77 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer. An "Imperial Licorice Porter", according to the label.
Pours in a rather insipid brown stream, looking like weak filter coffee. Fortunately, once it's settled in the glass, it has a glossy deep ebony colour to it. Head is ecru, forming only in loosely connected large bubbles once it settles down. Pleasant mild lacing. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is decent enough. There is indeed some liquorice coming through, providing an elevated aromatic note above the base beer. The base is a little bit muted, but there's a pleasant sweet, slightly rich character that reminds me of chocolate mud cake. It matches nicely.
Taste is really very good. There's a lovely broadness in the palate—despite the fact that it doesn't feel very thick, the sweetness spreads over the palate in a slick coating. There's more chocolate here, and a semi-savoury note of toasted malt. On top of this comes the liquorice, which is a welcome addition, but it does feel a little bit like it's just a gimmick—while it's nice as a twist, it's to some degree superfluous. But that's only because the base beer is really very solid indeed.
Feel is slick but not overly thick. I think it works pretty nicely.
Overall, I'm really very happy with this. It's a very strong beer, and the liquorice elevates it nicely, without being actually necessary to the beer. That, weirdly, is something of a positive.
72 / 100
Pours a dark brown with red tinge at the edges. Head is dark beige, large whispy bubbles. Small trails of lace. Looks OK.
Smells of smoke, asphalt plus an odd musk stick/rosewater character. Yeah, there's a deep, bowels-of-hell smoke but an odd floral note as well. Don't know what I'm getting myself in for here, but I'm all in.
Taste is disappointingly standard. Just tastes like stout for the most part - roasty, chocolatey, with a nice balance really. Then gets a gravelly note on the back and a crescendo of chilli heat, but still could use more of it. It just feels like an afterthought, even though the brew is nice overall otherwise.
Smooth; maybe a touch of heat at the back, but a good solid, robust body.
The nose tried to repel me, yet I was all excited, and then the palate pulled back just when it should have gone in for the kill. I like it, but I was so willing to give my heart away and it disappointed me. A bit.
92 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased... somewhere. I've had this sitting around for ages, because I got two in quick succession, drank one (loved it) but didn't review it. This one I finally cracked one brewday with Sam and Rich, after Sam requested a "Scandinavian beer".
Pours an inky, thick black, with a fine slickness to the body. Head starts out as a raisin-coloured mesh, but ends up becoming quite an oily film, covered with large, rainbow-slicked bubbles. Lacing forms in tiny dots. Still looks pretty good.
The nose is incredible. It's one of those rare moments where you suddenly realise this is a style of aroma that should be in more beers. And yet this is the only one you've seen it in. Lovely bright coarse ground black pepper freshness, laced with a tone like wood fire in a pine forest. Cedar oil gives a green biting tone, with aromas of sawdust, forest floor and dandelion. Under this is a pronounced, deep rich blackness, which grounds it and gives it some sense in the beer world. It's a spectacular smelling beer.
Taste is also excellent. It's very dry even from the very front, but it allows the cedar and pepper the opportunity to try to balance the roasted notes. What results is an extremely complex and idiosyncratic palate. Lots of piquant pepper notes, supple, oily wood with plenty of aromatic qualities, all bound to that deep dark stout quality. Sweetness is limited, but it doesn't need it—there's other complexities here that really provide unique and enthralling balance. It's a very fine beer.
Feel is slick and slight, which underlines the sharpness of the flavours from the pepper and wood.
Overall, I genuinely love this beer. A whole, whole heap. This is actually the third time I've tried it, and I promise I find something more interesting and quirky about it each time. I understand this isn't a beer for everybody, but it's so unbelievably unique that it's worth your while trying even once—there's nothing quite like Xiquic and the Hero Twins.
500ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Absolute gusher on opening, only pouring with a coarse head of white that eventually runs out of overcarbonated power, settling out to be a crusty crest. No lacing. Body is very light, pale lemon in colour, with a bit of hazing to it. Looks ok—didn't much appreciate all of the beer all over the table though.
Nose is quite pleasant, in a rather generic sort of way. Plain citric hops come through nicely, giving a bit of mandarine, with some underlying cereal qualities. Quite light overall, with really no noticeable sweetness apart from that suggested by some of the fruity tones of the hops. It's quite nice.
Taste is along a similar line, and dried out a lot by the lager yeast, which leaves it very crisp and thin. But above this is a subtle aromatic quality from the hops, giving some more citric tones, a little bit greener here with a slight vegetative bitterness. Carbonation is still quite high in the mouth though, feeling a little bit gaseous and bloating.
The main problem in terms of drinkability is that it feels way overcarbonated. This explains the explosion on uncapping, and the gassy feel. In some way it also makes the crispness a little less prominent—otherwise it would be a really nice, easy drinking beer.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a fairly light-weight brown colour, with clarity at the edges and some fine streams of carbonation. Top forms a pretty pocked, loose head of large bubbles with a little orange-chocolate coloured film. Some small leopard-spots of lace around the edges. It looks okay, but certainly not the big thick stout I was expecting.
Nose is also certainly muted. Mild, dusty coffee and toast notes come through—rather pleasantly, no doubt—but without a great deal of depth or complexity to it. As it warms there's a slightly spicy or pepper note to the brew and perhaps a slight rounded sweetness that could be marshmallows—I'm almost certainly projecting my desire for it on the beer though.
Taste is a little better, because here there is genuine richness and slickness, even if it may just be from the extra booze. Pleasant prickly alcohol notes give a tingle on the back that accentuates some of those spicier characters, while the rich stouty sweetness provides the meat around the edges. Again, marshmallow is only phantasmic, giving a slight aromatic hint towards the back of the palate, although this time I believe it's actually there. Feel is good—smooth and slick with a surprising lightness that comes through once the alcohol kicks in. This means it never gets to real heat or boozy burn territory.
Overall, it's a pretty good beer, but it's not nearly as interesting as it's made out to be. I still have a hard time convincing myself that I'm actually tasting anything other than a decent impy stout and not imagining the other characters. As far as the concept goes, High Water's Campfire Stout is much better.
500ml bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill. Shared with Sam. This is a SMASH APA, mirroring the name by having the laziest possible recipe.
Pours a pleasant bright yellow colour, with a fair amount of haze. Head forms a solid crown of white, that settles to a small island of mounded bubbles in the centre of the glass. Lacing is minimal, but tight where it forms. Body is light and pleasant. Looks pretty decent.
Initial aroma is a little cereally, perhaps with a bit of DMS. When swirled the hops come out a little more, but so does that vegetative, sweet DMS character as well. Yep, it's definitely there. Indeed, the hops seem to vainly be masking the corn character, and the cereal grain undertones. What flavours it has are nice: some stone fruit, sweet citrus and a suggestion of passionfruit, but it's got some flaws as well.
Taste is a little better, clearer, cleaner and with a pleasant pronounced bitterness through the centre of the palate. Malt is very light, but doesn't plumb those cereal depths, so it stays pleasant enough. Some of the stone fruit characters come through around the edges, along with a hint of honeydew melon. It's quite pleasant.
Feel is fine: pretty light but clean enough.
Overall, it's not particularly exciting. But it's also drinkable, decent and relatively inoffensive. As part of a special range it's a bit disappointing, but as a beer in its own right, it's pretty good.
82 / 100
375ml dark green caged and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Sam.
Pours a deep, dark black, with a very fine, but quite minimal head of ochre brown. Body is heavy and thick, and leaves exceptionally fine carbonation as it's tilted. Some streaky lace forms, which is more than I expected. Overall, it just looks deep, dark and black.
Nose is intense. Big, sweet tannic oak, giving an almost vinous character: certainly a big booziness at least. Underneath this is rich deep blackness laced with sweetness: roasted coffee, dark sweet raspberries, dried dates, burnt toffee, hints of pepper and cherry. It's intense. Very big, very intense.
Taste is lighter and smoother than I was expecting. There's a rounded smooth oakiness to it, but very little of the tannins and spice that I was expecting. Instead, there's just a rich, slightly smoky, somewhat sweet, but somewhat brutal stout, covered by layers of fragrance. Some smooth, rich pepper, whisky, syrup and a faintly floral or perhaps herbal overtone. It's very pleasant indeed.
Feel is boozy, but light and evanescent.
Yeah, this was always going to be a beer I really liked. I'm under no delusions that it had all the potential to be great. But better still was that it fulfilled its potential in spades. The fragrance on the nose was magnificent, but the way it was pulled back to a supple, comforting warmth on the palate was what really makes this so good. Lovely stuff.
78 / 100
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a very dark, hearty black, with a relatively soft and fluid body. Head is a frothy, large-bubbled mess of mocha-brown, that leaves some fine streaks of lacing. The more I look, the more the fluid and light body surprises me for a beer that looks otherwise like this. It's interesting.
Nose is dark and dry, with a rich roasted smokiness, even tending towards ashy. Low intrinsic sweetness, although there's a dark fruit character that gives a hint of black cherries or raspberries. Some dusty cocoa notes come through as it warms as well. It's quite intoxicating.
Taste is deep, roasted and dark, with a biting, slightly bitter nuttiness providing the bulk of the flavourâsomething like brazil nuts or almond skin. Certainly some bitterness on the back gives a hint of that ashy note suggested by the nose, but the smoothness of the nut character levels it out and slides the palate on. As well as this, the lighter body actually helps restrain the flavour from becoming too pronounced and heavy, again giving this slick, sliding feeling to the beer.
Smooth and tasty. There's an aromatic or ephemeral hint of booze to it, but it barely registers in the flavour. That really helps with the drinkability, as does the true smoothness and lightness on the palate. What you end up with is a super-slick (and super-dangerous) brew.
80 / 100
Pours a very dark brown - not quite black - colour with effervescent head that might have been less ostentatious if I didn't pour it deliberately to be so. Beige colour, quite bubbly on the top but lovely and dense with sticky, off-white lace. Looks awesome.
Smells nice and stouty. Lots of dark chocolate and coffee roasty, but a pleasant wood smoke note backing that up. Kind of salty, with a rich red wine note lurking underneath. Nice contrast, and good roasty backbone to let the other aromas fly.
Taste is dark and brooding. Nice big chocolatey malt upfront that gets kind of salty midway with wood smoke, cedar and a taro root-vegetable kind of note. Smooth, boozey transition to the finish, where that woody cognac note resides, then finish is all roasty, with bitter coffee roasts tempered by a slight puffy grain character. Really pleasant palate, big and bold but not overblown, and a balanced malt profile to match a fine spiritous drink.
Full, but smooth, with a hint of boozey sting late being the only duff note. It's a significant one, though, and very noticeable.
Big brew, with nice complexity. I would call it an after-dinner beer; wouldn't really go with meat or dessert, but will soothe the mind as you sit by the fire after it all. Like a good cognac, really.
61 / 100
Pours a bronzed red colour with fluffy beige head and pretty furious bead of small bubbles. Lace is patchy, looks good.
Smell is fairly nutty and malty. Hints of marzipan with pecan caramel and a whisper of some vanilla and maybe paprika providing mild spice. Sweet above all else, not unpleasant but not sure stylistically.
Taste is intriguing. Roasty copper all over, with a rich toasted grain providing burnt sugar, charred wood and some rich earthy coffee grounds without any bite. Metallic edge towards the back with verdigris and slight phenolic edge. Spike of flavour on the back but it's predominantly a burnt, sweet kind of brew. Interesting and pleasant enough, albeit nothing like what I expected.
Foams up well in the mouth, great body.
Would expect more of an organic flavour. If this weren't called a Biere de Garde on the bottle I would have sworn I were drinking a Maibock. I Google translated the name because I was confused and apparently it means "Spring Brew" which frankly could be either. It just strikes me as a slightly toasty malt bomb and I really don't know about it stylistically. Doesn't make it unpleasant, just a bit confusing.
77 / 100
Cheers to @laituegonflable for the bottle.
Pours a pretty pleasantly dark and rich borwn colour, leavened at the edges, but otherwise pretty heavy and opaque. Head is foamy and crispy, but formed of very large bubbles, giving a honeycomb effect the the top of the beer. Decent sheeting lace, and there's obviously some heft to the body. Not a bad look, all up.
Nose is roast and dark, with a very decent smoke character and a touch of something quintessentially Scandinavian. It's the darkness, the bleakness or the rusticity. It's thin and crisp, but also dark and redolent. Very nice.
Taste is dark and chalky, with a big bitterness that comes across like a fine powder of espresso. I like the roastiness that comes across in a really big porter, combined with the lightness of body, which lulls you into the sense that you could drink quite a lot of it. It's really dark and very roasted, but the lightness in the body pleasantly brings it back.
Very decent brew. All the elements come together very pleasantly, to give a really robusty flavoured but surprisingly drinkable 8.5% ABV brew. The rye probably adds its own subtle complexities, but by the end you don't careâit's a well-integrated and very tasty porter on its own.
71 / 100
The nights are closing in here in Australia, and although datewise it's completely the wrong time of year for this brew, the chill in the air suggested that a Christmas beer was a good idea. This bottle was purchased as part of an order from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
It pours a very pleasant deep red-brown colour, with a relatively frothy head of beige foam that doesn't retain as much as it could. Some lacing. Body looks reasonably solid, but it doesn't trap the carbonation, or look particularly gelatinous. Not a bad look though. The colour, in particular, it very nice.
Nose is deep, grainy and subtly sweet, with dark cacao and spice cake coming through. Quite an earthy bent to it, with some leaf mould and woody notes, and a touch of clay. Nice.
Tasty is rather woody and nutty, giving some raw shelled almond characters, with a lightly roasted backbone. Finish has a lightly astringent bitterness to it, almost a touch of spicy aniseed. Feel is a little thin; I think just a touch more body, and a touch more sweetness would really make this great.
Not a bad drop all up, but a little thin after a while, and the astringent characters started to get a bit too pronounced after drinking more than a little of it.
But it warmed me up nicely, and that was the point, anyway.
73 / 100
Brewed with Honey and Elderflower and named for the AmagerfÃ¦lled, a nature reserve outside Copenhagen.
Pours a very bright and perfectly clear golden colour, initially with a brutally fizzy and aerated head of white. This settles down to a centimetre or so of froth, but the carbonation is rampant, meaning that the head is continuously fed. Looks bright and vibrant, at least, but the carbonation is verging on comical.
Nose is musty and touched with green organics. A little clipped grass and a slight Belgian-style spice. Aromas of dried beans and raw cotton. All very rustic, but pleasant.
Taste is smooth and light, again, rather reminiscent of a light-bodied Belgian Pale. Light crisp entry, with a touch of estery Belgian yeast. Finish is dry and a little grassy. Very light bodied, but the carbonation isn't nearly as bloating or insistent as I thought it would be.
It's a very decent brew, but a subtle one. It's actually very light and not all that complex, but it's incredibly smooth and crisp. It has enough flavour to keep you interested, but not so much that they could hide flaws beneath it.
Pours a pale saffron colour with plenty o' translucent haze. Head is overly generous, frothing up to dominate the glass with white, sticky webs of lace. Looks good, but head is too much.
Smell is largely weizeny. Plenty of musty yeast aromas that border on funky; green apple with clove, lucerne and a slight cheese rind. Plenty of fruit hiding at the back, pineapple and citrus but the yeast overrides it. Pleasant, but expected more of a blend.
Taste has a fair floral hit on the assault - tropical notes with some lemon zest, grapefruit and pineapple. Gets musty towards the mid with phenolic spice and slight tart funk flavours. Metallic hints with clove, brass and some lucerne, very slight hint of sulfur as well. The finish is cleanly bitter for the most part, with some resinous hop oils departing to leave a lingering metallic trace on the hang. It's a well-made weizen palate with some interesting hop notes spiking here and there, but somehow I'm not getting the coherence between the flavours and it all seems a bit of a hodge-podge.
Quite spicy on the feel with plenty of carbonation and sharp yeast notes providing piquancy. Can't say I love it, although it suits the style.
A pleasant beer and a valiant effort, although the overall results lacks a bit of mojo.
Purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
You can hear the carbonation from the uncapping, with a vigorous "vzzzt" escaping from the bottle. Even when poured slowly, a huge, aerated head forms, collapsing in very topological patterns. It almost looks like marshmallow fluff. It's captivating.
Body is an extremely hazed deep golden colour, much like a hef, and it has some good weight to the body. Overall, it's a lovely looking brew.
Nose is redolent with suitably citrussy hops, giving a sharp fragrance which almost completely overrides the delicate wheat beer esters that are present as well. It's an odd mixture in any case, but it's very much skewed towards the hops. I can't say I can see much subtlety, but the brashness is invigorating in a way.
Taste is a little bit flatter than expected, with the hops getting a big run through the centre of the palate and again rampaging over the mild wheat characters. These only really get a look in at the finish, where a subtle yeasty bread character is felt. It's unapologetic about what it's about, and that showcasing Citra, but it's really lacking some balance.
Feel is light, but refreshing. Again, something fuller would cushion the hops a bit more.
Still, that being said, it's an extremely drinkable beer. Very light on the palate, not a huge ABV, and although the hop character is very much the main event, it's clean and refreshing, meaning it makes a good drinkin' beer.