Bottle given to me by Jez; drunk by myself in the depths of Winter.
Pours a lovely woody red colour, mahogany really, clear and real ale-esque. Head is beautiful when poured, big and foamy but it's sparse, and it shows when it sinks to a thin crown. Still nice, off-white but yeah not as big as the picture shows. Lacing is superb. Pretty bloody good.
Smells oaky and rich. Lots of fermentation byproducts with figs, currants and dried apple on there, and a big syrupy sweetness. Touch of acidity but mostly sweet warming booziness. Very pleasant.
Taste is a little less complex than I'd hoped, maybe hasn't aged all that well. Malty and rich upfront that doesn't really develop, so the front half is quite flat. Gets some hot boozey orange notes late, like whiskey marmalade, then some of that rich dark fruit but it's not so vibrant, sort of a bit spicy rather than sweet and syrupy. Still quite thick, in the body, with a hot whisky booze note at the back which is unbalanced, but not unwelcome.
Decent body, but increasingly dry at the back as it gets hotter. Not bad for the style but a bit sharp.
Definitely a nice drop, as most big beers that you age in whisky casks should be (I mean if you've made one that's unpleasant I feel like you've really fucked it up). I do feel like this is a little old and a bit oxidised, so it's not at its peak but there's still plenty to enjoy.
69 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour, some beige head, large bubbles and specks of lace. Swilling doesn't do much. All a bit sparse and webbed, but not bad.
Smells roasty, with a touch of spice - cinnamon mostly, and then a big oak character. Coconut with a touch of whiskey booze. Yeah, could use more roast. Again, not bad though.
Taste is more bitter than I expected. Starts chocolatey, gets more roasty midway with a touch of mocha late. Toast and toasted nuts on the mid-palate with some peanut brittle and other caramel facets. Touch of oak on the back, lightens up the finish a bit, but lingers with a lovely, warming chocolate note. Very pleasant drop really, a bit stilted early but finishes strongly.
Somewhat sticky mouthfeel; has a nice creamy smoothness to it though. Maybe a touch of chewy texture midway - odd.
Has some uncooked sweetness in parts, but otherwise a nicely put-together stout. Pleasant.
87 / 100
500ml boxed brown bottle purchased from Barney's in Alexandria, many moons ago. Shared with Sam & Rich.
Pours a deep velvety black, crisped brown at the edges, with a rather coarse-bubbled head of beige that leaves specks of lacing. Body is lighter than one might expect, perhaps with a bit of weight but with little viscosity. Still, it looks pretty good.
Nose is dusty with dry roast and a little deep booze sharpness. Some notes of caramelised fig come through, along with a slick chocolate tone. There are some other fruit characters that come through as well, maybe just a little undertone of banana ester, and something livelier like guava or peach. It's not bold, but there's charm and complexity to it for sure.
Taste is extremely good. Big lovely sweetness, full of raisins and dark fruit, that moves into a rich chocolate sauce note. This is peppered with enough booze to give it a richness and sophistication on the back. There's some genuine roast characters, but they'r tempered with the rich, boozey sweetness before they get astringent or ashy. It's really complex and beautifully constructed. This is a cracking palate.
Feel is slick—it is indeed a little lighter than it might have been, but there's certainly enough weight there to allow the complexities to express themselves.
Really, this is pretty great stuff. It's very smooth for a 10+ ABV beer, and there's so much restrained complexity to explore. It's more comfortable to explore it because it's so well-balanced. Really, I loved this a very great deal.
Pours a dark brown with red tinge. Head is beige, small bubbles; not great retention but nice lace. Could be darker, but nice.
Smells pleasant. Nutty, almost salty at first, with a touch of oak and a touch of smoke. Roast is subtle, overall it smells sweet, oddly salty. Pleasant.
Taste is a bit dry, and somewhat bland. Doesn't have a lot of character to it, just mild roastiness, again a slightly savoury flavour with cracker note. Residual grain; some mild spice on the back and a touch more toastiness. Not too much to it, but not bad; fairly drinkable dark beer.
Bit thin, and watery on the body. Doesn't leave with much.
Not bad but a little underwhelming. Still, like I said, drinkable.
500ml bottle purchased from Beer Cartel by Rich, who served it to me and Sam blind.
Pours a lovely 8-ball black, deep in colour and tone. Head is lighter, though, forming a film of large meshed bubbles across the top of the glass. Some patchy lace forms when tilted, along with some fine carbonation, despite the fact that the body is surprisingly light. Looks pretty nice.
Nose is pleasant. Light toasty notes, mingled with a slight smoky character. Some soft, mild sweetness like vanilla comes through a little as well, which is very nice. There's even a very vague suggestion of pepper, which works well. It is, overall, a little light, but the flavours it has are lovely, and are well-integrated. I like it.
Taste is lighter, but still with a richness to it. Smooth, milky stout characters come through, again a bit more vanilla, and a thin cast of toast across the top. The back is disappointingly empty, and it means that the beer seems to run out of steam quickly. There are certainly some nice flavours to it, but it feels like it runs out of ideas.
Feel is light, but with a slickness that would support more complexity. So it just makes me crave a bit more complexity.
Overall, it's decent enough. Solid and flavoursome, but it feels like there's a lot of potential there that's just not realised.
79 / 100
2009 vintage drunk at the end of 2011. Bottle added to an order by Chris from Slowbeer in Melbourne to go with some other fine beers ordered for me by @epiclurk.
Pours a lovely gelatinous and heavy bronze-ruby colour, with a fine ring of intense bubbling around the edges. The top itself remains stubbornly free of foam, but some fine carbonation persists when the beer is tilted. Looks good.
Nose is sweet and rich, but beautifully cut through by a slight phenolic bite and the intoxicating hint of boozy alcohol, much like brandy or cognac. Otherwise, we have big notes of treacle, sawdust and slightly resinous notes which give it a brightness to counteract the overwhelming sweetness. It's gorgeously balanced as a result.
Taste is also good, with spicier notes coming in to further prickle the palate. Along with the deep port-like sweetness, this is laced with overtones of hot booze and a calm, muted clove spice. Feel is smooth and rich, but picked up and smacked about by the spark of heat and spice.
This is a lovely beer, and a really pleasant Old Ale, with deep sherry/port sweetness hit with a suitable boozy bite and some light tannins and spice to keep it alert and interesting.
It will probably last for many years to come as well.
80 / 100
Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, with a fine-bubbled head of just off-white. Lacing is complex and detailed. Looks pretty good. Body looks surprisingly heavy for an English Ale, but I'm not complaining. Looks very decent.
Nose is complexly roasty and sweet, with big nut characters coming through along with a toffee caramel character and an earthy tobacco English hoppiness. Again, the body might be exerting too much malt, and not enough hops, but it's really very pleasant.
Taste is also very nice, with round sweetness the basis of the flavours, even though the palate and feel stays relatively lightweight. Light earthy hops and metallic hints of copper pipe and tinfoil. Sweet but pungent cannabis characters lift the palate as well. Finish is extremely long, but from nothing comes a pleasantly cleansing ozone or chlorine note, that far from being unwelcome just dips the sweetness into a bright finish.
It's a lovely blend of smoothness, complexity, depth and raw flavour. Great beer, and one which accentuates just how good the English styles can be.
78 / 100
Pours a slightly reddish-brown colour with modest beige head, sinks to a thin film with a ring of medium-sized bubbles forming lace around the edge. Good-looking porter; more head would be nice, though.
Smells quite mild with lots of sweet, chocolatey notes. Slight sour note with a hint of cherry. Some espresso characters and a mild peat smoke note as well. Very nice, with all the right porter notes in good abundance; and yet more.
Tastes roastier. Fair wallop of toasty malt notes on the assault, with a slight chocolatey tinge and mild vanilla sweetness. Flavour dips quite a bit on the mid, but retains an underlying creaminess, then roasty/sour notes return for the finish: underplayed espresso bean and cocoa mostly. Not bad, the right flavours are there but I'm not hugely interested in the palate; actually borders on insipid at times.
Good full body though, never feels heavy, just slips through the mouth. Very decent indeed.
A superbly mild and sessionable beer. The first truly quaffable porter I think I've really encountered.
84 / 100
Pours a deep, burnished brown, with tints of red amber at the edges. Head is fine, although it retains only as a filmy remainder on the top, but it leaves some impressive English lace. Looks very decent indeed.
Nose is nicely mixed between deep chocolate and roasted grain notes, and a sweet almost vanilla sweetness. There's almost a hint of something spicy and peppery coming through as well, but it just gives tiny staccato accents to the other very mellow characters. Quite mild but extremely delectable. There's a wonderful complexity to it.
Taste is also extremely good, and exceptionally well balanced. Throughout there are nuanced flavours peeking and then receding. Hints of chocolate, heather, liquorice, vanilla, roasted grain, and a light astringency on the back to clear it out. Ah, it's a lovely nuanced and complex palate. Feel is smooth but slick and relatively clean.
What a cracking beer, a lovely example of what the English can do so well. A smooth and mild beer, with nuanced and subtle complexity that makes the experience worthwhile.
77 / 100
Whoa, this is a very nice looking beer - a deep red mahogany colour with a fully and robust head of ochre coloured, crunchy foam. Lacing is sudsy, but thick as expected of an English ale, carbonation is very visible through the clear body, but it only forms in tiny bubbles, and has a ways to work through the thick body. Looks pretty damn fantastic.
Nose is blasted with rich raisin and dried fruit sweetness, muted by a slightly buttery and dry yeast character. Very sweet and full though, and fragrant with spicy characters like Christmas cake. All put together it smells like a thick-cut piece of raisin toast, smothered in fresh butter. It's a lovely aroma.
Taste is full and lightly roasted, with enough of the residual sweetness to smooth over the other characters. Slight twang of metallic bitterness on the back, giving a coppery clean finish, with a touch of boozy phenols and a crisply roast bite. The bite on the back is sharp, and cleans it out nicely, but I could also see this going the route of overwhelming and impressive sweetness, giving big soaked fruit characters to the brew. I'm not sure which I'd prefer.
Feel is smooth on the front, but gets stunted by the sharpness on the back, which really cuts it back.
A lovely beer, and a great example of the English putting a more robust and flavourful beer together. Lovely characters, and a good package all up. Something I could drink with abandon (and some amount of boozy haze) throughout the night.
Pours an extremely carbonated dark golden colour, fizzing head out of the bottle as soon as it's opened. Head is rocky and full; a very large crown of yellow-white bubbles that crackle and pop their way down to a disappointing nothingness, lacing no lacing. Head is too large bubbled, although the colour is nice.
Noticeable fruit on the nose, with a light citric note of orange peel, with some fragrant, if slightly cloying honey notes. Altogether, it smells rather like its namesake, with some organic sweetness reminiscent of melon rind. It's quite nice, very fresh and summery.
Taste is very bland, with a welling of really unpleasant wet grain funk on the back. Initial lightly sweet citric flavour, crashed with a really raw, almost meaty finish. Honey sweetness has disappeared, just leaving this organic compost-like flavour. Extremely light body leaves nothing to the imagination.
This started off like an unassuming, if tame, English honey pale, but ended falling on the poor side of drinkable. I find honey beers very often lack something, and this is no exception. Spice them, like mead, give them some character, or do something guys... This is at best bland; at worst undrinkable.
59 / 100
Pours a golden-brown colour, with thin bead running up the middle but no real head of which to speak. Thin web of lacing. Not ba-a-a-a-ad but unimpressive.
A great deal of sour British ale yeast characters on the nose with a distinct barley aroma and slight hint of grassy hops. Hops are underwhelming, as is the nose in general.
Taste is quite gritty with malt taking a back seat to English hops - possibly fuggles. Palate is interesting with a long bitter finish. A bit of a sour ale character with a slight bready hint and a bittersweet mid-palate. Balance is best on the middle with malt and hops reaching their intersection here, but hops definitely take over on the back.
A decent drop, good for a cleansing ale. Typical English fare though.
74 / 100