Malt Shovel Brewery
from Australia
103rd highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedMad Brewers Scribbly Gum Lager (81 / 100) Average score60 / 100 (Decent)
Lowest RatedJames Squire Sundown Lager (45 / 100) Number Tried50
James Squire Mint Heist
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.10.17 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Peppermint Belgian Ale brewed for GABS 2017. I take all the credit for this beer, as I spoke to the brewer Christmas 2016 and at the time, he was tossing up between two different beer ideas for GABS 2017, and I enthusiastically expressed my support for this idea. Therefore it was entirely down to me that this beer exists. Tried at the festival on tap.

Pours darker than I'd expected, as for some reason I'd anticipated a blonde. Slightly cloudy with nice beige head, dense foam retaining well. Looks good, mid-range colour with a good Belgian character to it.

Smells like peppermint for sure. Fresh and minty with a spicy, raw edge to it. Slight grainy malt aroma underneath it but otherwise just big fresh mint. Good; I like it, but it's a bit simple.

Taste is a huge burst of peppermint in all its glory. Spicy and a good dose of herbal medicinal character that almost develops a rosemary character before the fresh, spicy back. Let's not deny it, it tastes a bit like toothpaste, but there's a good fluid malt base underneath it that carries it along. It's actually really fresh and pleasant; surprisingly so.

Decent body with a slight lick of alcohol on the back that's actually quite pleasant.

Nice drop. Tastes fresh and minty and unapologetically not much else. This won't be to everybody's taste but I enjoyed it a lot.

Retried and shortlisted this beer but it didn't crack my top 20.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Thaibock Lemongrass Bock
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 26.07.16 on tap
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
I like it when a brewer at GABS specifies an actual style that they've infused with some flavour, rather than just calling it a 'specialty beer' that will inevitably be called a fruit or spiced beer. Let's see if it lives up to expectations. Tried at the festival in Melbourne, May 2016.

Pours a gold colour, slightly cloudy with large bubbly head, off-white and sticking around alright. Not very interesting but alright.

Smells bready/grainy, with some cereal husk notes and a fair bit of yeast as well. Not much to it at all. Meh.

Taste has sweet cereal notes upfront, puffed rice and some pearl barley. Some underlying lemon myrtle-esque character but not a full-on lemongrass like I was expecting. Slight vegetative undergrowth note towards the back. No spice, really, just a subtle tang that's a bit disappointing.

Bit of alcohol kick comes through despite the body being fairly full. Possibly just because the back-palate is thin so there's no other character than that heat.

Disappointing. Really lacks lemongrass flavour. Just fairly bland.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.25
James Squire The Swindler Summer Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 17.05.16 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
345ml brown bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.

Pours a clear, very pale golden colour, with a coarse-bubbled, frothy head of white that leaves some frangible lace. Carbonation is fine but minimal. Body looks light but smooth. It's decent enough.

Nose isn't exceptional, but again it's decent enough. There's a mild, understated fruitiness to it, perhaps with a slight metallic twang or a hint of cereal grassiness. It's quite light and approachable though.

Taste is similar. It's pretty bland, but it has a pleasant enough crispness through the centre and towards the back. Malt is suitably light, providing only a hint of body and a touch of the cereal note. Aftertaste has a little suggestion of fruit, which plays nicely with the light body and the very faint crisp bitterness.

Feel is very light, which is right for this style of beer.

Overall, it's not a terribly interesting beer, but it's well-made and it's easily sluggable. For a semi-mainstream summer ale, it pretty much fits the profile to a T.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
James Squire Brewers 2050 Schwarzbier
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours a pure brown colour, quite clear in terms of haze but otherwise rather dark. Body is quite light and it hold very fine carbonation. Head is beige, forming in a coarse ring that leaves some fine streaks of lace. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is slightly toasty, but rather dry and dull otherwise. There's perhaps a slight vegetative note, something herbal or else peppery but it's pretty light. It's not bad overall, just lacking in character.

Taste is similar. Toasty dry entry with a mid-palate getting slightly metallic like aluminium. Back is decently clean at least, meaning the structure seems good, but it's really not very interesting. Aftertaste just has a tinge of mild, muted roast.

Feel is light and clean.

There's nothing wrong with this beer. It's just dull, and its dullness is particularly prominent at an event like GABS.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Brewers 2050 Schwarzbier
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.06.15 on tap
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a brown colour with a gold tinge at the edges. Beige head, sparse bubbles but retaining quite nicely. Definitely a bit pale but not too bad otherwise.

Smells dark, with chocolate-caramel overtones. Kinda spicy as well with clove and peppery characters. Not bad.

Taste is similar; chocolate malt upfront with a light toffeed edge. Roast towards the back that never reaches a big peak of flavour, just finishes dry with a slight smokey edge. Dry and light-bodied like a schwarz, touch of carbonation showing through as well.

Not a bad schwarz; traditional and to style. The weird thing about this vs the Bright Lord Helmet Schwarz is that this leaves me with an overall better impression because it didn't promise as much on the aroma.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire The Constable Copper Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.12.13 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at the Guilty Rogue in Brisbane.

Pours a pleasant coppery golden colour, very clear and bright. Weight is solid but fluid enough. Head is a persistent, bubbly mass of offwhite, leaving coarse streaks down the glass. Stacks of carbonation. More than you'd expect.

Rusty grain notes on the nose. Slight sweetness with some mild apple characters coming through. A little citrus suggests hops, but it's mostly earthy and based on the grainy malt characters. Decent enough.

Taste starts clean and crisp with a hint of metallic bite. This mellows into a more generic grain body, with some cleanness. Sweetness continues through to the back, where there's a hint of meatiness, and (unfortunately) a hint of PoR, which doesn't do it any favours.

Feel is a bit light, but quite clean.

Really quite drinkable. It's a bit dull for the most part, but it has its place, even in the already relatively generic James Squire lineup.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Cast Of Thousands Hefeweizen
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.11.13 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale straw colour, huge cloudiness throughout. White, webbed-out head dissipates way too quickly. Good apart from the lack of head but that's a big 'apart from'.

Banana on the nose in spades, but plenty of hefe spice as well. Clove and coriander with a whisper of pepper. Quite spicy, quite nice.

Taste is quite grainy upfront, but lots of nice hefe notes come through pretty quickly. Banana, white pepper, clove and coriander. Good balance and nice flavours.

Decent body, bit of sizzle from the carbonation. Not bad for style, quite bitty as well.

Actually decent hefe. Would be nice if Squire did more of this and played with more styles rather than seemingly rehashing the 'POR-hopped pale ale' formula they tend to work with.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire 150 Lashes
Reviewed by Jez on 15.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
345ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Although this has been out for a while now, I don't believe I've ever had it from a bottle, only on-tap.

On-tap, this pours genuinely cloudy, much like a Coopers green, which this seems to be trying to emulate, but here it's relatively clear, with just a slight hazing towards the end: although I don't believe it'd bottle-conditioned, I'm guessing there's a yeast addition towards the end to add the haze, and this has settled out in my bottle. Head is very minimal: a fine white ring around the top of the glass, even after a relatively vigorous pour. Some fine carbonation, but mostly it looks flat and still. Not bad, but not something to make you enthusiastic either.

Nose is a mixture of husky grain and earthy, woody PoR characters. There's something faintly floral sitting around the edges, but this seems to undermine the other characters, making the already questionable aromas seem weak as well. Some sweetness comes through as it warms, perhaps a touch of honey or banana. But mostly, it smells like a slightly off-colour Coopers green.

Taste is lighter and sweeter than Coopers though (sorry to keep making the comparison, but it's so obviously the comparison to make), with a solid liquid malt character running through the centre, chased by the ghost of Pride. Some fluffy savoury biscuit characters rise up after a while, along with a plasticky tone towards the back. Finish is suprisingly long, without the crispness, or the bite of hops it feels it needs.

Feel is slightly sticky, and slightly bloating.

Overall, I'm not a real fan. I find this a better option than the ubiquitous New, Extra Dry or Pure Blonde, but it's certainly worse than Coopers green or red. This just has some off-kilter elements: the additional sweetness, the funky floral overtones, the thick finish. It makes it seem like a needless and feckless brew as a result.

I'll stick to the Golden or the Pilsner if there are no better choices, thanks.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 2.75
Mad Brewers Hoppy Hefe
Reviewed by Jez on 27.04.12 in bottle
Overall:
78 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a lovely hazed, burnished amber colour, with flashes of ruby and gold at the centre and edges respectively, especially when held to the light. Head is a full, frothy off-white meringue, forming cascading, anarchic lace. Body is firm but light, without much visible carbonation. Looks damn good.

Nose is bright with crisp tropical fruits and a leafy, slightly fragrant citric overtone. Slight peppery spice comes through as well. It's very pleasant indeed.

Taste is not as bitter as I may have expected, with more of that leafy, slightly citric echo on the front palate, before a smooth and rather light wheaty character melts down the centre of the tongue. Very light bitterness on the finish, leaving the palate cleansed but not overwhelmed. Feel is also good, although I was tempted to say too thin early on—in fact, the clean smoothness just adds to the drinkability, without relying too much on getting the balance perfect. It's an interesting approach.

Yep, I really loved this beer, although the "hefe" in the name probably puts some folks off when they actually try it. Hef it is not, but it compares favourably to some of the good hoppy American Pale Wheat Ales such as Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Mad Brewers Scribbly Gum Lager
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(OK)
Pours a shiny, pale golden colour with mild haze. Head is off-white, decently small bubbles but retaining a decent crown of lace. Slow trail of bead; looks OK.

Smells quite sweet with puffy grain notes leaking a hint of bubblegum at first. More decent herbal notes follow with a touch of wood smoke and a hint of cherry-tinged phenol. Not bad, could lessen that initial sweetness though.

Taste starts fairly tangy with some sweet grain and hints of lemon cordial. Develops some nice smokey notes midway with a touch of dry wood, lemon thyme and parsley. More citric on the back, and gets some of that unfortunate bubblegum note which I'd put down to age, if this beer hadn't been brewed locally, and kept in the fridge for as long as I've known. It's not quite as meaty as I'd have liked, and is more sweet than anything else.

Full-bodied for a lager, maybe a touch too much. Could use more fizz to cut through the stickiness.

Not a bad brew, with some interesting elements. Will see how well it goes with my jambalaya.

(Edit: not that well; would have needed more complementary smokiness)
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Mad Brewers Scribbly Gum Lager
Reviewed by Jez on 26.03.11 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
Purchased from Sackville Cellars in Rozelle. Presented in the classic Mad Brewer's stylised 640ml bottle. It's a size I'm not that comfortable with, even though it reminds me of bombers of lovely US craft beer.

Pours a bright and hazed golden colour, with a fine and full head of beaten egg-white. Body is pleasantly heavy; lacing is sudsy, but solid. Looks nice.

Nose is odd, but pleasantly so. Lovely slightly meaty smoked characters, that also bring to mind the buttery notes of Belgian yeasts. A little sweetness, perhaps. With this, there's also clean and sharp organic notes which (I do agree with the label) give some hint of the Aussie bush. Foliage, eucalyptus, some floral characters, always laced with that glorious haze of lingering smoke. Delicious.

On the palate, everything is pared back to the smoke-laden characters which permeated but never dominated on the nose. Big meaty barbeque characters of smoky fats, only slightly shot through with the organic bite. It's a nice match, and the smokiness is only a part of the whole experience.

Feel is very smooth--the extra body and alcohol in the beer helps to cushion the complexity.

A really good brew, and probably the best of the Mad Brewers series I've had. This gives a really beautiful complexity of smoke, organics and spice to make a fascinating brew. I think, based on the description on the label, that they've really hit on what they were trying to do here. I'm a bit sad that it hasn't been so well received by others here.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Mad Brewers Noir Stout
Reviewed by Jez on 28.09.10 on tap
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)

On tap at the Local Taphouse Darlinghurst.

Very dark brown, not close enough to black, with a filmy but very fine head of light beige. Thin body, which may account for the fact that there's very little lacing. Still, looks pretty decent.

Roasty nose, but subtle and subdued. Hints of light chocolate and toasted grains, with a bit of bready roundness. Not bad. Certainly a true stout nose, if not one that punches me with its force.

Taste is smooth, with almost a dichotomy on the palate. There's plenty of roasted, slightly astingent bitterness, but there's this light and sweet chocolate and caramel flavour sitting above that at the same time, but completely disconnected from it. I can feel it on the palate too, as though the two flavours are connecting with different parts of my tongue. It adds depth to the palate but in an unusual way, as if the full gamut of flavours are not being represented. It's tremendously interesting though.

Nice brew, is it the addition of the liquorice root that gives it such a strange break on the palate?. Whatever causes it, the brew is tasty and drinkable though.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 11.08.10 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)

I've gone a long time without reviewing this stalwart of the Australian beer scene. How did I get away with that?

Pours a nice red-brown-black colour, with a filmy head of cream-coloured bubbles. Retention is not so great, collapsing slightly to just a ring of edging. Looks supple and solid in the glass, however, and it has the body to create some bubbling in the edges when it's swirled. Not bad.

Pleasant chocolate on the nose, with a decent whiff of dark grain, and just perhaps a whiff of "Australian-ness" which I'm almost tempted to attribute to Pride of Ringwood hops. Surely not in this beer, though, right? Right??

Taste is pleasant on the front, with some sweet dark chocolatey characters, before all the sweetness drops right out of the palate, leaving a dry and grainy finish. A hint of that slight seltzer-acidity-slash-bitter-chemical character on the back which again reminds me of PoR - perhaps instead it's a generic Australian yeast stock. Whatever it is, it takes the edge off the sweet and dark genesis of the beer, which is something of a shame.

Mouthfeel is a tad too carbonated to my mind, but round enough with a pleasant lightness, that isn't quite thinness in the body.

It's a drinkable beer that I'm ever so slightly suspicious of. At least it's something worthy of drinking when all your other options are variations on Tooheys New.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire Malt Runner
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.07.10 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(OK)
Pours a dark ruby colour with copper tinge at the edge. Head is beige, nice and dense but thinning quickly, leaving a nice sheet of dense off-white lace. Apart from the lace, pretty blah.

Nose is very malty, but with a pleasant toasty aroma. A lot of toffee but the toastiness balances it well, makes it smell like burnt sugar. Hint of molasses and a mild coffee note, maybe a slight banana ester at the back just cuts through. Decent, but a bit too mild, makes it slightly bland and simple.

Taste is different. Malty for sure but has a weak sour character towards the mid, not quite enough to notice, tastes kind of like watered-down red wine vinegar but yeah, not a huge amount. Slight cider twang then more of that richer maltiness on the back, distinct molasses with a mild espresso character, falls short of roasty bitterness though, just a slightly more-robust-than-average maltiness, slightly bitter on the back, but nothing special.

Smooth mouthfeel, but a bit thin, not a lot of texture. Fairly boring.

Ultimately just another bland, drinkable ale. Malty, toasty, sessionable. Doesn't make me leap for joy.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Malt Runner
Reviewed by Jez on 03.07.10 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a lovely dark and rich reddish amber colour, with good clarity. Head is a fine filmy of sticky white foam. Good lacing. Overall, a very nice looking beer.

Nose is very malty, with rich sweet grain characteristics prominent, counteracted by a subtle acidity, perhaps the cherries. Pretty round and sweet, but with just enough to balance it.

Taste is a little thinner than I expected, but it's pleasant enough. Initial grain and bread notes disappear quickly into the very light mid palate that doesn't really expose much at all. There's a welling of roasty bitterness on the back that adds some depth. Overall, it feel a little simple.

A drinkable beer, and not unbalanced, but I feel it needs something a little bit more full and forward to it. Still, a very decent sessioner - mild enough that you could have more than a couple.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire Sundown Lager
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 28.06.10 on tap
Overall:
54 / 100
(OK)
Had on tap at the Marly Newtown.

Pours an orange-gold colour, with very dense white head, webs of lace clinging to the glass. Steady stream of bubbles heading upwards makes for a pretty good-looking lager.

Smells grainy and lagery, kind of sweet with crisp lager notes. Mild grass and pine character. Not a lot to it, really. Plain, kind of bland.

Taste is quite dry. Lots of grain on the front, slightly sweet with barley and a hint of corn, then some earthy hops. Bits of POR and some grassy notes, hay. Slight medicinal character comes through on the finish, but mostly crisp and clean, doesn't leave a lot of aftertaste which is good as it is quite drinkable and clean as a result. Not special, but inoffensive.

Mouthfeel is sizzly, but not harsh. Surprisingly good body for how low ABV is. Feels like a real beer with natural ingredients.

A decent effort and more than a match for most Aussie lagers out there.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Mad Brewers Orchard Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 07.03.10 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)

Tried on tap at the Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst.

Pours a deep coppery golden colour with a good creamy film of off white bubbles. Lacing is solid. Looks good.

Sharp phenols with something slightly sweet on the nose. Perhaps some green apple crsipness, with a slight medicinal/pine hop note. A little odd, a little unexpected. But not unpleasant.

Taste is quite odd. Initial crisp malt gives way to floury cider apples, with a light phenolic bitterness on the back. With the cider sweetness, the bitterness is unwelcome. I'd prefer a little acidity or just a husky dryness, but it's not bad. Mouthfeel is surprisingly syrupy with a tingle of carbonation.

Overall, its a little too odd for my tastes, but I love anyone who pushes the envelope. It's drinkable enough, but it's not the Genesis of an exciting new style.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 17.09.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

(Another glaring omission from my reviewing history).

Pours a burnished deep copper amber colour, with a good head of yellowish-white film. Lacing is excellent around the edges, and there's lots of tiny streaming carbonation, but it's not helping the head retention. Overall, it's a pretty decent looking beer. Quite tasty.

A bit of sour grain mash on the nose, plenty of malt, with a little tingle of seltzer water. Quite round and full, coppery, malty, certainly not much in the way of hops. A decent nose. Not astounding, but decent.

Smooth on the palate, initial copper bitterness forward, followed by a light roasted nutty character entering part way through. Some yeastiness on the back but this is minor compared to the pleasant grain and nut characters. Overall, pretty tasty, and pretty drinkable.

A very drinkable Amber ale, with a very decent amount of character. Certainly good when you want a malty sessioner.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
TEN20 Commemorative Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

Very nice reddish bronze colour with an excellent head of off-white bubbles that stick a little to the edges, but collapse to a film after a little while. Very lcear. Obviously no yeast sediment. Very nice overall. Body is quite liquid and thin for even a half-barleywine, but otherwise very nice overall.

Some sweet caramel on the nose, with a noticeable, if not prominent dose of dark, raisiny hops. Light phenolic alcohol, and a little grassiness. Not as big and boisterous as I loke, but otherwise pretty good.

Quite light on the palate. Mouthfeel is noticeably thin for the style, although it does possess some stickiness. Light malts on the front, with hop bitterness building to a noticeable but blunted climax. Back palate missing a fair deal of the residuals I'd really like. The sweetness is there, but again I like the syrupy slick caramel characters of the better American versions.

Unfortunately, James Squire always seem to blunt their beers a little for lay tastes, and I can never find myself gushing, even when they push their boundaries like the do with this one.

Not bad overall, but it does very much have the generic MSB mark on it.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
TEN20 Commemorative Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.07.09 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a lovely burnished gold colour, very red with delightful beige head, very voluminous but sinks to a finger and a half thickness slowly, I guess, leaving some pretty good sticky lacing behind. That's a pretty hot-lookin' brew.

Lots and lots of hops on that nose, very floral with a pleasant fruit character behind them. Slightly herbal, with fair amounts of thyme, plus some pineapple and citrus. Slight hint of grass clippings as well; very pleasant, maybe just a bit predictable with nothing particularly out of the ordinary here.

Taste is nicely sweet although pretty much bombarded with hops throughout the palate. Has a lightly roasted barley character with a hint of tobacco on there, but really mostly owned by those hops - slightly fruity but with strong herbal phenols on them, kind of a green tea thing happening. Long, bitter finish with just a hint of some citric acidity just on the very back. Mouthfeel is full and rich, not sticky but definitely heavy, none of the alcohol on there but then there's not quite so much to hide, well hidden by the bitterness.

This is a nice, crisp ale, a bit ashy on the finish and could maybe use more sweet barleywine characters on the front of the palate, but otherwise very enjoyable indeed.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire Original Pilsener
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.05.09 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a dark orange-gold with effervescent bubbling, continues with a thick, steady bead up to a snowy head of medium-sized bubbles that sinks with the sound of steaks barbecuing, but still retaining pretty well. Doesn't leave a whole lotta lacing, which is a shame because otherwise it looks damned nice and refreshing.

Has a slightly subdued nose, although all the characters are there. Light caramel, slight grassy hop, almost a eucalyptus aroma, that's about it. Thinking it may still be a bit cold, but waiting and warming doesn't produce much more character. I think it's just a bit weak. Otherwise good elements.

Taste is far more robust and dispels that "Mummy, it's too cold" myth. Strong, flavourful hops throughout the palate - herbal mostly with a kind of sage (the herb, not meaning 'wizened') acidity to it. In fact, I think it's definitely just the Saaz hops - it tastes a lot like Saaz pellets smell. There is a slightly gummy base to the palate which gives evidence of malt but flavour-wise there is only a slight hint on the front, not very complex. Mouthfeel though IS full and complex with a good carbonated sensation, and because of the bitterness of the hop, goes down very crisply and easily.

A flavoursome drop, absolutely. In this case it sadly doesn't translate to complexity. I enjoy it though, maybe a bit too strong to be a cleanser or sessioner. Too big for its boots, I think.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
James Squire India Pale Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 27.03.09 on tap
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a burnished copper kind of colour, with a decent amount of white head, very strong carbonation. Has a clear, filtered look to it. Not sure about filtering this but otherwise looks good.

Nose is very nice and fruity, but where are the hops? I expect hops from an IPA. Has elements of pear, cinnamon and vanilla, all very nice but this needs hops. Silly beer.

Taste is where the hops lie but yeah, with that gritty, English fuggles flavour. Intense, though. Doesn't have very much fruit, it's got a very grassy hop flavour. Quite earthy and in that gritty way I don't much like. Flavour is intense, but not breathtaking. Like a disgruntled English gentleman, it's bitter and unpleasant but still very polite and subdued. I may just be too obsessed with American hop varieties, but really I just think the yanks do a better IPA. Mouthfeel of this is good though, full and quite smooth with a slightly sharp edge.

This is drinkable enough, I guess...
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Hop Thief Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.03.09 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)

This beer was quite phenomenal when it came out. As unfair as it is to review the old bottle I've had squirreled away for a couple of years, here goes...

Pours a golden yellow hue with good clarity. Thick and fluffy head of white foam. Lacing is great, but the head does dissipate quite severely after a while. Pretty nice looking though.

Odd light fruit/banana phenols on the nose. A tad buttery as well. I remember this being exceptionally pungent when fresh. It doesn't stand the test of time, but it's still reasonably pleasant.

Pretty flat on the palate too; I remember a sharp, resiny bitterness. Instead, we have a light butterscotch diacetyl character, and just a thin phenolic bitterness. Finish has a pleasant bitter dryness, but otherwise it's pretty thin. Mouthfeel is ok, still gives a bit of a lift.

Overall, it's still pretty drinkable in this condition, but this was far better when fresh. I will fondly remember this as one of MSB's best brews, and only hope that one day they will brew up some fresh bottles again.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire Porter
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.03.09 in bottle
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a dark brown with a slight orangey tinge around the edge. A little head with fairly good retention. Nice lacing, thick.

Nose has roasty notes with a hint of sour fruit. Nothing really out of the ordinary really, this is a very standard porter.

Taste is roasty and a bit gritty, like badly dissolved coffee. A bit weak, really. Unpleasant finish, like...Yeah, badly dissolved coffee. Mouthfeel is nice, quite full bodied, bit too much carbonation for the style. Apologies for a very unimaginative review, but I really think this is a very middle-of-the-road beer, quite unimaginative as a beer.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
New Norcia Abbey Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.02.09 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a reddish-golden colour, almost rosé in hue, with a modest head of off-white foam that hasn't stuck around, but leaves a thin cloud over the top. Steady carbonation keeps it afloat. Leaves a good, if a little thin, trail of lacing around the glass. Pretty good-looking beer.

Nose is quite delicious and Belgian. Rich fruit characters; cranberries, glacé cherries and a slight hint of something tropical - possibly papaya or something. Fruit is nicely balanced with a more earthy, grassy smell of hops which pervades the nose without annexing it. Sadly I'm serving it a bit cold so it's not as aromatic as I could imagine it to be, but the characters produced are very nice.

Surprising flavour given the smell. First taste is very earthy with very little of the fruit suggested by the nose. There is a hint of a sort of brandy character on the front palate but it dissipates quite quickly, leaving a more gritty finish. Has undertones of a nuttiness, and the palate overall - in spite of the earthy back - is more sweet than bitter or tart. The finish is clean enough not to leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Alcohol is fairly well hidden although it is kind of apparent on the mid-palate. Mouthfeel is fairly smooth, kind of feels watery and thin when it goes in but it coats the mouth nicely when you leave it in for a while.

A bit different from what I expected, but the flavours are certainly pleasant and it's actually a lot cleaner than I would expect from an ostensibly Monk-brewed beer. Drinkable, certainly but a bit less than delicious.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Mad Brewers Raspberry Wheat Beer
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 26.12.08 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(OK)
Coppery brown colour, a lot of head when poured, doesn't hang around though. Little bit of lacing. No carbonation. Not too bad, what I'd expect from a berry beer.

A bit sour with berry hints. Not very pungent, pretty watery actually. Pretty much again what I'd expect for a berry beer, only subdued even further. Not much wheat or beer on this nose.

Taste is much improved, a lot of flavour which isn't quite as sour as your average fruit beer. Lots of fruit on it, with a genuine raspberry flavour, not some artificial or sweetened imitation. Sadly, that raspberry is the only real flavour. The palate is long and quite well-balanced between sour, sweet and bitter, but it's still very simple. Could use more dry hopping, just a bit, to remind one that it's beer.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Sundown Lager
Reviewed by Jez on 21.11.08 in bottle
Overall:
45 / 100
(Not Great)

A bright, clear golden beer with a firm head of fine white foam. The head dissipates to a ring after a while. Carbonation is robust. Nice colour, decent look to it.

Pretty light on the nose - sweet biscuity malt characters and only a hint of grassy hops. Light tropical notes creep in slightly later, but it's pretty subdued.

Clean, dry palate with an extremely light body. Subtle vegetative hop characters again, and a thin grain/hay character. Carbonation is high, which gives a little shake to the otherwise rather flat palate.

It's a pretty bland beer, in my opinion. Drinkable enough, but bland. Like JS Pilsener with all the character removed. Is this MSB's answer to the no-flavour, no-body, lo-carb beer craze?

I'm even more disappointed that I chose to try this instead of buying some Knappstein Reserve. Ah well, you live and learn...

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.07.08 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Flat, red wine-esque appearance. Reminiscent of the Pepperjack beers actually, or maybe it's just a pepper thing I have. Dark brown/red hue with no head. Flat and listless carbonation.

Nose is very sour and peppery. Kind of chilli spice and fragrant. Slight sweet kind of character but pungence definitely goes to the spice. Quite exotic and impressive.

Taste is quite intense. There's a smokey character to it and a lot of flavour. Thick, rich and tart with a hit of spice towards the middle of the palate. It's quite pleasant. There's a peppery finish to it. Interesting and quite nice but not groundbreaking. Mouthfeel is a bit watery.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.07.08 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)

Dark, but clear red-brown colour, with quite a light collar of beige foam. Nice lacing. A nice looking beer all up. I like the colour in particular.

Smells bring back images of some type of confectionery from my childhood. Vaguely sour, dark and pungent. Hint of cherry or bitter chocolate perhaps. Interesting.

Vague chocolate character on the palate with a slight hint of mint. Very odd. But it's nice, it has a really familiar, warm and comfortable character to it. I can't pick it, but it's nice.

Mouthfeel is nice, but a little thin.

This is a very pleasant, very drinkable beer. A great brew for winter indeed.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire The Chancer Golden Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.06.08 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a nice deep, dark-red-infused golden colour with a thinly dispersed but pillowy head. Light carbonation forms on the side of the glass and trickles steadily upwards. Sticks quite well to the side of the glass and leaves a thin layer of lacing. Really quite nice looking.

I could smell it as I poured. Now with my nose to the glass there is a delightful aroma of floral hops with a strong infusion of fruity characters. There are a lot of tropical fruit tannins that give it a somewhat acidic yet sweet smell. There's almost, almost a berry character to it, because it's just rich and powerful. Lovely-smelling beer.

This is the last of a six-pack that I'm reviewing, and I've found that when drinking it straight from the bottle there's an unpleasant yeasty texture to the first few sips. When poured, this disappears (there's a lesson for us all). Palate is a little subdued but lingers for a long time on the back of the tongue. It starts off with a good crescendo of bittering hop and then delivers a malty fruit flourish with citrusy esters. The body of the palate falls a little short of its mark but it leaves behind a nice bitter finish which trails off slowly. It's a very pleasant drinking ale, there can be no doubt about it. It falls a little short in two departments though; it's not quite flavoursome enough to leave a lasting impression, and it's not quite clean enough on the finish to be good sobering ale. The mouthfeel is a little wet and flat, but it goes down okay because the flavours are pleasant but not overpowering.

Overall, an extremely drinkable brew with a gorgeous nose, fine flavours, but that underperforms just a little in the taste department.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Mad Brewers Raspberry Wheat Beer
Reviewed by Jez on 11.04.08 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)

Found at Porters Liquor, Pyrmont.

First impressions are that I love the label. Reminds be of the US craft brews I see in BA magazine but never get a chance to try. What a shame.

Pours a clear, pinkish-orange colour, with some pretty good, white fine-bubbled foam. Lots of streaming carbonation. Looks pretty good.

Definite raspberry characters on the nose, but it's quite herbal, almost like raspberry leaf rather than the fruit itself. Hints of green tea and almost a cidery character too. It's interesting.

Taste is a remarkable letdown. Initial hint of raspberries is swamped almost immediately by the MSB yeast-stock character. Touches of acidity, but not at all in the manner of a fruit lambic - it's more of a carbonic acidity, like soda water.

Also tastes rather like it's quite heavily hopped, although why they would do such a thing to a fruit beer is beyond me. (Although, I guess, they are mad right?) It might, in fact, be some other element, not hops, but there's certainly a bitter character there. Mouthfeel is quite light and spritzy. It's suitable.

It's not great, but it's different. And overall it's pretty drinkable. Hopefully the Mad brewers at the Shovel will think of something different to brew next though...

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.03.08 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a nice redwood colour with a creamy dense head of white tinged with ochre. Leaves a very thick film of lacing around the glass.

Nose is very nice. Spiced fruit mixed with brown sugar. Not very complex, it's basically an odour in a straight line but the characters are very pleasant.

Taste is unusual, in that it doesn't really taste like it smells. The fruit which was spicy and vibrant on the news here tastes sour and off. Lots of hops flourish throughout the palate but there's far more of a sour than bitter character to this. The palate is long, but there isn't that much complexity. I'm not that much of a fan of sour beers and although this is nowhere near as sour as your average lambic, I'd say this is no exception. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and creamy.

Overall, a respectable drinking beer with an acquired flavour.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Original Pilsener
Reviewed by Jez on 11.01.06 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)

Dark amber hue, lots of carbonation. Decent head, which creates some lacing. Not a bad looking beer.

Not a great deal on the nose. A bit of fragrance. Hoppiness and grassiness, it's an organic smell. It's got quite a good pils profile, but it's a bit subdued.

Taste is rather better. Nice fragrant bitterness, based on hoppy notes. A touch of fruitiness, but predominated by the bitterness of the hops. Finishes quite yeasty, and leaves a little bit of distaste in your mouth.

Mouthfeel is quite tingly and almost puckering with the bitter hops and dry finish.

Certainly a drinkable beer. I think it's far superior on tap than in its bottled form.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
James Squire The Chancer Golden Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 23.07.05 in bottle
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)

Appearance:
Golden ochre-brown body. Little carbonation. A centimetre-deep off white head.

Nose:
Smells very similar to their IPA, fragrant fruits, sweet malt and a hint of sharp hops as well. Very sweet, quite pleasant.

Taste:
It has a great deal of that nasty sour yeast character, which I feel ruins whatever other potential may be in there. It starts well, with a sweet, fruity lightness. But after a while it just sinks to this wek sticky bad yeast flavour.
Eh. It's drinkable, but certainly not special.

Overall:
So not interesting enough. It's rather bland, and very forgettable.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire India Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 18.02.05 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)

A deep clear orangey amber with a solid thick head. It stays nicely for a fair while too, leaving some good solid lacing.

Caramelised fruit over a light hint of yeast. Wow this has a wonderful nose. Apricots, peaches, orange peel. It's complex, a little metallic and very solid. Very pleasant.

Well, the taste is quite a disappointment really. It doesn't have a hint of the rounded sweetness that was suggested on the nose. Rather sharp and matellic on the front palate disappearing quickly to a dry yeasty nothingness.

It's not a bad brew overall, but definately not a prime example of the style. It's quite drinkable and quite enjoyable, althougha touch simplistic in taste, and a let down after the wonderful smells.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0