57 / 100
Pours an amber colour, clear with some sparsely webbed large off-white bubbles on top. Fairly meh; I expect at least a little cloudiness from the style.
Smells phenolic and sweet in equal measure. Vanilla, some toffee and desserty spice notes. Medicinal lingering at the back. OK, but not great.
Taste is slightly tart but only slightly, with a general overwhelming sense of mildness on this palate. Chardonnay notes, with some fruit lingering from the mid, crisp green apple and orange zest notes. Oddly sweet overall, and lacking that classic saison character.
Feels fine for the style, bit of substance/texture but not a lot.
Not bad, but I expected really great things from this collaboration. I think my hopes were too high, it ultimately tastes like a safe brewing decision-by-committee.
57 / 100
"Wood-Aged Beer" of no specific description, aged on bourbon barrels for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours a perfect amber colour, with a lovely beige head of dense foam, sticks around in a thick crown. Looks excellent.
Smells slightly earthy. Mild chocolate roasty malt character, with a slight grassy herbal note at the back. Not getting a lot of wood, or the associated sweetness from Kentucky bourbon.
Taste has more of that sweet oak character I expected. Sweet vanilla notes, with a touch of booziness which due to sweetness leans into rum territory, and some charry oak notes that seem a little vinous, or at least the sort of oak associated with red wine. Fairly non-descript base beer though, so yeah it tastes nicely of oak but it's not going anywhere with that.
Big smooth oak feel. Full body and a hint of warming alcohol. Not bad.
Looks great, but doesn't really deliver much beyond ticking the box associated with "wood-ageing". With that oak character they could have taken this in really interesting complex directions.
500ml brown bottle, part of the Black Box of Dark Ales. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a suitably deep black-brown, with a solid, slightly coarse crest of pale chocolate brown. Good foamy lace. Body is a bit light and fluid, with some fairly swift carbonation. I reserve judgement, but it looks okay.
Nose is very pleasant. Here, there's a lovely rich, smooth sweetness, coupled with some fairly strong roasted notes. It comes across as nutty, with overtones of vanilla and weakly drawn espresso. It's nice.
Taste is also pretty good, with a bit of wary side-eye. There's all the right characters here. Robust sweetness, a smooth body, some toasty semi-bitter notes towards the back. But there's also a very slight hint of butter and burnt caramel that starts to replace the malt sweetness. It's a very slightly off-kilter character. I'm wary of embracing it.
Feel is pretty smooth, but it falls away a great deal at the back, so it really doesn't help promote anything on the palate—it feels less complex as a result.
Overall, I'm less than enthusiastic. It's a decent RIS, but only that. It really misses the key points of the style, and certainly misses the fireworks that can make the best examples pop. In the end, it perhaps comes across as the beer they had to brew to warrant the price point of a four-beer box.
78 / 100
500ml brown bottle, part of the Black Box of Dark Ales. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a deep brown colour, certainly not black, and almost chestnut at the edges of the glass or when it's held to the light. Head is fine and silky, forming a beige film across the top of the glass with some pocked pancake bubbles. Lacing is decent. Body is fairly firm and it has some nice, fine, languid carbonation.
Nose is pleasant, but not immediately pungent with hops. Still, there's a nice amalgamation of sweet malts, just a dusky toastiness, and some fragrant fruit notes, more stewed than anything. It's very pleasant, well integrated, but not particularly bold.
Taste is very pleasant. Here, that amalgamation they manage between the malt and the hops is very well matched, and it makes for a really nice, smooth and drinkable experience. The malt isn't forward, but it provides some lovely basis and depth, that the more bitter notes paint themselves on. The bitterness is also nicely balanced—some comes from the hops, but some comes from a twinge of roasted malt, and it makes for a more interesting experience.
Feel is quite light, aiding the drinkability, but it has a silky quality that helps that complexity and depth.
Overall, this is a really nice beer. It's not a punchy, aggressive beer, but it's one with balance and structure that really helps make it smooth, drinkable and coherent. I like it a lot.
49 / 100
500ml brown bottle, part of the Black Box of Dark Ales. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Looks decent enough. Deep brown, slight lightness at the edges, with noticeable clarity. Head is large and coarse to begin with, a decent dark brown hue. It settles out to a firm crest with excellent lace. Light bodied. Otherwise looks pretty good.
Nose is quite strange. Sure, there's coffee there, and some general dry roasted notes. But there's also an odd floral character, and a hint of melted butter. Other notes come through, dusty and dry, lavender, stewed peaches, just odd characters popping their head out where they don't belong. It's interesting, though.
Taste is exceptionally thin. Dry and light on the front, with a hint of coffee, but it's not the dominant flavour here. Towards the middle and the back, the thinness on the palate almost turns towards acidity. There again is that slight hint of stonefruit, almost metallic and sour. It's a big miss—and I can't believe it's intentional.
It's a miss. That lack of body and that sour, metallic character is really quite offputting, and the coffee character is peripheral at best. I'm really very unimpressed.
58 / 100
500ml brown bottle, part of the Black Box of Dark Ales. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a dark brown, oily in the corners of the glass. Head is a thin ring of off-white without much weight or retention. Body is light and rather thin, which is expected. Carbonation is pleasantly fine though. It's a shame about the head, the other facets are on point though.
Nose is quite pleasant. Mild roasted notes mingle with a bold hint of liquorice. There's some sweetness, more like thick stewed molasses. It's not big, broad and punching the nostrils, but it's pretty solid even so.
Taste is a bit of a disappointment. Structurally, it's a decent schwarz, with a fine light body and a bit of crispness in the finish. But the flavour is very light otherwise, with a mild toastiness and a faint overtone of rose. There's some darker notes giving a hint of spent coffee grounds towards the front, but it doesn't carry. As a result, the feel, which should be one of the strengths of a schwarz, just seems thin rather than light, effervescent and crisp.
Overall, it's a slightly inauspicious way to start the Black Box. I love a good schwarzbier, but sadly, while a decent enough beer, it's not a fine example of the style. This feels like someone had to think up a fourth beer to add to, say, a box of dark beers, and went "let's do a schwarzbier, that'll be easy!".
57 / 100
Bottle offered to me as a nice Friday evening beverage by Mother, who purchased it somewhere that mothers go to buy beer for their sons.
Pours dark brown, small beige head with little bubbles. Some fairly decent lacing but not very sticky. Not bad, but a bit thin looking.
Smells mild upfront but when it warms up there's a richer, viscous boozey roast. Chocolate, vinous with some carob and vanilla. Bit strong but not really complex, sort of one-note intense.
Taste is fairly mild upfront, has a thin front with some hints of darker malts but not a lot of roast or robust character. Gets roasty midway with coffee notes and spice, slight sour edge late-mid which makes it feel it's a little lacking in body, especially for the size. Don't get much oak, just a touch of booze and some roast bitterness on the back. Alright but not very complex. Not that that's essential, but it feels like the strength comes through as heat rather than as different flavours.
Yeah, surprisingly thin. Bit of heat on the back. Yet somehow a bit viscous/sticky.
Yeah not that exciting. Fairly decent, but I expect more from an oaked baltic porter.
59 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Sampled on the day I went skydiving, as a counterpoint to rushing adrenaline.
Pours a pleasant deep chocolate brown, with a fine head of beige that settles into a persistent creamy ring. Carbonation is fine, tending towards actually powdery. Some streaks of lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is interesting. Some dark sweeter notes, but there is a very faint suggestion of acidity to it, somewhere between black olive and apple skin, possibly from the oak. Mostly, it's easy enough to ignore, and there are some pleasant toasty notes which provide the basis, along with a touch of carob. It's pleasant enough.
Taste is actually a little similar though. There's a slight mineral, or metallic character towards the front of the palate, that gives way to a more pronounced salty or briney note. Some faint chocolate on the back turns dusty, leaving a dirty carob note that's more earthy than sweet. Again, it's decent enough.
Feel is robust, but a little thin, which isn't unexpected for a Baltic Porter, so it's fine with me.
Overall, it's decent enough. I'll admit that I was maybe hoping for something more, but perhaps I wasn't actually expecting it. But as it is, it's drinkable, maybe just not terrible exciting.
73 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars on Parramatta Road.
Pours a deep, proper red hue, dark but flashing with beautiful ruby hues when held to white or light. Head is a coarse-bubbled mess of off-white, that leaves excellent rings of intricate lace. Body has some heft and weight to it, and the carbonation forms in fine streams. It looks gorgeous—the colour in particular is spot-on and it's a hard thing to get just right.
Nose is also very fine. It has a fine, slightly restrained hop note that does give classic west-coast characters first up—a bit of citric grapefruit and some sharper pine or even liquorice/aniseed notes. But it seems to want to base itself around the malt. This is biscuity, but cut with a rather fragrant rye note of pumpernickel and crushed seeds. In the end, and especially as it warms, it becomes aromatic due to the malt rather than the hops.
Taste is also good, but here it does definitely skew towards the malt. There's some lovely structure here though. A little bit of firm body-heavy mid-malts give it weight, while the rye elevates it, gives it fragrance and graininess. Weirdly, the hops are very restrained on the back, leaving minimal bitterness, and not really tasting much like an IPA at all—it's still nice, but with the hop character to prominent I'd love it to kick in a bit more here.
Feel is good. Well-attenuated and rather light, while providing enough slickness for all the characters to express themselves.
Overall, it's a very good beer. There's craft to it, with a lovely malt basis, (beautiful colour), and a good aromatic quality that comes through from both the hops and the malt. Were this on-tap around town, I'd certainly drink more than my fair share.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a dark brown colour, very hazy and solid in the body. Head is a pleasant yellowish-beige that forms a really creamy and full mass that leaves good firm lace. Carbonation is very fine, and almost static when tilted. Looks great.
Nose is disappointingly weak. There's a light coffee character and a bit of mid-malt toastiness but not much else. There's maybe a slight suggestion of nuts if I'm looking for it hard—but then again, if you look hard enough you find anything.
Light brown malt on the entry as well, with a touch of chocolate and bitter roast. Middle is a little too dry, leaving the body quite empty and crying out for some sweetness. Finally on the back we get a hint of dry peanut and a suggestion of salt, eventually falling into a slightly chewy finish.
Feels pretty full, but lacks body to really give it that weight.
Overall, it's okay, but really it could have been a lot better, and I can believe 4 Pines is up to the task. So I'm not quite sure what happened.
Tried early in a session as this beer seems to sell out quickly.
Pours a brown colour, disappointingly clear (I like cloud) with rich tan head, dense and thick and wonderful. Looks great.
Smells very light - almost non-existent. Some light peanut character and maybe a touch of vanilla sweetness. Needs more choc.
Taste is pleasant but again pretty light-on. Chocolate is the backbone but still subtle, but which I mean just not flavoursome. Nice peanut note late that helps me see the Snickers, but still there's not a great deal to this palate when there could have been so much.
Body is thin, feels OK though.
I don't get you, 4 Pines. You do some amazing one-off brews and made the concept of "Beer Mimicks Food" your own, and yet at GABS you're always so disappointing. Even when you've got a perfect GABSy idea, you under-deliver. Nice beer but bitterly underwhelming.
On tap at the brewpub.
Pours a pale orange colour, bit of cloud. Steady stream of bubbles. Small bubbly head, off-white in colour, OK retention. Pretty nice.
Smells citric fruity. Strong lemon notes with tangerine, passionfruit as well. Touch of caramel malt. Pedestrian but fairly nice.
Taste is big and fruity all over that. Tropical notes, with passion and pineapple, big long citrus note as well with lemon, grapefruit and tangerine. Bit of citrus pith bitterness then a longer, slightly woody bitterness on the back. Fairly clean, nice fruit notes but could use a bit more hop oomph. It's largely just tangy flavours otherwise.
Bit of sizzle but decent body to pad it all. Quite dry on the finish, bit too much?
Nice IPA, but doesn't offer anything particularly new, nor does it deliver all the punch an ipa is supposed to. Nice drinking beer but not hugely impressive.
69 / 100
On tap at the Quarrymans sometime in December 2014.
Pours a darkish amber colour with some bead, nice residual head of white thin foam. Some decent lacing. Bit dark maybe, and a bit clear but OK.
Smells saisony and rich. Barnyard, organic with wet lucerne and a rich spice note of nutmeg and cinnamon, touch of star anise. Slight rubbery hint but nicely handled; saison with spice notes.
Taste is quite saisony. Barnyard early with organic horsey notes, some spice comes through at the same time. Cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, some mild banana ester and a touch of dried fruit - raisins and currants mainly. Goes well with saisony character. Good blend. Yet nice saison.
Too fizzy, which I feel is an issue with many 4 Pines beers. Body is a bit thin maybe. Texture is there; it's just the wrong kind for the style.
Nice saison; nice Christmas. Pretty nice beer.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Welcome Hotel in Rozelle during their Beer Mimics Food event for Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours an extremely cloudy brown colour, darker than it would otherwise be because of the opacity of the haze. Head is very fine forming a decent ring around the edge of the glass. Light weight in the body. It looks fine enough.
Nose is bright with coffee, in a refined and rather fragrant aroma. Slight sweetness, but not enough: there's certainly only a hint of the banana bread, more something savoury and slightly grainy. It smells like afternoon tea.
Taste has pleasant coffee flavours working off a stretched thin malt basis. Some clinging roast on the back, but again it's pretty thin overall. The coffee addition is done nicely, but there's not much else there to back it up. It's pleasant enough in its way, but it's not all that interesting.
Thin in the feel—rather disappointing.
Overall, this is okay. But it's far from the best use of coffee in a beer, and doesn't really deliver what it promises in its name. 4 Pines have done much better Beer Mimics Food beers in the past.
Pours a deep mahogany colour, clear with cream-coloured crown of foamy head on top. Looks like a good dunkel.
Lots of banana on the nose, with vanilla. Some spice phenols as well with notes of cinnamon, clove, star anise and maybe some pepper. Sweet, decent balance. Very pleasant.
More banana on the palate, as was promised. Quite malty-sweet with a touch of caramel, cinnamon towards the back. Sweetness dries up quite a bit towards the back which is good as that banana might have become a bit sickly. Almost gets a tartness towards the back. Pleasant dunkel weizen character.
Decent body, a little tingly. Quite light and fluid.
Not really my thing. Could have used a bit more chocolate character as the more I sip the more tart it seems. Also strikes me as a fairly middle of the road dunkel rather than the innovative twist that they promised. Decent beer though.
59 / 100
I'm perhaps somewhat spuriously listing this as a different beer from 4 Pines' Märzen, which has a slightly different ABV, and is certainly released at a different time of the year. This version (clearly called the Oktoberfest) I tried on-tap at the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont.
Pours a very pleasant bright, clear amber colour, with a fine head of dull off-white that settles out to a ring around the glass. Some weak streaks of lace across the edges as it falls. Body is solid and the carbonation fine. Looks good.
Nose is big and malty, slightly sweet, perhaps overly so, with some brighter German characters coming through, giving some grain and a hint of phenol. There's a slight fatty, buttery character but this is mitigated somewhat by the carbonation which comes through. It's not bad.
Taste is fairly straight down the line with malt, leaving that amber character through the middle, with plenty of malty sweetness. Again, there's that fatty character coming through, and a bit of carob on the back, leading to chewy caramel that drops out on the finish. Finish itself is quite clean, with a clinging hint of lingering sugar.
Feel is pretty smooth, perhaps even with a slight thickness. That's perhaps a bit unwelcome, but it's not bad overall
Overall, this is decent stuff. There's certainly a very solid hat-tip to the traditional style here. And even if it gets a little cloying it's reasonably drinkable all the same.
On tap at the Builder's Arms during Good Beer Week 2013.
Pours a red, cloudy colour. Head is beige, foamy, decent retention and lace. Looks pretty good.
Smells sweet and spicy. Big malt, chocolate, prunes, notes of orange peel and clove. Pretty nice, and intriguing.
Taste is pretty heavy. Big flavour, loads of prune, spice, orange peel, even some Worcestershire sauce and chilli. Not bad, but a distinct fizz on the mouthfeel, and body is a bit thin.
Feels like McConnell introduced a lot of interesting spices and ingredients, but maybe in the process the beer suffers a bit, and drinkability is sacrificed.
They called this an "infused double dunkelweizen". 6.1% ABV, infused with chocolate and lactose. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a clear, bronze-brown colour, really surprisingly clear for a weizen of any description. Solid heft to the body, with a yellowed-beige head of decent foam. Not much lacing. Looks good though.
Nose is like a pleasant dunkelweizen. Plenty of banana, rounded off, with sharper phenolic notes coming through and a little more roast than would probably be called for traditionally. Some apple skin comes through slightly as well.
Light and rounded on the front of the palate, it doesn't give off much flavour. On the mid it's better, we get some sweet, toasted banana bread characters and a clean, dustiness which cuts through the sweetness somewhat. Back is quite full, promoting the banana with some biscuit sweetness and a mild dark malt character. In fact, the afterpalate is quite long, but it doesn't do much. I don't get a lot of chocolate from it, but it could be subtly enhancing the darker notes in the beer.
Feel is very smooth and pleasant.
Overall, it's a pretty decent dunkelweizen. Do the additions help? Maybe in some imperceptible ways, but I didn't get a great deal out of them myself, and it didn't necessarily live up to its "chocolate banana milkshake" description. I'm just happy to take this as a decent dunkel and move on.
60 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Builder's Arms in Fitzroy during GBW 2013. This was a beer inspired by the pub's "Gentlemen's Signature Relish", and somewhat reminiscent (they say) of HP sauce. It is brewed with a bunch of ingredients, including smoked malt, spices, prune and anchovy extract.
Pours a deep brandy hue: golden brown, but with solid hazing. Body is decently weighted. Head is an off-white colour, and forms a fluffy and relatively full cap to the beer. Looks good.
Nose is quite mild. Some sweetness, and a little vegetative note. Some buttery sweetness, and just a suggestion of pickle. It's all extremely light though, and also very vague. The characters don't really express themselves all that well.
Light vegetative entry as well, with a touch of estery banana sweetness. Some grainy malt comes through on the mid, along with a smoothness, but not much extra flavour. On the back there's a suggestion of smoke, and again it's quite smooth, but like on the nose, the characters just aren't interesting or prominent enough.
Feel is very smooth, though, which is quite pleasant, and pricked with a slight sparkle.
Some of 4 Pines beer-mimics-food beers in the past have been extraordinarily expressive of their genesis as food items. This is not one of these, unfortunately. There are certainly pleasant elements to it, but overall, it just feels a little wrong, and not in the (anchovy extract/HP sauce/pickle) way I hoped it would be wrong.
75 / 100
Pours a dark red-tinged brown with lovely creamy head, beige, just sitting stubbornly like a good hand-pulled head should. Lacing is gorgeous, too. What more can you expect from a hand pull except a great colour (which this also has)?
Smells lovely and grainy. Cereal notes with brown sugar, touch of carraway and sourdough. Or pumpernickel, I guess but that's on the nose a bit. Touch of sour toastiness and spice, largely sweet overall. Quite lovely.
Taste is quite toasty and fairly spicy with peppery notes, more of that carraway seed. Star anise notes on there as well and maybe a touch of espresso. Portery roast, bit of brown sugar and molasses late on the palate. Finishes a bit spicier than it needs to, and maybe a touch more roast than required as well. Nice though, good blend of characters.
Smooth as they come. Bit of texture from various flavours and sensations but just goes down nicely, like a hand-pulled beer should.
Not an everyday drinker, as the spice has a sharp edge to it, but nice and pleasantly grainy. Tastes almost healthy.
71 / 100
Pours a cloudy yellow colour, pale, bit of a greenish tinge with fine bead and, of course a lovely creamy nitro head. Good retention; looks great; textbook witbier but the nitro is real treat. I'm a sucker for nitro.
Fruity nose. Bananas and coconut dominate with earthy spice notes of coriander and white pepper and a hint of capsicum. Pretty decent, but standard wit mostly.
Taste is also pretty banana-y, with vanilla, some baked apple and nashi pear crispness. Coconut is not strong, maybe a hint of the pineapple on there though. Tangy, but overall still quite sweet and certainly not out of the realm of dessert beer. Still, less sweet than I expected but decent characters.
Nitro is always so smooth, but it also works really well here, softening some of the pointier spice flavours on the palate. More nitro wits, I say.
Quite impressed with this. Drinks like a wit but some interesting notes in there. Great job by Tweddell bringing Zumbo's vision to life.
Pours a dark chocolatey colour, beige head, with nice specks of lace left behind. Trickle of bead. Decent-looking porter.
Smells a little odd; maybe salty characters floating over a meek chocolate porter aroma. Sweet carob character as well. Not bad.
Taste is quite interesting. Sweet but savoury in equal measure. Some vinous notes, pepperberry, clove and salt. Mild roastiness on the back ties it all in well, but there's really nothing very emphatic here and it could easily be mistaken for any other porter.
A bit thin on the mouthfeel really, a hint of texture but feels a tad empty.
A bit on the weird side. Some decent enough notes but never quite seems sure of what it's doing.
57 / 100
Pours a red colour, dark and pleasant. Head is yellow-tinged, decent lace pattern left behind. Looks nice.
Smells chilli, with a bit of heat/spice pungency, and a lot of vegetative capsicaian notes. Could use more sweetness, or possibly some more smoke.
Taste is very intriguing. Vegetative, bit of cumin and a touch of pear, then follows with a big chilli or capsicum flavour. Drops off towards the finish a little, slightly earthy but not really a lot of flavour presence late. Might be enjoyed by people who generally dislike chilli beer, but I really love the heat usually, and I'm left wanting.
Thinnish body but a bit of presence at the end.
Kudos here for showcasing the flavour of chilli without capturing that flaming heat, but I just happen to be 'that guy' in the world who enjoys the heat of chilli beer and is less a fan of actual chilli flavour. I find this oddly lacking.
79 / 100
Pours a pale saffron colour with steady bead. Thin, but resilient head. Creamy, pleasant. Not the colour I expected, though.
Bizarre on the nose. Vegetative, honey; smells at times like banana, roast pumpkin, minted peas is a big one; gravy notes, even. How, even. Just... wow.
Yeah, that pea flavour is strong on the palate, but here there's also pumpkin, starchy vegetables, parsnip, parsley and rosemary. Just bizarre, and yet so lovely. Like a liquid roast and it really is one of the most extraordinary flavour experiences I've had. As @lacqueredmouse said it puts one in mind of the prototype 'three-course meal' gum in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there's just something magical about this beer. I've filled in my beer 'flavour wheel' and it virtually has no spikes on it, because this doesn't fall into any typical beer flavour categories. Amazing, but bizarre.
Thin mouthfeel which is a genuine disappointment. Bit of light fizz, and weak.
Even though it might be less of a mindf**k, I think this idea would work better as a brown ale. It would just add some substance and some complementary flavours that might repair that mouthfeel and would create more similitude between appearance and flavour. But still, an amazing one-off brew.
74 / 100
Pours an amber colour, fine bubbles; nice beige head, cloudy bosy at least slightly. Not much lace, but still looks nice.
Lovely rich, spicy coffee nose. Earthy characters with toffeed malt, chocolate and nice soft coffee roast, not overwhelming. Complex and very enticing.
Taste is a little less impressive, at least in terms of the initial wow factor. Hints of chocolate, dough and pie spice, then soft coffee roast at the back with a piquant roasty spice. Breakfasty enough, and pleasant. Has subtleties that are not present on the nose, and just as much complexity. Feels wholesome, grainy and pleasant.
Bit of sharpness at the back, otherwise full and nice.
Tasty, interesting drop. I have to admit this was my most anticipated of the Beer Mimics Food series and it certainly didn't disappoint. Hope to see this one re-brewed sometime.
72 / 100
The tail-end of Sydney's summer is wagging, so after a hot walk home this seemed like a sensible option. I've had it on tap here, there, and everywhere around the place but have never reviewed it, and I'm not sure I've ever had it from the bottle before either. This is a 330ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Looks good, like it should: perfectly clear pale golden colour, with a firm, slightly frothy but fine head of pure white. Minimal streaking lace, fine carbonation which is actually rather languid in the glass. Body looks pleasantly light, except for those bubbles which seem swamped in a much thicker, heavier beer. I started with "looks good", and I've seen nothing to change my mind.
Nose is fine. Crisp, light grainy malt characters, with a light cereal greenness. Hops are muted, but noticeable: they're enough to provide a little balance at least. Some faint floral overtones, and a suggestion of metal. It's crisp, light and calm. Perfectly acceptable.
Taste is also perfectly acceptable: clean light malt jangles with faint grain characters, crisp firm hop tones provide a direct but tamed vector down the centre of the palate. Crisp finish with some husky flavours rounding it out: it's pleasant. Feel is really quite smooth throughout, carbonation is reigned in nicely but provides a subtle lift to the flavours, and aids the crispness on the finish.
In terms of clean, drinkable beers, it's pretty hard to fault this. Some might pejoratively say this is a "lager-drinkers ale" (perhaps spitting on the ground as they do), but I like to think that it's an ale aspiring to the true greatness that only a lager can provide. It's a good alternative in any case, and I'm happy this is getting a wider distribution.
48 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Poured half, agitated what sediment there was, then poured the second half.
The end result actually didn't change much from the first half. It's still hazed, but not hugely so, a pale, almost dirty yellow colour. Head froths significantly initially, but settles down to be no more than an ephemeral film, with some fine sudsing around the edge. And a while after that it disappears completely. Indeed, it looks pretty dead and lifeless after its initial flurry. I'm not overly impressed.
Nose is smacked with bananas, slightly overripe, slightly sweet, with something a little sour or carbonic about it. Perhaps it's slightly antiseptic. Whatever it is, it detracts a little from the classic hefe character. It's almost a nettle note. I'm fixating on this one thing because it's bugging me, but the large proportion of the nose is just that classic banana note: it's not all bad if you don't look too closely.
Taste is... fine. Whatever. Thin wheaty cleanness matched with some banana esters to tick the boxes. Not really much hint of the antiseptic character here, fortunately. Yeah, I mean I reiterate: it's fine. But I'm bored. Not only does it do nothing interesting, it's not even really a good example of a hefeweizen. It has enough character to show that, yes, it is what it says on the label, but otherwise it's really very pedestrian.
I guess I'm just world-weary. That's a sad place to be, really. There are so many great and exciting beers out there to discover. But this is not one of them.
77 / 100
So, I'm sure I've had this on-tap before (indeed Untappd tells me as much), but I'm not sure I've ever had it from the bottle. So here we go. This particular bottle is a 330ml number, emblazoned with the "Certified Space Beer" pap, purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Pours very pleasantly, a deep dark black-brown, with a smooth, slightly frothy head of pale chocolate. Carbonation is very fine, forming in sheets when the glass is tilted. Som speckled lacing, but not a great deal. Body is firm, but relatively lightweight. Looks pretty good all up.
Nose is very pleasant. Light dusty chocolate, with a slight roast kicker. Some smooth milky flavours as well. There's a hint of something perhaps a little savoury as well: some toasted, buttered dark bread perhaps. It all integrates nicely, making a very pleasant, very consistent whole.
Taste is also very nicely integrated and well balanced. Smooth entry, with some of those mild milk and chocolate characters, before a noticeable but tempered roast character gives some bite to the mid palate. Some lingering cacao overtones towards the back give a bittersweet finish. Feel is smooth throughout, really lingering on the back to give a stronger sensation of depth and breadth to the palate. It's really excellent in a beer only slightly over 5% ABV.
Really smooth and drinkable. Have I actually had this before? I don't remember it being so good. This is really nice, smooth, clean and balanced, with enough flavour to keep it exciting. I would love to drink this more regularly.
72 / 100
Had on-tap at 4 Pines during Sydney Craft Beer Week. This beer was brewed under the "Beer Mimics Food" mantle of the week. Specifically, this was created in collaboration with a local Sydney homebrewer to mimic a spice pulled pork sandwich. Mmm.
Pours a lovely hazy red hue, almost cloudy, but refracting light pleasantly. Body is really very light, surprisingly so, in fact. Off-white head forms a mild, smooth, clear crest. Lace is fussy and bubbly. Love the colour.
Aroma is wonderful. Mild, smoky chipotle chilli, pulled pork, pickled jalapeños, Mexican black beans, crushed pepper. It could probably be stronger, and punch me in the face more, but the aromas are just right: they've nailed what they were going for.
Slight meatiness on the front palate, stone-cooked meat, pepper and a little smokiness, but it all falls away pretty quickly. There's some mild roast towards the back, and a very faint hint of chilli, but certainly not enough to burn. Finish is smooth, but pretty empty: it's a little bit disappointing after what came before.
Feel is pleasantly smooth throughout, even when the flavour drops out.
Overall, this is very drinkable, and still very interesting. There are some really nice ideas here put together into a pretty neat little package. This was another impressive "Beer Mimics Food" brew from 4 Pines.
74 / 100
Part of the series of beers 4 Pines brewed for 2012's Sydney Craft Beer Week, under the theme of "Beer Mimics Food".
Pours a pleasantly burnished, slightly hazy amber hue, with a solid body. Head is a very fine off-white, and it leaves some solid if somewhat patchy lace. Not much carbonation is visible at all. Love the colour.
Nose is very good, both matching the Beer Mimics Food theme and being tasty in its own right: bright, fresh coffee aromas mingle with hints of waffle and syrup sweetness. There's a slight toastiness behind it too beyond the coffee character. Not only can you see the food genesis behind the beer, you can see that this was a good idea.
Taste follows similar patterns. Some mild sweet coffee on the front, accentuated by a clean bourbon vanilla character, turning to mocha and toasty, grainy richness mid-palate. On the back is a lingering maple evanescence, along with a hint of burnt toast; perhaps even a touch of smoke.
Feel is smooth but light. Pleasant enough.
Overall, this is some really good stuff. Very smooth and really quite drinkable, but with some interesting and surprising flavours.
44 / 100
Finally wrapping up my notes from Sydney's Craft Beer Week: this was part of 4 Pines Keller Door series on the theme of the week "Beer Mimics Food". Their Chocolate Seaweed Porter was brewed in collaboration with Three Blue Ducks. Tried on-tap at the brewery's bar in Manly.
Pours a deep reddish-brown, relatively free of haze. Body is surprisingly light, with a beige topping of fine head. Spidery lace forms as well. Overall, it looks pretty decent.
The aroma is the first hint that this is perhaps an experiment too far. The initial aroma is weird enough, with its briny seaweed character conjuring up cooked veggie stank, and funky leaf-mold earthiness. Then comes the chocolate in one of the biggest WTF moments of my beer drinking experience. Urgh: it adds this really banal sweetness that just accentuates how out-of-whack the other aromas are. It's weird, and experimental, but also pretty unsuccessful.
Taste is marginally better, only by virtue of the fact that it's not as big. Some more seaweed characters on the front, mixing their briny fingers in and around a sweet orange peel character that makes it taste like drinking off juice. There's pleasantly, some more roast towards the middle and back to clear it out, but with little purpose; the back feels weak and empty.
Feel is extremely light, if it weren't for the fact that the flavours were vaguely offensive, the feel might be its worst aspect.
This was easily the least successful of 4 Pines SCBW series. This was clearly an experiment, but even knowing that, I have to ask the question "why was it even an experiment in the first place". Knowing how this beer ended up, I can't imagine how it would be really much different. Chocolate and seaweed is a very difficult match, and it makes for a difficult beer.
77 / 100
A long overdue review entry for me, this was one of 4 Pines "Beer Mimics Food" series done for Sydney Craft Beer Week in 2012. Extremely difficult to classify, it's a golden ale infused with the ingredients of a traditional sunday roast dinner. And it's marvelously successful.
Pours a very pale yellow colour, almost as pale as a wit, but with only very mild hazing, Body is light and fine. Head is a minimal, filmy white, that leaves some patchy lace. Some fine carbonation is noticeable, but it seems on the low side.
The aroma is where this beer absolutely nails its brief: those weird black caramelised pumpkin bits, lamb juice, some aniseed, fennel and rosemary and the biggest surprise: minted peas. Dayam. This is like Willy Wonka's magical chewing gum: it really smells like roast dinner.
The palate is less excitingly authentic, but there are still oddities of flavour here that build nicely on the roast theme. Some light weak grain enters, before that minty, slightly organic pea character comes through. Odd hints of charred roast on the back, along with a chewy sweetness, and a hint perhaps of meaty gravy on the back. This is weeeird stuff.
Feel is disappointingly light: I feel as though too much more might have overpowered the roast characters perhaps, but it's a shame you couldn't have the richness to go with it.
This is apt. For all of the "Beer Mimics Food" themes at SCBW, nothing nailed it like this beer. This was really, really wacky—it blew my mind—and it's quite amazing what they did with it.
58 / 100
Pours a golden colour, slightly cloudy with white foamy head. Decent retention. Looks pretty standard Belgian.
Quite sweet on the nose, with vanilla and stone fruit. Hints of phenolic spice give it a decent Belgian twist but nothing too distinct.
Taste is a bit disappointing. Sweet and fruity again with bubblegum ester upfront, hint of banilla and caramel, then the back is quite boozey-tasting from the beetroot-extracted sugar not giving much character beyond ethanol. Gets very phenolic, but it's not too strong to ruin it all, still alright.
Bit boozey, but not sharp. Feels a little bit heavy and hangover-making maybe.
Interesting Belgian drop, but perhaps a little heavy-handed.
75 / 100
As part of Sydney Craft Beer Week's "Beer Mimics Food" theme, 4 Pines collaborated with four chefs and other foodies to create a series of Beer Mimics Food beers. This one was their collaboration with patissier Adriano Zumbo: a coconut and pineapple infused witbier brewed with lactose. Tried on nitro-tap at 4 Pines in Manly.
I'm not sure I've ever had a witbier on nitro before, but it suits it: a firmly hazed deep golden body gets crowned majestically by a very, very fine head of solid white, that leaves some sheeting, gluey lacing. It also stays remarkably flat and dormant: almost no carbonation is visible.
Coconut on the nose is immediately noticeable, with a hint of pineapple coming through, but much less dominant than the coconut. Some peppery characters work with some of the sweeter fragrances to almost give it a saison-like character. It's perhaps sharper and spicier than I was expecting, but it's solid stuff.
Pepper on the front palate, with a mild phenolic spice coming through. Later, some of the smoothness from the additional characters, and perhaps the lactose comes through, lending a creamy feel and some smoothness. The finish adds a bit more spice, with a strong Belgian yeast character, and we eventually get more of that pineapple and coconut—together they form a pretty funky finish.
Very smooth all over: the nitro certainly helps here.
Overall, this was a very drinkable brew. Moreover, it was quite interesting while still maintaining a semblance of the style it's based around. I was very impressed.
86 / 100
Tried at the 4 Pines space party in April 2012.
Pours a very dark, dark brown. Nice creamy head that retains well but leaves curtains of beige lace as it slowly sinks. Looks lovely.
Bitter chocolate on the nose. Roasty but sweet, with hints of vanilla pods and cinnamon. Nice spice edge but it's really all roast. Like an oatmeal stout should be.
Taste is smooth, and far smoother than a lot of oatmeal stouts I've had - in spite of it being a hallmark of the style. Sweet start: grainy with chocolate notes, then develops a strong and fairly rich roasty-burnt bitterness midway that lasts all the way to the back. Hints of peppery spice rise up to join it late-mid. Finishes rich, chocolatey and smooth. Quite beautiful and balanced, with the hallmarks of a stout but no rough or sharp edges at all. Lovely.
Smooth body, but it fills the mouth with flavour. A bit dry; good.
Lovely oatmeal stout and just exemplary of the style. Definitely worth a try if they ever brew this again.
45 / 100
Misled, I was expecting beetroot to form part of the colour or flavour of this beerâin fact the beetroot is used to provide extra sugar for the brew, much like Belgian candi sugar, and the end result is a Belgian strong golden ale. Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a slightly hazed golden colour, with solid body weight. Head is full and fine, a firm ring and fluff of white. Fine carbonation makes it look very refined. Overall, it's a great looking beer.
Minimal characters on the nose above some slight estery Belgian characters giving a hint of spice. It's not bad, but it's just, kinda, non-existent.
Mild banana characters on the front of the palate, before the bitter, phenolic and boozy notes take over and absolutely overwhelm the rest of the flavours, whatever they might have been. Finish is spicy and astringent, with big hits of heat on the middle and back of the tongue.
It's pointlessly bigâwhere the Belgians tease out complexities from the fermentation, this just steamrolls everything. It feels burning and astringent without purpose.
60 / 100
Pours a clear amber colour with steady trickle of bead throughout. Head is off-white, nice tight agglomeration of bubbles for nice, smooth lace.
Smell is pleasant, with a good pale ale balance of sweet and tangy. Rich caramel malt with nice citric hops coming from left and right. Slight sherbet note and hint of chalk. But yeah, nice.
Taste is quite English at times, with earthy malt providing rich English toffee sweetness that takes over the mid-palate and lasts beyond the finish. Slight soil and toasted grain notes. Hops are apparent midway, mostly citric and with a touch of copper on there as well. Bit of cloying yeast late which is a shame, but the bigger shame is simply that the hops don't really assert themselves, and the finish is a bit sticky as a result.
Nice, full body, but I can notice some light sizzle from the carbonation up the top. Not bad.
I'm holding this to fairly high standard but have had more drinkable pale ales, and I think there's a lot of flavour here but the emphasis is misaligned.
70 / 100
Pours a deep amber colour that thins towards the edge. Head is off-white, small bubbles but not as thick as it might have been. Bead is slow but there, not much lace. Alright.
Smell is quite sweet with vanilla-tinged caramel malt giving a hint of bourbon and some apricot notes as well. Hint of ginger and tobacco but mostly inviting malty notes, slight treacle on there as well, I guess. Bit heavy for a lagery style, but hey, it's all good.
Taste is quite tangy upfront. Sweet malt dominates again but the body is lifted so no heavy, syrupy residual substances are left from the sweetness. Develops slight berry notes on the mid and some mango late. Lots of sweetness but it's all dried up by the finish, almost to the point of sharpness.
Still pretty drinkable though, it's got a lot of the flavours you want without the heaviness that might have gone along with being a malty brew.
60 / 100
Pours a pale champagney colour with nice trail of bead. Head is a healthy white, snowy and sunk to a thin film, but retains lovely lacing. Looks good.
Smell is sweet and grainy, with nice banana fruit esters coming through and a hint of spice cookies. Spice is nutmeg and a hint of smoked paprika that turns it almost meaty at times. Very nice for a Kristalweizen, it's full of aroma.
Taste is bananas from the get-go. Fruity with a slight tang, but a lot of sweetness - vanilla, light caramel and maybe a slight coconut oil note as well. Some cereal grain on the back adds a touch of oatmeal and a very slight citric note. Touch of bubblegum is created late-mid by the clash of different esters. Too sweet, really, and doesn't quite go anywhere.
Bit of a tingly texture is not unpleasant. Body is not quite all there, but OK. I forgive it.
One of the better Kristalweizens I've had, but that doesn't say much. I usually think of this as a pointless style because the end result is just a watered-down hef; in this case it works quite well. Annoyingly, 4 Pines didn't have the hefeweizen on tap during my visit as I would have liked to do a side-by-side comparison. All I can say is I look forward to it, since I'm quite impressed by this as a KW.
73 / 100
Pours a dark mahogany brown with beige, dense head. Settles slowly to a thin film of tiny bubbles, but some gorgeous lace. Pretty pale for a stout, but nice.
Smell is roasty and sweet. Plenty of rich espresso with a hint of licorice bite and some dark but sweet chocolate. Hint of raisin and port wine as well. Quite sweet, but a good roasty balance to it.
Taste is fairly sweet, with some vanilla and coconut-flesh notes early, mixing with roasty grain notes on the mid. Touch of spice with black pepper and cinnamon, then finishes sweet and dark with nice cocoa-rich chocolate and a dry, woody touch at the back. Very pleasant palate.
A bit thin on the body and empty, really. Goes down smooth but hard to notice while it's in the mouth.
Could be darker and I wouldn't be complaining, but it's been a while since I drank such a drinkable, tasty Irish-style stout.
61 / 100
Pours a pale straw colour, mild haze and light bead. Head is webbed out, pretty uneventful though; thin trail of lace. Pretty dull, really.
Smells fairly fresh and pleasant. Mild citric notes and some floral characters - grass and chamomile with notable cereal grain notes hiding behind as well. Not amazing but fairly fresh and enjoyable.
Taste is grainy for the most part, with plenty of cereal notes, oats and barley and a growing bitterness that starts midway and gets slightly more astringent towards the back. Fairly citric with lemon and grapfruit, developing a more phenolic, spicy bite on the finish. Hint of pepper to the very back. Decent, and intriguing, if not overly delicious.
Fairly light body lets the carbonation show through, not too severely though so it's OK.
Decent, interesting beer. Which is more than I can say for most Kölsches.
Pours a dark red-brown colour with light but steady bead. Head is jaundiced-beige with nice, tightly packed network of bubbles, and a dense sheet of lace left behind. Nice.
Lots of weizeny notes on the nose. Banana with a dark, slight spicy character backing up; plenty of black pepper, cumin and some fairly stouty roasty notes. Dark by nature, but lifted by weizen notes. Pleasant.
Taste has a surprising boozey element to it. It's mostly just dark notes, but there's a strength there. Starts spicy with some light nutmeg, before weizen esters come through on the mid. Banana notes and a big clove hit that carries through to the finish. Capsicum notes on the finish and an astringent spice note combining clove with coriander and cherry. Bit dry on the back but a tinge of banana sweetness. Not a bad dunkel.
Quite sizzle on the mouthfeel, too much carbonation for too much texture and it becomes sharp on the end. Bit thin and empty too, can't say I love it.
Some good dunkelweizen characters, maybe needs to be tamed a bit.
Pours a clear, pale golden colour with slow bead in the glass. Head is thin, white and creamy but not good at retaining. OK.
Smell is largely grainy, with cereal husks and a hint of sticky rice to it. Overlain with very mild grassy hop note, borders on tangy and citric but there's just not enough to it.
Taste is quite bitter but with a nice, nutty grain character throughout. Touch of apple juice on the mid before mostly phenolic hops take over midway, hint of grass clippings and grapefruit that get slightly ashy and astringent late. Since the grain is still there it sort of produces an overall toasted grain flavour, but still quite a phenolic, overpowering finish. Not unpalatable though and a fairly well-constructed palate.
Quite fizzy as a pils should be, but a real heaviness on the back from the hop pull, can't say I'm a fan.
Bit too much on the back from the bitterness, needs to be cleansing without adding too much flavour.
80 / 100
On-tap at the Local during their GABS festival, belatedly entering my reviews. It was a big day.
Pours an amber brown colour with some haze. Smooth lacing around the edges around a fine bubbled off-white head.
Nutty chocolate characters on the nose, giving a sweet carob character a fruitcake with treacle. Spice and bite to offset the sweetness. Nice.
More fruitcake on the palate again with a treacle and butterscotch sweetness. A little citric lemon rind bite, and a smooth cooling cantaloupe character. Boozy on the finish. Feel is very smooth.
Great brew, and a standout on the day. Lovely depth and complexity with some really nice flavours.
73 / 100
Pours a murky dark red colour with decent off-white head retaining a thin crown. Touches of sticky lace on there, clear body. Nice colour; otherwise quite good too.
Smells very malty, sweet, sticky. Huge golden syrup aroma with some brown sugar, oatmeal and a touch of rye bread at the back if you pay attention. Seriously, pay attention and stop looking at that squirrel. Ideal scotch ale aroma.
Taste is very malty, but a good belt of booze as well. Lots of golden syrup with pecan nuts and hazelnuts as well. Sweet, but also round and rich with beery, boozey goodness. Very nutty characters and a slight vinous edge as it heads towards the back and finishes with the flavour of lightly caramelised crême brûlée. Fairly full, viscous body but leaves very dry with a bit too much alcohol heat.
Great beer overall, not too heavy or sweet as to be undrinkable. Whether I could throw back more than one at a time is a different question.
Pours a burnished bronze colour with slow but manifold carbonation. Head is thin, cream-coloured, retaining a thin crown and some nice thick lace being left behind. Great colour, otherwise pretty good too.
Smell is very hoppy. Lots of malt on there with English toffee notes and a slight sour metallic character. Lots of brass/copper and some lemon zest as well. Some honey as well, hiding at the back. Fairly strong, but also lacking in complexity; seems a bit one-tracked.
Very flavoursome. Heavy malt base with burnt sugar and brown sugar, some molasses as well. Lots of hops come through that are quite complex and almost wriggly in their flavour permeation. Earthy, with pine needle resin, some metallic notes and some woody character as well. Makes the finish extremely dry, very attenuated and maybe a touch short on the finish. But it's clean at least.
Good full feel, nice and sticky in the mouth but I really feel it's a bit too dry.
A very nice beer overall, and nice to drink. One of the better ESBs I've had.
Pours a deep coppery bronze colour with a fine and filmy head of white. Lacing is great, forming down the glass in sheets. Lots of fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is minimal, with a light grain note amd some slightly floral hoppiness, but it's very muted, and it's certainly served too cold. Served by the brewer too, so no excuses. As it warms, there's a hint more maltiness to it, and it preempts the slight smoke character on the palate.
Taste is, indeed, surprisingly smoky - smoked cheese in particular giving a pleasant sweet but roasted hint. Light and clean otherwise with a pleasant coppery bitterness cleaning out the back. Very interesting.
A very drinkable ESB and a rather enjoyable one. The biscuity smokiness is a little odd, but otherwise it's a good example of the style.
Pours a deep dark golden colour, with a really solid white head that rises in a wonderful dome above the rim of the glass. Carbonation is huge, in fact it seems to make the head bigger as time passes. Very nice indeed, a really great looking beer.
Some bitter hops characters on the nose, some pine resin, some grapefruit and cut grass. Nothing particularly fruity or floral, and not incrdibly robust, but pretty decent.
Taste falls a bit flat, with a decent hop presence, that asserts itself only as a prolonged flat gritty character. There's not a huge range to it, and it's lacking nuance. A very faint diacetyl is detectable as well. Mouthfeel is great though, very clean and vibrant from the head and carbonation.
A pretty clean and very drinkable pale ale. It falls down a little in some critical areas, but otherwise, it's clean, crisp, flavoursome and enjoyable.