46 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam for Christmas.
Pours a very pleasant pale golden colour, with a frothy, persistent head of broad-bubbled white. Carbonation is coarse and swift. Lacing forms in minor clumps. All up it looks pretty decent.
Nose is only so good. There's a faint, generic hop character, but it takes on more of an apple note than anything, slightly peely and old. There's a touch of lemon to it as well, which is a nicer note, but it's kind of lost. It's only okay.
Taste is perhaps slightly less appealing. There's a pronounced grain character that comes through (surprising for such a light beer), mingling with a coarse, woody bitterness that reminds me a bit too much of Pride of Ringwood.
Feel is frothy with carbonation.
Look, it's not an awful beer, but it's pretty bland, and it's honestly one of those beers which feels like it's doing a disservice to Australian craft beer in general. If it were the best offering from a brewery, I'd believe the brewery would have a hard time surviving. But Holgate do much better beers than this.
I have on my notes that this was just a NEIPA and no mention of actual mangoes but I'm not convinced that I was right. Brewed for GABS 2017, tried there on tap.
Pours a straw colour, very very sedimenty and cloudy. Foamy white head. Looks pretty standard for the style, but that's not a bad thing.
Smells tropical and fruity. Big mango, pineapple and above all apricot notes, no bitterness or edge but maybe a subtle spice character. Tropical fruit juice, really.
Palate kicks off with a slight caramel sweetness. Develops some juicy hop notes midway, primarily mango with a chewy tropical fruit mid-palate. Develops a subtle bitterness from that and it grows stronger towards the back. Pretty good.
Tingly carbonation that is a bit too noticeable on the body which is otherwise nicely balanced.
Decent NEIPA. Not as huge on the mango as it maybe could have been, fairly standard notes really.
I retried this beer on the back of my scores but it didn't crack my top 20.
Oaked saison, brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours an amber colour, fair cloud through it. Head is densely packed but doesn't really stick around. Pretty good; to style.
Smells sweet, and rummy. Fair oak character, with dark fruit sweetness and rum underlying. Not really very saisony, which is disappointing.
Taste starts sweet, with a caramel malt note and a touch of peanut character. Develops some rum characters midway and then a slight barnyard Bretty character towards the back, fairly boozey and just a bit barnyardy. What it's lacking though is the oak, just tastes a bit boozey without a through line of oak to link the sweetness with the wildness.
Decent body but the alcohol really comes through too sharp.
Yeah, I get booze rather than oak, and sweetness more than saison. Not really one of Holgate's best.
60 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a peach golden colour, very hazy and a bit light in the body. Head is white, forming a lovely meringue-soft crest of solid foam. Looks very good.
Nose is faint and slightly dull. There's a bit of stonefruit to it and a bit of vanilla from the oak, but there's not a great deal going on in general, and it's certainly not broad and potent, which is a bit of a shame.
Light, empty entry on the palate, with some mild, faint, earthy hops coming through on the center. Slight astringency towards the back and a little bit of tannin in the finish. It's quite dry though, especially at the back, and it's not great overall.
Feel is very light, I'm not sure it's even worthy of going into a barrel.
It ends up pretty dull. Not bad, just dull, and it doesn't seem as though there's really much true interest to be gained from its wood aging either.
57 / 100
Champagne coloured, not really the red colour that was promised. Pale beige head, creamy with good retention. Apart from the colour, really nice-looking beer.
Smells of sweet spice. Big cinnamon character but not a lot else going on. Was expecting farmhouse and oak from the description but all I really get is a simplistic pie spice note. Meh.
Taste is similar with notable sweet cinnamon character. Slight rum notes that give notice of oak but the wood itself is not really distinctive. Touch of licorice towards the back and a slight vinous note. Decent beer, but really nothing special.
Decent body, maybe a touch of booze as it goes down?
Perfect description of this is 'decent'. There's nothing particularly wrong with it but I just expect more from Holgate.
76 / 100
Pours a light orange colour, kinda cloudy but hard to tell in a Frankie's patented plastic glass. Head is off-white, fairly foamy and pleasant. Decent retention. Looks pretty nice.
Smells fruity - tropical but mostly citric. Has an acidity reminiscent of Chinook. Fresh and piney with mango as well. Just hops, but a good edge to it.
Taste is very hoppy. Kudos for having a wet hop beer with this much acid bitterness to it. Tangy and fresh upfront that develops some grounding late-mid. Touch of grain with some oatmeal character early-mid, then finish is all bitterness with pungent grapefruit, pine resin and bitter lemon pith. Really nice IPA notes, true to the style even while it bursts with fresh hop fruitiness.
Decent body, unnoticeable texture. Hops pull back strongly as it finishes. Not bad for style.
One of the best uses of wet hopping I've seen. Pungent aromatics but a firm and punchy IPA hit. Good stuff.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Quarryman's in Pyrmont.
Pours a fairly light-bodied but dark hued brown with some red coming through on the edges. Head is a little coarse, surviving as a thin film but leaving very solid lacing. Fine languide carbonation belies the lighter body. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is relatively light-on. Slight, subtle fruit with a touch of cherry coming through and a milk-chocolate sweetness which is pleasant just like their Temptress. It does feel toned down a little bit, but it's pleasant enough.
Taste is great, however, and here the concept seems to come together pretty well. Mild smooth chocolate flavour is lifted from being stick and sweet by the fruity lilt on the back, which in turn provides a slight freshness to the palate. A slight dry cocoa character sticks around, giving a mild tobacco smoke evanescence on the back. It's still dark, but it has the evocation of a late evening barbeque, or the blanketing bushfire smoke of a summer in Australia.
Feel is relatively good. Clean, but light, without adding much weight to the beer itself.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this. I wasn't quite sure what this was going to be like, but they've pulled off the concept with some degree of success. I'm always happy to drink a rich, dark beer in summer anyway, but if I had to have a "summer porter", this is pretty close to what I'd like.
72 / 100
500ml bottle purchased from Stanmore Cellars.
Pours a pleasant, mildly hazed orange hue, with a firm and smooth head of just off-white. Lace is speckled and patchy. After a while, the head dissipates, leaving just a suggestion of foam. Carbonation is fine, and there's some heft to the body. Looks pretty good.
Nose is rounded and fruity, with a bright bouquet of tropical aromas. Some mango, passionfruit, a little citrus and a sweetness rounding it out like pineapple juice. Malt provides a juicy basis: again giving a little sweetness, but staying away from getting too sickly. It's definitely fragrant and pleasant, without the sharpness you often find in an IPA, while maintaining a strong hop presence.
Taste is milder than I expected, but still pleasant. That juicy sweet malt again forms a firm basis, here with a little bit more oomph due to a slight lack of really strong bitterness on the back. The hops that do come through are leafy, slightly herbal and a touch peppery: giving a more organic and brusquer bitterness than the fruitiness suggested. Everything is still quite rounded, however. There's very little sharpness to it, which helps the beer integrate nicely, and makes it more drinkable as a result.
Feel is smooth and clear, with a pleasant smoothness behind it.
Overall, I'm pretty impressed. This is a very firm, well-crafted American IPA. It has loads of flavour, but balances the characters nicely, leading to a beer that is as drinkable as it is flavoursome. Nice stuff.
Very oddly sized 500ml dark green gueuze-like bottle, crown capped and then foil coated. Purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Self styled "Emperial IPA". Stats on the bottle claim OG of 1085, IBU of 100, EBC of 5.
Pours a very clear golden colour, astonishingly light in body for 10% ABV, with a fine and reasonably persistent head of quite light white. Lacing is spotty but fine. But I just can't get over how light and thin this looks. I've never seen a DIPA of this strength look so light before. (Given OG of 1085, by my calcs this gives a final gravity of 1010 or less, so it's not surprising).
Nose is sweet and hoppy, almost dusky with hops with a big inhalation. The sweetness has tones of butterscotch and toffee to it, while the hops give of characters of Redskins candy and fairy floss. There's a grassy, peppery tone to them, where the dusky, almost earthy character comes from on the back. Together with the toffee sweetness, it almost gives a chocolate character. It's very fascinating stuff.
Taste is sweet and slippery, with a pungent almost medicinal bitterness through the centre of the palate that nonetheless fails to provide a really pronounced bite of hops on the back. It's more the soapy bitterness of cardamom pods in the centre, with more malt providing sticky toffee and a hint more butterscotch. The feel is where this really just misses the mark for me: it's far, far too light to support even the mildly aggressive characters here, even with the restrained bitterness on the back palate.
However, the lightness gives it a hidden drinkability: perhaps providing a threat in a beer that is genuinely big even when it doesn't feel it. It didn't really wow me, but there's certainly plenty of interest to be had in sampling it.
70 / 100
Pours a gold colour, clear with sparse white foam for a head. I kind of expect a gruit to be darker, but I'm not really sure. It kind of looks like a bland Belgian pale.
Loads of spice on the nose: cinnamon, mint and clove coming through with a very slight sour tinge. Decent, and pleasant sweet backbone to keep it all in balance. All spice, but really quite nice.
Sweet palate, with lots more spice coming through. That sour edge on the nose doesn't translate here and I think the beer is better for it. Lots of sweetness, not too overboard on the spices. Cinnamon is a real winner here.
Body is a bit thin and flat. Can't expect too much I guess, but I'm wondering if it had less of a filtered feel if the sediment might add a bit more texture?
Quite similar to our homebrewed gruit, but the cinnamon is a big standout and wins the day for me, it really turns the oddness into a palatable drop. Well done.
74 / 100
Traditional Belgian-style Gruutbier, brewed without hops. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a deep golden colour with good clarity. Head is a just off-white filmy ring above the rather light weight body. Minimal lacing and almost no visible carbonation.
Nose is indeed spicy with gruut mixture. Big cinnamon characters, mingled with some aniseed myrtle and pepper. There's a plasticky tone to it as well, along with some fresher characters of crushed mint. Quite pleasant.
Peppery on the front, with more aniseed coming through, before some structure is provided from light grain characters on the mid-palate. On the back, it smooths out somewhat, giving some light cinnamon, along with some vanilla sweetness. The aniseed is still present after its sharp vectoral punch through the palate, but it recedes here in the face of the softness. Aftertaste is left quite clean.
Surprisingly drinkable for a beer style that is clearly quite alien to most modern palates. It makes for a fascinating experience, and a well put together one.
Pours a rich earthy red, the colour of scorched earth. Head is nice when poured, tan colour and creamy with decent sticky lace. Looks quite English; good body to it.
Smells very caramelly with English toffee and an odd note of sherbet. Rosewater that's a bit too sweet as well, and overall smells a bit muddy, with hops coming across quite dank in spite of their floral, tangy aroma. Can't say I'm huge on this.
Taste is also malty, with burnt toffee, rich earth and salted caramel upfront. Gets dank and resinous hop character midway for a slight mouldy note, touch of lemon pith and astringent pepper on the back. Needs way more lift, this is a heavy and murky palate, with only one flavour note. Needs more cut 'n' contrast.
Bit full in the mouth, but ultimately slick. Alpha acids pull the mouth back a bit, still a bit heavy, but not bad stylistically.
Not a huge fan of this; quite heavy and full-on, and would like something there to cut through more.
81 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse for their Great Australian Beer SpecTapular. This was the last I tried on the day, and it was a very decent way to finish up.
Pours a surprisingly clear reddish brown/black colour, certainly not a lot of haze or opacity to the body. No or only minimal head, perhaps a light gauze of film on the top. Looks a little thin even. Very strange for a beefed up version of the Temptress.
Nose is lovely and swelling with chocolate liqueur characters. Dark, sweet and supple, but very boozy as well--you can sense the alcohol in this, it almost makes me choke on the fumes. Woo.
Taste is very powerful, incredibly bold and rich, like liqueur again. Lots of chocolate, with a darker and roastier hint of coffee and plenty of booze. Wow. Big, robust and powerful beer. Nice feel as well. Although it looks light in the body it sure doesn't feel it.
This is a tasty beer; a very tasty beer indeed. What's more, it's a big ballsy effort, and I applaud Holgate for making it.
69 / 100
Pours a very dark brown with murky red tinge in it. Head is mediocre, beige-coloured with a thin ring and some small but sticky trails of lace. Not bad.
Smells beautifully chocolatey, rich and dark and sweet with a good belt of roasty espresso as well. Complex, chocolatey sweetness, a slight alcohol whisper and slight burnt character as well. Tasty, aromatic big porter.
Taste is not quite as good, sadly. All the flavours are there: chocolate, roasty malts but the booze kind of gets in the way. Sweet on the assault, chocolatey with caramel and vanilla. The alcohol then gets quite warm and the flavour strong; ethyl hints and some espresso burntness. Nice and sweet but mildly bitter roast on the back. Yeah, just that booze whoomph in the middle just throws it a bit off-balance.
Full body, but a bit flat at times. Not bad for the style but could use more rise and fall where the flavours swells and dips.
A good beer for tasting but not everyday drinking.
73 / 100
Pours a dark copper colour, bright but deep, with plenty of streaming carbonation. Head was initially fizzy and frothing, but it settles to a reasonably pleasant and fine film of off-white. Looks pretty decent and stylistically appropriate. Lacing isn't as sticky as it could be, although it appears in sheets, rather pleasantly.
Nose is pleasantly robust with lots of crisp hops, that almost bend a little towards the citric. Hint of tannins ensure it stays grounded in earthiness, however. Also a touch of roasted grains to give some depth. Very decent.
Taste is also quite well constructed, and stays pleasantly balanced throughout. Decent robust bitterness from the hops, with a structure of malt and roasted grain around it. Bitterness mingles pleasantly with the malt at the back to give a moreish nutty character. Crisp finish. Despite the abundant carbonation present in the body, the feel is pleasantly smooth and supple.
A very nice ESB, with plenty of character, and decent structure. Smooth and tasty, and very drinkable.
85 / 100
Pours a very dark brown. Just brown when held up to the light, but mostly black. Impenetrable head is ochre, thin film and unevenly sunk with lovely tight lace. Damn fine porter. I like the colour especially. Could just use more head. But then, couldn't we all?
Oh, mega chocolatey on the nose, with lovely sweet and roasty balance. A large vanilla aroma blends with milk chocolate. Hits all the right notes, without falling into the easy trap of being too sweet.
Taste is pretty nice as well. Starts with fairly strong cocoa with a slight bitterness. Blooms wonderfully into a rich, sweet chocolatey flavour. Lots of milk chocolate and a hint of espresso giving a mocha edge I guess. Quite sweet late-mid, a bit lactic and slightly over the top but just slightly. Otherwise a beautifully sweet and dark drop, just a big mélange of sexy chocolate. I would definitely rub this all over my body, if I were so inclined to rub beer all over my body.
Fairly good body. Doesn't quite cover the carbonation here, which is pretty unnecessary. The achilles' heel of this drop. Could use a nitro-widget to be perfectly honest, smooth out the edges.
Beautiful beer. It's a cracker.
83 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney. For all appearances this was nitrogen pumped, so I've put that as the serving type.
And indeed, the appearance is amazing. The body is extremely thick and rich; a lovely deep ebony black colour, with a clear delineation between it and the creamy and fine beige head. Must be off nitro-tap, I've never seen such a creamy head from any other. Lacing is amazing. It's a truly extraordinary looking beer.
Lots of chocolate on the nose, with a subtle but noticeable dabble in roasted bitterness. Creamy and smooth characters, sweet vanilla and a little cherry essence. Lovely.
Chocolate on the palate, incredibly smooth but with a lightness that leavens it slightly. Mouthfeel is creamy and slick: just awesome. It's so creamy and delectable. The dark chocolate tends towards big roasted grains but doesn't quite get there, leaving it supple and soothing.
This is an absolutely lovely drop of beer. So smooth, so drinkable and so delectable. On tap, it's fantastic. In my opinion, it's one of the best brews Australia has done in recent times, and proof that Australia's craft beer scene is burgeoning.
57 / 100
Pours a dark but bright golden colour. Filmy head of white that leaves a ring around the edge. Slight sudsy lacing. Not too good really.
Nose is a bit grainy and a little sweet, some light citric and grassy characters, but I expect more hop character in a pilsener. Bit of honey. Not bad, a bit bland though.
Taste is clear and pretty clean, with a light tangerine backbone and a crisp lightly grainy finish. It's pleasant, but a bit empty, finish is dry with a nut skin feel. Bright mouthfeel at least.
Clean and drinkable. Not bad. Enjoyable enough, with a decent crispness, which is good for a pils, but lacking a lot of the important factors that make this such a great style of beer.
Pours a burnished brown colour, head is modest but sinks to a very thin film, specks of lace being left here and there. Beige-coloured head, yeah pretty nice. Slight haze, mostly clear. Good-looking beer.
Smell is fairly roasty, with lots of hoppy notes coming through as well, touch of rosewater. Some mint as well? Very floral, quite earthy, and a very slight milky edge as well. Pleasant, not mind-blowing.
Taste is quite robust, fairly medicinal actually with fair phenols, hints of herbs all over that with rosemary and sage. A lot of thick, malty characters with hints of light coffee and some boiled sweet notes. Hint of musk and a definite alcohol warmth at the back, slight brandy edge. Yeah, a strong beer, can't say I'm overly enamoured of this though. Lots of sweetness, lots of phenols, just a strong beer without the complexity I love in other barleywines.
Definitely a lot of body to it, quite thick with a soupy character. Leaves fairly well but with a powerful alcomaholic warmth to it.
Flavour is enjoyable, but the noticeable alcohol heat on this makes it less drinkable.
56 / 100
Pours a fiery English red, like a St. George's cross (the red bit). Minimal head which sinks to nothing in about half a minute. Bead is fast but thin and leaves some small patches of lace. Looks alright for style but am still unimpressed.
Very malty nose, a lot of rich toffee with hints of treacle and some mint. A hint of pine resin is the only indicator of any hops. A bit of a disappointment to be honest. Pleasant, but simple.
Taste is better as far as complexity goes, a nice steady flow of bitter flavour through the palate. Starts with a healthy malt dose, more of that toffee character followed by a long, mild but increasingly apparent resiny bitterness. Very English, with some aspects of tea and a bit of a leather character. Leaves with a slight bitter hang, but mostly clean and pretty crisp. A decent bitter.
Mouthfeel is decently full, feels a bit flat but with a good body. It's English, it shouldn't be fizzy, so it's all good.
Decent brew, not amazingly tasty but pretty good.
Pours a sparkling golden colour with streaming carbonation. Head is thin and white, settles into a rim of small bubbles, creates some slippery but decent lacing.
Nose is very hoppy, with large floral aromas, and a strong tart fruit with hints of baked pear, raspberries and juniper. Kind of a wet fur aroma in there as well gives it a funky sensation which isn't bad, although it is odd. Quite tangy, sweet and funky all up. Odd, but very enjoyable nose.
Taste is strangely sweet, with a lot of sweet fruit characters and a slightly zesty edge. Pears and cinnamon on there with fresh berries and vanilla flavours as well. Quite sweet with very little bitterness, all of which would be better suited to a winter warmer. Slight drying finish, and a fairly distinct phenolic hit in the middle.
It feels really quite unbalanced, with the flavours not doing the right things when they should, and the texture is very sharp and stinging in the mouth, I think because the bitter notes hit the wrong places, where I'm not used to them.
I do quite enjoy this, but I don't think it's a good pilsener. If this were going for 'quirky and unusual' though, it'd be a success.
81 / 100
On tap, at the Sydney Local's Beer SpecTapular.
Brilliantly clear dark amber brown, with a fine bubbled head of creamy offwhite bubbles. Excellent lacing, just gorgeous as hell. Awesome really really wonderful looking beer.
Lovely rich roasted grain notes on the nose, lots of dark bread rye caraway and a nutty sweetness lying underneath. Lightly astringent notes of charred hazelnuts.
A really lovely roasty sweetness on the palate just toasty and delicious. It's not terribly complex, but the flavours are really nice. Mouthfeel is rich and slick and shiny. Just wonderful
An excellent beer, with a great drinkability. Has roastiness, character but nothing is overdone. Delicious.
77 / 100
Pours a deep cherry red colour with pleasant yellowy beige head, not ridiculously thick but sticking around bloody well. Very small bubbles, almost nitro-dense, with divine sticky lacing.
Rich, sweet but dark smell, kind of jaffa-esque with an espresso roastedness behind it. Some dark cocoa as well, maybe even some Irish cream. Brooding and delicious, I like that smell a lot.
Taste is very nice but a bit of a hodge-podge. Very sweet and toffee on the front, gets more roasted in the middle with hints of burnt cereal grains, barbecued corn and rich cocoa. Slightly metallic hops with moderate phenols on there, while finish is a bit dry for my taste. Rich, burnished toffee and kind of brassy on the back palate.
Pleasant smooth mouthfeel, but a bit watery for the fullness of the flavour. Pleasant, smooth drinking, with a lot of good characters to enjoy here.
Pours a rich, red-amber colour with a cream-coloured head that hangs around like a virus. Isolated pods of bubbles coming through and a nice bit of sticky lacing. Looks pretty nice, actually.
Oh, what a great nose. It's been a while since I've smelt a nose like that, because I've been reviewing so many pale lagers and malt bombs lately. But that has a potent, in-your-face hop blast, but balanced with very sweet toffee-like malt. The whole creates a kind of peppermint aroma, and there is a spicy licorice aspect and a slight honey-glazed ham character. Unique nose, fascinating, and wonderful.
Taste is surprisingly different. Yet to make up my mind as to whether that's a good thing, hmmmm... A lot darker than the nose suggests and there is little hoppiness on the palate, so I suspect the majority of the hops were added late to the brew. Front palate is a bit weak, with mild honey characters and a bit of a grainy texture. Back palate is where it all comes to fruition, and there are flavours of rich soil, toffee and a very strong nuttiness. Hazelnuts, peanuts maybe, yeah, it's nutty I tells ye. It's quite tasty, but I'm definitely disappointed there are no hops.
Mouthfeel is thick and full and forms a close bond with my tongue. My tongue would happily give up cunnilingus in favour of this beer. The lack of hops lets this beer down in terms of drinkability because the thick sweetness of it makes it too syrupy to want to chug down. It is pleasant in flavour though.
60 / 100
Clear burnished gold colour with a beautiful crown of meringuey off-white foam. Decent lacing. Nice. Fine carbonation and a noticeable crop of floaties. Looks great.
Honey and English hops on the nose. Light, slightly fruity and very pleasant. A bit lighter and more subdued than it might have been though. Still, very nice.
Light on the palate as well - an initila hint of fruit is swamped by an immediate neutral grain character, but finished with a decent hop bitterness. It's nice, very drinkable, but maybe lacking just a little depth of complexity.
Mouthfeel a little too prickly, but still not bad.
Nice beer, extremely drinkable. A really pleasant pale ale. Quite light, but very enjoyable.
70 / 100
I believe I'm correct in my assumption that this is the beer now referred to as the ESB? Pulled from hand pump at the Royston.
Nice, clear, rosy-orange body. Beautifully fine head. Creamy, wonderful, beautiful. Excellent lacing. Just beautiful.
Fruity and a bit biscuity on the nose. Hint of berries, raspberries in particular, and a rather subdued hop character. Still nice though.
Taste is also pretty subdued, but very pleasant. Clean, a bit of tropical fruit character, but not a lot of bitterness. It's very drinkable, and quite enjoyable. I just wish it had a bit more character. Mouthfeel from the cask is gorgeous though.
It is very drinkable and nice off the cask, but there's better out there...