69 / 100
330mL bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor; shared with Chris out of necessity rather than desire.
Pours a dark cola colour with cola-esque bubbles too. No head. Dark brown, otherwise fairly flat and heavy. Yeah doesn't look impressive, it's too big for its own good.
Smells big, boozey and yeasty. Strong vegemite note with some unsweetened cocoa round the edges too. Big liqueury sweetness with a brandy and kirsch character. Dark, fruity and complex. Bit big though, obviously.
Taste is sweet, complex. Huge complex sugar notes with dark fruit, sultanas, brown sugar, plums and cherry. Gets boozey midway with kirsch and vinous notes, then a bit hot late with some brandy boozey heat, plus residual sugars and some chocolate notes maybe. Yeah pretty impressive and complex, just a bit inevitably hot and big.
Again a bit raw on the tongue as it goes down, but otherwise smooth and velvety.
High degree of difficulty with this style. This is frankly way too big but the flavours are interesting and the balance works well for the most part except that it's really too warm. It's possible that the size of this covers quite a few of its flaws. I would love to try a 12% or lower version of this to really come to terms with it.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. A blackberry gose, you say? Well, I won't turn something like that down.
Pours perhaps the most unique colour I've ever seen: an almost lurid puce, very cloudy, to the point that it looks like coloured milk. It also seems to be very lightly carbonated, or not carbonated at all, to the extent that the only bubbles that form seem to be from the perturbation of the pour. The colour is immensely intriguing, however.
Nose is also very interesting. Initially, it smells like berry jam, but underneath it are some genuinely odd undertones. I get a little seaweed, some oxidised Chardonnay and even something like hotdog franks. There is a vinous tone to it, almost buttery oak, that tries to pull it up into some semblance of normality, but there's so much else that's very weird.
Taste is surprisingly lightweight. There's actually very little acidity to it beyond the kind of level you'd expect from fruit juice or seltzer water. The fruit lends a surprisingly unwelcome fragrant sweetness over the top, which actually cuts back quite significantly on the refreshing quality of the otherwise light and unremarkable palate. Finish turns slightly minerally—not as salty as some other Goses I've had, but with that slight bite of something savoury on the back.
Overall, I'm not convinced I'm fan. Apart from the colour, and the slightly twisted, slightly unpleasant aromatics it adds, the blackberry is a superfluous addition—and here it feels like an gimmick. It's not an awful beer, but it's a beer that certainly feels unnecessary.
75 / 100
Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor.
Pours a dark red brownish colour, clear with vibrant colour at the edge. Head is off-white, quite dense but not a lot of it. Nice lacing trails around the glass. Looks quite nice, standard though.
Smell is funky, Belgian and good. Sweet toffee underlying, with a good barnyard funk swimming on top and a big vinegar acidity to it as well. Brown sugar, balsamic and strawberries. Very appealing indeed.
Taste is quite tart upfront but mellows out quickly. Touch of balsamic that then gets quite smooth, even dry, towards the back. Fair sultana whack and some more brown sugar, then finishes a little spicy, phenolic with a dry champagne character and a touch of vegetative pepper, maybe capsicum. Was expecting more tartness but it still stays true to Belgian roots, with a goodly phenolic spice and a smooth drinkability I certainly wasn't expecting either.
Body is a little light, but there's plenty of presence as it goes down. Not bad.
The fact that it has unexpected flavours is both a blessing and a curse. It's surprisingly smooth and drinkable but at the same time the nose had me hoping for more beguiling tartness, and that's actually a shortcoming.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a surprisingly dark yellow colour, almost golden, but very hazy. Head forms a futzy surface of white that peters out, leaving on the thin ring. No lacing. Body looks very light, although the carbonation is pleasantly fine and powdery.
Nose is a little disappointing. There's a thin, slightly vegetative tartness to it, perhaps a little like raw wheat porridge, slightly floury and a little bit dank. Maybe a hint of lacto if I'm looking for it, but also wit a good dollop of wet yeast. I'm unenthused. Deeply.
Taste is not good, verging on actually nasty. If you swig it heartily, you can maybe ignore some of the unpleasant flavours, instead getting a rather flat, soda-like acidity that leaves nothing in its wake. But it's really missing true sourness, and when it lingers it starts to feel particularly bad. Wet grain notes, flour and powdered aspirin, with a strong yeasty aftertaste that gives a pong to the back palate and leaving a truly nasty aftertaste. It's not good.
Feel is very light, slightly spritzy, which would work if there were more bite to the flavour.
Overall, I'm genuinely not a fan. However, to be honest, I've been equally not a fan of other similar Berliner Weisses from Germany, so this may be a fair example of the traditional or commercial examples. That doesn't make me like it any more, but it perhaps excuses it a little more.
69 / 100
Oddly tall 330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasant golden colour, with hints towards orange in the deeper parts, but mostly burnished, slightly hazy and bright. Head is a frothy mass, and almost gushes out of the bottle on opening, leaving some sudsy lace around the edge of the glass. Looks pretty good.
Nose is very pleasant, with some sharp green cut-grass notes across the fairly mellow Belgian malt aroma. Hint of lemon—it's not as ripe, fragrant and funky as some, but it's still pretty classic.
Taste is a little bit less complex and certainly less rounded. There's a sharpness, possibly yeast-based, that lends an earthy bitterness towards the back. There's not much of the roundedness, the sweetness that it really needs to support it. This gives it a tight tartness a little like green appleskin. It's not unpleasant, but it doesn't quite balance itself like some of the better stylistic examples.
Feel is a bit frothy, with some smoothness that helps with much of the palate.
Overall, it's a pleasant beer, and a drinkable one. It's not a stellar example of a saison, but when a saison is stellar the beer as a whole is likely to be world-class. So that's not really a slur on this beer itself.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Barny's in Alexandria. Brewed with hops from England, Slovenia, New Zealand, The USA, Germany, Australia and The Czech Republic it's really hard to categorize this into one type of "pale ale" category.
Uncaps with a sucking hiss that's confirmed by the pour: massive, crackling head of off-white that settles, clinging to the inside of the glass. Body is firm, but fluid, and hazy orange in colour. Carbonation is a little absent—as though it put all of its energy into the initial spurt of creating the crazy head. Looks pretty good though.
Nose is a little like what you get when you use too many types of hops in one beer: it just sort of reaches the median. Sure, it's hoppy, but it's hard to pick up much in the way of stylistic nuance. There's a vague greenness to it, slightly herbal and a little dank. It's a little like cut grass mingled with a suggestion of mashed together fruits. It's not bad by any means, but it lacks some direction.
Taste is clean and light, and perhaps a little tired. Although there's a space for "best before" on the label, it's not been printed on this particular bottle—but it does have the hallmarks of a beer that's waited on the shelf a little too long. Empty palate, pellety hops that turn a little more dusty than fresh. Feel is extremely light, which is not unexpected for the ABV, but it just accentuates the fact that the hops are fairly weak.
It's drinkable enough, but at least this particular example is a bit of a miss. The idea is interesting, but the end result is more generic than anything. Interestingly, I'd be more interested in a straight US pale, a straight NZ pale or even a straight Slovene pale.
72 / 100
Brewed at Bridge Road in Australia, shipped in red wine barrels across the sea to Norway and bottled by Nøgne Ø. I'm very pleased some of this made its way back to its birthplace. This was a 250ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a hazed, deep brown, with tints of red to the edges of the glass. Head forms a rather frothy mass of carbonated foam, but settles out to a decent crest of pale brown that leaves excellent lace. Carbonation is pretty fine, but the body is lighter than expected, and the bubbles flow through the glass rather swiftly. Looks good though overall.
Nose is great. Certainly you can smell the red wine oak character: plenty of vinous tones coming through, giving a fragrant but restrained fruitiness with tannic overtones. Deep malt, but not a lot of esters or yeast character. It lacks some of the dark sweetness of the Borealis, and certainly the smoky whisky tones, but the red wine is a fine addition in any case. It's still a tasty brew.
Similarly on the palate, the red-wine is quite dominant, although here there's a slight booziness on the very back of the palate which gives a lilt of depth to the beer. Still, a most definitely vinous almost-tartness on the front, slight fruitiness and a lingering tannic astringency. The frothiness of the carbonation makes you think otherwise, but it really does take on a lot of the red wine characteristics.
Overall. I certainly like it. I feel as though this has been overwhelmed by the red wine characters more than the Borealis was affected by the whisky—the Borealis was a more complete beer in and of itself. But I'm not one to pass up a sea-voyage aged wine-barrel quad, and there's certainly a huge amount to appreciate in this beer.
74 / 100
Tried on tap at Archive in Brisbane.
Pours a fairly clear, deep golden colour. Fine off-white head clings to the side of the glass in intricate lacing after its initial flurry. Body is fairly light and fluid. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is immediately rife with Brettanomyces, giving a classic gueuze-like plasticky sharpness. Brighter, fruitier acidity comes through too with rubbed lemon skin and pithy apricot making an appearance. The Brett takes a peppery tone as it warms as well, giving a spicy finish. It's very nice.
Taste lacks some true acidity, but there's plenty more of the funky Brett notes giving woody, vegetative, peppery characters, underpinned with some acetone sharpness. Slightly astringent on the back with some dry tannins coming through. It's complex, no doubting that.
Feel definitely harks from the astringency, with a tannic dryness giving the sensation of acidity without the flavour of acidity.
I would like more true sourness, but this forms a pretty interesting wild ale on its own in any case. I was extremely impressed to see this on tap at least.
83 / 100
Small brown 250ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Rich.
Pours a cloudy golden colour, with a hint of orange. Head is a firm, creamy mess of off-white that forms pocked tiny dots of lace. Body looks pretty light, but with a very fine bead of carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is intensely peaty, with a rich, earthy smoke character pretty much pummeling anything else into submission. Some medicinal characters, antiseptic and sharp with pine and leather coming through as well. Mothballs: pretty much just intensity, all of these incredible things. It's like a compressed Islay whiskey.
Taste is really quite good. Crispy burnt, smoky roastiness throughout, with the smoke coming through very strongly and the peatiness somewhat taking a sidebar. Sweetness is muted, meaning that there's a crispness in the body that's actually quite pleasant: it improves the drinkability and allows a slight acidity to punctuate the finish. Really lovely stuff.
Feel is light, especially for the ABV: it actually helps the beer, which is intensely flavoured.
Overall, I'm super impressed. "Almost undrinkable" they say on the label. I say rubbish. It's like Laphroaig in a crisp, refreshing approachable package. It's hard not to compare this to Yeastie Boys' Rex Attitude, which was my first introduction to a 100% peated beer. I still have a soft spot for that brew, as it was really revolutionary to me. But I feel as though the lightness in the body here and the pleasing crisp smokiness might actually make this better.
76 / 100
250ml bottle wrapped in red tissue paper and presented in a red tin. Like the 1st edition, this is fermented with sake yeast: this one weighs in at only 13.5% compared to the 17% of the first edition.
Pours a vaguely reddish tinted amber, with a lattice of large bubbles that form a very pocked, open white head. Very thick, quite gelatinous body that holds some minimal, but extremely fine and powdery carbonation. Some lacing forms in tiny specks. Looks pretty good.
Nose initially gives off some organic smoke and resin characters. Once it's swirled, there are deeper, earthier tones to it: soil, dead yeast, some dried lemon skin, shoe polish, all backed with a substantial volatile booziness. There's a faintly flat port tone as well, perhaps a little oxidised, or a little muted. It's very interesting.
Taste is very strangely sharp, and very full. Big burnt toffee tones dominate, with a significant length to the palate: the burnt character lingers for a long time, while the sweetness and fullness in the body ensure that it sticks around. Other characters come forward too: some smoke, berries, flat inorganic lemon, and booziness like a real spirit drained of its actual flavour. It's very strange.
Feel is full and sharp. It's matches everything nicely.
Yes, it's very nice. It's also very unique. I think I like this more than the first edition because it's less hot and less messy: this allows the sake yeast to provide some character and uniqueness to the brew without killing it with booze. This is a more balanced and more interesting outing in this very strange realm.
85 / 100
Small 250ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Adrian (aka @headlessclown).
Pours a shadowy, cloudy brown colour with a minimal, fussy off-white head. Lace forms speckled dots, like the spot on a slug. Body is fluid but thick. Carbonation is fine, and quite powdery and flurrying when tilted. It looks really good.
Nose is smoky, deep, boozy and rich. Big peated notes, some sharpness (partially alcohol, partially hops, perhaps), burnt lemon and medicinal overtones. Hops are indeed present: noticeable pine and resin come through later. There's not a huge sweetness or residual body. But it works as a big barleywine anyway. Great stuff.
Acidity on the palate, which I didn't expect: perhaps it's just the booze stretching or contracting my tongue. Sharp and smoky, more of that tartness, lots of vinous oak characters, grape vine leaf and a bit of aniseed. Wow this is complex stuff. It's still unashamedly boozy—very boozy in fact, you can feel, smell and taste the alcohol throughout. It's sharp, toasty, smoky and intense. Holy crap.
Intense. Yes. That's intense. It's different to what I thought it would be: I remember the original Sunturnbrew being complex, but somewhat sweet and comfortable. I assumed the barrel aging would give it more roundness, perhaps a little more integration. But instead it adds booziness, intensity and sharpness. Still, it's extremely good.
81 / 100
So, I have absolutely no idea what I should classify this as: IBA? IPA? Red Ale? Fruit beer? The reasons will become apparent. According to the label this is "an attempt to put new and wonderful flavours in an IPA", including (but not limited to) kaffir lime and tangerine juice.
With this description in mind, I wasn't expecting the colour of the pour: a deep, dark red colour, possibly even too dark, or at least too opaque for a Red Ale. Head is a shockingly deep dark orange (really, it looks very orange even after the body has drained out of it). Carbonation forms in very fine rivulets up the side of the glass, allowing the head to be very persistent and relatively fine. Lacing is intricate and fine. Overall, I'm confused but very excited.
Nose is more reminiscent of a traditional IPA, but there's quirks here as well. Along with the classic citric hop aroma, there's dark sweet hints of burnt sugar, a jammy marmalade character and a fresh, delicate, slightly herbal character of kaffir lime. It's just a little too sharp and direct to be an American Red, although that's probably where this is trending towards. It's lovely stuff.
Taste again gives a rather silly and twisted view on the world. There's hops aplenty, giving a coating bitterness throughout the palate, mingling with a true citrus/grapefruit bitterness, some oily, herbal notes on the back and an muted clang of spicy malt that ricochets off the bitterness almost to become a smouldering smoky character. It's quirky.
Feel is smooth, but layered with fine carbonation to keep everything alive.
Overall, while this does ostensibly fit into an IPA category, everything about it is weird in someway. If you don't look beyond the surface, it's perhaps a little unsettling, but no more; if you actually try to deconstruct it and figure it out, it's extremely elusive and very strange indeed.
And that's pretty damn good.
Bottle from @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a hazed buy not particularly cloudy white-golden colour, with a frothy and fairly firm head of bubbly white. Minimal lacing, and very light body. Carbonation is fine. I like a little more heft to my wits, but this is decent enough.
Nose is flat and a little bit dusty. Some mild wheaty grain characters, and a touch of faint powdery citrus sharpness. There's a good deal of pretty heavy carbonation with it, however, which leaves a faintly carbonic, acidic overtone. It's ok, but I feel that at best it's generic, and at worst, it's dull and lifeless.
Taste is similar, although there's a pleasant clean nothingness to it for the most part. Mild pepper and a touch of cotton candy on the back gives it a smooth counterpointed finish, with a touch of mildly astringent curacao. Mostly it feels flat, unchallenging and pedestrian.
Yeah, it's a witbier. It's not a bad one, but it's pretty uninspired stuff. Bland and flat, without the pop and crackle I expect.
To be honest, I'm pretty surprised that NÃ¸gne Ã doesn't do a better witbier than this.
So Nøgne Ø makes a plain old pale ale. Who knew? No, you didn't. That's a lie, that was totally a scoop by me.
Pours a vibrant amber, slight russet tinge, with overly generous head that I've forgive for its exuberance because it looks great. Beige, pale, foamy and dense with uneven sinking, slow and clingy all the way down. A cradle of beauty; looks excellent.
Smell is rich and hoppy, almost IPA in stature. Toffee malt front with large resiny hop oil aroma and a hint of lemon zest and pineapple to take the edge off. Slight spicy bitterness at the back. A bit big and hoppy for a pale, but still pleasant.
Taste is far toastier than expected, and I'd certainly sense it's showing its 7 months of age, but the bottle claims quality through 2014 - and who am I to argue with advertising copy? Has a slightly overcooked toffee malt flavour giving way to spicy and resiny hop oils, bitter with a slight bubblegum sweetness on the late-mid. Finishes English, sort of a smooth, flat bitterness without a lot of the piquant arrogance of the American hops I know are in here. Quite palatable in spite of it losing some of its sheen.
Body is OK for a pale, it foams up a bit but leaves a bit empty. I'd like more dryness or more pop in the mouth itself.
Decent pale ale that I do think is definitely past its peak. I dread to think if a newbie genuinely thinks it's worth cellaring this for 3 years. I mean, at 6% it won't be undrinkable but it will have dwindled to bland cardboardy malt by then. If you are storing a bottle, make sure the conditions are ice-cold, dark and preferably air-tight.
72 / 100
Had on tap at the Pumphouse Sydney, months before I'm entering this review.
Pours a slight cloudy burnt-gold colour, steady bead throughout (it's been a while since I've seen so much fizz). Head is white, small bubbles, pleasant cloud on the top. Looks alright.
Smells very citric and floral. Not a lot of spice, though. Lots of lemongrass, touch of earthy twang and some sweet nectar notes as well. Very pleasant and refreshing, but needs more edge - it has a soft drink character to it, albeit pleasant and not overly sweet.
Taste begins again lemony, with that sweet citric flavour with a touch of acid on the side. Develops earthy, bitter spice notes with a real vegetative lemongrass edge midway, a little bit astringent and almost leathery at times. Good flavour construction - light and refreshing, but that edge that the nose was missing is well used, if a little bitter at times. Nice beer overall.
Bit fizzy as expected on the feel, quite a sizzle on the tongue but leaves cleanly.
Is this beer unhopped? If not, it's quite an amazing job. But if hops have been used then they're cleverly disguised, to allow the lemongrass to speak without overpowering.
61 / 100
Pours with an effervescent and cracklingly large head of off-white, so much so that it feels obscenely overcarbonated. Body is a pleasantly hazed golden amber. The head fizzles out after a while, leaving a sudsy mesh about 2mm deep on the top of the glass. Some patchy lacing remains. That's about it. Looks decent enough, but I expect solid stylistic performance from NÃ¸gne Ã.
Nose is piney and resiny, with a very strong biting sharpness. Some grapefruit characters come through as well, giving almost a bitterness to the nose itself. It's potent, but a little one dimensional, and it doesn't really capture the full range of flavours of a great IPA.
Taste is also something of a blunt instrument. Potent bitterness comes through on the start, with a mild biscuity character and a drying, grassy slightly astringent finish. Sweetness is limited to that biscuity character, and the weight feels rather light, meaning that the hops are just accentuated more. Disappointingly, while the hops are dominant, they're not particularly complex, so there's a disconnect between the truly great IPA flavours and the hop presence.
Overall, I have to admit I'm disappointed with this brew. NÃ¸gne Ã do great things, and the IPA is a classic style for them to tackle. But this is unsubtle in places, and not nearly as full-flavoured as I would have expected, with one dominant character doing the brunt of the work, and doing it acceptably, but not admirably.
I tried the local Australian version brewed by Ben Kraus at Bridge Road. I'm pleased that we got the original version over here as well. I loved the local one, let's see how this one compared.
Pours a deep, cloudy orange-gold colour, with a frothy, excessively carbonated head of just-yellowed white. Froms some clumpy, sticky lacing on the side of the glass as the head subsides. Carbonation is large-bubbled and the body is fluid, but doesn't hold the carbonation as it's tilted. Oddly enough, this is already significantly different from the Australian version.
Nose is, however, much along the same lines. Lovely bright ripe pineapple character, twinned with a touch of organics, giving it a crushed vegetation and curdled lemon character. This stands out wonderfully, and provides an awesome blending of the two styles.
Taste is, surprisingly, a lot flatter. Some clumsy bitterness through the centre of the palate clangs off the spicy, peppery saison notes, giving it a metallic finish. Earthy saison characters come through near the back, but there's almost no acidity to it, which was something I enjoyed particularly in the BRB version. The hoppy flavours of tropical punch have all but deserted the taste, leaving it more like a flat saison.
Feel is also a little overcarbonated, abrading the palate a little and leaving quite a bloating feeling.
This beer accentuates something in paricular for me: beer is better fresh, and freshness is probably one of the key factors in getting good beer (especially in this sort of style). While I love Bridge Road, I'm happy to concede that NÃ¸gne Ã is a better brewery, but of the two examples, I much prefer the fresh local version.
Maybe some day I'll get to try this one fresh in Norway.
Bottle purchased for me by @LaitueGonflable.
Uncaps with a massive hiss that almost makes me jump out of my seat to run somewhere with the gushing bottle, but instead, it sits rather dormant in the bottle. Pours very light in colour, most certainly a golden hue rather than a deeper copper or amber, like many bitters I've had. Atop this you see the fruits of that massive carbonation: an enormous, rocky and frothy, large-bubbled head of off-white. Lacing is sudsy and clumping. It looks a bit insane, to be honest.
Nose is bright with fresh but earthy hops, giving a tea-like aroma to the beer. Ah, East Kent Goldings are much maligned, but every time I have a beer heavily steeped in their aroma I fall for them a little bit more. A little sweetness complements this, but there's not a lot. I think it's rather pleasant, to be honest.
Taste is certainly pretty light-on, with a mild tannic bitterness through the centre, a very light body, and way too much carbonation. Not much hint of that sweetness, but there's a touch of nut butter giving a little weight to the body as a whole. Feel is aggressively carbonated, and interferes with the flavours, as well as making it uncomfortably bloating.
Too alive, or somethingâthe carbonation is easily the main flaw in an otherwise solid beer. Unfortunately, it almost overwhelms to such a degree that it's hard to tell that there genuinely is a solid beer underneath.
78 / 100
Purchased in the USA, home of cheap NÃ¸gne Ã, apparently.
Pours a beautifully cloudy oragne-gold colour, with a frothy, thick head of yellowish off-white, that leaves sticky, sheeting, solid lacing down the inside of the glass. Really looks rather impressive.
Nose is crisp and sharply hoppy, with a Citra or almost Kiwi bite to the aroma, giving fresh rubbed lemon, greenery and spicy resin. Surprisingly, it's not all that robustâit certainly doesn't punch you in the face with its potency, but the characters that are there are lovely.
Taste is smooth, with a clean nuttiness towards the back of the palate, and a fresh hop flavour giving a cleansing lemon note throughout, and down the edges of the palate. Minimal true bitternessâit finishes rather light, with a sprightly herbal character like fresh rosemary. Malt is almost indiscernible, although the hops don't feel unbalanced; they just feel as though they have been given free reign in the spotlight.
Feel is also quite light, which greatly enhances the drinkability but somehow without skewing the balance too far to the hoppy bitterness.
Great brew, this one. Even if it wasn't devised by NÃ¸gne Ã, it was executed with style and skill. As always.
73 / 100
Pours a very dark umber colour, with beige head that's nice and dense but sunk to a modest film. Lace is clingy and dense but not majorly sticky. Looks good. Looks very good.
Smell is an odd one. Intense sweetness with bits of spice. Vegemite and sultana sweetness combine with black pepper, orange peel, molasses and, at the back, a wild raspberry lactic tartness. Very intriguing, and plenty to like.
Taste is really quite bizarre, but, again, lots to like. Starts quite dark with plummy and raisiny character, develops quite a fresh, fruity tartness midway. More sultanas and a touch of grapefruit and fig jam on the mid. Hint of spontaneous fermentation on the back, but also just a yeast extract stickiness and some mild plum fruit. Dark and mysterious, fruity palate, similar to a bad Oud Bruin, only better, with more complexity and more to like.
Bit foamy and dry in the mouth, feels maybe both over-attenuated and over-carbonated.
An off-beat, quirky brew, but very charismatic. If this beer approached you at a party, you'd be worried it might suddenly pull you into the bushes and rape you with a banana, but at the same time you'd be secretly wishing it would, too.
81 / 100
On-tap at the Sail & Anchor in Fremantle, WA.
Pours dark. Very dark, in fact. This is certainly one of the darkest barleywines I've ever had. Head is fine and soft, a pale light cream colour. Lace forms in solid sheets down the edge of the glass. Body is heavy. Looks pretty good.
Spicy nose, a little exotic and alluring, with a lemony sweetness like a sherbet lemon candy. Underneath it are some sweet dark tones and a hint of ash. An interesting nose.
Taste is great. Dark but smooth, and with a lively hoppiness. Citric, but sweet, and always caressed by the deep and full body. On the back some dark roasted bitterness comes through which is a lovely complement to the other flavours. Feel is quite light, but undercarbonated, which keeps it smooth.
Lovely drop. It's deep and heavy, but really surprisingly drinkable.
83 / 100
Served to me blind by @LaitueGonflable.
Deep, but relatively light-bodied dark brown colour, with a firm and full head of fine mocha foam. Lacing is full and persistent. Body is, as I said, relatively light, meaning the colour and the depth both give a sense that it's not going to be really as dark as you think. Not a bad look all up.
Nose is undeniably odd. Very sweet, with twinges of fresh, bright or fruity aromatics. Initially, I said "sultanas and dish detergent". It has a sweet, dark fruit, but also a pungent and redolent citric character to it. It's an odd mix. As it warms, deeper and fuller characters of oak, vanilla and even some dark chocolate come through. But there's always that odd fruity lightness about it that makes it very odd indeed. If nothing else it's extremely interesting.
Taste is spicy and dark, but with a lightness that stops it from getting too sweet or too acrid. Light berry characters on the front, before the lightly roasted grainy character comes through to have a crack at cleaning up. Very light finish, giving it an almost pilsner or lambic crispness on the back. It's so weird, but that makes it so unique, and I'm a sucker for a unique beer.
Wow. What a crazy brew. The only thing that I compare it to is a black Sahti I've had from Finland, with its mild acidity, crazy fruit characters and very off-centre and very unique characters. I love it.
Pours a very dark red colour, almost the hue of a deep red wine, with a frothy head of pale beige bubbles. Lacing is strong and persistent. Body is relatively light, but the colour is extremely intense. It's a luscious looking beer, even for 4.5%.
Nose is toasty and nutty, without a lot of the promised American hop varieties. More of a round baked almond character, with a subtle roast sweetness. Slight fruity astringency to it as well, enough to pique and accent the sweet characters. Very interesting.
Taste is a bit of a let down, with a mild nothingness through the front and middle, only getting a touch of roasted grain on the back. This is very pleasant when it arrives, however, leaving a touch of grain and whiff of something dark. Feel is very light.
It's an above average beer, but not a particularly exciting one. The lightness in the body aids the drinkability, but the pleasant spice and nuttiness in the nose did not deliver on the palate. It's something of a shame.
62 / 100
Pours a burnished copper colour, quite bright red but orange-tinged. Head is off-white, not much left of it but a swirl revives the whispy foam. Lace is clingy and the body has a slight cloud to it. Pretty nice.
Smell is very hot and boozey. Malty, with a slight wood note (cedar), and a strong brandy aroma. Hint of bready-ness, with yeast and wet dough aromas. Hint of cherry. It's big and complex enough for flaws to be indistinct. But I'm still noticing them, sadly.
Taste is sweet, and pretty hot. A big bread whiff hits you upfront. Develops rich, syrupy malts with caramel, toffee and brandy snap. Gets quite hot post-mid, plenty of hop to it as well - citric and piney with a flourish of brandy booze, touch of courvoisier even, and some white pepper. A big beer, nice and palatable flavour-wise but just a bit on the hot side for me.
Yeah, mouthfeel is way hot. There's just no discernible body or texture before it just gets into massive hot territory.
Not bad overall but I just find it overcooked, and the booze just needs to be toned down to let those flavours speak for themselves. Same issue I had with the Dark Horizon, too.
71 / 100
Pours a dark, dark brown with red tinge up to the light. Head is beige, almost ochre, bit lacklustre with just big bubbles around the edges. Lace is a minimal affair. Bit meh but colour is nice.
Lots of espresso on the nose - cocoa as well, touch of oak. But mostly rich coffee. Fairly endearing, but for the size of the beer it's lacking complexity.
Taste is enormously sweet, with big port wine notes on the assault, raising and a good belt of cherries blended with cocoa towards mid. Touch of vanilla and a huge boozey hit, oreo cookies, brandy and creme de cacao coming through. The front palate is the winner here, big and fruity with raisins, grape juice, touch of orange. Liqueury and porty beer. Quite pleasant but also quite hot.
Thick, syrupy mouthfeel, fairly untextured. Luckily though the booze is tamed a bit here and it could have been too hot otherwise.
Yeah, a nice sweet stout and a pleasant enough beer. Doesn't wow me given the potential 14% might hold, but its biggest saving grace is that it's not too overblown.
73 / 100
Purchased in the home of cheap Norwegian beer (the USA), and carried home to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable. Put alongside the Red Horizon, which shared very little apart from half a name.
Pours a very flat and very heavy black-brown, which only forms bubbles because of a vigorous pour. However, once the bubbles form in the edge of the beer, they stick around, so thick and viscous is the beer. You have to appreciate that.
Nose is deep and very sweet, with big barrel-aged vanilla characters forming an exceptionally smooth basis. Darker notes of espresso and lightly tangy wood smoke come through, but it's all about being round, smooth, deep and chocolatey. It feels luxurious just inhaling this beer.
Taste is, as the name suggests, *incredibly* sweet. Here, the purported nature of the stout goes out the window, leaving almost no roastiness, no smoke or charred characters, but instead an exceptionally sweet chocolate and toffee flavour that verges towards unbalanced. There's so much residual sugar in this that had it not been called "sweet horizion" I would have assumed this was a stuck fermentation that didn't quite work.
Feel is smooth and pleasant.
Despite everything, and my surprisingly good scores, this beer didn't quite work for me. It was unbalanced way too far towards the sweetness. Don't get me wrong, that's what I was expecting from the beer, but it was still an intense way to finish the night, and while it's hard to fault it on its individual attributes, this is certainly not something I'd like to drink regularly.
A very unique beer, all the same. I at least thank you for that, NÃ¸gne Ã.
73 / 100
Purchased in the United States, where Norwegian beer is so cheap compared to in Australia. Brought back to Sydney to drink with @LaitueGonflable. Sampled alongside the Sweet Horizon, a very different beer indeed.
Pours a bright orange-amber colour, not much of a hint of red to it, except in the deepest depths. Head is almost non-existent, but that's rather unsurprising for a beer of this ABV. Looks pleasantly languid and heavy, but with a livelinessâthe tiny carbonation that forms when it's swirled bubbles merrily to the surface.
Nose is strong and pungent, with a boozy note dominant, but blended with a very dry yeasty character. Certainly, there's not a lot of sweetness, depth or complexity to match the strength. Comes across as strong and hot.
Taste is a lot better, with a sharp crispness and a surprising brandy-like complexity. Heat is still omnipresent, but that's what this beer is about. Otherwise, there's sharp vinous characters, a touch of refined wood and even a hint of smokiness. Backpalate lingers for ages with a boozy astringency.
It's an unapologetic beer, this one, and I have to respect it. While it has a certain rampant belligerence, it also has a good deal of subtle complexity. I do very much appreciate what you do, NÃ¸gne Ã.
83 / 100
I drank this the night before Nøgne Ø's "Save Two Captains" campaign failed to meet its target.
Pours a murky amber colour with slight red tinge. Head is cream-coloured, nice and dense with decent retention and some really lovely sticky lace left behind. Very pleasant-looking.
Lots of nice hops on the nose, Americain in character with masses of citrus and a really enjoyable tartaric twang. Very sherbety, tangy with some acidity to it, a touch of rosewater and a slight pine resin towards the back. Mostly hops with not much malt but it's lovely and complex and exciting.
Taste is pleasant and IPA-esque, very citrus-forward with more of that nice sherbety tartaric twang at the front. Develops into a rich, earthy mid-palate with a nice toffee malt character underlying, then finish is full of nice, strong IPA hoppiness, citric rind, floral notes with rose and lavender, pine resin and yeah, just rich hop oil that's really nicely flavoursome.
Nice, full body. Gentle carbonation texture but wonderfully padded by the malt. Ideal texture for an IPA. I actually feel good drinking that.
This is overall a pretty standard double IPA but it exemplifies exactly what I love about Nøgne Ø; this isn't a beer that pops and explodes with exciting new vistas that beer can reach, it's just a perfect example of a double IPA, but in being so it highlights everything that is good about the style and makes you want more. Great job.
80 / 100
Pours a dark, dark brown, just a slight sliver of colour at the edge. Head is gorgeous - ochre, beautifully dense and retaining crackingly well. No real lace, but otherwise just a gorgeous beer.
Goodly amount of chocolate on the nose, bits of espresso on there giving a touch of sour roastiness. Hint of wood as well, but not much. Overall a bit simple for 7% but hits all the right notes.
Taste is similar to the smell but smoother. Lots of chocolate on there, rich and dark and roasty and bitter even. Develops espresso characters on the mid that then get quite spicy towards the finish, with that nice coffee bean piquancyl, which mellows out just beautifully towards the back. A bit sour, but it's drawn out so seamlessly in its transition from front to back. A masterful palate construction.
Full body, nice swirly texture as it goes down. Lovely.
Yeah, theres a bit of a foggy haze as I drink this, quite hot for a porter. It's so pleasant and balanced though, so I just don't care.
Happy Easter from 2008. Picked this one up from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill recently, and thought it was worth cracking open to flush the unfortunate Hargreaves Hill Abbey Dubbel from my mind.
Pours an astonishingly bright red colour, almost like dark cherry juice, and brightly clear. Perhaps the other most noticeable thing about the beer is the carbonation, which is vigorous, but forms in tiny streams of bubbles all around the glass. Obviously, the body has a good deal of thickness, so it has trouble pushing through, but it's a fascinating spectacle. Head is fine, just like the carbonation, and forms a pale yellow crown to the beed, almost like the colour of an oily, hoppy IPA. Minimal lacing, but otherwise, a wonderful looking brew.
Nose is rich and sweet, but with a slight wet cardboard oxidised character, which may be explained by the three years of age on it. Still, it's holding up very nicely. Plummy tones, with lightly organic and slightly sharp Belgian phenols coming through, and a pleasant buoyant spice. Gorgeous.
Taste is much thinner, and certainly showing its age here. Light, volatile spice on the front, that disappears almost immediately to a weak, bready yeasty finish. Very thin in the feel, which, if there were richer flavours present would be a pleasant palliative, but which just accentuates the wrecked palate.
Past its prime, which is a shame, because this style brewed at this strength should hold up for quite some time. Still, it's pleasant and mellow, but I suggest it's not going to get any better.
79 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour with mild haze and light slow bead. Head is too generous, with off-white bubbling, sinking slowly with nice crater patterns on top and leaving thin trails of lacing behind. Head is a bit much, but otherwise a great-looking IPA.
Lovely hoppy nose; very floral and fruity with big citrus- lemon and grapefruit, plenty of sherbet, pineapple, passionfruit. Just a gorgeous tang to it, grounded by a nice underlying citric bitterness. Gorgeous.
Taste is also good IPA stylings. Plenty of floral tang upfront with nectar and sherbet notes. Slight fizz on the mouthfeel midway, which disguises the malty flavours as more tang. Hops start early, big citrus-forward bitterness with grapefruit rind that develops a bit of a mediciney twang at the end which takes the bitterness a touch too far.
Creamy feel overall, with carbonation there to add texture. Great.
Seems like the whole beer is beautifully flavoured and well constructed. But it's such a pleasant flavour mix that I feel like it's been leant on too heavily at the end and as a result the finish seems overcooked. Overall still lovely though.
Pours a rude lipstick red, slight haze. Head has that heavy-beer look, it's fairly webbed but sunk to a film/haze on top. Lace is sticky but fairly thin. Intriguing colour, pretty good overall.
Nose is one heavy bitchov. Incredibly sweet with a big jam aroma, just sherry and baked apple with huge fruit and toffee malt. A whiff of booze at the back is a bit unfortunate but mostly a pleasant - if overly sweet - drop of treacly sap in my glass.
Taste is yeah, hello sweetness. I can see you there. Lots of fruit jam with plum, fig and stewed apple notes and just an overriding fortified wine character, with port and even a touch of rum to it. Not all that complex, disappointingly. With big, sweet beers like this I'm after bouncing highs and lows, rich and sweet just leaping out of the glass. Here's it's kind of a flat sweetness with fruit on front and booze at back. Pleasant, but could have been more interesting.
Mouthfeel = surprise! It's full and thick and sticky, yeah, fits the style. A bit dry on the back; otherwise it has the big sticky malt base one would expect.
It's a sipping beer. Decent and pleasant, but not amazing.
75 / 100
Enjoyed with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe after a day brewing our Australian Gruit.
Pours a lovely red colour, almost insanely so, like crushed cherries with a firm and fine head of off-white film. Lacing is minimal, but stick is dollops to the glass. Body looks heavy, but quite fluid and leaves some good static lacing when swirled. Quite honestly, it's a fantastic looking beer. The colour in particular is phenomenal.
Extremely sweet nose, with big redolent honey and syrup characters winning the day without any peer. Some slight phenolic booze is noticeable, giving a sharpness to the brew. Very nice.
Taste is supple and smooth, with very little hint of the booze, which is surprising. Neither, however, does it have much hint of the sweetness that was so omnipotent on the nose. It ends up smooth, with some light toasty grain notes on the back, and a thickness that doesn't really deliver much in the way of heavy malt.
Feel is fantastic though as a result: slick and smoth and with a decent chewy finish.
I'm not sure I've had a more subtle and drinkable 10% ABV brew. You can feel the weight behind it, but it stays incredibly smooth and nonchalant despite this. Certainly, this means it lacks in complexity, but it also means it kills in drinkability.
69 / 100
Pours a very cloudy and turbid deep yellow-orange, with a fine bubbled and reasonably consistent head of white. Lacing is sudsy but solid enough, in the Belgian style. Body is very pleasantly thick and heavy, indeed thicker and heavier than I expect from the style, but it seems very pleasant nonetheless.
Nose is spicy and quite deep, almost getting a smoky character to it, which is extremely unexpected. Quite sweet and slightly meaty. Perhaps the smokiness gives a smallgoods aroma to it. Vinous notes as well, with a hint of cellar and must. Interesting nose. I have to say, fuck it, I like it, even though it's quite off stylistically.
Taste is similar, again there's a smoky character which really stands out, given that it's so unexpected and out of style. Here, there's sharper booze notes as well, especially on the back, although they don't turn phenolic, which probably would have actually dragged it back stylistically. Here, it ends up rather pungent and metallic, giving a bite to the back. Spiciness throughout, although the true spicy esters from the yeast are dogged by the spicily astringent booze notes.
Feel is very nice, smooth and rather flat, but it suits it - too much carbonation on this one and it would be bloating, heavy and thick.
An interesting brew, but one you feel doesn't match what they were really going for. There's a good deal of complexity, and some interesting takes on the style, but there's also a lot which is way out of whack with what's expected, and given they were going for a "complex and balanced Belgian-style tripel ale", I think they missed.
However, I'm reviewing it on its merits, not strictly to style, so for all that, it's a tasty drop of beer.
70 / 100
Pours a pleasantly thick deep and rigid black, refusing to give up any hint of its true hue, even when held to the light. Head is initially thick and mountainous, although it dissipates a little to a single finger of foam, leaving behind a trail of sudsy thick lace - indeed, it's almost too solid to call lace. Overall, a very good look for a beer.
Nose is a pleasantly leavened dark roasted character. Indeed, the oatmeal seems to give it a light cereal sweetness, which takes the edge off the heavily charred character which is its basis otherwise. Light whiffs of latex and even a slight bubblegum character leaven it yet again. Although it's fundamentally a very dark beer, it has some interesting notes which bring it out of the depths.
Taste is a little more disappointing. Certainly more of the latex and bubblegum notes, but here the lack of black depths wears a little thin, leaving very little residual bitterness on the back. Coupled with this, there's not a huge degree of body to the palate, so it feels both empty, and lacking in flavour. In some respects, this helps the drinkability, and surprisingly brings the beer into the realms of sessionability.
An interesting beer, and one which is surprisingly light and drinkable when you get down to it. I didn't expect such a readily smooth and light beer behind its black and twisted facade, but that's what I got.
74 / 100
Pours a deep earthy red-amber with delicious light beige head fed from a furious stream of carbonation. Nice and dense, sinking very slowly but retaining a nice thick layer of foam with mediocre lacing. Overall though, a pretty fine-looking brew.
Smell is nice and fruity. Very sweet with glacé cherries, raisins and dates, all mingling with a faint musty peppery yeast. Slight whisper of clove and some honey underlying it all. Pretty appealing, good spice to offset the sweetness.
Taste is quite fruity as well, bordering on tart midway. Lots of raisin sweetness with hints of apricot, pear and apple that all feels slightly underripe with a touch of acid late. Gathers more rich, earthy sweetness post-mid with a touch of molasses and a dab with that Belgian yeast-brush (excuse the clumsy metaphor; I'm drinking) that gives mild peppercorn and coriander notes at the end.
This beer is one month past its potential lifespan end and there is a whisper of that stale beer cardboard flavour, but only a faint one; overall this has held up remarkably well. Still loads of complexity, good balance and fine flavours.
Mouthfeel is slightly rough around the edges, but a good sticky body holds it in check. Not bad.
If there's anyone still holding onto a bottle of this, my advice is drink it now, as it's still a very enjoyable drop. I just can't help wondering how great this would have been six or twelve months ago.
76 / 100
Pours a nice burnished copper colour, quite cloudy. Head is a bit lacklustre at first glance, but there's more to it. A film of small bubbles but a swill gets a minor reverse cascade happening, and there's tonnes of sticky lace left behind. Yeah, more to it than meets the uneducated or inattentive eye.
Nose is fascinatingly smokey. I mean, it's smokey, but it's not what I expect from a smoked beer. Huge bacon and wood smoke with a pleasant caramel malt underlying it. But yeah, the smoke dominates a bit too much for there to be much else to notice here.
There is definitely more to the taste, though. Huge earthy malt flavour - very sweet with molasses & English toffee, but then an almost robust sharpness, kind of gritty with some tobacco notes and black tea bitterness. Some wood smoke as well to round it off but the point is, it's not the dominant flavour. The whole palate is dedicated to strong, bold sweetness. A hint of mint, actually, helps to clean it up, although not completely. A big boozey finish, liqueury more than anything, but a seamless transition from sweet to bitter. Yeah, very pleasant if noticeably heavy.
Very sticky and thick, not over the top though, with a slight dryness on the back and a warm alcohol sensation - almost hot. Definitely sexy, anyway.
Yeah, very heavy; definitely a bottle to be shared. Could I drink this every day? No. Would I choose to, in spite of this? Hell yes.
88 / 100
Pours a very nice dark red colour, almost the same shade as bloody, with a filmy but fine head, that forms with extreme difficulty through the heavy and firm body. Lacing is good, despite the nebulous nature of the bubbling on the top, but the extremity of the viscosity probably helps with that. Looks very nice.
Lovely big and smoky characters on the nose. But with lovely roasty characters welling up like the trails from the last charcoal embers of a campfire. It's a lovely aroma. Just delicious.
Initially smooth on the palate, with a huge welling of phenomenally good and leavened wood smoked goodness. Lovely smokiness throughout the palate, mixed with a generous sweetness to support it, and a hop oil finish which clears out the smoke with a robust bitter/boozy balance. Carbonation is just right; it lifts a little at the start to help accentuate the smoke, then fizzles out to give a smooth and velvety finish.
I love the way it travels through different elements so progressively. By the end, the palate is soothed enough that you want another sip, but every time you do, you get taken on another wild adventure.
This is a really excellent beer; one that cements Nøgne Ø in my mind as one of the great breweries of the world at the moment. It's smooth, but hugely robust and flavoursome, and supremely balanced between extremities. A really phenomenal drop of beer.
76 / 100
Pours quite a dark and very opaque brown colour with an exceedingly fine head of beige foam. Lacing is sticky and stays in sheets down the glass. Lovely. Body looks very thick and heavy. Lovely looking beer.
Nose is full of roasted nutty characters, with a hint of booze and slight wine mustiness. Hint of dusty chocolate powder and a tantalising spirit spiciness. Quite sweet, but dark and refined. Very delicious.
Taste is quite boozy, with some sharp spiritous character mixing with the roasted biscuit character and the extra cocoa chocolate bitterness. Finish is surprisingly but pleasantly dry, with a dusty high roast grain character lingering throughout. Feel is surprisingly thin on the back. It suits it in a way, but almost feels like it needs something more to support it.
Very nice brew, and one which is susceptibly drinkable.
80 / 100
Pours a dark redwood colour, very murky and brown. Head is a creamy beige and just gorgeous, with marshmallowy dense top, fluffy and sinking around the sides. Lace is a bit thin, but it is there. Looks damned tasty and nice.
Nose is quite malty, with a fair amount of caramel and toffee coming off. A slight sourness hides behind, hints of oak and some cereal grain. Floral character as well with a touch of mint. Has all the right brown ale elements and then some.
Taste is quite malty, a lot of chocolate and cocoa flavours abounding. Has some caramelised flavours distinct on the front and back, while mid-palate is a more sour affair, giving off lots of oak with bitter chocolate and some fig notes. Also a slight herbaceous character, like the sap note you get when there are tree leaves in your mouth. Nicely dissipates by the end though, leaving a pleasant slightly roasty sensation with some poignant coffee notes.
A little sharpness on the tongue makes it feel a little thin, or perhaps overcarbonated. But there's a nice spongey texture to the rest of it, pretty good feel.
A well-balanced, drinkable ale with plenty of flavour and character. Nøgne Ø's Imperial Brown Ale was a cracker; this, on the other hand, is a cracker. (Ironic tone probably lost in written form).
Quite frankly, it's not that I have a particular bias towards heavy, boozier beers; it's just nobody else seems to be able to brew a 4.5% beer that tastes nearly as good as this. Good work yet again, Norway!
75 / 100
Pours a murky, cloudy bronze colour with pleasant beige head, dense bubbling looks similar to frozen Coke. Sinks quickly, leaving rings of thick, foamy lace behind. Almost opaque from the haze, yeah an interesting wild brew.
Nose is sour and kind of funky. A lot of barnyard character - hay and corporeal, salty notes with a good dose of pleasantly tart, fresh fruit. Good berry character, blackberry and juniper with a hint of pear and a citric tang - although not a lot of citrus aroma, just that sharp acidity. Pleasant and refreshing with a good sweetness underlying it all.
Taste is nice and refreshing, a lot of tang and twang, snap crackle and pop throughout the palate. Starts with fresh tartness, lemony with some bite. More fruit character comes through midway with distinct berry flavours, raspberry and underripe blackberry for some crisp, if a little puckering, flavour. Finishes with a distinct rindy bitterness, almost cheese-like but without the pungency. It is the most unlikeable part of an overall really fresh, drinkable sour.
Has a distinct bite to this with a bit of palate-tearing acidity, almost bordering on Cantillon puckering. With a good gulp, it foams up nicely to provide a layer of protection but otherwise I wouldn't keep this in my mouth for long.
75 / 100
Almost gushing on pour, only some quick thinking saved it. Pours a red-tinged amber colour, very cloudy, with a frothy and lively head of lightly pink foam. Lacing is good. Carbonation is vibrant. Looks pretty good overall.
Huge acidity and funk on the nose, with sweeter notes of rosewater and fairy floss. Very much full of sour fruit characteristics, with some very distinct sour ale funk to it as well. Wow, this is one riproaringly wild ale on the nose.
None of the acidity on the palate, but huge oak characteristics, with dusty yeast and organic funk to it, with a lingering grapeskin bitterness on the back. Pretty dry on the finish, with those big woody oak characteristics sticking around untill there's only oak, and no beer left. Phew.
Mouthfeel is carbonated and sparkling, but not overwhlemingly bubbling, given that it was so lively when opened.
A pretty nice Wild, I have to say - it could use a bit of acidity on the palate, but I'm very glad it wasn't as sour as the nose suggested it may have been. The dryness is welcome, and I like that it has such a refreshing profile as a result. A very nice Wild Ale.
72 / 100
Pours a rich, cabernet-red colour promoting some really lovely head, dense and thick beige foam that sticks around like it's infused with gelatine. Slight tinge of pink and fed from below by a steady, thick cascade of bubbles. Not just a really good-looking beer; this is just exactly what I think when I think amber ale.
My first impression of the nose is tart. There's a certain amount of acid there that is quite noticeable. A fair amount of cherry but also a distinct red grape skin note that conjures up red wine imagery - definitely cabernet again. Matching it in equal measure is a rich, bittersweet chocolate aroma which gives it most of the sweetness and balance. It does lean on the dark side here, to the point where I'd almost call it a "dark ale" rather than "amber ale", but still a pleasant aroma. Balanced and aromatic.
Taste is a lot roaster than I'd anticipated. Lots of cocoa and espresso character blossoming through that with hints of red grape skin and almost a banana character on the front, but yeah, dark roastiness takes over for the encore with hints of oak, unsweetened chocolate and most importantly coffee, which actually lingers longer than is desirable. Provides a bit of an ashy hang, gravelly and husky like discarded coffee grounds. Just feels a bit untempered at the back which belies its otherwise nice balance betwixt mild acid and warming roastiness. Decent palate that lets itself slip slightly at the end.
Mouthfeel by contrast doesn't let itself down. Wonderfully full, nice and velvety on the tongue. Little bit of carbonation tingle doesn't get harsh, doesn't leave a lingering dryness. Great texture.
I don't know if I've really had enough "amber ales" to be an expert on the style, but I feel like this doesn't quite fit. That doesn't matter much though as it works well. Very pleasant winter brew.
85 / 100
Pours a very dark orangey-amber. Head is beige, nice and dense but a bit thin, sinking slowly. Lace is gorgeous: thick, sticky and smooth. What you'd expect from a good-bodied barleywine. Or like the lace I picture on a good-bodied Cambodian girl. Looks great overall.
Nose is sweet and strong. Large apricot aroma with a large amount of brandy booze strength. Very malty and sweet with some slight dark chocolatey character lingering behind. Tangy, sweet, classic barleywine fragrance.
Taste is strong with a lot of malt throughout. Rich caramel flavour with hints of molasses, and a slight licorice spice that blends well with the alcohol warmth that kicks in quite early and stays for the finale. Gets bitter towards the back with an earthy, gravelly hop character with hints of pine resin and some cumin notes. A slight dark roastiness lingers right at the end. Beautifully balanced drop, has an explosion of flavour but doesn't leave shrapnel, it's smooth and gentle on the palate. Thick, slick, perfectly sticky, great feel. Great palate in general.
This isn't actually mind-blowing stuff but it's got all the right characters and texture to it. Beautifully balanced heavier beer. This is what Nogne O do best, basically "let's do a barleywine" and lo and behold they've nailed it. Again.
77 / 100
Pours a pretty decent dark brown, mahogany around the edge, but mostly black. Head is beautiful - medium-thick, dense and creamy foam that sinks slowly, bubbling like soap suds. Lace is thin but clings to the glass like a koala wearing suction cups on its claws. Really superb-looking stout.
Nose is dark and quite rich, with some bitter cocoa notes, slight hints of fresh vanilla and some toasted oats and other grainy characters. Smells a little sweet and I would like it to lean a little more heavily on the roasty side but still, a mild, pleasant stout smell.
Tasty. Tasty beer. Dark throughout with nice toasty flavours, slight espresso notes with some unsweetened dark chocolate and toasted wheat and barley. A sweetness comes through on the mid-palate, slightly milky and a further touch of chocolate with a hint of vanilla. Regains its bitterness for the finish with a bit of woodiness and some fresh espresso grounds, but nothing too ashy. Mouthfeel is a little watery in the mouth and a slight harshness as it goes down, but that's the only rough edge to this beer, it's otherwise a perfectly fine texture.
This is an astoundingly good session stout. Fantastically balanced, tempered and drinkable drop. Once again these naked islanders are hammering into me how well they brew.
85 / 100
Pours a golden-brown colour, slightly pale and translucently cloudy. Head is decent when first poured, sinks to a thin crown, but fed by a steady stream of bubbles, very strong in fact, keeps it alive from beneath. Good colour, lace is decent. Maybe a bit too carbonated.
Nose is pungent, and delicious, and deliciously pungent. Huge amounts of rich, ripe fruit - peach, apricot and fresh figs, as well as white grape skins and a lot of fortified wine/sherry sweetness. All capped off by a tasty blend of spice - pepper, nutmeg, anise and turmeric. Big capsicum sourness lingering behind. The strength of odour gives hints of alcohol, but no methyl character. Stunning and arresting nose. Beautifully done.
Taste is somewhat less complex, at least immediately. Starts sweet and sour, with more fruit - peaches, figs, banana as well, and stewed pears - giving way to a piquant spice, lots of clove and cinnamon, even paprika come through on the mid and more of that capsicum sourness. Even a slight chilli whazzo! hit on the end, a really arousing spice to this, especially at the back.
Mouthfeel is slightly disappointing, quite sizzly and sharp. I guess that's where you notice the alcohol, if you swill it in the mouth. But not quite as much body as I'd like either.
Absolutely no hit of alcohol though, this is a really deadly drop. Deceptively drinkable and very tasty, just superbly handled with all the right Belgian characters and an immensely satisfying sweet/spicy balance. Awesome.
76 / 100
Pours a dirty burnt brown colour, opaque with a huge amount of cloudy haze, and an enormous voluminous head, several inches of retention with a nice aerated bubble cloud, dense at the top and not really sinking. Doesn't leave a lot of lace. Nice, but kind of lacks substance. Lots of head and a cloudy body do not a good beer make; it needs to mean something.
Nose is very grainy. Quite English in character with a lot of sweetness. Fair amount of brown sugar, chestnut character (like an Asian chestnut cake), and a bit of diacetyl that falls short of over-sweetening it. Slight nutshell-woody bitterness and a slight alcohol twang as well. But a pleasant sweet nose, for its minor faults.
Tastes malty and sweet, quite roasty as well. Yeah, pleasant - a lot of toffee, bittersweet with brown sugar, a slight toasted bread note and a bit of oak. Slight licorice spice on the mid and towards the back, the latter of which coincides with an alcohol bite, which is a little hot and quite noticeable, more vodka-esque than a smooth scotch warmth. This is a sweet beer with the right amount of bitterness and edge at the end to clip it off. You've got to hand it to Nøgne Ø, they sure know flavour, and how much is enough. Tasty.
Creamy and gorgeous mouthfeel. Definitely not thin but it just slips through the mouth. Unfortunately a snakebite of booze at the end is a little bit harsh. Otherwise perfect.
Yeah, the Naked Island do it again. A tasty, solid beer from a brewery of true quality.
70 / 100
Pours a hazy sunflower colour with decent white head, nice and dense and amply fed by a steady flow of bead from the base. Good retention, and leaves some nice wads of lacing.
Nose is pleasant and Belgian. Lots of citrus, orange and grapefruit, tangerine even, with a slightly sour green edge. A lot of distinct Belgian yeast, not hugely spicy but with nice clove and white pepper providing some pleasant piquancy. Smells a bit par for wit, but also very refreshing; I like it.
Taste is rather sour for the most part. Has citrus flavours on the front, with orange and lemon zest, gets spicy on the mid, potently so, without that piquancy from the nose. It's almost a paprika kind of spice, very sour and earthy, deep, not exactly refreshing. Trails off and retains a residual sour character, with a hint of capsicum and even fresh garlic - yes, a very savoury kind of finish. Some vinous notes and a bit of acerbic citrus rind on there as well. Interesting palate with good infusions of flavour. However, the whole is not entirely successful because there is an imbalance in the profile, and doesn't have a great deal of chemistry between the parts. Tastes interesting but odd, I guess.
Nice full body, for a 4.5% beer. A lot of infused "bits" hold it up, although a slight sting at the back makes me a bit wary of it, just a bit harsh.
It's growing on me, actually. The tang is more prominent than grittiness and it's becoming quite refreshing. A good drop.
81 / 100
Pours black as night. Held right up to intense halogen lighting, gives a very slight potential hit of dark mahogany brown, but seriously it's dark. Head is actual dark brown, made up of large uneven bubbles but very large, leaves some nice webs of lace behind and sinks in a bubble-popping style. It's a magnificent-looking beer.
Nose is deep and rich with large over-roasted characters, no espresso but large dark chocolate and cocoa characters, plus a lot of deep spice notes - aniseed and black pepper, hints of mint and menthol, pretty amazing and very enjoyable nose.
Taste is pretty intense and deep. Strong dark cocoa and chocolate flavours on the front palate give way to some very dark burnt characters on the back that give off a nice bitterness that is ashy, yet pleasant, and very palatable. Hints of mint and star anise on that, and some slight espresso notes on the mid, plus slightly sour woody characters towards the back. Leaves a slight woodiness more than anything on the finish, but also an odd sweetness, like fruit & nut mix. An awesomely powerful flavour, with a tingle of alcohol towards the back. Very dark and burnt, but very good.
Pretty full mouthfeel, slight sting from the booze, but chewy and solid. Impressive, anyway.
Pretty damn drinkable for what it is. Intense, but very reasonable as a beer. One would want to have an argument with this beer, but it's just too reasonable and dammit, it makes too much sense. Just roll with it. It's right.
80 / 100
Served to me blind by laituegonflable.
Pours a hazy pale golden colour, with a very decent bead of carbonation streaming up to a massively full and rocky head of just off-white foam. Head is really excellent, and overall, it's a pretty fantastic looking brew.
Delicious nose, very tropical, with luscious sweetness, and a dry cut grass aroma to split it a little. Very nice. It's not as powerful as a really robust hop-bomb, but the characters on this are very pleasant. (Initially served clear without agitating the sediment - with the yeast, we get some barnyard floor kind of funk that wasn't present when it was clear).
Taste is also a little subdued, but very pleasantly so. I was expecting a sharp thrust of bittering hops through the centre of the palate (given the tropical notes on the nose), but the bitterness is quite restrained, and the fruit notes and clean grassy characters have a chance to express themselves as well. Finish is round and smooth, cleansing, but not particularly dry (with the yeast, it goes a tad phenolic - adds a rustic character that is more true to style) - I feel like it carresses my mouth into accepting the next sip. Yep. I like this a lot.
Just delicious. Smooth, clean, but with lots of full rounded funk characters and a very welcome hop addition. Absolutely, supremely drinkable. I had to stop myself from draining the glass in one pull. A very fine brew.
85 / 100
Pours an incredibly deep black-brown. Indeed, the "brown" in black-brown is probably psychosomatic. I can't really see any lightening in the horrible abyss of this beer. Head is an incredibly massive head of dark brown foam, easily five-fingers, and far more extensive than the three fingers of body. Looks heavy, rich and black. Seriously. This is what I expect in a Russian Imperial.
Very dark notes on the nose - but not incredibly robust. Certainly characters of charcoal, roasted grains, and dark sugar, but it's not as powerful and offensive as the best RISs I've had.
The palate is very well put though. A very strong robust ashy bitterness, just leavened slightly with notes of high-cocoa percentage chocolate. It's bittersweet - and the "sweet" in bittersweet is certainly noticeable. Mouthfeel is clinging and smooth, but maybe not as thick as it could be. Still, a very robust and very good RIS palate. Very strong, bitter and robust, and bursting with blackened, charred characters.
A pretty damn good Imperial Stout. It really has all the classic characters that I love. While it doesn't break the mould in excitingly challenging ways, it does present a pretty extreme package, and it does provide a very good canonical exemplar of what Russian Imperial Stout should be.
76 / 100
Pours a slightly orange-tinged gold with very frothy off-white head, bubbles are fairly visible and webbed, and sinks in a beautiful melting-marshmallow style, leaves tinges of lacing around. Quite hazy as well, with healthy bead.
Nose is fairly fresh and organic, with some lucerne character and some pineapple esters as well. Good dose of mildly sour funk. Not excessively complex, but everything present and accounted for.
Taste is a nice fresh one, nice and complex palate. Some sour, resiny notes on the front give way to some pleasant bitter and hoppy flavours, blended well with some fresh fruit characters - mango and pineapple on there. A big rubber sensation, great deal of that, with a fair amount of barnyard funk and a carrot flavour as well. A bit of a metallic character on the back which leaves a slightly acerbic hang, almost like a corked wine. Allover a nice blend though, fairly light and fruity with good saison characters.
Beautifully textured feel - full-bodied but smooth with a great earthy feel. Wonderful.
Very pleasant and drinkable beer. Thirst-quenching and refreshing. Shame about the aftertaste which is the one downer to an otherwise great drop.
Pours a nice dark colour, light is sort of visible through it but it's pretty much black. Not much head - a ring of burnt sienna bubbles around the top. Lacing is a decent ring but sinks pretty quickly. Looks pretty mediocre for how dark it is, although it is nicely dark.
Nose is a zap of intense aromas, in particular some mega ethanol, almost like white spirits. A nice roasted coffee fragrance tries to temper this, but to no real avail. Smells slightly roasted but mostly sour, with a hint of bourbon, some very boozey fragrance along with it. Impressive character in a beer, but not well balanced.
Taste has a lot of roasted notes throughout, but in a bittersweet way, like unsweetened chocolate. Fair espresso flavour and a bit of a chemical flavour, like insect repellent. Just a little bit though, and it may just be more an ethanol character. There is a sharp zing to the mouthfeel because alcohol is obvious, does have a nice warming kick to it though.
Overall this isn't a bad drop, but it disappoints me. Just seems to lack nuance; it has a strong flavour but it doesn't burst forth, and doesn't have much of a journey from palate A to palate B. I suspect it's just drinking too young at the moment, it seems very alcoholic but the deeper flavours haven't had a chance to mature and blossom yet, and tame the alcohol burn. If I get another chance to review an older bottle I'll revise my judgement but to my mind this isn't drinking very well yet.
89 / 100
Bought at Monument Wines and Spirits in CA, brought back to Australia and cracked open with friends to mark my 500th BA review.
Pours a dark, somewhat viscous and oily black, just hints of dark brown around the edges, with a thin film of deep brown espresso bubbles. No lacing, and very little retention, but I expected little else from the highest gravity brew I've yet sampled. Body is surprisingly liquid in the glass though - it doesn't quite linger in its movements as much as some of the other heavy stouts I've had - say Mephistopheles, or Goose Island Bourbon County. Still, a very pleasant, dark and dangerous looking beer - one you have to respect.
Nose is a thick black punch of roasted, blackened charred grain. Heaps of toasted blackness, turbulent notes of smoke and desiccated coconut, vinous notes of peppery shiraz, and a faint whiff, if not a very noticeable one, of spirituous booze. All up, an exciting and tantalising melange of characters.
Thick, silky and wine-like on the palate. Lots of body to the feel, with a creamy welling of vanilla sheened excess. Flavour is soaked with booze, heaps of vinous oak-barrel characters, a little resin, and plenty of dark, charred malt - a character that would be overwhelmingly dominant in any other brew. The alcohol is much more prominent here, though, and the long, spirit-like warming glow that imparts, is part smell, part taste, part feel, and partially sensed through intoxication. It's a heady and mind-tingling brew. Thoroughly exciting.
A very different brew, and one that is very challenging to get my head around - the booze is certainly its most dominant character, and it's as though the entire beer has been crafted around making the alcohol character work. No doubt it will mellow with time, and I'd love to see what it's like in three or four years - it may well have matured into an absolutely astounding brew.
79 / 100
Pours a very cloudy apricot orange colour, with a really lovely fluffy head of fine and silky white foam. Lacing is good. Looks still and bulbous in my tulip glass, not very active, but not bad. In fact, it looks very thick. I have to say I heartily approve.
Fair bit of honey, with a very fragrant, probably hoppy, but given the style possible not, character. Something rich and organic as well, not dissimilar to a Belgian yeast note. Almost a smoky character coming through as well. Lots of slightly unusual characters. Not as insanely bizarre as I'd expected from my first Sahti experience, but enough oddities in the aroma to keep me guessing.
Taste is particularly odd. There's certainly more of the honey note, and the gin-like juniper note is present in a sharp pinpoint at the very back. Otherwise, the palate is full of bursting malt and light phenolic alcohol - to my mind, quite reminicent of a dry Belgian pale ale. There's just enough bitterness to tip it out of the true Belgian style profile, and the character of the bitterness is slightly different to hops, but it's very subtle. Some light citrus comes in late as well, like orange peel. Nice. Note a huge note from the rye, although there is a depth to the grain character. Mouthfeel is particularly smooth. All up, this is a very tasty brew, and a wonderful uniqueness.
A very pleasant, refreshing and surprisingly drinkable brew. I particularly liked the thickness in the body, which just makes you have to appreciate all the different flavours as you chew your way through it. You know, I was expecting to say something akin to "not a beer for everyday", but I certainly could drink this everyday. It really is terribly pleasant, and not nearly as confronting as I'd been led to believe.
Pours an opaque yellow-orange colour, huge, mindfuck haze as thick and impenetrable as the mists from Hades. I mean it basically looks like homebrew trub, except for a decent - but thin - off-white head. Retains at about 1/4 inch thickness, leaves a bit of lace but not a lot. Light bead as well. Looks like a fascinating, organic drop.
Nose has a lot of hop and a fair amount of tropical fruit; pineapple, passionfruit as well as grapes. Slight hint of a herbal character and some fresh tobacco as well. Perfectly decent nose, smells fresh and pleasant.
First flavour is a distinct vanilla on the front of the palate, very sweet and descends into a fruity mélange with orange and pineapple flavours, then a very hoppy mid-to-back, quite bitter but not insanely so; it's noa stringent but has a fair amount of fresh-cut grass character and some mildly herbal phenols. Quite a lot of dryness from the quite citric acidity as well. To be honest this strikes me as having a very orange juice character, but with a distinct alcohol hit at the back.
Feel is a bit thick for my taste, it's really quite flat but very syrupy. A lot of texture, maybe too much, and a little bit drying.
This is definitely a unique drop, definitely has an odd flavour to it, almost tastes darker than it looks, and feels a little unbalanced. Maybe I should say it just feels untamed, but it's absolutely worth a drink.