This was a pack of experimental beers from BrewDog. The idea is that the beers share the basics recipe but the abv is ramped up as you go through the range, starting at 4%, going to 6, 8 then finishing on 10% with the barley wine.
From their website: 'The range of flavours and aromas present in Russian Doll come from the same malt bill, the same four hop varieties and identical water and yeast.'
Russian Doll Pale Ale: As you'd expect colour-wise. It had Punk's characteristic 'dusty' note and while the hops came through on the nose I didn't pick up so much on the palate. It was decent and refreshing but perhaps a bit too dry/lacking fruit.
Russian Doll IPA:This was a bit more orange in colour, quite a bit deeper. On the nose it wasn't massively different to the PA, but where the PA fell a bit short on the palate this one delivered, there was a alot more punch. The dryness was off-set with a burst of orange and tropical fruit. Altogether a much more rounded beer.
Russian Doll Double IPA: Similar to the IPA in appearance, much more pronounced on the nose, the hops were more overt and once I had a sip it really hit those grapefruit pithy notes I'd expect from a US-style IPA. I'm not usually a huge DIPA fan but this was great, the dry 'Russian Doll' character that runs through the first three of these beers sits nicely against the juicy mouth-watering fruit.
Russian Doll Barley Wine: This was very different to the first three. It was a lot darker, sweeter and viscous. There were liquorice and burnt toffee notes that I hadn't picked up from the previous three. Barley wine isn't something that I've drunk enough of to say if this is a particularly good example but I quite enjoyed it - although it's one I might have appreciated more in a third of a pint measure rather than a 33cl bottle!
All in all an interesting little experiment. Say what you like about BrewDog they're not afraid to go for the beer geek market (and long may that continue) but even putting that aside these were good beers without being ridiculously priced.
Bought straight from the BrewDog shop, starting at £10 for the pack.