75 / 100
33oz brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer by Sam, given to me for Christmas, many months ago.
Pours a deep black-brown, almost an opaque ink colour, with an initially foamy head of dark chocolate brown, that fizzes quite a lot and then settles into a very thin ring. Body is slick, but after the initial flutter, it's very still, with very little carbonation. Looks good even so.
Nose is very pleasant indeed, with a rich creaminess from the vanilla that turns into a milk chocolate sweetness. There's some mild coffee, but with all the sweetness, it's quite subdued—it's not the sharp bracing espresso you sometimes get with a dry-beaned coffee beer. I like it.
Taste is also very good. There's a smoothness to it from the vanilla, and I'll admit aided by the excessively low carbonation, which adds a sense of creaminess without adding too much body or sweetness. The back is balanced by judicious coffee, with a slight mineral bite towards the finish.
Feel is smooth, with just enough body to stop it from being too thin and lifeless due to the low carbonation.
A very pleasant beer. Drinkable and balanced, with nice creamy dark notes which wouldn't be out of place in a much heavier beer.
69 / 100
12oz can purchased from Jane's Been Store in Mountain View CA. I think they have a habit of having pretty old brews, because this one was canned in July 2017. Hmm.
Pours a slightly hazed, but translucent deep orange colour, with a off-white head that starts loose and frothy, but burns down to a persistent ring. Lacing lasts in long ragged streaks. Carbonation is fine, but fast, and the body seems surprisingly light for the ABV. Looks decent.
Aroma is aged—it's got good structure behind it, but it's missing the freshest and most volatile aroma compounds. I get some dark, honeyed citrus characters, with a bit more of a herbal quality like crushed bracken and forest path. There are sharper notes coming through even despite its age—green peppercorns and unripe honeydew. It's still an interesting nose, even missing its high notes.
Taste is also pretty solid. Again, it's well-structured, which means that it manages to ride over some of the inevitable disadvantages of being old. There's pleasant malt throughout, being fairly neutral and straight, which means that it's always clean. There's tempered bitterness, but not too much booze. What's missing in the middle is the aromatic fruit notes that would come through when it was young. Back has a little tobacco bitterness, but it segues nicely into a powdery sherbet finish.
Feel is slick and fairly light. It's surprisingly good, for a fairly heavy beer.
Very decent, and I'll bump up the drinkability a bit for being as consistent as it is when it's old. It's certainly good enough that I'm keen to try it again fresher. For now, I'll just put the blame at the feet of Jane's in Mountain View.
Can gifted to me by Jez for my birthday, tried on my own.
Pours an opaque straw yellow colour, peachy and vibrant. Head nice when poured, settles to clumpy lacing on the top, some large bubbles. Good cloud and texture; looks good.
Smells juicy and pleasant. Big distinct peach aroma, with mango and passionfruit and a touch of lime. Lovely sharpness to it which actually accentuates and underlines the sweeter tropical notes, just brings it into focus. There's a touch of pepper but little else on there except fruit salad. Does there need to be?
Taste is alright, but surprisingly savoury and not all that fruity. Burgeoning fruit characters upfront but they don't really grow, instead there's a notable spice character that comes through midway with a touch of resin and maybe some cedar wood. Peppery towards the back with even a touch of tobacco. Late in the piece there's a hint of fresh lime, but it's very little and quite late. Definitely lacking that middle section, but it's otherwise a nice, slightly oily and quite spicy IPA.
Mouthfeel is fine; bitty and almost chewy really. Sense of protein as it goes down, in a good way. Bit dry at the back.
Yeah it's not quite what I expected, feels a little too-late hopped so it's aroma and little else. Or else the hops chosen are a bit too dank and don't give much flavour. It's fine though.
60 / 100
IPA made with several South African hop varieties; can given to me by Jez for my birthday.
Hawkers hop series ipa no 2 (6.0%)
Samuel J Fletcher esquire
Pours a pale orange with thick haze. Head is white, foamy so doesn't really stick around, leaves some whispy bubbles around the edge. Some decent lacing; looks fine.
Smells nice. Citric and spicy. Bit of a szechuan pepper aroma with some grapefruit, grains of paradise, coriander and a touch of boot polish. Kind of a bergamot richness to it as well. Distinctly hoppy but a big earthy spice on there which is quite nice.
Taste is similar, but it doesn't quite have the same complexity. Ends up mostly earthy, with some spice, notes of coriander and black pepper. Doesn't quite have much freshness on there which is a bit of a deficiency because it just ends up quite a flat palate. Just starts a little grainy, turns earthy, there's a mild and long bitterness but not really much of a lift or any layers to it, just blares it out from midway. Not bad, but pretty flat and a little turgid.
Mouthfeel is a little harsh, with a fair bit of carbonation that feels too raw, without enough malt presence.
Drinks interestingly, it's good to encounter unusual hops I haven't had before, but i think the exclusivity of these type of hops is a shortcoming and it needs a fresher flavour hop to bring it to life more.
80 / 100
Can given to me by Jez for my birthday, tried on my own one Saturday night.
Pours a cloudy pale colour, kinda passionfruit colour or at least passionfruit soft drink. Head was white, pleasant when poured but dissipates to a thin rim of lacing. Looks alright; vibrant colour if not otherwise.
Smells pleasant; tangy passionfruit aroma with a slight acidic edge. Light grassy notes and some mild citrus. Mostly passionfruit really but a good tart edge that makes it smell very refreshing. Nice.
Taste is also intriguingly tart, actually. Not in the sense that it's sour or puckering but it's definitely tangy from start to finish. Big passionfruit upfront that gives a nice tropical flavour, then develops some pleasant citric and melon notes towards the back, and finishes quite fresh and nice. Mild grainy yeasty note on the aftertaste which is not wonderful but par for something that's 4%. Main story is that the palate is overall very drinkable and enjoyable, I like it.
Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth; it's light-bodied but not notably thin. Pleasant.
This is a good beer; it's got a good bit of presence and mild tart notes from the wheat that complement the passionfruit nicely while allowing it to be the star. Very tasty.
74 / 100
750ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a deep golden colour, almost burnished orange at its core, with noticeable but not opaque hazing. Head is a loose crest of off-white that sits like grimy foam on the top of the body, but leaves minimal lace. Carbonation is very swift.
Nose is bright and vibrant from the start. It mostly comes from a pronounced, earthy saison note—a symbiotic blend of yeast characters that mark some of the classic aromas. But it's enlivened by the botanical characters as well, dandelion is more prominent, perhaps because it matches a weedy earthiness to the saison notes. Softer notes of vanilla orchid and jasmine come through as well. It's very pleasant.
Taste is also pretty good. It's dry on the front, with hints of future astringency. These notes rise a little in the mid-palate, as the earthy yeast takes hold. But there's a softening character that comes through, this time partially from the elderflower, which adds an aromatic sweetness, and more vanilla, which smooths the back palate. Finish has more jasmine and gardenia.
Feel is quite boisterous—the extra carbonation probably helps promote some of those delicate floral aromatics, but it also adds a surprising aggression to the beer.
It's an interesting brew, with a nice collection of aromas—they're aromas more than they are flavours, but they all add to an overall experience. All up, it's a nicely put together saison, that understands the base beer and adds a layer that complements it.
75 / 100
Can given to me by Jez for my birthday I think? Shared with blokes on ANZAC Day.
Burnt orange colour with off-white head, foamy. Lovely lacing. Some bead and haze. Looks great.
Smells malty and citric. Big orange, lemon and grapefruit. Resinous and quite spicy. Woody, fennel. Rich and nice.
Tastes decent: fruit notes that get more intense, has passion and guava with sweet orange and tangerine plus grapefruit. Tangy, with some maltiness that smoothes over the bitterness. Bit of a spike but not a lot. Nicely balanced; I'd almost question its IIPA credentials. Like it's too smooth.
Nice mouthfeel, big and smooth; little bit of pull but well padded.
Good stuff; not so huge and not so rough, just nicely balanced with good flavours.
59 / 100
Smoked porter; bottle shared by Andrew.
Pale brown, well quit pale for the style. No head, no lace. Nothing to report really. Too pale and the rest.
Smells roasty, smoky, decent. Good, almost milky sweetness with choc malt and some mild meaty snoke. Decent.
Tastes alright; dry muted smoke with slight woody character and a fair minty note late mid. Mildly roasty that decliness to the back, chocolatey but slightly bitter. Smoke seems sidelined like it's there on the front but not really notable.
Thin but OK texture; not much but malt is present enough to go down smoothly.
Drinks alright but smoke just needs upping a bit because it's largely just a decently balanced dark beer.
Bottle shared by Andrew on ANZAC day.
Dark red umber, beige head; small bubbles but thin, with some nice trails of lace behind. Looks good.
Smells nice; good light roasty character with some toffee and mild coffee notes. Touch of banana ester and some mild medicine. Pretty good dunkel; weizen with roast.
Tastes a bit meh; some weak roast with choc malt, mild spice character, sweet and spicy midway, kinda dry on the back. Feels like a mild dark ale, not much char besides a meek roast mildness. Not bad, but just not weizeny enough.
Thin front but gets some good body later. Seems like going to be harsh but then mellows out.
Drinks well like a good mild dark ale, hint of spice but could use more overt weizeny notes, would be far more interesting.
58 / 100
Bottle bought by Andrew on a family trip to Canberra-ish. Shared on ANZAC day. Technically it's an AUS pale ale but that style doesn't exist here, and our hops are basically just copying NZ hops anyway, so this is the closest option.
Hazy orange, saffron tinge. Head is white, small bubbles, dense on top. Some thin lacing. Decent.
Smells fruity. Tangy, tropical with some pawpaw and passion. Touch of spruce and slight cat pee character as well, maybe some rosemary? Decent in spite of potential flaws, but by the numbers.
Taste is a little bready. Some hoppy character throughout with passion and some mango, touch of orange, all a bit thin though with some panko character, grainy bready without a big yeasty note. Slightly sour from hops on back. Not that fresh, but clean enough with just a slight bitter hang.
Fuzzy from the hops, decent enough body.
Yeah drinks fine but for a ubiquitous style quite predictable and not amazing.
Pours a hazy, yes, hazy orangey amber. Head is healthy; bubbly and a little whispy but a good three fingers left over after a while. White, some isolated clumps of lacing left behind. Pretty decent looking NEIPA.
Smells super juicy indeed. Big citrus note with orange, grapefruit and some tropical aromas of passionfruit and guava. Some underlying spice notes reminiscent of gooey dark rye bread and pfeffernüsse. Very pleasant.
Taste is enjoyable, doesn't quite pop with the same complexities as the nose. Starts out quite citric as well with some piquant lemon and grapefruit notes, develops some almost vegetative character with sweet pumpkin followed by burgeoning mango and passionfruit. Still fairly sharp and citric on the back but without any big astringency or pull, just this swipe of citric tang, and feels a little empty in the middle where the malt could be a touch bigger. It does what it says on the label for sure, but it's not quite as big or juicy on the back as I may have expected. Otherwise nice flavours.
Yeah a little bit of pull and some sizzle from the carbonation. Just feel it's a little thin, so fairly crackly and dry at the same time.
Drinks well but feels a bit big and sharp at times as well, just doesn't round out nicely with anything to chew on. Decent IPA though.
2015 vintage. 500ml brown bottle caged and corked. Purchased at the Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with my father-in-law and my brothers-in-law.
Pours a very hazy blonde amber colour, with a fine, frothy head that nonetheless requiresa bit of coercion to form. Lacing forms in nice long streaks though. Body is fine but heavy, with tiny bubbles of carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite smooth, but with noticeable kerosene-like booze tones. There's pepper as well, along with a slight peely orange rind note which gives some sharpness. It does feel a little flat overall though—probably to do with the 3 years of age on it. But I'm somewhat surprised that it keeps the booze characters so prominent.
Taste is sharp on the front, still with lots of booze and a prominent initial bitterness. There's a hint more body through the middle, but it still has to contend with lots of sharp alcohol characters, which move into the back with a somewhat metallic, medicinal finish. Honestly, I'm not much of a fan.
Feel is hot and sharp throughout, and it doesn't have enough weight to support it.
Overall, I'm underwhelmed. There's plenty of booze to it, but nothing near enough balance to it. It just blasts everything with alcohol and expects you to respect it because of that. I don't feel the need to drink it and certainly not the need to respect it.
77 / 100
Another NEIPA. I like the style, but you'd think people would be finding something new to do by now, right? 375ml can purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a properly hazed vibrant golden colour, with a frothy, loose-bubbled head of white that leaves some specks of lace. Carbonation is very fine, but overall, it looks rather still. Body is quite light. It looks good though: and more, it looks very much like what it should.
Nose is very pleasant. Indeed, quite juicy and bright, perhaps turning towards orange pithy. There's a faint hint of grassiness, and a suggestion of dried hop pellet, but it's held straining back at the end of that leash, and it pretty much survives. Instead, you can take it as juicy, smooth, fragrant and bright.
Taste is very good though. There's a balance here in the body, making the faintly bitter orange brighter and smoother than it would be otherwise. It's not sweet, but there's just the right amount to create that illusion of creaminess. Despite this, the feel is quite light and evanescent. There's just a bit of seltzer at the finish, which you would say is wrong for the style, but actually provides a lovely piece of punctuation.
Overall, I'm genuinely impressed. The style is du jour at the moment, and every dog and his attached human is attempting it. But Hope have a good history of hop-forward beers, and they clearly understand the dance of this style. This is one of the better ones I've had from Australia.
375ml can purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a very decent deep brown colour, with a coarse, gauzy head of beige that leaves some decent streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine, but minimal, rising in dribs and drabs. Body has a bit of weight, but maintains a softness. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is very nice. Nice toastiness, but hops are still at the forefront, as is Akasha's way. The selection is pleasant here—not contrasting sharp fruit or citrus with the darkness, but going instead for more muted hop tones that lend a little wood and earthiness. Very pleasant.
Taste is surprisingly light in the body—it lacks sweetness, relying on some of the dark characters to create structure underneath the hops. Here, although they're still a little herbal rather than fruity, the hops are much more identifiable, and the separate themselves fully from the malt. As a result, it comes across more like an India Black than a fully rounded brown ale. Feel is quite light as well.
It's still nice, but I was hoping for something a bit different. I'm on board with Akasha's hop-forward style, but I feel as though they could have still made a hop-forward brown ale that made a bit more sense. Here, the hops don't mesh all that well with the malt characters. It's still a tasty drinkable beer, but I believe these guys have it in them to make a superb brown ale on its own terms, not another IPAish beer masquerading as one.
62 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez; last of my Christmas gift beers.
Pours a reasonably dark brown colour; standard stout colour really. Head is beige, nice texture and pretty good retention with some nice trails of lace clinging to the glass. Looks good, but expected.
Smells a little strong; bit of chemical aroma with some boozey darkness but also an odd apple and apricot fruity character that contributes to the booziness because it feels a bit spiritous and needs a sweeter or roasty grounding character. Again standard, but a little flawed.
Taste gives the impression it might be a little old because there's a slightly yeasty character to it. Has some of that dark fruit character as well towards the mid, then develops some chocolate roastiness late which is a much better flavour than the rest of it and just feels more impy stout. The rest of the palate moves between fruity, dry and slightly spiritous and feels a little old and yeah, slimmed down. The finish is def the highlight and well balanced.
Decent texture; good weighty malt character with a smooth feel but a bit hot and dry on the back.
Drinks alright; could be a bit old but for the size and the style it feels a little thin and unbalanced because I feel this style shouldn't be affected so obviously by age.
61 / 100
Cocoa, vanilla and coffee stout brewed for GABS 2017; tried there on tap.
Pours a mahogany colour, quite pale. Head is beige, foamy and lovely on the top. Great head; shame it's quite pale.
Smells sweet. Cake batter and vanilla on there with lots of dark fruit esters coming through. Nice stouty characters, with a touch of coffee as well. Yeah, pretty decent.
Taste is very, very sweet. Caramel and vanilla upfront that develops some cocoa-rich chocolate towards the mid. Good spice comes through on the back with the coffee characters; clove and black pepper notes. Cakey, and a touch grainy throughout. Good cocoa character. Yeah, it's a decent mix but a bit too sweet for my liking.
Decent body, maybe a touch of alcohol betraying a slight thinness in the malt, which I feel makes sense given how pale it is for the style.
Not bad, but a bit lacking in the main stouty characters, given what it is.
60 / 100
Plum-infused Belgian strong ale, brewed for GABS 2017 and tried there on tap. Pours an amber colour, slight haze in it. Cream-coloured head, bubbly, dissipates fairly quickly but looks good when poured. Yeah not bad.
Smells spicy and phenolic, I guess. Coriander and star anise are quite dominant. Some darker coffee characters on there which is a bit unexpected. Cinnamon; yeah mostly the yeast character and doesn't have much fruit character which I expected.
Taste is similar, in that it is missing the plum quite conspicuously. Lots of spice though, with cinnamon, clove and star anise that carries the palate into full phenolic territory towards the finish. Clovey, and a bit intense. Yeah, feels medicinal. I don't love it.
Decent body, slight warming alcohol towards the back. Not bad.
Not a bad drop but just lacking in some of the aspects that made it sound quite promising. A bit unbalanced as well.
I went to update all my stats for GABS overall and discovered that I was missing three reviews from the 2017 festival. Long search through my locker at work turned up nothing. Then a quick rummage in my backpack and lo and behold, I found the three missing sets of tasting notes. So here we go, to finish up GABS 2017 just when I'm getting all set up for planning GABS 2018.
Pours a surprisingly dark colour; amber really but given this was billed as a heavier version of the Burleigh Hefeweizen, surprising. Beige head, large bubbles sticks around alright. Weird colour; otherwise fine.
Smells very sweet; cereal grain with a touch of rye spice and some nutty character as well. Slightly medicinal; not great.
Taste is much better and far more what I'd expect from a weizenbock. Vanilla sweetness upfront develops some banana character midway and then all spice on the back with cinnamon predominating and a bit of clove. Not too heavy on the booze given the lightness of the malt presence upfront. Not bad at all.
A little thin, but decently textured.
Not bad, but not a huge amount of character. Seems ultimately more of a hefeweizen than a particularly turbocharged one.
Bottle ordered to drink with a Nepalese meal in Battery Point, Hobart.
Pours a pale golden colour, light head of dense white bubbles. Lacing is decent. Pretty standard.
Smells corny and adjuncty. Immensely sweet, with rice and corn balls. Sweet and unpleasant. Smells awful. Really off-putting.
Tastes sweet, and fairly unpleasant. Sweet with corny character, some mild grainy notes but largely adjuncty and sweet and fairly unpleasant. Yeah not much finish either; really sweet throughout but insipid too. Unpleasant.
Mouthfeel is fairly gluggy and not a lot of texture to it. Decent for what it is though.
Drinks perfectly fine with the meal. But it's very bland and reasonably unpleasant too.
Can ordered and reviewed at Preachers.
Pours a pale amber orangey, big pillowy beige head, decent retention with small bubbles. Alright.
Smells dry; some fruit character somewhat tropical, apple. Bit sweet, nutty, light. Pretty bland but decent.
Tastes weird. Big sickly sweet character with way too much coconut on there that tastes quite medicinal and a bit odd. Not a lot of fruity character and the palate kinda doesn't go anywhere, its just malt that develops into this weird nutty character. Not really hoppy at all. Kinda tastes boozey, not that great.
Mouthfeel is a little thin but not too bad. Decent padding.
Drinks tolerably but not amazing. Some odd notes that really need to be cut down by the hops more.