71 / 100
375ml can from the Carwyn Canvent Calendar 2020. To be honest, I'm pretty excited.
Pours a perfect, deep golden colour, with a frothy and persistent white head. The head looks particularly good for something clocking in at 9% ABV. I like the fine carbonation too, which forms champagne-like streams. Very refined. Body maybe has a bit more heft to it than your usual pils, but not so much that you'd take a lot of note of it, were it not for that "9" on the can.
Nose is really very sweet. It's got a richness to it, and a lot of vanilla from the oak. As it warms, it gets a slight buttery note from the Chardonnay. But it is balanced with a crisp, slightly metallic hop character, so while the sweetness is unexpected, it maintains a semblance of coherent pilsener-ness.
Taste is better, because it does manage to maintain a pleasantly crisp and light body. This helps undercut the sweetness, the barrel notes and the fattiness of the Chardonnay. Amusingly, one of the main aids in this quest is the booze, which combines with a crisp hop character at the back—both of which swell just as the body dips, meaning the back is more bitter and brighter than it would otherwise be. But a beer with that sweet Chardonnay butteriness that didn't get that finish just right would be cloying. This dodges that bullet.
Feel is fuller and fatter through the middle than a standard pilsener, but manages to crisp up on the finish nicely.
Overall, this ends up working, almost despite itself. The journey I went on with this beer perhaps goes a little like this: 1) Ooh, this sounds like a great idea, I'm going to love it. 2) Oh yeah, big oaky, Chardonnay buttery sweetness? That's actually a *bad* idea for a pilsener. 3) OK, despite this clearly being a bad idea, somehow it works. It's quite a ride.
48 / 100
Day 17 of my #fletchmas Advent Calendar 2017. Reviewed blind.
Pours a stormy straw colour, very cloudy for its paleness. Head is white, nicely packed bubbles, and being kept afloat by a furious bead from underneath. Lacing is OK but doesn't stick around. Looks interesting.
Smells mostly like I've served it a bit cold. Fairly fresh, with a saisony barnyard character but some decent stonefruit characters as well. Apricot and some melon notes, with touches of lucerne, that chemical whose name I forget but it emerges after rain - so the smell you associate with rain - and some earthy spice. I may get more complexity as it warms up but it's pretty nice as is.
Hmm, taste is incredibly tart, like Berliner Weiss level tart, with this really quite sharp, straight up lemon juice flavour dominating the palate. Starts warming up early, it's quite tangy but rindy-bitter as well, then this big puckering acidity throughout the mid. It does clean up a little on the back but it's more just that the acidity goes away rather than it being counterbalanced, and I'm sort of left with a slightly grainy sweet finish that's a bit weak and an odd way to end such a big acid palate. Definitely needs like a saison funk or just general Belgian phenols or something to pick it up again at the end because it's just really sour and then really nothing.
Mouthfeel is all about the pucker. Big drying, almost cloying acidity that sizzles with that carbonation as well. I don't think it's good but I'm not minding it, to be honest. It's raw and honest in what it is.
Yeah it's a bit much and just slightly unpleasant the way it finishes, kind of wet grainy. Feels unbalanced and only half-constructed as a palate.
Disliked this more when I found out what it was; I was prepared to accept it as a well-intentioned but unsuccessful kettle sour but there's very little IPA character on this; it's not just dominated by the sour notes but some proper hop bitterness would be ideal for the balance that this is lacking. I obviously had in mind that it was Belgian-minded and some Belgian yeast notes would have worked as well. Basically anything at all would have worked; what I get on the finish is nothing.
73 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam: day #4 of our 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a hazy straw colour, with a frothy, coarse-bubbled and fairly swiftly-descending head of white. Minimal lacing. Body is quite light and fluid, with some coarse-bubbled carbonation moving swiftly up the edges of the glass. Look decent without being particularly attractive.
Nose is pleasant, with a soft stonefruit character that gives a touch of tropical tartness. Under it is hints of wheaty grain, and something like sweet grass. It's almost a creamy character to the nose—a nice mixture of something slightly sweet, and something with some fruit, but underpinned with a sharpness. I like it.
Taste is very clean. There's a nice fresh brightness on the front, that clears out before it cloys, and certainly before getting too overt or sweet. It flushes out to a clean central palate with a hint of the stonefruit again—this time more reminiscent of apricots—and a fine effervescence. Finish is crisp and light, cleaning out the palate very nicely.
Feel is crisp—just right for the style. Whatever that style is.
Overall, I really like it. It's clean, fresh and very very drinkable. It has a hint of interest, but it doesn't feel to overwhelm the palate with it. The restraint is nicely done. It's a very well-made beer.
85 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez, tried on my own one Thursday evening because whynot.
Pours a deep dark brown. Head is beige, nice and dense foam when poured but sinks to a thin film. Tilting the body gives some lovely reverse cascade like it's a big thick drop but full of life, too. Lacing is a gorgeous sheen. Looks great.
Can smell from a metre away. Huge whisky character that up close blends with a strong vibrant coffee spice and a good belt of sweet character too. Roasty with dark charry chocolate and ash and that huge whisky belt at the back. It warms the cockles, alright. Huge and hot in all the right ways.
Taste is stouty and sweet. At first I'm a little surprised and disappointed that it isn't as strong, but it's just a tad too cold. Big chocolatey notes upfront with some roasted grain, that develops into a sweet and complex coffee roast midway, just an espresso cream sweetness that develops almost an Irish cream kind of character. Whisky comes through on the back; boozey with a distinct whisky flavour rather than just being generic booze and oak, it's a full warming whisky character, that really offsets the coffee and the sweetness to give a real warming nightcap quality to this. It's a wonderfully crafted stout, loads of different characters all playing off against each other that goes down a hell of a treat on a cold winter's night.
A little bit raw on the mid-palate where the strength shows through but quite smooth on the back where the body pads it out. Pretty good.
Drinks like you want an impy stout to drink, with the coffee and whisky just delightful bonuses on top of a rock-solid complex base stout. Excellent stuff.
70 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez for my birthday, enjoyed one Saturday night by myself.
Pours a dark red colour, quite nice and vibrant hue. Head is off-white, nice foaminess, sinks evenly to a thin crown and leaves some nice webs of lacing behind. Quite a pleasant look.
Smells tart and lovely. Big raspberry acidity to it, with sweet fruity notes, touch of crisp green apple as well. Nice wildness blending with fresh fruitiness. Really pleasant.
Taste is quite pleasant too. Has a nice wildness upfront that develops a tart fruit note midway, plenty of cherry and raspberry character. Gets a wild barnyard note late-mid with a touch of bitterness, slightly earthy and rindy, just a touch off, and maybe could be softened with a touch of fruit that would work well in the style (although it's blended so I'm aware I'm over-simplifying the idea). Finishes quite roasty actually, odd malty character that's unexpected and out of place, but not entirely unwelcome.
Slight rawness on the front. Bit of acidity that pulls back on the tongue. Good body on the back though.
Pretty decent imitation of an old world beer with high degree of difficulty. Not perfect, but it's neither overly watered-down and simplistic like the worst imitators, nor is it as overly wild, sour and swimmingly complex like some of the best sour-blended ales, but it hits a good accessible middle ground.
Bottle gifted by Jez, shared with Chris.
Pours a dark chocolate cola colour, foamy umber head, nice when poured but dissipates to a thin film. The lace, though is sheeny and beautiful. Looks nice.
Smells sweet. Chocolatey, nutty, with caramel notes, touch of cherry but mostly dark chocolate which is nice. Hint of coconut but otherwise not much whisky aroma. Pleasant.
Taste is a bit more bitter, sour even. Some chocolate notes on the front then gets a bit insipid, milk chocolatey. Some cocoa and caramel, and then finishes with a touch of dark cherry and some peppery shiraz notes. Bit of booze which is quite dry and woody, and I feel could use some more sweetness both upfront and on the back. Pretty tasty still, but it's like stout-then-whisky, rather than managing to flow the two together.
Fairly substantial body but it is a bit dry and not very malty on the base.
Nice big stout, but I feel the choice of whisky is not the ideal. It's pleasant, but I just feel the style of beer suits a whisky that's more overtly sweet, and this as a result is quite dry and boozey.
I should note for the record that Chris really really enjoyed this.
81 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased from Slowbeer. Matured in chardonnay barrels with bitter orange and Brett. brux.
Pours a rather clear, fine pale yellow hue, with a rocky frothy, boisterous head that settles out to a persistent mess of champagne-like bubbles. Carbonation is fine and vibrant. Body is light and fine, as you'd expect. Overall, it looks good.
Nose is excellent. Demi-sec champagne notes, accentuated by a fizz of carbonic acidity, which leavens the rather hearty wood note. Slight bittersweet fruit notes come through, peely and almost tending towards tannic. As it warms, or as you swirl it, there's pleasant notes of black peppercorns and perhaps a little coriander seed. It's a nice combination.
Taste is very dry, and extremely clean. Palate has a brut vinous quality to it that really does present a facade of sparkling dry white wine. Some barrel towards the back, with a woody, almost floury biscuit-tack quality. This is lifted a little bit by some of the fruit peel character, that still never lends sweetness, but provides some aromatics at least. Finish is pithy, and punctuated by the acidity, leaving the body (such as it is) to effervesce away to nothing, leaving just a arid dryness on the finish from the memory of the acidity.
Feel is spot on—crisp and bright, with persistent fine carbonation.
Overall, cracking stuff. This is super clean, dry, pithy and astoundingly drinkable. The elements are beautifully used in concert, leaving a beer that's harmonious for all its disparate characteristics. I'm now going to very happily enjoy the rest of this large bottle
40 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale straw colour with a relatively clear body. Weight is quite light, holding some nonetheless rather languid minimal carbonation. Head is white leaving only a faint ring that produces a little sheeting lace. Looks okay.
Nose is really very dull. Almost like a generic Aussie lager, with perhaps a slight farty tartness to it. Otherwise, it just smells light, dry and cold. I'm unimpressed.
Taste is a little more tart on the front, but does indeed dwell on this kind of lagery, yeasty character that ends up giving a flat character of wet flour. Back is unpleasant and dank, with a nasty yeast character. Not much on the aftertaste: very flat.
Feel is very light.
It's not awful, but that's the best I can say. It's just really uninspired and certainly not a very interesting Gose. I'm not a fan.
56 / 100
Pours a very pale straw colour, almost completely transparent. Head is white, foamy, but dissipates quickly. Really clear-looking. OK for the style but doesn't really appeal.
Smells grainy. Puffed rice, with a light buttery sweetness to it, and a touch of something - maybe salt but has a tinge of apple crisp tartness. Hops maybe as well? Not sure.
Taste is grainy upfront, but with a slight edge to it. Not just cereally, develops some bready notes late, a touch of salt on the mid and then finishes mildly fruity, again with that underripe apple crispness. Not bad, but nothing too exciting.
Thin body, bit of carbonation sizzle to it unfortunately, but OK for the style.
Decent gose, but doesn't really pop with flavour like I've seen in other examples of the style. It's rare for me to want more salt from a beer, but in this case I think it's appropriate.
61 / 100
Pours a gold colour, slight cloud, snow-white head, foamy and sticks around with average lace. Alright.
Smell is gorgeous. Caramel malt with lemon, passionfruit and a big sticky mango aroma. Lovely.
Taste is bready-malty, with a touch of honey. Some light lemon and passionfruity hop on the back, but a little lacking. Balanced enough, but the hop flavour that was potentially promised by the nose was amazing, and it's not quite there.
Full body, a little flat, but decent enough.
Not a bad pale ale, but not really IPA-level at all. Needs more.
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. Boatrocker have recently set up their own brewery, after contracting for a while, but I'm not sure yet if this beer came from that brewery.
Pours a pale orange colour without a lot of hazing. Body is light, with a full, lovely crest of yellow-white. Lacing is patchy, but decent enough. Overall it looks pretty good.
Nose smells like nothing other than Simcoe to me: big bright orange characters laced with a sweetness a little like butterscotch. It gives it that quality of being sharp from the citrus, but blunt from the sweetness. Backed up with a slight caramel character that adds some richness. Nice.
Taste is quite light on the entry, in fact even slightly watery, not aided by a very weak feel. Some clean orange flavours come through mid palate, as does the taste of caramel which moves to a fragrant toffee note later. Some aromatic hops stick around on the back. Aftertaste is clean, but with that blunted character again.
Overall, it's decent enough. It has some nice characters and drinks reasonably well. More than anything though, it's just generic: I feel as though there must be better ways of selling yourself.
Pours a pale golden colour, steady bead feeding a foamy white head. Looks decent.
Bland and grainy on the nose. Slightly sweet and needs hops. NZ hops. Here I have an excuse for saying what I always say regardless of the style: "needs more NZ hops".
Malty again on the palate, but blandly and just grainy. Where are the hops? Slightly earthy but nothing on the back and nothing to give flavour. Very, very bland.
Fizzy carbonation, too, but a decent enough body. Carbonation really dries this up though. Meh.
Cloying, unpleasantly grainy. Simple and doesn't deliver what it promised. Very unimpressed.
Single malt, single hop (Wai-iti) California Common from Boatrocker in Victoria. Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a pale golden colour, extremely clear and light in the body. Head is white, and forms as a firm ring, with some film across the top. Decent lace, and lots of streaming carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Unfortunately, it takes a dip from that point on. I tried in vain to get any aroma from this beer at all, but there's very little to it. "Maybe water?" say my notes. Really, it was exceptionally disappointing.
Light honey on the palate, with a weak grain note mid-palate, finishing with an insipid faint bitterness that seems like apologia. Feel is light and sparkling, but really doesn't do much at all.
Yep, it's drinkable, but who cares? This was one of the dullest, if not the most offensive beers at GABS. I guess the only offensive part was that they describe it as having "plenty of citrus (mainly mandarin)". Not even close.
57 / 100
In what sounds like a classic New World Pilsener, this beer is made with Riwaka and Motueka hops (now there's a match that seems to be made in heaven), along with New Zealand Hallertau.
Pours a slightly odd-hued golden colour, almost as though it's tinged with a little pink. Clarity is good, and the body has a surprising amount of heft to it. Head is only minimal, forming a film across the top of the glass. Carbonation is very moderated for the style, but the heavier than usual body may account for this. Looks decent.
Nose is clean and fruity, with big, but rather sweet tropical fruit notes coming up from the NZ hop varieties. Surprisingly enough, it doesn't actually give that clean cutting note I expect from both the varieties and the style of beer, so it ends up only average. Slight bready overtones come through as well, which don't help a great deal.
Taste is rather flat, with some husky sweetness on the front, giving a slight German pils grain character, but with minimal hop bitterness to match it. Body indeed feels bigger than it needs to, and there's a surprising amount of residual sweetness. It really needs more hop character to balance it.
I was a bit disappointed with this. It had all the signs of being a great example of the style (like Croucher's NZ Pilsener, or Knappstein Reserve Lager), but it really ended up a lot more bland than everything would suggest. A shame.
Love the labels on these guys. Very crafty. Purchased this bottle from Slowbeer as part of a shipment order.
Pours a clear dark bronze-amber colour, with a speckled and large-bubbled head of white that sinks very rapidly to an unappealing film. Really, it's not a good look at all. Body looks quite heavy. Minimal carbonation noticeable.
Not a lot of hops on the nose for a beer named after a hop acid, but instead, we get a huge aroma of sweet diacetyl butterscotchy blurgh. Perhaps I tell a lie, in amongst this is a slight organic greenness, the hint of banana leaf and something herbal and minty. It's faint, but it's there, the promise of hops.
But like all those times my Dad said he'd come to my baseball games when I was a kid: the promise was a lie*. On the palate we get more diacetyl that is not nearly covered up by the insipid bitterness that makes an appearance on the mid to back palate. Even then, it's more of a carbonic acidity, or a tingle of essence de hop than true alpha acid clout.
Feel is fine, but the diacetyl seems to make it thicker and more cloying than it is.
Of course, promising to be a "Highly Hopped Ale" means you have a lot to live up to, but this doesn't do nearly enough to warrant that tag.
I might try it again if I hear they've beefed it up, or if someone tells me I probably just got a dud bottle, but it seems to me that mediocrity is the general consensus here.
*My Dad's a great guy. That anecdote was merely added for comic effect.
Had as a precursor to a tasty spaghetti dish at a restaurant on Lygon St.
Pours a pale golden colour, very clear with modest off-white head, and lots of fizz in the glass. Head sinks to a small cloud and leaves little speckles of lace behind. Looks quite lagery for an ale - basically fizzy and pale, pretty blah.
Smell is a pleasant pale ale smell - pineapple and slight banana esters blend with some subtle floral hop characters, cascade and maybe some nelson sauvin? Slight citrus tinge to it. Quite sweet overall but definitely refreshing. Maybe a bit too subdued, particularly for something that is marketed as being highly hopped.
Pleasant floral and fruity flavours abound on the palate. Some nice hoppy characters start from the beginning. Has aspects of fresh pineapple and pawpaw with a woody hop character coming through on the mid-palate. Slightly tart on there but not bitey and a nice zing with some caramel sweetness as well. Very nicely rounded palate with no great dips and spikes, just a nice balance through the palate with a crisp, hoppy finish.
Mouthfeel is not as thin as I expected but still swims a bit in the mouth, with a bit too much carbonation. Not too bad for its faults though.
Yeah a pretty decent beer, doesn't have the edge of Little Creatures or Murray's Nirvana but is a solid drinking pale.