Bottle muled back from NYC by Chris. An Imperial Pumpkin Stout.
Dark cola colour, thin rim of beige lace but no real bubbles. Doesn't really stick. Fairly pale and flat.
Smells like pumpkin pie. Fatty, sweet with short pasty crust, clove and cinnamon. Brown sugar, nutmeg. Could use a bit more stout, just smells like a pumpkin ale. But a nice one.
Taste is pretty intense. Decent roast character upfront with chocolate and then intense spice notes. Loads of brown sugar, with cinnamon and nutmeg and clove as well. Develops stouty bitterness on the very back. Odd, uncomfortable transition from spice to fairly robust bitterness. Reminds me of over-brewed black tea that starts with herbal tisane notes but ends up quite ashy. Still pretty decent.
Smooth but fairly dry and somewhat hot on the back. OK.
A bit intense, could use bit more sweetness or just toning down of the back; the blend is otherwise nice.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst.
Pours a black-ruby colour with a fair amount of clarity to it. Head is just a ring of bubble pale bubbles around the glass. Body is fairly light, some speckled lacing. Looks decent enough.
Nose is great, full and sweet with plums, ripe dates and an underlying solidity like brown bread. Christmas cake comes out nicely, giving a doughy solidity to it. Very pleasant.
Tasty on the palate as well. Creamy, dark and nutty, with characters of praline and hazelnut. Slight salty, mineral sea character comes through as well towards the back, leaving the back just a touch empty. The darkness lingers like a suggestion of liquorice. Feel is pretty light, but has a nice substance to it.
Overall, this is really nice stuff. Plenty of flavour, nicely balanced with a good amount of interest too. Very happy.
73 / 100
This is something of a white whale among the Australian beer community, and I'd managed to go some time without trying it—I finally managed it at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during Sydney Craft Beer Week 2013. Served on nitro through a sparkler.
Pours a stupid, thick black-brown colour but with definite clarity noticeable when held to the light—I can see red right through it. Head is stupidly creamy off the nitro. Pale beige, fine and rich leaving ridiculous lace. It's a ridiculously creamy looking beer, there's no denying that.
And did someone mention ridiculous? The nose is extreme. Intense vanilla, burnt sugar crème brûlée all over. It's so creamy and thick that it's silly. Some sultanas come through as well, perhaps with a slight hint of spice like ginger. But mostly it's just about pretending to be crème brûlée, which it does exceptionally well. It's insane. You're an idiot, beer.
Once this translates into flavour though, it's too much—too sweet. So much creamy, thick vanilla ridiculousness. It curdles with the booze (which is definitely noticeable), giving an offputting character of Irish cream. Stacks of vanilla toffee without much to counter it. It's thick, smooth and creamy and too much. I loved those flavours on the nose, but here, I admit I'm struggling with it.
Feel is lovely in its way, were it not for the bombastic quagmire of flavours that it supports.
Overall, it's too sweet, without darkness or... anything, to balance it. It makes me feel bloated and a little bit nauseated drinking so much of it. It does a great job of mimicking a brûlée, but I don't think I'd want to puree such a dessert and quaff it. Such thickness and sweetness—I found it difficult to finish despite its many fine attributes.
Pours a red-tinged dark brown. Nice beige head, webbed but sticky. Could be a bit darker but still nice.
Fruity on the nose. Banana, passionfruit, plenty of tropical notes. Bit of resin, but overall a bit light and almost stodgy. Needs more dark characters.
Taste is similar. Quite winter warmery with spice and dark fruit. Some banana, and a bit of rummy booze on the back. Not the best IBA I've had, a bit sweet and lacking roast characters.
Smooth texture, bit of hop pull and touch of booze on the back. Not bad.
To me the darker flavours are so integral to the success of a black ale. This seems more like an IPA that happens to look dark, and even then it's a bit flighty and fruity and lacking in gravitas. Can't say I love it.
71 / 100
Sampled at Santora's Pizza in Amherst.
Pours a pale gold, with a foamy, dense white head that is just beautiful. Awesome retention with a thick film of lacing left behind. Pay attention: this is how a pale ale should look.
Tangy fruit on the nose, big citrus characters with passionfruit tang. Somewhat Southern hemisphere notes come through, pine and lychee with some spicy pine needle. Very enticing indeed.
Taste is a little subdued. Plenty of hop with lychee, pineapple and passion flavours. Lime and candied orange as well. Overall though a little lacking in malt. Nice hop notes but there just isn't all that much there.
Foamy feel, almost sudsy. Bit of fizz. OK for style.
Very nice pale, just wanting a little more oomph on the palate.
77 / 100
Southern Tier now export (or get sent by some roundabout way) to Australia, but I'm loathe to try/review IPAs that aren't fresh. Call me a wanker if you will. Anyway, a trip to NY seemed like a good opportunity to check this out.
Pours a heavy burnished golden-bronze colour, with a head that forms slowly and languidly, but which is suitably fine and solid when it arrives. Lacing is minimal, but splodges stay around when the glass is tilted. The body is probably its most impressive feature, being as though it is thick, syrupy and heavy.
Nose is lovely and fresh, with big green hoppy characters coming off like crushed vegetation and savoury fruits. There's a big sweetness to it as well, obviously from the massive amounts of malts, but it complements the hop characters. Nice.
Taste is a bit more brash and unvarnished. Here, the hops form a biting centrepiece which the smooth running malt cushions violently. Lovely peppery vegetative characters throughout, that would be obscene if not for the softening effect of the body and the malt sweetness. It's like being punched by a marshmallow.
Very nicely balanced throughout, as a result, and the extra body and booze is well-placed, and is used to excellent effect.
A lovely Imperial IPA. It makes everything bigger, but doesn't forget the balance and subtlety that is required as well. Great work.
Pours a pale gold, very hazy but still letting lots of light through. Head is white, medium-sized bubbles and nice cradle of clingy lace. Not much head left after a while. Looks decent.
Smells sweet, kinda Belgiany with boiled toffee and lots of stone fruit - peach, apricot and a lot of honey as well. Mild wheat tartness helps with the grounding. Not bad.
Taste is also very sweet, with big honey notes on the front with rich caramel malt. Develops grainy bread notes towards the mid, brown bread, rye and oat. Some fruit characters around the edges - peach, banana and orange peel. Finish is a little bit dry and enjoyably long, albeit just a trailing off of that candied fruit flavour. Nice complexity, but still a bit sweet overall for my taste.
Too much sizzle adds a sharpness throughout, but it's a nice solid body otherwize.
Stylistically good and it's an interesting beer. Good things done, I think, with what they've got.
Pours a golden beer colour, yeah amber I guess, with a slight orange tinge. Clear body, persistent trickling of bead. Head is off-white, achieves a decent height when poured but sinks significantly, leaving just a thin rim of small bubbles. Lacing is pretty uneventful too. Actually looks acceptable, but mediocre.
Smell is a definite perkup. Plenty of fresh, lively aroma from hops; floral with a distinct fruity sweetness. Not so much citrus but some tropical passion, pineapple and some redcurrant providing a slight piquancy. Touch of caramel from the malt and some apple juice fragrance as well. Possibly borders on oversweet, but very enticing.
Taste starts out quite odd. Big flavour hit up front that is quite tart and citric and seems a bit out of place, I think because there isn't a lot of malt base to provide the foundation on the front palate. So it's tangy from the get-go, builds to a peak midway through, where it's big and fruity with lemon zest, passionfruit seeds and maybe some mango. This then dips off to leave a finish which is nicely bitter with some pine resin and citric notes. Definitely feels like it peaks - and finished - too early, like the whole back palate only has the flavour of another IPA's hang. All the flavours are in a nice balance and it has a nice IPA twang, but the profile just seems off-kilter to me.
The thinness on the front is ameliorated by the finish, which develops more of a presence in the mouth. Still not a wonderful texture overall though.
I've definitely had better IPAs and more exciting beers from Southern Tier. Enjoyable enough, but a bit disappointing. Maybe I've just set the bar too high.
60 / 100
The only other American Pale Wheat Ale I've sampled (or truly American one, at least) has been Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin', which was a cracker, so I pounced on the opportunity to try another one I found this at Perth's International Beer Shop.
Pours a clearly translucent, but somewhat hazed golden colour, with a fine and slick head of white foam that depresses to an oily glaze. Lacing is fine and leggy, leaving patterns I associate with pilseners. Carbonation is streaming, and passes swiftly through the light body. Looks decent.
Nose is a bit light, with some sweet cereally grain characters the majority note. Some hints of zesty lemon and a slight honeyed note come through, but it's quite minor.
Taste is a little better, giving a slight grainy bed to a subtle zesty note. Finish is bright and a little empty, leaving the wheat-husk aroma of processed white bread. Light feel is textured by an oiliness that actually aids drinkability.
Eh, it's not bad, but it's very bland, and I expect APWAs to up the ante over their German Hefe counterparts. This is like a pedestrian brewed wheat beer without the German yeast to give it its estery goodness.
75 / 100
Purchased from the International Beer Shop in Perth, because I'd seen it as the feature bottled beer at Sydney's Local Taphouse, and couldn't justify the markup on it there.
Pours a gooey and thick hazed golden yellow colour, with a filmy head, which coalesced early on, but settles to nearly nothing. Lacing, however, is still fine and intricate, probably owing something at least to the heavy body, which allows only the finest amount of carbonation to form. Looks good.
Nose is fresh and hoppy, with a robust green bitter character on the nose, which I genuinely delineate from the West Coast IPA character. This is more direct, more pungent and less fruityâperhaps it's fair to say that this is more genuinely hoppy. Nice.
Palate is really beautifully balanced, with a robust vector of hops through the centre, which disintegrates and melds into the light clean malts to give a nuttiness through to the end. Some vegetative greenness throughout, which makes it taste a little like chewing on leaf stalks, but it's lovely and fresh and again well-balanced.
Feel is surprisingly light, but this may just be an artefect of the fresh hoppy notes that lift it.
A good beer, and a good IPA. While I'd say I still prefer the West Coast variety (probably for no better reason than that I am accustomed to it), this is probably the best example I've had from the East that still retains its distinctive character.
85 / 100
Pours a darkish golden colour, slight haze and great-looking head, cream-coloured with nice dense bubbles. It sinks slowly, leaving pretty high calibre lace trails behind. Yeah looks good.
Smells very malty; darker than it looks as well. Golden syrup with walnut notes and a good belt of cocoa as well. Mostly sweet, but a nice dose of bitter as well, the way good rich molasses are (is?). Hint of some grassy hop but mostly a malt bomb. Nice.
Taste is an interesting one. Seems to take time to get going, with a slight brown sugar sweetness on the assault, then not much until the middle as the strong, complex sweetness takes hold. Lots of nutty notes with walnuts and some dark fruit as well, plum and raisins and of course more brown sugar. Finish has a slight subtle bitterness that nonetheless lasts quite a while. Not much hop flavour, but hints of resiny bitterness. Really like the flavours and the bitterness just finishes it well.
Full body, nice and slick as it goes down though. Damned nice.
A great tasty, hearty beer. Lots of complex sweet flavours well handled.
73 / 100
Pours a surprisingly light golden amber colour. Head is full, frothy and very decent; large bubbled, but leaving good lacing. By the end it's a little filmy, but initially, it's a treat.
Nose is a little musty and cellarlike - it has some of the rustic phenols I associate with a kellerbier. Lots of sweet nut characters as well, and a kiss of milk chocolate. Really quite nice.
Taste is extremely nutty, and the phenols have morphed a little into a rather robust boozy bitterness. Smooth in the body but little other signs of sweetness. Nut skin on the back gives a light astringency. Some hop oil is present too, giving that classic American sharpness. Interesting brew. Feel is lovely.
Some complexity here, but the rousing lack of sweetness and overdose of back palate bitterness make it sharper than it needs to be. Still a tasty brew and an interesting one as well.
76 / 100
Pours a nice cloudy appearance with dirty orange colour. Slow but steady bead in the body and a very tasty dense beige head, retaining well and pockmarked in spots. Lacing is a bit disappointing, not much. Otherwise looks good but would really like more lace.
Nose is quite sweet and fresh. A lot of nutmeg on it with hints of banana and caramel. Some floral notes like pot pourri or air freshener. A pleasant sweet-spice nose, with light sugaryness but a good tang lurking behind. I like it.
Taste is a very syrupy affair, with lots of malt, giving off brown sugar and sweet caramel. A fair note of cinnamon on the mid with some banana esters and maybe a little orange zest as well. Finish has a more earthy flavour, with some phenolic spice and a nice kiss of alcohol providing a good warmth to an otherwise fairly easy drinking beer. A hint of herbs complements it, almost like benedictine in character, and yeah, overall a sweet, pleasantly potent beer. Very nice.
Mouthfeel is fairly thick with a good amount of syrupy fullness without overdoing it, goes down fairly slick and smooth. A good texture for sure.
I'd call this a dangerous beer. Too easy to drink for how alcoholic I suspect it is, doesn't have the brute force of the Stone Bastards - which are my only other ASAs - although the detectable alcohol acts as a bit of a warning sign.
76 / 100
Pours a lovely deep slightly burnished copper colour, with a thin but fine head of yellowish foam. some lacing, but some lovely static lacing in the body when swirled. Looks really full-bodied and quite heavy. A good look for the style. Very nice.
Lots of banana and toffee on the nose, slight metallic characters and a slight whiff of alcohol. Really big, sweet, heavy and rich. It smells like banana bread soaked in treacle. Really heavy, sweet and delicious.
Thick and heavy in the mouth. Big notes of toffee, more banana bread, with some light boozy phenols coming forward too. Very little harshness though, which is a blessing - the thick silky palate is saved from being too intimidating. It comes across as rich, full and flavoursome, but also approachable and drinkable.
A very nice brew. It's not bombed with hops, nor raw with alcohol like some American Strongs, but it comes across as a rich, complex, smooth and drinkable brew. Very nice.
38 / 100
Pours a bright orange-gold colour, like pumpkin skin. Head is initially firm and fine, but dissipates after a while to a collar of small white bubbles around the rim. Some reasonable lacing, and a small amount of streaming carbonation. Looks ok.
Rather timid nose. Some hints of cherry candy, dried orange rind, plastic and perhaps a very faint herbal funk to it. "Funk" is probably overstating it for a Saison - certainly doesn't have the wild musty aromas associated with the style. Not bad, but could be a lot better.
Initial hints of cherry are noticeable; no sweetness, perhaps the tang of fruit you'd get by eating cherry stems or pips. This is then pummeled by the rather phenolic bitterness, like chewed herbs, an unfortunate spicy character that doesn't do the cherry any favours. Ends up with a bitter cherry skin flavour, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Mouthfeel is crisp but thin.
No, this doesn't work for me at all. It's a mish-mash of conflicting flavours that aren't even that pleasant in isolation. Tastes phenolic, higher in alcohol (and more noticeable) than it actually is, and with neither the elements of a good saison, nor those of a good cherry beer.
Bridge Road's Saison de Coing does fruit-infused saison much better. This is rather unpalatable, verging on offensive.