49 / 100
Pint can purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA, about a month ago, but I didn't realise the can was almost 3 months old when it was on the shelf—a problem I often find with that store.
Looks the part when poured though, a very hazed, almost opaque juicy peach colour, with a foamy, ultimately quite loose head of white that settles out to a ring. Body has weight behind it. And carbonation is very fine.
Nose is not great—yes, this is an old can of NEIPA. It has that harsh, reedy, pellety hop fragrance that smells like an unwashed fermenter that you've forgotten about for a couple of weeks. Were it fresh, I could imagine it having more of the volatiles to help elevate it, but as it is, it's harsh.
Taste is also not great—it really, really speaks to the fact that NEIPAs, however good they are fresh, do not have longevity to them at all. Actually, there's something a little better about this, because if has a smooth mouthfeel and still maintains some of the fruity flavours you might have had if it were fresh. But the back peters out into a kind of wimpy sweetness, and there's nothing backing it up to give some kind of structure to it. Disappointing.
Overall—yeah, this is way too old, and yet it's like 3 months old and it annoys me that a beer this young just completely dies after a while. Even with a more traditional American IPA the bitterness would provide some balance, but when you're basing the entire beer on volatile hop compounds, it's going to die quickly. The lesson is—pretty much don't ever buy a NEIPA, unless it's weeks if not days from its packaging date.
73 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a slightly muddy mahogany colour, with firm hazing through the body. Head is a lovely fine crest of pale pink or orange, that leaves long thin tentacles of lace. Carbonation is also very fine. Body is lighter than you expect for the ABV, but suitable for this style of beer.
Nose is dominated by the blackcurrant, which is definitely the most prominent character. But as it warms other notes come through, especially vinous notes from the wine barrels. These add more of an earthy tone than any more fruit, or even acidity. But the blend of oak and blackcurrant gives the suggestion of balsamic vinegar. Slight white pepper note late.
Palate has a distinct tartness to it. It actually accentuates the fruit to some extent, because it comes through as very tart berries, very young grapes or perhaps something laced with citrus juice. Plenty of barrel towards the centre of the palate, adding an earthy wood note that takes the edge off the acid. Finish descends into juicy blackcurrant and grapeskin notes.
Feel is soft and only mildly carbonated, but the acid adds a sharpness to it which cuts a little.
I'll admit that the acid actually ends up making it less drinkable than I would have otherwise liked. There's complexities to it, and the fruit characters are nicely added (both the currant and the wine notes). But after a while, all I feel is the acidity.
77 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a deep brown-black colour, with an inky, oily edge to it. Head forms coarse bubbles to begin with, but it drops out pretty quickly, leaving it looking a bit flat and dead. Carbonation is also absent.
Nose is pretty good. Strong woody character, connected to molasses and syrup characters. I get raisins and currants, with a nice toastiness backing it up. It has a slight metallic twang as well, which seems closely related to the currant notes. Very nice.
Taste is also very good. The base is formed of sweet molasses, dates and carob, with a light toastiness on the back. It has a brighter, sharper note around the edges—again, it's slightly metallic, and this time a bit boozy. Finish has a touch of tannin—this connects it again to the oak characters.
Feel is a bit hot, and lacking carbonation—a slightly fuller feel would probably help.
It's a decent brew, but there are some obvious things that could be improved, which is always a bit of a shame. But it's a solid BBA impy stout, and that's always something of a pleasure.
74 / 100
Tall pint can purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a pleasant ebony black brown colour, with a very fine head from the nitrogenation. No reverse cascade, but the bubbles are lovely and fine, forming in swirling squalls when the glass is tilted. Body has a bit of heft to it, or else it pretends it's that way due to the fine bubbling.
Nose is extremely pleasant. Loads of toasty malt and sweeter milk chocolate characters. Stacks of vanilla as well, which creates a sheen of smoothness over the whole thing. It doesn't have a huge deal of complexity, but what's there is very good indeed.
Taste is again very smooth, very approachable and very drinkable. It's not overly complex, but it does have those slight toasty coffee notes and a chocolate liquidity to it. The back is very light, which is indeed not unexpected, but it stops it from expressing much in the way of subtleties or secondary characters.
Feel is very smooth but light, and the thin body does give it a slight watery quality. It suits the beer though.
Very drinkable, and very approachable. This is the sort of beer I could see myself drinking a pint of, and then another pint. And then I realise it's really not that sessionable and I fall over.
Pours a dark brown colour, with nice beige head good and foamy. Decent crown with some nice speckled lacing around as well. Fairly opaque really with just a murk of colour at the edge. Looks good.
Smells very lovely. Nice smoky but also an odd chipotle character with a slight heat. Sweet cacao and some mild coffee character as well. Definitely my jam; well balanced though even then.
Tastes a little empty, especially upfront. Develops some smoky character and mild chilli heat late but upfront you want that choc and coffee roast to hit you and instead it's just a mild meek caramel note upfront. Yeah kinda saccharine and sweet then the smoke and slightly savoury notes come in late and basically just deliver this very late savoury character. Quite disappointing, really, because these notes are my jam but it's not delivered particularly effectively.
Mouthfeel is a little thin, some nice smooth mouth presence early but thins out; slight tickle of heat on the back.
Drinks fine but definitely lacks the front presence and it just feels a little empty as a result.
Pint can purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Canning date of March 1st, which makes it about 4.5 months old.
Pours a slightly hazy golden colour with coarse-bubbled but languid carbonation. Head is off-white, forming long blotchy streaks of lace, and persisting as an oily film. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is relatively good, but I can see it being much better super fresh. There's still telltale Citra tones of sharp, pithy orange and tangerine though. Some other pleasant leafy characters come through as well, giving a touch of kaffir lime, mingled with some toffee and caramel notes. Not bad.
Taste is also feeling its age to some extent. The hops here are strung out, forming a long astringency that isn't brightened or leavened by the oily flavour characters any more. Malt structure is still there, but it, I'm sure, was only ever designed to play a supporting role. Hops turn a little flat and organic towards the back.
Feel is pleasant enough, although the carbonation is slightly too prickly, and it's more noticeable once the flavours are more muted.
Overall, it's not bad, and there's enough structure here to make me believe it was better when it was young—but it's not the kind of beer that can hold up to even a couple of months of age, as this example clearly shows.
72 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a very pale golden colour, almost pure yellow, with solid hazing through the glass. Head forms a loose gauze of white around the top of the glass, and surprisingly persistent, sticky lace. Carbonation is fine, forming in tiny strings of bears that work their way languidly through what's a rather light body. Looks good.
Nose is great, and very forward on the NZ hop aromatics. It has a catty, sharp aroma—the canonical, weed-like "dankness", that turns slightly reedy and organic. When swirls, other characters are released, including white pepper and guava. It's very nice.
Taste is a bit lighter, and there's a weird amount of sweetness that comes through. Possibly, this is from the hops, which seem to be releasing oils and aromatics, but not doing much in the way of providing balancing bitterness. Indeed, the beer feels very fruity on the back, but it's only saved from being cloying by the fact that the body is quite thin. Still—it's pretty solid even so.
Feel is light and a little flat. Despite the visible carbonation, it feels rather lacking in effervescence.
Overall, it's a good beer, especially in the aroma stakes. It doesn't quite carry that through all the way, so it's a lesser beer than some of MT's excellent others. But it still stands up pretty well on its own.
87 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a very clear golden colour, orange in the deeper parts, but mostly light and bright. Head forms a frothy cap on pouring, but soon settles out to a fine film. Lacing forms in pleasant dotty streaks. Body is light, but holds very fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is impressive. When you put "dank" actually on your label, it has to work, but there's definitely that weedy, resinous aroma of cat pee, capsicum and pot. It's herbal, but bright, and really well put together. It's also sweet and rounded though—possibly it's the addition of Mosaic, which adds a fruitiness which is also welcome. Whatever it is—it's a damn good smelling beer.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a harbal fragrance working throughout it, giving Middle Eastern oregano through the centre, and hints of lavender and mint on the back. Finish has lemon and sweet resin—bergamot and myrrh. Finish is clean and bright though, without any sticky linger. This is damn impressive stuff.
Feel is Clean and bright. Just exactly what you need to let the flavours express themself. There is a hint of booze on the back, but it's actually a timely reminder that you're drinking something as big as 7.2% ABV.
Damn great beer. Resinous, bright and dark and excitingly confusing. This is someone who know hops manipulating hops in a masterful way. I really love it.
77 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a pleasant pale gold colour, with a very heavy hazing in the body. Head forms a nice, persistent film of white, that leaves clumps of lace. Carbonation is fairly swift and coarse, but vibrant. It looks attractive and seductive.
Nose is great. Big, bright aromatics of citrus peel and fragrant pepper. A little herbal note like crushed sage and tarragon. Smoother, sweeter notes come to the fore as it warms, with mandarin and tangelo. Very pleasant.
Taste is more subdued, but well crafted to provide what it should. There is a pronounced bitterness, which provides more of a sparkle than anything around the edge of the palate and towards the back. The malt is mild and neutral, and gives a nice base—otherwise, there are more suggestions of citrus fruits and orange essence. It's, again, very nice.
Feel is quite light, and the carbonation is fairly strong. Otherwise, it's pretty good.
Overall: a very nicely put together and very tasty pale ale. I emphasises the hop characters in all the right places to make it a truly hoppy beer that doesn't suffer from imbalance. That's no mean feat.
57 / 100
From a 16oz can, purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam & Rich.
Pours a creamy, solid, hazy straw colour, with a coarse-bubbled, but extremely persistent head of white that leaves some faint streaks of fine lace. Body is light, but fluid and holds some fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is lovely. Bright lemon sherbet sweetness, Belgian yeast funkiness, and a pleasant peppery note. Acidity is clean and bright. It's very aromatic and very well-integrated. I like it a lot.
Taste is most certainly disappointing after the aroma. Definite yeasty, bready characters come through, without any sense of bright acidity. Instead, it's slightly flat and floury, with a long, drawn-out watery weakness towards the finish. Really low on flavour and complexity. I'm extremely unimpressed—the aroma was so good, the palate was so not.
Feel is smooth and long. It would really work if there were more flavours to expose, but it feels a bit of a waste here.
Overall, wow—this is surely a disappointment. The aroma is so good, and it has so much potential. But at the end of the day, it really ends up pretty mundane and not that interesting. It's such a shame.