Tuesday, 17 April 2012

REVIEW #100: Black Tokyo Horizon (BrewDog + Nøgne Ø + Mikkeller)

Pours jet black with a gorgeous iron-oxide, burnt orange head lasting literally seconds before fading to black. Roasted barley and wholemeal bread aroma. A massive sweetness first hits the palate, with overriding blackstrap molasses, demerara sugar and liquorice notes coming with an intensity which I haven't experienced before in a beer. Rye bread, milk chocolate, cocoa, woody notes and related flavours are all mixed in too. As with many of the best imperial stouts, a vanilla creaminess lurks in the background. The alcohol is solvent like and burns, warming oral and nasal passages alike. Its not as severe as I was fearing though considering its 17.2% ABV, and it certainly doesn't detract from the drinking experience. The body is midrange but the fullness of flavour gives the illusion of something much thicker. The liquid is sticky and sappy and this also plays a part in the mouthfeel. No question about it, Black Tokyo Horizon is a monster. It is enormously flavourful and has an alcoholic strength greater than any normal wine. If all imperial stouts are an indulgence then this is something else again.

This collaboration, crafted at BrewDog's Fraserburgh brewery, is probably every beer fan's wet dream... BrewDog, Mikkeller and Nøgne Ø are arguably the world-leaders of experimental, often extreme craft beer production. Black Tokyo Horizon takes inspiration from an imperial stout offered by each brewer; Tokyo*, Black and Dark Horizon respectively. About the individual beers: Tokyo* is BrewDog's jasmine and cranberry infused imperial stout. Black is Mikkeller's imperial stout brewed with cassonade sugar (an unrefined sugar similar to demerara) & fermented with both ale and champagne yeasts. Dark Horizon is Nøgne Ø's imperial stout, of which there has been a few limited versions, the first of which contained demerara sugar & "home-made" coffee extract and was fermented by wine yeast. Japan is the commonality that links all three of these stouts, hence they were candidates ripe for centring a collaborative effort around. In fact Black Tokyo Horizon is all and none of these. Inspiration was taken from each recipe but the outcome is not simply a blend of the three but a separate entity in itself. Little information is available on the specifics so I won't include the usual details below. All I'll say is that drinking this was an experience and, despite being pound-for-pound the most expensive beer I've ever bought, a very worthwhile one. Treat yourself if you get the chance! I guess I need to try the individual beers to see how they compare, but finding Dark Horizon could prove tricky.


  1. Yum! Quality beer. I've still got one sitting on the shelf that I plan to save for my 4oth next year


  2. Good choice for your 40th. It might taste even better by then!

    Thanks for reading Mark.


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