Swift Half: BrewDog/Oskar Blues Shipwreck Circus Barley Wine

From Radiohead to 20th century retro. Having recently reproduced their How to Disappear Completely low-alcohol, BrewDog’s latest is a beer in a style that, according to some, doesn’t exist at all.

BrewDog./Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

BrewDog/Oskar Blues collaboration barley wine: Shipwrecker Circus

A very nice piece of writing on the label about this collaboration with the can-friendly Coloradans, Oskar Blues. All the fun of the big top, but little to describe the beer. Could ringmaster James go one step further and do what he wants all craft breweries to do with their labelling? As well as being fun, inform the customer.

OK, perhaps space was limited, but beyond being told this is a “barley wine” and therefore should, like the circus, provide unexpected and limitless delights, what can I add?

We should look back to the 70s. The aromas of Shipwrecker Circus are redolent of an old-fashioned sweet shop: cola cubes and pineapple chunks. It is smooth and mouthcoating like a melted Curly Wurly. And with a kick like Norman Hunter, maybe that’s what they meant by “a nightmare for health and safety”.

Food pairing suggestion: These are big flavours with sweetness and bitterness that would go with strong cheese, but not any old 70s ploughman’s lunch, an Imperial one with proper mature farmhouse cheddar, aged Stilton and Roquefort.

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