Tried at Brewberry in Paris. 12oz brown bottle.
Pours a slightly hazed reddish brown with a fine, relatively light body. Head forms a thin layer, fed by some fairly subdued carbonation. Bubbling is fine, in both the body and the head though. Minimal lace. Looks okay.
Nose is fairly subdued as well. There's some mild, but pleasant brown sweetness, a hint of burnt sugar and perhaps a little faded hop presence. Under it is a little savoury, almost salty roast and a touch of vegemite. Not bad, but not superb either.
Taste is fairly similar, but with a slickness and a bit more heft in the body to keep it smooth. Fairly empty entry with more of that brown sugar note coming in after a while. Light fruity tones come through on the mid-palate, with a touch of roast and a suggestion of cherry on the back to clear it up. It's pleasant enough.
Feel is fairly light, and pleasant enough.
It's not bad, but it's not really all that great either. It's solid enough in its own way, and pretty drinkable for its 7% ABV. It doesn't do anything particularly out of the ordinary, but it's certainly far from being uninteresting.
85 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Beer Cartel in Sydney.
Pours a deep black, oily with a blood-red edging to it. Head forms a solid crust of mocha chocolate that coalesces into larger bubbles and rings the top of the glass. Lacing forms in lovely tiny little patches. Carbonation is very fine and forms in tiny vertical streams. It looks very good.
Nose is wonderful. Deep, brown, sweet and nutty, with a chewy, dark caramel character and a bright sharp roast character to pierce it. It's extremely mellow, and sweet without being heavy or sickly. It's based around wholesome grain sweetness and rich unprocessed sugar. It's really, really lovely stuff.
Taste is also excellent, although it has a lightness that surprised me at first. Mild nutty entry develops into a big, broad burnt caramel sweetness that keeps going for some time. On the back, it develops into a sweet coffee-vanilla character like an affogato. Vanilla and a touch of very dark chocolate linger in the aftertaste. Wonderful stuff.
Feel is surprisingly light for everything else that's going on—in some sense it works, because the palate survives so well on its own anyway, but I wonder what a bigger, fuller version of this would be like.
Overall, though, this is exceptional stuff. I pretty much picked this up on a whim: I've very much enjoyed some of the other Dark Horse beers, but there was nothing particularly attracting me to this one. I'm very glad I did select it though: this is truly a very, very good beer.
80 / 100
Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse during their Dark Horse AleStars evening in Sydney.
Pours an extremely dark, very close-to-black and very solid. The body, however, is surprisingly light and fluid. Head is a deep, dark chocolate colour. Some dots of lace form, but really patchily. Carbonation is fine, but rushes through the body quite quickly. Not bad all up.
Dark and roasty on the nose, not unexpectedly, but under that are some of the more interesting characters. It has a deep sweetness, mingled with a touch of salt—perhaps Vegemite—and some deep tannic red wine characters. As it warms, the booze becomes a bit more noticeable, along with some hazelnut characters, and even a dank smouldering campfire. Nice stuff.
Taste is slightly lighter than expected. It perhaps matches the hint of lightness seen in the body. Flavour-wise, there's some nice coconut characters, sweetness and a hint of cherry or something fruity and tropical. But then, whack!, the Impy stout comes back, with a big roasted, boozy sharpness on the finish. Again, pretty good.
Feel is clean and smooth.
It's very nice and smooth, and very drinkable. It's very tasty, while maintaining an edge of aggression. It ends up being a very nice, and very respectable package.
89 / 100
Tried at the Local Taphouse in Sydney as part of their Dark Horse AleStars evening, along with a few other of their beers. This was my pick of the evening, however.
Pours a deep, crusty, clouded orange colour, with a fine white persistent head that eventually settles down to a thin ring. Has some very solid lace that forms in patches. Looks pretty good.
The nose is just gorgeous. Big, crisp, sharp orange brightness with a backing of sweet sherbet. Even a touch of fragrant rose, along with floral gin botanicals. It's that clean sweetness mingled with the sharp citric tang: candied peel, fresh lemonade. It's just gorgeous, and so, so pleasant. Love it.
Taste is similar: candied orange flavours, smooth sweetness that melds seamlessly with the sharpness. Spicy characters come forward towards the back, along with a bit of booze, but never enough to damage the smooth, pleasant finish. A touch of pine comes through to remind you it's a big IPA even still, but it's clean, bright and leafy—again reminding us of the fresh fragrance. By the end, the booze and citric melds into a warming character of kumquat liqueur.
Feel is chewy and rich, but clear and pleasant.
Wow. This is really good. For a beer that's over 13%ABV this is stupidly drinkable. This is a really, really good BIG IPA—I'm not sure I've had such a balanced and pleasant IPA this big. It's ridiculous, it shouldn't be possible. And yet here we are.