Pours a deep brown colour, visibly coloured though. Head is beige, pale and quite thin; just a thin rim left behind with some nice sticky trails of lace and a good reverse cascade. Maybe a tad heavy; unimpressive at first glance but evidently lots of substance.
Smells interesting; slightly tart in the service of a big vinous character. French Oaky with a slight funky Brett character to it. Notes of coconut and vanilla sugar as well. Hint of choc malt but it's primarily tart and oaky. Maybe a bit lacking in the beer character; it's mostly just ageing vessel and secondary characters at the forefront, but they're nice.
Taste has that oakiness upfront; develops beery characters towards the mid with some nice roasty bitterness, plenty of dark bittersweet choc as well. Gets a bit of a boozey strength late; brandyish and it's mostly flavour rather than heat so it may be quite attenuated and hence dry even at this strength. Caramel and slight clovey spice late-mid and a touch of that oak. But I feel it's a bit upside down; oak mostly on nose and front, and then booze on the back and it needs the oaky sweetness late to mellow it out a bit where it's quite boozey.
Mouthfeel is smooth for the most part; quite dry and almost delicately so, late. Like it could get too dry to handle but it holds itself together alright.
Yeah drinks like a big complex beer but i feel the attenuation on the back stops the complexities from spreading and expanding on the palate; ends up big, and a little dry, and not that deep.
12oz brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a rather clear deep mahogany—somewhere between ruby red and deep brown. Head is fairly persistent, forming in fine bubbles to start with and persisting as a mesh around the edge of the glass. Body is thick. It has a serious weight to it, and the bubbles that persist in the glass move sluggishly to the surface. Looks good.
Nose is quite potent. Plenty of spice from the rye, which gives a slightly herbal, grainy, grassy character. But there's sweet booziness underpinning it as well. I get port, oak barrel, and banana esters, along with a slight smack of chlorine or salt. As it warms, some of the sharper character do integrate a bit more, giving sweet coconut and dark chocolate. It's a really nice nose.
The taste is harder—it's certainly potent still, but here it definitely has an edge which makes it harsher. It has a hot booze through the centre of the palate, which then sits smouldering on the finish. It leaves some of the more delicate flavours behind, meaning the suggestions of coconut and chocolate are lost. There's spice from the rye though, and it creates a herbal character, and some thinness which exacerbates the harshness of the booze.
Overall, this had loads of potential, which it never really quite captured after the complexities of the nose. It's a bit of a shame, because it could have been magnificent. And the heat and lack of balance on the palate stopped that.
69 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich.
Pours a bright yellow-gold with a fine hazing through the body. Head forms a decent surface of pure white that stays with some persistence. Minimal lace. Body is light. Looks pretty good overall though: about what you want from the style.
Nose is great: crisp and tart, with bright pinging citrus and a suggestion of farmhouse funkiness. There's a sharp savoury character to it as well, almost like a hot salsa, which adds it's own spike to the aroma. Very refreshing, very bright, very exciting.
Taste is pleasantly clean and tart on the front, with a bright citrus and a slight acetic acidity. Mid palate stays fuzzy and a little bit underdeveloped, although it brings back some suggestions of that chilli sharpness. Unfortunately, there's a very dirty, yeasty and slightly unsavoury character on the back that I've seen in a number of berliner weisses now: it gives a gritty and slightly unpalatable finish to what should be otherwise light, crisp and refreshing. At the very least, it has some of those same classic characters, but I'm not particularly enamoured of them.
Overall, though, this is a very solid stab at the style, and it's actually done pretty well. The tartness is well-structured (and indeed if I could just have more of the same I'd be pretty happy), but there are things which stop me from being truly effusive. By the end of the bottle though, I was pretty happy drinking it.
57 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA. It promises to be inspired by a "perfect brewed iced mocha". Let's see.
Relatively clear russety brown colour, with a fizzling head that forms and the dissipates, leaving only a suggestion of a ring. Body is light, but pleasant enough, and it hold very fine carbonation. No lacing to speak of, but then there's almost no head to speak of either. Looks ok, without being particularly good.
Nose is mildly roasted sweet coffee, perhaps with some chocolate overtones, but mainly coffee: indeed there's a whole-bean roundness to what is otherwise quite a sharp tone. It doesn't have the intensity of ground coffee. It's quite green as well, with a lifting quality that stops it from being truly one-dimensional. Not bad.
Taste is milder, and weaker: and I think it might be the addition of a cocoa and sugar sweetness, which instead of complementing the coffee character just dampens it. This means that instead of the sharpness that was present on the nose, there's a watery nothingness, perhaps tinged with some limp sugary sweetness that doesn't do much. It's disappointing, because the coffee character present in the aroma was quite engaging.
Feel is light, and because of the lack of flavour, feels pretty weak too.
Overall, it's OK, but no better than that. It really did have some promise, but unfortunately it just drifted a little too close to banality by the end.
650ml bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a murky reddish-brown colour, with a thin filmy head of yellowed off-white. Lacing forms in grid-like patterns, quite intricate. Body is light, but holds quite fine carbonation. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is heavy with rye. Big sweet-spicy, slightly grassy grainy tone runs this quite strongly, with a slightly sweaty green fruit character providing the only counterpoint. It really smells quite malty, but the rye malt seems to be dominant, which gives it that spicy, grainy, bready note. It's certainly different, and certainly interesting. That's worth a lot.
Taste suffers as a result of the heavy rye load, however, with a significant lightness leaving most of the palate feeling rather empty. The malt is nowhere to be seen, just that reedy rye spice that hides behind the hops and doesn't provide much balance. As a result, the hops (which are much more noticeable on the palate than on the nose) dominate here, leaving a thin, sharp bitterness racing through the centre towards the back. Even though it's not a particularly hoppy beer, it feels much more so than it is, due to the lack of balance. It's a bit disappointing.
Feel is actually not as bad as the taste might suggest, it has a crispness which is quite pleasant, and it works with the lighter flavours in the body. However, a fuller feel and more breadth in the body would be a better combination overall, I feel.
Overall, it's actually pretty interesting, even though it doesn't work as well as it might have. The rye is certainly noticeable on this beer, which makes it a novelty, but it lacks the balance and craft of a truly great beer.
59 / 100
Pours quite a dark orange-yellow colour with a filmy but fine white head. The colour is very dark for a witbier, but perhaps they didn't realise the Flemish translation of "wit". Hazy but not cloudy, not a great look for a witbier overall.
Nose is pleasant. Cinnamon bread on the nose, with decent orange blossom characters as well. Minimal spice apart from the sweet cinnamon. Fragrant and pleasant at least but missing some of the classic characters.
Taste is similar. Pleasant cinnamon sweetness, with a light citrus rind undertone. Light butter rounds out the palate with a smooth sweet finish. Very light feel, but the characters work OK with the thinness.
Not a bad brew, and quite pleasantly drinkable all up. Smooth and clear, with pleasant, if not classic characters. Worth a try.