Beerwriters Guild AGM last week. Andrew Howitt is a member who lives in Brazil part of the year and wrote about some of the country’s craft beers in 1001 Beers. He emails and says do you want me to bring some beers? Yes please as both Brazil and Argentina seem to have a small but growing group of craft brewers. And so at the end of the meeting, he gets his bag out and produces a selection of goodies. Zak Avery and the Guild’s chairman Tim Hampson buzz about but I manage to get Baden Baden’s Stout Dark Ale, Colorado’s Imperial Stout plus Lust from Eisenbahn (a sort of Deus type beer). Back home at the weekend, desperate for something different I try the Imperial Stout. It’s dark in the glass, midnight at the end of the old moon; bubblegum, sweet apple, toffee and a feather-light dance of raspberry on the nose. Tasted: a rich and bittersweet confection, milk stoutish with more of an oomph than you would expect with something like Mackeson (it is 10.5% after all), creamy, good bitterness kicking in towards the end of the palate with a delicious soothing succulent finish. I found it oversweet at first, but then my palate got in line and rock and rolled with the whole ensemble, I was mightly impressed (tropical imperial stout anyone…). The next night it’s the turn of the Baden Baden Stout: smoke, soot, toffee, burnt raisins, rolled around a creamy texture with a dry, bittersweet finish. This was only 6.5% but went down with the smoothness of a drop of Crème de Cacao. The Lust sits on a shelf in the cellar, next to a five year old bottle of Deus. I await a bottle of Malheur Brut and will then institute a tasting. And while I’m on the tasting game, I also had a bottle of BrewDog’s Prototype kindly sent to me, which I also drank at the weekend. This apparently is Hardcore IPA with raspberries and aged in an Islay whisky barrel. That’s the technical stuff over with and here’s the sensory stuff. Colour is a dark blush, pretty lovely. Raspberries, iodine, aftershave and tcp on the nose (ouch!), while the palate is an intriguing mixture of luscious raspberries, then harsh iodine, soft raspberry again and then a hard rasping bitterness from the hops. Raspberry, iodine whisky and hop bitterness — I’m not sure it worked but by god it makes for an interesting beer. The raspberries give an appealing tart sourness while their sweet fruitiness helped to temper what could be a very fiery finish. There’s also a woodiness in the finish that makes me think I could be chewing raspberry canes (rather than lolloping on a Mivvi). But then I also think raspberry jam with whisky and hops in it. A work in progress, but then that’s why it’s called Prototype. Would a secondary fermentation with Brett make it even more interesting?