French-hopped, rye spirit-infused BdG, brewed for GABS 2017. Done as a bit of a welcome to the scene for Frenchies Vincent and Thomas (in this case, Vincent) who are branching out/moving on from their work at Flat Rock Brew Cafe in Naremburn. Tried this at the festival in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a pale straw colour, fairly cloudy. Head is cream-coloured with a dense nitro cream texture to it as well. The head is very dense and unexpected for the style. Looks good.
Smells fairly much what I'd expect. Champagne yeasty dryness on there with hints of orange and other tangy fruit. Pretty straightforward; don't get a lot of rye spirit. Not bad but not hugely inspiring.
Tastes as expected too. Quite vinous, with some oaked chardonnay kind of character including the dryness but also the sweet character possibly from the rye. Spicy notes to it as well, with some light fruit midway. Slightly astringent towards the back and a bit phenolic. Quite pleasant.
Decent body, nice tingly texture from the carbonation, maybe a bit thin. Good for the style.
Feels a bit disappointingly standard given what was promised. Just feels, tastes and drinks like a straightforward Biere de Garde. Decently put together though.
77 / 100
Pours a pleasantly firm, quite cloudy amber colour, with a crackling, large-bubbled and rocky head of off-white that collapses, leaving pleasant sudsy lace. Quite a light body, surprisingly, but otherwise it looks pretty good.
Nose is pleasant, with a very nice spice character running through it, with some stewed fruit sweetness and a sharper note that has some pleasant citrus. It's pretty nice, with some good complexity.
Taste is also pleasant. There's lots of those spicy fruit notes on the front, with a line of vanilla sweetness through to the end. This changes direction though, giving nutty marzipan and nougat character in the finish. I love the way it develops on the palate: and it genuinely has a lot of well-structured complexity to it.
Feel is light—maybe a little too spritzy, but it manages to support all the characters nicely.
Overall, this is a really nice beer. It has a lot of things to explore, but it's all put together in a way that it's clear and coherent. I'm really happy with it and actually pretty impressed.
Pastry-inspired Biere de Garde brewed for GABS 2016. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish-amber colour, slightly cloudy with foamy cream-coloured head. Sticks around nicely. Looks pretty good.
Smells sweet, yeah like a millefeuille. Caramel, vanilla and sweet desserty spice notes. Weird phenolic note towards the back though which is unwelcome.
Taste delivers what the nose promised. Vanilla-infused caramel sweetness on the front that continues all the way through the palate. Gets overridden towards the back with a weird lingering Belgian phenolic character that turns the sweetness quite medicinal and ascerbic. Otherwise it's a little too syrupy for me and I'd like maybe a different character to cut through it. Decent construction but I think the style chosen is an odd match with the malt flavours.
Decent texture, touch of alcohol on there is quite welcome.
Mostly tasty, but definitely a bit odd. I'm just made a little uncomfortable by the particular flavour combinations.
59 / 100
750ml green capped and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a very slightly strawberry-tinged golden amber colour, with a big frothy head of loose, off-white bubbles, saved in the glass after a bit of a gush on uncorking. Body is light and thin, with very little noticeable carbonation.
Nose is great. Judicious green-bottle skunk accentuates some funky yeast notes, giving pleasant crushed vegetations notes and sweet spices. There's a slight brassy or sharper green note that could be the result of hops, but mostly it rides on its brewery's roots—and let's be fair, Fantôme's strengths lie in funk and yeast.
Taste is bizarre. Shocking, almost. Because the yeasty, saison, funky characters I was expecting from the aroma are just not there. Indeed, there's a flat thinness throughout the palate that makes it feel a little like someone's amputated my tongue. Instead, there's a weird kind of empty nuttiness, and a rather strong quinine-like bitterness on the back that actually feels rather metallic and medicinal. There's so little body to it that there's nothing to balance it—it's crying out for something else. Some complexity from the yeast would have been great, but it's pulled up stumps after doing all its work on the nose.
This is... challenging, shall we say? It's really something of a shame, because the aroma was great, and I was willing to forgive its complete divergence from the style if it was going to layer on some of those classic Fantôme notes. But in the end, it span around on the spot, had a random stab towards a more hop-focused beer and ended up disemboweling a close friend.
62 / 100
I'm going to call this a BdG and to hell with the consequences. Bottle given to me by Jez; shared with Chris while commiserating over 2016 election results.
Pours a red colour, with dirty murk. Exploded when I opened it, quite frothily. Head therefore is very voluminous and a bit too sparse. Lace is clingy in small clumps. Looks like soap bubbles, and generally a bit disappointing.
Smells fruity and tangy. Big lychee character with sherbet and a touch of rubbery funk. Fairly decent, but a bit of astringency on there. I like most of the fragrance but it's somehow a bit off, as well.
Taste is funky, quite bitter really. Rubbery upfront with a touch of vinous flavour, then some tang with lychee and pineapple on there followed by a big bitterness, mostly hoppy bitterness with some resinous and phenolic notes. Slightly peppery on the back and a hint of freshness but then the bitterness emerges again very late, as an afterthought. Quite medicinal really. But OK.
A bit foamy, touch of sharpness as it goes back, maybe a bit boozey.
Decent complexity and the flavours are largely good but there's some odd notes that just drag it down a bit. Not quite up to Fantôme's usual standard.
73 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasant deep reddish-brown, hazy in the depths, but letting light filter through at the edges. Head is initially very frothy and loose, but condenses into a fairly firm ring that leaves a few thick streaks of sudsy lace. Body has a bit of heft to it, but remains fluid. Looks pretty good.
Nose is pretty decent. Firm mid malts gives it a bit of sweetness which wraps a slight farmyard funk with tones of cinnamon spiced hay. Some Belgian yeast notes give a rounded fragrance as well. It's nicely done.
Taste is also pretty good. Here it has those yeast notes, that vague suggestion of funk, and plenty of caramel sweetness. But the body is light, and there's a pleasant (and suitable) metallic note through the centre that balances, and seems to give all the other characters something to pivot on. It's nice.
Feel is fairly frothy and a little gassy, but to be honest, that's a common trait in many bières de garde, so again it's not unsuitable.
Overall, this is a very solid representation of the style, executed well. I'm perhaps a little lukewarm due to the fact that I'm often a little lukewarm to the style as a whole, but there's very little wrong with it. I think it'd hold up for some of the stalwarts of the style.
750ml dark green capped bottle purchased direct from the brewery as part of their Beerdvent advent calendar. I have had this before, but it appears I was yet to review it, so here we go.
Pours a deep amber, quite hazy and dark, with an initially coarse-bubbled head that settles to only a fine ring around the outside. Body has some heft to it, and the carbonation is fine. Minimal lacing, and when the glass is static, the beer itself looks rather still.
Nose is pleasant enough. Slight deep malt notes, with a bit of toffee sweetness, leavened somewhat by a slight peppery spice or mineral tone. Deeper notes of dried citrus peel or raisins come through as well, along with something slightly cherry-like or medicinal. It's a bit of an unusual mix, but it's not unpleasant.
Taste is pretty smooth, and actually a lot lighter than I expected (or remember). It has a slight cherry pit bit along the edges, but the feel is very light, and the body is very well-attenuated, meaning it slightly peters out to very little towards the back. However, there is that residual sugary malt structure that provides something skeletal in the background. Booze is very well-hidden.
Overall, it's nice enough, and clearly well-made. It does feel a bit flat, and perhaps a little bit as though it's too old, which is ironic, given that it's literally a beer for saving. But it has it's charm, and part of the charm certainly is it being easy enough to drink that you can savour an entire 750ml bottle of it yourself on a Saturday afternoon.
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Phoenicia Foods in Houston, TX.
Pours a very deep amber colour, coppery, but very clear. Body is firm and the carbonation is fine and languid. The head is something of a disappointment. Indeed, it seems extremely undercarbonated, especially for a BdG, and ends up with only a very fine ring of pale orange bubbles. This also explains why the cork was really quite difficult to pop.
Nose is also underwhelming. Surprisingly sweet, with a slightly sticky syrup note immediately, even when cold. As it opens up, there come some more notes I associate with the style: some coppery metallic notes, a little orange flesh and some slightly spicy notes of clove. It's still not that exciting, but it works enough by the end.
Taste is, however, a departure back to lassitude. Here, the metallic note is just about all that's there, but the lack of carbonation is really problematic. There's a kind of wet, sweet flatness to it, that perpetuates a flavour of cardboard and grain sack. Slight characters on the back give a flavour like water mixed 75/25 with orange juice. It's dull and tending towards unpleasant.
Feel is the worst part of it—it's crying out, begging even, for some carbonation. It's flat and dead and this does the flavours no favours at all.
By the end, this is a mess, and a mess that I don't even want to masochistically drink. It's overly sweet, but dull at the same time. It feels simple but also messy. And that carbonation—really, it needs something. Just a little bit would provide a vast improvement. This isn't good.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale golden colour, extremely clear in the body with a lot of streaming carbonation. Body is very light, but that's fine for the style. Head is just off-white, and forms a firm, full crest that doesn't leave much lace. Looks good overall though.
Nose has some honey and meady spices to it, but also a rather dull unpleasant floury note. Some cinnamon and vanilla come through, but this just makes it smell slightly doughy like an uninspired fruit loaf. I'm not overly impressed.
Flavour is quite flat. Some honey on the front palate but little sweetness. This allows a yeasty note to rise in the centre, keeping the flavours dull and only marked by a slight grainy bitterness. Finish finally has a touch of pepper, and some lingering, used-up spice. Aftertasty is also quite bready, with a bit of banana to it.
Feel is light. It's okay, but still pretty dull.
Overall—sure it's drinkable, mostly because it seems so pointless. Even though I could drink it, I still reckon I'd rather not.
46 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep golden colour with some solid hazing and fine carbonation. Body is solid and has some heft to it. Head is a yellow-white colour, forming in a firm ring that leaves thin, sheeting lace. Looks decent enough.
Nose is dusty, with a faint bit of funk to it. Slight oakiness comes through along with the expected apple note. It's not terribly exciting though.
Lightly astringent on entry, with a mild aspirin tone giving it a medicinal quality. Slight appleskin characters in the middle, and the back is tight and very dry. Nothing much in the finish.
Overall, I don't have a lot to say about this one. It's not bad, but it's pretty dull and I don't really want to drink it. In fact, after a while it tends towards unpleasant rather than just dull, and that's not a good thing.
57 / 100
Pours a champagne colour, very very cloudy with cream-coloured head of webbed foam, nice retention. Looks nice.
Smells a little sweet at first with a touch of vanilla on the malt, then a crisp green apple aroma filters through with a touch of chardonnay. Fairly crisp, but ultimately unimpressive.
Grainy upfront on the nose with a puffed rice edge, then gets buttery oaky mid, with a touch of champagne. Finish develops an apple crispness, with a cider tartness and some more dry wood notes. Ultimately finishes a little sweet, with some astringency late. OK.
Touch of carbonation on the feel; not too bad though.
OK, but nothing really standing out. Fairly on-par biere de garde.
Pours a clear gold colour, with nice dense cream-coloured head. Could be a bit cloudier, but looks nice.
Smells more weizeny than Biere de Gardey. Caramel banana nutmeg dominating, with a touch of cinnamon and other miscellaneous sweet spice notes. Gets better as it goes along though, nice.
Taste is a bit nutty upfront with a slight chestnut edge to the malts, then spice notes take over midway with cinnamon and clove dominating along with that weizeny banana edge. Finishes more BdG-esque, with some phenolic yeast notes giving a touch of medicine. Maybe a touch of barnyard as well, not bad.
Decent body but carbonation is a bit rough and fizzy in the mouth. OK.
I keep reflexively disliking this, but then warming to it later. Really quite a good beer.
Pours a red-tinged bronze, large fluffy beige head. Large bubbles in the body. Clumpy lace. Not bad, could use less head actually.
Smells malty, touch oxidised. Notes of currants, slight earthiness maybe a touch of funk. Spice, dark fruits. Not bad.
Taste is fruity, dark and sweet. Chocolatey caramel malt upfront with English toffee, then currants and prune notes, a touch of cinnamon then finishes jammy and spicy, pepper with plenty of earth. Maybe a touch old, but decent complexity, well worked.
Smooth, little bit of booze on the back. Nice.
Not bad, could use a bit more funk.
69 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a clear burnished amber colour, perhaps with a slight haze running through it. Head forms a huge, frothy crest of off-white: stacks of carbonation forms it without much coaxing. Messy, soapy carbonation completes the picture. The beer is vibrant and alive.
Nose is muted, but pleasant. Slight vegetative fragrance sits above a more earthy, slightly sweet Belgian note. It has a lovely broad basis that allows the spicier characters to do their thing over the top. Crushed celery and a little salt and pepper. It's very nice.
Taste is a lot lighter, which works, but the nose suggested some complexity that's just not there. It's a pleasantly drinkable palate that results. Clean celery, vegetative characters over a smooth basis of neutral malt. Slight mixed spice character on the back finishing with a very dry back palate. Feel is smooth, but without much to work with.
Overall. I like it a lot. There are certainly good characters to it, and while it's lighter and less interesting on the palate that it ideally could be, it's certainly still flavoursome. A drinkable beer that retains its class.
75cl caged and corked brown bottle purchased from a Carrefour in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. Freshness date of 02/09/2015.
Pours a lovely clear, and bright golden colour with a coarse-bubbled and rather unpersistent head of white. Fair amount of coarse, streaming carbonation. Body is fairly light, but looks okay. Overall, it's certainly got some good characteristic.
Nose is rather unpleasant and a little disappointing. Flabby adjunct grain characters (I thought corn, but the bottle only mentions rice), slight overt sweetness, and a dirty, skunky character like overboiled vegetables. I guess that's the corn-like DMS I was smelling, but it's not quite straight DMS.
Taste is mildly better, because there's a hint of bitterness to ride over some of the rougher edges. Otherwise, that corny thin sweetness does stretch over most of the rest, with a slight vegetative edge. It's fairly clean and light at least for the most part, but there's not much going for it.
Feel is light and clean: if the flavours weren't so offensive, it would match nicely.
Overall, though, I found much that was unpleasant in this beer. There's not a lot of structure or pleasant flavours to it even looking at the positives, and with the nasty characters coming through it verges on genuinely offensive. Not one I'll be picking up again.
61 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Poured without the sediment for the review.
Indeed, it pours very clear as a result: a pleasant bright amber hue with rushing fine carbonation visible through the body. Head forms a crackling, fizzy mass at the start, but settles down over time to a frothy, but persistent film. Some streaking, sudsy lace. Body looks light. Otherwise, looks pretty decent.
Nose is quite mild, without the rustic spice I've had from other BdGs. Instead, this has a much meatier, malty tone that smells a little like unfermented wort. There's a slight carbonation to it that gives it a twang of acidity, and just a faint herbal tone, perhaps some rosemary or something of its ilk. Again, not bad.
Taste is a lot lighter than expected. There's something to that in a way, given that it's 7.4% ABV. But it means that it is lacking a little interest. Some worty characters again on the front, before a lightly herbal, slightly phenolic character brings a little of that classic rustic character on the back. Carbonation is a tad aggressive, leaving it feeling rather bloating.
Overall, though, it's a decent stab at a style that's varied in itself. There's not a huge amount of complexity, and it's not a beer that I'd really drink a lot of, but as part of a range like Red Duck do, it's an interesting enough addition.
A "Beer Mimics Food" beer brewed by Murray's in collaboration with Myffy Rugby from Timeout Magazine. I believe the concept was to create a spiced crumble beer without actually adding any spices: just from fermentation, yeast and the malt bill. Interesting concept. Tried on-tap at the Welcome Hotel during Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours a hazy amber colour with a touch of red to it. Body is fairly light, especially for 7.5% ABV. Head is white and quite bright, forming a fine ring with some larger bubbles. It leaves a little fine lace as it goes down. Looks decent.
Nose is slightly perfumey. Some berry aromas and a suggestion of vegetative sweetness. Pepper characters come through along with a Belgian, rubbery note. Something salty as well, almost like oysters. I can't quite work it out, but it's interesting at least.
Very light, mild entry on the palate that only leads to a thin rather reedy character on the mid-palate: carbonic without much sweetness or body. Quinine bitterness on the back leaves it a bit harsh. There's not much else to it. Were it not meant to be some sort of spiced crumble beer there might be something admirable about it.
Feel is very thin.
Overall, it's pretty weak, and I certainly didn't pick up any of the "mimicking food" aspect of the brew. Probably better to write this down as an experiment. It didn't really do anything for me.
58 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Slowbeer and given to me for Christmas by Sam.
Pours a clear and rather vibrant amber colour, quite light and fluid. Head is a slightly bubbly ring, larger at the start, but ultimately just a minimal edging to the glass. Carbonation is fine. Looks decent enough, but not very exciting.
Nose is worty, a little sweet but savoury, and with a slightly brusque odour of BO. Some rustic spice and a touch of roastiness, weirdly. It's perhaps a little oxidised as well, giving a slightly flat papery character. Hmm.
Somewhat chewy grain character on the front, just a hint of spice. Slight sweetness as well, a little candy and caramel. Old lemon skin and a definite wet cardboard oxidised character. BB date is 05/14, but even now it's tasting a bit old. Feel is pretty smooth at least: it accentuates the caramel, which is a bit of a shame, but allows some of the aromatics to come through on the finish. Hints of melon and pepper, perhaps.
Overall, this is okay, but I don't think it's in its prime to begin with, and I'm not convinced it really has the chops to be good even when fresh. Still, it's nice to have tried it at least.
70 / 100
Enjoyed in the company of the brewers at the Danks St Depot Food Flights during Sydney Craft Beer Week 2012.
Pours an orangey amber colour, nice fluffy dense head. Off-white, gorgeous lace left behind. Cloudy; nice spectrum of colour.
Smells barnyardy, with nice spice additions. Lots of pepper and a pleasant citrus fruit character, a hint of mango, kiwi and lots of funk. Lovely, classic BdG notes.
Fruity, rich and citrus on the palate - orange peel, mandarin and peach. Mild barnyard funk is there, but not too big. Bit of peppery spice on the back. Decent; not mind-blowing though. In many ways just a conventional example of the style as far as the flavour goes.
Smooth, light carbonation, a little dry on the back. Pretty good.
Nice drop; classic characters well constructed.
Pours a vivid red colour, flat, non-existent head, no lace either. Decent colour, but looks pretty bland.
Funky shit on the nose. Loads of sour notes, with boozey spice as well. Blackcurrant, pepperberries and raspberry, blackberry all with a touch of horse blanket. Refreshing, a bit on the off side and not quite reined in, but hey that's how I like my beers, and my women.
Taste is funky from the get-go: quite vinegary with bacteria all over it. A bit stale and barnyardy with a touch of leather on there. Bitey, acidic notes come through mid-to-late with hints of cranberry, plum and peach as well. Finishes surprisingly clean, but also with a touch of residual sugar, which is unnecessary. Not a bad palate for the style, leans a little lambic-wards but good funks and good tartness, just not quite crisp enough to really hold me.
Big and full body, quite syrupy really. Bit of strip back from the bugs in here, but not too much, leaves a coating on the mouth.
Decent cleanser; could be better. Interesting drop, but it's also good, and points for handling a difficult brief.
74 / 100
750ml dark green bottle brewed by the Women of Beer collective on site at Matilda Bay. A collaboration between the women of Matilda Bay, CUB, Old Salt, Red Hill, Two Birds, Hargreaves Hill, Beer Girl Bites and the Beer Diva. Proceeds support the Australian Pink Boots Society. This bottle was purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasantly bright and relatively clear deep golden colour, with a fine persistent bead of carbonation through the body. Body is light, but silky. Head forms a pleasantly fine, slightly filmy crest of white. Some thin, streaking lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is mild, but sweet with spices, with hints of rounded anise and a hint of woody cinnamon quills. Light oaky notes come through, almost lending a peppery tone when in conjunction with the spices. Indeed, the more I smell, the more it seems peppery and woody, almost dusky. It's very pleasant.
Taste is similar—pleasant clean spice characters, with a hint of peppery brusqueness on the back. There's a touch of acidity to it, just a faint brushing, perhaps, that descends more to the darker tones of spice and leather on the finish. Some volatile aromas of vanilla and a touch of fruitskin come through as well—it's quite pleasantly done.
Feel is smooth and light, with minimal carbonation.
Overall, very drinkable and really very enjoyable. Pleasantly bold and spicy, but tamed and structured to be easy to drink. I think the better of the beers from the Collective so far—here's hoping there's more to come.
According to the spec sheet from the brewery, this is a "rich and spicy bière de garde". This was a 330ml bottle purchased from Porters Northwood in Sydney.
Pours a clear but bright deep amber colour, with a solid film of off-white crowning. The head forms large bubbles at the edges, so gives the impression of being more persistent than it is. Some patchy, spotty lace. Body looks fluid, but has a nice heft to it, and very fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Hmm, I wasn't expecting that, but on the nose is a noticeable spicy acidity. Slight wine barrel oak, and a slight olive bite—a little similar to a Flanders Red. Some dusty powdered sugar sweetness comes through, along with some faint husky grain notes. I'm not convinced it's intentional, but it works well enough.
Taste is lighter, but maintaining a slight weak acidity along with some faint sugary overtones and a mild herb-and-grain finish. On the back is a faint soda-water tang along with just a hint of puke. It's not all that good—eventually, the emptiness on the palate accentuates the sugary notes, making it feel a little sickly.
Feel is light, but not awful.
I'm still not convinced that the acidity is intentional, but I believe it helps, even by virtue of the fact that it distracts from its other flaws. Having tried the other two in the range from BAL, it's fair to say I wasn't looking forward to cracking this one open. But, intentional or not, the faint funk makes this one clear stand out from the others.
This beer is a collaboration between HopDog and Riverside Brewing. I tasted it at their combined beer dinner at Danks St Depot during Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours a bright gold-orange colour, with a light, but solid enough, very cloudy body. Head is bubbly and fine, pure white in colour. Carbonation is very fine through the body. Looks pretty good.
Smooth and rounded on the nose, with some of the sharper phenolic characters I expected, but fewer than there might have been. Some banana skin, green leafy notes. Nothing sharper: no pepper, for example. It's a bit surprising. It's still pleasant, but a lot more restrained than I thought it would be.
Light spicy phenolics on the front, with a smooth, clean mid-palate to refresh it. It feels a little thin until the back, when the phenols pep up again, and the yeast characters come through more strongly, along with an organic character like apple skin. Feel is very light: it aids the drinkability, but perhaps obscures some of the complexity.
Overall, it's smooth and easy to drink, but lacks some character, which is certainly not something I expected from these two brewers. It's pleasant, but doesn't get beyond that, and I feel like it could have.
73 / 100
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa.
Pours a golden hue, with a touch of amber to it. Some haze forms in the glass, but it's a mildly lustrous effect. Head is firm and white in colour, forming a very solid ring. Some patchy lace, and not much carbonation.
Nose pronounced a hint of acid as a first impression, along with softer, rounder Belgian phenols and some grainy, rustic savoury tones. It's nice, and firmly in that rustic, semi-sour biÃ¨re de garde style.
Light grain on the front of the tongue before the phenols ramp up a lot, giving almost a roasted, spicy astringency mid-palate. Finish is clean and crisp, with the phenols trailing off to almost drift into the realm of true bitterness. Aftertaste is slightly appley, but with a big bite, like strong scrumpy.
Solidly in style. It reminds me of some of the classics like 3 Monts. It does end up being a little harsh on the finish, but even that is acceptable for a BdG. That criticism is probably just prejudice on my part.
Uncaps without any kind of carbonation hiss at all. In fact, I was almost shocked when it uncapped like it wasn't at all sealed.
Pours a completely flat, uncarbonated, but a pleasant deep ruby-brown colour. No head to speak of, and even the body itself looks disturbingly thin, and not at all a match for its purported 11% alcohol. I'm dubious and a little hesitant.
Nose is slightly acidic and surprisingly sprightly for its flatness. Some hints of oak and aromatic grains give it a lift that also hints at baseness. Booze is noticeable, but not overpowering, and most of it is attributable to the oak flavours in any case. Not bad.
Taste is also a little flat, but depressingly, not obviously oxidisedâif it were, I would be happy believing that the bottle I got was improperly sealed and write it off thusly. It just has a faint, bland oaky nothingness to it, that relies much on the conditioning of the beer and very little on its innate quality. Some acidity, especially on the front, which gives it a vinous quality, and a hint of spice on the back that gives it a tonic quinine bite. Feel is quite smooth, but flat, and the booze is actually remarkably well hidden.
It's a confusing beer this one. I'm certainly not wowed by it, nor particularly enamoured of it at all, but it has enough interest to keep you hoping. That's worth something at least, even if for me, my hopes ended up in disappointment.
88 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour with over-generous but otherwise ideal head - off-white, fluffy, pillowy and sunk in uneven place, leaving a trail of thick lace behind. Slightly cloudy. Yeah, spanking great look.
Smells lovely, and infected in all the right ways. Sour, fruited vinegar aroma with big guava hit, touch of fig and orange peel and some raspberry as well. Slight washed rind cheese funk as well for good measure, and a nice dry spice note on the back. It's an aroma blend they knew I'd like. Yeah, I refuse to give them the satisfaction of rhapsodising about it.
Taste starts out oddly creamy with a vanilla note. That vanilla, creamy sweetness retains throughout the palate, and gets even sweeter on the back with a touch of menthol, maybe. Sweet mint. But following the initial sweetness it's all lovely infected sour notes, complex barnyard flavours with guava-infused vinegar and dried orange peel. Touch of chardonnay and some caramel malt just underlying it all. Really lovely, complex beer that so deftly avoids the trap of being overly puckering, with just the right amount of sweet malt added to balance, making this drinkable as all hell. This is a bloody cracker.
A little bit sizzly and puckering from the wild yeast late-mid, but recovers itself, patches the gaps by the end to remain smooth. Got to forgive that slight puckering note when it's this good.
I'd be proud to serve this beer to people, and proud to wear a badge that proclaims I drink it. It's a beer that, if it came across as polarising, I would defend to the hilt. In short, I feel patriotic - jingoistic, even - about this wonderfully complex, refreshing drop.
86 / 100
Every Jolly Pumpkin beer is a treasure to me, and every time I bring one back to Australia, I enjoy sharing it with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe. Let's see how this one fares.
From the pour, it's gorgeous, a lovely bronzed orange colour, like the shade of a colouring autumn leaf. Head is fine and full, leaving a good couple of centimetres in the glass to the bottom. Some patchy, hazed lacing, in true wild ale style. Body is light, but firm, and the carbonation is nascent, but big enough to form that magnificent head. Great looking beer.
Nose is round and mildly acidic, but more beaten with oak fragrance than anything else. Sure, the classic JP funk is there, but here it's very smooth and mellow, and rather lightâI don't expect big acidity on the palate. Hint of nuts and vanilla come through atop this, lending more of that smooth, mellow and restrained character. Lovely.
Taste is very light, giving a mild acidity and a touch of tea leaf, with a mellow but subdued oakiness and some lifting green apple fragrance. Finish has touches of rose and pepper. Never does the acidity grow to particularly noticeable levels, but it underpins most of the other complexities. And this is indeed a complex beer.
This is an exceptionally interesting beer, with plenty of extremely subtle complexities on the palate. Better, though, is the fact that although these complexities exist, they don't overwhelm the palate. For all intents and purposes, this is a light, refreshing and very easy to drink beer, but below the surface, there is a lively and multi-leveled story for the telling.
And that's Jolly Pumpkin all over.
74 / 100
750ml swing-top bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours heady and alive, with a crackling, large-bubbled head of white that eventually effervesces itself into nothingness. Body is a deep copper gold colour, but very clear. It actually looks rather lively, even when the head has fizzled out. And that's pretty suitable for the style.
Nose is slightly rustic and acidic, with some earthy tones and a slightly savoury honey tone. Some hay comes through, along with a fragrant sandalwood character. Nice.
Taste is bright and light, but masters the acidity with a crisp bitterness so that it's really not that noticeable. Instead, we get more of the earthy overtones, and a late wet grain character that suggests bread dough. Feel is very light, which is suitableâbut there's enough complexity to the palate that I'd like a little bit more heft.
Nice brew. Drank in a very spring-like autumn in Santa Clara, CA, and it suited it nicely. Light and drinkable and fresh, but with interest and complexity there when you go looking for it.
61 / 100
Pours a bronzed red colour with fluffy beige head and pretty furious bead of small bubbles. Lace is patchy, looks good.
Smell is fairly nutty and malty. Hints of marzipan with pecan caramel and a whisper of some vanilla and maybe paprika providing mild spice. Sweet above all else, not unpleasant but not sure stylistically.
Taste is intriguing. Roasty copper all over, with a rich toasted grain providing burnt sugar, charred wood and some rich earthy coffee grounds without any bite. Metallic edge towards the back with verdigris and slight phenolic edge. Spike of flavour on the back but it's predominantly a burnt, sweet kind of brew. Interesting and pleasant enough, albeit nothing like what I expected.
Foams up well in the mouth, great body.
Would expect more of an organic flavour. If this weren't called a Biere de Garde on the bottle I would have sworn I were drinking a Maibock. I Google translated the name because I was confused and apparently it means "Spring Brew" which frankly could be either. It just strikes me as a slightly toasty malt bomb and I really don't know about it stylistically. Doesn't make it unpleasant, just a bit confusing.
Cheers to @LaitueGonflable for the Xmas present.
Pours a slightly hazed amber red colour, with a fine and filmy head of off-white. Lacing is pretty good, and the body is reasonably heavy, leaving some carbonation swirling in the glass. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is a bit organic and funky, with a medicinal or chlorine character coming through as well. Quite light on - not a great deal of character apart from those sharp belts, but it's pleasant enough.
Taste is thin, but pleasantly smooth, with some lightly roasted malt characters coming through. Almost no acidity, although there are some soft bitter phenols on the back which do evoke a slight Bière de Garde accent. Mostly light and smooth, and relatively easy drinking.
A decent brew. Nothing exciting, but Otway is still yet to come up with anything that really excited me. But this is a decently crafted beer, with pleasant smoothness and surprisingly drinkable.
60 / 100
Tried some time ago with @tobeerornottobe, just found my (written) review.
Bright, burnished golden colour, with a decent body. Lots of floating sediment, which stay completely suspended - they refuse to congregate at the bottom of the glass. Excellent lacing, filmy white head. Looks very nice.
Rustic, earthy grain notes on the nose, almost verging towards sweet and rotten. Hint of apricots or some other fruit, overripe, but very earthy and subdued. Not bad, but not great.
Quite sweet on the palate, with a grainy husky character, and a seltzer bitterness. A little sour with a very short afterpalate. Mouthfeel is quite thick and undercarbonated. But nice.
Quite drinkable, but without a lot of character. Falls flat eventually, especially the ending which is very empty. Refreshing enough to drink regularly though.
60 / 100
Pours a pale, almost fluoro-orange colour, glowing yellow where the light strikes the edges, very opaque and hazy. Head is fairly humble, bubbly and sunk in the middle. Leaves some beautiful webs of lace around. Lookin' good there, beer.
Smells quite hoppy, actually quite earthy and resinous. Fair amount of citric character on that providing some fruit, but it's a rindy fruit smell, quite bitter. Aside from that a slight pear aroma and lots of soil, leather and grass. Bit subdued overall but what's there is quite nice.
Taste is...interesting. Minty flavour starts off the front, then a fair amount of yeasty character. Plenty of grain, with puffed rice and wheat coming through, and just a slight bready note on the mid. Very bitter and phenolic on the back, just a huge aspirin bitterness and a slight ashiness to it as well. Really quite bold and I can't say it's pleasing me a lot. Nice at the start, but just a very mediciney finish. It's impressive, just not my cup of bitter aspirin.
Swills quite well in the mouth, a lot of body to it but a nice silky texture. A touch of carbonation foam as well makes it almost broth-like. Really quite nice feel.
The medicinal bitterness puts me off, but it's not terrible and I can enjoy large parts of this beer, just not the part that counts most - my remembrance of each sip.
76 / 100
Pours a pleasant orange-tinged golden colour, with a frothy and fine-bubbled head of white foam. Lacing is excellent. Body is really pleasantly cloudy, and looks solid and vibrant in the glass, like a liquified gemstone. Lovely.
Rustic and slightly tart aromas on the nose. A little crushed leaf, some hay bale and a really pleasant vinous or oaky acidity to piece it all together. Very nice BDG nose.
Taste is slightly tart on entry, but is wowed away by big earthy phenols that put this beer smack bang in the centre of its style. Hints of plasticene and leather, welling up through the back before a big spicy, phenolic bitterness on the finish. It's a boisterous Biere de Garde, and an unapologetic one. Mouthfeel is pleasantly leavened by some very fine carbonation, which balances the slight heat of alcohol detectable mid-palate.
A really nice beer and a very good Biere de Garde. I think it could use a tad more acidity on the palate, but that is just what would turn a very good beer into a spectacular one. This is a lovely drop.
Bought from Slowbeer and shared with my homebrewing buddies.
Pours a deep murky red; almost opaque and I didn't quite decant out the floaties from my glass - but that's alright, I like a good chunk of protein in my beer. Head is small with dense bubbles, not enough for a full crown. Lace is OK. Looks suitable and to style.
Nose is a fair funkatarium, with a lot of subtle barnyard characters. Sour and salty, with hints of sweat, leather and some underripe grape notes. Some more earthy notes come through behind it, slightly gritty but not a lot. Smells OK and again to style, but very standard wild yeast characters.
Taste is fairly rich for the most part, a fair amount of toffee and molasses providing the backbone which is quite thick and malty. Acidic notes give off soprano touches throughout the palate, quite citric on the mid and getting slightly vinous, like a young chardonnay, towards the end. Some hints of grapefruit bitterness, especially on the finish, and definite but slightly smothered barnyard funk flavour. Decent, but simple, lacking in complexity for a wild beer but with a nice blend and balance.
Some body on the feel but swills in the mouth like it's thin. I think it's a good texture though, certainly doesn't come across as syrupy. Finish is very dry thanks in part to the puckering effect of the tartness.
Certainly a decent drinking beer, but I think I've been spoiled for Bière de Gardes lately with a couple of amazing Jolly Pumpkin offerings. I'd call this on par with 3 Monts and a fair effort.
84 / 100
Gushes forth in a great explosion of foam when opened. Finally, the prophecy of the exploding Jolly Pumpkin beer is fulfilled. When it pours, and settles, it's a wonderfully cloudy bright golden yellow colour, with absolutely monstrous, sticky, hearty and full head of white foam. Lacing is just worthy of every superlative you can throw at it. Looks very, very tasty indeed.
Big woody oak and vinous acidity on the nose - huge notes of crushed vegetation, eucalyptus, pine shavings, sawdust - wood, so much wood. Even a lilting sweetness like lemon sherbet floating along underneath it. It's so uplifting and refreshing. Just wonderful.
Taste is sharp and rather phenolic. Minimal acidity, which is something of a surprise after the big resinous and wine-like vinegar notes on the nose. Instead, there's a lifted booze note and some slight acetone harshness mid palate, which give way to a rather arid oak character on the back. To be honest, this is similar to other BDGs I've had, but they also haven't had the pronounced sour notes on the nose. It's nice, and stylistically rather good, but I'm not swooning over the flavour the way I was over the appearance and nose. Mouthfeel is crisp and leavened, feeling quite aerated on the finish.
A very nice beer, and another subtly crafted brew from the good people at Jolly Pumpkin. It grew on me a lot the more I drank, which speaks to its drinkability. While it didn't bowl me over with raw robust character, it impressed me with its subtlety and finesse. Quite excellent.
84 / 100
Pours a very nice hazy colour, pale yellow with very generous cream-coloured head that sinks unevenly like finely whipped egg whites, lacing has a stalactite effect, very thick and foamy around. Pretty much perfect, very pleasant.
Nose is a funkatarium by Jump. Very sour notes with a good kind of grapefruit tartness and some fresh berries on there as well. Touch of straw, hint of leather, but overall a very fresh, green tartness. Citric and quit eacidic, but smells pleasant and thirst-quenching.
Taste is...well, interesting. Distinct notes throughout of that funky wild yeast character, lots of sourness, leather, cheese rind, particularly on the very front, then quite a sweet mid-palate with marshmallow notes, some cream I guess, but complemented and tempered with the funk which is mostly sour, without being puckering. Finish is quite bitter with some nice earthy notes, parsnip or other root vegetable in there and even some coffee grinds. It's a very well-handled brew, excellent control of the spontaneous fermentation, using it to add complexity but not ripping it to the extreme. A very tasty brew.
Very swishy and chewy mouthfeel, a bit too dry on the finish, but lots of texture overall. Lots of 'bits' to it. Nice.
A very enjoyable beer with good flavour, well handled and well constructed.
77 / 100
Pours a lovely cloudy reddish orange colour, quite deep and thick with a huge and boisterous rocky head of large-bubble yellow foam. Lacing is crazy but patchy. The carbonation is a story in itself, with huge crowds of bubbles fizzing in anarchy through the body. This is a big and wild, crazily boisterous brew. I love it.
Decent wild funk on the nose, Lots of hay, sweet citrus acidity, and an oddly spicy note like New York pizza sauce. Maybe it's a herbal, basil-like fragrance, but that's what it reminds me of. Quite sweet, but with that lightly rank meaty/yeasty/herbal character to just skew it off-centre. Awesome.
Taste still has funky overtones, but it returns very much to the base organic phenols of a traditional bière de garde. More earthy and gritty, quite refreshingly dry, but with very little acidity. Some herbal bitterness on the very back. To my mind, a little sour note would set this off nicely. Despite the zealous carbonation, the mouthfeel is round and merely tingling, although the beer feels a little bloating after a while.
Yes. This is a pretty wild brew, and to my mind, it's doing what Ommegang does well: taking a very decent Belgian style ale and twisting it slightly off-kilter. They really up the funk on the aroma with this beer, but bring it back to a more traditional basis on the palate. Very nice indeed.
Had at the estate.
Poured a nice bronze colour with small beige head, okay retention but minimal lace left behind. Body is clear, not much bead. Nice colour, the rest is pretty bland, and not very biere de gardey.
Nose is quite vinous with a nice Belgian twang to it. Fair amount of malt though and a bit of a fruity aroma, hints of pineapple and orange. Very light rubbery funk right at the back. A bit subdued, but has most of the right fragrances.
Taste is rich and actually quite chocolatey, rich with a liqueur kind of character. Hints of berry and red grape skins and some buttery malt. Slight funk on the back together with some boozey warmth that just provides a light kick at the end. The palate feels like it takes a while to get going, but once the flavours kick in they're quite pleasant.
Mouthfeel, though, is disappointingely thin. Definitely lacking a bit, it feels flat and dull except for the nice kick on the back. No real texture to it.
Overall is a pleasant drop though, with good flavour. Goes down pretty nicely.
88 / 100
Pours a rich umber colour with a very translucent body, lots of cloud there. Head is nice and retains all right but certainly not huge in my glass. Lacing is pleasantly thick and sticky. This isn't the best glass for head though so I won't hold that against it - looks great.
Nose is very unique - sour and fruity and spicy, with hints of currants, capsicum, pepper, balsamic vinegar, peach - I could go on. Superbly complex, fresh, floral, fruity, simply wonderful. Oh, I forgot spicy that time. Oh yeah, complex, fascinating, just fucking fantastic.
Taste is very intensely sour and very bitter, almost ashy in its deep, rich acridness. A lot of sour characters, unripe fruit and a slight lactic character as well. Hints of redcurrants, cranberries and grapefruit, with a very potent espresso bitterness that comes through on the mid, then a finish that is zesty and sprightly; puckering like lemon and with a slight vinous edge, maybe a bit of oxidised funk.
It's a wonderfully complex drop and in spite of the tartness is incredible easy to get down. Mouthfeel is zingy and sizzling with a lot of puckernig, acidic character, hugely effective and rather pleasant.
I'm enjoying this beer to bits, really complex and impressive in flavour, yet very pleasant and drinkable, with a great palate profile.
85 / 100
Pours a very lovely dark red mahogany colour, with a thick, creamy and sticky head of pale brown foam. Lacing is excellent, leaving cascading curtains of foam down the edge of the glass. Some cloudiness in the body. Looks very, very good.
Tart funk on the nose, huge notes of oak barrels, some brett and crisp eucalyptus. Smells extremely fresh, organic and rank, but so clean, sharp and clear - like the sharp toll of a tiny bell. The wildness is the most noticeable characteristic, but there are light tannic notes as well, a hint of leather and tea leaves. Very nice overall.
Clean and crisp on the palate, without the clenching vinegar sourness I was expecting. Instead we have a crisp and lightly acidic entry, which is oddly finessed with a dark grain and oak character, which provides an unusual but strikingly pleasant juxtaposition. Back has quite a bitter overtone, with resin and grit dominant. So much odd complexity here, once again, the new world striking out with wonderfully original beers. Woohoo!
Mouthfeel is quite thin - like a brett-infused wild ale, but the depth of this beer demands something heavier.
A refreshing and complex beer - very pleasant indeed with plenty to keep me interested. Supremely drinkable for its complexity - it's like the layers are there to discover if you so desire, otherwise it can be enjoyed as a refreshing rustic brew. Very jolly indeed.
69 / 100
Mid amber hue, quite clear, with a huge fluffy head of yellowish white bubbles. Looks pretty damn good, and very much in the expected style for a Biere de Garde.
Dark, rustic, slightly organic notes on the nose. Dark, almost currantly sweetness to it too, and maybe just a hint of spiritous alcohol. Quite sweet, but with that earthy organic flavour always lingering around the back. Nice. I like this type of beer.
Again, it's grainy, organic and earthy on the palate too. Notes of cereal, backed with a lightly bitter alcohol heat. Finish is very dry, with a lingering grain husk and earth flavour. Nice, rustic, raw and unpretentious.
I didn't notice the ABV until after I'd finished it, and I was surprised it was so high. It's a nice beer; a dusty, dry, but refreshing brew.
Very standard lagery appearance, only with a huge foamy head that thins out, creating a bit of lacing. Mostly just plain amber colour with light carbonation.
Somewhat underwhelming nose too. Light floral hoppiness with fair amber malt characters, standard but not boring nose. It's got character, just no really unique features leaping at me.
Thick, syrupy malt flavour on the tongue progresses to a long hoppy palate with a lot of flavour. It's rich and strong with hints of coriander, soil and citrus characters. Slightly stinging mouthfeel and intense flavour makes it respectable but it's not all that complex, just strong and long, like my penis.
60 / 100
Beautiful clear rich golden colour, with a great big head of frosty solid foam. Fine carbonation around the edges. A beautiful looking beer, very regal and aristocratic.
Rather musty, almost metallic coppery nose. Light bread yeast overtones, but the mustiness, which takes on nuances of organic or grainy characters, wins out.
Malt and yeast on the palate, almost overpowering, before there's more grainy characters. Earthy malt and a noticeable wash of alcohol heat. There's a slightly metallic, solvent-like quality coming from the alcohol, and a tingle of hops bitterness, but not a lot.
Weird one this. I don't know if it's a stylistic difference that I find so challenging, but there's bits to this that make it rather difficult to drink. Whether it's the intensity of the yeast character, the heat of the alcohol which isn't quite covered up, or something else - something rankles with me here. When I've tried more Bières de garde, I'll probably know more, but for now I'll say good, but not great.