Hoppy red ale with pomegranate juice added. Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas.
Pours a very dark red colour with slight gold tinge to it. Head is off-white, decently foamy but not all that vibrant, just a thin film really. Goodly amount of lace on there and a nice cascade when I tilt it. Maybe a touch too dark, but nice.
Smells quite pleasant. Malt-driven, with lots of caramel and a touch of toastiness. Slight fruity character at the back that with the malt gives a kind of fruit mince pie character, maybe slightly spicy. Smells more altbiery than really 'red ale' (possibly a touch old?) but it's a pleasant beer aroma.
Tastes quite similar really. Malt-driven, with lots of toffee and caramel upfront, developing some toasty, almost burnt character midway; maybe a hint oxidised. Fruit character late-mid is predominantly ester-driven, so seems more like fermentation byproducts than hops - or this pomegranate that the label proclaims. Not sure what pomegranate would do to a beer, and judging from this the answer is not much. There's a decent tang late but it seems a little half-hearted with the malt bill really taking the lead. Pretty pleasant, but it's kind of a safely pleasant palate without many twists to it. But also not really exemplary of a classic style, so the fact that it feels quite traditional and safe feels a bit uninspired here.
Mouthfeel is a little thin of course but with a nice foamy texture to it. Helps pad it out so it's thin but not harsh.
Drinks quite nice, even though it's less exciting or interesting than I'd expected.
500ml brown bottle purchased for me some time ago by Sam.
Pours a dense, still, very cloudy brown colour, that comes across more as murky than hazy. Head is almost non-existent, and what minor ring forms on the pour dissipates very quickly. Lacing is non-existent. Carbonation is non-existent. It looks still and rather unappealing.
Nose is extremely sour. Not to overstate the fact, but this is clearly infected. It has an overly tart vinous character that smack of bready red wine—the kind of thing you'd get from a goon bag, at best. Some very faint juniper characters come though, slightly woody and sharp, but they don't explain the otherwise vinegary characters in the aroma.
Taste is similar, and more strongly pronounces the infection. It's very, very tart—sharp, biting and vinegary, with a faint herbal tone that maybe suggests the juniper. This is probably characterising the traditional form of the sahti, which would almost certainly have been infected by wild yeast, bacteria and everything else that was around. But it's untamed and also no particularly pleasant.
Feel is stripping and sharp. Bite from the acidity, plus a lack of body otherwise. Not great.
Maybe this is what a sahti was like in 3000BC, as they claim on the label. But right now, it's clearly what you'd get if you add no hops, and have a dubious sanitation regime. It's extremely tart and unrefined. It lacks that control that would have maybe made it interesting, and instead just rides the infection to wherever it might go.
500ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam for Christmas.
Pours a hazed mango gold colour, with coarse bubbling that forms a rigid, pocked rim of white lace. Carbonation is powerful, rising swiftly through a light body. Looks decent enough, but with a couple of bits that make me wary.
Nose is definitely based around the chai spices. There's plenty of cinnamon and the sweetness of honey, wrapped up in a package which gives off Belgian yeast overtones. These mostly come from the preponderance of the spice, but they certainly skew my perceptions away from "sprightly summer ale" and more towards abbey tripel. It's nice though.
Taste is reasonable, but it doesn't match up to the breadth and strength of the nose. There's a lightness through the centre, which certainly makes sense for a regular blonde ale, but which provides a weak starting point for all the promised spices. Once these come in, there's almost an acidity, providing a seltzer-like thinness. This is further promoted by the aggressive carbonation. The finish turns slightly green and organic—somewhere between clipped grass and the aromatics of a steamed banana leaf.
Feel is light and fairly empty.
Overall, it's not bad, but the aroma is easily the best part of this. The rest can't match up to it, and it perhaps uncovers a lack of skill in its execution—the idea is fine, but it needs to be carried through to all parts of the beer.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a very pale yellow colour, light in the body, and fizzy. It has almost no head though—frothing swiftly like a glass of soda water and then disappearing. After a while, even the carbonation is gone, making it look like a slightly aged white wine. Interesting.
Nose is tart, but with a relatively pleasant spice and herbal quality behind it. I get hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but also a sharper organic greenness that reminds me of the aroma of Nelson Sauvin. It's subtle complexity, but there's interesting stuff there.
Taste is light and dry on the front, with a clean, sharp acidity. The back has plenty of spice character, but the body evaporates like a light-bodied white wine—something with plenty of acid. Finish has earthy, peppery tones, with characters of eucalyptus and a slight smokiness.
Feel is very light, but with a crispness both from the residual carbonation and the acidity.
It's crisp and interesting, and the combination of spices give it a depth of complexity to explore. Would I drink it a lot? You know, I almost might. It has a lightness that's really quite pleasant, and the acidity makes it rather refreshing.
57 / 100
Brewed for, and tried at, GABS festival 2017 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale amber colour, standard beer colour really. Surprising clarity for the style though, with nice beige, foamy head. Looks alright.
Smells citric; kind of rindy and bitter with lemon and lime characters. Not bad and in line with what's promised, but somehow a bit overdone, it doesn't really smell that appealing.
Taste is a fair bit too malty; fairly large caramel character upfront that lingers throughout. Develops some lime zest, again quite rindy on the back, together with some phenolic Belgian character that's in keeping with the style but doesn't necessarily mesh with the other flavours. Bacchus Brewing brought a LLB beer to this festival two years ago and it was excellent; this... isn't.
Mouthfeel is fine, bit of carbonation texture as it goes down.
It definitely lacks citrus tang, and as such it's just not refreshing and gets bogged down in flavours that don't match the brief and don't go together well.
44 / 100
Pours a gold colour, very cloudy with sediment. Head is cream, sparsely webbed that sinks quickly. Bit pale for the style, but not terrible.
Smells mostly yeasty. Odd fruity notes that are too light for the style with mango and maybe some apricot. Not a lot of spice character. Disappointing.
Taste is tangy fruit as well, and sweet, with none of the classic Winter Warmer notes. Honey character to the malt upfront, but it flattens out to be quite insipid on the midpoint. Some light clove and vanilla notes on the back but far too subtle for the style and for this festival generally.
Nice full body, big malt presence. Would have thought this would translate to greater depths and complexities on the palate but it doesn't, sadly.
Bit meek and uninspiring generally. Not a fan.
75 / 100
375ml dark green bottle, capped and wax-sealed, purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours an "intentionally" still deep amber brown, slightly hazed but with some light filtering through and giving some ruby tones to it. No head, carbonation or lacing to speak of, of course, given this is uncarbonated. Body is fairly light, actually, implying that there was a fairly good conversion of the sugars. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is very interesting. Definite oak characters, with hints of toasted coconut and white pepper. There's a sharpness though, almost like pithy cherries, that tends towards acetone or brandy. It's very heady and piquant, and definitely a diversion from the norm.
Taste is also very good, perhaps smoother again than expected. Rounded oak notes and a boozy brandy sweetness heat up the palate, before sharper tones of pepper and cherries give a little pep. Back slopes downwards into a lingering anise liquor character: liquorice and sambuca. Finish smoothes out again with flavours of squashed sultanas.
Feel is interesting due to the lack of carbonation. It feels a little low and flat, but there's variation from the volatile alcohol characters even so.
At 16.4% it's unsurprising that the booze is prominent, but it fits well into the puzzle here. It's perhaps not as insane as other big beers of its ilk, but it has a moderated complexity and level of interest that warrants its big pricetag (both monetary and drunkening). I'd say it's a win.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Opens with barely a hiss, and the pour suggests it's lacking carbonation. But instead, it looks like it's just big-bodied, and forms a languid crest of orange-hued off-white above a heavily hazed amber body. There's a lot of weight to it, and the carbonation forms in very thick, fine streaks. Looks very good.
Nose is also very nice. Smooth malt with hints of spiced bread and deep caramel, but always laced with some nice peat smoke that definitely gives it that Islay whisky note. Slight peppery characters come through as well, perhaps giving a slight mineral tone.
Taste doesn't quite match up to the nose. There's a thin suggestion of caramel on the front, but despite a fairly firm body, it drops out rather quickly. This leaves a bit of smoke and peat on the back that bites like charcoal in the finish. Aftertaste is a little ashy, with overtones of medicine. It leaves a slight unpleasantness in the back, rather bitter without purpose.
Feel is still pretty good for such a fairly lightweight ABV. It's got enough heft to support some fairly complex flavours.
Overall, it's a decent beer, with some interest, and reasonably well-constructed. The lack of body makes the back a little harsh, which is a shame, but otherwise I like it a good deal.
82 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish-black colour with (surprusingly) some decent clarity. Body is quite light, you think, but the carbonation is languid and fine through it. Head is a bronzed-beige forming a very fine solid ring, leaving minimal lace. Looks very decent all up.
Nose is great. Slight berry tartness sets things off, before we dive into smooth vanilla and solid stout richness. Plenty of chocolate, but leavened with notes of rose and lemonade. It's a really fascinating aroma.
Taste is fragrant and bright with those fresh lightening qualities as well. Perfumed but smooth. Towards the mid palate it slides into familiar territory: smooth vanilla and a slight roasty bite. Back is clean, but with a sweet, lingering body supporting it. Finish is lovely and mellow, sweet and smooth with a puffy airy quality in the aftertaste.
Feel is very smooth indeed, which is a great boon to the beer.
Overall, I really loved this. It's slick and luscious and very drinkable even considering its weight. Red Duck really do some very fine stouts, and this is a cracker among crackers.
Pours a full black colour, so black I can't tell the clarity of it. Tan head, dense with a nice crown retaining on the top. Looks great.
Smells of all the things an oaked imperial stout should. Chocolate, dark fruit, bourbon-soaked oak. Has a touch of graininess to it, and lots of complexity to the oak. Doesn't pop with as much aroma as I'd hoped though.
Taste is very sweet. Vanilla and coconut upfront that gets sweet sugary rum character midway and then just plateaus out. Could definitely use more roast for balance, it just tastes a bit underattenuated and sugary.
Full body, touch of alcohol heat is inevitable. Well padded.
Not a bad drop, but a bit sweet for me, and quite intense. It's no Ox.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a reasonably clear golden hue, quite bright in the body with a thin, fine head of white. Some mild patches of sudsy lace form as it goes down, despite the rather minimal head. Carbonation is good—generally quite low, but persisting well in the body, despite it being a relatively dry beer.
Nose is a little dull. Mild clipped-grass leafy hop character to it, giving an earthiness above some fairly neutral malt. A little mild, funk comes through as well—perhaps just a touch of meatiness, or some slightly savoury estery characters from the yeast. It's not really very potent, but it's not unpleasant.
Taste is a bit better. Here the hops become a bit greener and slightly more fragrant, although there's very little in the way of bitterness. Instead, we're left with some slightly vegetative tones perhaps with a mild herbal quality of crushed fresh mint. Coupled with this is a rather savoury malt turn, accentuated by some slightly earthy yeast characters that bring up the rear.
Feel is light—it's very appropriate, and aids the drinkability.
Overall, it just doesn't quite have enough character to get me really excited, although there are some interestingly subtle things at play here. I like the use of the French Aramis and Strisselspalt hops, which are very nice when used right, even though they certainly don't produce the bold characters of others. But overall, it's nice enough, and certainly pretty easy to drink.
46 / 100
Hey, that's what they call it on the bottle. Don't shoot the messenger. 330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Decanted off the yeast sediment, it pours a brilliantly clear deep golden colour with a light but silky body. Head doesn't come to much, and the carbonation is extremely low, so what forms only seems to be the result of perturbation from the pour. It sits as a coarse mesh of white that eventually peters out to just a few large bubbles around the rim. Looks okay, but nothing special.
Nose is pleasantly green, with a good lambic twang to it that hints at crushed vegetation and a slight plastic quality, without really giving the biting sense of any true acidity. Indeed, there seems to be a slightly accentuated sweetness that gives it a slight faro quality. Mostly though, there's some nice vinous characters—white grapes, cork and a little dry biscuity character like sec champagne. It's quite pleasant.
Taste is certainly a disappointment, but only after a while. Pleasant entry gives more of those green, crushed vegetation characters that presage a big biting acidity to anyone who's tried a gueuze before. But then... nothing—actually it's not nothing, but the acidity is almost entirely absent, leaving the back of the palate limp with a seemingly sickly sweetness. It's actually not that sweet (there's a persistent dryness on the back), but when every fibre is expecting tartness, acid, anything, it feels extremely flabby. The finish instead stumbles on with a slight metallic quality towards the back, which isn't unpleasant (and would be fine in a beer with more acid), but which just adds another discordant note to the cacophony.
Feel also suffers from the lack of acidity. Here it feels extremely broad across the middle and back of the palate.
Overall, it's another disappointing sour from Red Duck—I'm just not convinced they do them that well. That being said, I always love an experiment, and my favourite beer is the next one I've not tried yet. So I'm sure Red Duck have more of my favourite beers waiting in the stables.
A "Corn, Guava + Lime Lambic Saison" according to the bottle. I do wish Red Duck would stop trying to reclaim the word "lambic" to mean anything with Brett. lambicus in it, but whatever. 500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a rather dark, amber-orange colour. Quite clear with a rocky, very coarse, aerated head that eventually just puffs itself out and only remains as a tingle of carbonation around the edge of the glass. Body is fairly heavy, although the flighty carbonation streams persistently through it.
Nose is quite interesting. Certainly some funky, weirdly acidic characters come through, but it's hard to separate what comes from the yeast and what comes from the lime. There's certainly a citric quality to the brew, but with a very generic Brett note that leaves it feeling a bit flat and overly earthy. Otherwise it has some leafy notes, and perhaps a suggestion of tropical sweetness from the guava—I may just be expecting it. Some unusual notes at least—I'm not sure how they'll all work together though.
And to answer that, on the palate: not that well. There's a thickness to the beer, a sweetness that seems to permeate everything, and it links just slightly with the lingering guava note to make it seem like the fruit is sitting in a big clump on the palate. And from that basis, the other notes seem cacophonic. There is a thin acidity throughout leaving a reedy bite through the centre. This mingles with a very bitter herbal character that leaves it feeling like you're not just getting the flavour of lime, you're chewing on great clumps of the white pith as well. I genuinely don't like it very much.
I guess I should give my standard Red Duck disclaimer on this one. I really love that Scott and his crew bring out so many beers in a year. And they're always interesting, if not—as in this case—always successful. My interest will always be piqued by a lineup of Red Duck beers in a bottle store fridge, and I'll continue to try them out. But this one's certainly a miss for me—and not a beer I'll be buying again.
70 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. This is a labelled on the bottle as a "Chamomile + Lemongrass Braggot", actually being a chamomile-infused metheglin blended with a lemon grass small beer. It's certainly got the interest factor covered.
Pours a pleasantly bright and clear pale straw colour, with a rather fizzy head of white that pretty quickly runs out of steam, leaving it flat and slightly vinous appearance—just with a slight bead of carbonation. I'm note sure I've had many blended metheglins before, but I'm happy to believe that this fits the bill.
Nose is really very pleasant—smooth vinous quality, mingled with a nice aromatic, herbal quality of citrus. Lemongrass is certainly dominant, but there's possibly a pleasant aromatic chamomile quality giving it a slight lift. Quite pleasant.
Taste is also pretty pleasant. Light throughout giving a clean, slightly acidic bite, balanced with a honeyed sweetness, and some aromatic spiced apple flavours. Finish definitely stands on the spices—probably a little chamomile, with a mild character of cinnamon.
Feel is extremely light, especially given the weight of the ABV, bit it helps accentuate some of the citric characters on the palate.
Overall, this is a really nice, delicate braggot, and quite possibly one of my favourites. The spicy aromatics add some interest, while the light, gentle, and thinner body makes it more drinkable than it might be otherwise. Very nice stuff.
72 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Called a "Hot Chocolate Ale" on the bottle.
Pours a dense brown, with some hazing to the body and a firm, thick head of pale milk chocolate brown that settles out to some islands of larger bubbles surrounded by a fine ring. Lacing forms in streaking slashes down the glass. Carbonation is fine, but rapid, suggesting that there's a little less body to the beer than it looks like. Looks good overall though.
Nose is pleasant, with some noticeable chocolate and cacao characters, but a rather odd floral quality coming through as well. It's a little like dark violets or jasmine, perhaps, which sits above the sweeter notes of the basis. There is a suggestion of dark malt as well—a slight touch of roast, perhaps, or deeply toasted bread. Pleasant all up.
Taste is a tad drier, but mostly filled with similar characters. Toasty malt with some chocolate overtones, that develop into a rather rugged roast bitterness on the back. The finish is very dry, leaving these notes to become slightly ashy. Beyond this is the effervescence of those floral characters; more jasmine-like here, perhaps bolstered by the faint suggestion of chilli, which just tickles the olfactory nerves in the finale.
Feel is a little light, but it does have the coating effect of the chocolate and ashy roast to contend with, which gives it a bit of a boost.
Overall, it's a very interesting brew, and it perhaps reins in some of the more fanciful characters that I often associate with Red Duck, producing a much more coherent beer as a result. That being said, there's still some unique notes here, so despite everything, it still feels very much like a brew from those crazy guys down in Alfredton.
Pours a murky but vibrant red colour. Head is beige, gorgeous pour but fizzles out disappointingly. Not much lace. Head is still nice; guess it goes with the style and looks stunning on first pour.
Smells metallic but oddly clean. Sweet darkish malts blend with copper, grass and dusty rye character. Pleasant maltiness with a touch of char; not bad.
Taste is malty with a fair whack of slightly toasty character throughout. Hops come through midway, subtle lemon hint with grass and a touch of soap. Finishes somewhat bitter: again a touch of copper, but otherwise decently clean. Slight astringent aftertaste which mars it somewhat. Otherwise nice caramel malty notes that finishes nice and clean.
Smooth with a touch of fuzz (yes, I meant fuzz, I didn't slip while writing fizz) as it goes through. Holds up pretty nicely.
I like a good altbier, but I haven't met an altbier, even a good one, that I love. And this is a good altbier.
74 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Brewed with yarrow, wormwood, mugwort, dendelion, orange peel, lemon balm, elderflower, hibiscus and hawthorn berries.
Poured without the yeast sediment, it ends up strikingly clear in the glass. Dark golden in colour, with a small amount of bubbly white froth that gives up quickly leaving the beer looking thick and still like a dessert wine. There was some carbonation early, but it disappears pretty quickly. Looks interesting enough though.
Nose is a little spicy and a little tart, with a decent whack of body funk in there as well. Some of the herbal qualities come through—to be honest, I don't know what a lot of the herbal additions smell like, but I do get a little of the crisp balmy sweetness of elderflower, and certainly some other earthy, but fragrant tones. The acidity is certainly noticeable from the front too. Smells good.
Taste is also pretty nice. Clean acidity front front to back, with a little upkick from the herbs that make it taste slightly earthy and organic. The tartness gives it a vinous quality in the centre and towards the back, maybe like an aged chardonnay. Finish is quite dry, but with a linger from the acid that definitely adds length, and an almost moreish bite. Feel is slick, but flat. It works well enough, but only adds to the sensation that I'm drinking wine, not beer.
Overall, it's certainly the most coherent and most drinkable of Red Duck's gruits I've had. The herbal qualities come through, but they also integrate well with the beer as a whole. In the end it's quite a tasty package.
45 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a deep red colour, quite clear, but relatively thin and fine in the body. Head forms a coarse matrix initially, but settles to a thin ring, almost nothing. Minimal lacing and minimal body. I can't say it looks all that great, but it's not offensive really.
Nose is slightly thin as well: some toasty darkness, and a hint of dustiness. Slight aniseed characters, a suggestion of booze—but overall, it's pretty light. It definitely lacks the richness and sweetness of a good doppelbock. This feels like a pretty weak comparison.
Taste is similar. There's a thinness that permeates this beer from head to toe—the malt is thin and slightly savoury, and the rest of the palate is pretty weak. There's some vegemite notes, a little roast and a rather unnuanced booze that comes through towards the back.
Feel is also very thin—it would work in any other lager, but a doppelbock surely needs more weight and sweetness than this.
Overall, this is disappointing stuff from Red Duck—I love that Red Duck try so many different beers, and I love that there are always beers like this from these guys for me to try. But of course when you have such a wide approach to making beers, you're going to make some duds.
69 / 100
Even Red Duck can't decide what this is. The call it a Red Saison / Japanese Brown Ale, made with dark malts, red, black and white rice, oats, wattleseed and Nori seaweed and fermented with a sake yeast. Yeah, this sounds like one of Scott's ideas. Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep, turbid brown with very solid hazing. Body has a bit of heft and weight behind it, and holds fine carbonation when tilted. Head is beige in colour, and leaves bits of broken ringing lace as it goes down. Looks good overall.
Nose is initially toasty, with a bit of cherry coming through and a nutty quality that seems to get mixed up in the funk. As it warms, sharper characters of anise and ink come through as well. It's certainly unusual.
Light toasty entry on the palate, with a smooth middle section that releases some rounded Belgian tones and a little grassy funk, possibly from the rice and sake yeast. Back is very light with a bit of buttery smoothness that turns into a light nutty character in the aftertaste. Feel is smooth but with a generous amount of carbonation.
Overall, this is a good beer. It's not necessarily outside the general oeuvre of Red Duck, but that's a pretty broad space to work in.
61 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Poured without the sediment for the review.
Indeed, it pours very clear as a result: a pleasant bright amber hue with rushing fine carbonation visible through the body. Head forms a crackling, fizzy mass at the start, but settles down over time to a frothy, but persistent film. Some streaking, sudsy lace. Body looks light. Otherwise, looks pretty decent.
Nose is quite mild, without the rustic spice I've had from other BdGs. Instead, this has a much meatier, malty tone that smells a little like unfermented wort. There's a slight carbonation to it that gives it a twang of acidity, and just a faint herbal tone, perhaps some rosemary or something of its ilk. Again, not bad.
Taste is a lot lighter than expected. There's something to that in a way, given that it's 7.4% ABV. But it means that it is lacking a little interest. Some worty characters again on the front, before a lightly herbal, slightly phenolic character brings a little of that classic rustic character on the back. Carbonation is a tad aggressive, leaving it feeling rather bloating.
Overall, though, it's a decent stab at a style that's varied in itself. There's not a huge amount of complexity, and it's not a beer that I'd really drink a lot of, but as part of a range like Red Duck do, it's an interesting enough addition.
59 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne by Sarah.
Pours a lovely bright yellow-orange hue, slightly hazed, but quite vibrant. Head is great: a full crest of pure white that stays fine and persistent all the way down. Body is pretty light: actually works well for an IPA, but it could be thicker for an Imperial. Love the colour though.
Nose is clean and fairly hoppy, but is missing that big punch of hops you get in the best examples. Instead, it's neutral and clean, lightly herbal, with a bit of resin. But a good DIPA should really smack me about a bit.
Taste is also pleasant enough, but missing both of the key parts for an IIPA in my mind. Firstly, while it's bitter, the hop character only really comes through on the very back, leaving most of the palate fairly dry. And that brings up the second drawback: it has very little body. In a way, this helps hide the booze rather well, but it does present itself with the hop bitterness on the back to create a little astringency. It's okay, but feels very neutral and bland in many ways.
Overall, it's bumped up a bit by the fact that it's actually surprisingly drinkable for its ABV, largely due to the plain nature that it lays out. Were it bigger or bolder, it may be less drinkable, but it would almost certainly be a better beer.
61 / 100
Pours a deep amber colour with white bubbly head. Large bubbles, sticks around. Not bad, not great.
Smells quite malty upfront with a touch of pearl barley grain, light toffee. US hops take over midway, grapefruit and lemon with a touch of bitterness. Fairly standard US hop character.
Palate starts with caramel notes and a touch of rye spice. Hops are fruity, with apple, pear and grapefruit providing the biggest bitterness on the back. Touch of spice; the hops are strong but not offensive. Quite nice.
Decent body, slight touch of carbonation.
Not a bad single-hopped APA but it verges on IPA-level bitterness. I also question Centennial as a choice for a single hop but that's just a matter of personal preference (as are so many assessments of single hop beers).
62 / 100
Pours a pale straw witbier colour, cloudy with white foamy head. Looks nice.
Smells champagney, and dry, with fruity notes and plenty of spice. Apple/pear mix with a touch of cedar wood, oak and cinnamon. Not bad.
Chardonnay on the palate, or at least that buttery French oak character and a touch of tartness putting me in mind of grape skins. Bit of pepper, with cinnamon, clove and a good blend of banana and pear fruit on there as well. Dry overall though, which is a bit of a shame, but quite nice.
Mouthfeel is surprisingly full. Possibly bitty from all the cloudiness; slight touch of carbonation cuts through. Not bad.
Not a bad drop, but not quite Belgian, or particularly fruity. Decent enough.
62 / 100
I'm perhaps a bit cautious trying this braggot, given the last Wild Honey Braggot I tried from Red Duck (Smells Like a Pony), we one of my most hated beers of 2012. We'll see how this one goes. 330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pretty clear, deep golden hue, tending towards brassy, with a fine filmy head of just off-white the persists as a ring. Some bubbling in the top as well. Minimal lace forms, and the body looks surprisingly light for its ABV. Interesting.
Nose is somewhat muted. There's a slight floral honey aroma, along with some spicy, slightly herbal, vegetative characters: dandelion and peppertree. It's actually relatively pleasant. And, mercifully, it does not smell like a pony.
Taste is similar to the nose for the most part, but with a much more pronounced honey flavour on the mid to late back palate, leaving a slightly earthy, slightly floral character, with those same organic overtones. Despite the honey flavours, there's actually very little sweetness to it. Indeed, the palate feels clipped somewhat, leaving an almost savoury character that works with the honey like a baked chicken drumstick. Booze is noticeable in both the flavour towards the back and as a sharpness in the feel.
Overall, though, this is quite drinkable in its way: I think it's probably the braggot I've most warmed to, but I'll admit it's a style that I don't enjoy all that much.
80 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a smooth but thin and fine black with brown edging: the body of a solid schwartzbier. Head forms a firm ring around the edge of the glass, and a fine film elsewhere and pale brown in colour. Slight patchy lace around the glass. Carbonation is subdued, but extremely fine when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty solid indeed.
Yep. Liquorice indeed throughout this one. Definitely earthy liquorice root, but there's a brusquer variation on it which I'll put down to the aniseed myrtle, and, yes, even a slightly brighter note attributable to the sassafras. Under this is a solid dark beer, slated with a roast character and some light bready overtones. Nice stuff.
Taste is very solidly done: at its core, its a solid schwartz, with a cleanness to the palate, but flavours of roasty malt and neutral grain providing texture and colour. And then there's the liquorice characters, which are certainly more subdued here than on the nose: and that's a good thing. It shows a wonderful restraint that could have easily become overpowering and intense on the palate with spicy, peppery or astringent characteristics. Instead, we're left with the solid malt basis tempered and shaped into something unique by the spice additions.
Feel is great, and shows why making this as a lager was such a strong move: it's light and crisp, which manages to accentuate the spicier fragrant tones of the liquorice while not giving it enough of a basis to become too overpowering.
Overall, this is great stuff. Red Duck have a knack for being experimental, but even better is when they create something quite unique that shows such restraint and balance as this does. And can I also say it's great to see Aussie craft breweries using Austraian indigenous ingredients like Red Duck are doing here with the aniseed myrtle. Very impressive stuff.
I tried this beer for the first time at the brewery when it was very fresh and very new indeed, but circumstances (ahem, drunkenness) prevented me from giving it a proper review. I did remember enjoying it a great deal, however, so I was very pleased when my brother bought me a bottle for my birthday from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a solid dark brown with good clarity and a rather light body. Head forms a middling lattice of large, pale brown bubbles and then only really because I poured with some vigour. In fact, the beer seems almost uncarbonated, but that's perhaps not that unexpected for a beer with a long barrel conditioning.
Nose is full of oak: big vanillin characters mingling with the darker malt notes to give subtle berry hints. Not much in the way of juniper on the nose, except perhaps a savoury crispness that comes through. The oak is clearly dominant though: the way it works with the other characters give subtle purple grape and molasses notes. And that's a pretty decent thing.
Taste is pleasant, and here the juniper comes out a little more, giving a slightly tart, slightly bitter vegetative character to the centre of the palate. Under it is a solid, if relatively light porter, which rests on faint roast without much broad maltiness. The aftertaste has a touch more of that juniper note which to me is somewhere oddly between savoury and bitter. It could either use a touch more carbonation or a bit more body to help the feel: as it is, it ends up being a little bit flat.
Overall though, I did enjoy this a good deal. I remember the juniper being more prominent when it was young, but (ahem) there were circumstances that perhaps prevented me from giving the most rigorous opinion at the time. My suggestion is, however, that you drink this sooner rather than later if you have a bottle: the oak has already given it all the time it needs to age, and I think the juniper character might just get more and more lost the longer it goes on.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. This is styled a "Single Hop (Mosaic) Belgian Fruit (Orange) Witbier". Yup. I expect nothing less from the styles coming out of Red Duck.
Pours a pale, pale yellow colour, very light indeed with some hazing. Body weight is fluid and a little thin, topped with a full and foamy head of white. Lace is solid and streaky. Some carbonation.
Zesty entry on the nose. Lemon myrtle sweet-spicy-acidic characters, extremely bright and fresh. Orange peely witbier notes, with a spicy, herbal overtone. Lovely!
Light, clean and crisp on the entry to the palate. Wheaty pale malt and a touch of sweetness. The orange comes back again mid-palate, spicy and bright before moving to a piquant finish leavened with a zesty lemon character that stays bright. It fades a little towards the finish (at 4.2% this isn't surprising), but it stays exceedingly drinkable. For the same reason the feel is very light.
Overall though, this is a cracking beer, and potentially (and surprisingly) one of Red Duck's best. Supremely drinkable stuff: a beer of which I would be happy drinking many bottles.
69 / 100
A single-hopped APA brewed by Red Duck with the Victorian Homebrewing champion, using (unsurprisingly) the eponymous Centennial. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a dark golden colour, almost trending towards a pale brown with some hazing. Head is an off-white ring, but relatively solid. Body is light, and the lacing is mild and unremarkable. Looks decent enough.
Bright orange characters on the nose, with a slightly more organic musty, sweaty character following it up. Solid neutral malt forms a basis. There's also a slight hint of white pepper. It's a bit mild all up, but quite pleasant.
Spritzy orange zest on the front, with a sour candy type of aromatic flavour. This all drops out pretty quickly though, leaving the mid-palate feeling a little bit empty and light. Clipped bitterness on the back, while a lingering pale malt character helps extend the hops a little further. Not bad.
Feel is smooth and clean.
Overall, this is very decent stuff. Nice, light and clean and quite refreshing.
70 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a slight cloud. Head is listless, just a ring of thin white foam. Sticks to glass alright, but otherwise looks pretty blah.
Smells intriguing. Bit of sweet honey malt with a bit of a hole where the pungency of the smell dips a little, but then floating above it all is a nice star anise spice, plenty of clove, a touch of green apple and some cinnamon. Blends in well with Belgian overtones, but yeah, would like more malty oomph.
Taste is quite Belgian. Has a slight sour overtone and plenty of that spicy yeast character, blended nicely with the fuirt chai spice notes. Plenty of clove, star anise, touch of fennel as well as some green apple, plum and raisin. Overall it's oddly sweet, but the tart edge is nice and very welcome, blends in quite well with spice and brown sugar. Pleasant drop.
Bit of sizzle to it. Decent body, but doesn't quite cover that carb fizz.
Nice Belgian beer with a pleasant spice twist. Personally I'd like to see the same spice twist in a richer, desserty beer, but it's a good match with the Belgian notes.
330ml bottle purchased as part of a mixed 6-pack from the brewery in Alfredton.
Pours a solidly deep brown, opaque almost throughout, and yet I can still tell it's brown and not black. Head starts off its life as a reasonable froth of mocha/off-white, but becomes a thin ring pretty quickly. Carbonation is loose and racing when tilted. No lacing to speak of.
Nose is dark, but rounded, and smoothed out. It has some of those sweet, slightly heady Belgian aromas, but set on a different basis: the darkness comes through to give some depth. There's not a lot of true roast character, more mild coffee, slight chocolate, a touch of aniseed, and perhaps rounded out with a hint of creamy vanilla. It feels a little like it's ticking the boxes: Belgian, yep, vanilla, yep, porter, yep. It doesn't do anything else to really warrant its existence as a style though.
Taste is a little more pleasant though: in addition to the mild roast and the aromatic vanilla character, we get a sharp sweetness like dark berries, which mingles well with the darkness inherent in the malt. Slight uptilt in tartness on the back: nothing like an infection, perhaps just the suggestion of those berries, a flick from the vanilla and the aromatics inherent in the Belgian yeast. Finish is a little empty, however.
Feel is quite light. It's actually rather disappointing: I get the Belgian aspect of having a light finish, but I think this needs and perhaps deserves more.
Overall, it's fine. Indeed, it actually has some amount of interest that works reasonably well. But it's perhaps a case of too many variables causing some chaos. I think the Belgian yeast and the vanilla work against each other: one or the other would probably make an interesting and flavoursome beer, and together they just create a mass of anti-synergy.
56 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from the brewery in Alfredton.
Pours a faintly hazed orange amber colour, with a slight, frothed head of off-white. Body looks quite solid and holds minimal but very fine carbonation. Some streaking weak lace. Looks pretty decent overall.
Nose is faintly floral and a little sweet, with some crushed minerally overtones. Some herbal tones come through, and some crystal sweetness. It all feels very flat: there's substance behind it, but it feels a lot like everything has been buffed and polished to have no edge and little true character.
Taste is similar. Slight grainy basis laced with plenty of those herbal and mineral tones, slight peach characters and a metallic twist. It has some savoury characters as well: a sweetness like stewed tomatoes with melted cheese. Feel is very disappointing. Carbonated, sparkly and light, really not providing any support to the beer, which really would benefit from it.
Overall, it's fine. Really, it is. But it's also either too bland, or too far out of its designation to be well-crafted. I'm not a big fan as a result.
69 / 100
330ml brown bottle, purchased at the brewery in Alfredton. A "chai spice Belgian blond", according to the label.
Pours a very blond golden colour with a fine ring of bubbling as its only crest. Lacing forms in minimal but thin strips as the beer goes down. Carbonation is extremely fine, and the beer looks pretty solid. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is a really pleasant blend of rounded Belgian tones, with the spice character inherent in the style accentuated by a subtle sweet Chai character. Cinnamon and cloves come through fragrantly, with some sweet ginger and bay leaf character. There's a hint of booze to it as well, which just creates a heady accentuation to everything. It's very pleasant: the spices mix well and integrate almost seamlessly with the Belgian character. It's very well done.
Taste is a lot lighter, and it a little disappointing as a result. Mild, only faintly Belgian tones underpin a thin, reedy spice character, which adds punctuation but little depth or complexity. Some booziness comes through towards the back, with the result that all the malt just drops out, leaving a gaseous ethanol character. Unfortunately, it feels as though it's a middling Belgian ale accentuated but not improved by the spices on the palate.
Feel is fine and fluid. Pleasant, but without enough heft to really aid the flavour much.
Overall, it's pretty interesting, and actually a well-conceived idea: the chai really blends nicely with the spice characters inherent in the style as it stands. This maybe fails a little in that it doesn't really get the base Belgian blond style as spot on as it should. But despite this, it's still quite a compelling brew. Worth seeking out.
73 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased at the brewery in Alfredton. This is a single-hop pale ale, using the eponymous Topaz hop.
Poured without the sediment, it lands sparkling clear in the glass, a bright yellow-golden colour with a fine, if minimal white head. Some specks of lacing. Body looks solid but fluid, and holds a minimal amount of bubbly carbonation when tilted. I like the colour and the clarity. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is clean and fresh, with a lovely sharp citrus character and a suggestion of pine. Although these meld together a little to make an aroma like some sort of cleaning detergent, it's actually rather pleasant. Some prickly malt grain characters provide a bit of basis, but they ultimately just underline the freshness of the hops. It's very pleasant as a result.
Taste is also good, although a little thin on body, and towards the back. Some light fruitiness and a crisp hop note drives the palate from the front, before running out of steam and puttering out to a crushed greenery dryness. Indeed, in a hoppier beer, there would at least be the residual bitterness to keep the flavours going longer, but this is resolutely an APA not an IPA, and the short finish fits more along those lines.
This is really quite a pleasant, easy drinking beer. The hop character is really nicely done, and shows really nicely what a great hop Topaz can be. If it peters our somewhat, well, that's what it should do, even if I personally think it could support more length and complexity. But this is a fine beer nonetheless, and one of Red Duck's more successful, if less experimental outings.
75 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased on-site from the brewery.
Pours a flat, thick and extremely hazed orange-yellow colour. Body is very thick, and the small amount of yeast sediment forms a very strange dance in the glass. It also seems strangely stratified: the top is a much lighter yellow, and there's a deeper orange stripe directly underneath it. Overall: just fucking weird. And that's fine by me.
Nose is undoubtedly also very weird: striking acidity brings to mind a young white wine, but it's blended with a funky, dirty character, like soil or clay. Some bread characters, myrrh, middle eastern spice and a phenolic, sharp boozy note. I stand by my original statement: fucking weird.
Taste is clean and acidic for the most part, with odd buttery, bready and juniper tones towards the back. There's a fruity acidity that becomes more prominent on the finish: more juniper, tart apricot and cranberry. Despite it's apparent 11.3% ABV, it feels quite light, fluid and slushy in the mouth. Real astringency on the back, with an almost puckering dryness.
Feel is light and clean, until the astringency rips every suggestion of moisture out of the mouth. It's very strange.
Did I say "fucking weird"? Pretty sure I did, and nothing at all about this beer makes me change my initial perception. This is very strange: sour and clean, but spiked with insane weirdnesses even if you accept the basic premise of the beer. Red Duck, you are absolutely mental.
76 / 100
After some disastrously crazy beers from Red Duck, it's nice to see them try their hand at something less likely to offend. 330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours surprisingly light and clear: a deep red-brown colour that's clearly transparent in the light—perhaps a little too dark for a red ale, but probably only halfway between a red ale and a porter. It could be around IBA territory, which they seem to acknowledge on the bottle. Head is a fine accumulation of pale off-white bubbles—these form larger bubbles, and then dissipate to a film. Lacing is speckled and ambiguous. Body is quite light. Looks decent enough, although the colour is surprising.
Nose is mildly roasted, with some pleasant uptilt from the hops. The sweetness from the malt mingles to give a musk character and a hint of crushed vegetation. Some grainy notes are pleasant as well, giving a mild toasted bread underpinning to everything. It's nice stuff.
Taste is mild but balanced: pleasant flat roasted malt provides a biscuity basis, on which are layered faint hints of floral hoppiness, giving some spikes in flavour content, but not any overpowering bitterness. Some vegetative characters do round out the back palate, however, giving a crispness that you wouldn't expect in your average porter. It is, as they say on the label, very well-balanced.
Feel is smooth and light, with just the right amount of fine carbonation.
Overall, I'm really very happy with this. I'm often pretty harsh on Red Duck when their all-or-nothing experiments go awry (see, for example, Smells Like A Pony), but I'm glad to see that their more balanced and more traditional beers are as good as this one. Very solid stuff.
9 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
I think it's fair to say I have a complicated relationship with Red Duck. On one hand, you have superb beers like their Ox Imperial Stout, and their very drinkable Hoppy Amber, and on the other you have beers like... um... this one.
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a cloudy dark brown colour, with a galaxy film on the inside when swirled, but otherwise only forming a head due to turbulence from the pour. Fine carbonation and bead. Body is noticeably thick and sticky.
Nose delivers what it promises, at least partially: sweet, hot and sticky, with noticeably unpleasant barnyard horsey overtones. The heat gives a solvent-like intensity which accentuates the "pony" characters, while also infiltrating and violating your nostrils. I can't fault it for doing what it said it was going to do, except that smelling like a pony is a fucking stupid idea.
Taste is also noticeably unpleasant. Big sweaty, hay-like overtones, mingled with dung and rubbing alcohol. Very hot, and sickly sweet, just to ensure all the unpleasant characters get a broad basis on the palate. Despite this, it lacks complexity, and feels almost disgustingly light—I suppose it's unsurprising when the honey ferments out. This is really, really quite disgusting.
Yeah, I'm not pulling punches here: this is foul stuff. But by the same token, I would happily be effusive in my praise if they'd pulled the trigger on another weird endeavour and come up with something unique and interesting.
I can't believe Red Duck set out to brew a braggot that smelled and tasted like this: I can believe, however, that they came up with the name once they'd discovered the perverted places their experiment had taken them. This really shouldn't be—it's unpleasant, unrefined and undrinkable.
48 / 100
Pours an amber colour, very slight cloud to it. Cream-coloured head is nice and dense and clings to the glass. Looks nice; good colour.
Smells like Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes®. Decent actual honey character to it giving nice sweetness. Sweet and nutty, yeah I could enjoy this.
Bit simple on the palate, also a little bit off. Unfortunately it gets a bit of pure ethyl alcohol from those characterless, flavourless fermentables. Lacking a bit of honey character and gets a slight fruity by-product as well. Bit meh.
Bit light on the body, could really have ramped up the stickiness by adding more malt body. Wouldn't have gone amiss in a honey ale.
Bit meh overall, and bland. Disappointing.
Bottle purchased from Beer Cartel in Sydney.
Pours a very clear, and very effervescent deep golden colour, a bit deeper and certainly more fizzy than I expected. Head forms only as a bubbly ring around the outside of the glass. Body is fluid, with a bit of weight behind it. Looks decent, but not particularly exciting.
Nose is quite bretty and hay-like, with a sweeter tinge of apple juice. Some acidity comes through along with a chalky, dusty character. The apple juice doesn't get out of your head once its there, meaning this smells more than anything like a rustic French cider.
Taste is... well... ew. The hint of acidity on the palate suggested that this was going to make a decent stab at a cutting, sour Belgian lambic style. But, ew, here we've got a big honeyed sweetness masked with a dirty, gritty, yeasty funk that brings to mind the dregs of Carlton Draught. Horsey characters from the brett jangle uncontrollably on the palate, while a chalky, mineral finish leaves a metallic astringency in the mouth. Just unpleasant.
Feel is not much chop either: the aggressive carbonation adds to the anarchy on the palate.
Really, this is really quite shiftless and unkempt beer that really doesn't know what it's doing. It's like someone threw brett into the fermenter and then didn't care about the end result. Unfortunately, without the careful craft and blending, this is the type of disheveled mess you can end up withâit's a worrying trend in Aussie micros.
Bottle from Beer Cartel.
Completely uncarbonated, the body is a dark but very still oily brown hue. Weight is solid, but it maintains its fluidity, and doesn't form legs when swirled. Nor for that matter does it induce any sort of carbonation. It's a funny-looking beer, but that's absolutely to be expected.
Nose is spicy and sweet, with oily dark fruits coming through, along with a leathery, oaky, tannin-laced darkness. Brighter spice comes through as well: a hint of dried ginger and pepper, with a lilting hint of orange rind. It's complex and interesting, even if I've no sense whatsoever of where it's taking me.
Taste is much more acidic, with a strong acetic tone through the centre. It's really sharp, and overwhelms pretty much everything else. There's a rounded mildly sweet darkness hiding behind the acid on the back, but it's about all that can be perceived outside that really quite alarmingly brusque tartness.
Hooey. Sorry guys, but acid isn't a winner in and of itself. This ends up being a very one-dimensional beer once you start drinking it. The spicy, subtle complexities on the nose are absolutely bombarded into submission on the palate, meaning this is significantly less exciting than it should have been. It's a shame; it certainly had promise.
58 / 100
English-style ale brewed with honey and Bramling Cross hops. Tried on-tap at the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne.
Pours a bronzed amber hue with some hazing present. Really solid body, and a firm fine head of white. Looks good.
Aroma is mostly grainy but rather pleasant. Some aromas of spiced honey or mead, and a hint of plasticene. Overall, it's pretty light though, and it doesn't have a whole heap going on.
Similar on the palate, in fact, it feels even more empty than the nose. Mild grain comes through on the front, with a touch of bland malty sweetness going towards the back, and a pretty empty finish. Smooth enough finish.
It's light enough. It's not bad. But it's very middling in the big scheme of things.
59 / 100
Pours a dark, but surprisingly clear red colour, like faded rubies. Head is bubbly, but persistent, forming as a mosaic of off-white foam across the top of the glass. Minimal lacing. Body is surprisingly light and fluid, but holds some fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, pretty decent looking brew.
Smell is sweet and round, giving an almost estery Belgian character to the brew. Some faint milk chocolate characters, and a dark, slightly vegetative sweetness fill it out. It's very interesting.
I've found some of Red Duck's beers to be too sweet for my tastes, and oddly, this one, which I feel could have warranted som syrupy slickness to it, is the exception to the rule. Quite a light, dry entry, with a touch of booziness clipping around the edges of the palate. Some roasted characters, and a faux-sugar character like carob nibbling its way in on the back. Can't say I'm overly impressed, to be honest.
Feel also suffers from this: although it has a slickness and even a hint of weight behind it, the palate doesn't fill it out, meaning it feels empty, with a kick of booze in the finish.
Overall: disappointing. It's not bad, and in fact it does some interesting things. It's just a shame it didn't do a couple of other things better.
72 / 100
Pours a lovely hazed mahogany-amber colour, with a fine, but slightly frothy head of off-white. Some subtle lacing, but not a lot. Body looks solid but fluid. Overall, it's a good-looking brew.
Nose is full of sweet fruits, but luscious, dark and juicy varieties, not the tropical or citrus sharpness I might have expected. Instead we have dark plums, sultanas and apricots, all fixed together with a dark, bittersweet toffee aroma. There's a hint of carbonic acidity to it as well. It's blended very nicely, however. Smells great.
Taste is also sweeter than expected, with subtle touches of green hop character around the edges. Very smooth and mild bitterness comes through, replaced later by sweet ginger snap characters, and an odd touch of meaty savouriness on the finish. As the beer clears up entirely, some residual aromatics come through giving the scent of lavender. Interesting.
Feel is smooth and full, with a pleasant cleanness.
Overall, a really nice brew from Red Duck, and one I'd be happy to drink on a regular basis. Indeed, apart from The Ox, this might be my favourite of their brews so far.
49 / 100
Pours a dark chocolate colour, brown around the edge. Head is lacklustre, just a cloud but a vigorous swirl revives to a thin, dense film. Beige lacing is OK. Bit blah.
Smell is very coffee-esque with roast espresso hiding a slightly sour, dark berry aroma. Spice notes as well, but mostly an organic, almost charcoaly dark bitterness. Bit too much dark bitterness, doesn't really smell appealing.
Taste is insanely sour, and tastes like a mad scientist put it together. Hints of spicy espresso roastiness all the way through with a dark, sour cherry edge, some unripe berries and hint of red wine. The coffee notes underlying add a charcoaly edge that I'm not a fan of, but otherwise the sourness seems to mellow out with further sips, and actually becomes a bit watery. Bit of a pull on the back reminds you of the tartness. Very weird beer, can't say I particularly love any aspect though.
Bit of pull from the acidity, dries up late but otherwise flat and uneventful.
I think a greater malt presence and body would help this beer in every way. It's just lacking balance, and is mostly weird as a result.
Purchased from Slowbeer, shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe
Pours a very dark brown, quite hazed and chocolate-coloured, with very minimal headâjust a fine ring of mocha brown around the edge of the glass. Body looks quite thin, although it's almost completely uncarbonated, meaning it has a stillness and depth to it that's unusual. Looks weird, but interesting.
Nose is undoubtedly weird. Big roasted, almost smoky grain characters backed up with a brazen acidity and a spicy, earthy peppery bite, like arugula. It's a weird and oddly intoxicating mixture, but it's one that doesn't really entice me to take a sip.
Taste is certainly acidic, with a tartness on the front that only mellows late as the chocolate grains come through. Not a lot of the spice or earthy characters, and, authentic as it may be, the acidity reeks of unplanned homebrew-style infection. But that's just prejudice on my partâin fact, the acidity gives it a fine drinkability, and a refreshment I wasn't expecting at all.
A very interesting brew, but not a particularly complex one. The acidity is more pronounced than in other gruits I've had, and it lacks the odd complexity that some of them get. But still, it's great to see breweries trying such weird styles and doing a reasonable job at them.
Pours a deep reddish amber with no head at all. Ring of lacing left when tilted where the beer was. Not a great deal of cloud, but a heavy and thick-looking body, not bad. Not much to look at though.
Smells very malty but a big green apple cidery fruitiness to it, with touches of cinnamon and champagne as well. Fairly heavy but decent and sweet. Possibly one of the most winey beer smells I've had in a long time.
Tastes... you know what? Quite vinous, again. Fair malt on the front reminds you it's beer, with buttery and caramel notes, but develops a strong chardonnay character (this is helped by the buttery malt) along the way with tart crisp apple and lots of oaky notes. A good belt of funk as well, just slightly tart with citrus and maybe some apricot. Fascinating beer palate but can't say I love it; too much disparity between the buttery front and tart fruity back.
Very thick mouthfeel but a reall odd carbonation texture as well, with fairly sucking attenuation. Quite odd, and again too disparate.
Kudos for a fascinating beer and for producing such unique characters. But really just a bizarre, almost dadaist vibe all over this.
48 / 100
Big ups to @epiclurk for purchasing this for me--I'd missed the initial release and was happy to discover there were still bottles available.
Pours a flat and heavy hazy burnished golden colour. No head, no carbonation--it sits looking like a heavy mulled wine in the glass. There's certainly something medieval about it. Nicely thick though, and it leaves this sharp line of carbonation around the edge where it was poured to. Interesting appearance, to say the least.
Nose is very sweet, heavy, port-like and spicy, giving off some genuine spicy honey characters and a very intense booze haze. The more I smell, the more spiritous becomes the aroma, becoming like a trip of the DTs. Phew. Very powerful at least.
Taste is burningly boozy and heavy. Whatever sweetness was suggested by the appearance and heavily sickly body is gone, leaving a spiritous burn like cheap rum, and a biting acidity like cheap port. Phew. Feel is slight but sharp with alcohol.
Extremely hard to drink, even be it an unusual style. The honey just gets rampaged by the yeast, leaving very little body, and a very apparent and rampaging alcohol heat.
I mean, go for it--brew these odd styles, and push the envelope. Just don't expect a brilliant reception when they turn out like something fermented under a radiator.
Pours a rich burnt brown colour, very dark and murky. Head is mediocre at best, a simple ring of foam around the edge now. Lace is lovely and sparkly and sticky as it falls. Yeah, looks heavy and decent.
Smells quite malty and reasonably hot. Lots of brandy booziness with toffee and a touch of brown sugar. Mild black pepper adds some life, but otherwise a bit flat in its sweetness. Definitely missing something and it may be the whiskey character.
Taste is a bit better. Malty base with some rich caramel especially on the front. Touches of brown sugar on the mid, then develops some cedar wood with whiskey notes late-mid, kind of a sourness to it similar to spent grain and decent flavours that don't quite mesh with the sweetness. Interesting woody notes, they stand in interesting contrast with the maltiness, yet not quite complementary. Touch of spice on the back as well goes down nicely. Decent palate.
A bit watery mouthfeel-wise, actually, but a decent frothy texture adds interest. Not bad, but not great. Disappointingly thin at times.
Yeah, decent enough flavour and while not a perfect blend it goes down nice and smooth.
70 / 100
Pours a clear, reddish brown colour, with a fine ring of beige foam. Minimal lacing. Some body, which allows some good slow carbonation to form. Looks pretty good.
Nose is dark and quite roasty, but with a light sweetness, almost a wheat yeast estery character. Overall, pretty light, with some pungency.
Taste is pleasantly smooth. Really nice roasted characters, with a pleasant wheaty smoothness. Slight bite on the back, and a hint of something that may be booze. It has a nutty finish. Feel is a bit light, but it has a little body.
Nice enough, but not something that really wowed me. It just had enough character and interest to keep my attention.
46 / 100
Pours a pale peach colour, very opaque with some chunks of sediment. Head is white, with small bubbles but doesn't retain all that well. Lace is alright; not sticky though. Interesting look, but not amazing.
Smells quite herbal and spicy and fruity, some citrus with a touch of pink pepper and roasted coriander seed. Quite musty, with a touch of acidity. Could use more fruit; the mustiness takes over too early. Not bad though, overall.
Taste is quite sour and musty at first, with lots of herb notes and deep earth; some citrus rind - bitter fruit esters - on mid-palate and then taken over by an earthy and bitter finish. Touches of green tea and grain husk. Slight bready yeast note as well which is a shame, yeah overall the flavours are mildly intriguing, but nothing to write home about, and nothing I particularly enjoy.
A bit fuzzy at times, bit too viscous as well. Can be thinner with more fizz.
Yeah, not a bad beer but lacks balance and not very refreshing.
48 / 100
Pours a hazed and pale yellow white, rather reminiscent of cloudy apple juice, with a slight pinkish tinge, giving an apricot hue overall. Head is fine bubbled, but very filmy, leaving a small amount of sudsy lacing. Very odd, but not unpleasant.
Apple juice acidity on the nose, mingling with floral characters of rose and hibiscus. Something slightly more gritty and organic as well. Crushed leaves, and almost a whack of tannin. Again, not bad, but a bit unusual.
Taste is initially sweet, but it has a horrible welling of offensive organic, almost like Pride of Ringwood and bread yeast. It subsides a bit after a while, leaving it flat with a little acidity. Not particularly inspired on the palate, and getting a little towards offensive.
Meh. It's light enough that it's drinkable, but it's not a great beer all up. Too much clashing in it to be really enjoyable.
83 / 100
Pours a deep, dark brown colour, with a red tinge. Head is ochre, also a slight red tinge to it, but nice and dense with a slight crema appearance. Lace is nice and webby, quite sticky but not hugely so. Pretty nice.
Smell is sweet and yet roasty. Nice dark malts with lots of sweet vanilla and coconut. Hint of cherry as well, but lots of chocolate underlying it all. Yeah, very nice bourbon-barrel smell, sweet and dark.
Taste is very sweet throughout. Lots of chocolate malt but with early notes of coconut and cherry with boozey hints and some oak wood as well. Nutty, too, with lots of toffee and a hint of espresso coffee. Hazelnutty edge late on the back and a hint of licorice as well as some herbal notes, mint. Yeah, sweet, dark, nice complexity. A really enjoyable stout, with a nurturing kiss of alcohol and a beautiful spicy sweetness through the palate.
Fairly full texture but with a touch of slickness, almost like it straddles the border between thin and overly sticky. Yeah, nice feel.
Drinkable? Yes. It's heavy; deal with it. It's a fucking nice beer, of course I'd drink it all the time.
79 / 100
Pours a very deep and thick black. Even the very edges only give a hint of dark ruby when held to light. Body is very heavy, forming lovely cascades as the head forms. The head, for what it is, is a filmy but pleasant mocha brown that leaves rivulets of lacing. Very nice all up.
Nose is roasty, with a slight mustiness to it, and a dry deep aroma that almost hints towards the classic high gravity American Impy Stouts aged on oak barrels. Genuinely hints of that lovely coconut and vanilla character you get with the best American examples. Although it doesn't pound my nose with its direct strength, it's extremely good.
Taste is smooth with round oaky characters and a long, lingering mix of sweet chocolate and charred malts. Big roasted bitterness towards the end. Bitterness comes through, but the booze, which is noticeable, is perhaps slightly too prominent. Still, it's a very excellent palate, with masses of character and a perfectly true to style profile. Feel is smooth fine-bodied, with enough vigour to hold up the massive flavours.
Yes, this is a really excellent Australian example of a style that has been well represented elsewhere in the world. It's beers like this that give me faith that we can mix it with the best. A delectable and very well made imperial stout.
48 / 100
Enjoyed this one before my meal at the Great Ocean Road Deli, Apollo Bay.
Pours very fizzy, very pale yellow with lame white head, sinks very quickly as anything this fizzy would have to do, doesn't leave much head at all. Even my wife thought this looked 'lagery'. However, the lacing is pretty good, nice sticky white webs. Too fizzy for a pale ale but okay otherwise.
Smells quite light and a bit thin on aroma, but has a decent fruit ester smell, distinct green apple aroma, little bit cidery actually. Bit of sweetness with a slightly green tart edge. Pretty uneventful though.
Taste is far more astringent. Starts with a light buttery malt character and then becomes richer, with an earthy hop character and vinous bitterness, plus more of that underripe fruit character. Hops are resiny and quite acerbic, don't commit much flavour to the palate but hang there as an aftertaste. Not too much though, just a light bitterness - slightly moist in flavour, not very crisp. OK, but could have been cleaner.
Too much carbonation on the feel, is has a champagne sparkle to it which obviously is not needed, fairly good body otherwise though.
Not an offensive beer, but nothing special here.
61 / 100
Pours a nice burnished copper colour, blood orange really, with voluminous cream head, sinks slowly all webbed out leaving nice trails of lace behind. Steady bead in the brew. Looks really good, and ideal for the style. Only fault is the lack of head retention.
Nose is a decent amber ale smell, fair amount of malt with a slightly tart edge, slightly vinous and with a mild spice aroma, hints of nutmeg and clove, some light caramel notes. Good indeed.
Taste is fairly malty - distinct aspects of Vienna malt, with some earthy acerbic hop characters. They come in midway, slightly overpowering the pleasant burnt toffee character which hides behind. Bit of champagne on the front and a bit of soil on the back. Not too bad, but not an exciting explosion of flavour. Not as much malt as promised by the nose, really. A bit plain, but not bad.
Mouthfeel is good and full, nice texture, leaves a little dryer than I would like.
Goes down pretty nicely, just a bit too astringent to be immensely enjoyed.
57 / 100
On tap at Sydney's Local Taphouse US Beer SpecTapular.
Hazy golden amber colour with a filmy but decent head of off-white foam. Some lacing. Not bad overall.
Some light herbaceous characters on the nose, hints of cut grass and pipe tobacco. Even a light pickled tomato character. Not bad at all. Not particularly pungent but tasty enough.
Light butterscotch character on the palate. A bit disappointing. Some sharp bitterness on the back, but it's too little too late, and it conflicts with the diacetyl butterscotch character; a civil war in your mouth. Not a fan overall.
Starts quite pleasantly, but there's an unpleasant dichotomy to it that makes it slightly wrong. Not great overall.
38 / 100
Pours a red-tinged amber with modest off-white head promoting some decent cascades of lace. Appearance is slightly hazy, but not very. Pretty good.
Nose is quite hoppy, with a floral and slightly herbal aroma over some quite strong barley malt characters, fairly Irish red character, like solid barley sugar, but a slight diacetyl character as well. Not bad, but not great.
Very sweet, buttery diacetyl character on the palate unfortunately. Slightly tart with a resiny hop character on the back. Hints of syrupy, barley sweetness that are not wanted, very buttery mouthfeel with a slight tartness at the back. Bitter pang from the hops doesn't mesh well with the sweet, syrupy flavour or mouthfeel.
Yeah, an odd mix, not well balanced and definitely not very well brewed. Could be just an unfortunate batch, but am not really a fan of this.