58 / 100
Beer Advent Calendar number 14. Reviewed blind - hence my guesswork and general "I don't know this is a 3.5% beer" vibes.
Pours a pale golden colour, very cloudy with actual sediment in the body at times. Head is lovely when poured, tight bubbles but symmetrical – not ideal, but still nice looking. Lacing is pretty nice as it sinks. Actually looks pretty good.
Smells hoppy, mostly, but there’s something else there too. Nice tropical fruit aroma with a big metallic whiff behind it. Slightly citric but also resinous, and a very mild touch of corporeality as well. Smells pretty decent but maybe a touch incoherent.
Taste is hmmm, weird. Leans far more heavily on that corporeality. It’s fairly tangy upfront, discernibly hoppy, then midway develops an odd savoury, even slightly salty character that then develops into more of that metallic character towards the back but it fades away as well and dwindles in potency, leaving a slight cloying yeast character that is otherwise fairly clean, just a faint whisper of graininess. IS this a lager? Sure tastes like one, and possibly smells like one as well. If not it’s still fairly clean.
Mouthfeel is a little dry, quite thin-bodied. As such there isn’t much oomph to last through the mouth and it just feels empty and then dry, like it’s actually taking something out of you rather than putting something in. Not great.
Drinks cleanly, and not unpleasantly. I feel like there are nice flavours in here that aren’t emphasised enough, and others that it leans too heavily on, even though it’s all cleaned up quite nicely in the end. Nothing exciting here though.
70 / 100
Gingerbread imperial stout brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours a dark coffee colour, fills out with colour right to the edge. Tan head, foamy and thick. Looks great. Thick, substantial stout.
Smells spicy. Chocolate malt underlying, with notes of coffee and distinct ginger as well. Touch of molasses. Could use more dominant ginger though, as well as sweetness. Smells like a nice stout with some subtle adjuncts and the adjuncts were expected to dominate.
Palate has big ginger on there but it kind of swings back the wrong way. There's a vanilla sweetness upfront with a touch of dark fruit, then a touch of coffee midway but the mid and late-palate are all a monotonous crystallised ginger flavour, that gets quite spicy. It lacks sweetness, the molasses flavour from the proposed gingerbread. If you're a fan of ginger (as I am), you'll like this beer, but it doesn't have that dark, gooey sweetness that gingerbread uses to win even ginger-skeptics over.
Full body, noticeable alcohol but it's warming rather than unpleasant.
This beer was so bloody close to being amazing. But it ends up just being a big gingery stout rather than a gingerbread masterpiece.
It did grow on me though, was longlisted and ended up my number 11 beer of the festival.
69 / 100
Bottle shared with me by Chris on NYE 15/16.
Shiny gold with some carbonation in there. Head is off-white, foamy, with decent lacing trailing behind on the glass. Decent retention. Looks alright.
Smells somewhat malty, with some lemony and resinous hops as well. Bit metallic. Pretty decent. Good clean IPA aroma.
Taste is lemony, slightly musky and lychee and rosey. Floral; pleasant. Finishes somewhat resinous and spicy. Slightly malty, grainy. Barley, maybe a touch of kilning flavour. Bitter, not too much. My kind of IPA but doesn't have a huge amount of the hop flavour I like. Still pretty nice.
Foamy, with a bit of body. Touch of hop texture on the back.
Tasty IPA; but in the end fairly by the numbers, or perhaps 'obvious'. Has to be judged as such. And it's pretty decent.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne, where this took out the People's Choice award for the festival.
Pours a flat cold-drip brown looking gooey and flat in the glass, with almost no visible carbonation. Head is off-white and thins out quickly, not leaving me overly confident. It's not a great-looking beer.
Nose is toasty, with a big coffee hit. Some fragrance comes through though, giving it a pleasant hint of berries along with the Nothing But Coffee character. There's a hint of something sweeter though as well, giving a mild essence of chocolate. It's nice for what it is.
Taste is coffee. Did I mention coffee? Some fragrance comes through as well, and the mid-palate is smooth and sweet. Nice bite from the coffee gives it a suggestion of bitterness, while the sweetness keeps it smooth and lingers right through to a long finish. Almost tastes creamy by the end with just a touch of the roast finishing it off—lending the oft-smooth a touch of sharpness.
Overall, it's a really nice drop, and it's not hard to see why this ended up as the people's choice winner. It does what it says, and has a sweetness that is very approachable.
Pours a fairly pale brown colour, beige head of large bubbles, retaining OK. A bit pale; have seen better.
Smells of coffeeeeeeeeeeee. Pleasant. Some chocolate and sweet spice notes (mostly cinnamon) dancing around the edges. Nice.
Taste is sweet, mostly coffee. Bit of non-descript spice around the edge with some distinct caramel sweetness and a light roasty bitterness on the back. Coffee was stronger on the nose; tastes a little insipid here, smothered by lactose sweetness.
Decent body with a touch of warming alcohol. Smooth and pleasant.
Pretty decent, but have had more complex and interesting beers from Hendo. It's not too sweet but it seems to be 'sweet and not much else'.
I've really started to dislike this beer in my mind since it took out People's Choice winner. I didn't think it was anything special and the win really came out of nowhere. I should retry at some point but I was confidently sober when I reviewed this and stand by my initial underwhelmed opinion.
78 / 100
On tap at the Union Hotel.
Pours a dark burnished orange colour, fairly cloudy with bubbly off-white head, small but retaining a crowd of bubbles and decent lacing. Looks adroitly English.
Smells somewhat un-English. Fruity, with big musk sticks note, pineapple and lemon. Fresh and pleasant though, not overly aggressive, just hop forward and refreshing.
Taste is very very biscuity, with massive Maris Otter presence. Touch of rye as well maybe? Grainy, with nice caramel vanilla crumb character, before the hop bitterness comes through. Citric, fairly resinous but again not aggressive. Just bitter. Fairly sizeable alpha but not puckering, just a good cleaning herbal and resinous finish. Slightly woody right at the back. Pleasant.
Full, dries out gradually towards the back from hops. Marvelous.
Tastes like I'm sitting on the banks of the Trent. Marvelously clean, flavoursome and malt-balanced.
73 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse.
Very dark brown, just colour at the edge. Head is beige, almost crema coloured. Fluffy with big bubbles at the top, sinking slowly. Nice lace.
Smells like fresh mint. Some faint traces of chocolate malt behind, maybe a mild touch of citrus, possibly lemongrass, but predominantly a herbal mint character. Pleasant but not what I expected.
Taste is more traditional IBA, not that it's a traditional style. Chocolate throughout, a somewhat bitter character midway before hops soften the roast, giving resinous and citric character and a touch of that herbal note as well. Finishes clean, pleasant, with mild chocolate biscuit character blended with a citric hang. Pretty nicely constructed IBA.
A little light, especially towards the back. Touch of carbonation, with some padding from the body. Not bad.
Quite a decent IBA. Surprisingly smooth, with a bit of an over-bitter hang but otherwise pleasant drinking.
83 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a very deep reddish amber colour, almost brown in the darker portions, forming a lovely fine crest of pale beige that persists as a fein ring and some oily film. Body is full but liquid, moving around swiftly in the glass but holding its carbonation rather heavily. Looks pretty good.
Nose is very solid. Firm, earthy English hops supported by some fine grainy malt that gives a little richness and body to it. There's a faint twang of sweet lemon, but mostly it's the more herbaceous characters, perhaps a little blackberry bramble and dark tea instead. I like it a lot.
Taste is even better. In fact, here is perhaps where Hendo so well shows his understanding of hops. This is a very different sort of proposition to his usual fare: the citric, bright quality of the West Coast US varieties. Here we're working with the duskier, more herbal qualities of the English hops, and there's a wonderful malt structure underneath to really support it. There's a complexity to the body—layers of sweetness and more savoury grain toastiness—which really helps to both balance and showcase the qualities of the hops.
And they are present—not the blistering alpha-acidity of an American IPA, but a more subdued quality that allows some of the dark fruit characters to shine. There's some wonderful undertones of redcurrant, raspberry leaf and crushed earthy mint—these are the characters that English hops can do so well, and it really takes some forethought to bring these out.
Feel is also pretty smooth. I would genuinely love to see this on cask some time—I think the added richness and finer carbonation would make this a superb proposition.
Overall—this is remarkable stuff. I think more than anything this beer cements Brew Cult as a master of hops. With this beer they show that they can do the other varieties just as well as the big, oily, C-hop varieties they favour. This beer shows a deep understanding of just what makes a hop variety work. This is really excellent stuff.
Metallic gold; head is a bit boisterous. White foam, pleasant and retaining but a bit too much. Nice.
Smells piney fresh, yeah pine lime notes with a touch of pink pepper and maybe some turmeric leaf. Tangy; could use a bit more malt base.
Taste is a bit more malty, nutty really with a touch of chestnut and lots of biscuity crumb notes. Hops are not overly boisterous, piney and lots of citrus. Slight bitter tang, fresh and pleasant, not a lot of edge to the finish. Pleasant though.
Body feels a bit thin but there's plenty of texture. Not bad at all.
Nice IPA but not a great one, has a meekness and a gentleness to it. Not a bad thing but not an amazing IPA.
A 3.5% sessionable "reset" beer seems like an odd choice for Hendo, who's usually pushing the boundaries. I guess doing the unexpected is just what I should expect from him. Tried on-tap at the Quarryman's Hotel in Pyrmont.
Pours a very hazy yellow colour, with a fair bit of weight to the body despite the ABV. Carbonation stands when the glass is tilted, and stays rather fine. Head is filmy, forming a faint streak across the top, and down the glass. It looks pretty decent: I particularly like the added weight to the body.
Nose is very strange, and I'm not sure I like it. Serious meaty ragu character with some dried orange peel left in the sun and some slight clove or phenolic characters as well. Hint of plasticky yeast doesn't help either. I feel as though something's wrong here.
Taste is pretty similar. Initial phenolics through the front, savoury orange bite with a metallic, meaty overtone. Vegetative characters come through on the mid, before a pretty yeasty back palate: floury and dank. Aftertaste is slightly coppery. I'm not sure what's happening here, but it's certainly not to my tastes. Feel is relatively full given its weight.
No, not much of a fan of that. Not quite sure what's going on here. It's actually relatively unpleasant, and for a pale, drinking-range beer, it really doesn't make me want to put it in my mouth.
71 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne by Sarah and given to me by Sarah.
Pours a very heavily hazed orange-golden colour, with a bubbly but quite persistent head of white that leaves some patches of fairly tight lace. Carbonation is hard to find in the haze, but looks fairly fine. Body is fluid, but a little bit heavier than expected.
Nose is rather good—Simcoe-heavy, but certainly hoppy and fresh. Surprisingly, as it warms a little more of the sharper, grape-like Nelson Sauvin comes through, adding a nice piquancy to the aroma. The basis is pretty solid too: some nutty malt to give it depth, but otherwise fairly broad and neutral, with just enough weight to support it. Pretty nice.
Taste is noticeably weaker, but given its goal that's probably not surprising. Light entry with more than anything a grainy malt character, before the sweetness drops away very quickly, leaving a water and rather vacant mid-palate. Finish has a clean tolling of hops, slightly nutty and a little earthy, and certainly not overpowering. Very clean and very drinkable.
Feel is very good: light but smooth with a touch of crispness on the back to enhance the drinkability.
An excellently drinkable beer from Brew Cult. The aroma could be even more potent and I wouldn't complain, but as it is, it provides a flavoursome, sessionable beer with great aplomb. Quite a cracker from Hendo.
62 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer by Sarah, given to me for Xmas.
Pours an extremely hazed brownish amber colour, with a decent head of white. Lacing forms in pale streaks, some fine carbonation, but not a lot. Looks decent enough.
Nose is decent. Firm hoppy bitterness, of a fairly generic sort, and some malt basis, thinned out by the rye character, which adds a slight acidity but not much spice. Citrus notes do come through a little bit, and are pleasant enough, but it's still all a bit samey.
Taste is similar. It's pleasant, but light and a little dry. Faint, clear hoppiness, thin body and a touch of grassy character on the back. Finish is quite dry, but the rye does leave a pleasant grain note that sticks around for a while. It's decent enough.
Feel is decent: thin but light, and it maintains the flavours that sit on the back.
Overall, yeah, this is decent. Decent. But Brew Cult do awesome things and this should be awesome. It needs more aroma, and a better integration of the rye on the palate—a bit of extra body might do that. Something. As it is, it has stacks of potential that needs to be realised.
69 / 100
Pours a red-tinged amber colour, almost umber in places. Head is quite potent at first but then dissipates quickly. Some clingy lace but quite whispy overall. Decent.
Smells quite resiny and sharp. Some tangy citrus notes and a touch of dry, dusty rye spice. Pineapple rounds it out. Bit sharp, but pleasant.
Taste is more grounded; nice malt notes drive the palate. Slight spicy edge to it with some coppery notes on the edge. Hops are spicy, resinous; could use a little more fresh tang but there's some fruitiness anyway. Earthy and spicy overall. Nice rye IPA character.
Decent body for the ABV but not enough, hops are sharp and pull on the back.
Nice rye IPA, good blend with hops and rye spice.
75 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a day-glo orange colour, big opaqueness. Head is off-white, almost yellow. Nice lace. Looks awesome. But a bit weird.
Smells fucking awesome. New world hops mixing with funky saisony barnyard notes. Gets a big fresh grassy character, touch of rubber. What a great mix of funk and hops. Superbly blended.
Tastes similar, with plenty on the funky side. Saisony notes, with hop notes giving passionfruit and pine and a touch of mango. More hoppy towards the back and a lack of saison notes to be honest. Decent, but leans heavily on the hop characters. Nice, but i feel the nose blended the two aspects more successfully.
Bit of an edge of carbonation . Feels a bit rough on the back. OK body though.
Although it has more hop notes than saison , it's very tasty. A good refreshing beer.
Pours a dark brown muddy colour, with foamy cream head. Bit disappointing lacing-wise but given the 'adjuncts' in this beer I'm not surprised it's a bit listless.
Smells like...hmmm.... vinegar. Yeah, that's about it. Interesting, but... beery? Not particularly.
Taste is a bit more beery. Slight roasted malt notes, with a touch of chocolate and cocoa. Balsamic hits midway and it gets a little vinous towards the back. Roasty at times too, with a nice vinegar edge. More portery and diverse than the nose suggested. Pretty nice beer all up.
Decent body, no carbonation. Yeah it's hard to get this right when you're adding something so acidic. Pretty good padding for the potentially over-tart palate.
I actually wouldn't mind a bit more balsamic on the palate. The nose is screaming with it and the palate is more like a nice traditional porter with a hint of twist. Nice beer overall though.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during the first day of Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours an opaque golden yellow colour with pretty decent heft to the body. Head forms a decent, full mesh of white that leaves some minimal streaky lace. Carbonation is also minimal, but quite fine where it forms.
Nose is good: funky and bright right off the bat. Some citric hops come through with organic, slightly herbal undertones. Orange peel and brett. Slight vanilla character comes through along with a little vanilla and a faint astringency. Good stuff all up though, and quite potent.
Light zesty entry on the palate paired with a clean malt character and minimal funk. Indeed the funk stays out of the mid-palate as well, leaving some citrus, energy drink powder, orange skin and a slight astringency. The astringency swells slightly towards the back, bringing in the funkier characters: earthy, organic and peppery. Good bitterness on the back. Feel is clean and bright with a little heft.
Overall, this is very drinkable and refreshing and full of flavour. It's nicely balanced as well—overall, very good stuff.
A Baltic Porter brewed with Balsamic Vinegar from the brewer's brother, a craft vinegar maker. Tried on-tap at the 2013 GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a light, clear and rather limp brown colour, very light in the body. Head is an oily yellow that forms a large-bubbled (or large-buboed) pocked ring that leaves no lace. I looks a bit unappealing.
But, yep, there's balsamic aplenty on the nose, giving that spicy, sour and woody character mingled with just the faintest sweetness from the beer itself. Absolutely delivers what it promises here, and has captured the balsamic character nicely.
Unfortunately, this doesn't carry on to the palate. Light, perhaps slightly zesty entry leads to a dead, but slightly toasty brown malt character. Further towards the back is a touch of the vinegar, but no real sourness, and certainly no acid freakiness. Some woody balsamic characters are lost in the void.
Feel is very light: I could understand it if the acidity were more pronounced, but it just feels like a weakness here, especially for a Baltic porter.
Overall, I don't feel like it goes full tilt at delivering its promise. It's neither acidic enough nor Baltic enough. It needs more of something, anything, and the aroma just doesn't drag it through the rest of the way.
A raspberry brown ale, soured only using lactic acid directly, not through lactic or wild fermentation. Almost certainly not technically a "wild" ale, but then probably neither is any beer inoculated directly with nice clean strains of Brett or Lacto. Had from a bottle at Penny Blue during their "Sourfest" event at GBW2013.
Pours a mostly brown hue, with a bit of red to it when held to the light or at the edges. Body is hazed but pretty solid. Head forms an off-white, solid slightly foamy ring that leaves some patchy streaks of lace. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Loads of banana on the nose: too much. Funky overripe fruit and cut grass with a thick sweetness like brown sugar. Only after a while can I perceive the sour: some acid and a bit of green vegetative character. That's about it. I'm not enthused.
Light and prickly with acid at the start, but soon after, there's stacks more banana and again lots of brown sugar sweetness. Finish is astringent and very dry: it's like chewing aspirin, with a little tartness but plenty of harsh bitterness as well. Finish is yeasty, somewhat Belgian in conception but with that medicinal finish.
Feel is also very dry, thin and astringent.
I'm not a fan. Really. The acidity makes it thin and the banana character makes it bloated. Together it's just a mess. I like the experimental nature (I'll always try interesting sounding beers), but this is not one I'll be in a hurry to reach for again.