74 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by my brother-in-law from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a murky brown-black, certainly not opaque, and certainly not black. Head forms a fairly solid and fine-bubbled crest of beige, but settles out to a fine ring with some pancake bubbling across the top. Body looks a bit thin. Overall though, it looks fairly decent.
Nose is pleasant. Chocolate sweetness caresses a mild roast note with lingering overtones of berries and something a little floral. It's quite fragrant, but with depth and with a sweetness and roast to drag it back firmly into stout territory. It's very nice indeed.
Taste is back into more familiar territory, but still with plenty of pleasant things to drive it. Solid mid-level malts give chocolate and sweetness, while the body remains pleasantly dry, leaving the roast to come out more fully in the finish. The chocolate character stays around until the end, leaving the aftertaste smoother than it could have otherwise been. Feel is, as I said, rather light in the body, but it has a pleasant slickness to it, especially on the back.
Overall, I like it a fair bit. There's a little complexity lacking in the palate, but it's still extremely solid, and with good structure. The aroma is really wonderful. It's certainly something I'd drink again.
50 / 100
I think this makes a perfect sweep of Williams Brothers' gruits for me. I think the Fraoch has been my favourite so far, let's see where this one stacks up.
Pours a rather insipid yellow colour, very clear, and with a muddled patchy head of large white bubbles. Looks very minimal and rather unappealing.
Nose is very yeasty and dry, with some rising bread dough characters, and an upturn of sweetness on the back which gives it a slight white grape or mild boysenberry sweetness to it. To be honest, I don't think gooseberries have a smell, so I'm surprised to find any berry character at all, but it's there.
Taste is minimal and very light, but it has a genuinely odd sweet-but-slightly-medicinal character that reminds me of some type of candy I had as a kid. I can't remember what it was, but it has that sense of nostalgia for me. Still, despite that tug at the heartstrings, it's a pretty bland brew, very light on flavour and character.
Very average brew, and pretty lacklustre, although it has a few interesting upturns that give a bit of a surprise.
I love that I can get these beers in Sydney. I think this is my fourth Gruit from this brewery, all of which I've picked up around the place here.
Pours a very clear reddish amber colour, with almost no head. Even when poured vigorously, it only gives a slight white film of bubbles on the top. Body looks pleasantly thick, however, and there's a nice carbonation to it, even if it is rather static.
Nose is immediately odd. There's characters of floral honey to it, but certainly with something woody and organic as well. Spruce? Perhaps. I'm not that well versed in what spruce smells like. There's certainly something that gives it its lift though, and it's not a hop I've ever had. Interesting.
Quite a thin character on the palate, but with oddly sweet notes of strawberry. Finish is very slightly bitter, but there's a decent amount of sugary malt to put it together. Yeah, there's really something oddly fruity about the beer, even if the grain and wood notes come out a bit more prominently on the back. Again, it's interesting, if not particularly complex or robust.
I'll say it again, I like that I can get these beers here. I love trying something interesting, and while this isn't the greatest beer I've ever sampled, it certainly fulfills "interesting".
Pours a dark espresso brown with mediocre beige head that dissipates, leaving a meagre ring of foam. Lace is fairly non-existent, bordering on actually non-existent. Pretty poort, a first-year homebrew student could create this look.
Nose is fairly sweet/dark. Can't really sense any elderberries, but there's a fair amount of vanilla providing sweet aromas, along with a decent chocolatey note, reasonably dark but not roasty bitter. Maybe a slight floral note, but it just sort of smells like fresh vanilla (as opposed to extract). Reminiscent of the Kelpie Seaweed actually, which makes me want to mark both down in terms of unique ingredient use. Not bad but yeah, just nothing special.
Tastes far more xomplex. Predominantly dark with some nice unsweetened chocolate character on the start and continuing towards the mid where it becomes bitter, giving some espresso ground bitterness. Some vanilla notes on the front as well, maybe a little creamy as well. The more interesting flavour emerges on the mid, and continues to the finish, and it is a slight spicy/fruity character, fresh and slightly floral with a prominent nectar tinge to it. Gives a spicy, slightly tart edge to the back, hints of green pepper and rose petals providing a more phenolic bitterness which make this ale good. Apart from those it's a standard dark mild ale, but it gives it a spunk and challenges the palate a bit.
Mouthfeel is smooth with a slight sharpness to the texture, almost like smooth stone - cool to the touch and polish but somehow hard. Almost brackish. Yeah, I have doubts about this beer's ability to lather.
Still a gentle quaffing ale, mild but interesting.
60 / 100
Pours a semi-opaque black, with deep brown colours at the edges when held to light. Head is a filmy ring of light ochre. Some lacing, but not a lot. Looks quite heavy in the body, with a surprisingly nice static carbonation around the rim when swirled. Look quite tasty.
Sweet oatmeal characters on the nose. Grain is dominant, and the sweetness is pronounced. Overall, it's a little one dimensional, although the dark, grainy note has a depth to it. Possibly the elderberries add this, but I'm not sure enough to say it for certain. Overall, it's a nice nose, without ever really standing out.
Mouthfeel is quite thin, which is evident from the first sip. Fortunately, the taste is pleasantly odd. Certainly thin roasted grain notes around the edges, but theres a light sweet and slightly rank note through the centre which I'm sure is the elderberry. It reminds me of something else I can't put my finger on - maybe marzipan or liquorice. Something sharp and a little acidic. It's a nice character, and leavens the beer out of what would otherwise be rather thin and generic slush.
Drinkable enough, without having a huge amount of character. It has some uniqueness, which I appreciate, but I'm not convinced that the uniqueness in itself is enough to pull it out of mediocrity. It tastes a little bland overall.
Pours a dark brown colour, slightly red and ominous in character. Head is light and thin, dissipates quickly, leaving a thin beige ring. Hints of speckly lace. Not bad, looks quite like a bock, but thinner. Nice colour.
Nose is quite roasty and fairly sweet as well. Light hints of toffee on there, with a sour barley grain edge. Lots of cocoa-rich chocolate and a distinctly odd saltiness lingering at the back. Almost a duck-egg aroma, but blends very nicely with the dark sweetness to provide a very interesting fragrance.
Taste is interesting. Roasted porter-style malt at the front with a hint of chocolate then takes on a gravy powder kind of savoury character, before turning slightly bitter towards the back, with a nice phenolic edge, but light and feels quite high and dry on the palate - not gravelly but there's a slight kick to it. Has a nice herbal mediciney bitterness really, pleasantly balanced but a little thin. Renders it quite drinkable though.
Mouthfeel is a bit watery but enough to make it slick, gentle fizz at the back. Pretty good.
Quite quaffable. Has a slight tickle at the back which is enjoyable, and flavour is subdued but balanced.
40 / 100
Pours a deep dark brown colour, with tinges of red at the edges. Head is very minimal, just a tiny, loose-bubbled collar around the edge. Lacing is also absent. Body looks a bit thin. To be honest, I'm not enamoured of it, in fact, I feel a little bit of trepidation when I look at it.
Dark grainy notes on the nose. Toasted bread aromas, with light hints of caramel and a little cocoa sweetness. Not huge, and the flavours are a little generic, especially considering what was expected, but it's pleasant enough.
Quite thin on the palate. A slight roasty character, and a dry chocolate note later on, but the feel is woefully thin, leaving just a spent grain character to go with some fine-bubbled but overzealous carbonation. Feels like a very disappointing attempt at a dark ale, much lacking in body, depth and flavour. Mouthfeel in particular is disappointing.
Sorry guys, this just doesn't cut it for me - despite the uniqueness of the recipe, it doesn't have nearly enough on the palate, leaving it flaccid and weak. True, the main characters it has are dark grainy notes, but they exist in isolation with nothing else to back them up. Probably chuggable, but otherwise disappointing.
56 / 100
Picked up at Sackville Bottleshop, Rozelle. What an interesting find.
Pale, slightly cloudy straw yellow colour, with a fine bubbles but loose and filmy head of pure white foam. Some lacing around the edges, but very little carbonation visible. Looks ok.
Very odd aromas on the nose -> smoke, poster paint and leather polish are what spring to mind. Also a citrus or vegetative green note to it. Quite odd. Although the notes aren't entirely pleasant, they do sit together quite well.
Flat palate with a thin small-beer flavour of diluted malt. Some rather harshly bitter characters around the edges; like the bitterness of hops without the pleasant fruit or spice characters of hops. It's not very bitter, but the bitterness is unfamiliar. Mouthfeel is quite smooth with not a lot of carbonation, but not very full.
Back palate of odd crushed vegetable notes, a little rancid, but for all that, not unpleasant.
A really strange brew, not something I'd like every day, but on oddity that was worth trying. I wonder if hop-infused beers would taste as bizarre to the ancient Scots.
44 / 100
Pours a pale yellow-orangey with a thin but sticky head that from the top looks like a slice of orange. Lots of carbonation especially around the edge which periodically lets go and goes for a ride to the top. Fair amount of lacing but not very dense. Not perfect, but nonetheless full of character.
Orangey citrus notes on the nose but maybe I've just got oranges on the mind. Slight herbacious character lingering on the back but mostly a zesty kind of fruit character, and yeah, not very aromatic at this chilled stage.
Quite a fruit palate as well, quite light and frothy with a slight tartness that announces itself quite meekly, without any mouth-puckering or courage (speaking both literally and metaphorically there). Quite a sweet finish actually, with the only bitterness coming somewhere between the front and the middle of the palate topography. Finish is like a light unwooded Chardonnay, ie. crap. Again, warming up may go some way to improving the character, but it's otherwise not a stupefying drop anyway. Mouthfeel is quite thing and although its lack of body makes it drinkable, this beer is otherwise a disappointment to its parents, its family and its country.