No Corporate Beer Reviews: Death by Disco

Beer: Death By Disco
Brewery: HaandBryggeriet (Drammen, Norway)
Style: Stout- Imperial Milk/Sweet
10% ABV / N/A IBU

Given the unique character of this barrel aged imperial milk stout flavored with blueberries, it’s worth splurging on Death by Disco just to see how all of those mismatched elements come together. This three-way collaboration between Norway’s Haand (“Hand”), Cervesiam and Frontaal Breweries is not a cheap get in the U.S. – specialty shops tend to retail Death By Disco in the $12-13 range. For a single 330 ml bottle! Considering you can get some pretty sick 750 ml bottles from high-end U.S. craft brewers for the same price, this sort of puts Death By Disco out of reach for all but the nerdiest of beer nerds.

The blueberry flavor of Death By Disco is fairly muted, but still reminiscent of Saugatuck Blueberry Maple Stout. The blueberry is actually much stronger on the nose than in its taste; Death By Disco has the aroma of blueberries and vanilla, but tastes a bit more like marshmallow and, most peculiarly, bubble gum. I suspect that the blueberry notes actually come from blueberry yeast – wild yeast growing on blueberries – as opposed to introducing a bunch of blueberries in the brewing process.

As is the current fashion with a lot of imperial beers, this one is barrel aged. But to double the novelty, Death By Disco is barrel aged in bourbon and rum casks, which contributes to a wonderfully complex flavor that isn’t a slave to the bourbon or rum barrels. Some of those barrel-aged beers can be undrinkable when you combine a high ABV and an unnecessarily long aging process. Death By Disco seems like it was aged for 1-2 months, tops, which is the perfect amount of time to impart some of the earthiness from the oak barrels without steamrolling the rest of the brew. More interestingly, at room temperature, the beer transforms back into a milk stout and the sweetness and lactose push through.