375ml can purchased from Beer Cartel. It's an Irish Dry Stout, according to the label, which seems odd for what's been added to it. But there you go.
Pours a pleasant opaque ebony brown, with a persisten if thin head of pale beige. Lacing is solid, with intricate long streaks. Body is quite light, and the carbonation is fast: it's not the languid pour of a Guinness, for instance.
Nose is pleasantly spiced, with fragrant cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla coming through. There's not a lot of sweetness, but the characters are ones I associate with a big, rich stout. So I'm hopeful.
Disappointingly, on the palate, the genesis of it as a dry stout makes itself clear. It has a real lack of sweetness through the middle, in particular, with a slightly bitter finish from the roasted grains. Again, there's loads of spice characters through it, giving nutmeg and cinnamon, but without anything to catch them as they fall. It's a shame.
Feel is also too light. It would be fine for a drier, more sessionable stout, but this is crying out for more body to it.
Overall, it's genuinely a mismatch of characters. It could be a lovely beer—the spice notes are a good flavour in a stout, but this beer isn't enough to support it. Definitely not what I wanted from it.
57 / 100
'Wagon Wheel' Sweet Stout brewed for GABS festival 2017. Tried there in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a brown colour, fairly dark to the edge with nice beige foamy head. Not too bad, could use a bit more retention. Standard for the style.
Smells chocolatey with a hint of peanut. Maybe a hint of some biscuity malt or it could be completely psychosomatic. Not bad.
Taste is sweet, grainy. Some pecan character to the malt that develops into vanilla, caramel and retains an odd oatmeal cereal kind of character, with chocolate. Very little stout character and the 'sweet' aspect seems to be just a complete neutering of the finish so it starts dark and finishes empty. Very little character beyond the front. Disappointing.
Full body, decent texture as it goes down.
Very disappointing. Definitely lacks the jammy, berry notes that the tasting notes and the name would suggest. If it delivered on point it could have been a beer of the festival but it feels like a very uninspired execution of a decent idea.
74 / 100
For GABS beers there should be a "dessert beer" or "food beer" category. But that's a story for another day. Trifle beer, brewed for and tried at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours a rich amber colour with a distinct non-beery tinge to it. Looks adjuncty. Head is cream-coloured, large bubbles but good retention. Looks interesting.
Smells sweet; cake battery malt dominates at first then behind it is some nice fruit characters, apple, berries and passionfruit. Subtle, but nice.
Taste is very sweet, and somehow manages to have a distinct blackberry note, which I wouldn't have thought likely or possible from a beer. Honeyed malt upfront, passionfruit as well, with a touch of cinnamon midway and then blackcurrant on the back. Really intriguing, and well delivered on an audacious promise.
Decent body, with a touch of carbonation tingle. Alcohol is actually quite sharp on the mouthfeel and I'm not sure why.
Interesting drop. I'm not sure if I really get trifle, but definitely fruit. Could have called itself a pavlova beer and it would be just as successful.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very deep brown-black colour, almost looking opaque in the glass. Body has some heft to it, although the carbonation makes it look lighter than it is. Head is beige, forming a fine ring that leaves minimal lace. Looks decent all up.
Nose is pleasantly toasted with just a suggestion of acetic acid. Some aniseed comes through, but as an accentuator to the toasted notes. It smells pretty tasty.
Light pleasant entry on the palate, turns a little burnt, without the smokiness. Back is dry but clean, with a really nice clean quality. Aftertaste has a very mild cacao character to bring it home. Feel is smooth and clean with a leavened lightness that helps the drinkability.
Overall, it's a subtle beer, but quite pleasant. I could certainly see myself happily drinking a few of these. I'd have a pint somewhere other than GABS.
61 / 100
Pours a black colour with sparse webs of beige lace around the top where a head once might have been. Looks OK.
Smells a bit salty. Touch of roast and maybe a slight smokey character, mild woodiness to it as well. Yeah, smells shellfishy; not bad.
Taste is similar. Salty with a touch of shellfish and a slight sea foam note. Roast comes through on late-mid and finishes off with a slight smokey edge. Again, not bad.
Thin body, has a bit of alcohol bite late which is odd, and unexpected.
Tastes like an oyster stout. Bit salty for my taste; I just don't like oysters so would like the roast to dominate a bit more. Decent though.