70 / 100
Ah, IPL, the forgotten style. The bastard stepchild forgotten in the new world. Come to Jez you poor, unhappy soul. I will give you your home. 440ml can purchased from Beer Cartel for Xmas for me by Sam.
Pours a pleasant light golden colour, with an initially pretty frothy head of rocky white that settles out leaving some coarse lace and a filmy residue on the top of the beer. I'll be honest, it doesn't look that dissimilar from a well-made if uninteresting lager you'd get at the local RSL. Looks okay though.
Nose is very pleasant. Surprisingly, it's much in the oldskool West Coast style—heavy on the citrus. Juicy orange is noticeable, with perhaps a more incisive green NZ hop character that lends a little more of an organic note as well. Mostly, it's sharp—the combination is good. It's citrus, predominantly, but nicely crispened with a brighter note of pine and herbal aromatics.
Taste is crisp, well-made, and a little bit pedestrian. There's a flat normality to the malt, which is slightly grainy but otherwise fairly inoffensive. It's the kind of underwhelming base that suits the beer, without being inspired. The hops, which should be the focus, are fine, but again pretty much par for the course. there's a semi-sweet citrus bite, a slight uptick in crispness towards the back, and enough bitterness to make you remember who's boss. But it does feel a bit like a box ticking exercise—there's little in the way of secondary aromatics or undertones to really make it shine.
Feel is crisp. Again, perfectly suitable without making me weep with joy.
Overall, I'm satisfied, but beers like this can and should excite me. This is as good as the bare minimum for the style (which is still good!), but Pirate Life are well-versed in what hops can do, and this feels below par for what it should have been.
59 / 100
Day 19 of my 2017 Advent Calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a cloudy, hazy pale orange colour. Pleasant looking head; tightly packed white bubbles forming a thin crown of sea foam. Lacing is decent; looks generally quite decent.
Smells hoppy, and pleasant. Not much to it; some stonefruit and citrus notes with a fair pithy, mildly resinous bitterness. Slightly woody too; touch of caramel malt but yeah, simple and unpretentious.
Taste has a lot more oomph than I was expecting; Patrician gravitas that is. Starts with a nice caramel malt that turns very earthy very quickly; the hops come on with a big wallop of flavour that packs a big, rindy grapefruity punch. Trails off leaving a slight astringency lingering, really quite dank and turns mildly dour. Yeah it seems to pack that punch but instead it's pulled back on the freshness, so it's all quite rindy and ascerbic. Impressive but not inspiring.
Has a nice texture to it; at least it's lively but with a good malt base to cushion it. Quite dry, puckering almost, on the back.
Drinks quite heavily; I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the 8 or 9% range for booze, but it may also just be too light-bodied for the level of hops they've got in there. Nice enough flavours but just too much whack and not enough gentle fondling.
69 / 100
Pours a pleasingly dark brown colour, with a frothy, thick head beige, which crackles down to a persistent couple of fingers, leaving webby lacing. Carbonation is fine and swift, and the body is really very light. Looks pretty good though.
Nose is toasty and rather refined. There's a hint of cacao in it, but mostly it's built on sturdy malt—not overly sweet, not overly grainy, not overly savoury. It's somewhere in between all three. There's a slight whiff of carbonic acid, which might imply an oversupply of carbonation (and would explain the head) and a hint of something like glace cherries. It's nice all up.
Taste is very nice, but quite light. The palate is quite thin, but it's lengthened by a really persistent roasted malt character. Entry is a little sharp and dry, before dark chocolate and anise well up in the centre of the palate. The sweetness (what little there was, anyway) drops away, leaving the back rather bitter and robust. Feel is quite light, but the length of it gives it legs.
Overall, it's a nice drop. It's got a robust bitterness on the back palate which gives it oomph. Otherwise it might have been clean and forgettable. But there's nice things going on in here.
80 / 100
500ml can purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a pleasant, clear golden colour, with a rather thin, but fine head of white that sits as a ring and leaves very fine lacing. Body is very light and thin—which is good for a 7% beer, and implies a pleasant bright, lightness.
Nose is great, and showcases Mosaic to a good degree. It's fragrant, and slightly dank, turning in fruity characters of kiwifruit and kiwano. It has lovely green notes—it's bright, but sharpened and more punchy than the generic hoppiness would give it.
Taste is great. It's lovely and light in the feel, but that matches perfectly to the sharp, bright and punchy hop character. The malt is light, but provides a kind of mild sweetness to support the hops. Hops turn slightly peppery, with characters of mild green capsicum and a dry, aromatic finish.
Yeah, this is a nice beer: very fragrant and very drinkable. It's also pleasantly different from their regular IPA. Moreover, it becomes a very pleasant exemplar of how to use Mosaic hops. Which makes it educational, as well as delicious.
72 / 100
On tap at GABS Festival 2017.
Pours a champagne colour, fair amount of cloud in the body. Head is cream-coloured, nitro-dense and clings tight to the top of the glass. Looks wonderful.
Smells odd, but then the premise is odd and it delivers on this. Vanilla character, with a tangy passionfruit hop character and a touch of citrus as well. Tangy but sweet. Pleasant.
Taste is lactosey from the get-go; big vanilla character and otherwise just sweet and creamy with caramel notes on the mid-palate. Develops a slight bitterness on the back that's quite subtle and could maybe get cleaned up a bit more as it remains pretty malty sweet to the back. Quite pleasant but not quite as fresh or IPA-y as I'd dared hope after finding out that this was actually an IPA as well as a Vanilla Malt Thickshake beer.
Full body, smooth and creamy as it goes down. Enjoyable.
An odd beer, for sure; creamy and sweet yet bitter in subtle ways on the back. Nice, and interesting, but not fully convincing.
I did retry this beer and shortlisted it, and it ended up my #11 beer of the festival.
84 / 100
On nitro-tap at GABS in Melbourne. A vanilla and lactose-infused IPA. Who knows what to actually classify it as.
Pours a pale golden colour, slightly hazed, with a very fine and solid head of pale cream—just what you expect from a nitro pour. Body has some slickness behind it too. Carbonation is powdery, and the lace is excellent, forming huge creamy walls down the glass.
Lemon meringue characters are immediately apparent on the nose—a wonderful amalgam of fresh hops and sweet creaminess. Vanilla is also prominent, along with a suggestion of mace. It's really lovely.
Taste is smooth and frothy on the front—more textural than flavour. But soon sweet vanilla and cream come through, again mingling with mild hop characters to give a character like orange cream and lemon curd. Smooth vanilla sweetness slides in on the back, giving an aftertaste like melted ice cream. Feel is gorgeous and very smooth.
This is a spanking good brew—indeed, on retasting, this became my #1 beer of the festival our of some 140-odd beers we tried. Moreover, it's an amazingly good realisation of what they promised—IPA hops in total creaminess. It gorgeously delicious. Cracking beer.
78 / 100
Can purchased from my neighbourhood bottle shop up the road. Unsure of when it was brewed or canned or how it's been stored so a bit of a risk. Tried by myself one Saturday night.
Pours a pale orange colour, light and bright. Head is white, dense foam that retains beautifully thick and far more than a 3.5% beer head has any right to. Lacing is as thin as would be expected, but little specks here and there. Looks lovely.
Smells fruity and pleasant and refreshing. Big juicy stonefruit notes, with peach and apricot dominating. Some citrus notes at the back, some underlying lightly toasted caramel malt notes. Superb for a beer this size and I think a testament to the power of canning.
Taste is a little lighter as you might expect but I'd hoped wouldn't be the case. Decent malt character, with a touch of earthy spice and toffee sweetness that gets taken over by hops early-mid. Some mild tropical notes but quickly turns to citrus with a fair bitterness from late-mid to the finish. Body is understandably thin, which means the bitterness on the back takes on a slightly metallic, astringent character. It's a little bit jarring after a palate which is otherwise very tangy and refreshing. It's not terrible but it's the taste you're left with at the end so it's a little letdown.
Decent texture; carbonation is light so the lack of malt presence isn't let down. Thin but fairly quaffable.
For a 3.5% beer it's supremely well-constructed. Just amped up in the right places to make it extremely tasty and extremely drinkable.
73 / 100
On tap at Bitter Phew.
Pours a very dark brown, just a film of colour on the outline. Head is pale tan, nice and foamy with a good slow sink, leaving curtains of lace behind. Looks like a pretty impressive drop.
Smells appealing. Roasty undertones with a good belt of rich chocolate sweetness, good cocoa character. Hint of coffee, caramel and vanilla as well. Mostly chocolate, without being too sweet. Excellent.
Taste is quite roasty as well, more so than the nose suggested. Rich coffee flavour with spice notes, a slight burnt character midway and some really bitter dark chocolate - that type that has undertones of berries, which are what sort of emerges here as well. Nice underlying malt creates enough sweetness to carry it, but the late mid is really very bitter. Finish is not too strong but maintains a level of bitterness that's bold without being unpleasant. Not amazing and a bit dour compared to what the nose promised, but not unpleasant at all.
Decent body, bit of texture to it. Quite strong mouthfeel really, you couldn't accidentally have it in your mouth without noticing.
Good stout; nose gave hints that it could be a magnificent sweet chocolatey stout and it's a little bitter and mildly astringent instead. But well constructed.
60 / 100
Can purchased from the little bottle shop up the road from me.
Pours a darkish gold colour, with big foamy off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly to a rim of tiny bubbles. Slight trails of lace left behind but nothing special. Better head retention would be good; otherwise looks pretty standard.
Smells hoppy and pleasant. Not especially NZ-centric, seems quite citric but with milder tropical notes playing around at the back, along with some piquant spice and a slight hint of rubber. Smells fairly light on the body, and kind of by the numbers in terms of a pale ale aroma.
Taste is also largely spicy, really. Light caramel malt notes for the beginning, then develops a light tangy citrus hop character early-mid. Hops develop an earthiness midway that gets quite peppery late, together with a lingering resinous bitterness. Finishes nice and clean with just a whisper of tropical fruit, and it's the best thing about this beer. Not that there's anything bad, but it's light-bodied and fairly dank in the hop notes, and it needed some lightening up. And that last note almost does the job.
Yeah, body is fairly light so the carbonation mars the front a bit, and the hops strip off any texture of the back. It's not out of the realm of the style, but it's not amazing.
Decent drinking beer, but nothing special as far as pale ales go, and doesn't quite lean enough on the unique NZ hop character for me. Based on the info on the can, I would personally sub in Riwaka (if available) or even Nelson Sauvin for the NZ cascade to ramp up the tropical notes.
61 / 100
14% monster IPA brewed for GABS 2016. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.
Pours a gold colour, clear with large bubbly head. Looks alright, but a bit unimpressive.
Smells very sweet at first, with big caramel cake batter malt character. Grapefruit and passionfruit backing it up, apple-pear notes as well. It's hoppy, mostly, as one would expect, but not as big or complex as I expected.
Taste is cake battery upfront, with a faint whisper of sweetness that gets quickly drowned in the hop complexities. Fruit salad notes at first with mango, apricot and pear character, then a huge resinous, citric bitterness on the back with a sharp grapefruit character. The sweetness lingers towards the back though and doesn't quite get cleansed by the bitterness so it's all a big heavy-handed smack of the palate.
Body doesn't help, as it's really quite thick and gluggy yet sharply alcoholic and hot as well.
Yeah, just a bit too big in every aspect. But the sweetness overall is this beer's biggest sin, it just shouldn't linger like that.
75 / 100
Can tried at Jez's, in front of footy.
Pours a quite dark amber colour, cloudy. Head is beige-yellow, quite voluminous, with sticky lace clumps left as it webs out. Quite dark for the style, but pretty fantastic otherwise.
Smells citric and fruity. Big fruit salad aroma but a strong sharpness to it with a big citric tang. Orange, grapefruit, some passion, kumquat and lychee. Nice and sweet, but good edge as well.
Taste is fairly decent, but without as much edge as I'd expected. Malty smooth upfront with caramel notes and then develops some pineapple towards the mid. Tangy fruit towards the back, touch of spiced pear and apricot, then a mild citric bitterness which doesn't have much edge or sharpness but emerges late on the finish as an afterthought. Decent, but I feel it could amp up the hops on there, it's clean but a bit too subtle.
Nice texture. Good base and a big pull from the hops but smooth and not sharp.
Drinks well, but for all the promise it could've amplified the hops and still stay within the style parameters. I think Riverside's 55 is still the best example of a really ballsy hoppy pale ale on the Australian market, and I did have hopes this could match it.
84 / 100
Can from Chris, shared on election night. It's a funny one as it's a beer I definitely feel familiar with, but have never sat down and reviewed - or, apparently, really paid attention to.
Pours a pale orange colour, cloudy throughout. Head is foamy, generous but not too much, lacing sticks in viscous webs. Looks pretty awesome.
Smells hoppy, with pear and peach notes and a good tangy lime acidity to it as well. Yeah, a big sherbet note, all hops and not much malt though, but it's nice.
Taste is tangy, with lots of lime, grapefruit and pomegranate. Big fruit tang with a big whack of sharpness but then malt comes in padding it nicely, with a nice caramel note and touch of toasty grain. Finishes smooth, fruity sweet but a good belt of bitterness that doesn't really spike. Big IPA, but amazingly well controlled. It's not even my kind of double IPA (As a committed contrarian I prefer them on the malty side) but I have to concede this is phenomenally good.
Smooth, bit of a rough texture from the hops but really well padded at the back.
Absolutely cracking IIPA, huge hops and great malt that's there without dragging it into sweet territory.
355ml can purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a very pleasant deep golden colour, very slightly hazed but mostly bright and clear. Head is fine, forming a white froth at the start but settling out to a thin film that leaves delicate streaks of lace. Body is light and fluid, but the carbonation is tight and very fine. Looks good.
Nose is decent, but I'm always expecting a New Zealand hopped beer to punch me in the face. The base note actually comes from the malt, with a fairly neutral semi-sweet Munich malt character. Layered over that is a subtle, but pleasant hop note, giving a hint of greenness, some mild stonefruit notes along with sharper less sweet fruits: perhaps feijoa and carambola. It's generally pleasant.
Taste is weaker, with a thinness to the body that makes the back rather dry. Despite this, the malty character keeps suggesting sweetness that isn't there, compounded by the hop character, which does come in fairly firmly through the centre, providing some bitterness. The back ends up feeling rather empty, with an echo of hops and malt that don't have anything to back them up.
Feel is light—for a 4.8% pale ale, it's what you want. It's just that some of the characters crave more body.
Overall, it's a very drinkable, smashable, quaffable beer. I'm very happy to have a six-pack of it to work through, and I'm certainly not regretting my purchase. But it is a bit of a miscue from Pirate Life, compared to their otherwise exceptional range. I certainly think it's the least of their current range.
82 / 100
355ml can (listed as such, although this is clearly a US-style 12oz-er) purchased from Beer Cartel in Artarmon.
Pours a pretty clear deep golden colour, almost trending towards amber or copper, with a fine white bubbly head that leaves nice speckled lace. Body has some heft to it, borne out by some lethargic fine carbonation, which makes a slow trip to the top of the glass. Looks good.
Nose is excellent. Crisp, sharp and fresh with good hop selection. The can doesn't specify the dry-hopping schedule, but the hops listed include Riwaka, Simcoe and Centennial, which would make for an unsurprisingly pleasant aroma. Some sharpness cuts through the neutral but rather slick barley sugar aroma, with the hops lending a little bitter orange and lime leaf. It's nice.
Taste is full-bodied, slick, clean and smooth, but with plenty of flavour to justify a bit of extra weight. Front is clean and crisp, with a slight pine-fresh entry from the hops. The mid to back palate adds weight, with some slightly grain-tinged malt sugar heft, balanced by a pronounced bitterness that lingers, oily and biting on the tongue. Finish is very clean, apart from the residual hops, which makes you want to take your next sip.
Feel is great. It has a bit of weight, but stays crisp and drinkable throughout.
It's a cracking IPA—nicely balanced and very well created. It's American-styled through and through, from the size of the can, to the bite of hops on the aftertaste. What it lacks in rustic charm, it makes up for in competence and flavour.
80 / 100
355ml can purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pretty deep coppery colour, with good clarity. Head is a mess of fine off-white bubbles that leaves excellent lacing. Carbonation is fine, and fairly static, suggesting there's a bit of extra heft to the body, which is backed up by the slightly elevated ABV. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. Clean, sharp aromas that hint at passionfruit and tropical fruits, with a persistent bass note of deeper malt notes, almost tending towards actively sweet. As it warms, the flavours almost become sharper, counterintuitively, giving some black pepper and lemon myrtle. It's pretty good.
Taste is also good. It has some depth at its base, giving a firm, solid malt presence based around some fuller sweeter notes. But this is then comprehensively balanced out by the wonderful attenuation, which leaves the back dry and clean. Coupled with this is the hop character, which has rounded fruit notes, with more passionfruit, and a clean, very crisp bitterness. It's really nicely done. Feel is good: very light and crisp, which aids the drinkability.
Overall, it's a cracking brew, and a robust and fairly aggressive pale ale. This is not just another dull Pale Ale entry in the Australian craft scene, this is a genuine bar-raiser.
75 / 100
355ml can purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasant golden colour, with a very faint haze to it, but still maintaining some clarity. Head is frothy and a little loose-bubbled, but it runs out of steam pretty quickly, landing as a coarse-bubbly film. Body is mostly light, but with a little heft to keep the bubbles slow when tilted. Looks decent enough all up.
Nose is quite pleasant, with a firm hoppy note that tends towards sawdust and pine. Some rough, unsweet citrus makes itself felt though, matched with a slight savoury character with a touch of doughiness to it. It's pretty nice all up though.
The palate though is where this beer shines. It's clean and smooth, and eminently smashable, but maintaining enough fragrant hop flavour to give it punch and interest. Here, there is a sweet orange note, getting towards peel and pith, with enough residual body to balance it nicely. Carbonation is nicely tempered so it's not bloating. Finish is crisp and clean, with a little carbonic bit, which matches very nicely with the citrus.
Overall, it's genuinely quite successful at what it's doing, and really nicely fulfills the criteria of the nebulous term "session IPA". I'd happily sink a bunch of these on a hot day.
83 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep, ruby black colour, very clear despite the depth of the colour. Head forms a firm, yellowed off-white ring that leaves good, fine gauzy sheets of lace. Carbonation is fine and powdery. Looks pretty good all up.
Nose is great. Lovely crisp, bright hops livened up with pepper and crushed fresh mint. There's a depth to the malt though that also gives it a slight meaty edge. It's really good.
Lovely palate too. Fresh mint on the front again, with a herbal bite, but mingled expertly with plenty of fruit and citrus hops. Smooth body through the centre, with some slight biting Belgian notes that almost suggest a touch of tartness. Roast is also in there, but always in delicate balance with the other flavours. Long, lingering finish allows a little booze to come through, adding a little weight, but a pleasant vegetative, herbal bitterness on the back prevents it from getting too thick and heavy. It's really lovely.
Feel is smooth and sharp at once, which makes for a nice package.
Yep, this is a cracker. Big and flavoursome throughout, and earns it booziness: it's a purposeful, complex and very delicious beer.
71 / 100
Pours a brown colour, bit pale up to the edge but that's fine for the style. Beige head, dense and creamy and looks gorgeous. Whole thing looks gorgeous.
Smells grainy upfront with a touch of chestnut. Caramel sweetness as well. Then develops a nice fruity NZ hop note - tangy with passionfruit and pineapple predominating. Strong malty base: nice.
Sweet and nutty caramel upfront plus a touch of coconut. Develops tangy NZ hop notes towards the back with passionfruit and a tisane character. Malty, with a big melange of other flavours layered on top of it. Intense but very enjoyable.
Body is full, has a sharp booze heat on the back which is not ideal. Otherwise fine.
Hugely complex; maybe too much so? Has a lot going on and I feel it could be reined in a bit.
79 / 100
Tried on-tap at Clever Little Tailor in Adelaide, where they had a tap-takeover of the three taps in the bar.
Looks decent enough on the pour—quite pale for a double IPA, forming a slightly hazed golden hue in the glass. Head is a bit filmy, and dull off-white that settles out the a sudsy mesh. Leaves some streaky lace as it goes down. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is really great, and just what you want from a big hop-forward beer. Huge, crisp green hop character gives a smooth clean bite to the aroma, above plenty of malt that manages to also stay quite light and crisp. Hints of sweeter citrus and mango come through as well. As it warms, these all blend and even give a slight suggestion of musk. It's really aromatic stuff.
Taste is also really good. Here the citrus tone takes on a mandarin quality, but still with lovely sharpness from the hops—green and a little herbal. With the sweetness, there are flavours of toffee and marmalade, but with a pleasantly crisp body so it doesn't bog down under the extra malt and booze. Indeed, the lightness to the palate really aids the drinkability, leaving it rather crisp and dry at the finish.
Feel is nice: crisp and very drinkable.
Very drinkable for a DIPA. It's a hop-forward beer, but with purpose and balance. The bitterness is restrained but prominent, and the finish makes you want to take another sip. It's a promising entry from these guys.