58 / 100
A collaboration between Hunter Beer and McWilliams wine, brewed for the Beer Mimics food event at the Welcome Hotel during Sydney Craft Beer Week. Tried on-tap at the Welcome.
Pours a hazed, rosy amber hue with decent slickness in the glass. Head is a very pale ping forming a large-bubbled ring. Lace is slick and the carbonation is very fine. Looks pretty good.
Fruity, vinous characters on the nose. Some raspberry, a suggestion of rose petals, some cherry and a slight oaky wine-like character. It's nice enough, but not particularly big or complex.
Fruity entry on the palate along with a touch of acid moves to a wheaty, slightly yeasty character on the mid palate. This is lessened by an astringency towards the back and some carbonic fizz. Aftertaste has more of the yeast.
Feel is very light. It's not too bad, but it also has that rather aggressive carbonation which attacks it again.
Overall, it feels a little bit like fruit on top of a fairly mediocre beer. It's not bad, but it's not really either exciting or objectively good either.
73 / 100
Tried on launch day at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a dark chocolatey brown, with a big red tinge. Slight rim of head, tan colour, revived with a vigorous swill. Lacing is unimpressive, but overall not bad.
Smells very impressive. Dark and roasty, some light berry and spice notes from the shiraz, slight vinous tannins and gooey chocolate. Yeah, nice.
Taste is sweet, with loads of chocolate, some licorice, pepper and mild oaky wood. Shiraz notes are late and very subdued, slight tannins with a bit of a fruity note which could well just be a fermentation by-product: dark berries and plum notes. Slight dry spice, nutmeg and pepper. Remarkably smooth in the end, sweet but with a twist.
Big body, still a bit of boozey warmth. Drying at the back.
Complex, big and rewarding. A big brew with a nice twist to the sweetness overall.
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. This was a collaboration between Hunter (where it was brewed) and the Sydney Taphouse AleStars (with some help from Doc from Doctor's Orders), a Shiraz barrel aged Baltic Porter. It's the sister beer to the Melbourne AleStar's BONZA IPA brewed at Mornington Peninsula.
Pours, dark, definitely dark, but with a weakness at the edges, as though it fades to clear rather than to a lighter brown hue. Head forms a pained ring of bubbly off-white froth at the edges. Body is extremely light, which is an interesting enough trait as it is, but it makes the beer seem a little more insipid as a result. Hmm.
Nose is mild: some faint roasted characters, ephemeral red wine, some chocolate, blackberry and a singing aniseed character. It does actually get better once it warms (as a Baltic Porter, it sat on the Local's lager lines). When it's warmer, there are richer characters: vanilla bean sweetness, and perhaps a touch more of the wine. It's still not as big or as rich as it could be.
Taste is pleasant enough. Some mild dusty chocolate, smooth underlying sweetness with a kick of astringency on the back. Not much hint of the oak, and I think the red wine I get is probably just a figment of my expectations. The aniseed spice lifts again, in an unexpected, but not unpleasant way. As it warms, some Concord grape and an odd banana ester character comes through. Again, it's decent, but it doesn't really win me over overall.
Feel is light, but with enough weight to carry the lighter-than-expected flavours.
Overall, its decent and pleasantly drinkable. But really it's also pretty disappointing. No, that's maybe going too far: it's a nice beer, but the oak should be more prominent, the wine should be more prominent, and the beer should be more complex overall. Maybe it's just a case of not living up to expectations.
Very difficult to classify this. It's a mildly-smoked ale blended with Hunter shiraz from McWilliams. As such, it's a strange brew. Tried at the Union Hotel for Good Beer Week for the Beermen.tv breakfast.
Pours quite a red-hue, or perhaps a pink-tinged amber is a better name for it. Fairly solid hazing and decent weight behind it. Head is a pale pink colour that forms a very fine solid ring, and leaves small bits of lace. Fine carbonation. Looks good, and interesting.
Nose has much to thank the wine for. Strong rosÃ© character along with some wine oak characters. Minimal hops come through, but there's a grainy German malt character and a rather bready overtone to it. Hey-like aromas come through when you make your way through the wine. Interesting.
Light, clean front palate leads to more rosÃ© characters, and a slightly bready fullness. Apparently this was partially smoked, but there's really no hint of it. Finish has a fair dollop of yeast, and an aromatic component like oxidised wine. Hmm. Feel is very light. It somewhat accentuates the acidity of the wine, but it's a bit of a stretch.
Drinkable enough, and it's an interesting experiment. To be honest, it didn't really work to its full potential, but it was worth trying.
58 / 100
Had on tap at the brewery 09/07/11.
Pours a chocolatey brown colour with nice glint up to the light. Head is beige, I guess, hanging around nicely and pleasantly dense. Decent lace. Looks good.
Not a lot on the nose to be honest. Bit of chocolate grain, some yeasty notes. Some nutty aroma, but I feel like it's a bit overattenuated, with not a lot added late for aroma.
Taste is not a huge deal better. Sweet grain upfront that dissipates to leave a quite mild front palate; develops more flavour on the mid with chocolate grain giving mild cocoa and roasty hints. Late-mid gets a bit sour where one feels that the flavour isn't quite full enough, so it becomes this weak roasty flavour. Finishes well though, with a clean crisp cutoff of the fairly sweet dark flavours, to remind one it's a lager. I've had some unpleasant bocks, and this is not one of them - although this is largely due to the fact that this isn't a very impressive one.
Bit of texture and nice body. Could tone down the carbonation a bit, but it's nice and full.
I feel that, as a bock, this could definitely be bigger and bolder, but as a beer it's OK.
60 / 100
Had on tap at the brewery 09/07/11.
Pours a pale amber colour; clear with no bead. Head is off-white, fairly dense but no real retention. Decent lace. Looks OK.
Nose is quite nice, with pleasant citric hop notes dominating, in a weak kind of way. Lemon and kiwi on there and a touch of passionfruit. Light and subtle for the most part but it's enjoyable and fresh like a good pale ale nose should be.
Taste is actually a bit flabby upfront. Sort of one-note malt palate that lazily carries the palate through to the finish. Caramelly malt with no real up and down. Hops come through late-mid and they're welcome but insubstantial, not robust enough to save the day, and the flavour glances slightly off target to form a metallic and mildly dirty bitterness. OK overall, but really could have done more with what they had.
Fair amount of fizz, not overblown though and decent body.
Yeah, I'm a bit disappointed with this overall, but it's pleasant drinking. Just could have been better.
Had on tap at the brewery 09/07/11.
Pours a very pale straw colour, extreme opaqueness to it with virtually no light penetrating that thick haze. Head is small due to the pour. White ring of lace. Looks OK.
Nice tang on the nose, very orangey and fruity with a hint of spice at the back. Cinnamon, clove and hint of lemon as well. Not quite the heights of spice I would like but decent wit smell.
Taste is OK to begin with. Orange tang on there, fairly sweet and fruity towards the mid where the yeast takes over. Slight bitterness but a bit bready towards the back. Citrus returns for the finish with some sweet orange esters in there, but it could use more spice to make it finish on a more interesting note. It's clean, but ultimately a bit bland.
Drinks OK, bit of fizz and nice and full, not a lot to it though.
Decent wit but nothing more than that. Could do more with the basics and jazz up the style a bit, but really it's just another average wit in a burgeoning crowd of them.
60 / 100
Had on tap at the brewery 09/07/11.
Pours a pale amber colour, clear and mostly still. Head is decent, with dense foam that dissipates before too long. Pretty boring.
Smells sweet and gingery. Nice ginger character though with spice and sweet gingerbread kind of notes. Kind of a lime touch to it as well, just a freshness that is quite welcome. Pretty decent ginger ale aroma, but could be less sweet.
Taste starts off very malty, with a sweet grain overlying a mostly watery body. Ginger comes through early mid with nice tangy spice, but never reaches any highs of actual spice piquancy. It's more of a tangy flavour really, which is quite nice, but I really wouldn't mind more ginger heat. To be honest I've had non-alcoholic ginger beers that have more exciting spice palates. This is still not too bad though, better than I expected.
Mostly thin body, quite smooth, bit of texture from the spice and not a lot else.
This is probably the best ginger beer I've had in Australia, but that's not saying much.
70 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse's Great Australian Beer Spectapular.
Opaque, deep brown colour with minimal head. The body is quite clear at the edges, but lots of cloud in the center deepens the centre. Pretty average look.
Roasty nose giving off lovely characters of dark chocolate. Grain bag huskiness gives some rawness and depth. A little coffee deepens it even still. Yum.
Taste is similar on the front. Thin slightly watery chocolate and husky dark grain on the back. However, just when you think it's finished, the big chilli spice roars up and coats the back of your throat with burning spice. Jesus! This is one beer you need a beer after to wash it down with. You have to respect the feel at least; after such a mellow unassuming entry, the big spice is like the twist at the end of an Agatha Christie novel. That's something.
A truly unique experience. I love how much variety and extremity is on show when the Local puts on a Spectapular. Australia's brewers really stood proud and tall.
Pours a dark murky brown, a cloud of black through the middle. Head is a bit lacklustre, thin without retention, ochre in colour without much lace. I think chilli kills head so I won't hold it agin this beer, but still looks a bit unexciting.
Smells very chocolatey with a touch of the coffeeness, so ultimately a lot of mocha on there. Slight vanilla note, but yeah, largely espresso/chocolate mix and not a lot of chilli. Not bad though.
Woah! Taste hits you with that chilli, but yeah it's not really there in the flavour. Mild espresso notes with mild cocoa and more of that vanilla. Palate kind of trails off in the mid though as that massive chilli heat takes over in a big way. Mercifully though, it doesn't have that capsicaian/rotting vegetation flavour, the chilli's just there to be hot, and it IS. We're eating chilli fries while drinking this but this beer leaves the fries, and the chilli flakes, standing in the starting blocks. What a great sensation to have achieved without the unfortunate flavour that often goes with it. Let's be objective though, the palate is weak-ish otherwise. I do dig that chilli heat though.
A bit of body there, yeah, but mostly just that heat at the back. It's more of a mouthfeel thing so let's mark it up there.
Not an everyday beer, but enjoyable for a taste. Can imagine this being very polarising, but I'm a fan.
76 / 100
I'd tried this before (see review below), but the new version has ramped up everything and is a whole lot better. Currently brewed to 8.6% ABV. This version I tried at Paddy's Brewers Market Festival in October 2010. Scores are for the new review:
Pours a beautiful cloudy orange golden colour, with a full, creamy and voluminous head of off-white foam, that meringues up in a dome over the top of the glass. Absolutely lovely looking.
Nose is a big wallop of very genuine American hops, big citrus and ripe tropical fruits, and a faint but clear sweet malt note to back it up. Weaker and less complex that some examples, but nice.
Taste is clear and clean with great tropical fruit notes on the front, morphing into a very pleasant citrus bitterness. Hop oil clings to the palate, but cleans out the beer superbly. Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and slick. It's a lovely note in an IPA.
Wow, this is a really great American IPA, brewed with aggression but finesse. Smoothly drinkable for all its intensity, and balanced just right for the style. This is a great beer, and one of the best examples of the style I've had from Australia.
Whatever they've done to change the recipe, I approve wholeheartedly.
Tried at Sydney's Local Taphouse Beer SpecTapular.
Dark coppery amber colour with a thin filmy head of white bubbles. Some lacing. Not extreme. Look pretty good though.
Nice resiny hops on the nose, with a light phenolic or butterscotch character which just detracts slightly. A shame. Some grassiness as well which adds a nice cleaning note to it. Not bad.
Light fruity Australian IPA sweetness on the front, with a very wimpy back palate bitterness to clean it out. Seriously this is not bitter at all and a poor, poor palate for an IPA. More like a weak amber ale. No bitterness. Mouthfeel very thin.
A really unfortunate brew. I can't say I'm a fan. I really think this is what is wrong with the aussie interpretations of American styles. The US styles are good because they take some genre and make it big and extreme. Here we take American styles and dumb them down, coming up with something worse than the original.
A: 3.5 S: 3.5 T: 2.5 M: 2.5 D: 3.0
Pours a very pale, very clear light yellow colour, with a frothy, but loose-bubbled head of white foam. Minimal lacing, and the body looks quite light, but that's to be expected from the style.
Carbonic acidity on the nose, with a pleasant classic Euro green-bottle freshness, tending towards skunkiness, but in the nicest possible way. Hints of crushed lemon myrtle and citrus candy. Not bad. Very decent Pils nose.
Flavour is a little limp on the bitterness front for a pils, but still presents a pleasant citrus zing and a clean and refreshing palate. Minimal sweetness keeps it dry, and the weak finish is equally excusable as clean. Mouthfeel is a bit flat, a bit more sparkle could accentuate the citrus notes.
Overall, I was expecting to dislike this a whole lot more than I did. What we end up with is an extremely drinkable and pretty true to style Czech Pils. Sure, it's less complex and flavoursome than a lot of other styles, but it does what it sets out to do very well.
Had on tap at Harts Pub.
Pours a pale golden colour with lots of bubbles. Head retains to half a finger, nicely dense and foamy on the top. Leaves some decent lace - looks fairly clean and refreshing.
Nose is sweet, very sweet, with some banana esters but mostly a huge bubble gum aroma. Taffy-esque, with yeah, an unmistakeably 'sugary' aroma. Maybe a slight green apple adds some tartness but I can't avoid thinking this is just oversweet.
Taste is pretty poor as well. A lot of grain on the front, puffed rice and a general cereal flavour, descends into a very bready affair with that slight bubble gum flavour permeating, mostly just a sweet dough character. Slight anise spice on the back but it's not enough to save this; it's a bland, bready affair. To be honest it kind of has that homebrewing "Let's add sugar to up the alcohol but not the flavour" kind of flavour. Not as downright offensive as they come, but bland and uninteresting.
A little harsh in the mouth, lots of fizz, yeah, fairly standard quaffing lager texture though, it only gets harsh if you swill it in the mouth, which admittedly you're not meant to.
Not enjoying this, but I think it's just indicative of a style I dislike. Maybe after a days's slaving away at the Steinbruch, this might be just what the Doktor ordered. Right here and now though, meh.
Tried at Paddy's Brewers Market Festival 09.
Pours a deep russet copper, with a filmy, but sticky head of off-white lace. Lacing is very good, sliding in great gobs around the edge of the glass. Excellent clarity. Looks very good indeed.
Some light roasted grain notes on the nose. A bit weak overall, some sweetness, but little else.
Taste is much better. A good burst of roasted malt, verging on slightly smoky, with a drying bitterness at the back. Tastes darker than it looks. Finish is slightly phenolic, with a vaguely acetone character, but it's forgiveable. Mouthfeel is smooth, but a little thin.
A pretty decent little brew. Plenty of roasty characters, and a cleansing bitterness to go along with it. Overall, it's a drinkable drop.
Pours a burnished gold colour, transparent with slow bead up the middle and a thin crown of surprisingly pale white bubbles. Looks slightly wobbly in the glass, good IPA look.
Nose is very hoppy, with a passionfruit/Sauvin character but a lot of tropical Cascade as well, nice passionfruit smell, hints of orange sherbet, not much else; just hops. Nice hops though.
Taste is a decent one, with a good barley sugar flavour on the front that descends rapidly, but subtly (as in, without an abrupt jolt) into a nice fruity, floral hop flavour, a bit of ash on it for some reason, maybe slightly salty, but the hops are dominant and very pleasant.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the amount of flavour it carries, although there is none of that 7.5% noticeable. Drinking is good: overly hopped, but otherwise well balanced and pleasant.
Tried on tap at the ABF at the Australian Hotel..
Quite a dark yellow - almost tending to orange. Good thick head though. A good looking beer.
Nose is almost overpowered with banana - far more like a hefeweizen nose than a witbier nose. No hint of witbier spices.
Taste is also dominated by the sweet banana flavours. Almost a hint of that artificial "bubblegum" taste to it. It's pretty much unrecognisable as a wit - would be far better as a hefe.
Still, it's a pretty drinkable brew all the same.
Tried on tap at the ABF at the Australian Hotel...
This definitely had an Aussie Lager look about it. Minimal head, pale clear yellow colour.
The nose is almost entirely made up of a yeasty apple aroma, like an infected batch of cider. The yeast is almost overpowering. So much so that it starts to smell like bread dough.
Taste isn't much better. Here the yeast is almost unbearable. There's almost nothing else that I could detect. No palate at all apart from the horrible yeast.
This was a weak, unappealing beer. I was not impressed at all with this, especially considering their previous offerings. Maybe they took the lager-inspiration of the Kölsch a little too far, and tried to churn out something akin to an Aussie Macro.
If someone told me they had switched the keg of Kölsch with a keg of Carlton Draught I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised.