50 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains. No freshness date.
Pours a very hazy brown amber, and despite what I thought was a careful pour, leaving the dregs in the bottle, there are stacks of floating bits in the glass. Head forms a tight ring after bubbling up initially. Body feels heavy, carbonation is fine, but minimal. No lacing. Looks okay.
Nose is sweet but dry, with sherry characters and a slight oxidised note coming through. Booze is certainly noticeable, as is a slight dusty pepper character that's almost the memory of hops. It's decent enough, but not very complex, and smelling a little tired.
Taste is similar in many ways. Papery oxidation comes through a fair bit on the front and mid-palate, more sherry notes, booted along by a strong alcohol kick. Sweetness is actually pretty minimal: at the very least, it's tied heavily to the booze, which is pretty dominating. Bitterness on the back, partly medicinal from the booziness, and perhaps partially from hops. Feel is almost astringent and burning like hot cognac.
Pretty hard to drink, and without the complexities or flavours that warrant the level of booziness. It's a big beer, but it doesn't justify being as big as it is.
61 / 100
Unlabelled bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a pretty deep ruddy amber colour, with a filmy, but slightly frothy yellow-white head. Consistency of the head is bubbly, somewhat, but it leaves pretty solid fine lacing. The body looks very pleasantly heavy, and holds carbonation well when tilted. Overall, it's not a bad looking brew.
Nose is quite sticky and, it has to be said, overly sweet. Big caramel malt characters come through quite strongly, oddly sharpened and extended by the hops, which are a little muted, but still provide a resiny edge to the malt. The hops themselves give alternately resin, dust and capsicain, along with a continual brusque earthiness. It's not bad, but it's not magnificent either.
Taste is similar, although the sweetness isn't as pronounced as I thought it was going to be. Here we get more peppery hop characters that meld into an earthy, slightly herbal greenness on the back palate, and a mild, slightly grainy maltiness which floats along without purpose. Very minimal bitterness, even in the finish, although there are still lingering resin aromatics trailing off at the very end.
Overall, this is a pretty generic IPA, or perhaps even a slightly substandard one. It's either too sweet or too bland, neither of which is a good descriptor for a good IPA. I was left pretty underwhelmed.
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a slightly clear brown colourâcertainly clear at the edges at least, with a rather insipid ring of mild brown bubbles. Body obviously has a bit of weight behind it, but it seems very fluid and it doesn't hold carbonation very well. Overall, it looks a bit lacklustre for an Imperial Stout.
Nose is sweet and malty, but with the grainy genericness of malt extract. Slight dusty coffee overtones, but very muted. Really, it smells a lot like malt extract and not much else: it's sweet and heavy, but without depth, complexity or the true roastiness I expect from an RIS.
Taste is probably even worse. Here there's a big but empty and very, very unwholesome sweetness that tastes like water with some liquid malt extract thrown in. There are faint hints of roast, but they come across more as husky grain, with a slight lactic efterklang. Oh god. I'm exceptionally unimpressed.
Feel is slick and relatively thick, but that just adds credence to the flavours. The flavours do not deserve credence.
Wow, what the hell? This is a very unimpressive Imperial Stout. In some senses (say, the lack of complexity) it feels thin and weak, in others (say, the cloying sweetness), it feels excessive and overpowering. This is a very unfortunate brew in my bookâbridging the gap between cloying and bland-as-fuck. That was a gap that should never have been bridged.
Pours a burnished, quite red amber, with mild haze. Head is dissipated to a ring of white bubbles. Lace is clingy though, and saves it from oblivion.
Smells intriguing. Quite sweet with a nutty edge, kind of savoury with a biscuity note. Hint of wet grain and maybe a touch of melon as well. Not amazing, but certainly pleasant.
Vanilla on the front, quite massively. Develops fairly sweet mid-palate with caramel and lactose notes, then descends into the finish which has characteristic fruit ester notes - more melon with some tangerine, strong vanilla and other fruit notes I can't quite pick. Not bad, but again it doesn't quite connect with me; I'd like more grounding maybe.
Fairly smooth, really. Quite a big body, bit boozey and dry towards the back. Bit sharp but otherwise good.
Yeah, look, at some point I want to give this a 4, because even though it's not quite wowing me on any specific part, I think it's quite a nice drop. Let's call this a 4 for effort overall.
Bottle purchased in New York early in the year and brought back to Sydney to share with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a hazed orange golden colour, with a fine and reasonably persistent head of film. Some bubbly lace that only forms where it's tilted. Body is pleasantly thick, and holds carbonation nicely. Not a bad look all up.
Nose is sweet and sharp, but a little one-dimensional. Sugary booze notes give wafts of rum, along with a hint of spice that's perhaps more like astringents than real spice. It comes off a bit thin, a little muddled and not particularly exciting, to be honest.
Taste is similar or worse, with a sharp boozy astringency taking up the prominence of the flavour. Very much like bad Australian rum. Slight tannins on the back, with only a hint of the sweetness suggested by the palate. Feel ends up harsh and slightly brutal.
This suffered severely by being put directly after J.W.Lees' Harvest Ale. It's like a pale imitation of that, without the sophistication, the craft or the depth. It comes across as purely boozy, with little complexity to keep it from being offensive.
69 / 100
Pours a dark, slightly cloudy brown colour, with an initially frothy head of mocha coloured foam. Lots of fine-bubbled carbonation around the edge feeding the head initially, although it stays around only as a film. Lacing is good though. If the head were more boisterous is would be really excellent, but it's still a very nice looking beer.
Quite a complex and robust nose, with more than a little nod to the Belgian style dark ales. Some weizen-style banana phenols, and an awful lot of sweetness, but the rounded buttery characters, and the lilt of alcohol do conjure up the image of the Belgians as well.
Taste is smooth, and the feel is slick, and not overcarbonated. Initial warm dark weizen notes are heaped away by some slight phenolic heat, and a darker, crisped malt character. Booze is certainly slightly too prominent, and the weizen notes are much subdued for the style. It's no wonder the Belgian notes are prominent on the nose, with the big alcohol presence and the tight phenols.
I'd say the gravity is slightly too high on this one. The booze makes its presence felt, even though it's not an enormous beer ABV-wise. This hurts the drinkability slightly, but it does have some complexity and some very pleasant characters on it. It's neither a traditional Dunkelweizen nor Weizenbock, but it's got something going for it.
78 / 100
Pours a tasty-looking dark umber, very dark but brown through and through. Head is a pleasant beige tinge, nice and thick but settles out into a thin dense crown of tiny bubbles. Lace is a gorgeous film of dense silk. Gorgeous beer.
Nose is an interesting one, very dark and musty but with an interesting sour edge. A lot of carbon charcoal aromas with large fruit esters being given off - fresh cherries and blackberries, apple and apricot predominantly. Hiding behind it is a good toasty fragrance with some subtle dark malt and toffee. Really gorgeous, brooding, fruity nose. It is, however, lacking in classic wheat characters, but I heartily approve otherwise.
Taste is nice, rich and complex. A good sweet start with a milky edge, lots of brown sugar and dark molasses. A distinct Belgian flavour, I think Belgian candi sugar, then descends into a fairly toasty mid-palate with hints of burnt toast bitterness, then mellows out on the finish with sweet, slightly tart and green fruit flavours - pear, nectarine, some berry notes and a good hint of quince as well I think. Tempered by a light cinnamon spice. Overall, the beer is a little sweet on the front and the back for my taste, a little bit more spice or alcohol kick would be most welcome. Still, a wonderfully complex drop, nicely flavoured.
Mouthfeel is silky and slick, creamy even, like a good nitro stout for the most part, but with a light bitey sizzle which is not unpleasant , but a little unwelcome.
A delicious beer, complex but not overpowering. Very drinkable.
76 / 100
Pours full and thick, a superb dark amber-red colour, with an astonishingly full and thick head of yellow cream foam. lacing is excellent, and the head retention is superb. Body looks thick and heavy, the carbonation languid. This is a really excellent looking beer.
Ah, a delightful nose, redolent with unripe pineapple and citrus with sharper notes of pine and turpentine. There's also a pleasant caramel malt sweetness underpinning the fruity hop notes. If it's not as robust as the best IPAs I've had, it's still superbly balanced.
Taste delivers on what Simcoe promises, a long smooth and round bitterness, but without the harsh and grating grassy bitterness found in other varieties like Chinook. This is very clean, a little piney, and smooth all the way through the palate, although the bitterness is very pronounced and clear. I'd perhaps like a little bit more sweetness and body to complement the hops, but it's not essential when the hops aren't fighting to rip up your taste buds. Mouthfeel is clear and smooth - certainly no prickle - but lacking a little body as well.
Overall, a very drinkable IPA, and one that showcases Simcoe very nicely. It's not one that runs the gamut of the Double IPA range, but it does what it does well. There's a reason they put "Simcoe" (® and all) in the name of the beer.