Festival Smoked Black IPA (11%) from Brouwerij De Molen

I very, very nearly titled this blog post "Can a CAMRA friendly Bottle Conditioned Beer also be a Crafty, and stylistically oxymoronic, Smoked Imperial Black IPA?" but decided it was a bit of a mouthful. (That may, or may not, be a joke)

What matters most is the beer itself. That's what we're all here for isn't it? The beer. So let's talk about that, and put aside all the crap about where this beer falls in terms of style or beery politics.

Despite being somewhat rough around the edges this unashamedly brash beer was a little corker that I really enjoyed. Deep, complex, hugely layered in it's flavour profile and extremely satisfying if drank over a few hours (which at 11% abv and 750ml you don't really have much choice about) it's a proper full on flavour fest, and yet it doesn't smack you about with booze or hops and the flavours do nicely roll together in parts, and knock you sideways in others.

It pours a very dark espresso brown with a light mocha head, spot on (light) carbonation from the bottle conditioning and a head that despite the ABV does stick around and leave a nice bit of thin froth on the top, and laces the glass as you work your way through.

As you would expect, it has a big smokey aroma. Good Cigar Tobacco smoke, bitter orange hops, and a slight ashy background note like a nearly cold BBQ.

The taste is initially very smokey, it dominates the palate in the beginning but even in your initial few sips the finish is really nice bitter with a mix of bitter citrus fruit and more fresh smoke. As your palate adjusts to the smoke there's also a resinous pine flavour and a very slight sweetness with layers of smoke, sugar, malt, orangey hops and resinous pine.

As it warms in the glass a dark chocolate booze flavour comes through as well and despite the fact this isn't a whiskey barrel aged beer (as far as I know) it has a peaty, smokey, whiskey character from the combo of that smoked malt and hint of booze.

It's a big beer and it tastes every bit the part, but the booze isn't overly noticeable, and believe it or not it is actually pretty well balanced for something that sounds so mental, particularly between sweet and bitter.

Basically, it's pretty damn good.


  1. Sounds good. I love smoked beers. Do you know where I can get order this from? Don't live Up North anymore unfortunately.

  2. Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you. I bought this beer whilst in Belgium from a warehouse shop near Ghent.

    A couple of guys from Utobeer on Borough market bought some too so I wouldn't be surprised if they were looking to import some. They're your best bet in the UK i'd say.