I’ve had a bottle of Brewdog’s Tokyo knocking around for a while now, and I must admit that I’ve been a little nervous about opening it.
I like a strong beer, but 18.2%?
That’s not strong.
When Tokyo was first launched a while ago, it led to a storm in a teacup about responsible drinking and the culpability of brewers in the creation of ‘Binge Britain’. In truth, an artisan beer like this, sold in 330ml bottles at a very premium price is not the type of product that leads to brawling in the street.
This is Brewdog’s way, though…it’s all part of their marketing strategy. Since Tokyo, they’ve produced a couple of even stronger beers, culminating in a ludicrous IPA called Sink the Bismark, which weighs in at a mighty 41% ABV.
Tokyo is a lovely dark colour, black with just the faintest hint of brown. It’s defiantly alcoholic, but with a rounded character and an impressive smoothness and substance.
There’s no thickness or stickiness to it. The aroma is one of roasted hops and maybe very dark chocolate, the proper stuff that’s loaded with cocoa solids.
There’s a good deal going on in the glass. The lingering presence of whisky from the beer’s maturation is definitely there right at the front, but there are waves of more subtle flavours – dark, rich fruit, sweet caramel, spices like cinnamon and jasmine.
It’s hard to properly sum Tokyo up.
It’s not an everyday drink – you’re not going to pop out for a pint of Tokyo on the way home from work – nor is it a novelty beer. This is serious stuff, a beer made with great skill and care. The fact that it’s wrapped up in a marketing jamboree at once adds to it’s attraction and undermines its detracts from it’s credibility as a superb beer.
On balance, though, Tokyo comes out on top.
It’s quite simply astonishing, and as much an experience as any beer ever could be.