A Cocoa Mandarin Barrel-Aged Belgian Brown Ale, brewed for (?) and sent down to GABS festival 2017 in Melbourne. Tried at the festival on tap.
Pours a dark brown colour, quite clear though. Beige, foamy head retains very nicely. Looks pretty damn good.
Smells hugely bourbony. Nice chocolate, dark fruit characters fairly typical of darker Belgian styles, but a big oaky and bourbony character, that's perhaps a bit too strong. Hint of citrus, coriander as well. Pretty good.
Taste is similar; quite Belgian for the most part with dark fruit and hints of spice. Bit hot and boozey towards the back but a good fruit hit that saved it from going really overboard. Lots of complexity and it's the flavours you'd expect given what it says on the box.
Full body, decent texture and carbonation, inevitable warming hit from the booze but not too harsh.
Like it, but it's quite boozey and I feel it dominates just a bit too much, drowning out the Belgian complexities which might otherwise make this a really intriguing drop.
50 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Bottling date of April this year, so about 6 months old, and who knows the transportation situation from California to Australia.
Pours a pleasalnt light golden colour, with a foamy, frothy and persistent head of eggshell white, that leaves masses of fine, intricate lace and a pleasant cap of film. Body has a slight bit of weight to it, shown by the way the carbonation swirls and then stagnates. Looks pretty good.
Nose is old, there's no doubt about it. In fact, there's almost nothing at all left on the nose. Certainly there's very little hop aroma. Instead, all we're left with is a fairly dull, neutral malt character, that has a vague buttery quality to it. If I'm looking for it, I can maybe fine a very slight pine needle bite in there, but it's really quite weak.
Taste is also really not that great. There's a very mild, but pretty weak malt character, whose defining trait is that buttery note again. On top of this is a straight, direct bitterness, but very little other hop flavour—it ends up tasting a bit like isohop. It leaves a dollop of piney bitterness on the back and then disappears. Perhaps the other flavours came through more aromatically when it was fresh.
Feel is okay. Very light though, but with fine carbonation.
This is only just passable at this age. I'm sure it's better fresh, but 6 months certainly isn't old, and this must have deteriorated pretty quickly to be this bad this fast. It's almost like it has no flavour at all. At the very least, don't bother with this beer if it's more than a couple of months old. At six months, it's effectively dead.
58 / 100
750ml corked and caged bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Shared much later with Sam and Rich in Sydney.
Pours a dull orange-amber hue, with a fair bit of haze and a rather thick body. Head dissipates rather quickly, leaving a persistent and fine, but rather minimal ring of yellowish off-white. Carbonation is very fine when tilted. It looks okay all up, but not particularly exciting.
Nose is rather worty, a little flat and overly sweet. There's some toffee-caramel characters that feel quite overt, and perhaps a touch of metallic oxidation, which is maybe not unexpected given it's got a bit of age on it. Looking beyond that, there's a faint hint of something peppery, perhaps a little bit of leafy noble hops as well. It's not huge, however.
Taste is a little better. Here there's some structure and purpose from the malt, giving a slight German grain fragrance and a lilting flavour of honey which moves from floral to sticky, and dominates the back palate. Finish is actually rather dry from the lager yeast, giving a slight bite of peppery lightness in the end.
Feel is thick throughout, with a touch of bite and burn in the end, although it finishes rather clean.
Overall, it's decent enough, but I feel I've hung onto it for too long. There's some pleasant characters there, but they're really just trying to fill the traditional mould, and the beer doesn't necessarily stand up to scrutiny after it's aged for as long as it has. So take this with a grain of salt.
71 / 100
Pours seriously pale, almost clear. White head, webbed, no lace. Impressively pale but unimpressively unimpressive.
Malty upfront, quite sweet and biscuity, almost crumbly. Some honey edge and a touch of crisp apple/pear fruit. Not bad.
Tastes grainy upfront. Cereal, tastes rather like porridge. Some chestnut character, touch of honey and some bready notes - pleasant though, sourdough-esque. Finishes surprisingly clean. Not super crisp but just trails off to make it really rather drinkable.
Body is a bit thin but the texture is OK.
Very decent pils. Would like more character, because I do like complexity, but this is clean, drinkable; respectable.
58 / 100
Pours gold colour, touch of haze with foamy white head, some large bubbles around the edge. Looks alright; maybe a bit pale for an IPA but I think that's the point.
Smells not much. Slight nutty sweetness upfront with a touch of honey. Some fruity notes - pear and orange and maybe a whisper of lemon. Especially for the style, a bit lacking.
Taste has cereal all over that, very grainy upfront then touch of citric tang takes over from the hops. Lemon, lime and finishes somewhat resinous. Bit bitter, but could use more especially earlier on; seems like a palate of two halves.
Decent body with some texture, slightly warming. Not bad.
Could have used more hop flavour. Feels by-the-numbers without anything leaping out.
73 / 100
Pours a golden amber colour, clear with beige head - slightly odd for an IPA but nice thickness. Looks good, could maybe use more substance in the body, looks very clear.
Smells almost like buteric acid, but not in a bad way - just very sweet and pungent. Sharp grapefruit notes with lemon and passionfruit for good measure. Resinous, very bitter. Nice.
Taste is slightly toffeed upfront but hops take over too quickly to notice. Huge grapefruit character, gets very resinous and bitter and sharp on the back. Almost turns it all metallic as the toffee character underlies it. Textbook double IPA.
Big body. Thick, with a sharp booze character that's unfortunate but forgivable for the size and style.
Yeah, this would be loved by most people. Can't say I love it, but it deserves to be loved.
58 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a gold colour, clear. Large bubbly head, cream-coloured, retaining quite well. Not bad, but I never really know when a maibock looks good. It's very pale.
Smells grainy. Loads of vanilla character on there with a touch of coconut but mostly just cereal grain. Sweet, not much edge.
Taste is grainy upfront - lots of cereal with a touch of bitter nut. Develops toffee early then lots of vanilla late-mid and maybe a slight clove note on the back. Finishes medicinal and gives kind of a headachey impression. Fair nuance to the sweetness but that's really all there is.
Decent body, noticeable alcohol. OK.
Tastes a bit boozey; could use more edge, even if just to balance out.
Pours an amber colour, very clear with nice dense creamy head, both in colour and texture. Could retain more and have more cloud in the body, but not bad.
Smells funky, earthy. Touch of grapefruit and lemon, but mostly just a phenolic barnyard note with a touch of damp wool. Could use moar hop just for the India factor.
Tastes funky, bitter and phenolic. Lots of barnyard notes throughout with a nice subtle citrus lift at the end that clips off the Belgian notes and leaves it quite nicely crisp. Touch of resin. Still, needs a bit more hop.
Decent body, touch of carbonation and a slight alcohol warmth as well. Lots of presence; pretty decent.
Nice drop, very saisony, but it under-delivers on the hops, both for being calls "India" and generally being from Sierra Nevada it doesn't seem very robust.
62 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse during the 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a clean pale golden hue, with some mild hazing to it. Head is fine, and a little minimal, forming pocked bubbles through a thin film of white. Lacing is excellent though, forming in very fine sheets. Looks good.
Nose is mild but pleasant enough, a little bit plain and grassy, but with a slight floury quality around the edges. Some mild sweet lemon notes raise it up a little. It's not bad.
Taste is pretty clean, and also a little bit generic. Some mild clean malt provide a little basis before a fairly neutral hop character gives some bitterness around the mid-palate. The back is disappointingly a little yeasty, leaving a slightl dank and dirty note to finish with.
Feel is clean and light. It works well enough.
Overall, it's okay, but only okay. I'm not quite convinced why a beer like this is really a necessary entry from Sierra Nevada. It's fairly tame by most standards, and while it's pleasant enough, I think I'd probably be just as happy with a SNPA most of the time.
58 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse for their USA 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a very pale, very clear and light yellow colour, with a fine but slightly impersistent head of white that leaves minimal lace. Body is very clean and light, as expected. Carbonation is high, streaming fully through the glass. Looks pretty solid.
Nose is a bit soft and weak. Slightly grassy, with more than a little husky hay character. Malt is strong, as it often is in a German pils, but there's little the cut through it, unfortunately. It feels a bit flat as a result.
Taste is also pretty thick, and a lot sweeter than I'd expect. This is mostly from the malt, which is prominent and pretty sticky on the front. Fortunately, the light body helps pull this back a bit, and it finishes swiftly dry and with a touch of grassy bitterness. It helps the drinkability, because it would otherwise be pretty thick.
It's nice enough, but I've had much better, crisper pilsners that don't revolve as much around that lethargic malt character. It's not terrible, but for a pilsner it's depressingly tough to drink.
59 / 100
Tried on tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during their 2015 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a pale golden colour, with a clear body that seems rather thin. Head is loose and formed of large bubbles, but leaves great lager-like lacing. Looks decent enough.
Nose is mildly grainy and a little dull, but with a kick of sweetness you wouldn't expect in any other pale lager. Slight floury tone drags it down a bit, but it's not awful all up.
Taste is light and clean on the front, with a powerful vanguard of lagery cleanness. This is undermined as time goes on, with a slight thick sweetness that leaves an aftertaste of residual booze (even though it only clocks in at 6.8%), and a mild dirty flour note. It's ok, but only ok.
Feel remains quite pleasant and clean, however, which is certainly a boon.
Overall, it does drag itself back a little into the realm of respectability. But there's enough here that's slightly too much that I don't find myself really wanting to drink a lot of it. A taster was enough—I genuinely think I might struggle if I were to have a full glass of this.
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse during their 2015 US Spectapular.
Pours a pleasant, but rather deep amber colour, magnificently clear in the glass—both the colour and the clarity don't immediately scream farmhouse ale to me, but let's see where we get. Head is a nice fine crest of white that leaves fine sheeting lace that looks pretty solid. Body has some weight to it. Looks good.
Nose is Belgian first and foremost, with a strong rounded yeasty quality bringing a little bit of funk and meatiness to the fore. When you looks for it, there's a slight grassy character that comes around as well, giving a little bit of pepper to sharpen it a little, but it's more of a riff on a Belgian-style nose than a true interoperation between the two elements.
Taste is also pretty reasonable. Pleasant rounded Belgian note on the front, with a touch of pepper more from the yeast than the hops. There is a noticeable bitterness here that would indeed be out of place in a traditional Saison or Farmhouse, but this is pretty much the first time that we've seen this from the amalgam.
Feel is smooth, but with a bit of a bite from the booze, giving even a slight hint of astringency.
Overall, it's not bad. I've had better examples of the style—it's Belgian first and foremost, but I've had numerous hoppy ales from Belgium that are better, and more hoppy and fresh examples of the style from elsewhere that are much more interesting. In the end, it's something of a disappointment.
58 / 100
Pours a golden amber colour, bit of haze. Head is cream-coloured, sparse webs and sticks around for a bit. Not bad.
Smells fruity and hoppy. Touch of oatmeal on there as well, some caramel malts, and then passionfruit character abounding in the hop stakes. Nice fruit, but overall seems quite subdued.
Grainy upfront with more oat notes and puffed rice with caramelisation. Hops take over midway and are surprisingly bitter with a strong grapefruit character and a touch of tangy passionfruit. Took me by surprise with the bitterness and there isn't a whole lot of other flavour so it comes across quite dank and astringent.
Very fizzy mouthfeel; seems like the body isn't quite big enough so it feels overcarbonated.
Don't really feel the love from Sierra Nevada here. It just seems a bit sloppily put together compared to their outstanding regular range, and I had extremely high hopes for this special one-off.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. An American IPA brewed with Australian Galaxy and Ella hops.
Pours a deep copper colour, very clear and relatively fluid in the glass, with a little weight behind it. Head is a solid, persistent crest of yellowish off-white that leaves lace in rings. Nice carbonation. Overall, it's a good looking beer.
Zesty hops on the nose, surprisingly sharper and less fruity than I expect from Galaxy, but maybe about right for Ella. Slight mandarin characters, a little mango and a twang of moisturiser. Some toffee provides the malt basis. It's not as powerful as it might be, but it's quite pleasant.
Light, clean mandarin and mango characters on the front before a creeping malt makes its presence felt and the hops turn slightly vegetative. Balanced bitterness towards the back leaves the finish light and bright with a slight spritzy sherbet character and a dry crisp aftertaste.
Feel is quite effervescent. It works nicely.
This is very drinkable stuff. Did SN deviate far from where their core strengths lie? Of course not, but that just means yet another tasty beer from them. That's fine by me.
60 / 100
A collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Russian River? Sign me up! Tall 750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a clear, bright, slightly coppery golden colour, with a fizzling head that froths at first, and the subsides to a very mild ring. Body is fine, slippery and light, holding some minimal carbonation. No lace. It's actually remarkably unassuming, and much less exciting than I thought it might be.
Nose is better. Definite earthy Brett tones, apple skin, sweet sugar toffee, fairy floss, some banana leaf. But it's actually much more subdued than I expected. There's a hint of funk, but no more, and certainly no wild acidity. I'm a little bit surprised and a little unenthused.
Taste is similarly subdued: in fact, perhaps even more so. There's that sugary sweetness coming through again, more toffee, laced with just suggestions of earthiness, some faint horsey tones, and some cherry- and apple-skin on the finish. Feel is exceptionally light and thin.
Overall, I'm massively unimpressed. This is tame, dull flat and uninteresting. Holy crap this needed something more: it really is lifeless. It ends up "domesticated" to such a degree that it's insipid, weak and unable to fend for itself in the wild.
74 / 100
355ml bottle purchase from Leura Cellars. Belatedly realised that it's 9% ABV. Wow.
Pours a deep but relatively clear and unhazed black-brown, with a solid and firm head of mocha. Body looks quite fluid, and as though it has little true weight behind it. Carbonation is fine however, and forms in pleasant rivulets when tilted. It's a good looking beer.
Nose is pleasant and sweet, but without a big richness, fullness, or even a chewiness like I'd expect from the oatmeal addition. Some mild dark fruity tones like cherry, red grapes or chocolate coated berries, and a faint hint of something smouldering in the background. It's nice, but not as robust as it might have been, especially for 9% ABV.
Taste is similar. It has a firm, rich basis which provides something mellow and solid, but it doesn't delve into anything deeper. There's no true sweetness, no palate-filling luxuriance, and not a great deal of complexity. But what it has is good: solid rich roasted malts, chocolate overtones and that firm persistent basis, which is nothing to scoff at. Faint hints of seaweed linger on the aftertaste.
Feel is light, indeed here the lack of complexity is probably showing the beer's weakest point.
This is a good beer that really could have been magnificent. It has a great deal of power and robustness to it, and it's built on a firm and pleasant structure. But it's really missing something, especially for a beer weighing in this heavily. I guess when you're disappointed in Sierra Nevada, you still end up with a pretty good package.
79 / 100
At 5.6% ABV, it's hard to call this an Imperial Pils, but I see that it's elsewhere been called the Sierra Nevada Sticke Pils. In any case, this is the 2012 Beer Camp #43 beer, which my bottle entitles "Imperial Pilsner". Purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a clear and pale yellow colour, with an initially rocky and foamy head of white, that settles down to some faint webbing and a mess of lace. Carbonation is fine and refined, leaving lovely silk gossamer threads of bubbles running through the centre of the beer. Overall, it's a pretty suitable look for a pilsener.
Nose is clean and fresh, but with an aroma that reminds me just how use to (and perhaps spoiled by) New Zealand pilseners I am. This is a leafy, clean but slightly vegetative European aroma (despite the fact that the label mentions Crystal and Pacifica as the hops), mixed with a pleasant clean malt tinged with a slight crystal sweetness. That's something of a surprise, and perhaps it's here that the extra body, or the "imperial" of the name is borne. It's decent enough, but I really expect something punchy and bold from an "Imperial", ABV notwithstanding.
Taste is very pleasant: clean malt character flecked with slight grainy overtones, balanced with a very crisply delivered whack of hop bitterness. Faint astringency towards the back, almost a suggestion of higher alcohol, with a lingering, dancing, volatile floral note on the finish. Indeed, on the aftertaste is a pleasant uptilt in sweetness: it gives a slight sherbet sugar character that mingles nicely with the residual hop oils to provide a crisp, bright ending. Very nice stuff.
Feel is light, fresh and pleasant, I wouldn't expect anything else from Sierra Nevada.
Overall, despite my worries about the aroma, this is a damn-good beer. It's clean, crisp, remarkably drinkable and very, very refreshing. Ignore the "Imperial" in the title though, and take this as just a damn-good Pils.
61 / 100
355ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours pretty much the perfect colour: deep ruby hued, with a frothy off-white head consisting of large bubbled honeycombed together. Lacing leaves fine tracings as the head settles down. Body is quite weighty, with some heft to provide a thick canvas for the fine bubbling that expresses itself when tilted. Overall, it's a really good looking beer.
Nose is clear and clean, but not as big and exciting as I'd hoped. Mild, smooth faintly fruity hop aromas mingle with a muted caramel malt character to give a red ale aroma that feels like it's just going through the motions. Some brighter, leafier characters come through when the beer is swirled, along with the faintest hint of slight roast. It's not bad, but it really should be significantly better given its pedigree.
Taste is similar: mildly fragrant hops, blended with a rather empty but noticeable malt presence. Some booze on the back kills everything quickly though, leaving a rather astringent emptiness that allows the hop bitterness to slice through on the back—this is despite the fact that the hop flavour is actually rather minimal. Faint acetone character on the finish, mingled with some crushed grass.
Feel is fine, although the lack of sweetness suggests a lack of body as well, even though it probably feels ok.
Overall, I'm woundedly disappointed by this. I love red ales (imperial all the better), and I really hoped that Sierra Nevada would give me a better example than this. While it's still decent enough, "decent enough" is far below the benchmark set for Sierra Nevada.
87 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a deep black colour, with a fine, slightly inconsistent pale brown head. Carbonation is fine, but the body itself looks surprisingly light and fluid. Some patchy carbonation. Looks fine except for the body—this is the beer you can really make thick, oily and chewy, and it seems this hasn't happened here.
Nose is wonderful. Big sweet nutty characters with deep chocolate hints and a lilt of buttered popcorn. Slight hint of liquorice on the back, perhaps more like liquorice ice cream. It's all really quite sweet and fragrant, and very pleasant.
Taste is also very good: here the sweetness is tamed somewhat (perhaps due to the slightly lighter body), and the liquorice comes through a little bit more. This leaves the roasted characters to make a bit more of an entrance, with some mild coffee and toasted grain overtones. Perhaps I was unfair on the lightness in the body: it's perhaps a purposeful (and rather clever) stroke to enliven the palate and keep the sweet richness from overpowering everything.
The feel is very smooth, even despite the lightness, and matches very nicely with the rest of the beer.
Yep. Pretty exceptional stuff here, although the mastery and skill of Sierra Nevada should have stopped surprising me years ago. This beer gives the impression that it was designed exactly this way—it perhaps doesn't take the risks that could make it superlative, but you understand that this beer from the moment of its conception was going to be very good indeed.
73 / 100
Bottle purchased from the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst, Sydney.
Pours a reddish amber hue, with a fine tight head of palest orange. Some specks of lacing, but certainly not a consistent lace or sheeting pattern. Solid body which holds large-bubbled carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty good. I particularly like the colour.
Nose is oddly, flatter than I expected. Some mild old orange rind characters, with a touch of earth wholesome spice, but not a huge amount else. There's something minerally to it: giving a salt or iodine quality. It's certainly interesting, but not as impressive as I'd hoped.
Interestingly, the rye forms the basis of this beer much more than I thought it would. Instead of just providing a counterpoint to the hops, the main thrust is the spicy rye sourdough character. There are some pellety hop notes, but they're mingled and hidden by the rye almost to the point where the two are indistinguishable. There is some bitterness on the back, but not a lot of clear or classic hop characters.
Very decent. It's certainly not what I expected. This is more of a rye beer and less of an IPA, but that's more exciting. It's different and interesting, and forms another different entry into the SN range.
70 / 100
Pours a deep rusty orange colour, fairly cloudy. Off-white head of small bubbles dissipates quickly but leaves a thin film of lace behind. Moderate bead. I like my weizenbocks dark, but I'm also aware that styles are open to interpretation. Still, not overly exciting anyway.
Smells quite Belgian, actually. Plenty of clovey spice with a hint of nutmeg, pepper, but it has an almost saisony funk to it as well, possible just because of the green-ness of the fruit esters it's giving off. Maybe needs a bit more sweetness to add a 'bock' element - it's all spiced pear and maybe a hint of banana, but all spice and just slight sourness.
Taste is again largely spice and fruit. Quite fruity on the front - apple and pear with a good quantity of banana coming up behind. Sweeter, with the fruit dominating to late-mid with a warm kiss of booze to accompany it - sherry and a touch of brandy. Finishes with a pleasant weizeny spice - green pepper with clove and cinnamon. Quite tangy on the back with a touch of astringency from the spice, but it's a pleasant fruity palate overall - not too big that it loses the development of flavour. Enjoyable, but not mind-blowingly good.
Bit of zip on the back, from the yeast. Bit of carbonation, bit of booze, but no hegemonic texture so it's quite well balanced. Good for style.
Yeah, a good, big weizen. I did love the Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss, and the question must be raised as to whether this is just a big version? It's bigger, but not really more complex or interesting. It's only 6.6%, so I feel like if they upped the malt a bit more, made it even bigger and sweeter it could be spectacular.
81 / 100
Pours a very dark colour with a red tinge, like polished mahogany. Head is beige, nice texture to it but a bit whispy. Lacing is something else, though. Very nice.
Smells pleasant and floral, but with a nice earthy grounding from the darker malts. Junipers comes through strong and clear (for the record, I've never smelled juniper so when I say that, I mean it smells like gin) and is very nice - spicy, floral and fresh. Dark malts are a good foil.
Juniper is strong from the get-go, providing a floral flavour with a hint of peppery spice upfront. Develops into nice, smooth dark palate which is far more dark malt than anything else, slightly roasty but never really bitter. May well be the floral notes lifting that. Not a mind-blowing palate, but a very nice harmonic flavour chord struck. Am enjoying this.
Decent body, fair amount of texture. Dry on the finish but leaves a residual film in the mouth. Really very enjoyable.
Great drop; clever flavour idea and well-handled to get the most out of it.
77 / 100
Served to me blind by @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a pleasant deep black, with hints of reddish hue around the corners of the glass. Head is crispy and foamy, with large bubbles crackling out of the body, and persisting rather well. Colour is a deep, creamy beige. Minimal lacing and the body looks a little thin, but otherwise good.
Nose is lovely, with a very pleasant roasted character through the centre and an interesting touch of acidity or hops--something which adds a little greenness to the aroma (obviously the juniper). Very nice melange--it's almost like a fresh black IPA, but there's a twist to it that makes it very intriguing.
Taste is also nice, with a robust roasted character that seems to come mostly from the grains rather than the hops, and a lingering vegetative character. No oily hop residue, which makes me think the bitterness is indeed from straight char or husk tannins. The finish dries out quite a lot, giving hints of fresh roasted coffee. Feel is smooth and light, but slightly chewy.
Really nice, easy drinking dark ale, with plenty of character and a little bit of mystery. Cracking drop.
74 / 100
Pours a cloudy straw colour, bit darker than I expected but still overall pale. Head is white, small bubbles and retaining a thin crown of sticky lace. Steady bead keeps it alive; looks good.
Smells dry and spicey with lots of German yeast esters and phenols, dry clovey spice with mild citric twang, a touch of banana and orange peel as well. Largely cloves though; good hefe nose.
Taste starts quite citric with a slightly candied orange peel note, develops spice midway with a slight capsicum flavour and lots of clove, nutmeg and white pepper phenols. Fruit re-emerges late with mild lemon tartness and a hint of banana providing late sweetness. All pretty typical for the style but well handled for maximum flavour extraction. Brewed to style, but brewed well.
Bit sizzly on the feel and quite a pull from the yeast makes it a bit dryer than I'd like. Not bad though.
Pretty much a standard hefeweizen, but it's a fine example of one. Not genre-bending or mind-blowing, but enjoyable.
Pours a rich citric orange colour with mild cloudy haze. Head is off-white, retaining a nice crown with lovely cradle of lacing. Looks pretty much picture-perfect.
Smell is very hoppy. Very floral, with rose petals and wattle blending with organic rubber, citrus and ginger. Bit of a twang where fresh hop aromas verge on tannic, but otherwise a pleasant IPA smell.
Taste is quite tangy upfront, with not a huge malt base noticeable as of yet, but plenty of fresh late-hop additions give a fruity, almost jammy front palate, with orange marmalade, cumquat and custard apple notes. Bittering hops take over midway, very dank and citric with a big pull back to earth, a little too heavy on the alpha acids though, as it doesn't really allow enough time to enjoy the lighter hop notes before pulling it all down. Touch of cork on the back with a woody touch a mild residual yeast character. Hop bomb, not as successful as it might have been.
Decent body, bit of pull from the hops but body balances it well. The 8.5% is well hidden.
A very enjoyable double IPA, even pleasant, one might say. Just seems kind of amateurish at times with the overenthusiastic bittering.
Pours a metallic gold colour, very light bead in the clear body. Head is slightly off-white, fluffy and dense, retaining a finger of clingy lace. Looks good.
Smell is fairly pleasant. Plenty of hop character - some citric notes but largely resinous and slightly metallic edge as well. Hint of golden syrup underneath and a whisper of toasted muesli at the back. Good California Common aroma.
Taste is sweet to begin with, with lots of cereal grain, oats and barley that develops slightly earthy hop notes midway, even as it becomes sweeter, with a real caramelised grain note late-mid that goes along with the mildly resinous hop character. Finishes a little sweet, with a cloying, sticky yeast note not quite cleaned up by the hops, which add a tartness without cleansing.
Bit of fizz is noticeable through the insufficient body. Not offensive, though, just a bit too much tingle.
As the result of a Beer Camp, this beer leaves me very slightly disappointed. But as a brew, it's very good.
83 / 100
Bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Wonderful that there is now a steady supply of Sierra Nevada beers making their way to Australian shores.
Pours a suitably cloudy and light-coloured yellow, with a fine, but rather effete head of white. Lacing is patchy, but looks like the classic examples. The head is a bit of a disappointment, but otherwise it looks good.
Nose is crisp and clean, with some lingering underripe banana characters. The acidity of the wheat is very present here, giving a tone I associate more the the American wheat ale, than the bursting and redolent esters fo the German examples. Still, pretty good nose.
Taste is where this takes off. Clean, smooth and wheaty with slight weizen-yeast tones on the finish. Clear palate, excruciatingly refreshing and with just enough of that light touch of acidity to prove that you need no slice of orange with it. Very refreshing and very clean, and almost indistinguishable from one of the best German examples.
A great American beer, brewed amazingly close to style. Apart from the lack of oomph on the nose, I'm sure the Germans would very happily claim this as one of their own. Crackingly refreshing brew.
61 / 100
Pours a very bright and clear deep golden colour, with a foamy, and large-bubbled head of white. Head collapses rather quickly, and is not fed unduly by a large amount of carbonation. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is clean and light, with some classic crushed grain and light grassy hop aroma; all very subdued and clean. It's not meant to be a big style, and this fits the bill, even though it means it's also not that exciting.
Again, clean and light on the palate, with some slight peppery tones and a crisp, dry bitterness on the finish. More grainy notes as well, and the extra 1.5 percentage points of booze makes itself felt, given it's very mild flavour-wise. Feel is light and clear, although the extra strength adds some unwelcome heat.
Not a bad brew, and not a bad stylistic example, but the 6.5% is really unneeded and I feel hinders what should be a light and drinkable beer.
61 / 100
Pours a burnished golden colour with very light haze. Head is lovely but modest-ish, dense and cratered on top. Bead is very slow, but steady, and lace is pretty wonderful. That's a nice-looking beer. Not mind-blowing, but the 'little beer that could'.
Nose is a bit weak. Need to really whiff to get anything off that. Hints of royal funk with cardboard and metallic characters, some honey sweetness and a hint of fresh berries and underripe granny smith. Decent, really could use more though, it's just a bit lacking.
Taste is far more IPA-esque. Quite rich with bitterness prevailing throughout palate. Quite funky at times with oaky notes and a musty forest kind of character. Some rusty metallic notes and a hit of nuttiness, but more nutshell than the flesh itself. Leaves very dry with a nice silky touch to the texture overall. The main issue is that there's no profile, it's kind of flat and needs more peaks and troughs. Find it a bit dull, and it really does leave very dry.
A bit bland yet very bitter. Not terrible but I couldn't see myself downing a lot of these.
76 / 100
Pours a clear but deep coloured amber, with an excessively good froth of off-white foam on top. Surprisingly, it doesn't leave a lot of lacing, but it does have a good body, and the bubbles in the body swirl around in its thickness. It's a pretty lovely looking American IPA all up.
Nose is alternately sweet and bitingly pungent. On one sniff, it's tropical and fruity liked tinned pineapple, and on the next, the apple drops out, leaving the sharp and fragrant aroma of pine - resiny and needle-y. Not as full bodied and overpoweringly robust as some of the best, but it's pretty nice.
Taste is also good, although it definitely shears towards the pungent robustness of pine, giving a straight and direct vector of hop bitterness slicing through the centre of the palate. Finish is slightly nutty, with a touch of peach and a very light hint of phenol. In some ways, apart from the pineapple on the nose, it reminds me of an East Coast IPA - the clean body, the sharp, almost herbal hop bitterness. Feel is smooth from the extra body, and is untroubled by whatever carbonation is present in the visuals.
A tasty brew no doubt, from a brewery renowned for doing tasty brews. Drinkable, but with plenty of character.
87 / 100
Pours a very dark brown colour, bordering on black, with surprisingly pale beige head. What's also surprising is its proportions, but pleasantly so, with nice froth producing 3 fingers of thickness. Sinks steadily and leaves only minimal traces of beige lacing behind. A bit... renegade? in places, but a good-looking beer.
Smells very tasty. Lots of dark, roasty characters that are also nicely sweet, with nothing intense or charred to them. I think it's because there's a really distinct West Coast hoppiness to it as well, which just adds a delicious layer of 'fresh' to the toasty bitterness. But lots of chocolate and caramel malts and some cola sweetness, plus a touch of pine wood and citrus. Very appealing nose, American aromatics at their best.
Taste is enjoyable similar. Malty for large parts, with a significant nod to the dark. Chocolatey, with rich cocoa on the front that descends into more bitter territory with hints of espresso coffee and licorice. Pleasant hop character comes through on the finish, doesn't quite 'clean up' but provides an interesting contrast to the dark bitterness, which wins superiority in the fight for finishing flavours. This is decidedly American in character, providing a big "fuck you" to mediocrity and a unique twist on conventional stout flavours. Damn tasty.
Good texture, all the way down. Lots of body but nothing too heavy. Has a slight residual dryness that almost feels viscous, but apart from that niggle, damn close to perfection.
I've learnt in the past couple of weeks that this bottle is a "grey market" import to Australia. Worrying as this could be, I think the folks at SN needn't be overly concerned in this case because this beer I'm drinking is damned delicious. I can only imagine how good this would be fresh and, God willing, I'll be re-reviewing this in California some day.
80 / 100
Pours an extremely thick and heavy very slightly hazed golden amber. Head forms languidly, and is everything you expect from a Sierra Nevada brew - thick, creamy, solid and persistent. Lacing is firm and sticky, leaving this perfect experience down the inside of the glass. It's a top-notch appearance. I'm starting to think Sierra Nevada to the archetypical appearance for an American ale.
Nose is pleasantly hoppy, very fresh and green. Some citrus, sharp lime in particular, with a crushed vegetation character that gives off sharp herbal notes like coriander root. Behind it, is a pleasant light sweetness, soft caramel and white sugar, just enough to give some basis for the other characters. Lovely.
Taste is raging and spicy, with more hoppiness and more raw bitterness than I expected. It's especially prevalent because the hoppiness is a direct green vector of fresh hop oil through the centre of the palate. Possibly more of a hop character than I've had in a wet-hop ale, which generally save their big guns for flavour and aroma. Some sweetness, but it's overwhelmed, leaving just the long, lingering bite on the back palate.
Feel is a little light, with a pleasantly fine carbonation, but it feels lacking in body to support the hops.
Phew. It's a tasty beer, but something of an exhausting one. It's extremely full flavoured, but it overwhelms my palate after a little while. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing...
81 / 100
Oh, Sierra Nevada. There's something so unassuming about you, but you always come up with some truly spectacular beers. OK, there's my preconceptions out there for all to see, let's take a look at this beer.
Pours in classic Sierra Nevada style, very clear, but burnished deep golden amber coloured. Head is frothy and thick, with a mixture of coalesced tiny bubbling at the edges, and great clumps of pancake batter bubbles on the inside. Lacing is a symphony of intricate lacework on the inside of the glass. There's something so classically American about the look. Gorgeous.
Nose is delicious with fresh hop resin. Big fruit notes with a decent pine needle freshness. Citrus is most dominant with sweet clementines and candied orange coming through. So fresh and so expansive. Again, this is classic, and just so flavoursome. It's a delicious experience.
Taste is also very good. I've had some wet hop ales that put their entirety into the aroma, and end up a little insipid or weak on the palate. This is really nicely lined up, with lovely sweet but biting citrus on the front, and a lingering biscuity malt character on the back that just teeters and competes with a mild bitterness. The malt seems to win however - it's not a pronounced IPA bitterness on the back, more a slight hint of green apple skin, and it feels like it may need just a little more. But I guess that's not the style...
Mouthfeel is light, but well balanced to the deeper malt notes that come through later. Finish is lingering.
It's a fabulous beer overall, probably the best wet hopped ale I've yet had. Drinkable, yet robust, approachable, yet flavoursome and exciting. Sierra Nevada once again flex their muscles and show me a sensational ale.
76 / 100
Pours a clear but dark brown colour, with a good frothy and very serious-looking head of beige foam. Lacing is sudsy. Minimal streaming carbonation. Looks very decent.
Nose is pleasantly and lightly roasted, with some sweeter notes of brown sugar or maple syrup. Dried apricots come through along with something slightly sudsy. There's a very distinctive candy character to it as well - orange sherbert, perhaps. In any case there's something sweet and pleasant amongst the roastiness. It's very nice.
Taste is pretty good too, although the sweet characters are missing. Roasty, with a definite Sierra Nevada (or perhaps West Coast generally) bitterness on the back. No roast bitterness, just enough grain character to give it depth. Feel is light and pleasant.
It's a really good beer, very tasty and really well balanced. It's different enough to give some oomph to a beer line up though. Lovely.
89 / 100
Pours a slightly reddish murky-brown colour. Head is extremely generous when poured - a little too generous really, as it retains well so needn't be so strong. Silly head. Small beige bubbles about 3-4 fingers thick, lace is a bit thin. Looks pretty good overall, don't really need so much head though. Once a night usually does me.
Smells pleasant. Lightly roasted grain with nice toasty notes. Sweet, with hints of chocolate and some raisins adding tartness. Slight woody character at the back. An appealing nose but also a great porter character. Dark and roasty but mild and modestly sweet. Excellent stuff.
Taste is also mild, but really smooth. Mouthfeel is lovely, just glides through with no harshness but a modestly full body adding a very slight viscosity in the mouth. Flavour is softly roasty, with a gentle espresso flavour on the front proceeding to light roasted grain, a very slight maple syrup character providing sweetness, then some more dark notes for the finish. Just pleasantly bitter with a touch of cocoa and some woody hop flavours emerging that dry out the palate a bit, but don't add any harshness, just complement the roasty flavours perfectly.
The bottle claims its contents are "perfectly balanced" and I'm inclined to agree. It's not often I drink a porter that makes me say "wow", nor am I often awed by a beer's mild-mannered drinkability, but Sierra Nevada have created something really special here. This is the sort of beer that could really turn a pale-lager-drinker's head towards the darker side of life and love. Something to savour or indeed to scull pints of all night.
70 / 100
Pours a golden orange colour with generous cream-coloured head, nice and bubbly but sinking steadily, leaving some beautiful trails of lace behind. Slow, light bead in the body with very slight translucency. Damned nice beer.
Smell is fairly fruity, quite malty as well with lots of light caramel on that. Nice, tart pineapple note and lots of enjoyable citrus aroma. Slight dry grassy aroma as well, and a very mild medicinal phenol on there. Decent, but a bit of a mishmash.
Taste is quite malty and boozey. Lots of sweet toffee flavours with brown sugar, then gets early hop notes with a touch of grapefruit and some grassy flavours as well, light phenols with a slight aspirin note and a touch of apricot as well. Slight woodiness on the back complementing a slight brandy boozey warmth.
Quite thick texture with a slickness as it goes down. Slightly sticky in the mouth, but pleasant.
Pretty nice, doesn't strike me as amazing but pleasant, sweet drinking.
Pours a very syrupy deep red-brown colour, with some languid yellow-tan bubbles effervescing on the surface to produce a fine but filmy head. Some lacing. Better is the static bubbling released through the body when the beer is swirled. It looks damn tasty.
Some dark sweet fruits on the nose, with big malt characters to back it up. Notes of dates, prunes with woody notes present as well. Not particularly syrupy, but with nice dark, slightly resinous characters that pull it through.
Immediately sparkling with tiny bubbles on the palate, which would be unpleasant except for the fact that the body is very thick to cushion the blow. Flavour is compressed somewhere between bitter dark malts, heavy alcohol and phenolic hop characters - there's certainly a harshness on the palate that could be any or all of these things. Minimal sweetness besides the character on the nose, and the illusion of body from the thick feel. The alcohol is very present with big whiffs of banana scented booze notes dominant on the back.
I found this a tough beer to drink, especially with the strong boozy character. Even without that the notes are strikingly challenging. It's certainly got flavour, and if you sip it and share the bottle, you can get through it, but it didn't impress me terribly.
71 / 100
Pours a lovely golden orange-red, with a thick head of creamy bubbles. Head disippates, which is a bit of a disappointment, but it still leaves a collar, and some really intricate lacing down the glass. Overall, it looks really quite good. And I do love the colour.
Absolutely delicious nose. Really full and fruity, and jam-packed with those wonderful west-coast IPA characteristics. Notes of passionfruit, pine, sour-cherry, with overtones (possibly from the spices) of vanilla and cinnamon. Really gorgeous nose, balancing between sweetness and fragrance. Delicious.
Taste is somewhat thinner than I would have hoped, and the texture also leaves something to be desired. Some green hop-leaf bitterness mid palate, and a long astringent finish. There are hints of sweetness, but it's never really delivered to the tongue, leaving the palate feeling flushed and not caressed.
It's a pretty nice beer, all things considered, and once again, Sierra Nevada come up with an interesting beer, thoroughly reminiscent of California (to me, at least). I wish it had more body and substance, and more sweetness on the palate, but it's very drinkable as it stands.
88 / 100
A rather splendid burnished copper colour, with a thick and frothy head of yellow-beige bubbles. Lacing is phenomenal. Clarity is excellent. This is a damn hell yes looking beer. Just gorgeous.
Oh my and goodness. What a truly lovely American-hopped nose. Full of citrus, fruit and pine, delicious with resin and deliciously good. Oh, this smell always takes me back to San Francisco, a very pleasant place to be, surrounded by delicious beer. If I'm being picky, it's probably not as sharp or pungent as the best highly-hopped American ales, but it does have a pleasant sweetness sitting around that adds some character. Still - this is very, very nice indeed.
Creamy and silky on the mouth, a very fine and slick feel is noticeable from the first sip. Amazingly, it's not as bitter as I would have imagined from the aroma - and for a barleywine, that's excellent. There's a rich sweetness lolling over the tongue, feeling rich, heavy and gorgeous, and the hoppy notes just dance around over the top, never proclaiming their dominance. The beuatiful coupling of the flecks of bitterness and the creamy, sweet backbone make this a really, really excellent beer.
This is an exceptionally good barleywine, in my opinion. The hops remind you of its origin, but the palate is so full, rich and heavy with malt sweetness that you can't mistake this for a DIPA, which is how I feel a lot of barleywines end up. Extremely drinkable, and thoroughly enjoyable. Sierra Nevada, I take my hat off.
75 / 100
Pours a rich amber colour with frothy cream head that has disappeared, leaving some nice spots of lace around the glass. Little bubbles are formed with tilting, but no other visible carbonation. Looks very nice.
Nose is very hoppy with a tangy citrus character rebounding off some very aromatic floral hops, underlying buttery note and a hint of a watermelon Jolly Rancher element. Very nice indeed. I'm a fan.
Taste is a bit insane. Deep raisiny, treacley sweetness on the front, very thick and full malt, then a quite quick, but increasingly intense, fanfare of hops that start out quite floral and get increasingly bitter and phenolic towards the end, with a roasted, burnt kind of flavour as well. Leaves a very sharp astringency in my mouth, probably killing my palate. Quite a puckering mouthfeel overall.
For all that though, it's very nice, a good complex journey from start to finish. I just think it leans too heavily on the hops, leaves on a very bitter note, like my slut of an ex-wife.
80 / 100
70 / 100
Slightly copper-tinged brown colour, very thin bead of carbonation occurring at 90° intervals around the glass. Very thin head when poured, none now. Leaves a thin web of lacing. Not bad but not GREAT.
Smells, yup, like Little Creatures. Dominant hoppiness with a generous sherbety pineapple character to it. Might need warming up but anyhow it's a pleasant, fresh kind of nose.
Isn't that interesting. Good complex flowering palate. Fairly strong hit of hops on the front, settles out into a sweet malty but subtle back palate with blended elements of guava and pineapple, with the slightest caramel hit. There are very nice flavours but it's dominated by the hoppy front palate which is the standout flavour.
I'm told that when Americans taste Little Creatures they say it's like Sierra Nevada but not as good. I have to say that cuts both ways. This is a very pleasant drop, but I do think Little Creatures has a bit more character and more complex flavours. If I were born across the Pacific though I'd be perfectly prepared to say the opposite :)
75 / 100
This looks sublime - just what an APA should look like. Slightly hazy body, with a beautiful burnished golden colouring. Thick, creamy head of off-white, peppered with small pancake bubbles. Lacing is heavy and sticky. Just beautiful, and exactly what a Pale Ale should be.
Nose is also excellent, with a really nice hit of floral hops. Citrus, pine and dust on the nose, with a slightly sweet cinnamon, bready character. Very pleasant.
Good burst of hop bitterness on the palate, but it's not too heavy. It's a sustained flavour which permeates from the front to the back, rather than an intense, puckering hit. Perhaps a little more sweetness would have been welcome at the front or the end, because the hops rule the palate from start to finish. It leaves the beer rather refreshing and drinkable, but it also means it's a little one-dimensional. I guess that's kind of the point though - this is a beer to showcase hops. Feel is good; clean and crisp, but with almost a silky texture.
This is a very good beer, with plenty of great Kiwi hop characters. As an Antipodean myself, it's a shame I have to come up here to get it.
75 / 100
Thanks very much to my girlfriend who went in search of beer for me on a recent trip to San Francisco.
Pours a burnished golden bronze colour, very clear. Tiny streams of carbonation around the edge of the glass feed a light film of white head. Nice colour, nice looking beer all up.
good tropical fruits on the nose, the sweeter end of the spectrum though - mango and peach, almost. Also a real candy/caramel sweetness to it as well. Nice.
Taste is quite light. Pleasant sweet fragrant fruitiness on the front palate, then a subtle but pleasant dry hoppy bitterness. It's definitely not huge on the palate, but everything is nicely balanced. Quite dry on the finish, and refreshing. Mouthfeel spot on. Crisp and sharp to match the light hop bite.
A very drinkable pale ale. Really nicely balanced and very refreshing. Folks from the states come to Australia and often compare Little Creatures Pale Ale to SNPA, and I'm glad I can now do the same. It would be great to drink SNPA all the time, but I don't think I'm really missing out given I have Critters here in Australia to fill the gap.