James Watt, a Scotsman, was an 18th-century pioneer of the steam engine, an invention that spurred the advent of the industrial revolution.
James Watt, the managing director of Brew Dog, a Scottish craft brewery, presumably is a Scotsman, too. There also was a James Watt who served as Interior Secretary in the first Reagan administration, but he doesn’t fit into my analogy, and his environmental record was completely atrocious.
I detect uplifting symmetry between the notion of steam power and the ensuing, volcanic change in the social order brought about by the industrial revolution, and now a youthful new brewery in the same country, one vigorously propelling the counter-revolution, in the sense of overturning the machine/fetish/aesthetic that gave us Bud Light and replacing it with brews like Bashah, brewed in Fraserburgh (on the Atlantic) in conjunction with the fine people of Stone from Escondido (on the Pacific).
Had I been handed a glass of Bashah, knowing only that it was brewed in Scotland, my first hunch would have been that it was Old Engine Oil. The appearance is similar. However, the nose alone puts paid to that idea. There’s plenty of hop, and further titillation from that g-spot sort of place where hop meets roast, and upon further reflection, just a wee bit of a fruity ester that might lead one to hazard a guess that there’s something Belgian to it.
In fact, Bashah is described as the world’s first commercially produced Black Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale. The Stone crew went to Scotland and made merry over seafood, whisky, castles and heaven knows what else. I’m glad they found time amid the merriment to actually brew the beer.
To my mind, it’s a Stone beer through and through. All the stylistic components suggested by the words Black Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale are there: Hops throughout, and a “black” malt character that approximates slightly lower gravity Imperial Stout. If anything, the Belgian aspect is muted, perhaps not sufficiently assertive to break through the other layers.
But make no mistake: A great beer, enjoyable to the very last drop, and hopefully not a one-off collaboration.
See: A Stone blog about Bashah, where the above photo was found.