When Moon Dog surrounded the lagoon at Moon Dog World with long tables and guests for a degustation dinner on February 23, it was a strangely comforting moment (and not just because of the relaxing effects you feel when three of the five beer pairings weigh in above 12 percent ABV). Coming shortly after Victoria's third lockdown (the last one, admittedly, over in the blink of an eye), it felt like a return to normality; indeed, I can't recall the last time I attended such an event.
It was the occasion chosen to herald the arrival of their tenth iteration of Black Lung, the barrel-aged smoky stout that was the first Moon Dog beer to really impress me back at the start of the last decade – and which we wrote about in depth in 2017. This time around, the barrels of choice came from one of Islay's iconic whisky producers. At the start of the dinner, I was told they couldn't say which distillery they'd come from, but then the MCs told attendees, so if you know anyone that went you can find out from them (or just hazard a guess and you'll probably be right).
If you're not au fait with Islay whisky, this one is a classic showcase of the western isle's uniquely peaty, smoky stylings. And the beer has extracted plenty of those stylings after an extended period in barrel. Brewer Adrian McNulty reeled off a bunch of descriptors for the beer, with "creosote" the one that caught my ears in particular, and certainly there's an intensity to the deeply earthy, peaty, spiciness extracted from the oak. It's not enough to mask the opaque, viscous beer's sweet, chocolaty, fudginess, however, or detract from the plush texture.
At 12 percent ABV, and coming in big bottles, it's one to share with mates. Or to hog when you've no need to operate heavy machinery – or do pretty much anything, really – until the following day.
- Whisky Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout