|Highest Rated||Jaipur IPA (79 / 100)
||Average score||71 / 100 (Very Good)|
|Lowest Rated||Colorado Red (62 / 100)
77 / 100
Coffee stout brewed for GABS 2016 and tried there on tap.
Pours a brown colour, bit pale maybe especially at the edge. Nice dense beige head.
Smells of coffee. Big, aromatic, spicy roasted coffee. Nice sweet balance as well with caramel notes and just general roasted malt character. Pleasant.
Big spicy coffee on the palate too. Chocolate notes upfront that gets drowned by big spicy roasted espresso on the mid-palate but then re-emerges late, together with a nice dark dried fruit character that seems so typical of a nice sweet stout but particularly an English-brewed one, for whatever reason. Pepper, roast, and toffee. Great characters.
Slight alcohol warmth, body holds it up well.
Very nice coffee stout, good flavour balance and complexity.
This was revisited on the last day and ended up my number 7 beer of the whole festival.
Bottle purchased from Leura cellars, didn't get around to sharing with Father so instead shared it on NYE with peeps.
Pours a golden colour with big bubbles. Head is white, decent sized and sparse. Lacing is OK. Loons alright, somewhat pale.
Smells hoppy. Fruity, with berry notes and some citrus edge. A touch sharp, maybe metallic. Hint of rosemary, fairly clean and not a lot of malt. I like malt in my IPAs, but still it's pretty decent.
Taste is also fairly hoppy, leans on resinous with a big lot of mint. Very herbal. Bit of caramel and slight butter upfront, then hops are fruity, spicy, herbal. Mint and a touch of fennel, maybe some thyme as well. Fairly clean, decent hops, but I do like my IPAs with a bit more grunt.
Smooth, decent body. Malt has character here but not really on the palate.
Decent IPA, but has an odd synergy between English and American styles. Big oomphy hops in character, but clean and subdued otherwise and lacking the aggressiveness they might otherwise bring. As a "double" IPA it doesn't really have enough power, perhaps outside the English real ale market.
77 / 100
Tried off cask at The Rake in Southwark, London.
Pours a hazed pale golden colour with a very fine head of white. Brilliant, intricate tiny pockets of lace. Fine powdery carbonation. Looks great.
Nose is a little bit weak. Some dusty grain characters, hints of herbs and a slight mild sweetness a little like melted vanilla ice cream. Slight eggy overtones as well. Solid base of malt underneath though.
Taste is much better. Very clean, bright and fresh, with sharp herbal tones and a lovely crispness towards the back. Malt is smooth, but not obtrusively sweet. A lilt of fresh mint on the afterpalate. Lovely balance all up. Feel is smooth and clean. Very pleasant indeed.
Overall, this is a cracking, extremely drinkable brew. A bit high in alcohol to continually session, but it's still a beer I feel like slamming down. Such good balance in a beer has that effect.
Pours an amber colour - not quite red - with beige foamy head, sticking around nicely with some sticky lacing. Nice enough, but not quite red enough.
Smells quite American-hoppy and nice. Touch of malt on the front with a slight bready hint, then loads of grapefruit, lemon and pine needle. Quite nice.
Cereal grain notes upfront with a touch of oats and rye, before hops take over. They are a bit sweet, unfortunately, with a big green apple character. Develop more dank notes on the back which provides the bitterness needed but come s a little late to cut out the sweetness and seems more of an unconnected afterthought. Not bad palate overall though.
Body is full but still a bit of carbonation through. Alright.
Drinks OK, fairly subtle red-style ale.
76 / 100
500ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Drank with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a brilliantly clear yellow colour, with a reasonably frothy head of pure white. This settles down to a film, taking on a slightly greyish tone as it does so. Lacing is tight. Looks very good. Love the clarity in the body.
Nose is also very good indeed. Big fresh, sweet, slightly tropical hop characters, which give off pineapple, papaya and guava, with a slightly crisper, greener tone as well—perhaps fresh squeezed lime. Under it is a grainy substrate, a fairly neutral but also fairly bland underpinning. But the hops win here.
On the palate is where the bland basis makes more of an impact. Light clean entry gives a pleasant echo of fruitiness, before the back empties out. This isn't entirely bad: it's light and crisp and exceptionally quaffable as a result. But there's certainly less flavour than there could have been, in the aftertaste are reminiscences of fruitiness, a slight candy tingle slightly fragrant with a vacant acidity. It's quite pleasant.
Feel is light and crisp: very well suited indeed to the beer as a whole.
Despite some choices made in its construction, this is a very good beer, and even a very enjoyable and interesting one. If I complain about it having less flavour than it should, then it's almost certainly just a reflection on me rather than the beer. This is expertly made, extremely well crafted, and just drinkable as hell. Good stuff.
62 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. Mentioned in the tasting notes that this is meant to be an American Red-style, brewed with English hops.
Pours a solid amber hue, relatively hazy with a full and foamy head of yellow-white. Lace is streaking an intricate. Colour has a slight brownish-yellow tinge to it when it's tilted—that's a bit wack, but otherwise, it looks pretty good.
Nose has a butterscotch-resin hybrid that reminds me of Simcoe: piney, honeycomb and sweet. Beyond that are deeper woody characters: cedar, a bit of bark and always that rounded, sweaty sweetness with a whiff of something more organic to it. It's not bad, but not overly exciting.
Light malt on the entry, before some resiny, oily hops come through giving a piquant, piney bite to the sweetness. Rather dank towards the back, before clearing up on the finish, where's it's clean and light without much residual flavour. Feel is very light and it doesn't hold on to the malt.
Overall, it's light, and tasty enough in its way. But it is rather dull, and I'm not overly enthusiastic about it.
79 / 100
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer by @epiclurk.
Pours a really crystal clear deep golden colour, with a firm, frothy and very persistent head of pure white. Lacing is intricate, waving and speckled. Body is pretty light and the carbonation is big-bubbled and a little bit lethargic. Looks good overall, though.
Nose, oh yes, the nose! Big, sweet pungent citrus mingled with tropical fruits, peach skin, passionfruit and freshly crushed fragrant herbs. Wow, and such potency. The lilting, lyrical tone of the flavours belies just how powerful this is. Oh, just lovely stuff...
Taste is also very good. Solid if plain malty characters give a base, while some brisk but restrained hop character provides interest on the palate. It has that hop-derived nuttiness that I associate with Mikkeller's IPAs, which gives a clean flush of the palate without leaving too much residual, biting bitterness. Feel is a little weak, and although the malt provides a base, it's perhaps not strong enough to really provide a fullness to the palate.
Still, this is a lovely little IPA from Thornbridge. It has stacks of aromatics, and a solid, drinkable basis. And that aroma, oh god, that aroma...
75 / 100
A collaboration with Dark Star brewing, this bottle was bottled October 2010, almost a year before I cracked it open. Purchased from K&L Wines in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a rather light golden colour, with flashes of orang edeep in the glass. Slight haze and a thick body. Head is pure white, incredibly fine, but only really forming in a ring around the edge of the glass. Lacing is everything you want: sticking and complex wherever it's put. Looks pretty good.
Nose is deep, but subtle, with slightly sweet oxidised port notes and a hint of wood. There's a fragrance to it, but it's an oddly organic fragrance, or an aged fragranceâagain it suggests the wood, or something floral, perhaps. Interesting.
Flavour is deep and sweet, with a cleansing astringency on the back of the palate. Although it's a relatively low ABV Old Ale, it manages to capture that woody, boozy heat, the slickness and the depth of a much richer and heavier version. Finish is sharp and it does a good job of clearing out the heavy body. Nice.
A good beer. I've certainly had better examples of the style, but the fact that this plants itself firmly within the style is good in and of itself. Thornbridge have shown themselves again to be one of the most interesting breweries in the old country.
71 / 100
Purchased at New Beer Distributors in New York. I feel I should drink US brews exclusively when I'm in the US, but Thornbridge is difficult to get in Australia, and too good to pass up.
Pours a deep brown colour, surprisingly fluid, with a filmy and pocked head of dusty milk chocolate. Lacing is fine and patchy. Looks a little light for a stout, especially any sort of Imperial one, but still decent.
Nose is roasty, but rather light and astringent. Dark, sharp cocoa-chocolate characters come through, but so does an organic banana skin note late. Mostly sweetness, although the dark chocolate characters give it a slight edge. Only average for a RIS though.
Taste is better, largely because of the big bitter roastiness, which I feel is a must in a RIS. Smoky, dark, crisped characters sit nicely through the centre of the palate, and although it doesn't have a lot of sweetness, it has just enough body to carry the roasted astringency. Feel is a touch too thin, I feel, but at 7.7%, this isn't a big RIS by any standards.
A decent enough brew, but rather disappointing for the style, and for the brewery. A RIS should be a keystone of any brewery's lineup, and I feel this one missed a step.
73 / 100
First Thornbridge beer I've managed to get a hold of besides their Antipodean collaborations with Epic and Mountain Goat. Picked this one up from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Opens with a hiss, and immediately a wafting aroma of hops comes out of the bottle. The beer is a very pale and slightly hazy straw yellow colour, with a persistent and frothy head of white. Lacing is excellent. Body looks thin, but that's not that bad in this style. I have to say I'm looking forward to drinking this beer.
Nose is indeed fresh, green and hoppy, giving a noticeable crushed leaf aroma to the expected notes of citrus skin and fruit. Very sharp characters, for the most part, certainly at the zest and green end of the hop spectrum, but that's no bad thing.
Taste is far more subdued, which I often find in fresh-hopped beers. Despite the sharpness on the nose, here there's very little true hop bitterness, more of that slightly organic spread of hop essence over the entire palate. Light malt does just enough to balance, although without the expected sharp vector of bitterness, it does feel surprisingly sweet.
Feel is smooth but light and slick. Goes very nicely with the mild hop character.
A very drinkable and very refreshing brew, and one which shows a good deal of craft. I always thing green- or wet-hopped ales have something to offer, and this is probably one of the better examples I've had. Thornbridge, it seems, doesn't just do great collaborations.