I heard the news today. Chaos Theory was being delisted. Discontinued. One of the sure signs of a brewery moving into a next stage is rationalization and we have seen a bit of that with BrewDog. They have new staff and a new range for their experimental beer ideas. But once upon a time they were not rationalizing. They were a wee bit irrational, in fact, as they used to send me samples... including samples of prototypes. These two beers have been in the stash for at least a year. I think I got them in November 2008 along with a following email from James actually saying "sorry it took me so long to send them" even though it was free beer and I was Canadian. They have held up well. The prototype shows some crown cap rusting but the proper labeled version is quite clean. At over 7%, there's no issue as to condition with the best before being over six months from now. Let's have a go.
The two beers appear roughly the same - medium amber orange with a swell white froth and foam. On the sniff, the prototype is a bit richer but both are raisin tart with prototype leaning towards a really gorgeously complex set of orange peel, allspice, baked raisin edgings. In the mouth, the prototype suffers a tiny bit from a drabness - even with the swirl of malt richness - which could be time but also tastes like a bit of cardamom. There is a bit of a husky quality to it that butts heads with the fruit richness, too, the aroma's promise. A little bitter and even mineral in the finish even with the barley candy playing out. Still, big and fine and I'd have bought it if it ever made the shelves.
Theory put into practice is a notch finer. The note of the finishing hops stands out more clearly - tangerine peel, candy cane and even maybe a hint of coffee bean. In the mouth, there's a little less to work with than the prototype but there's more control even with all the bitterness. Softer water with weedy hops over peppermint and peppery hops over rich cream malt. Pear in the malt. Also big, pretty brash but not off kilter. A very well made beer that the BAers gave big respect.
BrewDog has been doing all things for (and to) all people including taking a brash, cheeky culturally appropriate stance that I love more than even each of their beers. But like childhood's end, it's no longer all about adding. Sometimes there is subtracting in life.