78 / 100
Pours a strangely dark amber colour. Lovely dense head of off-white creamy foam that sticks around almost preternaturally. It seems like a chemically enhanced head, but from Mr Stallwood I want to believe. I do believe. Shame about the weird colour, because that head is the stuff dreams are made of. Possibly literally in my case.
Smells of not much. Grainy, with a slightly savoury buckwheat and biscuity character. Hint of some fragrant hops and a slightly dusty touch of resin. It's unassuming but good in a clean and pleasant way.
Taste is kind of uninspiring, just because it calls itself a new world pilsner and doesn't deliver the fragrant hop notes I expect from the style. But once I get over the initial disappointment, I realise I'm dealing with a pretty damn good traditional European pils that's just MADE in the new world. It's quite clean and grainy-sweet upfront, then develops more savoury notes like shredded wheat and some mild citrus creeping in. Finishes clean with a slight floral character, and just lingers with a light caramelised wört note. Bitterness is very very subtle and earthy and mildly spicy. It's a really unassuming beer but quite a delicious one too.
Mouthfeel is thin, little bit of carbonation texture. Slightly dry on the back but not too much. Not bad.
Drinks very easily. Too easily. I could throw back a half dozen of these easily. Clean, fresh, just subtly bitter. Really well controlled brew.
Very Pale Ale brewed for GABS 2017. Kinda hard to classify this, since being an 8% ABV beer it's well outside the scope of a pale ale, but it's definitely based on their normal VPA and wasn't designed to be an IPA, or an Imperial anything, so I think we're pretty much right.
Pours a straw colour, pretty bloody pale. Slight haze, with nice foamy head, cream-coloured and retaining well. Looks great.
Smells fruity and pleasant, really nice. Touch of vanilla sweetness on the front, then passionfruit, pineapple and above all mango aromas blossom out. Nice.
Taste is quite heavy; definitely tastes like an amped up pale ale, but it's good. Vanilla sweetness remains there, giving a robust malty character, but then the fruity hops take over and it's a delicate balancing act. Grapefruit bitterness on the back but a good fresh passionfruit and tropical note midway that acts as a nice bridge between the sweet, slightly boozey front and the bitterness on the back. Pretty good.
Decent body, with some warming alcohol heat as it goes down. Not bad.
Nice and fruity pale ale that amps up the malt without overbalancing one way or the other. Credit to a skilled brewer at work here.
I retried this beer and it ended up my #12 beer of the festival.
73 / 100
Imperial Red Ale brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours an amber colour rather than red, but that's OK. Beige head, large bubbles but sinks unevenly in that way I like. Good retention.
Hoppy nose: passionfruit, mango and general tropical aromas. Apricot. Touch of darkish malt with a hint of roast. Smells lovely.
Taste is sweet and malty upfront, some caramel notes, then develops tangy fruit midway with passionfruit and tropical esters. Slight woodiness to the back reminiscent of oak. Really quite a nice red ale palate.
Mouthfeel is a bit full, maybe just a touch thick, but the alcohol is well-hidden as a result.
Tasty red ale. Tangy and pleasant, maybe just a touch too sweet for me. And for GABS it's probably a bit too generic. But I always appreciate a well-made beer at this festival.
This beer was longlisted for beer of the festival but didn't crack the top 13.
On tap at the Royal Albert. Called a 'session' ale and brewed with Jarrylo hops. Presumably only Jarrylo hops.
Pours a pale gold, furious bead. Head is thin; white and somewhat dense. So much bead; looks a little soft drinky with head. But refreshing.
Smells like melon hopwise. Grainy, with caramel and vanilla notes as well. Bit light; fairly pleasant though.
Taste is grainy; lots of cereal notes, oatmeal. Some caramel notes and then a resinous but light hop touch starts lateimid. Bit yeasty but the hops cover it well with some light bitterness. Yeah, this is far more sessionable than your average 'session IPA'. Quaffable.
Light, yeah a bit thin. Yet carbonation doesn't show through. Maybe could use more texture.
Light quenching summer beer. Pleasant.
80 / 100
On tap at the Royal Albert as part of their leftover Nail takeover a couple days later.
Pours a reddish-tinged amber. Fluffy cream head; small bubbles retaining nicely. Good steady trail of bead keeps it up. Could be a little redder maybe, but good.
Smells fruity and delicious. Pineapple with lime hops, mango and pungent passionfruit seeds. Not too sweet but still just hops swimming in water, bit light. Still, very appealing.
Taste is hops from the get go. Maybe some crystal malt underlying it, clean and biscuity somewhat. Hops are passionfruit, a twist of lime zest, mango and some peach. Tropical, summery, tangy and enjoyable. Yum.
Smooth. Malt presence is felt more here than in flavour. Gorgeous for an IPA-ish style.
Lovely. Second fantastic red ale that I've tried from Nail this year. A cracker.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown colour, with a little hazing to the body. Weight is very solid and it holds very fine carbonation. Head is a pale brown colour, forming a big solid ring that leaves very good lace. It's an attractive looking beer.
Nose has a big mix of chilli and chocolate, and an enlivened capsaicin vegetative crush. This gives it notes of dirt and nettles as well. Surprisingly, the chocolate actually dips as it warms, otherwise it's pretty good.
Taste is great. Light cheeky chocolate notes on the front touched with a dash of dried coconut and already plenty of spice. Chilli heat starts to warm the palate couple with smoother, melted dark choc notes. Carob and dessicated coconut round out the back, with a slight tingling linger of chilli in the finish.
The feel does start to burn after a while, but with the complexities, and a mild smoothness in the weight, you feel like it's earned it.
Without the "ow", I might have rated this higher, but I still thought it was an excellent use of chilli. Moreover, it's on-point as far as its concept goes, so I have to applaud the execution. I did like this a lot.
72 / 100
So I've classified this as a Chile beer, even though it's a sort of sweet stout-with-chilli. This is retroactive reclassification really, knowing now how strongly the chilli dominates.
Pours a dark coffee colour, with nice deep beige head, a bit webbed but looking decent.
Smells of chilli, vegetative. Underlying is a roasty malt base, touch of spicy coffee and coconut, maybe a touch of smoke and a hint of vanilla. Left-field from what I expected, but decent.
Taste is pleasant; roasty with a touch of cinnamon and just a whisper of coconut but then the chilli dominates mid-to-late and overall with a touch of real flaming heat. Chocolate comes through late and is really smartly balanced with the sweetness providing a padding for the chilli heat which is strong but not painful. Not much coconut but very nice nonetheless.
Decent body, slight warmth on the back from the heat.
Not what I expected, but good in a different way.
Note: this was my #9 beer of the whole festival upon retrying.
80 / 100
On tap at Kingston Public.
Nice tomato colour, amber at edges with gorgeous dense film of cream-coloured head. Retains some decent lace. Looks awesome.
Smells hoppy; pleasant and floral. Some resinous notes and biscuity malt character behind it. Citrus, rosewater, biscuit. Classic red ale notes, maybe a bit subdued.
Taste is pleasant, refreshing. Fair biscuity malt continues with a touch of cereal and oatmeal before hops take over midway. Citric, floral, resinous and mildly grassy. Finishes a little medicinal, but surprisingly smooth. A pleasant palate construction: hops taking centre stage without overwhelming the malts or the taste in general.
Full-bodied; bit of tingle. Maybe a bit too fizzed on the back, finishes too dry and parching. Otherwise great.
Classic red ale characters, handled with characteristic restraint and respect from Nail. A winner.
43 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont. Interestingly, I'd tried the Hughe Dunn Brown before the regular one.
Pours a ruddy, slightly cloudy brown colour, with a fine thin ring of off-white. It looks pretty light and a little bit listless in the glass. Fine carbonation at least and a few minor streaks of lacing. Looks okay.
Nose is rather bland. There's a touch of fatty butter coming through, with just a suggestion of sweetness. A little tartness perhaps tending towards a faint spice like nutmeg. Mostly it's just flat though.
Taste is very empty. Again, there's a hint of buttery slickness to it, some cake batter and a faint thin brown malt character—but very little overall. On the back is a slightly unpleasant lingering caramel, but not true brown malt character. Carbonation is restrained, at least.
Overall, this isn't great, and it's fairly bloating for its 4.5% ABV. It's really very sweet throughout, but leaves you with a sense of emptiness—it really lacks true flavour and definitely lacks complexity. I think it's only on par with the lower tier of brown ales out there.
61 / 100
750ml heavy dark green bottle (#346 of 700) purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney by my brother-in-law and given to me for Christmas. Yeah, he's alright.
Pours a deep, dark brown, almost black in hue, with flashes of red when held to the light. Head forms inconsistently: quite frothy on initial pour, but settling out to a filmy mess that leaves good lacing. Rather light body; there's some fine carbonation that swells through it, but it's quite lightweight. Looks decent.
Nose is a slightly musty brown bread basis, without a lot over the top to add complexity or richness. Oddly, there's a strange lemony character that dominates more than anything—it's odd and not all that good.
Taste is certainly better. Here there's a solid roasty malt basis that stays firm and driving throughout. There's still not a stack of complexity though. Light lemony hints come through again, some wavering toffee notes evanesce in the background. Feel is very light, slightly frothy and adds a fullness to the palate—it's one of the high points of the beer to be honest.
Overall, it's a solid brew. But only solid. For a beer that comes in an individually numbered bottle, I'm a little underwhelmed.
74 / 100
On-tap at Harts Pub in Sydney.
Pours a deep brown colour, lighter at the edges, but mostly consisting of a solid, heavy colour. Fine head forms a foamy, musky brown crest that leaves some middling but decent enough lacing. Looks like a solid, dependable stout: decent and tasty. Like it should.
Nose is relatively bland, but fine. There's nothing wrong with it: it's standard stout material. Fine, light dusty roasted characters, a little vegemite and a slight butyric suggestion (that is so faint I'm pretty sure it's not actually butyric acid). Quite restrained otherwise.
Taste is lovely. Toasty malt with a mild sweet uptilt and roast to balance it. Exceptionally smooth. Some char towards the back, but restrained, and just a hint of some banana esters coming through. It's all very nicely kept in balance, whatever is happening.
Feel is a little light, but that just aids the drinkability and sessionability.
And sessionable it is: this is a lovely, relatively lightweight stout. We need more sessionable, easy-drinking dark beers, and this is a good one. I like it a lot.
Pours a golden amber colour, clear with foamy cream head. Retains nicely with a steady bead. Pretty good-looking IPA.
Smells oddly sweaty for some reason, but lots of floral US hop character coming through towards the back. An odd blend really although the hops are nice.
Yeah, a bit salty on the palate too, maybe just a savoury grain character. US hops come to the rescue late-mid giving tangy fruit, floral notes and there's an unrelated slight toasty note on the back. Not bad, but a bit odd.
Body is slightly thin, but carbonation is mild and just provides a bit of texture. Decent mouthfeel.
Yeah, there's something slightly off-kilter about this beer, but I can't deny it's a pretty solid IPA nonetheless.
77 / 100
Had on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a lovely burnished golden colour, quite clear, with a firm fine head of white. Moderate weighted body, but not a hint of lace from the head, or carbonation from the body. Odd. Otherwise it looks good.
Pleasant nose from the start, with a big fresh fruit-salad aroma, with twinges of sweet lemonade. Overall, it feels a little overwhelmingly sweetâas though you'd like something sharper to cut through itâbut it's clean enough, and makes a heady aroma.
Light entry on the palate, although the fruit is noticeable from the start, and continues towards the back. On the mid palate comes some firm grain notes, giving an amber or perhaps sugary crystal malt quality. Finish is nicely served by some clean crisp bitterness, just what is required on the finish.
Feel is smooth but light.
Overall, it's very drinkable and pretty tasty. It's perhaps a little light for an IPA, but even as it is, it does a good job to stand out at the festival with such a generic style.
Had on tap at the Sail & Anchor, 17/08/11.
Pours a burnished amber colour, mild haze and steady stream of bead. Head is slightly off-white, lovely and dense with nice lace. Pretty great.
Smells quite hoppy, in a herbal way. Slight tartness with citrus, lemongrass and a good dose of mint. Actually smells bitter without a lot of aromatic substance; but not bad.
Taste is really very bitter. Gentle enough grain upfront with touch of barley husks, then develops early hoppy bitterness; a bit POR dirty with hints of rocket, medicinal phenols and just very astringent overall. Just POR really, but a slight lighter lift late-mid. Finish is all dour.
Decent enough body with OK texture.
A fairly pedestrian effort without a lot of the flavours I've loved in PAs. The only beer from Nail I'd had prior to this was the Clout Stout, so it's only natural I'm a bit disappointed with this very standard offering. Have we made this our national beer style? If so we should keep looking.
83 / 100
Drunk as my unofficial 1000th beer review about a month ago.
Pours a very, very dark colour, light is maybe visible near the edge but otherwise black. Head is a lovely ochre colour, whispy and sunk quickly. Lace is something else, thick curtains down the glass. Looks wonderful.
Smell is rich and dark. Very chocolatey with lots of cocoa, but sweet with dried fruit: raisins and prunes; otherwise some lovely coconut notes. Beautiful nose, just cracked the whip in all the right spots.
Taste is surprisingly smooth, but beautiful and sweet as well, very complex. Rich with lots of chocolate notes, rich and sweet, lots of cocoa, roasty and slightly bitter to midway but not quite as full as it could be (of flavour, that is). Nice sweet complexities come through late-mid with coconut, glacé cherries and pine nuts. Lots of complexities and spice on the back with black pepper for an overall wonderful imperial stout flavour. Complex, but not as burgeoning with flavour as it might have been.
Smooth, full, little bit dry. Just a whisper of booze but no heat at all. Just beautiful.
An excellent beer, wonderfully constructed and more than a match for its big US cousins.
88 / 100
Very pleased to be drinking this. I purchased this for @LaitueGonflable as a birthday present, and fortunately, he was kind enough to crack it open with me. (The plan is complete...)
Pours a deep brown-black colour, with reddish tinges at the edges. When tilted, the carbonation streams in tiny lines up the edge of the glass. Head is very dark indeed, with a lovely ring of dense bubbles around the edge. Looks very good indeed.
Nose is rich, dark and slightly smoky, with oaky overtones. Boozy notes come through as well, along with some grassy characters. It blends very nicely, but I'd love a bit more depth, a little more sweetness or some more raw aggression. Certainly still very good.
Taste is wonderful. Big sweet smooth characters: oak, dark molasses, burnt sugar, raspberry marshmallows and coffee. All very well integrated, and all lovely and dark. It's smooth and velvety, and so complex. This is a really lovely stout.
So smooth, so slick, so drinkable. This is a really, really lovely Aussie stout, and a worthy special release. Does it warrant the price tag? You bet! I'm totally happy to fork out my hard-earned for beer of this calibre, and totally happy to financially support Australian breweries who go out of their way to give us something big and bold like this.