60 / 100
330ml can purchased for me by Sam. Probably from Slowbeer, but who knows. BB date of November 2019, so plenty of time left on it.
Pours a rather deep golden colour, heading towards a pale bronze, with a thin, but coarse head of white that sits in a ring, leaving limited lace, and also not really persisting very well. Body is light, but with a sheen to it. It looks okay, but not much more than okay.
Nose is rather pleasant. It has a bright, fruit-forward hop character, that gives it a rounded, sweet quality. It's more juicy than I expected, certainly. It's also fairly light, with a thin, sugary note giving a suggestion of booze, which isn't quite right for such a light beer. But the hops mostly take the vanguard and cover up for other weaknesses.
Taste is reasonable. Again there's hop character on the front, and this provides fruit flavours without too much bitterness. There's a slight crystal or biscuit grain character through the centre, which does its best to bolster the body (even though it also detracts somewhat from the hops). But in the end, the body falters a little—it's smooth enough on the back, but it's also hard to deny that there's a lightness that comes from the lack of alcohol.
Overall, it's a drinkable, if fairly straightforward pale ale. The hop bill is good though, and it's used to good advantage. It feels a little bit though as though the rest of the beer is just struggling to keep up its end of the bargain.
44 / 100
Pours a dark brown, quite clear. Head is beige but also not really there, just a ring of what were large webbed bubbles. Pretty lacklustre but alright.
Smells boozey, and not much else. Oaky, bourbony, with a big rum sweetness to it as well. Actually struggling to find the base beer in this, it just smells like a bourbon barrel.
Slight chocolatey note on the front of the palate but the oaky booziness overwhelms it from that point on. Huge oak character which could be nice, but it sort of precludes the idea of this being a beer at all because it's the only character there. Then the booze heat on the back is completely unnuanced, it's just a flood of big bourbony flavour that starts to feel like sniffing alcohol-based isowipes. It's just too intense and needs far more reining in.
Full body, so full it almost tastes like drinking ink. Sharp booze spike.
Yeah, boozey, strong, mostly unpleasant. A big beer that's just gone completely off the rails. Not a fan.
46 / 100
Tried in a taster at GABS 2017 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown colour, with some hazing noticeable due to it not really being dark enough to be opaque. Body is thick, with fine carbonation. Head is a fine ring of beige that leaves minimal lace.
Nose is really quite unpleasant. Anise is noticeable, but there's an astringent booziness that gives paint-thinner, ink and permanent marker solvent characters. Otherwise it's sharper and slightly acidic with nots of cherry. It's actually a pretty unpleasant combination.
Taste is sharp on the front, with a suggestion of vinous acidity. The mid-palate is the best, with some noticeable barrel characters and a smooth sweetness like blackcurrant. Sadly, that's all it gets. It ends up inky and medicinal with a strong booze note that turns into a mineral bitterness in the finish.
Feel is smooth and slick at least, but it's too little, too late.
Really? I just don't know what they were going for with this. It's nasty and heavy, and it takes a toll for little reward.
500ml bottle purchased for me by Sam for Christmas. I think it was probably from Slowbeer. BB date of 06/2019.
Pours a deep, silky black-brown, with a coarse head of mocha that leaves minor specks of lace. Body has a bit of heft to it, but you'd hope that. Carbonation forms in very fine streaks. Looks decent.
Nose smells worty and metallic. It already smells old—it has the kind of character you get from much older, much more low-alcohol beers, which is disappointing from a 9.5% imperial stout two years away from the drink-by date. It does have a bit of roast to it, and maybe a suggestion of sweetness, but the metallic, flat, wet character really drags it down.
The taste is pretty much the same. It's metallic on the front, and very thin through the body. Fortunately, it has a long back palate where some of the semi-biutter roast characters linger for a long time. And there's a pleasing richness from the booze. But overall, it's a very sub-par palate for an imperial stout.
Yeah, this is really, honestly, not good. It's very underwhelming for the style, and it's also depressingly bland given the "chocolate" and "orange" promised in the name.
On tap at Harts Pub; tried because of its entry into the GABS hottest 100 as the first (with Bacchus' Peanut Brittle Gose) gose in the list, and the higher of the two.
Pours a pale cloudy gold colour, quite opaque really. Head is off-white, tiny rim from the pour, good lacing density to it though. Looks pretty much like a gose.
Smells actually really pleasant (I hesitate to say, unlike a gose); really fresh and vibrant with a big citric lemon and tangerine aroma, a touch tart from fruit but also from the wheat byproducts, maybe a hint of salt but it could also just be a tequila-esque memory trigger because it's quite citric. Not actually very gose-esque, but it's in the ballpark and richer for not being too characteristic, frankly. Smells great.
Taste has far more gose characters. Grainy for the most part, with a slightly sour wheat note coming through upfront and through to midway, giving a slight citric note but also a bit of a wet grain-husk flavour. This turns savoury late-mid where the salt comes through to clean it up and leave it with a lingering tart freshness that is very light. Don't get much pepper; should I? I mean I know it's called that but is it actually an ingredient? It's very subtle if it is, and might have added an interesting element if it were more pronounced. Very light all over, really, but that also makes it very quaffable. Still, it's nothing special even for the style.
Thin, and so the carbonation is quite prickly. Could have been toned down a bit. Not unpleasant though.
Yeah I don't think I get the "hype", it's light and drinkable but nothing special. On the plus side it doesn't commit the cardinal sin of goses by being cloying and yeasty, so its a better example than some I've seen. I can see that it would stand out as a gose, but I'm a bit surprised that it stood out for enough people to crack the hottest 100 and stood out for people even among other Nomad beers.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. This is a collaboration with Sam Calagione and Pallet magazine, and is brewed with mesquite (smoked?) malt, maple sugar, wattle seed and finger lime, which honestly just sounds like a mess.
Pours a very clear, very dark amber colour, almost to deep mahogany. Head is a fine ring of off-white, that really doesn't promote itself much beyond a film. Carbonation is very fine and powdery though, and it forms slowly through the body, which has some weight behind it. Looks pretty good.
Nose is, disappointingly, mostly just hot. There's actually a surprising dearth of flavour to it, although there is a noticeable booze note. There's perhaps a slightly earthy, woody character, and maybe (if you search for it) something sharper, perhaps reminiscent of citrus. But it's really mild. There's so little to it, especially given the ingredients in it.
Taste is very similar. The most tragic part is the true lack of body, especially on the front, meaning it steams in hot and sharp, most likely the result of the fermentation of the maple sugar. Towards the back, it has a slightly more complex flavour, with some slightly earthy notes from the wattleseed—there's also a medicinal or chemical bitterness which is more unpleasant. No hint of smoke, no hint of finger lime, no hint of maple, apart from the extra alcohol from the fermentation.
This is a mess: really. For a start, I just don't know what they were going for with this hodge-podge of ingredients. I was prepared for it to show me my skepticism was unfounded: but instead, it didn't even show any of the characters it promised on the bottle. What we get is a mess of heat, a lack of body, an unpleasant bitterness and, overall, a beer that I just don't want to put in my mouth.
I'm calling this a fruit lambic as it's the style that generically fits best. But I don't mean to project any arrogant delusions onto the brewers, who make no pretence about this being other than a simple sour fruit beer. Tried at GABS 2016 on tap.
Pours an amber colour, mild haze with very pale rim of bubbles but virtually no head at all. I guess that makes it very sour? But otherwise pretty lacklustre.
Smells tart, and fruity and wild. Cherry notes, crisp and sour at the same time with a touch of funk that descends into peppery the more you sniff it. Quite pleasant, really.
Taste is also fruity and funky. Cherry notes with a touch of green apple as well. Sour towards the late-mid then the finish gets quite oaky; buttery with a French chardonnay kind of character. Not a whole lot of fruit in the end, it finishes more on the side of funky than fruity or even sour. But not bad at all.
Decent body, bit of pull but not too much texture otherwise.
Bretty, earthy, organic. Bit funky, ultimately cleansing but doesn't quite fulfill all the tart complex potential it could have. Maybe give it a while to age and it could be something special.
72 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Annandale Cellars. I'm a big fan of Victory's Prima Pils, so I was quite keen to see the Australian adaptation.
Pours a pleasantly light, mostly clear yellow colour, with a frothy, fine and fairly solid head of white. Minimal lacing and surprisingly low carbonation, and the body has a bit of weight to it, which I don't mind in just about any other style besides a pilsner. Looks okay though.
Nose is quite pleasant. It has a light, dry crispness to it, mellowed by a smidgin of sweeter hop characters. There's a leafy, slightly herbal quality for the most part, tending towards continental European hops, but there are touches of pineapple or mango which give it a slight twist. There is a touch of grain underneath too which is rather pleasant.
Taste is great, and here it really takes after its progenitor. Lovely crisp basis, with just enough hop character to direct the palate. Slight metallic note in the aftertaste, but with a lightness and slight grain bite to cover it. The only issue I have is with the carbonation, which is seriously too low, to the point that it almost feels flat—after it provokes the head at the start, there seems to be very little left. This harms both the crispness of the aftertaste and the feel, which is sadly lacking.
It's still a pretty drinkable beer, but it's certainly not to the same standard as the regular Prima Pils, which is always a cracking, dependable beer. This misses out in some oddly key areas, which is a shame. Moreover, despite a couple of tweaks, it doesn't really do very much to separate itself from its predecessor, which just feels like a missed opportunity.
58 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep red-brown colour, quite clear in the glass and surprisingly light-bodied. Head is off-white, forming a minimal coarse-bubbled ring that leaves impersistent lace. Carbonation is fine and powdery.
Nose is quite dull. There's some seedy vegetative notes to it and a hint of pepper, but not much else. There's some vague, couched darkness in there as well, but overall it's pretty mild. It's not unpleasant but it's just a bit dull.
Front has a flavour like celery seeds, along with some dusty bitterness that turns peppery dry. Very low sweetness in this beer, leaving it dry and dusky towards the back with a little bit of hop bite. Aftertaste is very dry and dull.
Feel is very light, which doesn't help matters.
Overall, it's pretty dull. It's not awful though, and it's inoffensive enough to not be undrinkable. There were much more interesting brews at GABS though.
60 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, clear with beige head of sparsely webbed bubbles. Nice colour; not bad otherwise.
Smells citric, tangy. Quite fruity with a touch of apple but plenty of lemon/lime verging on bitter pithiness. Touch of cocoa and roast. Not bad.
Taste is more roasty, and a bit staid. Cocoa and chocolate not-quite-sweetness on the front that gets bitter, slightly resinous but mostly just roasty on the back. Hint of citric hops but could use more cut-through, it just tastes like a porter. Not bad but not ideal for the style.
Decent body, has a touch of texture. Not bad.
Not quite enough IPA. Tastes like a somewhat bitter porter.
70 / 100
On tap at the Duck Inn.
Pours a golden colour, thinning at the edges. Head is tightly packed white foam, retaining amazingly. Looks great if a little light on.
Smells fruity. Tropical with citrus hints. Finger lime and sherbet with apple and raisin notes underlying. Pretty nice.
Taste is very tangy. Pineapple and banana with more finger lime and kiwi notes. Quite bitter and a bit bitty with biscuity malt notes hanging all over it as well. Nice, summery drop. Pleasant.
Smooth, no rough edges. Maybe a touch thin but otherwise great.
Drinks well. Thirst quenching.
62 / 100
On tap at Cammeray Craft.
Pours a pale cola colour, fair amount of colour at the edges. Head is beige, somewhat jaundiced. Nice density, thinnish though. Decent lace. Looks quite nice, maybe a bit pale.
Smells brown aley. Brown sugar with mild espresso spice, touch of roast bitterness. Juniper and pepper. A bit simple, pedestrian brown ale notes but decent enough.
Taste is fruity and fresh upfront then brown aley on the back. Berries with raspberry and blueberry upfront, touch of caramel midway before mild balanced roast on back. Surprisingly* bitter finish, could use a touch more coherence with the front fruity character. Quite ashy really, which might be nice as a finish for a dank, bitter beer but it's just oddly fresh upfront for how bitter it finishes.
Fluid, medium bodied but goes down nicely. No rough edges.
*. Note: In the original tasting notes I typed on my phone, this word was written as "Urpsirisingky". Just wanted that preserved for posterity because I found it hilarious.
Tried on-tap at Spooning Goats in Sydney City. A collab between Nomad and Cigar City, this is an American Brown, brewed with riberries, the common name for the edible Lilly Pilly fruit.
Pours a pleasant and firm brown colour, solidly hazed. Head is creamy and pleasant forming a good cap of beige. Carbonation is very fine through the body, although the body is quite light and fluid. Lacing forms in wonderfully solid sheets. Looks good overall.
Nose is brown for the most part, but with an odd vegetative quality that comes through right from the forefront. It leaves the aroma slightly green and a little dank. Some sweaty hops come through as well, perhaps more grassy than anything else. There's certainly not much in the way of the riberry.
Taste is pleasantly brown, and the vegetation is gone, fortunately. There's a firm bitterness from the hops on the back, which balances it nicely. Some slight greenness—not the vegetable character on the nose, but more herbal and dusky than perhaps it wants to be. In any case, there's certainly not enough lilly pilly character to make it noticeable, or even to move it away from the pure brown ale. Feel is very pleasant though—lively, but fine creating a silky vivacity.
It's a really nice brown ale. It really is. But the riberries are nowhere to be found. Were that not its gimmick, I'd be really happy for it to be as it is. It had that very pleasant balance of darker malts and hops that distinguish a good American Brown. But this plays up the lilly pilly in the name and the marketing, and I just don't see it—they're just not used to their full potential. Treat it as a good Brown Ale. Don't expect anything that unusual from it.