Bottle given to me as day 22 of my 2017 #fletchmas advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Ooh boy it's a beauty. Well it's nice and dark looking for a Friday evening. Dark cola colour with a glint of light at the bottom showing some nice fine bead. Head was nice when poured but has dissipated to a thin film of fine mocha bubbles. Lacing is decent. Looks pretty good.
Smells chocolatey and pleasant; has a good cocoa and slightly buttery vanilla sweetness, with notes of cake batter, maybe some cinnamon and a hint of roastiness like espresso hiding away at the back. I'm not a big fan of preponderous sweetness, but that's just a pleasant roast-balanced blend of desserty characters. Very good.
Taste is not quite as nice; there's a thinness apparent straight away that allows the roastiness to turn a little sour early on. Develops a kind of sour dark cherry character towards the mid, what with the general fruity esters that come through at that point. Some decent roasty bitterness on the back, but again quite thin so it becomes a little astringent yet weak, and not enough of that sweetness to make it interesting. It's alright, but just a fairly plain, and slightly bitter, dark ale.
Mouthfeel is not as thin as the light patches on the palate might suggest; there's a good malt base to it so although it's not thick, it's still quite smooth.
Yeah it's got plenty of decent characters but it doesn't quite have enough of each of them to reach a nice balance. As a result it ends up feeling a bit weak and underwhelming.
81 / 100
330ml bottle purchased for me by Sam as part of the 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar.
Ooh boy, pours a lovely silky rich black colour, with a coarse-bubbled froth of chocolate brown that disappointingly fizzles out pretty quickly. Carbonation is very fine through the body, forming powdery swirls. Lacing is only minor specks, but it looks good. Overall, it's decent enough, and promises more from its depth.
Nose is great. Big dark cocoa and roast character, mingled with sweet overtones of vanilla and toasted nuts. I definitely get some peanut, but there's more sophisticated characters like scorched almonds and a hint of fennel. It's really very nice.
Taste is also extremely good. It's smooth and luscious, with a pleasant initial chocolate flavour that develops into deeper mocha and espresso tones. More coconut towards the back, although the other true nuttiness is largely gone. It's got a strong bitterness on the back, but this is a good thing, like a chocolate coated coffee bean. Feel is slick and silky, without feeling too heavy or chewy.
Overall, this is a really genuinely lovely brew. It's silky and sweet, but with depth and sophistication on the back. It's like a really well-made dessert that challenges you as well as fulfills your sweet tooth. I'm impressed.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Royal Alber Hotel.
Pours a very clear, very light yellow colour, with a fine, persistent head of tight white bubbles. Carbonation is coarse but swift, and voluminous, looking appropriately like a Bière de Champagne. Lacing is fine. Looks really quite nice.
Nose is yeasty and crisp. Pleasant pear and bright vinous notes come through, along with a very slight hint of acid and grape must. Some peppery characters are also noticeable. It's truly champagne-like, which is very nicely done.
Taste is also very good. Rounded and soft vinous notes come through early, but these stay smooth through the centre rather than developing into a truly sharp crispness like you'd get with champagne. This does, however, dull the intensity of the booze, which is good. It's smooth and soft throughout, and that's nice. Finish has a slight leafy greenness and a dry bite.
Feel is a bit phat. It helps the beer overall, but slightly ruins the illusion of champagne.
Overall, it's very clever though, and a nicely put together beer. This may honestly be my favourit Bière de Champagne I've had. It does the business, but it stays mild and drinkable throughout.
43 / 100
650ml brown bomber purchased from Beer Cartel.
Pours a very hazy, rather thick and glossy amber-orange colour, with immensely fine carbonation that forms a very fine, off-white head. Lacing is superb. The hazing isn't unpleasant, but it's a little unusual. Otherwise it's a very fine looking beer.
Nose is slightly rough. It has an earthy, vegetal note from the hops that doesn't match the tropical fruit platter promised on the label. It smells weedy, woody and herbal—but it pummels this home due to the large quantity of hops. Under it, there's what seems to be a rather pleasant syrupy malt note. But it's a little hard to tell.
Taste is very bitter. It starts off smooth, with a chewy, thick body from all the malt. But almost immediately there's a binding astringency from the hops, not too far off from chewing on a hop pellet. This is linked towards the back with a solvent-like alcohol character which is bordering on unpleasant. Finish is woody, herbal and, yes, still bitter.
Feel is great. It's super smooth and slick—it just doesn't help the flavour.
It's not appallingly bad, but boy is it out of balance. The hops are aggressively bitter, without the concomitant aromatics and flavours that would make it worthwhile. I like the malt structure, but it's just not in the right beer.
59 / 100
Tried at GABS festival 2017 in a sampler (which is the only way I think it was available). Coming straight after trying the Mountain Goat Quetzalacatenango Ghost Chilli IPA, we dived into this 22% monster.
Pours an amber colour, slight haze in the body. Head is beige, foamy and retaining pretty well. Looks good.
Smells pleasant. Inevitably sweet, with vanilla, caramel and toffee characters to the malt. Some nice Belgian notes as well, with a slight phenolic character and notes of coriander spice. Good, and enticing; overcomes my trepidation somewhat as there's a good complexity to it.
...and I'm inevitably disappointed by the palate. It's one-note and predictable; hugely sweet and ultimately insipid. Vanilla and toffee upfront that develops a mild Belgian character midway but it just turns medicinal, and the sweetness just blares and blares throughout. The booze is surprisingly well-hidden, to its credit, but there's very little character to this beyond FUCKYEAHMALTMALTMALTMALTMALTMALTMALT.
Body is full, and the alcohol is warming as it goes down. Not nearly as horrible and shit as it really should be given the size.
Big and too sweet overall, a bit of a crazy idea that's quite deliberately but inescapably gone off the rails. No balance to it is why. There's some craft to this beer but it's just mad scientist stuff.
Supposedly a VB clone but with a crafty-minded construction. On tap at GABS 2016.
Pours a champagne colour, clear with creamy head, large bubbles retaining well. Looks plain, but alright.
Smells earthy, and fairly unpleasant. Yeasty and bland. Yeah, basically smells like VB. POR.
Taste is grainy upfront but that's as far as flavour gets. Throttled by yeasty characters from early-mid to the back. Bready and unpleasant with very little bitterness, just cloying. Worse than I expected.
Thin, flat, fairly uninteresting mouthfeel.
So I came into this expecting some kind of twist on VB, like a dialling up of some more pleasant hop notes, or just constructing a decent, fuller-flavoured pale lager. And it basically tastes like VB. I can't escape the feeling that they're taking the piss. If there was ever a brewery that would send an actual keg of VB to a beer festival and pretend it was something else, as a joke, it would be Moon Dog.
I'm willing to believe they actually made this from scratch though, and as such it just serves to emphasise what a terrible beer VB is.
72 / 100
So disclaimer if you've come to this review in isolation: I did try this and part 2 individually before blending them together to form the cocktail, as the brewer intended. My notes on the latter will be part of my review for part 2.
Bottle given to me as the full twin-pack by Jez; shared with Andrew.
Pours a dark brown colour, red-tinged. Head is beige, foamy. Nice density and nice uneven retention. Lacing is pretty nice too. Generally looks pretty great.
Smells boozey. More brandy rather than bourbon, but a sweet vanilla then as well. Big bitter citrus twang to it as well. Touch of chocolate. Rich and boozey, with an acid twang. Pretty nice.
Taste is sweet and boozey as well, with big orange flavour through midway, then a sharp booziness. Still doesn't have a huge bourbon flavour; touch of sweetness and maybe some oak but more of a hot alcohol lick. Slight bitterness, hints of sourness and loads of booze. Alright, but not really balanced, and a touch incoherent. Let's see how it works in its blend.
Not too much heat on the body; nice foamy texture. Fairly smooth really and the booze is warming.
Quite like it but for its unbalance. I look forward to the cocktail now.
Part 2 of this review includes some brief notes on how the 'black and tan' of sorts, blending Part 1 and Part 2 together to make an Old-Fashioned-ish drink worked. But Part 2 reviewed separately first.
Pours a red-tingedorange colour, not a lot of head. Just a rim of bubbles. And it exploded upon opening, quite heavily. Annoying explosion, and it generally don't look great.
Smells fruity, slightly oxidised though. Touch caramelly, some pungent herbal notes and some maraschino cherry/raisin in equal measure. Yeah quite maraschiny. Which is not a word. Not bad, but I don't love it.
Taste is what it describes on the bottle. Big cherry fruit note, quite sweet and glazed, then gets some herbal notes, some light sage, mint and slight grassiness. Still tangy fruit lingers. Yeah, quite a decent, surprisingly mild IPA, touch of tea level bitterness, and a fair cherry twang. Maybe a touch too sweet. But fairly nice.
Smooth, but a bit flat and gluggy on the back. Not unpleasant.
Not a bad drinking beer, but not sure it's really going to come through in the cocktail.
NOTES ON THE BLEND:
Not bad as a cocktail, at all. Cherry notes are surprisingly strong. It's maybe a little muddy, like there's a lot going on. And yeah, the bourbon that wasn't quite there on the first part is not nearly as conspicuous as it would be in an old fashioned. But I'm quite surprised at how well it works.
As documented many times on this website, I'm not always the biggest fan of Moon Dog, in particular when they try to do too much and throw too much into one beer all at once, and this certainly seemed a recipe for this, but I guess when constructing two beers separately to make a blend, there's a thoughtfulness that they should use more often. The end result isn't perfect, but I feel it's a damn sight better than would have been a hypothetical attempt to combine all of these elements into one bottle.
60 / 100
Bottle gifted me by Jez, I think purchased at Beer Cartel. Shared with various peeps down the south coast.
Pours a dark orange colour, cloudy and foggy. Head is white, small bubbles, little cradle of lace around. Bit dark, otherwise nothing special.
Smells very malty. Sugary caramel, slightly milky. Touch of crystallised fruit but otherwise hops are missing. Maybe a touch old (being wet-hopped I guess it wouldn't need to be too old to be too old), or just leaning more on the malt than the hops.
Taste is more bitter. Again quite heavy on the malt with big dark caramel flavour and a sticky resinous hop note that lasts from the front to the back. Bit fruity but also brambly, herbal, slightly medicinal but mostly just resinous and dank. Finishes mildly sweet, still with a residual darkish malt flavour. Not bad but could use lightening or freshening up.
Decent texture, smooth with a big malt body, touch of sharpness from hops. Quite nice.
A bit old I suspect, but a good hop character remains. Still it's largely big malt and the hops could be stronger, lighter, fresher to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.
61 / 100
Bottle as part of my Bridge Rd #craftbeercountdown Advent Calendar.
Pours a dark brown with coppery tinge. Head is way too voluminous when poured, but sinks nice and unevenly. Sparsely bubbled and beige with decent trails of lace. Decent, but way too much head.
Smells pleasant. Fairly mild for a Moon Dog offering, with light chocolate and faintly roasted malt notes. Subtle hint of hops in the head, phenolic slightly with an overall maraschino kind of sensation. Not amazing but on point.
First taste is more intense. Big blossoming roasty malt note that gathers bitter momentum as the palate moves through. Touch of chocolate midway with a playful shove of hoppy bitterness in the middle as well: citric and resinous with a touch of raw acidity. Finishes bitter chocolate, slightly undercooked so it lingers a little sour, like weak coffee. Nice sweet notes in there, it's a shame it doesn't stick around. It's alright, but incredibly bland from Moon Dog. I don't know why that should bother me, but it does.
A bit too much froth and fizz, it sizzles as it goes back as body is a bit thin.
Decent drinker but I keep searching for the wicked twist and it's not there. Honestly i think this could actually be better as a mild. Same flavours toned down even more for slamming. I mean for Moon Dog this is astoundingly restrained, yet it has all the appearance of a dark mild ale but then has a Moon Dog 'amp it up to eleven' twist (or in this case, 5) which doesn't work so well.
49 / 100
Second part of 2-pack purchased from Barny's.
Pours a murky dark red colour, quite vivid. Head is off-white, visible bubbles, very light specks of lace. Not bad.
Smells ethanoic, earthy. Touch of caramelised roast malt, slightly bitter, and some simple honeyish fermentation. Slight grain, honeyed oat. Not very Gaytimeish. But not terrible.
Taste is odd. Lacking honeycomb, biscuit, chocolate. Basically everything. Has a slight caramalt flavour, English toffee-esque. Slight honey note on the back but it develops that simple sugar fermentation character, empty alcohol. Not that great. Has mild touches of gaytime but not enough, not well integrated.
Smoothish, yeah quite a nice texture. I guess it's English ale mouthfeel.
See I'd give Moon Dog some props for having touches of the brief, but from Big Shed's GABS beer I know how fantastically this brief can be fulfilled. It should be a stout, for one thing, as it's lacking a chocolate character more than anything. It shouldn't have honey in here, because it's just simple sugar fermentation. Overall I feel the Splice of Heaven was a far superior beer, and fulfilled the brief considerably better, and more cleverly.
72 / 100
2-Pack of Austalgia Icecream beers purchased from Barny's. Shared with Andrew on 02/10/15.
Pours a dark golden bronze colour. Steady trickle of bead. Nice, foamy dense head, off-white and nice sticky lace. I expected a different, more pale colour, but otherwise looks great.
Smells great too. Pine, tangy with nice citric edge. Touch of maybe grassy hops that are a little... savoury almost? At first it's nice but then it kind of stales a bit. Still I like how well it fulfils the brief.
Taste is very grassy, resinous and a big whack of honeycomb flavour as well. There's some pineapple flavour at the edge, yeha I guess it then has a vanilla icecream kind of flavour. Kind of interesting match to the brief. Finish is piney, woody hops. Not hugely bitter but also an odd finish to the sweet tangy front. But yeah, I quite like it. Maybe the hops could be more clean; they're just a bit dirty feeling and it leans a little heavily on the IPA while leaving the pine/lime aspect behind.
Thin, but smooth. Bit of spike of hops late. Not bad.
I think this does an admirable job of an odd brief. I expected the pine lime to be bigger, but also to be all there was to it. The sweetish icecreamy flavour is a welcome, Austalgic surprise.
57 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased with the Holdin' Hay Time from Camperdown Cellars on Parramatta Road. A "Pine-Lime IPA", they say, and less-obliquely infringe on trademarks than the other beer in the Scoop Pack.
Pours a deep golden colour, with a very full and frothy head of pale whipped egg-white white, that leaves excellent lacing. Carbonation is minimal, however, as though it shot its wad on creating that head to begin with. Looks good though.
Nose is decent enough, I guess, but disappointing for something that calls itself a pine-lime IPA. Instead, it's actually a fairly pedestrian IPA, with a hop character that even seems a little subdued. There's a little bit of rust, and it's leavened with a faint slightly vegetative hop note, but I really struggle to find the Splice in the beer, even in inspiration or conception.
Taste is also pretty straightforward, with the bulk of it constructed around a rather bland flat malt base laced with neutral bittering hops—they almost tend towards dried herbs and pepper, which is certainly not what I was expecting. On the back, there's a faint lilt of vanilla, which is an odd counterpoint to the beer if taken blind, but seems like the final bastion of the beers ice-cream conception. The aftertaste is a bit of a mess, with some grainy, biscuity malt stumbling through uninvited.
Feel is fine and slight, which works well enough for the beer.
Overall, it's a drinkable enough IPA—not a stellar one even taken as nothing more than that—but it's certainly a failure based on what's written on the label. I probably would have been happy enough with it had Moon Dog not promised more than they delivered, but as it is, I think it's a pretty poor effort.
330ml bottle purchased in a Scoop Pack with their Splice IPA from Camperdown Cellars on Parramatta Road. Hard to classify in any sort of overarching style, but they call it a "Toffee-Vanilla-Chocolate-Honeycomb-ish Ale". I've called it an English strong based on its colour, strength and the English ale yeast used.
Pours a deep coppery amber colour, with a fine, mild head of offwhite that persists as a lowly ring of larger bubbles, leaving little lace in its wake. Body is fine and very clear, and holds some static carbonation when tilted. It looks a bit dead, but that just perhaps emphasises the "Englishness" of it.
Nose is... okay, but a bit disappointing. You can kind of see what they're going for with the Golden Gaytime theme, but at the same time, it's also rather reminiscent of any biscuit-heavy, hop-poor beer. It's malty and slightly grainy, with a little tincture of mineral bite at the back. If you were searching for adjectives, "toffee", "honeycomb" and "vanilla" may be ones you reached for at least.
Taste is similar. There is a slickness and sweetness to the palate, and a little overt vanilla extract that actually strikes me as slightly harsh. As it warms, there's feels like theres a little bit more weight to it, which helps it feel a bit more sweet and integrated, but you still have to reach a little for the flavours they want you to taste. In the end, it again feels a little bit like a biscuit-heavy English pale ale. It'd probably be cracking from cask.
Feel is okay. It's mostly quite lightweight, but the slickness and residual body help it support the flavours.
Overall, it's decent enough. It's not a bad beer, and it's not actively offensive. It didn't necessarily quite fulfill the brief though as far as I'm concerned (certainly because I've had another Golden Gaytime beer this year which was much its superior). It's ended up feeling like a slightly wayward English ale, when it really could have been something special.
Smokey barrel-aged barleywine, brewed at Moon Dog for the GBW 2014 Masterclass with John Maier.
Pours a dirty amber with orange flashes. Head is lacklustre, refused to swell up even in a vigorous pour. Steady trails of bead which is nice, as is the lacing.
Smells boozey and smokey, in that order. Islay whiskey character, with an odd chewy toffee note, cherry fruit and maybe some rum. Delivers what it promises.
Taste is quite pleasant. Thick boozey sweetness, with a caramelised crystal malt note upfront, that develops sweetish whiskey characters midway and then finishes booze-flavoured but without excessive heat. Tastes like a good boozey dessert, whiskey caramel or something, and would pair nicely with a creme custard or something.
I'm impressed by how dry this finishes, although a warm tickle lingers. Good texture.
Don't actually get a lot of smoke; I feel I'm expecting more of a punch in the face, and yet despite the size it's quite subdued, or possibly lacking something.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish amber hue with some pleasant hazing. Body is very smooth, as you'd expect, although there's minimal carbonation to show off its weight. Head is yellow-white, forming a fine ring and some film. with a few clinging strands of lace. Looks good.
Nose doesn't have a great deal. There is some vanilla and perhaps a touch of cherry or dried fruit. Disappointingly, this allows the booze to be present from the start, giving a slight sherry character that doesn't help things.
Taste is a little bit better. There's some smooth vanilla on the front, and an interesting kick of cherry or kirsch in the centre. This still adds to the boozy quality though, even though towards the back there's a thick sweetness trying to cover it up, and slick vanilla on the finish. The sweetness clings though making it feel slightly cloying by the end.
Feel is very very smooth and thick, which does help it.
In the end though, after drinking even a sampler I felt it was overly sweet. It's solidly put together at least by the end, but I'm not sure I want to drink a lot of it.
Pours an amber colour, touch of haze in the body. Head is white, small bubbles around the edge and not much else.
Smells sweet, with vanilla and caramel malt and a great deal of butterscotch. Actual butterscotch though and not diacetyl so much. Sweet; not as big as I expected.
Taste is sweet upfront - loads of caramel with a touch of vanilla as it gets midway. Finishes unpleasantly sweet and verges into medicinal territory with a big boozy whack. Just an evolution of the sweetness and doesn't quite have enough to balance. This is the kind of barleywine palate that just puts me off.
Body is thick; too thick as to be even gluggy. Slight carbonation tingle and then just hot booze.
Sweet, boozy; not really my thing.
77 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. Fitting, seeing as this "Barrelly Wine" is "aged in ex-Shiraz and Pinot barrels for a rather long time".
Pours a rusty brownish amber, with almost no head to speak of except for the bubbling that comes from perturbations when poured, and eventually even that disappears, leaving a rather tiny ring of white as the last vestige. Body is expectedly gelatinous, although it looks rather still without the carbonation. It's not that unexpected a look, but it also still doesn't inspire great confidence.
Nose is better than it might have been. Smooth sweet, sticky malt takes the fore laced with heady overtones of booze and barrel oak. Slight peppery, almost solventy characters from the additional ABV, without much note of the wine that previously inhabited the barrels. Some mild oxidation is also present, but to be honest, it's much less than it might have been for a beer that's spent "a rather long time" in barrels, and then longer still wherever it was before I bought it.
Taste is better again. Here, there's no hint of the oxidation, hidden as it is behind solid layers of rich malty sweetness and the boozy potency. OK—there is a hint of it, but it's well hidden. Also well hidden is the boozy harshness—yes, you can tell it's big, especially with the tingle of heat in the back palate, but it comes across in the texture of the beer more than the flavour, and the caramel and port qualities help smooth over any roughness. Oak does come through a little on the back, with a mild vanilla slide into the finish mingled with some pleasant dry tannins.
Feel is very smooth, but left tingling from the boozy heat. It works well.
Overall, after an inauspicious beginning, this was a pretty fine beer. It's a big barleywine, to be sure (I mean 14.6% is pushing it even for an already boozy style), but I'm impressed at how integrated it managed to stay—that's not easy. I'm certainly very happy to sip on it.
73 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a very pleasant and deep black-brown, sleek and silky in the glass. Head is dark as well, forming a filmy cap of musty chocolate. Some minor globs of lace form. Carbonation is very minimal, forming in racing clusters when tilted, but otherwise only showing up as a couple of thin streams. Looks pretty good all up though.
Nose is dusky and dark, with a pronounced cacao chocolate note laced with a hint of seaweed. Quite roasted for the most part though, giving a solid darkness to its core. I like it.
Taste is very pleasant. Here, it seems to be mostly bitter chocolate all the way through. In particular, there's a thick and coating feel to the body, that allows the cacao character to coat the inside of my mouth. Salt? Not really—there's a slight minerally character towards the back, more like iodine than salt, that ends up just hiding alongside the roasted bitterness that marks the finish. It maybe lacks a touch of complexity, overall, but it's composition is all pleasant flavours nonetheless.
Yep, it's a nice beer—perhaps not as envelope-pushing as it could have been, or as the pedigree of the two breweries who made it might make you expect—but it's a tasty beer nonetheless. And it's silky smooth and drinkable for its weight.
330ml brown bottle purchased from Barny's in Alexandria. A self-styled Marmalade Double IPA, brewed with "a vast concoction of citrus peals* and orange liqueurs added at the end of fermentation". *Say the bells of St Clement's.
Pours a very hazy pale orange hue, with lovely fine streams of carbonation making their way languidly through the body. Head is initially very frothy and thick, forming a robust crest of pale off-white. This settles out to a reasonably persistent topping that leaves a few globs of thick lace. Overall, it's not a bad looking brew.
Nose has a slight whiff of that citrus character the name suggests, but it certainly lacks a bit of potency. For the most part, it's pretty dry and flat, maybe with a slight suggestion of brisk grainy malt on the back. There's even a slightly organic character that might come from the yeast—although American Ale yeast should be pretty clean. Hmm.
Taste is certainly a bit better, and quite clean for the most part. Pleasant, pleasing citrus backed on a firm and persistent, but rather thin malt character. In fact the malt is a little underdone, but in a good way—the lack of body gives a slight additional sharpness to the brew, and the hops on the back accentuate some of the bittersweet citrus characters of the marmalade.
Feel is indeed a little thin from the lack of body, but it's a fairly decent match for the beer.
Overall, it is interesting—it's perhaps not quite as flavoursome as it might have been given the style and the claim of "really ridiculously fun beer" on the label. But the idea is solid, and I'll admit that Moon Dog keep getting me to come back to their beers with each release. So they must be doing something right.
Pours a dark brown, head is beige. Ochre even. Lace sticks nicely. Pretty nice looking.
Smells petrolly. Lots of booze with inky chocolate notes as well. Touch of hazelnut and coffee. Plenty of nice chocolate stouty roasty notes, not much salt. But pretty nice.
Taste is similar. Lots of chocolate roastiness. Touches of nuts, on there. Roasty bitterness is tempered late and tapers off so seems kinda dry late. Probably the salt, just dries up without having much flavour. Could definitely be stronger.
Decent, smooth enough. Bit boozey on the back.
A bit big, and yet the 'bigness' is all stout, when I more expected to be socked in the face with salt. As it is it's a very mild hint on a big stout, and I think they'd have done a lot better dialling back the stout elements to allow the salt to come through as a stronger complement.
72 / 100
7.5% version, brewed for GABS 2014 in Melbourne, which is where I tried it on-tap.
Pours a deep, reddish-brown colour that has a darkness which makes it seem hazy, although it's quite clear at the edges. Body is solid in weight, and holds some fine carbonation. Head is beautiful—full and firm, beige in colour, and persistent all the way down, leaving full edges of lace as well. Looks very fine indeed.
Nose is a little thin, toasty with some coffee overtones and some fragrant almost perfume characters. There are some less salubrious qualities too: something almost organic like BO, and a bit of ash. But here, the thinness helps a little bit at least.
Taste is nice. Toasty entry, almost savoury with a dry chocolate character and cold-drip coffee developing through the mid-palate. There's a smoothness after a while as well, which leads to a pleasant vanilla cream cleansing quality on the aftertaste. Feel is very smooth and very nice.
Overall, by the end, this turned into a pretty cracking beer. Very drinkable, very smooth and really very nice indeed. Good stuff, guys.
38 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in Leura.
Pours a very light, very clear yellow colour, with a very frothy and fairly persistent head of white, that stays coarse but substantial throughout. Stacks of anarchic carbonation rushes through to keep it fed. Some patchy suds of lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is sweet with a pronounced, almost artificial watermelon flavour that reminds me entirely of Jolly Ranchers. Forget the better-known Australian watermelon beer—there's no warhead acidity here, just a slight grainy malt character that doesn't even really give me much of a sense of wheat. Rather odd all put together, but certainly not unpleasant.
Taste loses it a great deal though. Here, yeah, that watermelon character comes through on the front, but the back is distinctly dank and yeasty, with a sort of grain-bag mush that reminds me a little bit too much of a macro lager. Sweetness lingers a long while too, giving it a persistence that doesn't help. Feel is frothy with coarse carbonation, making the beer feel way fuller and more bloating than it should be.
Overall, distinctly disappointing. I can't help but think that were this is in a slicker bottle, and marketed by someone other than Moon Dog, there would be nothing for disdain for it—I just guess that it's something of an achievement that they've managed to take real watermelon and other ingredients and craft something that tastes like a sub-par alcopop.
59 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours with a massively frothy head despite a gentle pour, almost escaping from the oversized pint-glass I poured it into. Colour is a slightly murky golden-orange hue. Head retains its consistency at least, even though it's still a bit insane throughout. Light body and some fine streams of carbonation. Apart from the overt head, it looks pretty good.
Nose is clean and bright, with some slightly herbal overtones. As it warms, there's a bit of green pepper as well. From the hop varieties they list on the bottle, I would have expected a bit more citrus, but it's still very pleasant.
Taste is similar, but here there's a disconnect between the dry malty notes, and the hops, which are rather biting around the edges. It's quite dry in places, and it makes the hops a bit dominant in a way that loses balance. Body is light as well.
Overall, I'm not a huge fan, but maybe it's because it's a fairly standard beer from the brewery who has set themselves up as Australia's enfants terribles. It's okay overall, but only okay.
74 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. Shared with Rich.
Pours a deep, pleasant black-brown, with a filmy, inconsistent head of pale beige. No lacing, and very little body to the brew as a whole. Very fine carbonation though, which flies in the face of everything else. Pretty decent overall, despite some flaws.
Nose is great. Prominent smokiness above a solid roasted char basis. Peat becomes prominent, leaving a wavering contrail above a slightly fruity overtone as it passes by. I get a little plum and sugar-ferment cidery character coming through, which actually works rather well with the smoke and blackness. It's nice stuff.
Taste is smooth on the entry, with a clean, if slightly empty front palate, followed by a pronounced but balance smokiness and a hint of chocolate. Peat definietly comes through, leaving a searing inflection of salt, smoke and darkness across an otherwise mild palate. The smoke provides the buzz, but the base beer is very solid in itself.
Feel is fairly smooth, if a bit lightweight. No problems with it
57 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a relatively clear dark brown hue, with a minimal ring of off-white lace that at least stays fairly persistently. Minimal lace. Body is light, as it should be. Carbonation is quite fine even so. Looks pretty decent.
Nose unfortunately shows a very distinct acetic character, which diminishes the other characters. It's a shame because the other characters do come through, and they're quite pleasant: chocolate base, some smoky chilli characters giving a slight peppery overtone in my sinuses. If the vinegar character weren't so prominent, it would be extremely pleasant.
Taste still has a touch of the acetic character, but not nearly as much as the aroma, fortunately. Instead, there's a dry chocolate note, and some sweetness in the mid-palate that suggests marshmallow to me. The chilli comes through on the back, but only as a slight peppery note that dances in the back of my tongue. I like it fine.
Feel is surprisingly full, emphasised by the slight tingle from the chilli.
Overall, yeah, this is decent enough—the chipotle doesn't come through enough. The only suggestion of the dry-chilli character is in the heat which builds up on the palate, and some of that bigger smoky character on the nose would be great. It's a shame, because this has bucketloads of potential: Jake, Josh and Karl, please brew this again. It's going to be magnificent.
A Toffee Apple Amber Ale named after a Peter Combe song? Whatever the beer's like, Moon Dog's marketing guru has certainly hit on a beer that I was going to buy. 330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a certainly clear amber colour, excellent clarity in fact, with a relatively fluid but fine body. Head forms a fine film across the top of the glass, in an off-white skein on the body. Carbonation is very fine at least.
Nose definitely has an apple overtone, but also a significant hit of booze: much more than was welcome, and certainly more than was expected given it only weighs in at 8.2%. It smells a little bit like appleskin soaked in vodka. Not much malt behind it, or any real sweetness at all—just solvent character. Sorry, guys...
Taste is very similar. Apple overtones, here at least with a bit of malt coming through, but quite thin and with a determined boozy presence right through the middle of the palate. Booze is way, way too present, leaching all of the potential flavour out of it. Solvent finish, like drinking ink, makes it really quite harsh on the back.
Feel is okay, I guess. It has a lightness to it, but it doesn't have much to work with.
Overall. Five stars for concept and naming, guys, somewhat... um... less than that for execution. This is a big hot mess as far as I'm concerned. But you certainly got me to buy the one bottle I drank at least. If you keep doing that, I'm sure I'll keep buying them.
46 / 100
Pours a red colour, thin white head, decently webbed with a thin cradle of lace. Looks alright, yeah.
Smells a little malty, with a touch of fruit. Thin, maybe some booze on there as well. Not much to it.
Taste is also boozey. Quite brandy-esque. Some toffee malt notes but just tastes rather ethanoic and not very much complexity or residual sweetness, which is frankly the only thing I expected or really wanted from a toffee apple beer. Disappointing.
Full, bit warm on the back. OK.
Drinks a bit bland, just tastes like extra fermented sugar; I feel there could be more residual flavours created to give a better toffee apple flavour or complexity. I also question the decision to age this in Calvados casks, it's unnecessary and just adds more booziness without first harnessing the principal ostensible flavour here. Quite disappointed with this, I find it simple and bland flavour-wise and just overdone in the boozey stakes.
Pours a dark brown colour with fantastic reverse cascading head. Settles to decently thick crown. Pleasant looking.
Smells like permanent marker. Big methyl notes, inky and black, but enough softness on the end to make a sip not seem like suicide. I feel the Moon Dog guys would appreciate being labelled as 'just outside the realm of suicide' so I'll leave it at that.
Taste is similar, huge boozey flavour. More complexity, with bourbon vanilla notes and a touch of banana ester and benedictine. But yeah, that big inky flavour as well. Strong boozey notes, touch of raspberry and peach. Mostly big booze character. Interesting, slightly off-putting. I expect nothing less from Moon Dog.
Full, gets hugely boozey on the back, almost mouth tearing. Gets more intense as it goes on.
Odd, more than a bit off-putting but there's enough there to keep you interested at least. One certainly couldn't call this beer boring, or unimpressive.
75 / 100
Pours a dark-brown colour with a bit of haze. Head is beige, foamy, but doesn't really stick around, just leaving a thin rim after a while. Not bad.
Smells sweet, with a touch of coconut, chocolate, slight roastiness and a touch of cherry. Yeah, pretty decent.
Taste is awesome. Roasty, with cocoa, chocolate, but a fair whack of coconut and cherry on there as well. Slightly tart on the back but it works in really well with the other darker characters. Nice dessert porter.
Dry body, tingly carbonation. Alcohol is well-hidden but it's nothing special body-wise.
Nice edge to a traditional style. Sticks to dryness, which is a bit of a shame. Nice flavours otherwise.
69 / 100
A huge beer to have on a sunny afternoon, this is what we did anyway. From a 375 (? I think) ml bottle shared amongst a few of us at the Vic on the Park during Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours extremely dark: languid and thick with a huge head of brown that is mostly filled with air, so it collapses after the initial agitation of the pour. Carbonation is fine, working through the thick body. Overall, it's a dangerous-looking beer.
Nose is sharp with dark, spicy and astringent characters right from the start. There's earthiness, and sweetness. I get caramel cinnamon buns, along with a solvent-like sharpness. There's perhaps a hint of the truffles to it, but not much: bigger is the booziness which seems to overwhelm everything.
Taste is little different: huge booziness permeates from front to back, leaving an inky solvent character that tastes to me exactly the way permanent markers smell. Aside from this, there's a hint of banana and a sharp shock of roast to remind you. The booziness perhaps settles a little as it's aerated and warmed, moving to a kinder kirsch character.
For the most part, the feel is burning with that boozy heat: almost feeling acidic in its intensity.
I don't get a lot from the truffles which seems like a bit of a shame, but it's huge and intense, there's no doubting that. I feel that it almost veers into territory where it's also stupid, unbalanced and deranged. And that's probably just what those nutjobs at Moon Dog wanted it to do.
330ml bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours an extremely hazy, murky amber colour with a film of lazy bubbles across the top and which almost disappear completely soon after pouring, leaving the beer looking flat and dead. Body is very thick, and there is some carbonation noticeable when the beer is tilted. The haze is a bit too much though, and the lack of head is disappointing: 11.5% it may be, but they've got a hard-working yeast working there.
Nose is strangely malty. Malty? That's not what I would have guessed I was going to smell. Yeah, I'm guessing Mr Biscuit Malt and Mr Special B are coming out more strongly than anticipated here. They railroad the hops back to a supporting role, so that they only give a weak vegetative spice character—together with the overly sweet malt it creates a character of vanilla. And how about some presence from the Trappist yeast? No, not a lot: there's certainly a booziness that does give off some faint estery notes, but not much, and it doesn't work well with the other characters.
Taste is, if anything, even more disappointing. Big boozy, slightly astringent palate which streaks through the centre of my tongue in a fiery trail. The malt characters aren't here, fortunately, but I can still sense their aromatics bringing the joint down like a depressed hippie. Piney characters on the back of the palate: with the alcohol heat it gives it an antiseptic character. It's all evaporated pretty quickly. Despite the size of the number of the package, it's finished quite dry.
Overall... wait, let me add my standard Moon Dog disclaimer here. There's something so awesome about these guys—they take risks all the time to push the boundaries, they take the risks that other breweries are too afraid to. But unfortunately, risks often throw up disasters. It's maybe overly dramatic to call this beer a disaster, but it sure is a mess at least: if not Hurricane Katrina, it's at least that southerly buster that knocked over all your pot plants.
330ml bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Stanmore.
Pours a hazy orange colour, thick and ripe with a fine, slightly sudsy head of white. Carbonation is a little listless, but fine in itself, which helps in forming such a fine head. The colour is a bit heavy, but otherwise it looks reasonably good.
Nose is pleasant, but perhaps lacking the pure, unadulterated punch of intensity that it could have brought. Instead, there's a restrained crispness giving off a little crisp green vegetation and a suggestion of citrus. Some ragged malty tones come through as well, but the crisper hops give it an icy quality: as if the true sweetness and graininess of the malt is frozen out of the bulk of the aroma. Not bad.
Taste is light and crisp, and rather pleasant all up. Clean entry with some foggy hop oil aromatics before a light (albeit slightly empty) mid-palate. On the back is a sharp and conclusive vector of hops, which crisps up the feel a little at the expense of shortening the back-palate. By the end, it's a little dry: dry rather than refreshing. Alcohol throughout is well hidden, however.
Overall, I thought this was pretty good. In some sense perhaps, it's tame for a Moon Dog beer, but only insofar as it doesn't really do anything very experimental. In fact, there's still plenty of punch and flavour to it, and it maintains a level of punky charm that fits it in with the rest of the range.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. This was Moon Dog's GABS entry, a collaboration with Norway's Nøgne Ø which they called a Cherry Wheat Porter.
Pours a deep brown colour with quite a clarity to it, turning yellow at the edges when the light sneaks through. Body is solid and doesn't have much noticeable carbonation. Head is a fine beige ring. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is pleasant: cherry and chocolate both definitely come through along with subtle secondary flavours like concord grape, kirsch, sharp, spicy cinnamon and an underlying booze character. It's not really extremely potent: if it kicked me in the face with its strength as well, it would be exceptional.
Peppery entry on the palate, before a big up-tilt in boozy cherry. Sherry sweetness and booze mingled with more of that spicy cinnamon character. On the back is a pleasant return to smoothness and sweetness—coconut, chocolate with a pleasant bite of grape juice. Dry on the finish with a cocoa character lingering in the aftertaste.
Feel could be heavier and it would lend the beer more gravitas. Maybe it's the wheat, which I don't get any other perceptible benefits from.
Overall, though, this is lovely stuff. Spicy, lots of character and delivering plenty of complexity and flavour. I like it a lot.
What a mouthful. But then again, it sounds like "what a mouthful" is a phrase heard repeatedly when Moon Dog and Yeastie Boys got together to brew this beer, if their selected song list is anything to go by. 330ml bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor at Bellevue Hill.
Pours a disappointingly not-purple golden amber hue, with a very large, frothy, and loose-bubbled head of off-white. Carbonation is rapid, and pushes through the body quickly, as if wanting to prop-up that head as much as possible. body has a little weight behind it, but less than I'd expect for 9% ABV. Looks decent though.
Nose is interesting, to say the least. Fruity sweetness, plenty of peat-smoke, a touch of acid, and some dirty, dusty tones all mingle together into... what? I can't really tell what this beer is trying to do. It's interesting, and very strange.
Taste is rather pleasant: notable peat smoke characters provide a dank basis, and some medicinal bite towards the back, while a sugary, almost candy-like fruit flavour provides a counterpoint. Hops are noticeable, providing a sharp vector through the centre and then swirling away into the medicinal peaty bite later. Carbonation is much too high, although this could be to do with the long time this has been bottle conditioning. I'm sure it was more palatable early on.
Overall, this is very interesting stuff. I'm still not sure what the hell I'm drinking, but that just probably means it was successful in the eyes of these mad bastards.
70 / 100
A "Fancy Christmas Ale" brewed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. 330ml brown bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars Kingston Rd.
Pours a yellow-tinged, cloudy red-brown colour, with a fluid but quite firm body, and a fine lackadaisical bead. Head forms only as a small ring around the edge of the glass. Lacing forms like surf suds and then washes away pretty quickly. Overall, it's decent without being particularly inspiring.
Nose is pleasantly sticky, sweet and spicy, with plum pudding characters coming through nicely. The spices are quite muted, but they provide some punctuation to the sweetness, which stops it from getting too heavy or too sickly. There's a slight savoury overtone as well: perhaps a little sage or a hint of lavender. It gives it another edging definition. It's quite pleasant.
Taste is light in texture, but with some pleasant spice and sweetness to drive it along. Mild spiced cherry pie, cinnamon, with a slight twang on the back: almost an acidity, but not quite. There's a slight astringency towards the end too: either booze or perhaps just residuals from the spices. Feel is smooth, but with that lingering heat and the bite on the finish.
Overall, this is a decent spiced beer. It doesn't do new and exciting things with the genre, but it would indeed make a fitting tipple for Christmas, or better yet, when it's actually cold in Australia.
45 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. The label is more colourful than most Moon Dog beers, and has a certain flair about it which I quite like. And no by "flair" I don't mean "boobs".
Pours a deep dark brown, with a solidly dark head of mocha. It forms a decent filmy persistence, although it started off being quite foamy and frothy. Lacing forms in sea-foam streaks, but doesn't stick around a great deal. Body is surprisingly, and perhaps disappointingly light. Otherwise, it looks pretty good.
Nose is roasty and dark, with some sweetness, and a faint hint of funk or acidity. I want to think that the sourness is imagined, but I'm not sure it is. Milk chocolate comes through though to fulfill its name, but that faint lacto acidity perhaps takes the milk in directions it wasn't meant to go.
Taste is better, but here it's harmed by the lightness perceived in the appearance. Mild roast and sweet chocolate seems at the mercy of a faintness and a slight carbonic thinness. Certainly a suggestion of acidity on the back of the palate, if not a direct puckering bite. For a 7.4% ABV beer, it's certainly very light in the feel as well, perhaps another suggestion of sourness.
So yeah, I'm guessing this wasn't meant to be sour. And while it's not immediately, intensely, puckeringly sour, it has this sourness overlain on everything which makes it hard to appreciate the sweetness the lactose supposedly adds. And if it was meant to be sour, then the additional sweetness just undermines everything the sourness is meant to be doing. No, I'm afraid it doesn't work for me.
Pours a dark cherry colour, with nice beige thin crown of head. Bit of sediment that accidentally fell into the glass. Looks nice, though.
Smells fairly funky. Slight toastiness with sour cherry, raspberry and a touch of coconut (without being sweet). Could have more layers to it, but what's there is nice.
Taste is spicy, fairly toasty with a dry grain flavour upfront. Touch of coffee on there, some rye and mild smoke towards the back. Slight charry character and fair funk towards the back as well. Bit of a hodgepodge really, I'd like it better if it chose one flavour line and followed it. A bit too much of everything, but then I feel a bit of a broken record saying that as it's my criticism of every Moon Dog beer.
Decent body, a bit sharp towards the back with the pull from the wilder yeasts.
Alright beer; it's enjoyable enough but I'd really applaud Moon Dog if they pared their approach back a bit and made simpler beers. Little less eye of newt, maybe.
74 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer. They call this a "Shiraz Barrel-Aged Funko-Trappist". I figure Belgian Strong Dark is as close as you're going to get when categorising Moon Dog beers.
Uncaps rather sullenly, pouring a deep reddish brown hue, with quite an opacity to it. Colour is very good indeed: the big deep dark character with the flashes of ruby I love in a big Belgian brew. Head is a fine film of pale beige. Some frothy bubbles around the edges. Looks thick and rich, with fine, powdery carbonation. Really good look.
Nose is rounded, but slightly spicy, and touched with a faint tartness. Some woody shiraz characters come through, lending a faint tannic berry note to the mix. Certainly some funk, and a mild sharp almost citric character: it reminds me of laundry powder. It's really very complex and pretty damn exciting.
Taste is a little more subdued, with a light and clear slightly husky malt forming the basis, mingled with some chocolate overtones. There are hints of the shiraz, giving a semi-sweet semi-tart berry note: it comes over a little like grape candy. Some flowing, rounded banana esters come through as well. Finish is dry and tannic, and it drops out rather quickly: perhaps a little disappointing, in fact.
Feel is smooth but light, spot on for the style. Such as this has a style.
It's not all that funky, so if you don't go in expecting something gueuze-level you'll have a pretty good time with this beer. Overall, I'm pretty impressed: this takes some disparate elements and plays with them in an interesting way to create a beer that works in its position left of centre. Moon Dog are notorious experimenters, and I'm pleased that this most recent experiment has paid off.
77 / 100
Pours a gold colour with slight haze. Off-white head is foamy and nicely dense. Looks decent.
First impression of the smell is there's a touch of urine on there. It's organic, and very corporeal, but all from this organic funk which is actually quite enjoyable. Plenty of fruit comes through as well and a fair hit of acidity. Fresh, and pleasant, yeah.
Big mango hit on the palate. Fruity and sour and pretty fresh. Mango and touches of tangy passionfruit, hint of lime. Very cleansing, really, with loads of funky characters and a nice fresh Summer fruit vibe to it. Bit of booze on the back is a slight mar, but otherwise very nice indeed.
Bit of dry alcohol, funky and mildly puckering from the wild yeast.
Very nice beer overall, fruity and funky. Wouldn't exactly seduce the non-converted but I'm loving it.
74 / 100
Bottle purchased from Beer Cartel by @epiclurk.
Pours a deep brown-black, pretty solid and very heavy and dark. Head is slightly loosely bubbled, but forms a solid sheen of proper crema-brown atop the glass. Lacing is wavy and pretty solid. Carbonation seems slightly high, but otherwise, it's a really nice-looking beer.
Nose is also very good: mild smokiness permeates through everything, but the basis is a solid, rounded and slightly sweet stout character. Chocolate notes come through, along with a mild tobacco and rich earthy solidity. There's a whiff of carbonation to it, however: perhaps a slightly acidic tone that suggests again that the CO2 is a little high.
Taste is good. Solid. No rich sweetness here, but a firm, broad and consistent stout roast character mingled with the lingering hint of smoke. Again, the very mild acid comes through a little, but there's plenty of other flavours to mask it. It doesn't have huge complexity, and the feel is a little thin, but this is very decent stuff.
This is significantly better than the first Black Lung, or at least the bottle of that that I tried. But interestingly, this just seems to be a more rounded and fuller and better realised beer, it has nothing to do with the subtleties of the difference between the Bourbon aging and the more generic "Whisky" aging this one has. Maybe that means Moon Dog are starting to find their stride a little more.
That can't be anything but good news for the Aussie craft beer scene.
76 / 100
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a bright lemony yellow colour, with some moderate hazing and stack of fine carbonation. Head forms, you feel, not because of any weight or residual proteins in the beer, but just because the carbonation is rising faster than it can dissipate on the top. Very light body. Overall, it's a very decent looking Berliner Weiss (-ish thing, as they call it).
Nose is pleasant enough, with a bright citric overtone above a slightly rough, slightly meaty, but rugged wheat basis. Pleasant lacto character doesn't overwhelm, but actually adds some depth to the other characters in the brew. There's a cleanness to it, but also a pleasant roundness, possibly from the German wheat beer yeast, or possibly just from the wheat in the grist. Overall, I'm pretty impressed: it sits together a lot better than the others in the series have.
Taste is also good. There's a clean, direct character running through the palate, giving a sharp, slightly thin, but refreshing bite to the front and mid-palate. On the back, there's a touch of bitterness, but it's a lemon-pith or grapefruit character, rather than being hop-driven. Acidity is mild, but it sneaks up giving a slight tingle on the back and a touch of crushed aspirin. Feel is actually very goodâsmooth, but frothy from the carbonation: it works nicely with the flavours.
Overall, I'm impressed. Moon Dog have an erratic record with me, and having tried the other two beers in the series, I was not expecting this to be as good as it is. This is a clean, crisp-drinking "Berliner-ish type thing". It doesn't have the acidity of a true BW, but the lemon character works a lot better than the guava or melon did.
58 / 100
Pours a deep, murky brown colour, with a fizzling, but fine-bubbled head of beige. It sits around really only as a ring, with some middling bubbles in the centre. Body is pretty fluid and light. Minimal lacing. Overall, I'm not overly impressed.
Nose is funky and yeasty, with a slight overtone of olives. There's something tannic about the darkness, and something acidic about the lightness. A hint of something meaty and porky (perhaps the touch of peated malt) comes through, but the sharp, almost piercing astringency seems to win out.
Taste is a little better, maybe because of the darker malts, which actually get a look-in here, leaving some dark fruits and a broader sweetness. Still, the yeast dominates again, and not in a way that's beneficial to the beer overall. Slightly piercing lightness streaks through to the backâit doesn't provide a true acidity, but it weakens the structure of the rest of the palate. This is not aided by the rye, which gives a spicy emptiness.
Feel is very light as a result.
Overall, I just don't know about Moon Dog. I love their concept, but I'm truly beginning to find a lot of their beers very samey. It's like they've made experimentation the new grey. The new dull. The new generic.
Pours a musty yellow colour, that seemed quite clear as I poured it, but in the glass seems hazy. Head is formed of fizzy white bubbles, that settle around the edge of the glass, and don't stick around for long. Body is light in weight, but I'm tempted to say slightly too dark in colour. I mean, it's not bad overall, just a little average.
Nose is greenly organic, with hints of acidity and a (yep) noticeable melon rind character. It has almost a rubbery, lambic-like character to it, but without the pronounced tartness and powerful yet refreshing grunt. It's certainly interesting though.
Taste is mild and light, with a crispness on the back that deconstructs itself into rindy watermelon characters and a bit of vegetative rot. There's a touch of acidity to it, more in the centre of the palate than towards the back, but it's almost like the sparkle of carbonated water than a lactic bite. Finish is relatively clear, apart from the lingering build up of pithy watermelon rind.
Mouthfeel feels a little overcarbonated, which is probably acceptable for the style, but usually the style would have more of a puckering acidity to complement it.
Eh. It's better than the MacGuavaâwe'll see how it fares against the Billy Ray Citrus. Unfortunately for Moon Dog, this has appeared on the Aussie beer scene close to the very much better watermelon berliner weisse from Feral; the comparison for Moon Dog is not favourable.
73 / 100
Pours very dark, almost black. Head is too generous when poured, but nice nonetheless, beige colour and sinks a bit too quickly. Big bubbles leaving no real lace. Big initial impression doesn't last.
Smells lovely: lots of smoke with nice, oaky vanilla notes. Wood smoke with a bit of meatiness as well as sweet coconut and vanilla aromas. Good blend. Nice complexity.
Taste is big and smokey with a nice blend of smokey stouty notes for the most part. Nice wood smoke, bacon and a touch of peat - yes, it borders on that level of smoke - that merges into nice roasty-burnt stout character towards the finish. A bit boozey on the back, maybe touches of bourbon-vanilla and coconut. Still quite roasty and bitter, but leaves decently with nice smokey notes blending with the sweetness.
Mouthfeel is a bit sharp on the front, and boozey on late-mid, I'd like a bit more levelling out of the palate.
Good, interesting stout. But a bit by the numbers for what it set out to do, and the balance is not ideal. Paradoxical as it sounds, I'd like it to be either more crazy since I kind of expect that, or level out and be surprisingly drinkable, and it's not quite either one or the other.
Purchased from Slowbeer, drank with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a pleasant cloudy yellow-gold colour, with a fine, filmy head of white. Decent sudsy lace, but a little inconsistent. Body is very light, with a fine bead of powdery carbonation. Looks pretty good, overall.
Nose is slightly funky, but slightly nutty, with a herbal, organic overtone, but not a huge amount of crispness, or direct lactic, Berliner weisse character. Also, not a lot of guava. I'm not overly impressed, to be honest.
Taste is clean and slightly organic, with a brusque herbal greenness on the back. It really doesn't have much of a guava character, nor does it have much of a true, clean Berliner Weisse crispness. In fact, it feels a little empty and unfulfilling. Feel is light, but empty.
Overall: eh. Really, this doesn't do much that's particularly interesting. Usually Moondog do interesting if not successful. This time they've done neither. Unimpressed.
44 / 100
On-tap at Mrs. Parma's during Good Beer Week. This was a one-off smoked altbier designed to match with the venue's one-off bratwurst parma for the week.
Cloudy, but not opaque deep russety brown. Head is an inconsistent off-white. Some up-and-down lacing. Solid body that feels heavy but actually swirls quickly at the edges.
Nose is crisp and grainy, overlaid with some estery banana characters, not much smoke, but the hint of it once you've tasted it. Pretty light really, but with some potential altbier characteristics.
Taste is lightly smoky on the front, with an increasing acrid bitterness that eventually melds into a sharp phenolic and boozy astringency towards the back. Light feel leaves this brutally open and unbalanced on the palate, leaving a truly sharp unpleasantness on the back.
Harsh, too heavy in some respects and really uneasantly unbalanced. It hits you after a whileâthe astringency on the back really kills it and moved it towards being undrinkable.
Another experiment from Moon Dog. Hey, that's what they do, right?
80 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS.
Pours a light golden colour, partially hazed with a firm body. Head is full and solid, and just off-white in colour. Decent lacing and streaming fine carbonation. Looks good.
Big passionfruit characters dominate the nose, with a mellower mango character coming through when it warms. Acid does come through, and gives it a bite and in some ways accentuates the tropical fruit characters, much in the way salt accentuates characters in savoury things. Lovely.
On the front of the palate, the funk comes through more strongly, giving an unclean bretted character. This is swept quickly under the rug, however, by a big passionfruit character that continues and thins towards the back, leaving a cleaner earthier funk and a crisp acid to finish off. Not much movement around the palate, even though the characters develop over time. Aftertaste leaves a hint of rind. Feel is light and crisp.
Really, this is refreshing as hell, and really quite delicious. It's up against some steep competition in the GABS sour beer stakes, but it's a really interesting brew, and well executed.
71 / 100
Pours a very dark brown, but clearly brown, nearly orange, up to the light. Head is disappointing but where beer hits glass it leaves some very nice lace. Pretty good; could be better.
Smells lovely and funky. So much barnyard funk with citric acidity, but also an impressive array of good dark malty notes as well. Chocolate meets vinegar; is this the creation of a new culinary sensation? Probably not. Something about this aroma gives me a headache, but I can't deny it's very impressive and intriguing.
Taste is sour from the assault - probably not to its advantage. Some slight dark grain, chocolate and buttery notes that just get immediately sour with sharp vinegar notes, quite nice and refreshing but it can't quite last to the finish, which is fairly sweet with hints of carbon and lemonade. The bretty vinegar character is still present but its dominance peaked in the late-mid and more on the finish would make it cleaner and more inspiring.
Bit sharp and infected on the back, but a good texture otherwise. Decent body.
Sour, refreshing enough brew. Not quite sure why it was chosen to be dark, it could work just as well in a paler version. Nice, though.
71 / 100
Pours a faint, uncarbonated red-black, turning to brown at the edges. Lacing is fine and patchy, leaving tiny dots on the side of the glass. The head itself, however, is disappointingly non-existent, only forming as tight lace around the edge. Body is pleasantly fine and buoyant for the ABV, leaving a fine shape of static carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is immensely sharp and acidic, even giving some Gueuze-like tones of plastic and rubber. It has some mild oaky characters to it, but it is undeniably a little one-dimensional, relying on that lambic-style funk to bring it's interest and sharpness.
Taste is crisp and acidic, with a light, almost empty finish. Some slight fruity aromas come through on the back (possibly the cherry plums), but they're ghostly; almost as though they appear in aroma only. Oak is noticeably absent on the palate, and I feel like some more fullness in this regard would really help it. Feel is light and somewhat empty.
This feels a little bit like a poor man's Rodenbach Grand Cru. It has the pleasant sharpness, the crisp acidity, but not the fullness of palate or the depth or complexity. I'm very impressed that a brewery from Australia got this close, but it's a case of "close, but not quite there".
Pours a reddish, clear amber colour, with a fine, moderated head of off-white. Some lacing forms, but it's patchy. The body looks solid and unyielding, and it holds some fine, but intermittent carbonation. Looks goodâthe colour in particular is quite fine.
Aroma is pummeled with roasted coffee, pinging off the fruitiness elsewhere in the beer to give a piquant chilli aroma. Slight smokiness to it, or a deep roast character, that rather pleasantly comes from the coffee rather than heavy malts. Sweetness is limited, and overall, it's a little one-dimensional, but it sure is interesting.
Taste is a little bit disappointing. More of the coffee comes through to give a brusque, rocky bitterness that seems to ebb and flow on the palate, but there's very little body, or, indeed anything much else to give it substance. There's very little if any hint of the raspberry, perhaps just a twinge on the front giving a jelly-like sweetness. Feel is very light.
It's good, and I would drink it again, but I feel that once again the concept outstrips the execution.
I've been a little on the fence about Moon Dog's beers so far. This is no exception, but I can't stress enough how much I love what they're doing. Experiment on you crazy dudes: I promise I'll keep buying your beers.
58 / 100
Pours a russeted dark oaky-brown colour, with tang head, nice and dense on top. Bubbles out but retaining with nice density. Lace is decent but nothing amazing. Looks good, though.
Smells big and hoppy at first - initial assault is twangy citrus and pineapple but then the malts kick in, all chocolate and dusky with a pleasant sweet grain note, but just enough kick of roast to keep it grounded. Very much the kind of smell I like. Good job, Moon Dog, in targeting me specifically with this aroma.
Taste is sadly less refined. Starts with slight tangy ale esters on the assault that develops more roasty brown ale notes midway, touch of cocoa and licorice, but this then clashes with the Belgian notes, musty spice that verges on funky and gritty, with some capsicaian flavour, turmeric and a caper bitterness. All in all it's quite muddy, and lacks coherence between the sets of flavours. It's caught in a centrifugal flavour spiral where it spines further out from the centre of what I think they're going for. It's a bit over-ambitious and maybe an attempt to be more left-field, where they've lost sight of the essential goal of creating good, tasty beer.
Bit boozey and hot through all of this, has quite a sharp note on the back. Not quite enough body, for the size.
One shouldn't be afraid to scale beers like this back. It's cool to try something different, but the number one goal should be creating nice beer, and I feel they've gone all in too quickly here.
Pours immensely overcarbonated, frothy and fizzling with a light brown head that eventually runs out of steam and sits as a centimetre of foam across the top, forming no lacing as it falls. This is perhaps not surprisingâthe body is remarkably thin for its 7.7%. The colour is right, at least, a heavily opaque black-brown. That carbonation, though...
Nose is pleasant, but perhaps not as big as it should be. However, the key characters for their stated style are here: smoke, bourbon, wood, roastiness. What it's missing are the big sweet vanilla oak characters bourbon oak can impart, or the depth of flavour that a bigger brew would lend. Still, it's pleasant enough, and with enough interest.
Taste is dark and roasty, but incredibly dry at its basis, which is just accentuated by the smokiness. Charred, barbequed bacon comes through, with dark roast grains and a touch of booze. Man, where's the barrel aging here? It's tragic that it has so little sweetness to offset the smoke. It needs it: it's CRYING OUT for it. Feel is also incredibly thin, even for a 7.7% ABV beer compared to an 11 or 12% beer.
This is so disappointing, because there's some really obvious ways it could have been improved. I love the style and the gall of Moon Dog, but this beer perhaps just shows their lack of execution. It needs to be bigger, sweeter, smootherâthis will not only add balance, but depth and complexity.
It has some nice flavours, and some nice ideas. I'm just so sad that it's not better than this.
78 / 100
You crazy Moondoggers.
Pours a cloudy (and I mean cloudyâso cloudy that it's opaque at the thickest part of the glass) deep leather brown colour, with a filmy, bubbly head of beige. Body is goopy and thickâyou can see it even on the pour, as the syrupy liquid enters the glass. Decent fine lacing, and struggling carbonation. Looks good; at least, it's the sort of beer you look at and expect something interesting.
Nose is nicely done. Big mix of roasted grain sweetness and bright, sweetly aromatic hops, giving soft candied citrus and raisin/currant notes. Slight hint of peppery spice as well, possibly from the yeast, and a fresh green vegetative character. Yes, very good indeed.
Taste is clear and bright on the front, with citric hop flavours coating the palate, before a bang of astringent booze hits mid palate. This explodes and then dissipates, leaving the roasted grain character to mingle with a kirsch-like dark fruit and peanut skin character on the back. Burping gives another wave of resiny hops. Feel is smooth and thick, with a slight stretch from the alcohol heat.
The alcohol is a little too noticeable, and doesn't add a great deal to the beer, but otherwise this is very solid. It delivers what it promises, and has a touch of the anarchy which makes Moon Dog exciting. Probably my favourite of theirs to date.
Pours a burnished amber colour, fairly dark. Head is quite a pale yellow, small visible bubbles with decent sticky lace. Looks quite nice, could use denser head for more retention.
Smells very floral, with a decent caramel malt and a lot of citric hops. Lemon sherbet and pine needle resin. Hints of lavender as well, it's a very nice tangy hop aroma with hints of resin just for a bit of grounding.
Taste has slightly less tang. Lots of malt, with rich earthy caramel dominating the front. Hops are notable from the mid, with resinous oils giving some grapefruit, a woody mushroom note and a touch of fresh bread on the very back. Feels slightly heavy, with a deficiency of lighter flavour hops and the dankness takes precedence, combined with a touch of boozey heat on the back. Not bad, though.
A bit hot and fairly dry on the feel. Body is alright, but it leaves me wanting.
Good hoppy beer, but not great. Some IPA palates make you fall in love; this one's more of a matesy relationship, and some character flaws get in the way of greater intimacy.
76 / 100
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a very deep and extremely cloudy amber orange colour, although with the amount of haze it's difficult to tell it's true shade. On opening, there was very little carbonation hiss, and I was afraid it would pour completely flat, but after a little while, a very decent fine foam forms on the top, which leaves some sticky, but high-gravity patchy lace. Body is extremely heavy, and the carbonation is beautifully fine. It looks pretty damn awesome.
Nose is sharp and resinous, with crisp pine characters and the sharper end of the citrus hop spectrum. This is complemented with a boozy spiritous brandy aroma mellowed by some smooth vanilla and oak. The hop characters are what you expect, but the mellowness from the oak gives it a very interesting twist.
Taste is similarâthe hop bitterness is strong and assertive as you'd expect, and in some senses give a pretty generic IPA hop character to the palate. But the oak gives a mellowness, and the subtle flashes of redolent boozy spirits give it a sharpness that indeed has nothing to do with the hops. Vanilla comes through on the back, along with a subtle bittersweet nutty character. Feel is light but smooth, with a touch of heat and sparkle.
Great first bottled release from Moon Dog. This is an extremely full flavoured brew that has enough twists to it to stop it being a generic DIPA (if there even is such a thing as a "generic" DIPA).
Keep doing it big and crazy, guys.
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse. Seems it may have been randalled - presumably through some peppers - although I wasn't told this when it was served. That's another matter.
Pours a dark mahogany colour with murky brown around the edge. Head is a nice ochre colour, nice and frothy but doesn't retain very well. Some lace, but not a lot. Looks decent.
Smells rather sweet. Good toasty underlying but largely cocoa producing chocolatey notes that take on a milky edge, with a touch of vanilla. Brown sugar as well and maybe a slight capsicaian note at the back, but not a whole lot. More of an organic tickle than any real pepper notes. Pleasant, but neither really cock-sockin' nor ball-knockin'.
Taste is not bad, plenty of nice stout notes on assault with mild cocoa and some espresso roast. Midway gives way to that chipotle pepper character, which is quite hot, with a bitter capsicum flavour but more of a mild sizzling sensation. Finish is chocolatey and has a chilli choc overall hit. Quite a nice brew, doesn't wow me as much as Hunter Brewing's choc-chilli porter they did for GABS though. With that in mind, this beer is probably more drinkable, still impressive, but they could have upped the cock-sockin' capabilities.
Thin, with chilli burn. Could use more body to pad it up and restore the balance in the mouth.
This is my first offering from Moon Dog, a brewery with as much hype behind it as BrewDog and as many beers available to the mainstream as Westvleteren. I'm not unimpressed, but at the same time the brewery's hype has preceeded the product. Punk marketing like this can really backfire. In this case they delivered enough, but if they keep promising more I'm going to keep expecting more.
Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. Although it was available through smoked jalapeÃ±os through the randall, I tried the straight version at the upstairs bar.
Pours a deep brown-black. head is filmy and beige to begin with. When halfway done, it has disappeared completely. Lightish body, but good opacity and colour to it.
Nose is dark and stouty, with just a hint of smoke, perhaps as much as you'd expect in a stout with some charred malt. Some smooth characters, but a touch of the extract homebrew to itâslightly sweet and slightly cloying. Not bad, but nothing particularly expressive or extreme.
Taste is similar, although it's genuinely dark and stouty, with some bitter roasted grain character especially on the back. Not picking up a whole lot of chile or smoke or anything that would make this unique. Mouthfeel is soft and reasonably full, but not huge.
I'm terribly disappointed that this is the first brew I've had from Moon Dog, because I had very high expectations, and this seems like a very tame effort from themâcertainly not a particularly big or experimental brew. Perhaps it just needs the Randallized peppers to add the edge.