500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer. BB date of March 2019, so it's probably not at its freshest, but still within date.
Pours a very bright, very clear golden colour, with a fine white head of foam that sits as a light ring. Lacing forms in little dots on the edge of the glass. Body is fine, but with a bit of weight to it, which makes the carbonation a little sluggish. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is a bit dull, but there's a relatively pleasant juniper herbal character which does the bulk of the work. It suggests more of a German hop greenness than the traditional IPA character. Slight chalky malt character to it as well. Not bad, but I suspect when it was supr fresh it was a very different beer.
Taste is similar. There's a flatness which just makes the palate plod along. Bitterness does seem to come in juniper form, with an earthy, herbaceous quality to it. There's a little bit of orangey sweetness, which provides just a touch of balance. Otherwise, I think this is past its prime.
It's not bad, but it's definitely old, and I'm probably just more upset that this has so much time left on the Best Before. This is definitely past its prime.
82 / 100
Squat 330ml bottle purchased from Santa Clara Liquor in Santa Clara, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney during a brewday.
Pours a semi-hazed yellow-tinged brown colour, with a loose head of white that only forms due to perturbation during the pour. Body is exceptionally thick, and the carbonation that's there just sits statically when the glass is tilted. It looks like the beer that carbonation goes to die in.
Nose is strong, and somewhat boozy. But the strength comes also from the aromatics and the esters, which give off leafy fruit notes and organic characters. It has a suggestion of Belgian barrel tartness like you'd get in a Flanders Red or an Oud Bruin. As it warms, it turns to a slight peppery note as well.
Taste is quite, quite different. It's got a notable sourness to it, a character that's quite strongly linked to the booze. It gets some pepper and fruit notes as well. I get some unripe raspberries and babaco. Feel is very smooth on the back, with a light suggestion of citrus zest and red wine tannins. Very nice.
It's a very pleasant beer, and the characters of this are quite different from the Aventinus Eisbock. This has much more of the characters you'd expect from a wild ale. But it works well.
86 / 100
12oz brown foil-capped bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. This is a bottle of the 5th release.
Pours a deep oily black-brown, with a surprisingly frothy head of pale chocolate bubbles that persist as a fine ring. Body is thick, but with a fineness that suggests good attenuation. Lacing is excellent, forming in leopard-print patterns down the glass. Carbonation is fine and surprisingly swift, given the ABV.
Nose is excellent. It has a big, worty quality to it, with plenty of raw malt—but it's all intricately connected to the dark boozy notes. There's characters of espresso, tiramisu, oak smoke and tobacco, along with bittersweet suggestions of high-cacao chocolate and vanilla buns. The bourbon and oak work well too, although these get specifically tied to the smoke character, which adds a giddy twist. It's very good indeed.
Taste is also superb. There's a lot going on here, and I feel like I need to brace myself against the wall for a second before I really get a handle on it. It's bitter, there's no getting around that, and the bitterness is a beast, almost lashing out with hard coffee and liquorice. But there's softness to it with more vanilla from the oak, warm bourbon and affogato. The feel is slick, and hot with booze.
The bitterness builds up, and honestly, there's an aggression to it which stops it from being drinkable and enjoyable. But oh boy that's a complex and sophisticated beer beyond that.
Black raspberry saison, apparently. Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a vivid dark purple colour. It looks somewhere between reduced Ribena and young shiraz. Yeah is a light, but still vivid purple that persists as a staining ring around the glass. Body is fairly light, although there's depth and opacity to the colour. Carbonation is fine and swift. I mean it sure has a Look, I'll give it that.
Nose is decent enough, but to some extent it's not really that exciting. There's pronounced raspberries on the front, maybe with a slight blackcurrant tartness in there as well. But it also has a bready note underneath—with the acidity it gives a slight suggestion of sourdough. It has a slight leafiness underneath all of this as well. It's okay, but not one of the most interesting aromas I've had from Anchorage.
Taste is maybe a bit better, with more of a direct, sharp acid to keep things on track. More of those slight sourdough characters around the back of the palate, and the fruit all but evanesces into aroma. It's surprisingly thin, without a huge amount of complexity, and almost no body to sustain it beyond the leap to that acid.
It's a decent beer, and a decent idea (and seriously, that's the only beer I've ever had that looks quite like that), but I think the execution is slightly lacking. It just ends up feeling dull, and a bretted black raspberry saison should be anything but that.
88 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear amber-red hue, with a gauzy head of pale beige that leaves looping streaks of lacing. Carbonation is very fine, but not vivacious, and only really makes its presence felt when the glass is agitated. Body looks like it has more heft than it does because of the languid carbonation. Looks good all up.
Nose is sharp with woody notes of pine and cedar—almost certainly a combination of the tart acid and the oak barrel. There's a touch of grassiness to it too, with some musk and kumquat. It definitely accentuates the tartness. But there's depth too, with notes of red grapeskin tannins and dry-roasted black pepper. Really very nice indeed.
Taste is also very good. It has a juiciness through the centre of the palate, with characters of tart cherries and overripe raspberries. But the acidity layers itself around this, giving more aromatic wood tones and balsamic bite. Very tannic on the back, with a biting cabernet to finish it up. It creates a very fine punctuation point to a complex beer.
Feel is lovely. It does have a bit of weight to it, but only enough to allow the complexities to shine. It's a very fine brew.
Yeah, what a cracking example of a blended beer. This has wonderful juicy complexities, and a surprising balance of fruit, wood and acid. Everything works out exactly in its place, despite the monumental amount of stuff that it has going on internally. Fabulous stuff.
73 / 100
500ml bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear, pale yellow colour, with a very fine head of white that persists as a fine film. Coarse, fast carbonation raced through the light body. Looks like a suitable grisette.
Nose is quite pleasant with a sharp, green vinous character giving a good hint of acid, and some young grapes. There is a bit of barrel to it, giving some lifted cedar notes and a suggestion of eucalyptus. It's quite nice.
Taste also has a nice sharpness to it—there's more acid than you'd usually get in a grisette or saison, and it lends more of that biting wine character. It's fairly simple, but it's quite clean, with a pleasant flatness on the back.
Very drinkable, quite enjoyable. The barrel definitely helps, and it picks up much of its character from the wine. Honestly, if this were a beer I could drink frequently and a lot of—then I just might do that.
87 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Chuck's Hop Shop in Seattle. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a surprisingly light-bodied, but oily brown-black, with a lacy cap of beige bubbles. Lacing forms in tiny spots along the edge of the glass. Carbonation is powdery, and forms in squalls as the glass is tilted.
Nose is boozy and dark. I get notes of woody port, but also smouldering charcoal, a little vanilla and buttery pastry. There's also savoury notes of plaster and red capsicum. There's also a persistent darkness that gives coffee grounds and red wine tannins. It's impressive.
Taste is peppery, dark and really nicely coherent, given all of the complexities. There's pear and ginger, cayenne pepper, turkish delight, creme de cacao, rosemary lamb jus, vanilla creme patissière. Seriously. I could go on. The level of complexity, and the layers which reveal themselves sip after sip are exquisite. The feel contributes, with a pronounced heat that seems to strip back the layers, revealing more and more.
Overall, boom. I'm super impressed. This is an amazingly complex brew that doesn't necessarily derive much satisfaction from being coherent, but is happy being a Hieronymus Bosch painting. When all the complexities are this interesting, I'm very happy with it being a fascinating monstrosity.
78 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA.
Pours a ebony brown-black colour, with a slightly frothy cap of beige that persists as pancake bubbles. Long streaks of complex lace. Body has some heft and a gloss to it, and the carbonation is coarse, but moves languidly through the glass.
Nose is pummelled with a pretty insane coconut character—it's almost certainly the fake coconut essence you get in things like coconut candy. Under it there's a pleasant grated chocolate character which gives it some depth, but mostly this smells like someone emptied half a bottle of Malibu into my pint. That's not at all to say that I don't like it.
Taste is probably better, because it's not entirely based around the coconut. Indeed, the coconut almost feels like a secondary flavour here; subordinate to the dark chocolate and roast of the base beer. This lends a bitterness that becomes coffee-like on the back. Booze is well-hidden and it doesn't feel unbalanced.
Overall, I like it, but the coconut seems like a separate veneer over the top of what's a fine beer on it's own. I'm not sure it integrates that well, and it's not even a particularly coherent addition to the beer.
79 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a hazy orange-gold colour, with a fairly flimsy head of white that leaves specks of lace. Body is light with coarse, swift carbonation. Looks decent enough.
Nose is interesting. I definitely get the passionfruit, and a slight lactic curd character. But there's also surprisingly savoury characters to it as well, including powdered white pepper, bread crust and lime leaf. It's very interesting, and I genuinely like it.
Taste is also pretty good. There's passionfruit all over this, and it lends a bunch of different flavours including hints of the crunchy seeds, and the pithy sharp bite of the pulp. There's definite intrinsic acidity though as well, with a biting vinous character like young riesling. It lends a sophistication to the beer.
Feel is sharp and biting—the acid here is almost a bit too much. It's very tart, and it almost starts to hurt after a while.
Yeah, good beer though all up. The tartness is really well-realised and the passionfruit is a fair match for it. I'm a fan.
71 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam and Loz during a brewday.
Pours a very pale, lemon-gold yellow colour, with a frothy, large head of white that persists as some gauzy lace. Body is light and fresh, with some fine carbonation. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is really rather nice. Sharp, fresh hops lend a herbal edge to an otherwise lemony aroma. It feels a bit dusky, and it doesn't have a huge amount of complexity. But it's bright and pleasant.
Taste is also decent, but it leans very heavily on the earthiness, which accentuates more of the bitter herbal character from the hops. There's some suggestion of salt lemon around the edges, but the fruit is definitely a secondary character on the palate. Carbonation is also high, which promotes some of the bitterness.
Overall, I like it enough, and I'm certainly happy to drink it, but I don't think it's one of my favourite outings from Anchorage. That's a bit of a shame, because I count myself quite a fan of Nelson Sauvin, and I feel like they could have done something quite special with it.
87 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam & Loz during a brewday.
Pours a bright golden colour, with a loose-bubbled head of pure white that also has some eggy fineness around the edge of the glass. Body is light and liquid, although the carbonation is very languid. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. It has a sharp greenness to the hops, almost the punch of Nelson Sauvin, or perhaps it's just an analogue of that due to having the acidic, vinous quality of the beer behind it. I get kiwifruit, honeydew melon, lime and starfruit. It's really genuinely pretty lovely.
Taste is also very good. Here there's an acid, but it's constantly linked to the fruit characters, which gives it grape-like qualities with undertones of unripe blueberries, champagne and babaco. Finish is slightly pithy, with a dryness from an eventually effervescent carbonation. That's really very fine indeed.
Feel is sparkling, and tingling towards the back with the cumulation of acid and carbonation. Lovely.
That's a genuinely cracking beer, folks. The acid is really nicely done, and the combination with the fruity hops is inspired. It takes some skill to pull that off so well. And this hits that sweet, balanced spot that makes everything harmonise.
12oz brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a rather clear deep mahogany—somewhere between ruby red and deep brown. Head is fairly persistent, forming in fine bubbles to start with and persisting as a mesh around the edge of the glass. Body is thick. It has a serious weight to it, and the bubbles that persist in the glass move sluggishly to the surface. Looks good.
Nose is quite potent. Plenty of spice from the rye, which gives a slightly herbal, grainy, grassy character. But there's sweet booziness underpinning it as well. I get port, oak barrel, and banana esters, along with a slight smack of chlorine or salt. As it warms, some of the sharper character do integrate a bit more, giving sweet coconut and dark chocolate. It's a really nice nose.
The taste is harder—it's certainly potent still, but here it definitely has an edge which makes it harsher. It has a hot booze through the centre of the palate, which then sits smouldering on the finish. It leaves some of the more delicate flavours behind, meaning the suggestions of coconut and chocolate are lost. There's spice from the rye though, and it creates a herbal character, and some thinness which exacerbates the harshness of the booze.
Overall, this had loads of potential, which it never really quite captured after the complexities of the nose. It's a bit of a shame, because it could have been magnificent. And the heat and lack of balance on the palate stopped that.
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer. They call this a "hoppy Belgian blonde", and they're not shirking the hoppiness.
Pours a very hazy, almost turbid dirty golden colour, with a loose-bubbled head of white that leaves coarse, chunky lace. Body is light and fluid, with swift-moving carbonation. I didn't expect the cloudiness. Otherwise it looks pretty good.
Nose is surprisingly sharp—with the Belgian yeast characters I have to fight against the feeling that it's acid funk. Instead, it's possible to recast this as hoppiness (spoiler alert: there's no tartness on the palate, which makes these mental gymnastics easier). It's an earthy, herbal hoppiness though, with characters of blackberry leaf and crushed briar. And that rounded yeasty note lends a slightly fatty character. It's interesting, to say the least.
Taste is also a little bit offputting, but in a way that always maintains my interest. It's light and round on the entry, with a suggestion of sweet Belgian esters and neutral malt. In the mid-palate though there's a strange conflict between the yeast and the herbal hops, which leaves an amalgam of hay and dung. Fortunately, this is cleaned out slightly by a spritz of carbonation and a brighter hoppy herbal note in the back. Finish is lightly bitter, with a crispness from the hops which creates a punctuation mark.
Feel is smooth and light, but with a frothy fullness from lots of fine carbonation.
Overall, I'm intrigued—it's honestly not a beer that I particularly love, but there's such an intriguing balance of characters that my interest is piqued. I'll definitely keep an eye out for what other beers these guys do.
650ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer. This is a Salted Truffle Porter, they say.
Pours a decent mid-brown colour, with a clarity at the edge of the glass. Head forms a swiftly bubbling head of beige, but fizzles out to a minor ring that leaves small spots of lace. Body is fluid, but with a slight oiliness to it. Looks decent enough.
Nose is rather pleasant. There's a pronounced milk chocolate character which comes from a fairly full-bodied sweetness and smooth notes of vanilla and mild roast. It has a slight floral touch to it as well, which is also quite pleasant. All up, it's rather nice
Taste is similar, but it's also slightly flat. There's suggestions of that roasty-sweet chocolate character on the front, but it muddles into a surprisingly bland vanilla character through the centre, and then peters out. There's a touch of bite on the back, and maybe (just maybe) it's the savoury, earthy note of the truffles finally making itself felt. But it's subtle if it's there.
Feel is flat—it could use a bit more carbonation, or even a kick of booze to enliven it on the back—although I'll admit that the pleasing fact is that the booze is surprisingly well-hidden for a beer of this size.
Look, it's nice enough to drink, and the characters are all pleasant, even when they're a little muddled. My main concern is that there's a lack of coherence, structure and interesting complexity on the palate, and that it doesn't really provide an obvious truffle character.
57 / 100
500ml squat brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a very clear pale golden blonde colour, with a frothy, whipped egg-white head of white that leaves long streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine enough, but moves swiftly though a fairly light body.
Nose is fairly pleasant, with light rounded phenols that give a fruitiness which contrasts nicely with a sharper note which could be noble hops, or could be a non-Belgian yeastiness. It's a bit one note, but it's pleasant.
Taste is interesting. Far from having the rounded sweetness of the Belgian examples, this is bold and almost smoky. It has a pronounced mineral bite to it, with hints of sulphur and peat. The finish has an almost salted character, which matches up with a fairly noticeable booze (surprising for the weight). Finish is briny and mossy.
Feel is overcarbonated, and very light. It accentuates the saline characters on the back.
Overall, it's an odd beer, and I have to say it's not a great example of the Belgian style. But it has its own quirks and interest, and it makes for an unusual experience at least.
Ah, it's not every day you get to try a new style of beer, and this is my first outing with a Brut IPA. Let's see if it warrants its own category. 330ml can purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a very clear, deep golden colour, with a fairly frothy white head that bubbled out fairly quickly, leaving a gauzy ring around the outside of the glass. Carbonation is fine, and fairly languid. Minimal lacing. Looks decent enough. It looks not dissimilar to an Australian lager, to be honest, but that's almost certainly what they're going for.
Nose is very pleasant, with lot of sweet, fragrant fruit characters. I get some sweet citrus and stonefruit along with a surprising amount of toffee. But there's a sharpness to it too. It starts as a kind of herbal undertone, with hints of clipped grass and weed, but it morphs into more of that yeasty champagne character. It's certainly interesting, and to be honest, it's an aroma I like a lot in a beer.
Taste is... disappointing. I suspect that this is always where this style of beer is going to struggle. I was expecting the dryness (which is admittedly there), but the lack of body just lets everything fall on the ground—there's very little flavour at all towards the back. It starts out rather pleasantly, with suggestions of that sweet stonefruit and maybe a touch of ripe pineapple on the front, and just when you're ready for the next wave: nothing. Even a more pronounced bitterness to finish it off would probably help.
Feel is fine—I can imagine this beer crisper and with more lingering bitterness being very good with a mouthfeel like this.
As I said, this is my first example of the style, so I can really compare it to anything else. Right now, it feels a little bit like an IPL that's just not done very well. If the lack of anything after the front of the palate is intended, then, well, they've nailed it. But for me, it's really lacking something on the back.
76 / 100
Bottle shared with me by Jez for his birthday lunch; reviewed blind although I'd been joking a lot leading up to the day that Jez was going to surprise me with a Toppling Goliath tasting so there was a vague but unbelieving sense in the back of my mind that this could potentially be a TG beer.
Pours a golden orange colour quite hazy. Head is off-white, lovely and dense with a nice marshmallow of foam on top. Lacing is quite nice too, clingy and thick trails. Looks good.
Smells hoppy and tangy. Sherbet with grapefruit, lychee, and orange zest. Touch of caramel underlying. Grainy, but mostly tangy and fruity. Pleasant, not that impressive or surprising.
Tastes quite surprising actually. Still tangy and pleasant, with grapefruit, lychee and orange zest and maybe some passion as well. Then an earthy spice takes over, peppery and grassy as well, with some fragrant sweetness like pink pepper. Yeah finishes really interestingly with pepper, light tangy fruit, fresh and nicely bitter. Curious, like an IPA saison blend. Almost like a white IPA. Just a good blend of sweetness and earthy, grunty spice.
Mouthfeel is decent; body is quite malty but a strong roughness to it, quite carbonated and fizzy so it gives some texture late but the padding is quite strong and good.
Drinks interestingly and really very nice. Standard at first but then curious and quirky and really well balanced.
84 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Santa Clara Liquors in Santa Clara, CA. Shared back here in Sydney with Sam.
Pours a deep, melted-chocolate black, with a glossy sheen to it. Head is very fine, but only persisting as a fine ring of deep brown. Minimal lacing. Carbonation is very fine, moving languidly through a thick body.
Nose is sharp and spicy. The dominant character is powdered cinnamon, with other notes of pepper, capsicum and chocolate also noticeable. On the odd side of things I get characters of plaster and pine needles. They all make for an enticing, complex and interesting whole.
Taste is really quite lovely. It has a juicy mudcake chocolate sweetness all through the centre, but it's always tightly tied to spice. Lots of cinnamon again, and a mole-like chilli bite. The back has more bitterness, but it also retains a cake batter lusciousness. Feel is slick and shiny.
Overall, it's a genuinely lovely beer, and the spice is very tightly and cleverly integrated into the chewiness of the base beer. I think it makes for perhaps a more interesting brew.
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a slightly hazed, slightly dirty yellow gold colour, with a fine, persisten head of off-white that leaves sheeting lace. Body is light and shiny, with coarse bubbled carbonation. Looks decent.
Nose is a bit flat. There's a slight, dead citrus character—perhaps orange, with a touch of dried peel, but also a wet cardboard character as well. As it warms, it's a bit better, because it gets a bit more sweetness. This makes the citrus character fuller and more enjoyable. It's not bad.
Taste is also a bit hollow and flat, to be honest. There's some bitterness and citrus pithiness on the back, but there's not much to support it, and not a lot of complexity. Finish has a bright soda character to it, almost with alkaline note.
Feel is light and dry.
Overall, it's okay, but I'd heard reasonably good things about this brewery, and this is an inauspicious start. I think it's not a great IPA, even though it's a fairly drinkable beer. Let's hope the other beers I have coming from these guys are a bit better.
78 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from City Beer Store in San Francisco. Shared with Sam back in Sydney. This is supposedly an imperial stout brewed with walnuts, which sounds interesting to me.
Pours a suitable oily black-brown colour, with a pocked bubbly head of beige that settles. Body is actually quite light, and the carbonation moves swiftly. It's not a light beer, overall, but it's lighter than I expect for a beer of this size.
Nose is pleasant, and the walnuts are absolutely present here. It has the aroma of walnut praline or walnut cheese, here atop a semi-sweet, semi-savoury stout character. It's not overly sweet at all, and has characters of vegemite and dark toast to it.
Taste is also good. Smooth and silky on the palate, with lots of toasty nuttiness towards the back. The walnut is again very prominent, especially in the finish, where it nicely counterpoints with the booze and the roast character. It leaves it toasty with characters of nocino and liquorice.
Feel is slick. There is a lightness to it, but the oiliness of the booze helps spread the complexities of the palate.
Overall, I'm impressed. This is a nice beer with a really quite unique character that sets it apart from the rest. Otherwise, it's a fairly by-the-numbers imperial stout. But the walnut character is something else entirely.