Nitro-pour, strong milk stout brewed with *takes deep breath* almonds, fennel, Magaz Tari seeds, rose petal, pepper, cardamom, saffron, lactose and organic hemp oil. Brewed for GABS 2017 and tried there on tap.
Pours a coffee colour, clear body but nice cream-coloured head, a thick nitro crema-looking crown of foam. Looks awesome, just how a stout should look.
Smells like licorice. Spicy, with notes of star anise and clove, and a slight floral edge. Bit too Chinese medicine shop-esque and could use a bit more roast to balance and ground it.
Taste is similar. Vanilla sweetness upfront, with a big spice mix that builds towards the mid and back. Clove is strong, with some star anise and licorice sweetness that gets peppery and spicy on the back. Slightly off-putting and could definitely use a bit more sweetness, and roast, to balance out the spice.
Full body, nice and smooth but trails off a bit in the malt base which again allows that spice flavour to strangle the experience.
Yeah, it tastes like a spiced stout with the emphasis on spice. Little more than that. I think it's sometimes a crap shoot with Garage Project beers and this really isn't one of their most successful executions.
76 / 100
330ml can purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a decent deep brown colour that holds its depth when held to the light. This isn't one of those half-assed IBAs that tries to get to the very minimum colour possible. Head is fine but slightly fizzy, meaning it doesn't sustain all that well. Eventually, it ends up being a fairly minimal ring of ochre bubbling and a flat island of lace. Minimal lacing on the side of the glass too. Carbonation is moderate, slightly coarse and fast moving. Overall, it's an okay looking beer, but not a real standout.
Nose is very pleasant. It's bright and slightly floral, with notes of jasmine and honeysuckle. There's a slight pasty, grainy note underneath things, more like malt dust or flour than wholesome wholegrains. The hops are also much more rounded than they often are for an IPA—there's no sharp, biting citrus here. It's nice.
Taste is good. There's a firm bitterness, that works very pleasantly with an additional roasted character. It's not powerful, and it doesn't overwhelm the palate, but it's present, and makes the darkness of the IBA seem purposeful. The back is slightly nutty as the roast dips off, and the hop bitterness lingers enough to create a conclusion, without becoming nasty and biting towards the finish.
Feel is smooth but clean throughout, and it has a lightness in the finish.
Overall, this is a good IBA—it's not just an IPA in disguise. It has plenty to say for itself, and the roast plays an integral part to the beer. The hops could even be more strongly forthright in the flavour and aroma and they wouldn't completely overpower the darkness. That's a good sign.
76 / 100
A collaboration between GP and Frankie's in Sydney. This is a "cloudy Vermont-style IPA", taking in a current trend that is in no danger of disappearing.
Pours only very faintly hazed, far from murky or cloudy, with an orange-gold coloured body. Head is fine, persistent and pleasantly capped in off-white. Lacing forms in messy, complex swirls. Body has a bit of oomph to it, but always stays sleek and fluid. Looks good, apart from not looking as promised.
Nose is great: it trends towards herbal in its aromas, but it's undeniably full of hops. The aroma twinges towards something sharp: I get some rosemary, pithy orange curucao notes and a bit of lavender. Very nice.
Taste is clean and smooth. There's a pleasantly balanced bitterness, with a mild, long and neutral malt body providing weight and basis. Hop character lays down a little oil and bitter citrus towards the middle, which turns into a true biting, organic herbal bitterness in the finish. Feel is slick, leavened with a slight fuzz of fine carbonation through to the back.
Overall, this is a really good IPA. Is it significantly different from any other American style IPA? Maybe I'd believe it if I could see the cloudiness. It's a fine beer nonetheless.
650ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a mostly pale golden colour, quite clear, but slightly blushed from the pinot noir grapes. Head is off-white, and crackling with champagne-like bubbles, settling out to a mild gauzy ring around the edge of the glass. Carbonation is refined but boisterous. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite pleasant; very dry, with yeast overtones that evoke brut champagne. There's a cleanness to it though, crisp like crackers with only a mild overtone of the grapes, and they come in mostly as the beer warms. It's not overly complex, but it's quite pleasant.
Taste owes a lot more to the beer than the wine, with a firm, but fairly neutral bitterness through the centre, coupled with a more astringent character, likely from the fact that there's nowhere for 9% of booze to hide in such a light beer. If you think about it too long, you can start to equate some of this bitterness with grapeskin tannins, but honestly, if you got that far, like I did, you're probably drawing too long a bow. Carbonation is fine and light, but fairly persistent.
Overall, this is pretty decent. There was something more interesting to it before I'd tasted it—the promise of something tantalising—but in the end it ends up not being as interesting as it might have been. It's a decently made imperial pilsner—it hides its strength well given how little it has to work with. But the quirk of the grapes isn't quite drawn out enough to make it something extra special.
48 / 100
Bottle served blind one day by Chris, as part of a game where Jez and I had to guess the style, country of origin and brewer.
Pours a red colour, slightly brown. Not as vibrant as it could be. Head is yellow-tinged, whispy, small lacing trails. Not bad.
Smells slightly of toffee, with some mild tangy notes. Touch of lemon. Whiffy; slightly sulphurous, bit oxidised as well. Burnt; a bit off.
Taste is a bit sulphurous as well, has a slight potassium chlorate character. Touch of lemon zest midway, then finishes dry and spicy without depth or character. Just tastes odd; pungent but without a lot of beery depth.
Bit of texture, bit gluggy as it goes down though. OK.
Not sure what to make of it. Tastes OK but still tastes wrong. Just lacking nuance and balance around the edges.
For what it's worth, in the game I guess American Red Ale from Australia or New Zealand, and guessed Emerson's, Yeastie Boys or Mike's for the brewery.
60 / 100
According to the guide, this is a 'Persian Inspired Rose Pashmak Fairy Floss and Omani Ale'. So you know, make of that whatever you will. I've called it a spiced beer here simply because it's one of those throwaway categorisation styles that I don't care about. Tried on tap at GABS 2016.
Pours a deep amber colour, slight haze to it. Head is cream-coloured and very dense and pleasant, thick retention. Pinkish tinge to it; looks fascinating.
Smells medicinal, with a touch of spice. Toffee sweetness, with a large phenolic and aniseed character at the back. Maybe some clove, and maybe a touch of rosewater. Either way it's a bit full-on for me.
Taste is similar. Honeyed grain upfront, develops a rich burnt sugar character midway, then the back is all bitterness and pith, with medicinal phenolic notes being the aftermath of that sweet front-palate and notes of lemon and orange coming through in their most bitter forms. Funny candy note on the very back. Yeah, it's weird.
Full body, little bit flat and untextured. Nice hint of that alcohol gives it a cocktail kind of feel.
Quite an odd beer, but a curious one. Definitely falls into what might be termed Garage Project's "weird" basket, which is generally just as full as their "really great beer" basket.
76 / 100
440ml can purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasant deep orange colour, very hazy, with a fine off-white head that leaves mild streaks of lacing. Body has a bit of heft to it. Carbonation is pretty fine, but pretty minimal. Looks pretty good.
Nose is very pleasant. Sharp orange notes, turning a little vegetative and peppery. There's a bit of round malt around the outsides, giving a sweet barley-sugar note, especially when mingled with the sweet citrus. Quite pleasant indeed.
Taste is also good. There's a very pleasant candied orange note, that turns sharp and slightly bitter towards the back. This is tightly coupled with the malt though, giving it enough sweetness to provide balance throughout. Linger is bitter but bright, making it feel quite refreshing.
Feel is also good. It has a rounded weight to it, but the crispness on the back stops it from being cloying.
Overall, yeah, this is (yet) another very solid brew from Garage Project. There's good use of hops, plenty of interest, all wrapped up together into a beer that's extremely drinkable and approachable. I like it a lot.
74 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a ruddy brown colour, with solid haze running through it (or at least a very solid depth of colour), with a firm, if rather coarse-bubbled head of pale beige that leaves excellent lace. Body is fluid and lighter than you'd expect for the ABV, but just what a bock should be. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. Initial whiffs of smoke give way to a mild tinfoil note laced with a crisplt snapped celery note. As it warms, there are some sweeter notes of musty chocolate, wattleseed and fudge. It all has a lightness to it as well that stops it from being too cloying. Very pleasant, all up.
Taste is also pretty good. Here, there's an oddly perfumed character that rolls around the mid- to back-palate, lending a suggestion of something like rosehip or chamomile. This is still integrated with those mildly organic, green characters—again I get celery, and a bit of tin, plus some clear mild brown malt notes. The back is rather clean and light, but lacking a crispness that would make it really drinkable. There's lots to enjoy in it though.
Feel is light, which isn't unexpected for a lager, but here without some of the other characters you might want in a lager, it feels a little bit empty.
Overall, this is solid stuff. In fact, it's really very interesting, and has a lot to explore. But it's one of those rare occasions where Garage Project have put something unexpected together and it hasn't worked to its fullest degree. When I read the description on this beer I was fairly certain this could be my new favourite from these guys—as it is, it remains in middling excellence.
82 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale golden colour, with firm haze to it. Body is solid, and forms very fine, thin streaks of carbonation. Head is off-white, creating a very fine ring around the glass that leaves mild specks of lace.
Nose is very interesting. Tart. Toasty. Salty. Funky. There's some slightly biting, green vegetative hops in there with the fragrance of green papaya and some underripe passionfruit. It all mingles together in unfamiliar but appropriate ways. I like it.
Lovely mango characters on the front palate, with newer notes of coconut and biting grape. Slightly funky hop characters blend a bit of acidity with the sharpness of something like Nelson Sauvin. Dry, but smooth, nots of fermented peach. Dry finish is dusky and tart with a little astringency. Aftertaste is very nice. Complex, nuanced and balanced.
Feel is light, sharp and very decent.
Overall this is a really nice brew. Solidly made and impressively different. I guess that's Garage Project down to a tee.
Tried at GABS 2015 from the GP stand. Recommended by Jos for Jez's 2000th or something unique untappd checkin, after about half an hour of Jez fawning over Jos and trying to stroke his hair, &c.
Pours a darkish gold colour, touch of cloud with large sparsely-webbed head of off-white bubbles. Decent look.
Smells mostly of NZ hops. Some caramel malt sweetness comes through but predominantly passionfruit, pineapple and a touch of citric hop as well. Tangy and pleasant.
Taste is more malty than I expected. Quite sweet upfront with a grainy edge. Passionfruit tangy hops come through late-mid and then a fair grapefruity bitterness. Hops are kind of fun but the sweetness lingers a bit longer than it should so I wish the hops would cut out the party and do their job a bit better. Bit harsh on the AAs on the back but it's kind of an afterthought rather than a nice transition.
Texture is quite nice for the style; body is a bit bigger than expected and it works well.
Decent malt, good hop notes but not totally balanced.
69 / 100
Gold colour, fair cloud to it. Cream-coloured head, foamy with a decent crown retaining. Not bad.
Brett funk on the nose and loads of fruit. Barnyard blending with passionfruit, pineapple and mango. Grapefruit, green apple and orange as well and then some awesome funk on the back. Smells great.
Taste is fairly tropical. Coconut upfront that descends into tropical fruit late-mid - notes of orange and pear mostly with a touch of passionfruit. Quite short before funky finish, light barnyard but mostly phenolic with a fair whack of bitterness which I don't love. Not bad but disappointing after that aroma.
Body is a bit thin which allows alcohol to emerge. Still, holds together well.
I wanted more; there's lots of muddled notes here and it doesn't quite reach its full complex potential.
71 / 100
Pours IPA colour. Orangey shimmery amber, fairly brown overall. Head is foamy and dense with lovely speckles. Sinks a little quickly but looked sensational while it was there.
Smells piquant and a little spicy, maybe a touch of smoke as well. Peppery, some light fruit salad notes and a great malt base. Solid. Smells intriguing and pleasant.
Taste is tangy, citric with notes of green apple and confectionery; maybe sweet fruit juice and fruit salad. Develops astringent bitterness midway, loads of peppery character that gets really very bitter and spicy on the back, kind of a tobacco ash character. I like it a lot for the most part, but that back is a bit too high alpha and has no residual character to clean it up. Might be a good hop in pure bittering form with something else on the blend, but on its own it just leaves a very bitter taste. Too spicy.
Decent texture. Fluid, fair amount of body and fair liveliness from hops and carbonation. Nicely padded.
Am I rating the hop or the beer, really. I wouldn't rate this hop as a single hop use, but then I wouldn't rate citra or simcoe either, so go figure. The beer is nicely put together and well crafted to showcase the hop.
75 / 100
Can gifted to me by Jez for Christmas. Expectations extremely high.
Golden colour, fair sediment. Nice bubbly white head that sinks slowly. Medium sticky lace. Not bad.
Smells metallic and oddly vegetative. Touch of cinnamon and maybe some other earthy spice. Fair cereal grain character overall. Quite meh.
Taste is a farrrkin fireball. Whoa Jesus! It starts off innocuously enough, light malty grain notes followed by a slight lemony touch, then immolation occurs in the mouth. Hot, fiery burst of chilli heat that goes from middle to end. Wow, not for the faint hearted. But heat is all there is, doesn't make the mistake of adding vegetative chilli flavour, finish is quite fruity and tangy actually and an interesting contrast to that heat. Wow.
Kind of hard to judge the texture because that chilli heat is so overwhelming. Fairly flat, fluid, light bodied. Not bad.
So overall I'd say I prefer triple day of the dead to this but there's something just very special about this beer. It's surprisingly refreshing, or at least feels so. So even if you're in pain (I'm not, i love this sensation in beer) there's something pressing you to drink more. Yummo.
Bottle gifted by Jez for Christmas, shared with some folks on NYE.
Pale gold, clear. Lots of bead. White bubbles around the rim. No lace. Looks soft-drinky. But OK.
Smells fruity and tangy. Massive lychee aromas, melon, orange. Mostly lychee. Pleasant, but could use more gravitas.
Taste is tangy, lots of lychee and citrus upfront, a bit empty midway then finishes with some astringent tart notes. Some melon and grapefruit character on the back. Nice fruit notes, disappointingly sparse on the mid, could use more transition from start to finish. Nice flavours though.
Full, bit of texture. Slight warmth. Not bad.
Nice flavours, not a whole lot of coherence. Just some nice flavours thrown into a beer but not melded into an interesting whole.
Pours a dark brown, oaky colour up to the light, head is beige. Small bubbles, thin crown. Lace is sticky and looks great.
Smells chocolatey; toffee with caramel. Funny wet mash character with a touch of cereal grain. Hint of roast. Not bad.
Taste is malty, sweet. Lots of caramel character especially upfront and continuing a bit long onto mid-palate with brown sugar joining it. Roast comes through on the back, very necessary but retaining an odd sweetness, giving a touch of cherry medicine and some treacle as well. Could use some more bitterness maybe, roast is there but it gets a little suffocated by sweetness which just lingers longer than it needs to. Not bad but a bit middling.
Smooth upfront, then a touch of roughness towards the back. Mildly harsh.
Not bad, spicy portery notes. Feel like it could use more potency on the roast or just succumb to full sweetness, it just seems like a bland version of a nicely constructed beer.
74 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney, although I'd tried it earlier in the year at GABS in Melbourne. My concluding notes on the beer from the festival were: "I'm not sure how I'd go with a lot of this, but as a GABS beer, it's tops". Let's see how I go with a lot of this.
Pours a deep brown, with good clarity, leaving deep suggestions of red, or imperial maroon when held to the light. Head is wispy, only forming a clustered mass of large bubbles around the edge of the glass, rimmed with egg-white pale foam. Lacing forms in minimal streak. Body has some weight to it. Looks okay, but no more.
Nose is definitely odd. At first glance, it's smoky without much else, but subsequent sniffs give definite hints towards the umami of its name. Slightly salty twangs, certainly some bonito, savoury Japanese characters like miso soup, and a definite lingering suggestion of fish. Um. It's probably making its mark, and living up to its name, but it's certainly not a beer that makes me jump headfirst into it.
Fortunately, umami is a flavour best savoured on the palate—and here there's certainly a moreish quality to it that makes the beer rather delectable. Savoury but brusque on the entry, it gives smoky characters mingled with a slight clean bitterness (to remind you that this is beer, after all). Then Bam! it's like someone threw a bento box at you. More seaweeed notes, savoury, but slightly meaty, with an aftertaste that lingers with the flavours of peppered beef-tendon soup. Finish is quite clean, but with a dinstinct suggestion of acid—but then, maybe that's just the bile rising to my throat.
The mouthfeel is very strange. The umami character makes it feel thin, but all the meaty savouryness makes my mouth water and suggests a richness that isn't quite there.
Overall, yep, I'll have another. This is utterly unique, not just as a GABS beer, but as a beer I feel everyone should try. No, you can't ignore that savoury, unexpected character, but it makes for a confusingly interesting beer.
80 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars, poured into a pint glass.
Pleasant black-brown body, silky and thick, with a fine and fairly solid head of creamy pale beige, that leaves excellent streaky, vertical lacing. Body is fairly fluid, but has a littler weight, as is evidenced by the fine straggling carbonation that forms when it's tilted. Looks pretty good.
Nose is genuinely pretty subdued, but this is no bad thing. There's a subtle charm to it—a very mild sweet-toasty character that helps it feel comforting at least. There's also a pleasant peppery character coming through, along with some very subtle wine-like notes. It's pretty pleasant.
Taste is also subdued, but really well-constructed. Pleasant deep semi-savoury dark malts, with a smoothness that never genuinely suggests sweetness. Indeed, I'm impressed that this manages to be 7% without being overly sweet, and yet there's still enough body to keep it cushioned against the dark bitterness. It's a really well-balanced beer. Feel helps here as well—smooth but slick, and with a lightness that genuinely helps its drinkability.
Overall, excellent stuff. Garage Project do so well not only because they try interesting and novel things, but because they pull them off with consummate skill. I genuinely think they have an uncanny knack for creating balance and subtlety in even their weirder brews. And in a beer like this which is much more conservative in flavour, that balance and subtlety becomes its true signature.
79 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Barny's in Alexandria. Shared with Sam on Xmas Eve.
Pours a deep brown that shows good clarity when held to the light, surprisingly. Head forms a good solid persistence of beige that sticks around as a firm film that leaves wedges of lace. Body is fluid, but fairly heavy, leaving nice trails of powdery carbonation when tilted. Looks really good.
Nose is boozy but rich and sweet. Lots of stewed fruits or fruitcake, with a touch of carob and brandy. There's a slight solvent note as well, perhaps the booze coming through a little bit too strongly, but it does give a slight suggestion of black marker. As it warms, so too comes through some warmer notes of chocolate and cocoa. It's very pleasant.
Taste is actually really good. There's a lightness I didn't expect, but it gives a beautiful subtlety to the palate. Dusty chocolate and mildly warming booze, again it tastes more like brandy than bourbon to me. There's even a pleasant cherry character coming through the back. The lightness is really lovely. As it warms and blends together a bit it really makes a pleasant melange.
Overall, it's a really nice drop. The barrel aging isn't quite as prominent as I've seen in others of its ilk, but there's a consistency and complexity that makes it feel like it's just ingratiated itself nicely in with the other characters. I liked it a great deal.
62 / 100
440ml can purchased from the brewery in Wellington.
Pours a deep amber colour, certainly richer, darker and thicker than the Hop Trial #1. Head is more fine and thick as well, forming a firm cap of off-white that leaves nice stalactite streaks down the glass. Body has some weight to it, forming lots of fine pillars of carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is most certainly not as good as #1. Here, there's a pellety dankness that gives a very earthy, vegetative quality, but little in the way of true aromatics or brightness. It's not unpleasant on the whole, but it's a bit more like cabbage than the fragrant brilliance we got from the first batch. This is most certainly a very different hop variety.
Taste is also really rather strange. Here, there's a pronounced sweetness from the malt on the front, giving an almost milky or custardy character for the hops to work against. They to leaven it somewhat, however, giving an organic, herbal or spicy character that cuts against the sweetness to give a character like gingerbread. The finish is fairly dark, with little aromatics, but a fairly strong build up of resinous bitterness on the back. Feel is thick and a little flat. Not bad overall though.
It's certainly not a bad beer. But neither is this beer, nor the hop that created it, the equal of #1. This may be useful in creating that rather dark bitterness that comes through on the back, but as an aromatic or flavoursome hop variety this most certainly gets my thumbs down.
57 / 100
330ml can purchased from the brewery on a recent trip to Wellington.
Pours an unassuming, faintly hazed pale golden hue, with a thin, slightly fizzy and insubstantial head of white. This settles out to a mild ring and some pocked film. Carbonation is fine at least, but even a little thin—overall, it looks like a innocuous beer, if not an outright disappointing one.
Nose changes this, however. Here, there's an enormous floral aroma of rosewater, almost sickly and over the top. Under it is the maize, and there's certainly a corn-like cereal husk aroma to the underlying sweetness of the beer. You have to appreciate the power at least: it's an impressive aroma.
Taste makes yet again another perverted change in direction. Here, the habaneros kick in, with a powerful burn on the back that becomes your entire world for the duration of the sip. That's not quite true: beforehand, the rosewater dips long enough to let the watermelon flavours come through, and they're not an unpleasant addition. It's a sweetness that seems to blossom into a thousand pointed spears—the heat is really very fiery, and almost unmanageable. The flavours are all right—that burn is perverse.
This is a difficult beer to drink, by pretty much any measure. By the measure of most chilli beers, though, I like that it structures the other flavours to complement the heat—the rosewater and the watermelon are a very nice match. But the habanero in particular is too much; it's a heat that starts to hurt after only a few sips, and builds in such a way to make drinking it something of a trial. Perhaps it just needs the right food match—I'm thinking plain yoghurt and a couple of ice cubes for my blistered tongue.
80 / 100
440ml can purchased and consumed at Hashigo Zake in Wellington.
Pours a nice pale straw colour, cloudy, but firm in the body. Head is slightly frothy, forming a somewhat loose cap of white. Body is fairly light and fluid, but the carbonation forms fine streams. Looks pretty good.
Nose is lovely. Big, aromatic and definitely Kiwi in character. I think it's quite similar to Nelson Sauvin: with that astringency people refer to as catpee, but which I think is bright and sharp and green. It does, however, have an almost ammonia note, which gives it a lift and vector of intensity. Milder notes of musk sticks and celery come through as well. As far as I'm concerned, it's a winner in terms of aroma.
Taste is very similar. There's a wonderful crispness to the beer, suggesting a pilsner-style lightness to the body, backed by a pronounced bitterness from the hops. There is a slight funky astringency, and an organic vegetative quality to the hop flavour, mingles with some grapefruit and citrus notes. Body is beautifully balanced to allow the hops to come through. If nothing else, it's beautifully made in a way that allows you to understand the hops.
Feel is smooth, but certainly with a bit of weight to it, despite the lightness of the flavour on the back.
Overall, this is a really genuinely good beer in its own right, quite apart from being a truly excellent showcase for a new hop variety. As far as the hop goes, I find it a very nice mingling of the dankness of Nelson Sauvin, with the direct crispness of Riwaka. I love that it's so unapologetically New Zealand.
Beautifully branded black and white 330ml can, purchased from the brewery in Wellington. Poured into a stemmed wine glass, because such a finely packaged beer deserves a fine serving vessel.
Pours a brilliantly clear golden colour, with a fine, frothy head of white that leaves good streaks of lace. Carbonation is fast, but surprisingly subdued, only forming in a few vacant streams. Body is really very light, not unexpectedly. Overall, it delivers what it promises.
Nose is really quite pleasant. Bright, herbal hops above a crisp, grainy basis, with nice clean cereal overtones. It's unassuming and unpretentious, but with a great deal of aroma. It's like you've distilled out all of the nicest parts of a generic Euro lager.
Taste is similar, but perhaps a bit more trending towards the truly generic. Clean entry, laced with a mild grainy sweetness, that develops into a flat plateau, only marginally lifted by some thin hop characters. Lingering sweetness smoothes over some of the more unsavoury grain notes you might have gotten otherwise. It's still quite nice, but is the sort of beer that would be best ice-cold straight from the can.
Feel is smooth and clean.
Overall, it's a drinkable drop—flavour-wise it certainly derives from the type of beer it's emulating (or satirising, depending on where you're coming from). But there's a cleanness to it, and a lack of anything untoward that marks it as quality. People say the mark of a truly good brewer is the ability to brew a clean, bland lager without anything to hide behind—and Garage Project have certainly achieved that with Beer.
79 / 100
Bottle muled over by Pete from Garage Project, tried at Garage Project Alestars. At first I was one of the first in line for a sample and got just a thin ration, later Guy drunkenly topped me up. It's an 'imperial' doppelbock/strong schwarzbier aged in tequila barrels.
Pours a dark brown colour, thin rim of beige lace but pour doesn't allow for vigorous head promotion. Decent lace but doesn't stick around.
Smells intense. Masses of earthy chilli with intense umami aroma, lots of pepper and earth with the chilli. Touch of chocolate. Mostly chilli. Not a bad thing; I like chilli. I also like saying 'chilli'.
Taste is more chocolatey upfront, big cocoa flavour with a rich chocolate; develops big earthy capsicaian character midway, then sweetness takes over on the back, touch of agave and more chocolate lingering on the finish. Gorgeous; touch of chilli heat, plenty of sweetness, some roasty bitterness. Great drop.
Touch of heat, but mostly malty and well padded.
Interesting, confronting drop that is also richly rewarding.
74 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a lovely clear amber hue, probably a shade or two off red, but pretty close. Head is a fine, thin sheen of off-white that stays as islands of larger bubbles around the edge of the glass. Lacing is superb when it gets down to it. Body has a nice weight to it, and holds some beautifully fine carbonation as it goes. Looks very nice overall.
Nose is a little dull, but that may be nothing more than the fact that it's about a year old. There's a dusky, almost dirty hint of the Nelson Sauvin the mention on the label, giving a bit of that slightly musky odour that's usually masked by the deliciousness. Under this is a more robust earthy quality—husky malt and an almost savoury note. It's solid enough.
Taste is also very good. The malt character here is extremely solid and well constructed. Giving a slickness, and a sweetness, while maintaining the sort of structure that it needs. Hints of toffee and burnt caramel come through, along with a fine bitterness from the hops—the hop character is still very muted, but it does just enough to provide a bit of balance. Feel is superb, slick and clean, with a good weight, but a fine, lively carbonation.
Overall, it's another very solid beer from NZ's craft brewing rockstars. The caramel/toffee character, and perhaps some of the malt complexity could probably be directly attributable to the rocks in the boil, which makes even the conception worthwhile. I do believe at the very least, it's the best steinbier I've yet sampled.
Pours a very pleasant orange-red-amber colour, very clear and quite bright. Head is a nice fine lace of off-white that forms a bibbly ridge at the edges of the glass. Lacing is excellent. Carbonation is beautifully fine and forms in long streaks when tilted. Looks very good.
Nose, initially, has a rather pronounced sulphur fart character, that dissipates over time. Instead, it leaves a pleasant enough mid-malt character, slightly savoury with a hint of something sweet-spicy in the fringes. Seems nice enough.
Taste is also quite pleasant. Very nice mid-malts all the way through giving a subtle structure atop a mild but persistent organic hop bitterness. It's quite clean throughout, and feels well-made and very well-balanced. Slightly flat towards the back, and the carbonation is almost absent here, but overall, it's pretty nice.
Feel is smooth but light, and really lacking carbonation. I think a little more could really help it.
Overall, a pretty drinkable brew, with some nice structure to it. It's certainly not overwhelming with flavour, but it's pleasant enough and has some nice characters to it.
86 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. A Sauvin-hopped 8.5% pilsner fermented with sauvignon blanc juice.
Colour is a lovely clear pale golden. Head forms a filmy crest of white, but it stays pretty persistently, fed by some fine streams of carbonation. The body is actually pretty light and fine, which is just right for a pilsner, imperial or otherwise. Looks just like it should.
Nose is wonderfully crisp and bright, with Nelson Sauvin providing that clear, biting vegetative quality it does so well. With the familiar aroma of sauvignon blanc as well it just amps this up to a crispness that's quite extraordinary. There's a bit of structure underneath, but this is all about that clear, potent grape-like aroma, and it manages to bring that out to its full potential. Great stuff.
Taste is also exceptionally good and very, very clean. Indeed, for the most part it drinks just like a clean, light regular-strength pilsner. Towards the back, the vinous characters come out a little more, giving a slightly tart finish that wavers alongside the hoppy bitterness of the aftertaste. There is a hint of booze evaporating on the back as well, but mostly, the structure is so light and delicate that you can't really feel all of the craziness that went into it. It's very good stuff.
Feel is very light and crisp, with a tingle of fine carbonation and the sensation of acidity you get with a young sauvignon blanc.
Supremely drinkable (especially given its weight), and very, very well-made. I loved this beer to bits. Really quite superb stuff from Garage Project.
74 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a clear but deep coppery colour, with a fine head of off-white that dissolves into large pancake bubbles fairly quickly. Lacing is tight and intricate, which is good to see. Body is a little bit light, and the carbonation is coarser than I expected. Not bad though.
Nose is a nice blend of slightly nutty malt characters and indeed something of a stonefruit hop aroma. If not angry peaches, then perhaps some slightly miffed apricots. There's something a little grassy as well, which isn't unpleasant, but again detracts a little from the peach aroma that was clearly the goal. Still, it's quite pleasant all up.
Taste is very nice. Clean and pleasant through, nicely balanced between that nutty malt structure, a slight uptilt of booze and a clean bitterness that works with some of the fruity flavours. Back is clean, but with a crisp linger of hop acids to give it a sting in the tail. Yeah, I like it a lot.
Feel is fairly smooth and clear, without getting too heavy or rich. It works well.
Overall, a very nice brew from Garage Project. Were it not sold on the premise of aggressive, absurd stone fruit, it would just be a very fine beer in its own right. When you're looking for peaches though, you may end up a tad disappointed—better to just appreciate this beer on its own merits, of which is has many.
60 / 100
Tall 650ml brown bomber purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. This is an amber ale "inspired by the humble ANZAC biscuit".
Pours, indeed, a solid amber hue, quite deep but with some good clarity to it. Head forms a coars crest of off-white initially, but fizzes out to a finer ring soon after. Body has a little bit of weight to it and it holds some static carbonation when tilted.Lacing forms in weak streaks. Looks pretty good all up though.
Nose is a tad disappointing, to be honest. There's a weak sweetness, but no big hop character like I was hoping. Instead the ANZAC biscuit character seems to be at the expense of the classic malt or hops, leaving a slightly insipid dryness that could be coconut and rolled oats, but more rightly seems like nothing. I was looking for a note on its date of production on the bottle, but couldn't see anything—possibly this has just dried out with age. It's not bad, but it's not really much of anything.
Taste is certainly a lot better. Here, at least, there's a solid structure of malt, and a tantalising suggestion of golden syrup towards the back that does rightfully evoke the "humble" biscuit. This takes its toll a little though, as the back is rather dry, and slightly more boozy than you'd expect. Some suggestion of coconut comes through in the finish—as a rather ephemeral and slightly frothy afternote, it must be said. It doesn't ever really feel unbalanced, but it certainly doesn't wow with flavour the way many other Garage Project beers have done.
But still, it's fairly drinkable, and it certainly has that skein of innovation which makes Garage Project's beers attractive as a group. Happy to have tried it, but I'll probably stick to some of their other beers by preference.
48 / 100
650ml brown bomber purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. This is a collaboration between Garage Project and Nøgne Ø, brewed with rye and Pohutakawa honey.
Pours a deep, rather dark golden colour, with a thin, fine, but ultimately collapsing head of white that survives just as a slick ring around the outside of the glass. Some fine patterned lacing forms, however. Body is weighty, and the carbonation is very fine. Looks decent.
Nose is incredibly heavy and sweet: the honey is still extremely pronounced and it doesn't seem as though the sugars have really fully fermented out. There's a slightly herbal overtone to it, but with the sweetness this gives it a suggestion of the aroma of Sprite. And then with everything else, it has a savoury tone to it like tomato ketchup. "Interesting" is generous—but it is that at least.
Taste is quite similar. At least the sweetness is a little less pronounced here than it might be otherwise. There's still a rather persistent ketchup flavour on the middle and the back, but it's a bit lighter overall. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel balanced even here, with nothing coming up to meet the challenge of those honey notes. Feel is thick and slick, which probably doesn't help the perception of all of this.
To be honest, I had a hard time drinking my glass of this. This feels really quite unbalanced and certainly not very drinkable. I'll admit I'm very much not a fan of honey beers, but I thought if anyone could turn my head it would be these guys—from two such fine breweries, this is bitterly disappointing.
87 / 100
A barrel-aged robust porter, with all manner of delicious things added to it. I tried this at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst, during their Brewers & Chewers evening during Sydney Craft Beer Week, while having a yak with Joss from the brewery.
Pours a dark brandied red colour, quite clear and bright in the glass, but with depth to it. Solid body, with a fluidity but also a sense of stickiness. Head is white and fairly minimal, leaving no lacing and showing no carbonation. Still, looks pretty good overall.
Nose is phenomenal. Just like a Cherry Ripe: sweet, luscious and rich with chocolate, coconut from the oak, cherry aromas, and with a chewy togetherness that makes it feel wholesome and good. Slight hint of acid from the fruit comes through as well, creating a pointy spark to hang everything else off. It's gorgeous stuff.
Taste has a surprisingly clean and light start, with fresh cherry juice creating a light sweet-tart entry. Coconut, chocolate and a sweet hibiscus/karkadeh flavour permeate quickly though, creating a rich, gooey body. The chocolate lingers for a little longer than most, while a hint of chewy apricot finishes up, allowing for a brighter finish than might otherwise have come about. The aftertaste lingers gorgeously as all of the expressive complexities dance one last encore.
Feel is slightly light. It works because of the fruit characters: although if a bit thicker, it would be a rather interestingly different beer.
Overall, though, this is absolutely cracking stuff. Extremely tasty and complex, with such poise and balance between the disparate elements. It's a phenomenal beer.
73 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour, slight haze. Head is cream-coloured, decently dense and foamy and sticking around OK. Looks alright.
Smell is lovely. Malty sweet with a touch of pearl barley and a big luscious fruit character from the hops. Apple/pear, lemon/lime and passionfruit combine with juicy pineapple. NZ hops just tickle me when used this well.
Taste is also very tangy. Touch of malty sweetness upfront before hosp take over. Grapefruit, lemon, passion and pineapple throughout palate before the cheekiest hint of piquant chilli on the back. No chilli flavour, just an unexpected heat that could really take you by surprise if you weren't told it was there. So tangy otherwise; tangy and good.
Decent body, slight tingle from the carbonation is a little too much. OK.
Such a tangy beer, could go down an absolute treat on a hot day.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne, and then again somewhere else afterwards. This is a self-styled "Indochine Pale Ale", infused with Vietnamese mint, mango and chilli.
Pours a slightly hazed orange golden colour, with a relatively light body and a head of futzy, bubbly foam turning just pale yellow. Lace forms in decent sheets and the carbonation is bubbly and effervescent—it looks nice when tilted.
Nose is bright with capsaicin chilli aromas balanced with pleasant citric hops giving fresh rubbed orange aromas. There's a slightly herbal tone to it as well, although I'd not go so far as to level this directly at the mint. It's very pleasant all up, though.
Light fruity entry on the palate, tropical tones with an undertone of pepper. This expresses itself a little more as the beer goes on giving a hint of chilli mingling with the sweet stewed fruit character. Some heat does form on the back, but mostly the bite is from the hops, providing a clean bitterness to clear the palate. Aftertaste provides reminiscences of jalapeño.
Feel is very light, but nice-it matches with the characters on the palate well.
This is a case of very disparate elements coming together to make a really lovely package. This was a standout at GABS for me—it's a beautiful example of how experimentation can achieve something great beyond pure novelty.
81 / 100
Pours a dark-brown cola colour. Head is beige and foamy but ultimately unimpressive. Looks like a flat lager with nice colour.
Nose is better: malty-sweet, roasty and slightly dry with coffee, chocolate, nice hint of green coffee beans; nice and roasty and well-handled aroma.
Malty character upfront, more coffee and chocolate. Nice roasty and dry spice notes around the mid. Nice build-up from the malt and nicely clean finish. Really good dark lager.
Noticeably sharp alcohol on the mouthfeel which is quite on the hot side. Decent body, but does get quite warm going down.
I didn't know there was chilli on this; good job with it really since it wasn't overtly noticeable. Bit of heat but no big chilli flavour; allowed the darker elements to speak for themselves. Really impressed with this.
69 / 100
On-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. Classified at the festival as a "Strong Black Lager", brewed with cocoa nibs and chipotle chilli, "inspired by the Aztec beverage xocolatl". "Xocolatl" isn't an option, so I've classified it as a Chilli Beer.
Pours a mid cola-brown colour, with reasonable clarity. Body is very light, especially for 8% abv. Almost no discernible head: maybe just a ring of off-white that leaves no lace. Not all that appealing, to be honest.
Aroma is based around the dark characters: roasty grains and coffee come through strongly, along with something a little plasticky or rubbery. It's not bad, but it doesn't really give a hint at the ingredients that went into its creation.
Roast comes through again on the front palate, but the beer gains more complexity after this. Coffee lends a fruitiness to the mid-palate, and there's some hint of the chilli giving a fragrant peppery bite later on. Finish is bitter, devolving into those sharp dark black characters again, with quite an ashy aftertaste.
Feel is indeed far too light: far lighter than the characters need, and far lighter than I expected.
Overall, this is a decent brew: the fruity elements of the coffee and chilli are used judiciously and wisely so as not to overpower. But it's just missing out in some other areas which means the complexities of the flavours don't really get to show themselves.