Ghost Deer and Company

Graeme’s Back  with an awesome Beer Review!


Controversial brewers and occasional taxidermists Brewdog have gone and done it again by creating another record breaking beer. The culprit this time is called Ghost Deer; a 28% percent fermented blonde beer (the strongest fermented beer ever, beating Sam Adams 2007 beer Utopias by 1%) , matured in “amazing whisky, bourbon, rum and sherry barrels”, served directly from the head of a deer. A real, taxidermy deer. Not surprisingly then that we at Edinburgh Whisky Blog decided to have a look for ourselves and taste this interesting concoction. Chris and myself hit up the Brewdog bar on the Cowgate in Edinburgh to see if the beer was any good, or if it was just a stunt to grab some headlines for the brewery.

Chris is planning to have a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of the Brewdog style in the coming weeks and so I am going to focus on the tasting side of things. There was one tiny little problem with our plan, the Ghost Deer was only available for one night in Edinburgh before it was shipped through to Glasgow and…we…em…well we may have got the details wrong and turned up the day after. Ghost Deer had been out and about the night before and was already boxed up and ready for transportation, leaving us dishevelled and heartbroken at the bar. But fear not!! This is Master Hoban that we are talking about and using some of his charm, we got talking to one of the Brewdog Bar project manager’s (in charge of setting up new bars apparently) who happened to be covering a shift behind the bar. Chris’s suave charms coupled with my heart wrenching performance as the distressed, dream destroyed beer enthusiast (fake crying may or may not have been involved) was enough to melt the heart of the Ghost Deer itself. We had our sample. So this is our review of the Ghost Deer, followed by some other whisky related beers that piqued our interest whilst we were getting our teeth into this task!

Ghost Deer

Concept: This is a 28% fermented blonde beer served directly from the head of a deer. No deep freezing involved in this process like some of their higher alcohol content beer, this just uses the natural fermentation process. Brewdog say they used a variety of different yeast strains which were drip-fed with exotic sugars in order to keep the yeast alive, during what must have been a fairly lengthy process. It is then matured in whisky, bourbon, sherry and rum casks for about six months to finish off the process. Finally it can only be bought, on draft, straight from the head of the only Ghost Deer itself.

Nose: An almost draff like nose, pretty much exactly what you would expect heavily fermented barley to smell like. Almost like stale malt loaf.

Taste: Interesting to say the least. We both agreed it was more of a sensation that a taste. Quite creamy, with a fairly sweet finish. Watered down plum and cherry juice, with a slight fizz. Almost like a port that had been left out overnight and then mistakenly thought to be Ribena during a hangover liquid search the next morning.

Overall: Definitely interesting. Pretty much what we expected the taste to be, not particularly great and slightly funky, but not as bad as first expected. A highly interesting edition to the portfolio and one that should be tried if the Ghost Deer makes an appearance in your vicinity. It is a shame we couldn’t see the Deer, but we were thinking the next venture should be along the lines of a party octopus edition! Sure fire hit.


Prototype 17

Concept: A one time only, limited edition beer. Basically this is their 77 lager fermented with Belgian yeast and matured in a single grain whisky cask filled with raspberries. Bottled at 4.9% abv the pinkish liquid produced , to me, is almost as weird a concept as the Ghost Deer.

Nose: Very, very delicate like a rosé wine. Very subtle lager notes.

Palate: Still quite delicate but quite a refreshing experience. Orange and raspberry fizzy water, again with a slight lager note on the finish. So light and easy going it is like its coming straight from a raspberry soda stream.


Bitch Please

Concept: Chris was determined that this was called Bitch is Crazy and had to be corrected on more than one occasion (as always, a coherent drunk-Chris). A collaboration between the American Three Floyd’s brewery and Brewdog. Taking traditional barley wine and brewing it with peated Islay malts, toffee, shortbread and a selection of hops. The end product is then matured for 8 months in old Jura casks.

Nose: Quite chocolatey, slightly malty and with a surprising peaty note as well. It noses like a subdued single malt that had been left to sit for a while.

Palate: Delightful. Weird. Confusing. All three of the above. It has a malty body like beer but then goes into a fresh, tangy yet smoky note. The first beer I have tried that has a huge whisky influence and yet still has the refreshing aspects of a beer. Smoke, dark chocolate and a salty tang. Wonderful.


Overall this turned out to be an evening of pretty decent beers. Bitch Please was a strong favourite along with their black lager Zeitgeist, which I recommend to try if the chance arises. We came in planning to find positives and negatives on the Brewdog set-up for a future comparative article, and I don’t think the negatives left with very much. These beers prove that Whisky and beer when combined correctly can have weird and wonderful results. As for Ghost Deer, in my opinion it is more of an experience than a beer. Not the best taste, in fact not to great at all, but it does come straight from a deer head (well if you are on time) which adds cool points in my book. I suppose the gimmick is just a way to cover up the actual liquid. If anyone has had the chance to try the Ghost Deer or any of the other interesting beers we would be interested in hearing other opinions on the beer and on the company in general. That’s all from me folks.




  1. Well said good sir!
    I wasn’t with you and did not get to try this new venture first hand as a result so I may just be ranting BUT-

    Isn’t the whole thing just a gimmick? A beer that’s 28% alcohol? The only reason to make such a thing is to see if you can. I’m no expert in the brewing process but I think that if we could find one they’d tell us that you wouldn’t expect it to be very tasty.

    Interesting experiment indeed and hats off to the boys for managing it but apart from drinking from the head of a deer is there much reason to seek this out?

  2. I suppose essentially, Jason, that’s how I feel about this beer. Records need to be broken, because that’s what people do. We endeavour to be bigger, better, stronger and more inventive than our predecessors.

    On the other hand, the fact it has been in so many different casks, suggests to me (speculation) that the liquid needed quite a bit of work when it was finished fermenting.

    I didn’t particularly like it. It was ok if you were expecting a below par Port. As for the deer, just bizarre.

    I think it will, for me, be like every experiment in Brewdog. I’ll buy a Punk IPA (my favourite of what have done) and I’ll sample everything else with interest. As long as they keep the basic range consistent, I can have no qualms with their experiments. Sometimes they work out (the zeitgeist was bloody lovely and the smokey barley wine was tasty tasty ).

    I understand the need to do the Ghost Deer (although actually drinking out of a deer or rodent weirds me out) but I have to say, so far, the stronger it gets, for me the worse it gets. It seems that 14% abv is my limit for beer. It’s like the smokey whisky thing. When Ardbeg started todo the ridiculously peaty Supernova, I actually disliked the liquid . Far too one dimensional, and for Supernova 2, not nice at all.

    I suppose you seek it out so you can say you have tried the strongest nstural fermented beer. A curiosity.

  3. I’d be interested if anyone argued that the stronger stuff was better?

  4. My favourite is Leffe, but I would love to try these.

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