Slightly dumb-bell shaped 345ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Yeast has been filtered out of the bottle. As has no doubt been stated before, this is Woolworths' in-house beer label.
Pours a very clear but truly amber colour, with an initially rather frothy head of pale beige. This settles to a faint but fine ring of white and a few islands of listless bubbles. Carbonation is fine, and there's a moderate weight to the body. Looks decent enough.
Nose is also relatively pleasant, although woefully empty of the purported Cascade and Chinook hops mentioned on the label. Instead there's a rounded malt character giving some grainy toast and a slight molasses sweetness. If anything hop-wise it has a slightly earthy, hedgerow sort of character to it—reminiscent more of English hops to me. It's really not bad.
Taste is more lacklustre, losing much of the apparent sweetness and becoming rather dry and flat as a result. Mild flat grain carries it forward with a slight zest of carbonation underneath. Slight cardboard and blackberry notes towards the finish with a touch of listless bitterness evanescing away to nothingness.
Feel is fine—the bubbles of carbonation are too prominent, but that's more an issue with the lack of flavour than anything else.
Overall, this isn't all that bad. That being said, it's certainly inferior to the much more ubiquitous (but similar) James Squire Nine Tales, so I don't know if it will get much of a foothold really competing in the same space. At least, I hope it doesn't.
59 / 100
345ml brown, sculpted bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. I was yet to try any of Woolies' pseudo-craft range (whatever that means), so I picked this one somewhat at random.
Pours a middling golden colour, with a checkered, inconsistent head of white that eventually decays to a thin ring around the edge of the glass. Carbonation is fine, and fleeting. Minimal lacing, very light body. Looks solid enough for what it is, even though that might happen to be pretty average.
Before swirling, there were some clean, slightly grassy volatile aromas much like you'd get in a lightstruck green bottle euro lager (a smell I actually find rather appealing), but once it's gone, it's gone, and there's very little else: just a mild floral perfumed overtone and some grainy porridge character. It's not unpleasant, but very light and quite bland.
Taste is similar. Faint grainy undertones, melding towards a yeasty, grain-bread note towards the back. Atop this is a clean, light and rather bland palate, with some very faint, slightly metallic twinges and a suggestion of orange peel. But these are very faint, leaving it mostly just crisp and light.
Feel is, indeed, crisp and light as well.
Overall, it's pretty bland, but it's really hard to fault it as a crisp, light easy drinking ale. There's a pleasant nothingness to it which makes it both easy to drink and easy to ignore. Not one of my favourite beers in the world, but it's certainly far from being awful.
59 / 100
Had on-tap at the S&A when in Freo recently. Great spot with lovely beers.
Pours a deep amber colour, with an off-white foam that forms a
filmy, slightly slick, but slightly inconsistent head. Lacing is excellent though. Decent weight to the body, giving it some heft, while sustaining a liquid slickness. Looks pretty good.
Nose is heavy with brown malt, giving a formidable grain aromatic character. It also contains a slick sweetness, like syrupy sugar, but that deep, slightly bready malt character is really dominant. It's a little too sweet, to my mind, but you do have to respect the robustness.
Taste is a little better, and suffers less from the overt sweetness, mainly due to the fact that the body is slightly lighter than expected. It smoothes and stretches the heavy brown malt over the palate, rather than concentrating it like the nose does. There's a hint of acetone, or some other mild astringent on the finish, and while the light mouthfeel helps the beer overall, it feels a little flat as a result.
It's decent enough, but it's a little one-dimensional, and not particularly exciting. I feel there is much to be done with the style that could be better explored than it is in this example.
72 / 100
On-tap at the Sail & Anchor, which has to be the best beer location on the West Coast, if not in the whole of Australia. This is one of a couple of house beers they had on tap.
Pours a hazed, golden orange colour, with a fine and fluffy white head. Slick body, but reasonably light. Minimal lacing, but decent enough overall. Fits the bill stylistically, in any case.
Nose is hoppy in the American style, giving aromas of fresh citrus. Some fruitiness, but it tends more to the clean, crisp green hops I associate with a good pilsener. Decent depth, marmalade sweetness comes through as it warms slightly. Nice.
Taste is clean and fresh. It doesn't push the envelope in terms of flavour or bitterness, but it comes out pleasant and sharp. Citrus, again a hint of fruit, and a little malt sweetness, but only ever enough to counteract and balance the other characters. Very decent, and definitely stylistic.
A nice IPA. Smooth, pleasant, stylistically good and very drinkable. Certainly something I'd be happy to drink regularly in locale.
73 / 100
I was staying nearby the Brass Monkey when I was in Perth, so decided it was worth checking out to try their house beer, which I believe is still brewed by S&A.
This stout is a creamy nitrogenated gem, pouring a deep black-brown, with a gorgeous off-white head. Lacing is excellent. Overall, it looks fantastic, just as a stout ought to.
Nose is pleasant, but relatively mild. What characters are there are delicious though, a very interesting blend of woodsmoke and smooth, creamy milk chocolate. It's just enough to make you savour it.
Taste is very mild, but lacking a whole heap of stout character. Extremely smooth on the feel, leaving some subtle chocolate and light cream characters. Still, there's no roastiness, and very little darkness at all.
For all that, it's an exceptionally drinkable and very approachable stout, and one which I was very pleased to try. While it misses some classic stout characters, it makes up for it with pure enjoyment. This is something I would be very pleased to drink regularly.