61 / 100
Pours an orange colour, vibrant with fair translucency. Head is off-white, large bubbles but no real lacing. Nice, but not wonderful.
Smells mildly hoppy. Decent citric notes, touch of peach, but mostly just light, fruity hops. Bit sharp and a bit one-tracked, but otherwise pleasant.
Taste is brash and hoppy from the start. Quite American - citric, in your face, bit of fruitiness and then all acidity. Bit of English-style malt there to balance it, doesn't quite manage it though, and the American-ness takes over. How historically apt.
Bit of hop pull; decent body but not quite enough to temper those hops.
Nice IPA stylings. Decent palate, just a bit brash and harsh. Could be mellowed out a bit and I wouldn't be complaining.
88 / 100
375ml foil-capped bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA. Shared with Rich some months later.
Pours a slightly hazed orange hue, with a messily bubbled, if not particularly thick head of white. Lace forms in tiny specks but no more. Body is extremely pleasantly thick, and holds the fine carbonation very well indeed. Overall, though, it looks very good.
Nose is awesome. Big fresh citrus hops like slightly underripe orange and mandarin. Big sweetness underneath mingled pleasantly with it providing a stretchy toffee character that plays off the citrus fruit wonderfully. This bottle is some months old, I know, and the fact that it still stands up so damn well is a testament to just how good it must be fresh. Fantastic stuff.
Taste is also extremely good. The malt basis is strong, but neutral enough to just give the stage to the hops, which roar through with a pleasant intensity, touching everything as they work from front to back. Clean bitterness throughout, with a brightness that reminds me of Pliny. Slight green kiwifruit and leafy chewiness on the back gives a cleansing flavour, while the bitterness and hop oils linger for some time. It's really excellent stuff.
Feel is clean but smooth, with a thickness that supports everything, and a lightness which lets the flavours do their work.
Overall, this is blissfully drinkable, amazingly balanced and just damn *good*. The flavours are really beautifully put together to produce a beer of great substance and character while maintaining a pleasant approachability. Fantastic stuff.
79 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a very pleasant ruby-tinged amber-brown colour, with a rather bright yellow crest of foam. This settles down to a loose ring. Body has a pleasant heft to it, and holds its fine carbonation very well. Overall, it's a really good-looking beer. I like it.
Nose is a pleasant melange of toasty, sweet rich malts and bright, fresh hop characters. There's orange citrus and some blossom tones, with a richness like treacle and cinnamon. They work in concert almost perfectly, providing a balanced and complex combination. It's really quite lovely.
Taste takes a step back from this, but still maintains a very pleasant balance: the malt is less prominent here, and it's less rich and full than I thought it might be. Instead, the hops are thrust forward, giving a rounded, supple fruitiness and a pronounced, but not sharp bitterness. Still, it is rounded and balanced with some toasty malt characters and a suggestion of vegemite. It is, in fact, very pleasant.
Feel is smooth and supple, providing another layer of balance against the hop character.
Overall, this is a damn fine beer. It's very delicately balanced, while maintaining a very full and forthright flavour profile. What's more, it's remarkably easy to drink, and oddly moreish. I'm a big fan.
75 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a pleasant, mildly hazed golden-orange colour, with a fine, soft head of white that sticks around in a film. Lacing is erratic, but forms pleasantly intricate patterns when it does form. Body is quite hefty, and holds fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks good.
Crumbly lemon tart characters on the nose, some sweet-savoury malt characters and a clean but not pungent or sharp citrus hop aroma. It mellows after a while, maintaining a custardy lemon character, but gaining a slightly more yeasty tone. It's still decent.
Taste is light and clean, with a sharpness through the centre that provides a nice counterpoint to the base, which is broad and again sweet-savoury. Some prickly lemon characters and a metallic bite towards the back. Finish is long with hops, but pleasantly clean otherwise. Overall, it's pretty tasty.
Feel is good. Smooth and pleasant to balance the sharper characters.
Overall, this is a very solid and very tasty APA. It's less aggressive than an IPA, but with the genesis in crisp, biting hop flavours. This drives it forward and provides a very neat and very drinkable package.
62 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, beige head with sparse, frothy bubbling. Slightly uneven, with thin lace on the glass. Head is crafty, frothy goodness. Looks natural and pleasant.
Burnt and nutty on the nose - charry roast malt notes with walnuts, coffee grounds and a touch of carob. Standard, but also fairly blaring, one-track dark beer aroma.
Taste is roastier, with a burnt bitterness lingering from the mid-palate. Spent coffee grounds, bitter cocoa plus some pepperberry, carbon and coriander notes late. Maybe could use some more body; a bit thin, so the roast is fairly harsh. Decent crack at the style, but I don't think it recommends more schwarzbiers to me.
87 / 100
Bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a pleasant clear and clean black, with a bubbly but solid head of mild yellow-brown. Lacing is spotty. Body looks rather fluid, but slick, and it holds carbonation well.
Nose is lovely. Toasty malts leavened by a mild touch of something bright, fresh and even a little lemony. Dark rye bread, spread with cream cheese and shallots. It's a beautiful balance between darkness and light. Love it.
Taste is also excellent. Lovely clear lines to the feel and the vectors through the palate, delivering solid toasty malt all the way. Flavours of mild chocolate, a little crust and some dark seed cake on the back. This is all beautifully balanced with a really lovely dryness and a lovely clear but slick feel. Only a lager delivers that integration and lightness.
Overall, I love it. Black lagers are well underrated: this a superb example of why this should not be the case. This is clean and pleasant, but loaded with flavour and character. More craft lagers, please!
71 / 100
Pours a cloudy, particle-suspended pale gold with a modest head of off-white lace, slightly whispy with some arcs left on the glass. Still body, with no bead and almost a wobbly viscosity. Interesting, not amazingly enticing.
Smells quite rich and malty, with a slight vinous sourness to it and a fair amount of apricot and ginger. Slight fresh fruit note, not quite acidic but yeah, Belgian and fairly sweet. Quite nice.
Taste is quite sweet overall; lots of fruit and a fortified wine thickness to it. Apricot flavours, guava and a slight candied orange flavour on there, with a nice airy freshness on the mid followed by mildly spicy finish, ginger and a drop or two of white peppery yeast. Nice Belgian flavours really, not overblown phenolics and sweet and tasty for the most part.
Mouthfeel is fairly thick, as I was expecting. Bit of heat as it goes down, bit of dryness as well. Fair enough for the style but not a wonderful blend of textures, more of a clash.
Yeah, reasonably tasty drop. Hot-ish, but it handles it all quite well.
Purchased in California and brought back to Australia. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a slightly hazed, but surprisingly deep yellow, and certainly not opaque enough for a witbier, with a little floating sediment, and a filmy head of white that doesn't retain at all. Lacing is spotty and sudsy, but sticks around enough for what it is. Body looks quite heavy. Looks decent enough, but not enough like a witbier, even for a heavy witbier.
Yeasty and slightly citric on the nose, quite sharp and fresh, which is rather pleasant and surprising. A bit of aldehyde chemical nose-stripping booziness to it, but not enough to be offensive. It just accentuates the light orangey citrus and sharp Belgian yeast notes. Nice.
Taste is smoother than I expected, and the booze is far removed on the palate. Almost gets sweet notes to it, and an earthily organic, almost meaty character from the yeast. Still, the lack of sharpness or acidity actually detracts from it, both generally and stylistically. Feel is very smooth. Would be good with more twang on the palate.
A bit too sweet, eventually, which is surprising considering the nose suggested a good deal of booze and astringency. Needs something to cut through the heaviness on the palate, and even those two characters would have helped. Good otherwise.
71 / 100
Pours a very dark colour, dark mahogany up to the light. Beige head levels out slowly, leaving a film of headness on the top. Lace is thin but has that great "look at me, I'm a dark beer" bronze curtain look to it. Yeah, decent beer, but not amazing.
Nose is very roasty, lots of coffee on that. Yeah, toasted grain and just general carbon matter. Slight ashiness with smokey coffee grounds. Nuttiness on the back like roasted almond. Yeah, pleasant nose but again not mind-blowing.
Taste is actually a bit weak on the front. Has nice dark roasty notes at first, then gets just a bit subdued, the roastiness trails off. It creeps back into the palate with pleasant nutty notes and mega cocoa. A hint of cola character at the back, just slightly sour and not as 'meaty' as the imperial stouts I've come to love. Finish is a strong point though with nice palatable roastiness, a lot of sweetness as well though. If anything a little too sweet, has a brown sugar tinge to it and I do quite like my stouts to roast my bollocks off at the end. Decent palate overall though, just feel it's a bit mild and timid compared to what I expected.
Does swill really nicely in the mouth, smooth and velvety with a bit of a dry bite at the end that just adds a little "oomph!" to it.
I often say in my reviews that when flavour feels diminished, it makes it more drinkable. That is definitely true here because for an imperial stout it is remarkably easy-drinking and mild. The alcohol is virtually undetectable.
76 / 100
Purchased at Monument Wines & Spirits, Concord and carted back in my luggage to Sydney and cracked open with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a reasonably heavy, but definitely opaque black with a rocky head of chocolate shavings foam. Little lacing, and the body could perhaps be a little heavier, but it looks pretty decent. Very suitable for an Imperial Stout.
Big stout nose, with some sweetness that to me implies the American variety rather than the RIS variety. Slight smokiness and a hint of oak. Light notes of chocolate, but the more I smell, the more the smoke character comes through. Very interesting.
Taste is round, and the forefront has hints of the smokiness, but there's something oddly acidic running around as well - almost a coppery blood character, and I say that not in a disparaging way. Later, oak notes come through a little, some vinous characters and a roasted bitter finish that almost feels as though it's there for show. I mean, it's a stout, so it has to taste black and roasted at some point.
Very smooth in the mouth. It's not incredibly thick, but it certainly has a satiny texture.
Yeah, this is a very nice Imperial Stout. I've had better - ones which accentuate the sweet, fragrant and vinous characters of the style more - but this is very drinkable, very smooth and quite flavoursome.