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Tactical Nuclear Penguin - BrewDog

Not Rated.
Tactical Nuclear PenguinTactical Nuclear Penguin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

285 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 285
Reviews: 121
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 23.51%
Wants: 207
Gots: 72 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
BrewDog visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

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

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Made by freezing Paradox to remove water.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-06-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 285 | Reviews: 121 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mora2000
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

Mora2000, Jun 13, 2012
Photo of Havion383
5/5  rDev +41.6%

Havion383, May 25, 2012
Photo of surlytheduff
1.5/5  rDev -57.5%

surlytheduff, May 20, 2012
Photo of SalMineo
3.25/5  rDev -7.9%

SalMineo, Apr 16, 2012
Photo of jondeelee
4.6/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

NB: this review is for Batch 007.

Poured into a Sam Adams Utopias glass (which seemed appropriate, this being one of the only other beers I've purchased which approached Utopias' price), Tactical Nuclear Penguin is a deep chestnut brown that reflects dark ruby shades when held against a bright light, and maintains its dark shade near the edges of a tipped glass. The high ABV--32%--leaves wine-like legs oozing gently down the sides of the glass. There is no head, and only the faintest presence of carbonation is visible in thin streams of bubbles rising from the bottom. In appearance, this more resembles a cognac or a brandy than a beer.

The aroma drifting up from the glass is so potent that it can be easily detected from three feet away if wafted toward the nose, and from a good eighteen to twenty inches away in still air. Inhaled deeply, the nose is literally dripping with sugars and fruit esters, the beer smelling less like a beer than a heavily alcoholic mashed fruit extract. Berries, figs, orange liqueurs, raisins, plums, and dates abound, mixed with a drowsy syrup of toasted pecans, burnt coconut shell, and walnut. The aroma also bears striking earthy tones, reminiscent of charred oak, fresh loam, and peat moss. Thick vanilla beans lace through everything, joined by molasses. Also present are port, cognac, and brandy aromas, thick with charcoal filtering and oak barrel aging. The aromas also remind me somewhat strangely of open pit suckling pig on a rotisserie spit, fat bubbling and dripping onto the hot coals, and the wet, woody scent of the inside of freshly-peeled tree bark. I imagine this is what the inside of a very rich man's study would smell like: full of the remnants of expensive brandies and cognacs, with touches of pipe tobacco lingering in the curtains, and the oak and cedar paneling adding its own woody layers. In short, this is one of the more unique aromas I've ever encountered, and I have difficulties winding my way through the seemingly infinite layers of scents drifting from the glass. I could honestly sit here and simply smell the beer--as I have been for the last twenty minutes--for a very long time, the aromas so enticing and intriguing that I hesitate to take a sip for fear that the taste not match the aroma. As it is, I can report not only no loss in the potency of the aromas over the last twenty minutes, but a continued sensation of marvel at the complexity, nuance, variation, and depth of the aromas.

Still, at some point I suppose some of this must pass my lips. So: on the tongue, the beer begins with a charcoal and ash slam so powerful that it literally takes over my tastebuds, reminding me of the heavy charcoal of whiskey, vanilla-flavored pipe tobacco placed directly on the tongue, campfire ash, burnt pecan husks, blackened and burnt steak fat, and what I imagine would be the taste of charred oak. These flavors are literally overwhelming, and it is difficult to find other flavors against their strength. However, there are a myriad of fruit esters begging for attention, including fig, raisin, plum, date, orange, and black cherry. Huge port, whiskey, and cognac flavors are also present, ripe with charcoal filtering and the oak-and-vanilla flavors of barrel aging, and joined by an alcohol bite that at least equals any of the strongest of those liquors. The alcohol is so strong that it burns the nose during exhalation, and bites angrily at the soft palate and at the back of the throat when swallowed. Much like a strong liquor, however, this is part of the process, and while the alcohol is indeed potent, it somehow adds a layer of charm and swagger to the beverage. There is a somewhat unfortunate touch of an almost bike-tire-rubber squeal at the edges of the brew, especially noticeable later in the mouthful. The aftertaste is heavy on charred ash, black malt, charcoal, and lingering molasses and burnt sugars, and like cigarette smoke, squats languidly on the tongue for a very, very long time. Mouthfeel is a gloopy, syrupy, viscous, alcohol-burning medium-high, and carbonation is hardly detectable.

Overall, and noting that it is difficult to make any sort of judgement about a beer that in almost every conceivable way does not in the least bit resemble a beer--given an unidentified glass of this, I would have most likely thought it bourbon or scotch--this is still a stunning brew, and should be on the must-try list of any serious connoisseur. Admittedly, the flavors are so warring in their charred, ashy, smoky, charcoal, fresh-out-of-the-campfires-of-hell potency that they're very likely to simply disgust anyone not already a fan of bourbon, scotch, etc., and anyone expecting this to simply resemble a very, very strong Imperial Stout (which, admittedly, it was before the special aging and freezing process brought it to 32%), will be very, very surprised at how much this exactly does not resemble that beer. So try with caution.

But try you must.

jondeelee, Apr 10, 2012
Photo of bobbo_
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%

bobbo_, Apr 09, 2012
Photo of pawpaw
2.75/5  rDev -22.1%

pawpaw, Apr 08, 2012
Photo of woosterbill
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

33cl bottle poured into a Lost Abbey style tulip at the BrewDog pub in Camden Town. £6 for a dram. Not bad.

A: Still red-brown body; coats the glass with thick legs and a light brown hue. Looks appropriately intimidating.

S: Monstrous. Booze is first and foremost, with plenty of sugary sweetness as well: butterscotch, creme brulee, and vanilla. I kind of like it.

T: Sweet. Diabetic-coma-inducing sweet. Sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and toffee. A touch of coffee. Oh, and of course plenty of burning booze. A little too treacly for me, but a tasty sipper all the same.

M: Thick, viscous, and glue-like. So sticky. Not good.

O: I think I just developed a new cavity or two. Wow that's sticky-sweet. On the plus side, it led to an amazingly aromatic burp while waiting to catch the tube back to my friend's flat - everyone on the platform was treated to a potent whiff of Penguin.


woosterbill, Apr 01, 2012
Photo of Treebs
1.05/5  rDev -70.3%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Thanks (I think) to danielnovak3 for the share. Served in a mini taster snifter.

A: The pour is completely still with no head. It has the appearance of dark rum.

S: Ash trays, permanent marker, hard liquor and dark fruits. Simply stunning.

T: The taste is burning wood, embers, ash tray, hard liquor, burnt hair and salty leather.

M: Thin, extremely hot and down right horrible.

O: This now hold the distinction of the worst beer I've ever had. This is a complete gimmick and should never be brewed again.

Treebs, Mar 25, 2012
Photo of MordeciaFunk
4/5  rDev +13.3%

MordeciaFunk, Mar 09, 2012
Photo of TrevorWGrover
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%

TrevorWGrover, Mar 09, 2012
Photo of Fitzmke
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Fitzmke, Mar 07, 2012
Photo of beerik
1/5  rDev -71.7%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Appearance: Brown and syrupy with "legs" running down the walls of the glass.
Aroma: Acrid. Unnaturally concentrated peat smoke. Solvent-like alcohol that'll curl your nose hairs.
Taste: Like chewing on the ashes of a peat-moss fire and washing it down with a shot of turpentine.
Overall: The only thing recommending the purchase of this beer is that you too get to take part in the "Highest Alcohol Percentage Wars." Most of my bottle went into a batch of vinegar. A delicious cider/lambic/peat-smoke vinegar--yum!

beerik, Mar 06, 2012
Photo of lsfrontman
4/5  rDev +13.3%

lsfrontman, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of Brabander
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fiona de Lange brought this beer with her at the tastingday @ de Molen in Bodegraven, Holland. This tasting was organized by her and she is THE beerlady of Holland. Thanks Fiona.

I had heard a lot about this beer and now i could finally try it. Bottle batch 2.

The beer has absolute no head and is very heavy to drink when you compare it with other beers in this league. Very oily liquid.

I would go for the Struise messy of the double black. It is a freak beer.

Brabander, Feb 10, 2012
Photo of Brickwall316
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Brickwall316, Feb 06, 2012
Photo of Mar02x
3.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was finally able to try this beer with thanks to Fiona de Lange. Thanks for sharing Fiona! She organized a great tasting session at 'de Molen' on 21st of January 2012.

A - A dark amber colored fluid with no head.

S - A strong sherry and spirituous scent.

T - Very alcoholic it totally overpowers the other tones in this beer.

M - A soft alcoholic bomb.

O - Not bad in taste, but a very very strong alcohol presence.

Mar02x, Feb 05, 2012
Photo of scott2269
3/5  rDev -15%

scott2269, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of PatrickSwayze
4.13/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought a 375ml bottle with 3 of my friends. Went in it expecting nothing special, mainly it it for the experience. But i was pleasantly surprised. Cracked this with no pop as the cork came out. Poured into 4 small shot sized snifters. Forced a head on it that disappeared within seconds. Deep dark brown but translucent similar to a dark whiskey. Smelled of deep figs, roast and a little boozy. This is were i was surprised the most. actually expecting to retain zero qualities of beer but instead though it tasted of sweet liquor with a nice chocolate roast at the end "just enough to realize it was still a beer". Piney hops barely noticeable but there seemed to help dry out the beers taste and counteract the sweetness. Oaky taste on the sides of the tongue as well. I feel if your a fan of liquor as well as beer you could appreciate the finer qualities in this beer. Defiantly not worth the price tag, but overall glad i got to enjoy this.

PatrickSwayze, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of Jeffo
2.8/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A few of us got together at De Molen yesterday for a short tour of the brewery and a beer tasting upstairs. A big thanks to Fiona for organizing the event, and another cheers for bringing a bottle of this ever polorizing brew for us all to try. We drank this one right after a Struise Double Black, so it was interesting to try these two monster ABV stouts back to back.

From a bottle into a small taster glass.
Batch #2

APPEARANCE: Pours a transparent, perfectly clear bistre brown and a small, wispy head forms but quickly disappears. A bubbly ring sticks around for a bit but also vanishes in quick fashion. No carbonation evident. Basically looks like a spirit after the initial pour is over. It’s also very clear for an imperial stout. The look makes more sense if you think of it as a strong ale.

SMELL: Relatively mild, but quite boozy and lots of whisky and sharp, piercing alcohol on the nose. After sitting for some time, it actually mellows out and some interesting aromas come to the forefront. A touch of roasted malts from the base beer with some chocolate and vanilla as well, though the whisky remains the dominant factor. The nose-piercing rubbing alcohol also fades off enough as it sits for a bit, which helped. Surprisingly mild for the ABV, but also surprisingly nice after it’s allowed to breath.

TASTE: Boozy as hell. Whisky and piles of burning rubbing alcohol. Some industrial cleaner in there as well, which doesn’t help. Very harsh at the beginning. Like the nose, after it sits for a bit, some of the flavors are allowed to find a way through. A touch of roasted malts, caramel sweetness, some smoky peat notes and hints of vanilla as well, though the booze is still the dominant factor the whole way through. A bold and persistent aftertaste is boozy with lots of whisky flavors and sharp, harsh alcohol. Interesting, but not necessarily good.

PALATE: Medium body and lower levels of carbonation. Not near flat, however. Relatively silky on the palate, which was a nice surprise, but goes down very harsh and finishes slightly sticky. A good burn at the swallow and lots of heat lingers on the palate.

OVERALL: This is a hard one to score, but then again, it’s also a hard one to drink. I was immediately excited to see this one on the table when I arrived at De Molen yesterday. It’s a beer I’ve always been interested in and have always wanted to try, but could never quite justify it to myself. It is certainly an interesting creation and a intriguing experiment into what beer can be, but doesn’t quite make the next step into being a quality product. Compared to the Double Black we’d had just before it, this one is quite thin, boozy, and is very harsh going down. Some have said this is closer to a spirit, and I might agree in part. Regardless, this was a great experience and I’m very happy to have had the chance at it. A big thanks again to Fiona for sharing this beer, as well as for organizing such a fun event for us all.

Jeffo, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
2.5/5  rDev -29.2%

doopiedoopiedoo, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of Turbodog666
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Turbodog666, Jan 22, 2012
Photo of mtbdonn
2.5/5  rDev -29.2%

mtbdonn, Jan 21, 2012
Photo of MisterGrizz
4/5  rDev +13.3%

MisterGrizz, Jan 20, 2012
Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +13.3%

nickfl, Jan 15, 2012
Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog
80 out of 100 based on 285 ratings.