The Bashah is a collaboration brew between two of the worlds most influential breweries, the Stone Brewing Co. in California, and BrewDog from Scotland. It barely even matters what the beer in the bottle is, if you put these two names on it I’ll buy it out of sheer faith in its quality and predictably fantastic flavor. Each of these breweries have embarked on an incredible beer journey on their own, each creating unique and no-holds-barred beers in their own style. Put them together then, and what do you get? A Black Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale.
Firstly, this is a Double IPA, so it should be robustly hoppy with fresh, earthy and citrus bitter flavors that pack a decent punch. It should be both higher in alcohol and in bitterness (IBUs). Next, it is a Belgian Style Double IPA. This could mean a few things, but most typically it means that it was fermented with a Belgian yeast strain rather then an Californian one, thus giving it bigger body, a fruiter, more malty character, and a more lively carbonation. And Finally, it is black. This indicates the color, and therefore usage of dark, chocolate, or roasted malts in the brew; those flavors should come through subtly in the beer finally creating a unique and exciting beer.
And to no surprise, this is a unique and exciting beer. It comes in a 355ml bottle at 8.6% abv. I had a lot of faith in this style by Stone and BrewDog mostly because Stone has already done a Black Double IPA, the Sublimely Self Righteous, which is among my favorite beers. Then you pair that with another remarkable brewer, and add Belgian yeast to it!? Ok, awesome, lets pour this.
I opened the Bashah cool around 10C (50F) and poured it into a Stone tasting glass. The pour was gentle at first, then half way up the glass a rich foam began to build erupting with billowing and lush air-filled life. What was created was a pitch black beer and a richly mocha brown 1.5 inch head. Held into the light, only traces of dark amber reds could get past the edges of the beer. The head was rich and airy with a creamy, mountain-like cap formed on top. Its appearance fit the bill – more aggressively carbonated and alive than a normal American Double IPA would be, due to the Belgian influence.
The nose was a classic Double IPA with loads of floral hops, citrus zest, grapefruit and hints of pine. It bursts out to your nose relatively easily, but is not as dominant as most. Soft roast, nuts and a faint aroma of cocoa smooth out the hop aggression allowing the dark malts to prevail. It is a really appetizing combination that I have began to love. I get only a faint trace of fruity sweetness, and really I think that is still in the hops, so the Belgian aspect has not yet made its way through to me.
This beer will gush into your palate with everything California, and apparently now Scotland too. The first wash past your lips is smoother than expected, gently creamy, and largely earthy. Malty hops this time force their way in, not just hops. West coast style bitterness is easily noticeable as pine-fresh hops bring lime zest, grapefruit, hay, earth and fall flavors into your mouth. This though is instantly matched with soft roasty malts that bring creamy brown butter flavors, bitter chocolate, a touch of molasses and warming coffee.
The smoothness of the beer is sensational, even at 8.6% there is no trace of alcohol on the palate. The hop and malt balance is elegant and seamless providing a somewhat stout like creaminess on the malt side, and an IPA crispness on the hop side. Very nice. The mouthfeel now touches the Belgian side with a more lively carbonation than usual from an IPA. It bring and entertaining lift to the beer helping it finish crisp and cleanly.
This beer was fantastically enjoyable and I expect that it would be great with steak, roast beef, soft cheeses or burgers. But it is a limited run beer, so I would enjoy it on its own, slowely, and don’t share. You will want it all.