Pours a dusky amber colour, with voluminous off-white head. Bit lacey and weak as it webs out quite sparsely but leaves a nice foamy substance behind, not really clinging to the glass. Looks alright but unimpressive for the style.
Smells malty, with a good toffee base that gives way to big floral hop aromas - musk sticks and rosewater with a touch of geranium, then fragrant fruit with tangerine dominant, hint of grapefruit maybe and some lychee on the back. Tangy, maybe a touch too sweet for the style, but appealing.
Taste is malty, largely. Nice English toffee character upfront that descends into a similar burnt sugar character for the mid. Some hop character midway - again largely floral and tangy with a musk stick sweetness, then the finish is earthy bitter. Kind of sweet and unguent with its bitterness though, like over-burnt sugar. No real sharpness or cutting - which is not such a bad thing but isn't what I expected. Slightly tangy, and a touch citric but it's still largely floral yet earthy bitter. Soft and not unpleasant but overall quite sweet and syrupy.
Smooth upfront, then a touch of prickliness from the carbonation, possibly too from the alcohol. Quite pleasant though.
Drinks quite smoothly despite not hitting the expected notes. It's not a big unpredictable surprise though, it just feels a bit downplayed in parts where it would usually leap out.
Brewed for GABS 2016, tried there on tap.
Pours an amber colour, fair bit of cloud in the body. Head is foamy, cream-coloured but not amazing retention. Looks alright.
Smells fairly nice. Fair bit of oak character, dry wood but accompanying sweetness. Woody, with a touch of spice. Tangy and barnyard aroma as well. Pretty much what I expected but subdued and not amazing.
Sweet vanilla malt upfront, develops into a nice oaky character which is there but fairly simple. Bit of tartness towards the back, touch of brettanomyces and some barnyard funk. Has all the right characters but doesn't really develop any great complexities or interplay between them, just lays them all out like turf.
Decent body, nice texture in the mouth.
Not bad, but I don't get a lot of character from what was otherwise promised. Just feels a bit muted for what I expected.
71 / 100
Tried on-tap during GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a black-brown colour with flashed of red in its depths. Body is smooth, and seems quite clear when you peer through the darkness. Head is a very thick ring of fine, deep mellow brown. Lacing is solid, as you'd expect as a result. Carbonation is swift through the body. Looks very good.
Nose is a little inky, with some chemical quality coming through before it settles down. Then we get a little dark chocolate, a slight carob note and a hint of spice. It's not bad.
Smooth entry on the palate with some vanilla and cacao giving a dusty basis. Body is pleasant enough, smooth and thick, eventually getting a bit of chilli kick that ultimately ends up building into a real burn that swamps everything else.
Feel is: burning.
Overall, by the time I'd finished my sampler this had started to hurt a little. It's not bad though, and if you like your chilli beers painful, this is probably right up your alley (or will be the morning after).
74 / 100
500mL bottle gifted to me on my birthday; shared with Andrew and Iain.
Pours a dark muddy brown, light beige head that dissipates quickly to a simple rim. Touch of lace, but otherwise looks a bit listless. Good colour though.
Smells roasty, chocolatey. Rich cocoa-rich gooey fondant with a touch of cherry that takes a slight medicinal note and maybe some mild vinous character. Very rich and appealing.
Tastes chocolatey as well, not quite as rich though. Chocolatey front, gets some lighter sweet notes midway, then more bold cocoa-rich chocolate midway, with some light cherry notes - not tart, but rich with a slight hue of fruit lightness as a complement. Pretty tasty, just doesn't quite have the fullness on the mid-palate which could have carried me on an amazing journey.
A little light, but the late palate is velvety smooth and nice. No real sign of alcohol.
Rich, desserty beer. Chocolatey smooth with a touch of cherry.
75 / 100
Barrel-aged chilli porter brewed for GABS 2015. I finished the last session of GABS Sydney by shotting a taster of this.
Pours a very dark brown, dark even for a porter. Beige head, sparse bubbles but nice retention. Pretty good.
Smells oaky, with bourbon character. Some sweet spice including cinnamon and licorice. Dark fruit coming through on the back as well and some chocolate undertones. Slight vegetative character, but very nice.
Taste is sweet as well. Chocolate malt provides a backbone then sweet bourbony oak giving notes of coconut and vanilla. Fair chilli heat comes through on the back but the bourbon oaky stickiness balances it well. I like this.
Yeah a spicy hot mouthfeel, just the way I like it. Fair alcohol whack as well. Bit messy maybe but I like it well enough.
I like the use of chilli in this style, it works well. Great contrast and lots to enjoy.
47 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne, where it was brewed for.
Pours a pale golden colour with good clarity to it. Body is very light and filled with coarse carbonation. Head is a foamy, rather insubstantial ring of off-white that doesn't leave much lace either. Looks okay overall.
Quite distinct lagery nose. Some chewy malt characters come through but fairly faintly. Overall, it really smells rather weak, without much going on.
Light entry on the palate with a clean and relatively bright central core. This gets empty pretty quickly, leaving a faint, green, slightly pithy backpalate. Finish is very weak—it just sort of putt-putts itself out of existence.
Feel is very light and empty.
I mean, it's not bad per se, but it sure doesn't really do anything to make me want to drink it. There just really isn't much going on here at all.
59 / 100
Pours a brownish-amber colour, clear body, beige foamy head. Doesn't retain very well, but not bad overall.
Smells quite boozey. Malty-sweet with caramel touch and some English toffee. Oak notes combined with a whiff of whiskey. Bit heavy, although all the right characters are there.
Taste is still sweet - malty with caramel toffee notes and a slight hint of banana. Subtle oak notes towards the back and a bit of a scotch whiskey character but decently subdued compared to the aroma. It's still there in flavour but more subtle and palatable.
Feels a bit flat and untextured. Body is OK though.
Flavour bomb, but more on the boozey side than the malty side. Doesn't really do much for me.
This they term a 70/- beer double oaked with added rye. I believe, strength-wise, this should actually be an 80/- (other 70 shilling beers weight in only around 3.5%), but with the extra oaking and rye, I guess it's worth taking the style with a grain of salt. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne 2013.
Pours a brassy, deep copper coloured brown, very clear in the body, light and smooth. Head is off-white, forming a fine ring around the edge of the glass that leaves copies of itself in lace as it goes down. Carbonation is fine.
Nose is toasty to begin with, with some phenolic characters sitting above a rather syrupy sweetness. Slight medicine characters and a sharp bolt of whisky. There's a slightly tart metallic character to it as well. It's all a little light, but the characters are interesting.
Light, smooth oak on the front of the palate with a clean toffee and malt character, turning toasty with a touch of char. It drops away pretty quickly however, leaving the mid-to-late palate feeling a little flat, dry and light, with a reminscence of apple. On the finish is a hint of the whisky from the nose and a touch of slightly peaty smoke.
Feel is very light, which is probably intentional for the style: but the characters could use more.
Overall, it's pretty drinkable. For under 5%, there's some interesting characters there, and it's certainly something I'd be happy to drink.
83 / 100
On tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a deep red colour, clear throughout with beige foamy head. Retains a dense crown; looks balanced and pleasant.
Huge malt character on the nose with a big whiff of oaky coconutty character as well. Huge complexity, with toasty toffee, malt, coconut, cocoa even and a slight roastiness towards the back. Pleasant, sweet smell.
Palate delivers on what the nose promised: sweet, malty, with a slight roasted edge and big coconut oak notes. Smooth, sweet flavours with lots of syrupy substance, but really well handled and balanced for it not to become overwhelming. The oak is lovely.
Maybe a touch of booze, but otherwise a very good body with a good texture.
Lovely drop. Definitely one of the better and most accessible malt bombs out there. Lovely, smooth and drinkable.
80 / 100
On-tap at the GABS Festival in Melbourne.
Colour is what I'd describe somewhat non-intuitively as pale dark brown. It has a slight red tone to it in the deep parts. Head is a firm and very fine dusty beige, leaving some partial lacing. No carbonation in the still, solid body. Looks good.
Aroma is awesome: pure oak, or all the classic sweet oak character you can wring out of the oak. Vanilla, earth, wood, coconut: it's bold and big and exceptionally exciting (if all one note).
Light oaky sweetness on the front that develops more into a simple flat, dry wood character. Clean and grainy on the mid-palate that really lacks a little sweetness, with some crisp mild phenolic notes on the back, laced with a touch of pepper. It could be fatter overall, but you get the feeling that it's doing exactly what it wants to be doing.
Really smooth stuff. Despite the apparent lacks, this does a great job at really expressing everything that oak has to express. It ends up being supple and complex as a result. Great stuff.
Tried at the Local Taphouse's Kiwi SpecTapular. Part of my ongoing effort to write up my reviews from that event.
Pours a deep bronze colour, with a fine head of white that sits strong and robust to begin with, but turns filmy rather disappointingly. Light body. Not a strong look for a scotch ale.
Nose is rather mild, with some cracked grain and a whiff of dry lucerne. Some biscuity characters, but not a lot else. It's quite mild, and very underwhelming.
Taste is light and reminiscent of an English Pale Ale. Mild and light, with a little toffee on the finish, that is indeed too little, too late. No hint of the 7% ABV, but giving a hint of it would have stopped this from being quite so insipid.
No, I'm afraid I'm not a great fan of this one. Too weak to be a proper Scotch ale.
Pours a burnished orange colour, lots of haze in the body. Head is beige and dense, retaining a nice crown with a lovely cradle of lace around the glass. Excellent IPA look.
Smell is very hoppy. Lots of floral character with rose and frangipan notes, plus citrus and fresh cut grass. It's a light smell, but there's a devilish spicey note to it as well. Nice juxtaposition of the bitter with the sweet, and all just hops.
Taste is intriguing, but on first impressions can't say it's entirely successful. Starts with sweet grain notes, pearl barley with some cornbread and walnuts that altogether lasts to the end of the palate. Hops come through late-mid with more of their floral/fruity character, but this doesn't last long. The finish - albeit late - is all hop oil, resinous and bitter. It's not a flavour I dislike, but I was expecting the hops to cut through the malt a bit more at the front, as well as give off more flavour, not just bittering up.
Nice texture, maybe a bit sharp on the back from all the hopping going on. Good and full.
It's a good beer, and I can see peeps digging this, but to me it's the wrong end of the double IPA spectrum. Big hops and slightly off balance.
Pours a rich red colour. Head is beige, whispy, really, with disappointing lace. Good colour, bit underwhelmed by everything else.
Smells malty. Lots of English toffee with slight vanilla notes. Cedar wood and pine add some interest, and decent scotch ale smell anyway.
Taste is quite scotchy, really. Lots of caramel fudge and toffee upfront, gets boozey midway but enjoyable woody notes and a slight burnt sugar character that verges on bitter late. Pleasant, not too heavy, not too sweet either.
Lots of body as one would expect, but not too syrupy. Decent.
Yeah, I can't feign a great fondness for the scotch ale style, and I think Renaissance have done a good job toning down the potentially more extreme aspects, just leaving the nice aspects, the sweet booziness without the hot syrupy aspects.
56 / 100
Tried on tap at the Sydney Local Taphouse.
Pours a clear, deep golden colour, with a fine-bubbbled head of white creamy foam. No lacing, even as the head dissipates, and only a light body. Looks decent enough, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Lots of spicy characters on the nose that form a heady bouquet. Crushed lemon leaves, hints of white pepper, coriander root and a touch of anise. All the characters are spicy and sharp and very fragrant. Nice.
Taste is similar, but with minimal body to back it up. Lots of spice, those aniseed characters are prominent, with a bit of detergent acidity, citrus sharpness, and bite on the back. Feel is a bit overcarbonated, and it leads to a slightly bloating experience. The spice is biting and fresh, but there's almost nothing underneath it. Some sweetness would help immeasurably.
It's an interesting beer, but certainly missing depth. I'm not sure when I'd choose to drink this. The spice cuts the pure refreshment value, and the low body makes it less suitable as a hearty meal-like beer.
Maybe you just drink it for novelty. That's what I did.
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse Darlinghurst.
Pours a pale golden colour, mostly clear but a very light haze. Steady stream of carbonation up the middle. Head is off-white, sunk to a thin film with modest lacing left behind. Makes for an okay-looking rye beer. But just okay.
Smell is very spicey and woody. Lots of clove, mixed with nutmeg and oaky notes. Lots of vegetative character as well, with star anise and a touch of chocolate if you look for it! Pretty nice; rye grain seems a bit subdued under the spice though.
Taste is more rye-like. Fair flaxy note on the front with tart grain, gets very spicey on the mid with clove, nutmeg and a touch of paprika. Quite dry on the back with more woody characters, pine, star anise and oak with more nutmeg blended in. Yeah, finishes very dry and attenuated with a slight champagney sensation. Pretty decent, doesn't have the marvelous complexity of DDC's Route des épices, but nice sweet spice blend complemented by subtle rye tartness.
Good texture, light but silky body. Just a bit overdry at the back.
Yeah, doesn't go overboard with the spice so it's mild and enjoyable enough. Pretty tasty and clean beer.
Pours a murky orange brown colour, with a very aerated head of white bubbles, that look very insipid. No lacing either. I have to say, I'm not a fan very much at all. It really doesn't look like something I want to drink.
Fortunately, it's uphill from here. Nose is a wonderfully floral and fruity melange of tropical flavoured New Zealand hops. Passionfruit, stonefruit and ripe pineapple. Very nice, and such a classic contemporary New Zealand craft beer character.
Taste is woefully thin. Not a lot of character, and not much bitterness from the hops - surprising given the big hop presence on the nose. Quite watery, and the mouthfeel is pretty dull.
Yep, this is something of a rollercoaster ride. Lovely nose, but that's by far and away its best character. Thin and watery. Drinkable in a way, but only because it's not particularly dangerous or confronting.
60 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a lot of fizz. Head is decent at first, sinks a bit, leaves a crown of white bubbles. Some lace but not much. Looks alright, pretty standard.
Sweet, malty nose, with a lot of caramel, a slight salty edge and a bit of tartness, citric in character. Hint of West Coast hops giving off some tropical esters. The combination of aromas makes it overall kind of urine-esque in character, and I hate to say that because it's not actually bad at all, there is just a slightly odd character to it and that needs to be noted. But its uniqueness is endearing, and for the most part it's actually a delightful smell.
Tastes a bit savoury, lacking in the caramel character of the nose. Has a malty backbone, but doesn't taste like it, just gives an underlying richness. Mid-palate gives off an umami flavour, with a mild, fruit peel bitterness, then finishes with hints of steamed vegetables and green tea. There is a slight honey character that emerges at the end to sweeten the deal, but overall the thing tastes a bit under-cooked. The flavours are slightly weak at times, but they're too strong at the front and back to be judged as intentionally mild and drinkable. Decent, just not very interesting where it counts.
Mouthfeel is largely thick and soupy, with a bit of unwelcome fizz at the back, not a great merger of textures.
I wouldn't call this a brilliant beer but it's drinkable. There's enough to like here but nothing really to love.
62 / 100
Pours a very dark murky brown, cabernet-coloured tinge when held up to the light. Nice frothy beige head, quite dense webs but sinks to a 3cm crown, leaving some nice ebbs of foam lace on the glass. Seems to be fairly bubbly, certainly a decent-looking dark beer.
Nose is fairly astringent. Certain quantity of charcoal on that as well as some damp coffee grinds, red bean and brown sugar. Slight meaty undertone adds to that sour character, bit of bacon to it and some saltiness, like a curing agent smell. Pretty good nose but not extremely enticing as a drink.
Taste is far more interesting, with a more pronounced dark malt character. Starts out slightly bitter and ashy and gathers speed as it plunges into the murky burnt blackness. Never reaches the depths though, there's a shallowness to the flavour, like the burnt flavour is there but not in great abundance. Fair amount of smoke and dark cocoa, some milkiness in there and burnt toffee. Hint of boot polish and leather as well on the mid, but finishes more sweet than bitter, with a nice dark spice that adds piquancy. A decent dark beer for my taste, not sensational though.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin and watery in the mouth. Improves as it goes down, but the lack of body contributes to the shallow flavour sensation.
Decent drinking, certainly sessionable as far as dark beers go.
75 / 100
Pours a deep heavy black colour, just tinged with lighter brown at the edges, and a full and frothy head of mocha-coloured foam. Lacing is excellent. Body is quite full, evidenced by the wonderful static carbonation when it's swirled. Overall a very nice looking beer indeed.
Dusty refined character on the nose. Some roasted grains, and a decent organic cellar mustiness. Hints of barrel and wine cork, and even a light smokiness. It's very sophisticated, well-integrated and incredibly tasty.
Taste is very similar - a nice dusty roasted character on the fore, never verging into the territory of being charred, before a soft, sweet and mellow nutty character comes through on the back. Mouthfeel is soft, but not too thin. Could use something more, but it actually goes rather nicely with the rest of the palate.
A very drinkable porter, one with subtlety and finesse. It's not the strongest, or most robust beer you'll ever drink, but its structure is very good, and it stays interesting and drinkable to the last drop.