|Highest Rated||Simtra (82 / 100)
||Average score||63 / 100 (Solid)|
|Lowest Rated||Ryedentity Crisis (16 / 100)
72 / 100
12oz can purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA. This is a Mandarin Orange IPA, brewed with orange peel and mandarin juice.
Pours a pleasant, if slightly dull golden colour, with a mild head of white, that persists as a fine ring. Minimal lace, surprisingly. Body is slick and light, with some pleasant coarse carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is very pleasant, and they've really got the mandarin character on point. It's fresh but sweet, with lots of fragrant, oily, juiciness. The mandarin in particular adds more of a punch. I'd love the hops to be integrated into this, but we might need to wait for the palate for that.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a pronounced mandarin character on the front, and this does indeed integrate nicely into a pleasant hop bitterness through the centre. The middle of the palate is a little light though, and it drops out to a kind of watery nothingness by about three quarters of the way through. It leaves the back kind of disintegrating into very little. But it's still nice, and I like how much it has the mandarin flavour.
Feel is very light, which promotes the bitterness, but stops the beer from feeling really well-integrated.
Overall, though, I like it. It does a genuinely good job of what it's promoting, which is that mandarin character. Yeah, it could probably be a better beer overall, but honestly, it delivers what it promises, and that's worth a lot.
Can shared with me by Chris down the south coast, drunk out of a terrible glass from the AirBnB house.
Pours a dark brown, quite clear, cola-looking really. No real head, pale beige foam with a round edge. Nice lace cling. Looks a bit bland but with substance.
Smells like a very sweet biscuit, like an Arnotts Nice biscuit - plain floury sugar but with added lactose. No real chocolate, or anything else. Grainy but incredibly sweet. Too sweet. Mildly but not very pleasant.
Tastes similar. Sweet and grainy with a distinct tone of just plain refined sugar. Some dark roastiness around the edges, kind of looms around the sweetness with a mild bitterness towards the back. Overall very sweet, with not a lot of nutty character or chocolate, mostly just plain biscuit flavour. Bit blandly sweet, really.
Decently smooth. Has a good texture and it's probably the best thing about the beer. Nicely done.
Drinks sweet, fairly bland. Just doesn't really have enough to balance or ground it.
77 / 100
Pint can purchased for me by Sam for Christmas. With this level of copyright infringement, I hope it's worth it.
Pours a lightweight brown colour, with a faint, fizzy head of off-white that leaves some patchy lace. Body is very light—too light for my tastes. But it's sufficient overall.
Nose is better. In fact, the nose is very good, and almost warrants the inevitable lawsuits. There's a lovely buttery hazelnut character—rich, sweet and slick. It has a dry nuttiness to it as well. It's definitely hazelnuts, but it has a kind of dry roasted character to them, almost like you'd expect from the character of roasting raw nuts on a campfire. Still, it's very good.
The taste is lighter, but while it doesn't have all that buttery sweetness, it does nicely capture those mild, toasted hazelnut characters. It actually makes it more mature, despite the fact that it stretches the comparisons to Nutella. It's also hard to fault it—if it were truly liquid Nutella I might say it was more successful, but this is actually perhaps a better beer. It's lighter, and drier, but that's exactly what it needs to be, and the hazelnut characters are still front and centre.
Feel is a bit lighter than it might be, but it still suits the beer.
Overall: yeah, it maybe warrants the branding. It's genuinely pretty good. The nuts are prominent throughout, and it manages to bridge the gap between beer and hazelnut spread that we've honestly always been looking at and wishing were bridged. Let me hang out for the imperial version, which may be one of the great beers of the world.
79 / 100
Bottle muled back by Jez and shared with me for my birthday afternoon tea, because I'm old and have afternoon teas instead of pub crawls for my birthday now.
Pours an orangey amber colour with a good sediment in the bottom. Head is off-white, good density, nice bubbling on the top, with some thin lacing trails. Looks pretty standard, but good head retention.
Smells fruity, resiny with a sharpness that's almost peppery spicy. Citrus, slight corporeal character as well. Hint of saltiness that intensifies the tangy notes. Quite impressive.
Taste is tangy, not quite as pungent as the nose suggested. Fruit upfront with orange and lime notes, some character of passionfruit then back is mostly resiny with some astringent citrus rind notes as well. Quite bitter but with a good tangy fruit note that makes the bitterness largely fruity and quite refreshing. It's a touch woody and dry on the back, which adds to the mix which is kind of subdued, and flat, but in a good way. It's round and soft and quite chewy, with big bitterness without it being sharp or rough. Really pleasant.
Full, round and quite chewy, but there's enough hop pull to stop it being viscous.
Drinks well, good malt backing and it's funny because it doesn't seem quite oomphy compared with what you'd expect but it grows on you in its softness and big round drinkability.
70 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a hazed deep golden colour, with a frothy yellow-white head that persists as a large, coarse crest. Lacing forms in sudsy clumps. Body is quite light, with large-bubbled carbonation.
Nose is leafy, with a bit of black tea and sweet orange. Hints of earth, and a bit of dusky malt. It's grainy but quite pleasant. Not a traditional IPA and possibly old, but an old beer that's developed in interesting ways.
Taste has a smoothness, with a pleasant fine carbonation and hints of mild sweet hops. Bitterness on the back has sweet fruit skin characters, with a bite of fresh dried tobacco. Finish is quite long, with an earthy flavour that lingers.
Feel is smooth, with a slight froth from the fine carbonation.
It's very pleasant and drinkable, even if it's not at its peak. There's very nice things to it as it has developed.
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a rather muddy black-brown colour, highly hazed so that it looks opaque. Head forms a messy cap of beige that leaves leopard-speckled lace down the side of the glass. Body is surprisingly light. Looks decent enough though.
Nose is reasonably nice. There's a muted, kind of lightweight roast quality to the aroma, which reminds me a little of a schwartzbier. There's some hop character, but it's fairly generic, giving a slight herbal quality that's turned earthy from the additional roast notes. Nice, but nothing very special.
Taste is similar. There's a pleasantly forward roast note, that creates structure around the edges and towards the back of the palate. The hops are again fairly straightfoward, but they propel the palate from front to back, giving a clean and clear vector of bitterness.
Feel is indeed quite light, with a thinness that doesn't help it, especially for 9.5% ABV—at the very least, the booze is tamed, which is good.
Overall, it's a decent brew, but not one that really makes me very excited. It's only in the kind of range of "standard india black ale", and given the size of it, that's a bit disappointing.
69 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Slowbeer by my brother and gifted to me for Christmas.
Pours a properly brown colour: deep and robust, certainly, but with enough lightness to prove it's a porter not a stout. Body is surprisingly slick and light, with a thin, swift bead to it. Head is a slightly fuzzy mess of beige. The colour is good, the rest makes me question how Imperial this really is.
Nose is relatively pleasant. There's a nutty, semi-savoury grain note though it, but a piquant boozy character which takes on characters of cherry-pip and kirsch. The vanilla sweetness of the regular is lost to some extent, but that's actually to the better. This feels more mature. The regular is overly sweet—this has some complexity to it.
Taste is also pretty reasonable. It's surprisingly light-bodied, but this actually help bring some of the boozier notes forward, which in turn helps cut through some of the sweetness of the base beer. This sits a little bit towards the back, with a ethereal caress of vanilla vapour. The feel is surprisingly light throughout, although there's a very faint bite of booze that sits from about the middle of the palate to the back, evaporating in the finish.
Overall, this is pretty good. I wasn't a huge fan of the original Tanilla, but I think this takes it in directions which are surprisingly apt and suitable to the structure of the beer. Here, perhaps all that intrinsic sweetness makes sense.
75 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Bottling date of July 22 2015, so about 2 months old when sampled.
Pours a pale yellow, slightly golden in the deeper parts, but quite light and fluid. Head is a coarse, bubbled mess of white that surprisingly doesn't leave much in the way of lace. Looks decent though—I like a slightly lighter colour in an American IPA.
Nose is very pleasant—from uncapping I got a rather clean, sharp character from the bottle, giving biting fragrances of pine and sharp, pithy citrus. This even gets into resinous marijuana notes—what many people mistakenly refer to as "dank", which works nicely into the styling of the beer. Malt is indeed present here—providing a slight honey edge, but it works given the hop characters are so direct and poignant.
Taste is a little bit more straightforward, but that's not necessarily bad. There's a cleanness to the malt base that almost makes the beer feel sleek, despite its rather light body. This is then layered with a pleasant tangerine-flavoured hop presence, and kicked with a bit of resiny bitterness on the back. It's quite nice.
Overall, I like it. It's clean and drinkable, with some pretty direct and expressive hop notes. It does lack the edge to be truly exciting in new, unexpected ways, but it's very solid for what it is, and manages to hold its own in a crowded IPA field.
56 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam.
Pours a remarkably haze orange-like hue, but the haze gives it a turbid brownness and traps the light. Head forms a tight mess of white that settles out leaving fairly nice streaking lace. Body is fine, with a touch of weight behind it, leaving languid streams of carbonation. Looks okay apart from the haze and the colour, which certainly make it a little less appetising.
Nose is a little dull, but a forward resiny aroma gives it a certain hop dosage. There's a little slight husky malt character coming through, but it's a little dusky and dank. It certainly smells a little tired. Whether it's from age, it's hard to tell. At least there's no true oxidation character.
Taste has survived a little better perhaps, but it's still a little flat. Booze comes through as well which feels a bit unbalanced with the lack of hops and true body. Thin husky malt with a touch of pepper from the booze and the lingering hop bite, which seems stronger and the front and on the finish, but gets lost in the morass a little in the middle.
Feel is fine, with a bit of slickness to the weight.
Overall, it's okay, but the hops seem a little like they're just doing the requisite work, especially on the aroma. To be honest, it's a fairly pedestrian, below-par IPA, something that I guess they know will sell because of the "IPA" on the label, and not because it's a particular stand-out of the style.
62 / 100
Pours a dirty orange-brown, cloudy to opaque. Head is yellow-tinged white, large bubbles, bit thin. Looks alright.
Smells very fruity-hoppy. New worldly, with passionfruit and a touch of mango. Citric edge as well though and getting more acidic as it warms up. Not much else to it besides hops.
Taste is also all hops, all over that. Citric, piney with resinous hop oils coming through on the back of that. Bit of cake better malt, but it's just one-note American citric & piney hop, really. I like, but it needs to show me more.
Feels a little hot at the back. Otherwise fluid but yeah, boozey.
Ticks all the right boxes for the style but it doesn't take it anywhere beyond the "Fuck yeah 'Murica IPA' zone.
82 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam and Rich.
Pours a pretty thick orange, cloudy and opaque and full of chewy weight. Head only seems to form with some coercion, although it seems as though there's a fine bead to it which eventually coalesces into a very fine white cap. Mostly though, the head forms of large bubbles disturbed during an aggressive pour that just stay around because it's too much effort to push through the liquid to pop.
Nose is pretty impressive. Big, intense, and unmistakably hoppy. It has the rounded sweet tropical fruitiness that comes from a big dry hopping, but also the sharper greener notes I associate with (for example) New Zealand Nelson Sauvin. It's sharp and astringent, with a slight savoury note coming through as well. It's pretty heady and powerful stuff.
Taste is good stuff. Very clean, bright, slightly sweaty green hops pervade from start to finish giving a fragrant, vegetative character throughout the beer. Despite the incredibly thick body apparent in the appearance, it's really not overly sweet—mostly due to the insane level of hop character. But there must be malt to it: it never feels unbalanced despite clearly being a beer designed to shout "HOPS!!!". Slight spicy, peppery notes of capsicum on the back. It's very fresh and very fragrant.
Again, because it's so hop-forward, it feels lighter in the mouth than it should do given the size of it and its appearance. I'm impressed.
Overall, this is a big beer with a stack of flavour. I'm impressed at how well it manages to be so hop-focused and yet so balanced. The hops are sharp and crisp every step of the way, but the beer feels much more smooth and approachable than that character, or its 11.25% ABV say it should.
650ml bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a solidly red hue, almost fruit-like in appearance, with a messy, bubbly head of off-white that sits stark and static atop the beer. Lacing forms in modest streaks. Body has a pleasant weight behind it, and holds fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is muted, but along the right tracks. Some slightly piney, woody hop notes come through above a gritty grain character. Some rounded, earthy characters are also present: I think more likely from the malt, even though the character is somewhat similar to a dusky English hop aroma. There's a hint of metallic twang as well as it warms. It's ok, but not spectacular.
Taste is also quite muted, here falling towards the malt direction much more than the hops direction. It's pleasant enough with a nutty malt character forming a hill on the palate that is lightly streaked with hop bitterness towards the back to provide some balance. It's all a little bit by-the-numbers, but it's balanced enough, pleasant enough and quite inoffensive. But it doesn't excite me.
Feel is smooth with a tingle from the carbonation.
Overall. Yes, yes, very decent. It's not going to make you gasp in awe, but it's a pretty solid red ale that doesn't really do anything wrong. That's no bad thing.
Rye Saison? Sure, sign me up for that. Bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA.
Pours a very clear deep yellow colour, with a very fizzy and insubstantial head of white, that expends itself after very little time. No lacing, very light body. Overall, it looks really quite weak and insipid. Not impressed.
Grainy, adjuncty, corny on the nose. Oddly sweet lager characters, and no hint of funk, spice, organics or anything truly saison-y. No, perhaps untrue: there is a hint of peppery spice to it, but it's the only notable thing in an otherwise very, very forgettable aroma.
Taste is similar, indeedâI feel like it might actually be worse. Here the adjunct character really comes to the fore, leading with a strong grainy corny character, with cooked green veggies and only a hint of that spice on the back. The only contrast comes from the overzealous carbonation, which is not helpful except that it makes you forget the cloying vaguely unpleasant sweetness.
Far from pleasant: I feel like this used an unusual amount of rye, which is where that unpleasant adjunct character comes from. Overall, it comes across as bland, unfortunate and unnecessary. Really not a good saison, really not a good rye beer.
47 / 100
Bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a pleasant, deep red-brown, with a solid clarity. Body is firm enough, and the head is frothy and thick, although it doesn't retain particularly well, and there's only minimal lacing. Still, it looks pretty decent.
Nose is mildly grainy with a smooth vanilla undertone, but an unpleasant echo of tinny metal comes through as well. Vanilla is dominant as it warms, almost making it smell overly sweet. The vanilla's a nice touch overall, but it doesn't really blend with the other characters, mainly because no other character is robust enough to keep up.
Taste is rather thin, with a fake vanilla sweetness coming through the centre, before a harsh roasted, almost tobacco ash character comes through on the finish. It's no better as it warmsâthe body still feels thin, there's no sweetness to support the vanilla, and the bitterness on the finish adds a dollop of unpleasantness to top things off.
It's not terrible, but it should be better than this. It's way too thin, and there's not a depth or complexity to it. Moreover, what characters it does have don't gel together into a coherent whole, and some actively rebel against the flavour of the whole. Disappointing.