|Highest Rated||Crankshaft IPA (73 / 100)
||Average score||53 / 100 (OK)|
|Lowest Rated||G.F.G (4 / 100)
4 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
375ml can with a pull-off lid, purchased by Sam as part of the 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a hazy, fizzy yellow, with the look of a weak soft drink. No head whatsoever after it fizzes up and then fizzles out. Looks thin, uninspiring and generally unpleasant. I'm unimpressed, so far.
Nose is kind of unpleasant as well, but there's at least a distinct hint of ginger to it. This maybe explains the fact that the beer kind of smells like nothing, and why it looks like soft drink. But as well as the ginger, there's a kind of rotten sourness to it, and a dusky, rank yeast character. It's not pleasant.
The taste is appallingly sweet—like, it's way, way, WAY sweeter than Bundaberg ginger beer, which is packed with sugar and (mostly) unfermented. This has such a immediate chew of cloying sugar that I think I'm blind. If you look behind that surge, there is a bit of ginger, sure, but that's about it, until the very, very back. There, after the long fought battle between my taste buds and the saccharine marauders (which my taste buds lost badly), there's a yeasty kick on the end, which by this stage just tastes rancid. Sorry, but this is hideous.
Feel is long, cloying and unpleasant.
Awful. Just awful. This is someone who doesn't know what ginger beer tastes like doing a ginger beer right? It has no right whatsoever to be as sweet as it is. It's monstrous. Even when you remove the sweetness on the palate (which you can't), it's a mess of unrefined flavours that merely smack you lazily in the face, like a used condom filled with regurgitated ginger. Stay well away.
69 / 100
On tap at the Royal Albert during the Bentspoke tap takeover.
Pours a pale gold, bit of chill haze. Head is white foam, tightly packed but dissipating steadily. Decent lace trail left behind. Definitely a bit pale; otherwise not inspiring really, but fine.
Smells hoppy and good. Tropical fruit and piney wood notes in equal measure. Pineapple, mango and passion with a really nice resinous edge. Hint of vanilla from the malt that adds a nice sweet touch to the tang. Bit simple but very appealing.
Taste is a good hop bomb but without the bomb (in a good way). They start early, with citrus zest developing into tropical flavours, passionfruit and pine resin with a long zesty bitterness late-mid. Quite a soft profile with some decent oomph but not a lot of layering so the hopping feels very clean and coherent. Malt is a little lacking maybe but it ultimately finishes clean, so there's clearly enough there to pad it out without introducing too much body or sweetness. Good stuff.
A bit of fizz shows through the thinner malt profile with a fair dryness on the back as the hops pull back. OK but not great.
Nice clean IPA; I do tend to like my IPAs a bit earthier and maltier, but this is clearly an IPA brewed with a respect for hops rather than just a mad scientist effusive enthusiasm to bombard you with hops. So, respect.
On tap at the Royal Albert.
Pours a gold-orange kind of colour, only a very slight haze that seems like chill haze rather than full unfiltered glory. Head is nicely dense, tightly packed white foam, retaining well. Looks like a nice beer; whether it's a good NEIPA is another question.
Smells a bit lacklustre. Fair whack of hops but not nearly as aromatic as I'd expect, for the style. Tropical fruit with passion, mango and a hint of guava. Not much else; for an 8.0 double IPA I feel you can do more than this. It's simple and weak, albeit pleasant.
Taste has more gravitas to it. Hop-centric for sure but a good belt of dark-seeming toffee malt, caramel and burnt sugar on there. Develops those tropical fruit notes midway that then flatten out into a fairly citric bitterness with a bit of woody character as well. Seems to end kind of abruptly, leaving a lingering hang that's quite resinous getting almost medicinal. Interestingly handled; feels very deliberate in the way the palate just stops, but I don't know if it's really effective for the style or what a double version might imply (i.e. more blossoming fruitiness).
Nice body; well padded and a decent drying texture on the back. This is where the greatest presence is felt for sure.
Yeah, feels like another NE IPA knockoff, and not an especially good one. Decent beer but falls short of all the style hallmarks.
42 / 100
Brewed for GABS 2017. The tasting notes were a bit of a mystery but it seemed to be a sour experiment in "low carb" beer satire, or some crap. Tried at the festival on tap.
Pours a straw colour with light bead in the body showing through the light haze. Head is cream-coloured, foamy but not retaining well with just a rim left behind.
Smells off. Really off. Touch of sour apple maybe but mostly corporeal, with compost and dirt, just smells of garbage. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt but only because it's Bentspoke.
Taste is a trifle better. Most of the familiar sour beer hallmarks are here with little pizzazz. Apple, pear, touch of citrus with a slight grapefruit bitterness on the back. Fruity, sizzle, lemonade maybe. Not great.
Watery body, the carbonation fizzes through a little harshly. Meh.
Not great, has a distinct weirdness all over it. The unpleasant characters of the nose kind of infect the whole experience.
70 / 100
'Specialty beer' brewed with new world hops and Belgian chocolate. Argue with my style classification if you like, I'll just be entertaining myself with a pack of pornographic playing cards featuring the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.
Tried on tap at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours a darkish brown colour, clear but dark with foamy beige head, retaining well. Looks pretty good.
Smells of chocolate, with hops. Yeah, what it promised. Cocoa nibs are strong, and the new world hops are an equal force, with pear, apricot, passionfruit and lime all contributing. Really quite pleasant but a bit odd.
Caramel tinge to the malt upfront, develops hops fairly early on, mostly fruity with passionfruit and sweet citrus notes giving orange mostly. Touch of spice towards the back and somehow the chocolate makes itself known more through the texture and sort of tying it all together like a malt base would. It's hoppy and sweet and velvety.
Full, thick body that just glides down. Wonderful.
Nice drop. Can't quite deliver in full on either the hoppiness or the chocolate, I think because they're fundamentally irreconcilable as flavours. It delivers on balance, but I feel either the chocolate or the hops could be more dominant without compromising on balance and it would just be more remarkable as an overall package.
44 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a dark, reddish brown colour with some hazing in a light, thin body. Head is beige, forming a thing ring without much in the way of lace. Carbonation is fine and fast. Looks okay.
Smells of very little. Slight hint of vinegar or olives perhaps and a very faint touch of spice around the edges. But mostly it's quite dull, which is a genuine shame.
Front is very light on the entry to the palate, developing into an equivalently dull, floury flat mid-palate. Supposedly sour, the closest we get is a kind of seltzer nothingness on the back with a very faint weak spice. It's really terrible weak and watery. I'm not quite sure I understand why.
Is it drinkable? Sure. So's water. I don't want to pay to drink water at a festival though. This was a big disappointment to me—I hope Richard comes up with some better sours in the future. He had a fantastic line of them at the Wig & Pen.
58 / 100
Pours a dark brown - not quite black - with touch of cloud and some medium foamy off-white head. Have seen better.
Smells like a dark beer. Vanilla and other sweet spice on there with a touch of coffee. Slight woodiness on there as well but not a lot of sour.
Taste is more sweet: caramel and vanilla upfront that descends into lightly roasty and woody back palate. Touch of cola to it, but again no real tartness. Needs more sour.
Body is a little thin, carbonation tingles through. Not bad.
I expected far more from this. There's hints of sour upfront but nothing really noticeable, and because it finishes all roasty it just tastes like a dark beer. Not a terrible beer, but disappointing.
58 / 100
On tap at the brewery, 7th March 2015.
Pours a light brown colour, bit of cloud. Head is cream coloured, nice density with a thin cloud left. Bit pale for a brown ale, but OK.
Smells somewhat chocolatey, roasty, a bit banana weizeny perhaps with notes of caramel toffee and mild coffee hiding at the back. Could use more oomph but not bad.
Taste is quite pleasant; decent roasty notes with a mild smoke residual. Plenty of chocolate, caramel and some mild banana vanilla notes as well. Touch of medicine at the back which is unwanted. Could use more pronounced hop notes, which I was expecting from the style.
Bit of sizzle; seems a little thin. Has a nice velvety texture but maybe body is a bit thin so carbonation shows through.
Don't think Rich's strength is in brown ales. The ingredients are right but the idea seems muddled and off-kilter.
OK, so I'm totally confused about this beer. When I read the tasting notes it made it sound like a sour, almost like a wild saison, so I went in expecting this and got nothing like it. Reading about it since I've heard it called an ESB and a 'Canberra ale', and also part of Bentspoke's core range, which doesn't sound like a wild saison at all. I know I shouldn't blame the beer for some kind of cock-up with the beer menu writer, but my poor review is reflective of what was marketed, what was sold to me and hence what I expected from a master of sours.
Pale gold, somewhat cloudy. Head dissipates leaving nothing. Looks OK but very wild.
Smells blah. Very grainy, lots of cereal with some mild phenolic notes and some orange peel. Certainly expected more from it.
Taste is intriguing. Still too pronounced a grain note, with caramelisation and slight fruit. Slight phenolic funk maybe, a lot of medicinal Belgian bitterness towards the back. Very dry, seems like there's not much going on. Could use more acid which is more what I expected maybe.
Very dry, starts early and keeps going. More malt might give the yeast something to work with as well as providing more padding.
Very disappointed here. Feel like there's much more that could be done, especially when Rich has made this sort of style such a bailiwick of late.
58 / 100
On tap at the brewery, 7th March 2015.
Pours a pale gold, clear. Light off-white head, just a rim of bubbles now. Decent lace. Fairly bland.
Smells grainy, with a touch of fruit. Big cereal notes with sweet vanilla and cake batter aroma. Touch of passionfruit, citrus and finger lime. Could ramp up the hops just a wee bit.
Taste is alright. Still quite grainy with a distinct wheaty character and pearl barley throughout with light caramelisation. Fairly light but notable hops on the mid, with mild citrus and some subtle tropical notes - mostly pineapple. Finishes with a decent hop twang but a fair yeasty character as well and maybe a touch too much grain although mostly nice clean bitterness. Decent pale.
Bit of sizzle; otherwise somewhat thin. Could use a slight bit more body or lower carbonation.
Nice enough pale but have had more tasty and more smashable ones. Note I didn't take notice of the ABV when I reviewed it. Think what I said stands but my expectations were for something slightly different.
73 / 100
On tap at the brewery, 7th March 2015.
Pours a burnished gold, quite pale for the style. Head is off-white, nice and creamy with a thin film retaining, and nice lace. Bit pale but nice.
Smells hoppy. Big citrus and resin notes with some lemon pith, finger lime, caramel malt and some vegetative and pepper notes as well. Pretty decent; refreshing.
Taste is tangy, pleasant. Lots of finger lime upfront, with kaffir notes behind and lemongrass, then mandarin and grapefruit on the finish. Kind of spicy citrus on the back with some piquant bitterness. Decent biscuity malt note underlying, but just enough to pad and balance. Very nice.
Well padded; good body. Hops still seem to strip something from the end.
Nice IPA, good fruity notes and good but not overpowering bitterness.