Thanks to getting the brewery to post me them direct (thank you Denis) I've finally been able to try Buxton's 2012 release of Tsar Bomba after trying the other special reserve beers last month. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.
Der Nord Sekt, a truly sessionable 2.8% ABV Berliner weisse. We've seen a few of these cropping up recently with Brodies doing a whole series. This particular example pours the hazy pale blonde of a hoegaarden but with that tart lactic note familiar to any lambic drinker. Full bodied due to the wheat with plenty of carbonation and a refreshing citrus flavour. 330ml wasn't really enough of this for me!
So on to the main event. Tsar Bomba is regular Tsar Bretted with 1978 Courage Russian Imperial Stout dregs and aged in barrel for 9 months. and boy does it show. Gone are the pithy hops you'd expect from regular tsar and instead the mouldy leaf litter and farmyard scents of Brettanomyces are strongly to the fore. On swirling comes rich chocolate fondant and Curacao orange peel.
Still very full bodied with medium carbonation, slight tartness up front then an exposition in malts from sweet molasses through burnt toast and bitter barley to rich roast coffee with a constant undercurrent of Brett dry woodiness and woodland floor.
Increasing hop bitterness builds with some minty hot chocolate and flintiness to taste. Its a different beast to the original, but the malt hallmarks are certainly there.Fruity melon and dry barley in the lengthy finish.
Its complex and makes me hanker for the days when beers like this were de riguer rather than one off specials. Not difficult to drink despite the strength (10%) and difficult to fault. A sign of a good beer is that you'd happily drink the same again and I'd certainly do so with this one (if I could afford to...). More bretted stouts please UK brewers.