In the latest rendition of the popular videogame series ‘Mortal Kombat’ players are given the opportunity to ‘TEST YOUR MIGHT’ in a special mode that combines furious button mashing and joystick twirling to achieve an increasingly difficult set of on screen challenges such as breaking an iron statue with your bare hands or shattering a block of concrete. Fail to perform any of these tasks sufficiently (which is virtually guaranteed if you don’t possess the speed and dexterity of a telekinetic Korean schoolboy who’s had crystal meth injected directly into his brain stem) and you’ll suffer any one of a dire series of consequences like having a large spike attached to a chain pierce your skull and rip your head clean off or saw blade tear your face off so that your brains slide out of your skull and plop onto the floor like a bloody blob of snot. The final stage of the TEST YOUR MIGHT is so impossible that you’d have a better chance successfully singing traditional Finnish Christmas carols in a blizzard to a group of starving orphans while having your testicles slammed in a car door 500 times. What I’m trying to say is that it’s FUCKING hard.
The only reason I mention TEST YOUR MIGHT is that I had a similar sadomasochistic feeling while drinking Brewdog’s Sink the Bismark!Quadruple American/Imperial Style Pale Ale (41%ABV), a beer so strong that the bartender solemnly informed me that she could only serve it in 30ml pours for an eye-wateringly huge sum of money. Laughing in the face of penury I dutifully forked over the required amount and, with the aid of some chums, guided my tasting glass over to a darkened corner to suss it out.
My first impression of Sink the Bismark! was entirely ominous. The beer has no carbonation and sits in your glass like a shot of particularly moody hard liquor and the colour is a deep but clear amber and could easily be mistaken for a shot of bourbon or whiskey if it didn’t come, as mine did, in a beer bottle and tasting glass emblazoned with the Brewdog logo. Even without knowing the ABV the smell of booziness that rises from the glass is enough to sting the nostrils in the same way one imagines ‘Sex Panther’ might (minus the pungent ‘Big foot’s Dick’ smell). The alcohol combines with an odd Christmas cake and marmalade aroma that’s unlike anything I’ve had from a beer before. This is no doubt due to the unholy Kettle hopping, dry hopping and Freeze hopping-a bunch-of-times sorcery that allowed Brewdog to reach the magic number of 41%, but I can’t really say it’s an enjoyable experience. Likewise, the first sip is lip-searing explosion of alcohol, fruit hops and malt that get pulled together in an envelope of Aniseed flavour. I couldn’t find any info on what hops Brewdog had used - maybe Mount Ranier? That has a decent licorice bite to it, but who the hell knows.
And that’s Sink the Bismark’s problem: by dialling up the hops and the alcohol to ‘11’ (as they say in their marketing blather) means that every sip is an assault on the senses to such an extent that it’s virtually impossible to pull apart its constituent components to properly assess it. The flavours, aromas and alcohol are such a metaphorical kick in the testicles to your nerve receptors that the experience is not dissimilar to flying through that weird psychedelic Blackhole that Dave voyages through in 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know, before he turns into that giant floating space baby.
So if you’re interested in brewing and seeing to what technical extremes the art form can aspire too, whether it be extremely high IBU Pale Ales or super high strength ABV Stouts, then give Sink the Bismark! a try for completion sake. It’s undoubtedly an impressive technical achievement, but if you like to drink beer solely for enjoyments sake then trust me, you can do without it. Your tastebuds, and your wallet, will thank me.
Interesting technical achievement, like putting a 1000 BHP in a Ride-on Lawn Mower. But will only appeal to thick browed frat boys with waaay too much spare cash and middle-aged, potbellied arses in cheap shirts who secretly become sexually aroused every time they 'achieve' a badge on Untappd.