An added bonus was that I'd been exchanging tweets with Dean from Mr Foley's (@mrfoleys) about Summer Wine Brewery's Nerotype Single Hop (Simcoe) Black IPA, and he offered to give me a little taster before it was put onto the bar. This beer blogging malarky has it's perks right?
Despite not having any head (served by gravity straight from the barrel with no beer engine or spinkler to churn it up) the beer looked fantastic, dark yet crystal clear. It's an unusual one this. It does have a slight smokeyness but mainly the aroma and flavour are dominated by big passionfruity simcoe hops,very aromatic like fresh mango, not hugely bitter but slightly dry in the finish. If you closed your eyes you could be forgiven for thinking you were drinking a regular IPA. Also very different to a hoppy porter, which I've heard some say Black IPA's are similar to, with the fruity hops making this instantly recognisable as an IPA, regardless of it's tint.
With a full belly and an afternoon to fill, myself and drinking companion decided a wander over to North Bar was in order. Which is where things got really interesting...
BrewDog & Three Floyds: Bitch Please from BrewDog on Vimeo.
This a big, thick, full bodied, barley wine and it looks just that in the glass. It's very merky and dense with a definate unfiltered cloudy look to it, very little light gets through but the colour is deep brown with a red tinge at the edges. I'm a big supporter of flavour over crystal clarity, particularly in big beers like this, so if this is the way to get maximum flavour in to the beer I can forgive it being a bit cloudy. Plus it was served by keg so however it looks is pretty much as the brewers wants it, and these are two brewers I think can be trusted.
The smell is amazing. It's hugely sweet smelling with masses of toffee, shortbread, malt chocolate, molasses and treacle. I've had beers before that have claimed to have some whacky ingredients, only to have those flavours or aromas distinctly abscent from the finished product. Bitch Please is definately the other end of the spectrum, everything they've put in, you can clearly recognise.
The overrriding flavour is of sweet, rich, chewy toffee, complex biscuity malt and shortbread, with a slight vanilla note coming from the oak ageing I'd assume, and warmth from the alcohol (10.1%ABV if I remember rightly). A slight chocolate flavour comes in aswell but it's faint and rides alongside the malt more than being a standalone flavour like the toffee and shortbread. You can detect the rum a little as well, but not so much as other Rum Barrel aged beers I've tried, probably because this beer had so much flavour when it went in to the barrel that the Rum adds a hum rather than a wallop of boozy flavour.
Bitch Please is very thick and has a fantastic mouth coating texture that is genuinely a bit chewy, it's a term I hate seeing banded around as it stinks of pretention, but honestly in this case it is extremly apt. Amazingly for a beer of this strength it held a small, tight head right down to the bottom as well which is something I didnt expect. The finish is very long and drying with the hops only really coming through after the beer has left your mouth, which is perfect timing as it cleans your mouth of all that toffee ready for another chew.
It's an amazing achievement, a huge beer designed to be sipped, but that drinks extremely smoothly and easily, with a little alcohol warmth but no burn, and a huge amount of right-on-the-money flavours to pick up on. It's a contender to my long reigning champion " favourite big beer" Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, but luckily Bitch Please goes in a completely different direction in terms of style. A tricky decision well side stepped I'd say.