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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: 255
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 Sammy
3.72/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks JMBSH. Almost no head and very dark brown. Smoke city, in the aroma, in the atste. Almost pure smoke and peat, impeding drinkability. A touch of lace. Average mouthfeel. A little Scotch.More of a Scotch or an Eisbock than competing with the imperial stouts.

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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 Knapp85
3.63/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Can't believe I got some of this finally. This brew is out of this world. BrewDog has gone above and beyond the limits of brewing something very extreme here. This beer is very very black, it's aroma fills a room with whiskey, rich dark malts, and a little smokiness. Upon taking the first sip it kicks you in the teeth, really hard. My eyes opened with enjoyment. I was so amazed at how freaking brutal this beer was. I wanted to savor every smokey sip of it as much as possible but the longer it took and the warmer it got it became more difficult for me to drink. The Alcohol is so strong it actually burned the sides of my tongue everything I took a sip. I enjoyed the fact that I managed to get a bottle of this, it was very exciting to try and to have others try. I have a great deal of respect for BrewDog and this beer but I can't see myself buying this again. It was surely a once in a lifetime 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 largadeer
1.6/5  rDev -54.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Thanks for sharing this, Nick. My curiosity has been sated.

Dark mahogany brown in the glass, not quite black; on the light side for the world's strongest stout. It pours with surprising life, an inch of light tan head topping the amber body, though it quickly dissipates entirely. Swirling reveals thick, syrupy legs not unlike a spirit or liqueur.

It smells intensely of alcohol, peat, oak, faint roast - a hell of a lot like scotch. The alcohol is punchy and plainly noticeable, but not as stinging as I was expecting. That being said, there isn't much to this beyond peat and alcohol. It's simple and unimpressive.

On the palate it's much more harsh and boozy, with flavors of smoke, peat and a touch of oak. Not terribly sweet, just brutally strong. Tarry, ashy, ridiculously alcoholic and stinging. The body is somewhat full, but not as viscous as you would expect from a beer this big. I don't get much complexity from this, and it could really use more sweetness to balance the alcohol. More anything, really - it's lacking the depth of flavor you'd get from a good Scotch. It finishes harsh and solventy, like a charcoal and nailpolish remover cocktail. Have I mentioned that this is harsh? Holy fuck, what a trainwreck.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.02/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Split 3 ways with friends, over the course of an evening...

Into a whisky tumbler, this beer pours a clear medium mahogany colour, with a wisp of soapy beige head, which leaves no lace, as it doesn't touch the edge of the glass. It smells of toasted molasses, caramel, treacle, and soft, slightly peaty whisky-like booze. The taste is strong caramel toffee, roasted malt, and an enveloping booze warming. The carbonation is very low, the body heavy, thick, viscous, smooth, with a slight thinning from the alcohol towards the finish, which shows more a sweet woodiness to go with the persistent dense malt.

This is indeed a decent imperial stout, on growth hormone. Take big and beefy, and make it bigger and beefier, they sure did. Wow. It smells like a sweet whisky, tastes like a strong, but very sippable, stout. However, there's no drinking this one even remotely like any other beer, obviously.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Huge thanks to Richard for opening this one during our tasting yesterday. This was a "surprise" beer he brought out and I'm glad to get a chance to try it.

A: The pour is surprisingly "light" considering the fact that the base is an imperial stout. The beer is a light brown color with plenty of red highlights and not much in the way of head or carbonation.

S: Obviously, there's a large alcohol component to this beer at 32% ABV. That said, there's more to it than just the heat. There's a slight caramel sweetness, vanilla, and a definite smokiness, almost peaty.

T: The alcohol heat takes a moment to get over, but after that, there are some decent flavors in there. The smoke and peat are a bit more pronounced than in the nose. There's some vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel in the middle with a bitterness to the finish.

M: The lack of carbonation and huge amount of sweetness and alcohol make this too hot and a touch syrupy for my tastes.

D: This is one that I'm glad to say that I tried. I honestly couldn't drink more than an ounce or two at once, and I think that perhaps in a couple decades, this might change a bit and become more palatable. As for now, I might taste it again, but I wouldn't seek it out.

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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 TMoney2591
3.4/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Huge thanks to JMBSH for this bottle!

I knew I couldn't handle this beast on my own, so the Man's Weekend provided me with the group tasting I so sorely needed. This thing pours a bleak black-brown topped by only an insinuation of a head. The nose provides a quick punch of alcohol (shocker, I know), backed by some dark chocolate, figs, brown sugar, blackened pork, and charcoal. Whoofah, what a smell! It still burns a bit every time I think about sniffing this BMD. The taste begins with some charred buttery biscuits, then allows the alcohol to let loose on the tongue with some flame throwers, then finishes off with some smoke and charcoal. I have never experienced anything quite like this before, and I don't expect to very often hence. Mama! The body is pretty thick and heavy, with a light moderate carbonation (surprisingly high, if you ask me) and a seriously hot and strong feel. This thing kicks harder than my buddy's slug gun (and my shoulder'll tell you just how hard that is). Overall, this was quite the experience; I'm not entirely sure it works on all levels, but it certainly doesn't fail. Though I do not see too many more weaponized brews on the horizon (or weaponized animals, for that matter), I hope I am able to at least see their effects first-hand like I was able to witness this mushroom cloud.

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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 mothman
3.44/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into my SA Trippel Bock Snifter.

Pours a caramel brown color with no head.

Aroma: big amount of whiskey. Lots of malt and oak with vanilla. Very boozy. I also get apples and dark fruit flavors.

Taste: Huge booze flavors. Whiskey, oak, vanilla, and a caramel sweetness show. Also get apples and dried fruit flavors. It very big and warming, much like taking a shot of whiskey.

Mouthfeel: Warm and boozy. Large bodied with a low amount of carbonation. Ends hot and dry with whiskey flavors in the aftertaste.

Overall, an interesting beer. It simply tastes a lot like whiskey and drinks like it too. Burns when drinking it just like taking a shot. Very slow drinking.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter by James Watt from Brewdog, thanks James. Beer is brown and surprisingly clear, not sure what I expected but not that. Beer has no head, no real carbonation to speak of and no lacing. When I swirl the glass the beer forms a thin layer on the glass and the legs fall down the walls. Looks neat.

Aroma is smoke, lots of smoke. Peated malt and strong smoke. Not as much alcohol as you'd expect but a lot of smoke. Some sweetness and the alcohol is there too but its not the star.

Beer is relatively thin and really smokey. Finishes rather dry (wonder why) and doesn't linger. It hides the alcohol surprisingly well, apparently the highland whiskey barrels is the way to make the smoke go away. Interesting. I don't think I would drink it again or seek it out specifically. Under the right circumstances I would definitely get a little more to get a another perspective from myself. A great opportunity, thanks again James.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.59/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by djmiller92. Thanks Dave.

The beer is chestnut brown. No head or lace. The aroma brings alcohol, smoke, cracked pepper, peat. Reminiscent of scotch in some regards. The flavor offers syrup, candy, malt, peppers, dark fruits, booze, scotch, plums, raisins. Whoa. The feel is a bit like cough syrup. Coats the palate. Lingering alcohol and syrup in the finish. A 2 oz. pour is sufficient. I enjoyed the experience. This is a beer I have wanted to taste since I first heard of it. Bold, unique, and worth a try.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.06/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Small pour split with hudsonphotog at The Meddlesome Moth.

The beer pours a clear brown color with absolutely no head. The aroma is very smokey with a lot of alcohol, dark fruit and a hint of toffee. The flavor is more of the same. The alcohol really stands out as expected, but there is also a big peat smoke character as well as some roasted malt, chocolate and some more dark fruit. Medium mouthfeel and no carbonation. You can really get the Scotch-barrel aged notes in the beer, which I think is OK, but not really my thing. A decent beer, but not as good as Sink the Bismarck.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.1/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this on a couple of occasions, but never really sat down to review this, until now.
This pours a thick black with the viscosity of motor oil only darker. A vigorous pour produced hints of a head that disappeared almost instantly. Smells of roast and chocolate a little bit, but really this is an overwhelming scotch and peat bomb. Lots of higher alcohol and that smoky peaty aroma that you get from a scotch is amplified from the freezing process. The taste does have some stout attributes, roast, caramel and fruit, but those are buried deep beneath the onslaught of smoked peat moss. Thick body, light level of carbonation, burning sweet smokey mouthfeel. In small quantities this is a fine nightcap, albeit a bit rough. I'm glad I got to try this, but wouldn't seek it out again.

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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 Evil_Pidde
3.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

32% ABV - that's something...

A: Pours pitch black, slightly oily with almost no head at all.

S: Smoke from peat and alcohol. Dark dried fruits and molasses.

T: Peaty smoke, heavy whisky-vibe. Sweetness - dark dried fruits and molasses. Some faint vanilla from the oak-barrels.

M: Aftertaste lasts a really long time and holds both warmth, sweetness and nice bitterness. Body is full and syrupy. No carbonation.

D: Well, what to say... Alcohol like a whisky (almost), taste like a powerfull stout spiced with whisky. Very interesting. The lads at Brewdog obviously aren't afraid to experiment. If you get your hands on a sample of this extraordinary beer - try it!!!

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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 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 bluejacket74
3.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

330 ml bottle, Batch 008, best before 27-07-20. After taking it out of the fridge, I let the bottle sit out for around 30-35 minutes before opening it. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black, and what little head it had fizzled away pretty quickly. No lacing at all, but there are "legs" that I can see when I swirl the beer around the glass. I don't think I've noticed that in a beer before, I only usually see that when I'm drinking liquor. Aroma is very boozy. Along with the booze, I can also smell dark fruit, smoke/peat, chocolate, and some molasses. The brew tastes like booze (sherry), smoke/peat, dark fruit (raisins, cherries, figs) and molasses. It's still hot, but the other flavors aren't overpowered by the hotness. There's also a boozy smoky/sweet finish that lingers around for a long time. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a syrupy and very, very slick and coating with low carbonation. As I've noticed with other BrewDog stouts I've tried in the past, this is a thinner stout than I'm used to but since I liked the syrupy slickness I'm not going to knock down the score too much. I think this is a solid beer, it'll be interesting to see how this one ages. Definitely worth a try, it's surprisingly drinkable for a 32% ABV brew even though it took me about an hour to finish the bottle.

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Photo of dgilks
4.57/5  rDev +30.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This review is for Batch 007. I have heard bad things about other batches, but I thought this one was very good.

Clearish, red-orange colour verging onto brown. IT pours with a small head which disappears nearly instantly. Lots of legs.

Big aroma with lots of alcohol hotness, dark fruits, chocolate and plenty of smoky Islay whisky notes. It really is quite good and intense. That said, it's about as close to beer as it is to a good spirit.

Lots of flavour here. Behind a big shot of alcohol is lots of spicy, smoky phenols. Heaps of bitterness too with a moderate roast character. It's really interesting and grows on me. I get a touch of vegemite yeast character. Interestingly, the alcohol is hotter than it is in Sink the Bismark!

Medium body with low carbonation but with a prickly, hot alcohol.

This is an interesting beer and I don't quite know how to rate it. I like the beer, it is like nothing else out there and the hot whisky character works nicely, particularly if you like Islay scotch. Some will say that this beer is not beer, others will say that it is a stunt, others simply will not like it. I disagree with them and think that this is a legitimate contribution to brewing and am happy I've been able to try it.

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Photo of jrallen34
2.27/5  rDev -35%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Bottle into a shot glass...Light brown, that is very watery looking, no carbonation at all, not much to look at...Incredibly strong aroma of fusel alcohol, roasty, very hot stinging my nostril, a tinge of peppers, interesting but not very good...The taste is horrendous! Its so hot, burns. Burnt alcohol and charred wood Is all I get this. There were 3 of us and we couldn't finish a 2oz pour.

I was so fascinated to try this and this is beyond terrible. I total liquor but not a good one. SKIP this.

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Photo of champ103
1.79/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Reviewed from notes. Sampled when James came to Houston a while back, and again at a BA Stout tasting.

A: Pours a dull, nearly opaque brown color. A tiny bubbly tan head forms, and in an instant is gone. No lace, and looks dead and lifeless.
S: Not as unpalatable as I was expecting. Sweet toffee with some figs and raisins. Plenty of smoke, and of coarse alcohol.
T: This is pretty unpalatable here though. Big and boozy. Ethanol and fusel like. Moldy dry wood, smoke, ash, and rubber. Cloying sweetness and some raisins try to make its presents known.
M/D: Really weak. Not very viscous, but thin and watery. Way under carbonated as well. Do I even have to say it? Not something I ever care to drink again.

The good news is I did not have to pay for either of my two oz samples. Both times I think it was a drain poor though. What was the point of this again? As harsh and unenjoyable a beer I have had in a while.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a champagne glass at a BrewDog tasting.

A: Red-brown, thinish head, with thick, brown legs. It looks like a brandy.

S: A strong smell! Apricot schnapps? The brandy visual isn't far from the taste -- fruity, grapey, boozy, and delicious.

T: Fruits (grape more than apricot), heather herbs, chocolates. The aftertaste is long, bitter, and slightly chalky. More like spirit than a beer.

M: Smooth and sticky, at times almost too much so.

D: Shockingly drinkable for a beer so strong, but it's still like liquor. Strong, almost cloying, but always fun, and absolutely worth trying once (or thrice!).

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Photo of popery
2.56/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

How exactly do you rate these super high alcohol beers? I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't ever pay their asking price, but I also don't want to pan it as it's an interesting exercise in brewing. In terms of appearance, it's dark brown with lighter highlights and no head. Pretty good legs, I guess. The smell is sorta acrid. Bitter walnut shells and booze dominate the aroma. There's some big smoke and, maybe, caramel, but it's all just kinda odd. I was expecting it to taste more like whiskey, but it's much too dirty and rough - makes me appreciate proper distillation. Anyway, the flavor is even boozier and lacks the smoothness that I think necessary for this much alcohol. It's not awful and there's a chance it could be quite good with a long, long stay in the cellar. I'm definitely not won over to the super high alcohol beers.

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