Will-o'-the-Wisp, Black Metal Brewery, beer review

Black Metal Brewery's Will-O'-the-Wisp is an unusual and immensely drinkable beer, finds Patrick McPartlin

Published 28th Apr 2015
Updated 9 th Aug 2023
Brewery: Black Metal
Style: Smoked Ale
ABV: 6%
Stablemates of Top Out in Loanhead, Black Metal Brewery, the brainchild of Jaan Ratsep, has unleashed three tipples onto the craft beer scene so far including Will-o’-the-Wisp.
Born in Estonia and brought up in Russia, Ratsep had been brewing at home for years before a chance meeting with Michael Hopert of Top Out led to the founding of the Black Metal Brewery on the outskirts of Edinburgh and the subsequent trio of beers - Will-o’-the-Wisp, Blood Revenge and Yggdrasil, named after the world tree of Norse mythology.
Will-o’-the-Wisp is a rather unusual offering - a Juniper Smoked Ale - that pours a dark copper with an off-white head that recedes almost immediately.
The aroma
There’s a lot going on with the aroma - dry smoke, malt, coffee, floral hops and a hint of caramel.
The taste
More caramel and smoke in the taste, with the subtlest of hints of juniper and dark chocolate.
Quite creamy and smooth, and not as heavy as some smoked beers, Will-o’-the-Wisp is malty and not as bitter as expected.
The aftertaste is a lingering smoky, spicy affair.
At 6% ABV it’s perhaps strong for an ale but it isn’t overpowering, and despite the relative subtlety of the main juniper flavour, Will-o’-the-Wisp doesn't disappoint.
An unusual and immensely drinkable beer - and it’s vegan-friendly, too.

Having sampled beers from Vietnam to Boston, Patrick felt it was time to turn his attention to the growing Scottish craft beer scene. Despite what some would call a Rebus-esque attachment to Deuchars IPA, he has turned his attention to smoked porters, hoppy pilsners and roasty stouts and hasn't looked back since.
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