a doubt excellent and it is ‘beer as an art’ I think, the very definition of a crafted beer.
In summary its a bit of a bi-polar beer. I would love to have the stout and whiskey in seperate glasses then maybe I could taste more of the creamy, burnt, toffee stout and then chase it down with a quality warming peaty whiskey.
Q: Should you try it?
Q: Will you like it?
A: You can only know if you try it.