69 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Willow Glen, CA.
Pours a deep brown colour, with some clarity perceptible when held to the light. Head forms in a massively overcarbonated mess to begin with, settling to a more reasonable but nonetheless boisterous cap of beige. Some soapy lace. Body looks fairly light and fluid.
Nose is pleasant, and encompasses those nice counterpoints of a good IBA. Pleasant restrained toastiness mingling with some dark citrus undertones, giving it a slight choc-orange note. There are also some mild nutty tones as well, giving a hint of marzipan or amaretto. It's quite pleasant.
Taste is similar. There's a good, firm bitterness from the hops, which in turn feeds into a slightly bittersweet roasted character. Pithy orange notes form on the back with the real bitterness, which is certainly fairly dominant. Feel is slick, but not particularly full—this in turn makes it seem more bitter again.
Overall. It's solid stuff, with a good amount of aggression to it. It does tend a little towards the vibe of "let's throw everything in and see what we get", but it still comes up with something that makes sense.
Very, very dark colour. Almost black, with a hint of red the only colour to be seen. Head is darkish beige, large bubbles. Looks nice.
Bit of funk to the nose, but also dark roast and chocolatey sweetness. Burnt caramel, bit of organic barnyardy funk, and underripe plum as well. Touch of coconut. Very nice.
Taste is a little too sweet. Slight tart notes, giving apricot, fig jam and plum; touch of cocoa, and then finish is all fruity with slight funk - some mango, caramel and molasses. A bit sweet, but mostly just not enough roast. I think with more bitter roast, you'd have a really interesting beer here, whereas now it's just a bit off balance.
A bit thin, but quite fluid on the body. Not bad.
A bit too much light. Needs more dark. It's a little incoherent. Dark - seriously. I need you here. Why have you forsaken me?
89 / 100
I purchased this bottle from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley CA, and brought it back to Australia where I shared it with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a deep, thick, black, with a gorgeously dark head of chunky mocha-brown. Lacing is speckled but forms as the persistent chunky head moves around the glass. Body is thick and heavy, and leaves streaking streams of fine carbonation. All up, it's a pretty damn fine looking beer.
Nose is rich, sweet and deep, split by a pealing bright funk that lends acidity to the mix. Plenty of roast sweetness and a rounded barrel character to carry it through this, however, and it ends up more boozy, rich and sweet than funky or tart. Slight mineral characters round it off, always giving the suggestion that you're not fully aware of its full complexity. Lovely stuff.
Taste is deep and sweet, but again dogged by that persistent mild acidity that weaves its way amongst the barrel-aging, the mild roast astringency and the booziness, so you never really seem to see it out in the open. It leaves a smooth lemon-custard character: probably citric and biting, but also caught up with the sweetness and richness that surrounds it. It's an impressive beer.
Feel is pretty much perfect: smooth, clear and rich, providing just the right amount of weight for the flavours.
Overall, this is superb stuff. It blends all the oddities into a gorgeous, complex but coherent and balance whole. I think this is a step up even from the regular Jewbelations. Love it.
77 / 100
Bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA.
Pours pleasantly thick and rich, a deep golden colour, with hints of amber in the deeper parts of the glass. Head forms as a frothy slick, sitting in large-bubbled islands in parts, and a fine film elsewhere. Body is really bold and weighty, and carbonation is fine. Good looking beer.
Nose is fresh, crisp and bright, with plenty of citric notes and a clean green true hop aroma through the centre. It's exceptionally fragrant, and really nicely done. There's not much else but the fragrance from the obviously heavy dry-hopping done, but it's big, and it works. And that's fine by me.
Taste is a little more subdued, and far less bitter than I expected for any description of IPA, but there's still plenty of hop flavour, giving a vegetative bite through the middle of the palate, and a fresh, fragrant fruity citrus on the front. There's a touch of neutral malt character going further back, giving a sweetness that it probably needsâeven though I feel like it doesn't have the bitterness that needs balancing. Feel is lovely and smooth, with a touch of zest.
In some ways, it's a bit like a really big APA. There's heaps of late hops in this: it is just so fresh, boisterous and fragrant in hop character. But it's something of a curiosity as well. Whatever it happens to ultimately be, I really, really enjoyed it. So damn fragrant and delicious, and so delectably drinkable.
I was a little confused by it, but it won me over in spite of this.
62 / 100
Purchased at Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a mild brown colour, with good clarity, but almost no headâwhat forms is a fine ring of flimsy suds. Very light body, no lacing. Overall, it looks pretty insipid, to be perfectly honest.
Nose is mild and pleasantly grainy, with an organic, musty wholesomeness to it, but very little else. No, I lie, there is a hint of something hoppy to it, giving it a mild sweet lemon character. But this is hidden under the malt, which while dominant, is not particularly strong.
Taste is mild and grainy, with a crispness on the back that seems to come more from the carbonation than from hops. Wet malt sits on the back, cloying slightly, and giving a mustiness to the aftertaste. Feel is suitableâpretty light, but with a slickness that speaks to the malt.
Overall, it's a bit dull, but not bad. It's light, obviously designed not to overwhelm the palate. It succeeds there, at least, but there are much better beers that do the same thing.
Pours a very dark brown colour, just coloured around the edges. Head is beige, nice and foamy but a bit loosely connected, without a huge amount of retention. Lace is OK.
Smells malty and sweet. Plenty of spicy roast with hints of nougat, wood smoke, chestnut and buttermilk. Could use more of the peppery spice that comes through at the back, as it's slightly sweet for me.
Taste is quite similar. Similar roast, in that it's there but subdued. Similar sweetness, with a touch of treacle and chestnut on there. Some buttery notes and a disappointingly heavy, sinking burntness on the back, giving over-roasted coffee and actually a grassy note which seems to come from nowhere. Bit sweet and a bit unbalanced, in that the flavours don't really mesh. Also slightly heavy overall, really. Can't say I love it.
Bit thin, but decently smooth. Slightly granular at the back and ultimately dry. Not bad.
A bit of a hodgepodge of dark beer flavours that can't quite find a full synthesis. Not bad, but underwhelming.
76 / 100
Purchased from Whole Foods Union Square in NYC. Brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a really deep brown-black colour, with a filmy but fine head of smoky white. Patchy lace forms above the oily body. When swirled, it has legs. Remarkably fine carbonation. Overall, looks really great.
Nose is softly sweet at its basis, but roaringly layered with big American oak characters, giving boozy hints and vanilla up the wazoo. Hints of roasted malts give some depth and complexity. Overall, it's exceptionally aromatic, it perhaps not as byzantine and heady as some others in a similar style.
Taste is also layered with oak, but with a slight oxidised character to it, giving a hint of old red wine and paper bags. There's still a smooth roasted character, but it's lightened and leavened by the oak and the age on it. Some dryness on the finish gives it a slight mouth-smacking quality that works against the smooth vanilla and chocolate roasted overtones.
Overall, this is a nice beer, and a beer of this type with this pedigree in this style is always going to be good. But it feels inferior to many of the other similar brews, especially the Firestone Walker anniversary beers, and in its genre it's nearer the bottom than the top.
Bottle thanks to @LaitueGonflable, purchased in Australia.
Pours a slightly hazed, but not particularly cloudy amber hue, with a fine, but certainly filmy and insubstantial head of white. Light, fluid body, but fine carbonation, where it exists. it actually looks a little flat and dead. But the colour is nice enough.
Considering the fanfare they give to the number and variety of hops used in the beer, the nose is exceedingly generic. It has the broad strokes of grainy malt and moderated bitter hoppiness, but no really exciting flavours that jump out individually. The malt is more forward, and tends toward generic, multigrain bread characters, leaving it a bit flat and unexciting overall.
Taste is also pretty generic. Thin body is noticeable from the start, which would work reasonably well with a touch of bright, fresh hop character, but instead we get that flat, grainy malt, a touch of sweet lemon on the back, and a dry empty finish that makes the palate feel like it's petering out to nothingness.
Pretty disappointing brew, to be honest. I've found the Coney Island branding to be genuinely substandard to the He'Brew branded beers, and this is no exception. Worst of all, while this could be a reasonable session brew, the 5.5% ABV puts it slightly out of that range. It's a shame.
Pours a red-tinged amber colour, clear body with great head - really dense and fluffy - of cream colour. Lace is nice, looks pretty damn good overall.
Smell is quite nutty, with sweet cereal grain giving way to peanut brittle, toffee and distinct fortified wine notes. Touch of fig and cumquat, just a bit of ethanoic booze at the back. Nice and complex malt-bomb of a nose.
Palate seems a bit lacking in the middle. Starts fairly malty with nutty edge; toffee and peanuts, then develops some quite dirty bitterness on a mid-palate which is otherwise uneventful. Touch of carraway and resinous hop notes on the back, with lemon rind, mild spice and woody notes. Not bad but the flavours don't entirely mesh.
Smooth enough, full enough. Yeah, mouthfeel enough.
The front malt belies the later emptiness. Could use that malt all the way through to carry the palate. Good beer though.
Pours a burnished amber colour, fair bit paler than I expected. Head is off-white, sunk to a film of small bubbles in a cradle of yellow-tinged lace. Not a bad-looking beer, but I'd like more colour and more head.
Smell is very malty. Lots of toffee, caramel and bubblegum, with a "banilla" hybrid coming through on the back. A bit oversweet and cloying, really, and could use an anchor in the world of adult aromas.
Taste is also malty. Starts sweet with caramel grain, develops more complex sugars midway, with toffee and vanilla before ending on a fairly brown sugar-esque note with remnants of that bubblegum character from the nose but more earthy, with the malts giving notes of the grains from whence they might otherwise have sprouted. Hint of resinous hop on the aftertaste suggests that it is hops that have cleaned up this palate. Yeah, bit of pull from the resinous oils towards the back. Far more impressive with palate, it's got technique.
Not as full as I would have liked, bit drying all the way through. Not bad for the style.
A beer that screams at the top of its lungs "Hello!" and then shuts up forever.
Pours a dark mahogany brown, with the only colour visible at the edge. Head is cream-coloured, dissipates to practically nothing with a thin rim of lace. Looks slightly stagnant, but otherwise nice.
Smells malty with a slight sour, yeasty edge. Touch of carbon and some sweet corn aromas, dull nutty edge at the back. Falls short of malt-bomb status but not much else there.
Taste is fairly dark, and predominantly malty. Starts with caramel grain and a slight licorice spice on the front. Develops roastier notes later which are nicely rounded with a touch of blueberry and raisins. Some pepper on the back which dries the palate as well as adding spice. Yeah, nicely rounded brown ale palate.
Nice body, bit too much tingle though.
A brown ale to sip and enjoy with two of your favourite cheerleaders.
77 / 100
Pours a very thick (I almost think the thickness of the beer is Shmaltz's trademark) deep brown, with flashes of wine-red coming through. Head is initially frothy and full, but dissipates to a very fine film. Lacing is sudsy, and not all that persistent. Body is as described: thick. Bubbles stay static for quite a while when tilted, before tiredly dragging themselves to the surface. Very decent look overall.
Nose is extremely sweet and deep. Sweet dates are dominant, with dollops of caramel and vanilla, with a slight hint of spice. Not as potent and robust as it could be, but all the characters are extremely rich. Yep... It's what I expected from the brew. Certainly something between a dubbel and a doppelbock.
Taste is similar, although lighter on the raw sweetness on the front. Front is dominated by a slight sultana bite, some acidity and a light phenolic note. Finish gets more of the rich dark fruit characters present on the nose. Certainly some date in the finish, and a slightly robust boozy bite. Nice.
Feel is chewy and rich; it matches nicely with all the sweet, dark characters on the palate.
Yeah, another nice beer from He'Brew. Plenty of sweetness and pleasant heaviness. And let's face it, that's what was advertised.
57 / 100
Pours a very light golden colour, with just a hint of orange to it. Head is initially fine and solid, but dissipates to a film, much like many other lagers. Lacing is reasonable. Body looks relatively heavy, but for a 7.2% ABV lager, I guess that's to be expected.
Nose is pleasantly hopped with the greener end of the hop spectrum. Decent vegetative sharpness, which seems to speak "lager" to me. Little fruit, but the ripe hops compensates for this. Sharp, but pleasant.
Taste is a little more phenolic, and the sharpness here is a little more harsh. Initial clear palate, before the green hops cut through the centre of the palate with a slightly metallic, slightly chemical bite. Booze is noticeable given the light body, and it feels particularly prevalent on the palate. Feel is light, but sharp, everything accentuates the cutting nature of the beer.
I get it... Maybe? Sword swallower? It's a cutting beer, worthy of its name, but that doesn't make it more drinkable. The lagery body doesn't give it anything to latch on to, and the hops dose up little more than a swathe of lacerations. Average at best.
85 / 100
Pours a nice golden amber colour, clear in body with a stunning head, nice and generous, medium bubbles with lace that would stop a lorry. I don't know what that means, but fuck it's good. This beer has a better body than Angelina Jolie in beer form. Nice, slow bead. Pretty goddamn nice indeed.
Nose is quite delicious. Hugely malty with massive fresh coconut notes all over that, lots of caramel and toffee and a slight dessert wine character as well. Very slight lime juice touch just adds a hint of acidity. Somehow this is at once toasty and sweet like a hearty, warm English pub, yet tropical like a sunkissed Belizean beach. Just staggeringly good.
Taste is quite strong and malty, but yeah very boozey on the mid. Lots of caramel on the front with a slight fruity edge, touch of citrus and maybe some plum as well. Coconut comes to the fore on the mid and dominates a slightly nutty flavour overall, with hints of roasted peanut and sesame as well. Finish has a real boozey strength to it though, gets even more heated at the back with a cognacy oomph! just bashing it down the throat. It's a nice warmth, but it really does have the ethanol-style strength, and would be nicer if the malt sweet stickiness continued for longer, or had more powerful hopping to counteract the effect. But an impressive and beautiful beer, I'd say it would be orgasmic with a bit more age on it.
Good body, the beer coats the mouth well with its texture, but doesn't go overboard with stickinesss. Warmth is great for Winter, which it still is.
Overly strong on the back - without the heat this would be more drinkable, but it is still a very nice, tasty sipping beer.
89 / 100
Purchased at Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, brought back to Sydney and cracked open with my bro @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a very thick and heavy deep reddish amber, with a yellowish white head of creamy foam. Good lacing, and the body looks incredibly heavy. Lovely static carbonation. Really quite wonderful. Head could be fuller, but otherwise, it's practically perfect.
Nose is lovely - big and rich hoppy notes, almost as though they've been compressed to a singularity and then smashed into a galaxy of flavour. But there are big sweet other notes, oak and coconut come through in abundance.
Taste is excellent as well. Big and sweet wood and coconut characters, with a huge welling of delicious fragrant hops that give a finishing bite to cleanse the palate. Slight spice on the back, with a slight alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is superb, slick and heavy without being too prickly. It's got such a weird bent on the heavy and aggressive DIPA style - masses of coconut and a really odd sweetness to balance everything.
Oh hell yes. This is what I love about American craft beer. There are such classic flavours all over this, but they are also twisted and battered into such original and unique forms. Superb.
75 / 100
Pours deliciously thick and heavy, a deep red and brown colour, with a filmy, but fine head of off-white bubbles. Some large bubbled, languid carbonation pushes its way through to the top, and the swirl looks supine, only glugging around like jelly. Yes, an impressive looking beer. Shame about the lack of head.
Quite sweet on the nose, with big notes of sweet malt and rich Belgian yeast characters. The dates no doubt account for some part of the sweetness as well, with a dried fruit character that probably actually comes from dried fruit. Some wispy tendrils of booziness are noticeable, but only just. Overall, it's like a heavy sticky dubbel (certainly, it seems more a dubbel to me than a doppelbock, which is the other "half-style" they mention); perhaps without the complexity of its better Belgian counterparts, but still very tasty.
Unfortunately, the first thing I notice on the palate is the extremely aggressive carbonation, which overwhelms what would otherwise be quite a smooth feel, rich from the heavy body. The flavours are good, big and sweet with dried fruit and demarcated with roasted characters. Possibly not as rich and full as the nose prepared me for, and the overdone carbonation doesn't help this either.
Something lightly bitter and astringent on the back which I can't quite place, although it reminds me of some dessert or pastry I had in the Middle East - most likely, it's some spice that I can't quite identify. Booze is almost unnoticeable, surprising considering there was a hint of it on the nose.
Overall, this is another tasty and extremely interesting beer from He'Brew. As much as I'd often like to dismiss their attempts as gimmicks, they always find a way to give me something original, and I really appreciate it. This is a good one, just a slight twist on a pretty solid dubbel.
56 / 100
Pours a cloudy, pinkish-orange colour, with a few pockets of large-bubbled carbonation. Really hard to induce a head, even with a pretty vigorous pour. Nice colour, but it looks insipid with no head. A shame.
Nice fruity hint on the nose - a bit thin, but pleasant. Unusually, it's more of an American hop aroma than the scent of pomegranate. Bit of peach and pineapple, not a huge nose, but nice. There's probably a little input from the pomegranate as well, but I genuinely think it's a hop aroma first.
Hmm. It's quite strongly hopped on the palate. More bitter than I was expecting. Starts off tasting like a standard APA, with a sharp piquancy, but then slides off into a lightly woody, herby sweetness, which, because I've never encountered anything quite like it before, I'll have to put down to the pomegranate. There's also an underlying alcohol character at the very end, which isn't unpleasant - in fact, it gives a kick to what is otherwise a reasonably bland beer.
Mouthfeel is thin to moderate, pretty standard for a lower gravity brew, I might have expected a little more from something they describe as "Imperial".
It's not bad. Very drinkable, but unfortunately, not very exciting. Still, I'd pick it up again, and it's definitely worth a try.
86 / 100
Served from a 22oz bomber. Love the label.
Pours an obscenely thick, syrupy deep golden-orange treacle colour. Fine bubbles struggle through the body to get to the yellowish head, amazingly fine with creamy bubbles. Lacing is extreme. This is one hell of an impressive looking beer.
I can smell it out of the bottle as I pour it. Really strong citrussy hop character, sour and sweet, with candied lemon peel and Curacao dominant. There's a dark almost peppery undertone to it as well, spicy and rich. Nice. Very nice indeed.
Wow, that must be the longest palate I've yet tried. It just creeps up, and up, and up, moving from an initial malty, syrupy sweetness, through a light effervescent fruity sourness before the hops kick in for the grand finale, a massive welling up of bittersweet freshness. Coupled with this is the second layer which interleaves the main characters - spice, cinnamon, pumpernickel, pepper - it's the dark undertone to the fresh, citrus/fruit characters which seem dominant.
Mouthfeel is sublime, smooth and slick - the alcohol adds a little heat as well.
This is a damn fine beer, with a massive array of flavours constructed together beautifully. The alcohol does start to assert itself after a while, which leaves this heady brew a sipper, but it's a damn good one. A thoroughly delicious beer.