Beer Review: BrewDog Paradox Heaven Hill
Style: Imperial Stout
Serving: 330ml Bottle
Price: Around £10
It’s that time of year. Winter coats are on, central heating goes on timer and Ant and Dec start selling Christmas stuff on every channel. That’s right, it’s Stout Season! I’ll admit, this is the first year I’ve really been fussed about switching to stout as the weather gets colder, mainly because I love hops so much I tend to drink IPA all year round. This year, though I’m finding myself drawn to the toasty, smooth, sweet, warming characteristics of a great imperial stout. The last couple of times I’ve visited my local BrewDog bar I’ve had RipTide, or even the legendary RipCore (Black and Tan made with RipTide and Hardcore IPA). I’ve also had a couple of stouts from the likes of Thornbridge and Buxton that have really hit the spot in the colder weather.
Last Friday, again in my local BrewDog bar, my good buddy Marc decided to toast the occasion by presenting both myself and another friend of ours, Kym with a bottle each of Paradox Heaven Hill, a massive 15% Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon casks. He’d had a bottle some weeks before and said nothing but good things about it. Massive thank you to him for hooking me up with this epic beer!
Lets get right into it, shall we… The beer pours with very little carbonation and only creates the slightest suggestion of mocha-coloured head which vanishes almost immediately due to the high ABV. It is black as night, how a good Imperial Stout should be and almost stains the glass. Again because of the high alcohol the beer leaves definite legs down the side of the glass as you swirl it around. It looks glossy and somewhat oily, in a good way. You can just tell this is going to be luxurious.
The aroma is incredibly powerful! You get sweet caramel and banana from that bourbon straight away, followed by a pretty hefty punch of alcohol. You also pick up black treacle, bonfire toffee, a little smoke and a woody character from those bourbon casks. There is also some vanilla and a boozy fruit character that reminds me of those cherry brandy chocolates you get at Christmas.
On to the flavour. Pretty much all of the notes you pick up in the aroma are there in the flavour as well. You get that alcohol but it’s slightly less powerful. The one thing that really shines through is the flavour of that Heaven Hill Bourbon. It’s decadently sweet with burnt caramel, dates, candied banana and vanilla. The flavours are super intense and this is definitely a bottle of beer you want to take your time over. I drank mine over about a two hour period and as it warmed the flavours became even more intense and new ones even developed, the most prominent of which was the flavour of Riesen (remember those!?), a dark caramel coated in milk chocolate. A flavour that didn’t make an appearance was any kind of coffee or espresso note. Personally, I’m glad of that. BrewDog make some great coffee stouts but it was nice to get some variety in this one.
Body was big but oddly not as big as you’d expect from a 15% beer. I can only think that some of it had been lost in the aging process. Still, there was plenty to go around and I certainly wasn’t left disappointed in that department. The mouthfeel is just epic. Smooth as silk and, in the same way the beer clings to the glass, it coats your mouth and lingers allowing the flavours to keep going and going. I’d love to get a second bottle of this and cellar it for a year or two. I can only imagine how good it will be when left to mellow out.