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Tactical Nuclear Penguin - BrewDog

Not Rated.
Tactical Nuclear PenguinTactical Nuclear Penguin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

125 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 125
Hads: 318
Avg: 3.49
pDev: 36.1%
Wants: 254
Gots: 85 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
BrewDog visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  32.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-06-2009

Made by freezing Paradox to remove water.
View: Beers (104) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 125 | Hads: 318
Photo of boilermakerbrew
3.94/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Pours a medium to dark brown but still fairly translucent with no head. Tons of alcohol legs in the glass and no lacing to speak of.

S- Right off the bat, this is straight booze on the nose. There is just a touch of dark malt to disguise the booze, but I imagine that this is the scent of a whiskey barrel if you put about a half gallon of beer in it right after you empty the whiskey.

T- Starts with the expected punch of booze on the tongue before moving towards a bit of a malt presence. A light bit of caramel can be found alongside more prominent flavors of coffee and a touch of chocolate. Definitely burns throughout but displays more flavors on the tongue after the drink ends. Lingering flavor of light coffee and bitter black malt.

M- Just like Sink the Bismark! this beer drinks like a liquor. It burns, as expected, but also has a good flavor to the beer itself. Imagine a slightly beer flavored whiskey liqueur.

Overall, this is more tolerable than its bigger brother Sink the Bismark! with more beer like qualities. It is a little more than a novelty beer and could actually be enjoyed.

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Photo of sbb32
4.56/5  rDev +30.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.75

L: dark, viscous, dark brown bordering dark black. Looks syrupy as it pours into the glass.
S: Pure alcohol with a hint of caramel
T: Barleywine on steroids, with a little coffee and peat on the end. Absolutely loved the taste.
F: Like a shot of spirits moreso than a beer. A very thick molasses syrup feeling in the throat
O: Glad I got to try this 32% "stout". It's unique, and definitely one to try if you can.

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Photo of maxifunk777
4.48/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brought to a beer tasting the highest ABV out of 18 beers.
This was smooth complex but hard to call it beer more brandy like that beer.
I recommend this adult beverage.

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Photo of chinchill
3.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Small sample from a swingtop bottle in Edinburgh.

Dark reddish-brown body looks quite thick. Smells much like a barleywine. Tastes like barleywine concentrate.

Syrupy. No mistaking high ABV in the mouthfeel.

Boozy, but much less so than expected given the extraordinary ABV.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.18/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle pour at the pre-FWIBF bottle share held at the Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a clear orange-brown with no head. No lacing on the drink down. Smell is of smoked malt, campfire, toffee, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with harsh fruit, smoke, and alcohol flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roast and chemical bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that is interesting to try, but nothing more than a gimmick in my opinion.

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Photo of KornWallace
3.37/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Date: 4/18/14
Location: The Gingerman (Norwalk)
Glassware: Tulip
Appearance: Dark Brown in body and severely lightens at the edge. The beer has some pretty runny legs. Very light head with an off white color.
Aromatics: The alcohol on this just overwhelms everything and anything else in the glass. I faintly get some caramel and molasses in the bottle.
Flavor: The flavor of the beer is nowhere near as harsh as the aroma. A touch of oxidation at this point but it doesn't hit as hard as I would have expected. A smidge of coffee, but more caramel and molasses.
Mouthfeel: Oily, ashy, and a little oxidized.
Notes: 1ounce pour.

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Photo of Rob3408
3.25/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served as a dram in a tumblr at their Edinburgh location.

Appearance: Dark brown/black and syrupy like a liqueur, which it might technically be.

Aroma: Alcohol and lots of it. Malty. A sweet molasses and caramel not in there as well. It's certainly not the best nor the worst thing that I have smelled.

Taste: Reminiscent of port with its boozy kick and intense sweetness, a thick and raw molasses, with bitter chocolate and espresso notes. Doesn't drink easily but is still worth the try.

Mouthfeel: Neither unpleasant nor pleasant. It's strong in the alcohol and moves like molasses: thick and slow, with a bitter, drying finish.

Overall: It is certainly not something that I would buy a whole bottle of because it is strong with booze and fights its way all the way to the end. If you can find it by the dram then it is worth the experience because as far as it is the only thing like it on the market.

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Photo of heygeebee
3.98/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - dark brown, no head, legs.

S - booze, molasses, sweet. Typical Brewdog Big Beer.

T - just an assault. Booze, spirit, port notes, brown sugar, caramel, toffee. Tar notes as well. Dry astringent note on back palate. Hop notes but not as we know it...

M - oily. Zero carbonation.

O - not as good as STB, but still interesting. Worth noting that the taste will depend on your prior drink, odd but true.

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Photo of wordemupg
2.93/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

375ml bottle synthetic cork with cage poured into my little cognac tulip 4/1/14,

A dark brown liquid with some reddish hints when tilted and held to the light, long thin legs, lots of color left behind on the glass, no head or lace as expected, looks like a sweet sticky spirit and I suppose it probably should

S heavy wet campfire ash, some burnt peaty whiskey barrel, some soy, teriyaki beef jerky, tar, a little booze stings the nostrils, iodine, more like a scotch then a beer but it smells OK, better then it sounds

T very ashy, reminds me of an ashtray, like chewing on the burnt end of a cigar butt, boozy for sure but its to be expected, a little very black licorice and just a hint of espresso, not awful but the taste leaves something to be desired

M thick, syrupy, hot, sticky on the lips, cigar butt on the finish, numbing on the lips, feels like I expected

O saying this one's intense is quite the understatement, a little to much ashy cigar for my liking, I'm glad I tried it but I wouldn't go out of my way or drop cash to try it again

I tried some the day after I opened it and it actually improved a little after airing out much to my surprise. I couldn't see many people buying a second bottle of this stuff considering the cost but I'm glad I got to try it, an experience in itself

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Photo of KYGunner
3.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This pours a thick viscous black body that has little to no life but sets up like black liqueur. A swirl in the glass gives a little sheen on the glass as it gets some legs.

The aroma is certainly filled with alcohol but as it warms the molasses, plums, caramel and chocolate come out to create a hearty and robust scent.

Oooh, kick me in the face. The alcohol is simply so strong that it's difficult to taste anything else. The taste becomes dry and chalky with some molasses, soy and chocolate at the end.

The feel is very full and thick but it makes your face pucker from all the lack alcohol.

I've had Utopias, which is close to the ABV, and it works but this seems more a novelty than a beer

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.4/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Leaving my comfort zone way behind, I now step into the mysterious, ominous, and incredibly inhospitable realm of Brewdog's deepest and darkest recesses. Leaving all those preconceived notions of what beer is supposed to be, far in the rear view mirror, heading into Tactical Nuclear Penguin begs for a reset of the mind, palate and spirit. For this is not a mere mortal beer- its a barley liqueur.

I might as well pop the cork and let the elixir crawl out of the bottle all on its own- its that strong. Pouring like molasses and motor oil, the beer is highly viscous and void of any carbonation at all. Its still appearance stares back at you like its some sort of dare- one in which you are certain to loose. Like a brandied abyss, the ale trickles down the snifter with inky legging with a gentle swirl of the glass. Its whirlpool draws in the nose with much seduction and mesmerizing effect.

Its decadent scent is chocked full of molasses, coffee and vinous port. Its booze-driven nose is undeniable as a waft of cognac, bourbon and sherry waft about. With a fudge-like roast, chocolate and nutty flare, a tangy scent of burnt fruit arise: roasted raspberries, red grapes, blueberries, blackcurrants, raisins, dates and figs all take turns attracting the nose. Its woodish tone awaken earhty notes of fresh-hung tobacco, curing leather, and savory terriyaki.

Its taste is much more savory and satisfying that was once feared. Certianly its absurd alcohol strength is omnipresent, the beer is so much more than just booze- its verbose maltiness folds in its brandy, bourbon and sherry notes with equal strength from black-strap molasses, burnt toffee, bittersweet chocolate, mild espresso, roasted walnuts, brownie batter and fudge. Certainly complex, the real components of the beer shines when its savory and fruity flavors fold within. A salty, briny sense of soy sauce is like glazed and salt-cured meats and is met with rich port wine, sherry and roasted dark fruits. Everything from rum cake to honey-glazed dates, to caramelized bacon, to terriyaki all come to mind even deep within its finish.

Its dense sweetness, with its lack of carbonation allows the beer to seep into the taste buds with complete dominance. Its full saturation of flavor melds the sweet tooth and heightens its sense of smoldering heat as the beer slowly evaporates on the palate. Its long, deep and lingering finish is much more brandy or cognac-like than anything known to the beer world. Its spicy and prickling finish isn't all that naked and its accompanying savory and sweet tones ride along side, deep into the next sip.

Brewdog, I give you another hats off! You've challenged my notion about what beer can be and you made me like it. It's both the blessing and the curse. Damn you Brewdog!

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Photo of taylor714914
1.74/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 2.25 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a dark brown with no head and just a few bubbles around the rim of the glass. Smells of Tar, dark dried fruits, and sweet sugar. The taste here is wretched. A mix of rubbery tar, molasses, and fusel alcohol dominate the flavor. Some faint raisin and prune come in to play as well, but are very distant. Mouthfeel is thin, as this drinks like a spirit, not a beer. Seriously, unless someone buys you a bottle, don’t do it. Its much worse than you even thought.

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Photo of EnemyWithin
3.28/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into large snifter tulip. Consumed about 1/4 the bottle myself.

Appearance: 4
Cola colored with basically no carbonation. Great legs, akin to red white or spirits. No lacing

Smell: 3.5
Noticeably hot and boozy in nose. Molasses, brown sugar, black liquorish. Sight peat. Nose gets sweeter as it warm

Taste: 3
Initially, a fair bit of heat with mild sourness and faint notes of peat. Mid to late, more smokiness and touch of molasses sweetness. Late finish is slight more whisky-ish that lingers.

Mouthfeel: 3
Strong boozy warmness; very much like drinking a distilled spirit. Relatively drier finish.

Overall: 3.5
A unique experience to say the least. More tolerable than I thought. Even with the high alcohol content, it is still drinkable. But given its price, I wouldn't seek it again. In the end, it's more a novelty. Seems typical for BrewDog.
Consider trying.

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.49/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: shot sized pour from a bottle into a snifter, absolutely no head or carbonation of any form, dark red-orange brown, visibly viscous, clear

S: amazing malt smell, sherry, whiskey, tobacco, leather, smoke, raisins, fig, plum

T: incredibly sweet,candied fruits, sloe berries, molasses, cherry

M: thick oil, sweet syrup, dense, no hiding alcohol

O: hard to rate as a beer but an excellent alcoholic drink, hop flavor does not exist in this beer, it is like a sweet liquor, from notes on 8/18/13

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Photo of dwren89
3.79/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: served as a shot, dark brown/ruby, opaque

Aroma: very alcoholic, spirit-like aroma, malty sweet, syrupy smell

Taste: syrupy sweet taste, mild bitterness, sugary, caramel, brown sugar molasses. Reminiscent of a thicker tasting Jagermeister

Mouthfeel: thick, syrupy, molasses, full body

Overall Impression: A beer to say you've had for novelty's sake, but not much else.

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Photo of jlindros
2.8/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2

Thanks to rudzud for picking up this share between a few of us.

No head as expected, dark murky cola brown color, long legs.

Booze galore, nose burning like whisky, once I get past it dark fruits come through, lots of syrupy brandy and port wine, candied raisins, then some dusty wooden oak and light vanilla barrel, and light wood esters, light oxidation.

taste wtf!! First, booze burns, again like brandy. Through that it has a green white dog liquor taste. Then syrup, thick syrupy sugar sludge, slightly burnt sugar mess. There's a weird bitter thing too, some earthy herbal hops but also like a weird conifer tree thing, then saw dust wood barrel that seems to have soaked up something awful. The booze again breaks on with a bad burning taste even. Also a weird vegetal fermented plants or something, and fair amount of oxidation cardboard. Just a little soy sauce like. Finish is syrupy and sweet, anestesizing, tingly, syrupy sludge.

Mouth is syrupy sludge and super burning booze, no carb.

Overall meh... No, blech. Starts OK with the aroma, but the flavors are just like fermented cardboard and pine then distilled into a super condensed version of ick. Undrinkable!

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Photo of rudzud
3.22/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Split with Jared and poured into a Kate the great tulip.

A - poured a super dark mahogany hue with no head whatsoever. To be expected though for the ABV.

S - Aromas of brandy, caramel, malts, light barrel notes and I'd course booze!

T - Taste is very boozy with light soy sauce. Brandy notes along with light wood notes. It's not add bad as I thought it would be with lots of warning booze. Really not that that bad.

M - Mouthfeel is pretty typical considering how boozy it is. No carbonation to speak of.

O - Overall I was neither underwhelmed nor impressed by this beer still glass to try it.

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Photo of KentMills
4.39/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I bought this hard to acquire beer at Bacchanalia in Cambridge, England.

It poured as black and thick as used oil with a lovely brown head.

It smelled at first like alcohol, but turned into hints of chocolate and raisin as it breathed.

The taste was a mind grenade for me. I assumed a world record setter for alcohol couldn't have flavor, but my mouth was flooded with dark cherry, chocolate and molasses. Amazing!

It's sad I may never get to try this beer again, but at least there are some annually released imperial stouts that are this good, though still not very easy to get.

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Photo of koganator
3.95/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on 12/31/2012 for New Years Eve at Brew dog Camden in London as a gift from me to me.
The bartender whipped out a bottle and poured it into a shot glass which he then poured into a tulip wine glass.

A: Deep whisky colored brown, no head or any other hint in the appearance that this is in fact a beer. But it's a nice butterscotch-ish color.

S: And this is where the show hits the road; imagine any variant of caramel, toffee, and tootsie roll-esque things and put them into liquid form. This is an deviously intriguing smell, but I pray that it isn't overwhelmingly sweet when I drink it.

T: First thing comes to mind: Really smooth. Like a fine liquor. It's definitely sweet, but not so much as to be offensive. Buttery and mineraly caramel flavors dominate as was previously suggested in the nose. This is interesting, it's both one-dimensional and incredibly complex at the same time... almost like a paradox. Somehow reminds me of bailey in it's texture and sweetness. No carbonation to speak of either.

M: Smooth, but after having the portion I had, I would not want more the following night. It's best consumed in thoughtful and slow doses.

O: The aging potential for this beer is terrifying. It's really got a lot in it that I don't know the proper descriptors for. And with time I feel like this will synchronize into something rivaling a well aged single malt whisky. If you balk at the price thinking your in for an over priced beer, think again. I would say purchasing a bottle of this is like buying a fine brown liquor that you intend to keep for a while and whip out at special occasions.

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Photo of FLima
3.5/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown woody color. Similar to hard liquors left alcohol marks in the glass. No head or carbonation whatsoever.
Sweet malt and woody aroma, Brandy type of scent, booze is felt in the air around it.
In the taste, alcohol numbs your mouth and malt is one of the few clear elements that makes it recognized as beer. Very woody with smoked flavors such as for some particular scotch that uses peat in the process.
Body is heavy and oily.
I found their stronger version, Sink the Bismarck, more tasteful.

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Photo of goodbeerallday
4.27/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviews with HoppyHayashi

A: a rich blood cherry colour. low carbonation present. huge alcohol legs are present when glass tilted. beer is not transparent when held to light.

S: can smell the alcohol and feel the warmth that accompanies it! dark fruit, figs, raisins and dates are present. extremely sweet notes. cinnamon and brown sugar coming off strongly behind the dark fruits.

T: raisins and cinnamon bounce off the tongue. sweet dark fruits as the aroma suggests. lingering warmth from the alcohol and definitely a great winter warmer.

M: silky smooth! medium bodied although expected to be heavier. spreads evenly across the tongue and a pleasant finish, lingering with rich fruitiness.

O: amazing beer! everything we expected but more! i actually saved this for four months after arriving back from the U.K into Canada. it was planned to be for asking a girl out and she finally said yes so i cracked it open! Praise the Lord!

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Photo of GJ40
3.9/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Brewdog in Camden. I'm not a sprits drinker so I thought this would be way too overpowering for me but I was curious.

A nice mahogany brown with no head or visible bubbles. The aroma is rich with caramel, brown sugar and wood. The flavor is just as rich with caramel, brown sugar, alcohol heat and some sweetness to offset it a bit. It was silky smooth with no feeling of carbonation.

This isn't something I'd drink regularly but I thought it was interesting and worth a try.

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Photo of Zorro
3.85/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear black colored beer with no head formation.

Smells intensely fruity with a very strong fig and grape aroma. Certainly boozy it smells a lot like Grappa and is about as strong. Scents of cherry and apple and solvent alcohol.

Starts out sweet and fruity with an alcohol burn, lots of fig after taste. It doesn't lack for flavor, in fact it is extremely over flavored. Not exactly sweet but the flavors are intensified, fruit and figs with a fig after taste. Intense alcohol warming in the chest. The flavor doesn't change much as you drink it.

Mouthfeel is hot and thick.

Overall interesting, it was designed for bragging rights not really to be the most flavorful thing ever.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.98/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber color with no head. In the aroma, bacon and nail polish remover is all I can smell. In the taste, Nail polish remover, coffee, and molasses. A small bite from alcohol and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry nail polish remover with notes of caramel and coffee in the aftertaste. Too boozy! The nail polish remover essence was a bit too much for me.

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Photo of brystmar
1.27/5  rDev -63.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

From notes.

It's 9am on Dark Lord Day, and I've been sharing bottles with people in line around me for about an hour. One of them decided to show his gratitude by opening his bottle of TNP and approaching me: "Hey, I really appreciate you sharing with us this morning. Try some of this!" He then drizzled a small pour into my tasting glass and awaited my thoughts on the brew.

Now, TNP is a beast I actively avoided for the longest time: I despise the base beer and haven't liked a single beer from BrewDog, ever. So although I was pretty sure this would cause my taste buds to cry mutiny -- not to mention that drinking a 32% beer in the early hours of DLD is just a bad idea all around -- how could I decline this gesture of goodwill?

Hey, it doesn't look awful. Ruby-brownish body, a little cloudy, no head or lace. About what I expect from an extreme beer like this. However, the smell reminds me why I hesitated to accept his offer: this stuff wreaks of rubbing alcohol, overly-smoked malt, tobacco, peat whiskey, used ashtrays, and more booze. Yuck.

My first sip brings no relief from the torturous aroma. It's a mouthful of ashtrays alongside relentless, burning alcohol. To replicate the taste of TNP, place a burnt chunk of wood in the center of a large mixing bowl. Using water, rinse out a few dozen heavily-soiled ashtrays into the bowl. Add rotting forest foliage, pure ethanol, a bottle of whiskey, liquified peat moss, and refined petroleum. Give the concoction a brisk stir, take a sip, then puke your brains out. Voila! Homemade Tactical Nuclear Penguin!

All the while, this generous BA was standing in front of me, awaiting my thoughts on the beer. I forced a smile, told him it was interesting (technically true!), but said it wasn't really up my alley. If you're reading this, please know that I truly did appreciate your generosity; I just really hated this beer :)

That said, I'm not a smoker, and I strongly dislike being around cigarette & cigar smoke. I also dislike whiskey & bourbon as spirits, so if you happen to enjoy the aforementioned you may find TNP only mildly offensively bad. For the rest of us, this stuff is putrid. And on the upside, at least it's ridiculously overpriced!

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Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog
80 out of 100 based on 125 ratings.