BrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - Ardbeg

BrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - ArdbegBrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - Ardbeg
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Stout - American Imperial
3.92 | pDev: 11.48%
Scotland, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
BrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - ArdbegBrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - Ardbeg
Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 40 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.51/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Paradox Islay Batch 09 pours brilliant deep dark brown with a thin tan film of a cap. This beer has legs instead of lace. It smells like Ardbeg – briney, seaweedy, medicinal, peaty, and smoky over a coffee chocolate malt background. There is a wonderful marriage between the rich malt flavors and the scotch that place this near the twilight zone between scotch and beer. It has a big, bold alcoholic body with a touch of heat and below average carbonation. It is a shame that this is no longer brewed.

Feb 05, 2015
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

3.06/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had a bottle of this back in 2008, This brew was probably one of the first barrel aged beers I ever had. It was like something I had never had before. I can remember opening the bottle and pouring it out. Looked perfect because at the time I was a big Stout lover. Poured out as a deep black with a brown head that fizzled away pretty quickly. The smell was almost like sniffing a Johnny Walker bottle. The Scotch was very sharp on the nose and just beyond that was some of the stout elements like burnt malts and some dark chocolate. The taste was almost like drinking Scotch as well. I was really surprised by the power that the barrel aging had on this beer. The mouthfeel was smooth and on the lighter side. Overall I'm sure a lot of people may love this but for me I felt that it was too much for me at the time.

Jun 04, 2011
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WYVYRN527 from Minnesota

4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Darkness snifter from an 11.2 ounce bottle.

A: Pours black, yet some light manages to shine through. Head is about a centimeter thick and cream-colored, and leaves some lacing as it settles quiclky into a thin film.

S: Aroma scrams Islay. Malt brings on roasted character and coffee, with smoke, wood, and brine from the barrels.

T: Once again, ISLAY! Peat smoke, brine, and wood, along with hints of coffee, chocolate, and earth. Could possibly have the most "barrel influence" of any of the Paradox series. The finish is sweet, with honey, and some dried fruit character.

Notes: This brew is full of flavor, and has a finish that stains the palate, although I would have liked a bit more body. Alcohol is definitely present. Excellent beer, though, and I am happy to have tried it.

Oct 05, 2010
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armock from New York

3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to biggreen for sharing this bottle with me.

A - Poured a black color with a thin tan head

S - Has a smokey peaty scotch nose

T - This is like drinking black scotch with some roasted malt in it

M - This beer has a watery body with light carbonation to it

D - This wasn't the easiest beer to drink that for sure but its was a decent sipping beer glad I was only given some of the bottle as I really probably couldn't drink more than a few ounces at a time anyway

Sep 30, 2010
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froghop from Washington

3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

pours a clear brown with a small tan head, and little to no lacing.

smell is of wild yeast, a little cocoa, and dark fruit.

taste is slightly sour, dark fruit, some chocolate in the back, malt, and salmon berry, ends a little on the tart side.

overall a very different imperial stout.

Jun 30, 2010
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mdwalsh from Iowa

3.14/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Looks not quite black on the pour, more of a cola color, but gives a nice solid brown-tan head of one finger and mostly smaller bubbles. In the glass, the beer is a very very deep brown. Almost, but not quite black. The head doesn't seem to have the greatest retention, and lacks texture.

S: There is an odd combination of roasted grain and alcohol here. Not a good, warming alcohol but like rubbing alcohol. I find it rather offputting, and it's not something I would think would develop with age.

T: The taste is better. A smokey whiskey flavor underlies the roasted grain, the two different flavors playing back and forth for dominance. The smell keeps getting in the way, but when I do get the taste, it's pretty enjoyable. Not great, but interesting. Sometimes I get a little coco, sometimes not. Nothing sweet though, and no dark fruits like you might from a RIS.

M: Light body mostly, smooth, though there are some times when it seems a little sharp and bitter rather than slick. I would think of this more of a strong ale than stout, but they say stout.

D: Overall, the alcohol is hidden well in the taste, but not the aroma. The body is lacking, but not to a point of failure. I'm glad to have tried it to compare it to other Paradox Series beers, but I'm also glad I paid so little for it.

May 19, 2010
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John_M from Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review is from 6/7/08. I just now realized that my original review was for the wrong paradox islay beer. Oooops!

The speyside version of this beer was good, but this was other worldly. This is definitely a great beer for those who love dark beer and single malt scotch. A marriage made in heaven for us....

Had this at Max's the other night during their Tuesday social hour. Apparently it is being introduced into our market.

The beer pours a black brown color with good head retention and lacing. The beer looks impressive, but on the nose... mama mia!!! I am absolutely blown away by the aroma of smokey peat, wet stones and leather. The nose on this beer is an absolute single malt drinker's dream. I get it that they used adberg scotch casks to age this beer, but did they bother to drain the scotch out of the barrel before they added the beer? On the palate this beer is nearly as impressive, giving the impression of a rich scottish ale blended with single malt. The beer is fairly dry, and I think the scotch flavor cuts down the sweet natural maltiness of this beer. Again, one gets impressive flavors of leather, heather and even wet horse blanket superimposed on the smokey peat and malt flavor. This is just an amazing beer; this ain't your daddy's normal stout is all I can say. Surprisingly, the beer is no more then medium bodied and is not the least bit tiring or heavy on the palate. As for drinkability, I noticed this beer became progressively easier to drink the more I sipped of it - not entirely sure that's a good thing. :-)

Granted, this beer is not for everyone, but anyone who loves single malt scotch and stout will probably be very happy. The finish on this beer is actually more remeniscent of what I expect from single malt then stout, and I found myself sipping it gently accordingly. Quite impressive. Exceptional.

Mar 31, 2010
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MbpBugeye from Ohio

3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at The Pub in Polaris.

A- Great looking. Deep black with a rich cascading head. Unfortunately the head doesnt stick around a long time.

S- Smooth scotch, roasted cocoa beans and bitter coffee.

T- Vanilla, scotch, smoke, earth, coffee and chocolate.

M- Low carbonation, most likely do to being on cask and having a higher abv and being aged in scotch barrels. Full and coating. Slightly warming and alcoholic but not overdone.

Feb 10, 2010
Photo of meatyard
meatyard from Florida

4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The color is a very, very, dark mahogany with about an inch and a half of tan head that has good retention and good lacing.
The smell is unlike any other beer I've had; it has to be the Islay barrels. There is oak, peat, smoke and whisky.
The taste has an immense smoke flavor with a lot of peat bouncing around it and the whiskey and oak are there but playing second fiddle. The flavor stands out even more than the aroma. Not being a scotch drinker there may be some things that I am missing.
Mouthfeel is pretty smooth with just a bit of hop bitterness acting prickly on the tongue. Maybe slightly lighter than would be desired but it's no problem.
Drinkability is good even at 10%. A sipper for sure.

This is an impressive beer and the best of many Brew Dog beers I've had. It's different and not for everyone but if you like it, you'll like it a lot. If you're a brave beer drinker you should try this.

Jan 13, 2010
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asabreed from New York

4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Dark black, mocha-colored head, decent lacing but not as much head retention as I'd hoped for.

Smell: Huge peat from the scotch barrels, and I'd be willing to say that if you're not a fan of Islay scotch, you may not be a fan of this brew, because it's dominating. That said, it also mixes nicely, especially as it warms, with the roasted and chocolate notes, along with bitter coffee, that also come through very well.

Taste: Wow. Yep. This was in Islay scotch barrels, and be forewarned: it's not light on the smoke and scotch characteristics. I had it chilled a bit, which brought more of the peat and smoke to the forefront, but as it warms, the sweeter roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee flavors, along with a bit of dark berries, are there, and then it slides quickly into Scotch City. Vanilla, peat, and warming alcohol quickly leave a lasting residue on the palate. Amazing stuff. I have a bottle I'm aging, so we'll see what happens in some years.

Mouthfeel: Heavier-bodied, with a good viscous amount of carbonation, making it coating but not cloying in the least, which surprised the hell out of me. I think the scotch does wonders in lessening the carbonation and adding that good full mouthfeel.

Drinkability: This is not your Jefferson Reserve bourbon barrel stout. That's for damn sure. This makes that feel like a lighter porter in my opinion. A little pricey at $10 or so, yes, but if you're a single malt scotch drinker, and love the Islay stuff, this will certainly be for you. If not, you might want to stay away. I hope to be able to try more in the future.

Apr 28, 2009
Photo of maximum12
maximum12 from Minnesota

2.56/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks to my gorgeous wife for giving me this for my birthday in January, along with several other beers that I wouldn't have spent this kind of money on myself. She rocks! And no, I won't trade her, so don't ask.

This is black. The nose is shocking. I wasn't really prepared for the smoke.

Holy crap. This isn't my thing, at all. The peaty smokiness overwhelms whatever else might be lurking in this brew. I've given it a chance to warm up - nothing. There's a stout underneath this, but I can barely make it out, much less the whiskey that I was so looking forward to. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to finish the 11.2 oz. & I'm positive I don't need another, not tonight, probably not ever.

Disappointed. Based on this I won't be shelling out big bucks for another Paradox brew anytime soon.

Apr 11, 2009
Photo of Bubba83
Bubba83 from California

4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter at around 50 degrees. More head than I expected out of a barrel aged high ABV beer. About 2 finger widths of creamy/frothy tan head. The body of the beer is midnight black. Good frothy lacing left patterns of bubbles on the sides of the glass. Thin rim of head stuck around for the entire experience. Awe inspiring.

Smells like peat moss, with some burnt wood, vanilla, and rubbing alcohol. Stings a little. Faint caramel and butterscotch, smoke.

Taste is better than I expected. I've gotten a little tired of these crazy barrel aged beers where most of the beer's flavor is completely gone, but this one delivers. There's lots of whiskey notes in the foreground. Strong caramel, vanilla, peat moss, burnt wood, cherries, and some alcohol attempt to mask a beautiful chocolatey imperial stout backbone that comes through at the end. A buttery rum flavor dominated the mid-range. It's also a little bit dry in the finish, hinting at some roasty coffee bits that play nicely with the strong alcoholic cherry flavor. Bonus points for the incredible depth achieved in the flavor profile.

Viscous, oily, smooth and a little spriteful make the feel solid all around. Barrel aging usually does wonders for the depth of feel too so this is no surprise.

More approachable than I expected based on the nose-sting and alcohol smell/taste that is apparent from start to finish. Everytime I finish a sip though, I feel sustained for a while, licking the roof of my mouth and still getting all sorts of amazing peat moss after-taste. I'd suggest sipping this beer over the course of at least an hour, enjoying the depth as you go along, almost how you'd enjoy whiskey.

Overall if you think of this beer as not just a beer, but a whiskey hybrid, it's extremely well done and the beer is not completely lost in the shuffle. At $9.99 for a 12oz bottle I would recommend it for a special treat if you like whiskey. Sure, it's a steep price to pay but it will probably also be the most interesting beer you've had to date, it was for me.

Feb 23, 2009
Photo of timtim
timtim from District of Columbia

4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

not sure what to make of this one. the ardbeg 1991 cask is so top notch that it's hard for me not to love this beer. and hard to just sip its delicious goodness. pretty poor head retention but nice lace. let's move on. peat. smoke. whisky. coffee. cocoa. the taste is whisky up front like cascade hops in a west coast ipa. peat and smoke in the finish. everything else in the middle. if you love smoke and booze, then this is your dream beer. if you are a wuss, then please, at all costs, avoid it.

Jan 25, 2009
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bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle, best before March 22, 2009. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with a half inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The aroma is Islay scotch, peat, smoke and wood. The taste is similar to the aroma, but there's a little bit of licorice noticable, but for the most part it tastes like Scotch. It's very smoky and peaty. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's smooth and has mild carbonation. Drinkability is good, although this is a sipping beer. If you like Islay scotch or Scottish Ales, then you should like this beer. I thought this beer was very good, although due to the price this is something I wouldn't buy too often. But it is good and worth a try if you've never had a Scotch barrel aged beer before.

Dec 30, 2008
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Ljunkan from Sweden

4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown color with a nice beige/white head. Smell is excellent with lots of islay smokey whiskey notes, but also chocolate, liquorice and toasted malt. Taste is maybe not as good as the smell, but still very interesting. Lots of whiskey and smoke here, but also some nice chocolate and liquorice. Mouthfeel is good, but could have been even more filling. I think it would have been even better if the beer had more body. Drinkability is maybe not that high, but it's an excellent choice to share with a friend. A bit pricey though. Had it at the pub for 120 SEK.

Nov 09, 2008
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Crosling from Colorado

3.32/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark ruby brown colored beer. Wispy, fully diminishing white foam. Nose dominated by Islay character. It's super smoky, with hints of iodine and a very light hint of malt character. Flavor is fairly complex, but a bit out of balance. Super salty, with hints of peat, peanut butter, iodine and scotch. A fairly intense, harsh beer.

Sep 22, 2008
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Bananaman from Sweden

4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared this one with a good friend at Bishop's arms in Karlstad. Really cool beer, from a cool brewer.

Black color with hints of red when exposed to light, big beige head that doesn't last for long.

Smell is full of heavy notes of Islay whisky, with some nice hints of dark chocolate and coffee. Really nice smell, I love it.

Taste is very smoky with lots of whisky tones. Hardly rosted malts and some raisins. Some chocolate and coffee in the taste too. The balance between bitternes and malts is pretty good. The only problem is that the smoke and whisky notes get a bit too much for me.

Sep 14, 2008
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Sammy from Canada (ON)

3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Radek for this one. The whiskey aroma is huge for the first few minutes and then eases off. The rest of it was liquid smoke, which reminded me much of Calume Grand Chef, still with distinct whiskey taste. A burning rubber smell also there, just initially. Must try some more of these paradoxes.

Sep 02, 2008
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baggio from Sweden

3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

[email protected]

A: Coalblack with beige head that seems to vanish in a slow pace.

S: Peat, Smoke, Bacon, Raisins, Alcohol and Whiskey. Very powerful smell indeed. Almost scares me a bit!

T: Smoke, Bitter chocolate, Espresso, Tar, Licorice (salmiak), Caramel, Oak wood. Very salty with a more balanced taste at the very end of the sip. Interesting and powerful.

M: Dry, smokey and salty. The alcohol warms you up quite a bit. A sipper for sure. Almost makes me thirsty!

A very, very, powerful imperial stout that certainly isn't for everyone. This one impressed me being more in your face than other oak-aged beers i've tried. Very different! Give it a try if you dare!

Aug 05, 2008
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Irrigate from Michigan

4.52/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Now we're talking.
Being a lover of scotch (particularly islay's) makes me a biased reviewer. Keep that in mind. Also, the pronunciation of Islay is eye-luh. I'm just saying it because I didn't know it for a year after I started drinking scotch. Then I embarrassed myself at a bar.

The bottle instructs to drink at room temp. I had mine in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. It's personal preference. I've never had a beer that I prefer room temp over slightly cool. It poured dark brown with a healthy head and lasting lace.

The smell while slightly chilled was overwhelmingly Islay scotch: like having someone dig their hand 3' into a peat bog and throwing a giant clump at your face. Delicious. Peat, dirt, smoke, chocolate, and everything wonderful. While the beer warmed, the smell was more dominated by alcohol.

The taste had an initial BMB flavor (big malty bitch) and finished with the unmistakable flavor of Islay scotch and the right amount of bittering hops. Experiencing how much much of the flavor of old whisky barrels can be transmuted into a beer is truly fascinating. The reviewer below me suggested the beer smells of "old wet wood". I get that on the palate considerably. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel isn't as heavy as most of the imperial stouts I've had. I still find it appropriate.

It is difficult to rate a 10% beer with a high drinkability, but I don't expect it either. After one beer, however, I definitely could have had another.

Very interesting. I suggest it.

Jul 16, 2008
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Wildman from Ohio

3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured almost black with no light getting through it. It formed a dark tan foamy head that left latticed lace as it subsided. A heavy aroma of malt, scotch, peat and smoke. The flavor was of malt, scotch and smoke. It has a medium body and a definate smokiness to the finish. This certainly has a southern Islay Scotch aspect to it. I love Islay Scotch, but I think it overpowers the beer aspects too much in this version. Not a bad beer, but a little flawed.

Mar 24, 2008
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bark from Sweden

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch #009 is matured on Ardbeg casks.

The colour is pitch-black; the liquid is clear. The finger thick head is dark beige. There are some amounts of lacing.

The smell is loaded with smoke, peat and Islay whiskey. Some sweet matured notes, wood, bitter hops, alcohol and a touch of raisins.

The taste is... bold. A dry woody flavour with quite a lot of alcohol starts the experience. For a very short time, the flavours seem to take a pause. Then, a hard hitting note of alcohol emerges together with smoke, peat, oak wood, sweet liquorice, bitter herbs and toffee. The aftertaste is salty and smoked in a notorious Ardbeg way; it is kind of stronger than the first flavours and very long. It is heavily smoked with a warming alcohol, but with an interesting bitterness (including some mild sour notes) that makes it more then just a whiskey-matured beer. The finish is mostly bitter with a smoked peaty woody salty background.

The carbonation is mild with some fresh small bubbles. The liquid is very smooth and moderately thick.

A daring, demanding and very different beer, much more interesting than the Innis & Gunn whiskey matured ales.

Mar 19, 2008
BrewDog Paradox Islay (Batch 009) - Ardbeg from BrewDog
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 40 ratings