Black Metal Brewery make strong beer. At 6%, their Will-o'-the-Wisp juniper smoked ale is the weakest of their mighty brood. Their bottles are a sight to behold, too; distinctive, mostly black, think Cthulhu rather than hipster. And when you look at their website, you'll see this isn't some piece of quirky branding; for the two metalheads behind the brewery, the beer and the look are clearly an expression and extension of their own identity. Not many breweries can say that.
They only launched in August last year but already Black Metal Brewery are bashing themselves out a solid reputation. It's early days for them - they're dossing down with Top Out Brewery in Edinburgh at the moment - but over the past six months they've quickly expanded the list of shops, real and online, where you can buy their beers. Late night drinking dens and rock music venues such as Classic Grand, Audio Glasgow and Studio 24 Edinburgh stock them, and they're also appearing at the Great Scottish Beer Celebration in Glasgow on March 12 and 13.
They make three beers at present: Will-o'-the-Wisp, Yggdrasil pale ale and Blood Revenge rye stout (the latter two come in at 6.6%). Of the three, Blood Revenge is the youngest, and what a beast it is. The aroma is a power blast of sweet malt, treacle and spices, with a freshness, like snow falling at night-time, sneaking through. Pour this slowly for a thick, creamy head the colour of sand with the deep, deep black of nothingness below.
With such a hefty malt aroma, you'd expect a foot-stomper of a stout, but Blood Revenge is surprisingly lighter than you'd imagine. A brief tart hit, like the bitterness of unripe plums nicked from your neighbour's tree, then a sweet malt character - vanilla, rich chocolate and toffee apple - before finishing long, dry and bitter. Heaps of hops and a smooth sweetness are held together in its deep, rich, and brooding body. Blood Revenge is a belter of a beer, far more flavoursome and fruity than many more mainstream stouts. Obviously, it's best served cold.