81 / 100
2017 Release. Purchased from Santa Clara Liquors in Santa Clara, CA. Shared with Sam and Andrew in Sydney.
Pours a lovely deep dark-chocolate colour, not necessarily glossy, but definitely with some weight and heft behind it. Head is a loveyl, complex-bubbled crest of mocha that leaves tine, intricate lace. Carbonation is intensely fine, and static when the glass is tilted. Looks very good indeed.
Nose is very pleasant. Toasty characters, plus lots of chocolate, works with the booze to give notes of dates and carob. There's a brighter note, which almost gives characters of copper, balsamic and tamarind. As it warms, it gets sweeter, with sugared coffee and condensed milk. It's very pleasant.
Taste is also really good. It has a lovely balance of darkness and sweetness, and there's a very pleasant lighter note, almost an acidity, which has characters of coconut, and redcurrant. It has a really long palate, and it allows the characters to express themselves. Lots of coffee on the finish, again with a milky sweetness that never gets too cloying.
Feel is light but sleek, it actually is probably the source of the idea of tartness, because it has a bit from the booze which is comparable to acid.
Overall, it's a really nice beer. It has lots going on, and it has enough of a big body to support all the complexity. I'm a fan.
73 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, clear bodied. Head is beige, whispy large bubbles, nice cascade when tilted but the lacing is a bit slippery and unimpressive. Not bad though.
Smells pleasant. Oaked maybe with a slight vinous character and a good belt of sweet spice, with cinnamon and turmeric. Slight cherry character. Good darkness underlying an intriguing slightly boozey aroma.
Taste is more pie spicey, really emphasises that cinnamon with some nutmeg, clove and yeah dry turmeric as well. Some good molasses malt underneath, hint of roastiness and a touch of brandy late-mid. Maybe some fruity pull on the back - largely dates and figs but a hint of tartness like lemon. Maybe some sour cherry emerging from the blend too. Pretty nice but the tartness and the roastiness on the back feels just a bit off, like a left turn at the end of where it seemed to be heading.
Decent malt base, a bit boozey as it goes through and maybe a touch too much pull on the back.
Drinks pretty nicely; good sweet complexities with a decent balance to it.
Bottle shared with me by Jez at Mother's place.
Pours a dark brown colour, decent foam on top but not really a head, just a rim of beige lacing. Nice cascade when you tilt it; pretty standard dark beer.
Smells strong. Robust roastiness with some leathery and burnt characters. Touch of peat smoke, maybe, and some berry character on the back, a little tart. Interesting but I'm not fully sold.
Taste is a little more standard. Chocolatey and roasty notes early on, through to the mid. Some mild charry notes as well, slightly burnt, maybe a touch leathery as well. Touch of spice towards the back, but yeah it's quite a dark, burnt note that's a little monotonous, and could maybe have more light notes, some fruit or oak or more sweetness.
Full, fairly boozey on the late to mid. Good creamy texture as it goes down.
I like it, but it's a bit strong and not strong with the characters that would be most pleasant. Feels a bit heavy and a bit blunt at times.
Release #15, purchased from Spec's Liquor in Austin, TX. Shared with Sam during a brewday. This is a collaboration with DC Brau.
Pours a deep, glossy brown, with a fine mild brown head that sticks around as an oily ring. Lacing forms in long, streaking globs. Carbonation is fine, but swift through a lighter-than-expected body. Looks good though.
Nose is thick and sweet, with the more peppery side of pumpkin spices. I do get some sweetish nutmeg and cinnamon, but there's also a raw note of cracked pepper and anise. The body gives smoothness though, with plenty of vanilla and a hint of creamy pumpkin to round it out. It's nice.
Taste is lighter. It definitely does drive towards the spicy, peppery characters though, with a thin, plaintive squeal of black pepper through the centre of the palate. The body is also a little thin, which gives a suggestion of acidity—it's a little cidery in places where the fruit is noticeable. Otherwise, it's rounded out with generic porter malt, and a relatively smooth pumpkin spice character.
Feel is light and surprisingly watery towards the back of the palate.
Overall, it's decent enough. There's some interesting spice notes, and there's complexity there. I'm not sure it all hangs together in exactly the right way, though.
79 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a sepia ink black, with a fine ring of mocha that leaves tiny specks of lace. Body is slick and heavy, oily with booze and gravity. Carbonation is extremely fine and very powdery, moving slowly through the body when tilted.
Nose is based immensely around chocolate, with a dusty, dry cacao character the dominant element. It almost turns grassy and green with characters of celery and fennel. It's also well-rounded, with the barrel characters smoothing out the edges and providing some vanilla and whiskey.
Taste is also very good, but again it's based around cocoa and has some green organic characters. Here there's a lot of sharpness, more fennel and hay-like grass, and a direct note of hot whiskey. Finish is quite dark, with a pronounced bitter roast.
Mouthfeel is direct, sharp and a little hot.
Overall, I like it a lot. It's robust and pleasant, even when it plumbs the boozy, hot depths of spirits. As far as imperial stouts go—it's only about what you expect for the style, but that's still nothing to sniff at.
12oz can purchased from Chuck's Hop Shop in Seattle.
Pours a suitably pale yellow gold colour, with a very faint haze to it, but mostly clear. Head is a lovely fine crest of pure white that sits as a persistent layer of egg-white froth. Excellent lace. All up, it's a really good-looking pilsner.
Nose is relatively muted. Vague clean crispness, coming from somewhere that could be German hops, or could be grassy grain. Slight cereal notes come through as well. They're not overt or unpleasant, but it's nice enough.
Taste is very clean. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it (besides perhaps a slight tendency towards the metallic and grainy), but it's also very lightweight. To be fair, that's mostly exactly what you want from a pilsener, so it ticks the boxes. It's lacking a little aromatic hop character, which would really elevate it into something special. But as it is, it's pretty solid for what it is.
Overall, yep, it's a well-made, unexciting pilsener, which is not an easy thing to do. But you can also do much more interesting pilsners, and this is a fairly standard offering by comparison.
Cream ale with coffee added; collaboration between Epic and the Crafty Ladies Beer CLub. Bottle purchased in CO by Chris and Julz and shared with me 14th Jan, 2017.
Pale gold colour, clear. Head is off-white, small bubbles that retains a light spit cloud on the top. Lacing is OK but not hugely clingy. Interestingly pale for a beer with coffee added, but otherwise fairly standard.
Smells like coffee. Roasty and spicy, with a sour vegetative character as well. Slight sweet notes, hint of berry and some caramel. Interesting.
Taste is fairly standard. Light grainy malt upfront, with some cereal notes. Caramel sweetness midway and then a back note of coffee character, slight roasty notes and some dark chocolate with a hint of spice. Not big on the coffee though, it seems fairly light and a little weak in the end. Coffee is stronger on the nose than on the palate. Decent construction, although it leaves me a little disappointed.
Decent body, nice texture. Not too fizzy but a bit tingly and nice.
Drinks fairly well but could be more interesting, bigger and complex and still stay within its ethos. I don't feel it's quite coffee beer or cream ale but a weird midpoint without being enough of either.
84 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods Lamar in Austin, TX. Style on the label is a Saison-Brett Golden Ale. Collaboration between Epic and Crooked Stave.
Pours a clear and indeed quite yellow golden colour, with a small white head that persists as a faint filmy but creamy ring, which even provides a little patchy tight lace. Body is lightweight, which isn't unexpected for a Bretty beer, but is surprising given this beer's weight. Overall, looks pretty good.
Nose is interesting—sharp with a little crushed vegetative character, a little like tomato stems. A little pepper comes through as well, but it's wrapped with some mild fruitiness that gives it a little sweetness. Again, I get a little tomato and maybe a little carrot juice, again accentuating that vegetative quality. It's really very interesting.
Taste is even better. In fact, this is a cracking palate. Here there's a beautifully tempered tartness, giving a direction through the centre of the palate, leaving behind some mild vinous qualities like oak-aged chardonnay. Around this are some of those vegetative characters, leading to a slightly woody, slightly drying finish. Plus there are other overtones: perhaps a touch of pepper, something slightly herbal and aromatic. It's a complex and really quite wonderful combination.
Feel is very light and slick. It helps assist the crispness of the beer, and also masks the alcohol. Nicely done.
Really refreshing, supremely drinkable for what it is, and with wonderful balance. Here, the Brett is used to great advantage, and with purpose, to add that crisp acidity, and lighten the body and drive the beer towards being so easy to drink. It's dangerous but wonderful in equal measure.
(Interesting many-days-after-the-fact fact: this was my 3000th beer review. How time flies...)
Bottle bought by Julz somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Utah and muled back.
Pours a dark brown colour, thin film of beige head. Some lace, decent. Looks pretty good. But pretty standard.
Smells roasty. Coffee, choc some nuts. Caramel sweetness and mild phenolic notes with booze and mild vinous character as well. Pretty nice; good blend. Some hotness.
Taste doesn't have a lot on it. Mild cocoa underlying it all with notes of coffee, caramel, some hazelnut midway then boozey heat late mid. Not a lot of big roasty character. Some pepper and some booze. Mild vinous notes, just has some mild crests of flavour but a low undertone of bitterness pervades. Seems a bit empty, not much character. But not bad.
Fair boozey heat, doesn't feel like it has a huge body to carry off bigger flavours. But then the bigger flavours aren't there. The heat says otherwise.
OK, big stout, but seems like it should taste a lot bigger. Not bad.
Had on-tap at Bailey's Taproom in Portland, OR.
Pours a rather cloudy and colour-wise pretty standard golden hue. Head is good and thick, forming a foamy, bubbly crown for the beer. Sheeting lace over a lightish body. Not bad all up.
Mild, smooth citrus on the nose, along with a slightly breezy vanilla-imbued malt character. Slightly earthy and organic. Pretty smooth and pleasant.
Tasty on the palate, but slightly skewed and off-colour as well. Light crisp citrus on the front, which morph into some sharper, phenolic notes mid-way through. Slight harshness on the back. Malt is solid, but it lends no real flavours to the beer as a whole. Some apricot is noticeable, but it's a weird amalgam, and slightly harsh and rotten when you get down to it.
Feel is light, but clingy with excess booze.
Not bad all up, but I've had better beers. This one suffers from the harshness which is unnecessary.
Bottle purchased from The Beermongers in Portland, OR.
Coming from Australia, I've seen a lot of New Zealand's Epic Brewery, and I was keen to try some of their American namesake's. Randomly, this is the first one I came across. Pours a very slightly hazed yellow colour, with a filmy ring of white foam forming the head. Plenty of carbonation streaming through a body that is surprisingly light for a super-10% ABV beer. Overall, an inauspicious start for Epic.
Nose is dominated by Belgian yeast, not by oak, not by wine and not by peaches, leaving a rounded, earthy and slightly funky character at its core. There's a peppery twist to it as it warms, and perhaps a hint of vinous tartness, but it's mild at best. Slightly disappointing.
The peach finally makes an appearance on the palate, but subordinate to the big, husky booziness, the peppery, leafy, rank bitterness and more of those phenolic notes from the yeast. In fact, the peach has a medicinal, biting quality to it as it slews in with the booze, making it taste like backyard peach-schnapps. Blech.
I'm sure I'll end up having better experiences with this Epic. I truly believe it. But this feels like an experiment gone wrong. Unfortunately, though, my impression is that the problem is with the base beer, not the post-treatment it has been given; if anything, more peach and more oak would have made this a much superior beer.