American Amber / Red Ale
46th highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedExpedition Ale (89 / 100) Average score62 / 100 (Decent)
Lowest RatedCable Car Small Batch Amber Ale (6 / 100) Number Tried273
She's No Bette Midler
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 28.08.18 from a can
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Can bought and tried at Preachers.

Pours a red amber colour, with foamy pale beige head; nice and foamy and generous. Clear. Looks pretty decent.

Smells tangy and fruity, with good malt presence. Faint subtle tropical characters with mango and pineapple and a good malt sweetness behind it. Hint of caramel sweetness to it. Pretty standard but not bad.

Tastes spicy and earthy really. Decent malt, with some slight cardboard characters but mostly spicy; hints of coriander and nutmeg, maybe some turmeric and the malt is slightly roasty to complement. Seems more of an Irish red actually, with the bitterness quite short and predominantly cleansing and otherwise the malt is dominant with a touch of earthiness. Not bad but not very moreish.

Mouthfeel is decently smooth; good presence with a fair fluidity to it. Yeah not bad.

Yeah I don't love it but it feels a bit undefined and lacking in character really. Earthy, but a touch of freshness. Bit of both malt and hop but not enough of either.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Santa Cruz Imperial Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.02.18 from a can
Overall:
47 / 100
(Not Great)
Pint can purchased from Bobby's Liquor in Santa Clara, CA.

Pours a suitable amber hue, with a very coarse gauze of off-white across the top which fizzles out leaving some thin leopard-print lacing. Body is surprisingly light for the weight, although it holds reasonably fine carbonation. I'm still a bit underwhelmed though.

Nose does kind of deliver on the slightly coppery amber malt character, but it's extremely flat and dead. It has a metallic quality, a little like the smell of heated aluminium foil, or a grill that you haven't turned on for a while. Not that great, to be honest.

The taste is similar. It's based around a savoury malt character, and a biting coppery bitterness. It's very thin, despite the elevated ABV, and comes across more like a macro amber ale than anything with depth of substance. Back is minerally, like chewing up a piece of rock. I'm unimpressed.

Yeah, this isn't good. It's not undrinkable, but the characters it has are more likely than not unpleasant. Mostly, it's just a damn disappointment.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.0
Second Cousin Iti
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.02.18 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Hoppy red ale with pomegranate juice added. Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas.

Pours a very dark red colour with slight gold tinge to it. Head is off-white, decently foamy but not all that vibrant, just a thin film really. Goodly amount of lace on there and a nice cascade when I tilt it. Maybe a touch too dark, but nice.

Smells quite pleasant. Malt-driven, with lots of caramel and a touch of toastiness. Slight fruity character at the back that with the malt gives a kind of fruit mince pie character, maybe slightly spicy. Smells more altbiery than really 'red ale' (possibly a touch old?) but it's a pleasant beer aroma.

Tastes quite similar really. Malt-driven, with lots of toffee and caramel upfront, developing some toasty, almost burnt character midway; maybe a hint oxidised. Fruit character late-mid is predominantly ester-driven, so seems more like fermentation byproducts than hops - or this pomegranate that the label proclaims. Not sure what pomegranate would do to a beer, and judging from this the answer is not much. There's a decent tang late but it seems a little half-hearted with the malt bill really taking the lead. Pretty pleasant, but it's kind of a safely pleasant palate without many twists to it. But also not really exemplary of a classic style, so the fact that it feels quite traditional and safe feels a bit uninspired here.

Mouthfeel is a little thin of course but with a nice foamy texture to it. Helps pad it out so it's thin but not harsh.

Drinks quite nice, even though it's less exciting or interesting than I'd expected.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Snakes on a Plain
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.12.17 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
On tap at the Sydney Park Hotel as part of their NSW State of Brews tap takeover during Sydney Beer Week 2017.

Pours a burnished amber colour, fair cloud to it. Head is not much from the pour, which people might enjoy... but it's kind of disappointing to me, with some small bubbles on the top. Fairly unexciting really, but fine.

Smells very fresh and pleasant. Big citrus aroma with ripe orange, tangerine and grapefruit. Some tropical character as well with passionfruit. Largely fruity with not much else, but pleasant.

Taste is surprisingly malty, and not necessarily in a good way. Has this big toffee sweetness that then kind of clashes with the sharp citrus that just ratchets up the flavour beyond what's really digestible. It's just a bit of a spike though, and the finish is just hoppy, fruity, touch of resin and mostly floral. But yeah, it'd be better with a nice flat palate that just grows and swells rather than this big stab in the middle that then trails off. Decent, but off-kilter

Not a bad body; bit of dryness midway and some pull from the hop oils late. Kind of swallows up the body.

Drinks alright but it's a bit full on without really delivering anything that interesting.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
India Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 03.12.17 in bottle
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam as part of our 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar. Reviewed blind.

Pours a firm, cloudy amber colour, with a coarse-bubbled but persistent head of beige that leaves sudsy lace. Carbonation is minimal but swift, in broad, large bubbles. Body has some weight behind it. Looks okay.

Nose is based around the malt, with a firm, chunky sweetness, surrounding a coppery character that suggests a touch of oxidation. Some soft, herbal hops come through, with a bit of earthy sage and turmeric. It's quite dense and a little intense, but not necessarily that pleasant.

Taste is raw. There's a firm structure of malt on the front, with a sharpness that doesn't do it a lot of good. The sharpness has continuity into the back, where it becomes slightly harsh and metallic. Bitterness is firm, with a touch of charred meat and medicinal herbs. Not that great, to be honest.

Feel is fine—it's quite full-bodied, with a slightly too-boisterous carbonation.

Overall, I don't love it. It's too bitter on the back, and too sweet on the front, and never the twain shall meet.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.25
India Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.11.17 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
So I've been wanting to get my hands on a bottle of this, as many probably have, since it won some "best beer in the world" award at some English beer festival or something (edit: a quick Google informs me it was the 2016 International Beer Challenge, in London) and, given my very mediocre experience with Prancing Pony beers in the past, this seemed like a dubious honour. Jez gave me a bottle for my birthday in 2017 so I gave this a proper tasting.

Pours a dark scorched reddish-brown colour, with a lovely foamy head, cream-coloured, nicely packed bubbles and sinking very slowly in the middle leaving craters. Lacing is pretty decent if a bit thin. Looks great.

Smells hoppy, decent, if a little aged (my fault). Notes of lingering grapefruit, with some minerally character, a touch of lime and apple skin. Hiding behind is a toffee malt note. Pretty nice.

Taste is quite pleasant. Big robust malt character, quite English with a toffee base, developing hoppy character towards the mid with some light herbal notes and then a sharp citric twang that becomes quite bitter and slightly piney on the back. Sligt minerally and metallic twang which I'll put down to age, but it does mar the finish a bit here and I'd love to see if it would be bitter or fresh and clean on the back when it's fresh. But that's got a good base, good malt-hops balance. It's a pleasant palate.

A little light on the body so there's a noticeable carbonation sizzle which isn't ideal. Not as full as I've come to expect from Prancing Pony, to be honest - their mouthfeels are the highlights of otherwise unimpressive beers, and in this case it feels like the shortcoming.

Pleasant drop, and a pleasant surprise. Have to admit I was sceptical but I can not only see this beer's appeal at the competition it won, but it's just a good-drinking ale for the home, too.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
The Old Fashioned
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 30.08.17 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Bourbon-barrel-aged amber ale, brewed to mimic an Old Fashioned, for GABS festival 2017. Tried there on tap.

Pours a gold colour, bit too pale for the style, clear with beige-coloured head which is not bad. Retains quite nicely. Not bad.

Smells hugely of orange - pulp and seeds and peel, the whole orange. And bourbon. Big bourbon and oaky character as well, but a really nice balance. Yeah, it smells like an Old Fashioned. I like it.

Taste is grainy upfront then quickly turns hugely bourbony, with a big sweet vanillin-oak kind of character throughout the mid-palate. Develops a touch of citrus towards the back to balance. Maybe a bit too boozey but it's well constructed otherwise.

Decent body, with a bite of alcohol on the back. Fits the overall feel of the beer.

Nails the cocktail-beer brief. Really alcoholic-seeming but pleasant and well-brewed.

This beer scraped into my retries at the end of the festival - I say "scraped" based on my initial scores - and it massively grew in my estimation. It ended up my #4 beer of the whole festival and I thoroughly enjoyed a full glass the following week at Sydney GABS.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Blood Moon Red IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 11.08.17 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours really beautifully. More than anything, it's a wonderful vivid, dense red colour, with good clarity. Body is slick and fine. Head is a fine crest of off-white that leaves some sheeting lace. Carbonation is fine and swift. It looks really good.

Nose is a little flat. There's a rich, grainy sweetness, like brown sugar sprinkled over weetbix, but it's lacking a brighter note, something from the hops to give it sharpness and balance. This is too sweet and one-dimensional.

Taste is pretty similar. It's all built around the malt, which is pleasant enough, but it has more of a character like a Irish Red Ale than anything with "IPA" in the name. It's savoury and dry, though there's a lightness at the back that would at least work well with more hop character.

Feel is slick and a little bit thin. Carbonation is tempered at least.

Yeah, so it's not a bad beer, but it's mislabeled, because there's very little IPA about this. It needs to be way more about the hops—as it is, this looks like these guys don't know what they're doing. Call it something more generic—a "red ale" perhaps—and it'd be just fine. This is a bit of a disappointment.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Cinnamon Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.08.17 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours an amber colour, clear body with foamy cream-coloured head that doesn't stick around. Still, clear. Looks alright.

Smells malty, first and foremost. Big toffee character with a touch of cake batter sweetness, maybe a touch of cinnamon but not sure I'd find it if I weren't looking for it specifically.

Taste is better. Similar malt profile, with caramel toffee notes upfront that develops nicely towards the back with a slight woodiness and a big distinct cinnamon character, not hot but sweet and tasty. Well-used spice character, makes it like a nice warming dessert beer.

Body is a little thin, but not too bad.

Yeah, I quite enjoy that, even if it does only what it promises without really standing out from the crowd otherwise.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
The Ordained
Reviewed by Jez on 24.07.17 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a very pleasant deep amber colour—perhaps not quite to red—with a fuzzy head of yellowish white that leaves intricate lace. Body is quite light, but it has a suggestion of weight due to some static carbonation. Looks pretty good all up.

Nose is very pleasant. It's a kind of generic hop presence, but it's really nicely balanced against a more robust malt character. Moreover, the malt is clean but flavoured with caramel, which is a good match for the hops. Specifically, the hops trend towards the piney end of things—a little greener, sharper and more organic that punchy fruit.

Taste is also pretty good. There's a solid malt quality on the front, matched with a generic, tight hop bitterness that runs through from front to finish. It does lose a bit of weight in the middle, leaving the sweetness to deteriorate a little bit. This, in turns makes it feel slightly empty through the middle to the back, although the hop vector continues, turning slightly metallic in the finish.

Feel is decent—it is quite light, but it probably aids the drinkability.

Overall, it's pretty good. It's a solid example of the style, but it's never elevated to the truly inspired. Still, it's a nice style—the extra malt sets it apart from a generic IPA, and this understands the balance between malt and hops nicely.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Conviction Red IPA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.04.17 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
On tap at Harts Pub.

Pours a deep red colour, looks brown at first glance but a good ruby tinge, especially on the edges. Head is off-white and foamy, good density and good lace above the small crown. Looks pretty nice.

Smells fruity, mainly. Big citrus and tropical aromas, with chewy mango and lemon having a battle for supremacy. Tangy sherbet and a very faint subtle caramel sweetness underlying it. Bit fruit-centric but really rather pleasant.

Taste is also quite tangy. Malt notes upfront with a rich toffee sweetness, slight burnt character. Hops are present at the front with more meaty tropical sweetness, peach and apricot and mango, that take on a welcome tangy citric and sherbet note midway. Resinous on the back that starts to taste a bit boozey, like a strong yet unnuanced brandy. Isn't helped by residual malts that give it a lingering burnt sugar bittersweet character with the alcohol. Is it Columbus hopped? Reminds me a bit of it on the bittering front.

Very decent body; has a rawness from the sharp bittering hops on the back but never loses its substance, padded all the way to the back. Excellent, in fact.

Yeah, kind of a middling drop. Some really good elements but I feel the nose gave an impression of style over substance and the palate rams it home a bit too much with the heavy bittering hops. In theory nice but needs more lightness or body in different parts of the experience.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 3.5
My Bloody Valentine Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 03.04.17 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a pleasingly deep, proper blood-red colour, with a frothy, and fairly persistent head of yellowed beige, that leaves some nice rings of lace. Body is slick, but slow-moving, holding some long streams of carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is pleasant enough. There's a fragrant, evanescent kind of citric hop character to it, which is not so much sweet as powdery, leaving it feeling broad and pleasant without ever getting cloying. Malt is subdued, especially for an amber ale.

Taste is pretty decent. There's a hint more malt to it, giving a slightly savoury note to the middle and back of the palate. But there's also a lack of sweetness which leaves the structure feel like it's a sparse structure trying vainly to hold onto and support the hops. It doesn't quite succeed, meaning the hops feel like they're there in isolation towards the back—not very strong, thankfully, but without much connection to the rest of the beer.

Feel is a little light too. Again, it's not bad, but it feels as though it's a toned down version of a better beer.

Overall, it's fine, and AleSmith know what they're doing. But it's also a slightly insipid beer, that's not really aiming to be the best at anything. But it's drinkable, which is fine. I'm happy enough with it, but I think I'm far from being passionate.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Light Robot
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.01.17 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle bought as part of my 2016 Advent Calendar from the Beer Crate. Shared with Father.

Pours a burnished amber colour, clear. Head is off-white, with some decent trails of lace around the glass. Thin rim retaining; not bad. Good colour.

Smells strongly herbal, big minty aroma. Caramel malt, with spice characters. But yeah, somewhat fresh with the herbal note; not bad.

Taste is more IPA-esque. Malty upfront, with caramel toffee notes upfront that then gets tangy fruity notes; citrus and some stonefruit late with peach and a hint of apricot. Finishes somewhat sharp; again citric and slightly piney. Pleasant cutting bitterness, finishes clean but a nice fresh fruity linger. Quite pleasant.

Bit of carbonation. Texture is made more dry by the hops pull on the back. Could use more body to pad it.

Nice tasting hoppy red; good sharpness to it, but the flavours are pleasant so even if it hangs around longer than it needs to, it's quite pleasant and enjoyable.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 16.12.16 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased as part of the Beer Crate Advent Calendar.

Pours a chestnut brown colour, quite hazy in the body—which makes it look darker and fuller. Body otherwise is fairly light, and it holds coarse, swift carbonation. Head is pleasantly full, forming a foamy, coarse cap that leaves nice, fine streaks of lace. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is also quite pleasant, with a fragrant hop character that straddles somewhere between grassy/herbal and fruity. It has an organic quality to it, like a hedgerow in the rain. Some mild, semi-sweet malt character delineate it a little bit. It's nice.

Taste is a bit more bland. There's a lot less body than I expected, and the carbonation is surprisingly high, so it feels rather thin and fizzy. The hops are again present, but here their generic quality feels like it's a bit to its detriment. Back has a slight bitterness, but it binds tightly to the carbonation, which doesn't work all that well.

Feel is, indeed, a little over carbonated, and lacking coherence.

Overall, though, it's a decent brew. It has some slightly underwhelming components in parts of it, but there's otherwise some good stuff to recommend it.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Amber
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 16.12.16 in bottle
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Pours a Hellish red colour, quite cloudy in the body. Head is pale beige, decent and foamy when first poured but sinks quite quickly to leave some lace on the glass which is quite nice, but otherwise the head is not amazing. Otherwise it looks perfectly nice.

Smells hoppy but a bit oxidised. Amber and crystal malts, with a touch of stonefruit but mostly sweet sultana and raisin character. Toffee and some spicy undergrowth character. Yeah smells a bit old. OK but old.

Taste is quite similar, really, and sadly. Malty notes upfront with some caramel toffee, burnt sugar. Gets a sharp hop note early-mid but it doesn’t really develop into anything big or fresh, it’s more a latent lemongrass stalk kind of note, very mildly tangy but mostly spicy and pungent. Gets woody on the back and earthy, kind of bitter but lacking bite, it’s ultimately kind of vegetative but it just tastes like citric or fruity hops that have gone stale. Hint of medicine on the back and a piquant pepper character. It tastes like it might have been nice once, and it’s not terrible but it tastes like disappointment at the Beer Crate.

Mouthfeel is a bit sharp, mostly hop-related but possibly a bit too much tingle from carbonation as well. Body feels like it may have thinned a tad as well.

Drinks pretty well, given the circumstances. I feel like it’s a shadow of what it should be but there’s plenty of flavour and just enough freshness to stop the bitterness from feeling too heavy.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Trip Hop
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 23.09.16 in bottle
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Bottle served blind one day by Chris, as part of a game where Jez and I had to guess the style, country of origin and brewer.

Pours a red colour, slightly brown. Not as vibrant as it could be. Head is yellow-tinged, whispy, small lacing trails. Not bad.

Smells slightly of toffee, with some mild tangy notes. Touch of lemon. Whiffy; slightly sulphurous, bit oxidised as well. Burnt; a bit off.

Taste is a bit sulphurous as well, has a slight potassium chlorate character. Touch of lemon zest midway, then finishes dry and spicy without depth or character. Just tastes odd; pungent but without a lot of beery depth.

Bit of texture, bit gluggy as it goes down though. OK.

Not sure what to make of it. Tastes OK but still tastes wrong. Just lacking nuance and balance around the edges.

For what it's worth, in the game I guess American Red Ale from Australia or New Zealand, and guessed Emerson's, Yeastie Boys or Mike's for the brewery.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.75
Cross Pallet Nation
Reviewed by Jez on 15.09.16 in bottle
Overall:
33 / 100
(Nasty)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. This is a collaboration with Sam Calagione and Pallet magazine, and is brewed with mesquite (smoked?) malt, maple sugar, wattle seed and finger lime, which honestly just sounds like a mess.

Pours a very clear, very dark amber colour, almost to deep mahogany. Head is a fine ring of off-white, that really doesn't promote itself much beyond a film. Carbonation is very fine and powdery though, and it forms slowly through the body, which has some weight behind it. Looks pretty good.

Nose is, disappointingly, mostly just hot. There's actually a surprising dearth of flavour to it, although there is a noticeable booze note. There's perhaps a slightly earthy, woody character, and maybe (if you search for it) something sharper, perhaps reminiscent of citrus. But it's really mild. There's so little to it, especially given the ingredients in it.

Taste is very similar. The most tragic part is the true lack of body, especially on the front, meaning it steams in hot and sharp, most likely the result of the fermentation of the maple sugar. Towards the back, it has a slightly more complex flavour, with some slightly earthy notes from the wattleseed—there's also a medicinal or chemical bitterness which is more unpleasant. No hint of smoke, no hint of finger lime, no hint of maple, apart from the extra alcohol from the fermentation.

This is a mess: really. For a start, I just don't know what they were going for with this hodge-podge of ingredients. I was prepared for it to show me my skepticism was unfounded: but instead, it didn't even show any of the characters it promised on the bottle. What we get is a mess of heat, a lack of body, an unpleasant bitterness and, overall, a beer that I just don't want to put in my mouth.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Irish Spiced Red IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 23.08.16 in bottle
Overall:
47 / 100
(Not Great)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a beautiful ruby hue, very faintly hazed, but brilliantly deep red. Head is a fine, if minimal crest of pale beige, leaving specks and streaks in its wake. Carbonation is fine and vivacious. It looks very good.

Nose is interesting. There's definitely a spicy character, but it's not overwhelming. Instead, we get subtle layers over a firm malt basis, that works with the nuttiness of the malt, with vanilla, a little melted butter, perhaps some sweet cardamom, anise and a hint of menthol. But overall, I'm not a huge fan: there's something disconcerting about it, and the flavours don't necessarily mesh that well together.

Taste is rather similar: in fact, there's a slight emptiness to the back, which puts more of the spice characters in the spotlight. Here they seem a little listless; as though there's not really a reason for their presence. In the front, we have that nutty malt, but with the body dropping out, this turns slightly bitter and dark, leaving a slightly unpleasant aftertaste.

Feel is rounded on the front, but quite empty at the back, with a sharpness from the spice.

Overall, it's not bad, but it's also not great, and it really becomes a mish-mash of things pretty quickly. The spices don't know what they're doing in this beer, there's no body to support them, and it ends up feeling really unbalanced. By the end, it was just a bit of a mess.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.75
Divine Hammer
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.16 in bottle
Overall:
50 / 100
(OK)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a deep golden colour, really only scraping into amber (okay, it's probably there), with solid hazing and a firm body. Head is a nice, persistent crest of cream-tinged off-white, still formed of fairly visible large bubbles. Lacing is good. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is weirdly generic. Sure, there's a slight toasty malt note that suggests the style, but it's only about as prominent as you'd get in a James Squire Nine Tales. Slight hop note weirdly adds to the sweetness, but there's very little hop character standing out on its own.

Taste is similar. It's a fairly solid, if generic malt-driven amber ale, quite thin in the body, but flavoured mostly with the grain additions and little influence from hops apart from just given enough bitterness. It ends up tasting like something brewed in bulk and then split and inflected according to a customer's demands. I'm a little unimpressed.

It's not a bad beer. It's a perfectly drinkable amber ale. But I'm struggling a little to work out what this is doing in the portfolio of the purveyors of Rex Attitude and Gunnamatta. It might well be drinkable, but it's also extremely uninspired and very unimaginative. I guess I'm just more confused than anything.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Red Light Robot
Reviewed by Jez on 27.07.16 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.

Pours a really properly pleasant deep red colour, from a judicious amount of black malt. Very faint haze, but the colour is so solid you don't really notice one way or the other. Head is a fine crest of beige that leaves some striking lace. Carbonation is very fine, and it looks like there's some weight to the body, which fits with the ABV clocking in at 6.2%. Looks good.

Nose is decent without being very exciting. There's a slight sweet sugar note to it that mingles with some of the more citrussy tones of the hops, making it seem fat rather than sharp. Very slightly herbaceous notes give way to a peppery, spicy note as it warms up. It's pleasant, but not as complex or as pungent as it might have been.

Taste is reasonable as well. There's a smoothness to the palate from the extra body, and this allows the flavours to be slightly less big and complex as they'd otherwise have to be. There's a firm sweetness, but the hop character only really manifests as a slightly peppery, earthy bitterness towards the back. It comes across as a vaguely bitter spice-mix, which doesn't necessarily work that well.

It's very drinkable though, and there's certainly the character and interest to warrant the extra kick of booze. It's not one of the best red IPAs I've had, but it's a fairly solid brew—I can imagine it developing slightly over time to become a really fully-fledged member of the IRA canon.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Carpet
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.07.16 on tap
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Imperial Red Ale brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.

Pours an amber colour rather than red, but that's OK. Beige head, large bubbles but sinks unevenly in that way I like. Good retention.

Hoppy nose: passionfruit, mango and general tropical aromas. Apricot. Touch of darkish malt with a hint of roast. Smells lovely.

Taste is sweet and malty upfront, some caramel notes, then develops tangy fruit midway with passionfruit and tropical esters. Slight woodiness to the back reminiscent of oak. Really quite a nice red ale palate.

Mouthfeel is a bit full, maybe just a touch thick, but the alcohol is well-hidden as a result.

Tasty red ale. Tangy and pleasant, maybe just a touch too sweet for me. And for GABS it's probably a bit too generic. But I always appreciate a well-made beer at this festival.

This beer was longlisted for beer of the festival but didn't crack the top 13.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Tzar Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 30.06.16 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Apparently on tap at the Catfish Fitzroy following the Sunday arvo session of GABS. I genuinely don't remember drinking this and found the notes in my inbox. They seem coherent enough so I'll give myself credit for having been sober enough to taste it OK.

Dark murky red. Hint of cloud. Head is non-existent, bubbles round the edge. Looks OK.

Smells odd; hint of malt, caramel. Touch of green apple and pear and not a whole lot else. Alright but not great.

Taste is malty, with an odd touch of smoke, almost meaty. Sweet, decent malt complexity but not a lot of hops. Yeah needs more cut through seems quite boozey. Brandy, toffee. Fairly decent but maybe a touch too strong for me.

Smooth mouthfeel. Boozey but OK, just warm rather than harsh.

Drinks alright. Nothing spesh though.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Dirty Copper
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 30.06.16 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
On tap at Preachers Bar, 16th June 2016. Reviewed with my boss watching.

Pours a...yeah...dirty copper colour. Head is pale beige, small bubbles. Lace is webbed; quite decent. Looks a little listless but not bad.

Smells nice. Quite malt driven with a good caramel toffee note underlying. Some English herbal hops over top, oregano grass and some faint orange peel. Pretty decent, kinda ESB-esque.

Taste is more herbal, bitter. Starts with toffee malt underlying. Touch toasty then hops take over with some herbal notes and a bitter coppery flavour as well. Touch of lemon that's a little cleansing in the back, maybe a touch resinous and even grainy on the back. Decent amber ale.

Bit of sharpness from the hops. Malt has less presence here than on the palate.

Fairly nice drinking, decent balance.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Heart O' Texas
Reviewed by Jez on 20.04.16 from a can
Overall:
39 / 100
(Not Great)
12oz can purchased from Spec's Smith St in Houston. The whole top removes for easy from-the-can drinking, but I poured into a glass to review it.

Pours a very clear amber colour, probably trending towards red if not quite getting there. Carbonation seems extremely low, and it struggles to promote much of a head aside from a thin ring of off-white. Minimal lace. It looks a bit underwhelming to be honest.

Nose is also below-par. It has a slight grainy character to it that has a hint of bitter almond and nougat, but no depth or complexity. Certainly no hop character to lift it—and none of the "pines, summer citrus and sweet stone fruit" promised on the label. No siree.

Taste is similar. Grainy, slightly nutty, but almost unpleasantly so, with a watery savoury character and an almost chemical bitterness on the back. Feel is thin, but cloying, especially with that residual bite in the finish. Otherwise, it's surprisingly dull and pretty uninspired.

Not a fan. This is veering into the territory of unpleasant or offensive. There's flavour there, but it's all the wrong pieces of flavour in the wrong order. Maybe it's just old, maybe it was never that great. This particular instance of the beer though was pretty woeful.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | drinkability: 2.25
Cloud Catcher
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 06.04.16 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
On tap at the Rails in Byron Bay, so pretty much as close to the source as I could get.

Pours a golden colour; somewhat cloudy with steady slow bead. Head is small, foamy with nice sticky cradle of lacing left behind. Looks pretty nice.

Smells fruity. Citrus, passion, pineapple, with lime and tangerine. Slight twist of spice on there, with some sweet ginger lingering at the back. Nice, I like.

Taste is somewhat maltier than expected. Lots of tang to it, with some lychee, blackcurrant. Then transferring to lime, passionfruit and a hint of mango. Distinct spice towards the back. Some pepper, cumin, that lingers towards the back, with a cayenne-esque kick. Yeah nice characters, dry and quite earthy with a good fruity kick throughout.

Light drop, bit of pull to it and a fair hop dryness. Decent.

Nice drinking beer, lots of interesting character, fair mix. Drinkable but earthy and spicy.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.25
55-11 Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.03.16 from a can
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
12oz can purchased from Spec's in Houston, TX.

Pours a very clear amber colour, with some genuinely good hints of red when held to the light. Body is firm, but fluid, with a very fine crest of off-white that leaves specks of lace. Carbonation is pleasantly fine, but static, only moving when the beer is tilted or swirled. Looks pretty good all up.

Nose is also pretty decent. Mild, slightly earthy, herbal hops provide a lace of structure over the top, while the malt provides a bulbous toffee-sweet base. Even this isn't overt—it gives a slightly aromatic quality to the beer, suggesting malt without getting overly malty or too sweet. It's nice all up.

Taste is similar. Here it's surprisingly light and drinkable for almost 8% ABV. There's a clean, mild, toffee-flavoured but not overly sweet malt structure that supports some mildly fragrant herbal hops. These give hints of lemon thyme and bay, but don't provide much true bitterness. The beer is instead balanced by the fact that the body is strangely ephemeral—the finish is pleasantly light and dry, making the beer dangerously drinkable.

Overall, though, it's actually pretty good. For a beer to have this weight of alcohol and maintain such a pleasant slightness to body and impact is no mean feat. It makes it very approachable despite its potency, and the balance is very good throughout.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Bloodhound
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.02.16 on tap
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
On tap at Uncle Hops.

Pours a reddish colour, with a bit of cloud. Head is pale beige, nice density to it with a thin crown retaining. Looks pretty nice.

Smells hoppy and malty in good measure. Citrus is kinda sharp, with spice, maybe a rye-infused malt underlying? Bit of caramel and butterscotch. Pepper is strong. Maybe hops, but really smells rye-esque. I like, anyway.

Taste is a bit sweeter. Malt starts quite caramelly, gets sticky toffee soon thereafter. Touch of butter late-mid that evolves into round, soft hop character. Citrus is there - mandarin with a slight lemon edge, subtle pineapple character. Bit of spice later as well, just a peppery spike and some sweeter spice notes: maybe clove; maybe rye. Decent, but needs more hop edge as it's ultimately very sweet.

A bit of a sharp edge in the mouth but body is fairly smooth, otherwise nicely textured.

Pleasant red ale but it just doesn't have enough edge, almost tastes underfermented. Quite nice to drink but lacking a touch of balance.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Seawitch Denali Red
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.02.16 in bottle
Overall:
45 / 100
(Not Great)
'Alaskan style red ale' brewed exclusively for Princess Cruises by Denali Brewing Company. Only discovered this beer existed on the second-last day of a 14-day cruise. Drank about six of them that same night as a break from cocktails and Fat Yak. Lost count.

Pours burnished copper colour, steady bead. Head is off-white, vaguely foamy, nice sticky clumps of lace left behind. Looks quite nice, head could have better density or retention.

Smells oxidised. Has a big wet cardboard smell to its malt and some old apple cider vinegar. Touch of caramel but mostly smells old or poorly stored. Not overwhelmed. It's their own beer and they can't store it right.

Taste is slightly better; malty upfront with English toffee notes. Gets some light hop notes, with apple fruity character as well. Touch of citrus but a fair bit of stale hop as well and some cardboardy malt. Bit dry on the back, somewhat carbolic. Still tastes old but has some character. Would normally want to try it fresher and adjust my score accordingly, but then Princess Cruises can fuck itself as well. They don't deserve this beer considering the attention they don't give it.

Decent body and texture. Bit of foaminess. Not bad.

Yeah drinks not bad despite its faults that aren't its fault, if that makes sense. Goes down fairly easily.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.25
Southern - A Copper Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle muled back from South Africa by Mother Fletcher.

Pours a dirty amber colour, very cloudy. Head is white, small bubbles and fluffy, uneven sinkage. Lace is light but existent. Looks pretty nice.

Smell is quite pleasant. Pungent citric bitterness with a dominant earthy note that has a slight Belgian character. Fresh kiwi and passion in parts as well. Slightly medicinal but otherwise very pleasant.

Taste is quite yeasty, really. Has a fair nutty malt midway, that gets a little flat with a touch of sweetness. Hints of tropical fruit round the edges, but finishes somewhat woody and nutty with a hazelnut hint. Touch of resin as well. Clean enough but a bit bland. Could use a bit more complexity regardless of the style.

Smooth body but a bit of raw fizz on there. Not bad though.

Drinkable enough but hints of nice fresh hops on the nose gave me more hope for the palate which is just a bit blah.
Finding out what it is I can't help but think it's actually fairly poor. I had pictured it being a decent lager, or at the very least a straight pale ale. It's certainly not copper, nor does it have any of the malty oomph I'd expect from such a style.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Southern - A Copper Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 10.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
440ml brown bottle purchased by my mother in Cape Town somewhere.

Pours a very hazy peach colour, with a slightly coarse-bubbled, foamy white head. (Copper? I think not). Body is fairly firm, but with a slickness to it. Minimal carbonation. Looks reasonably decent.

Nose is quite odd. It starts out with some slightly sweet, but dusky grain notes, but it has a sharpness behind it, perhaps a little powdered lemonade mix, with sea salt and pepper dust. It's actually quite interesting when you look into it.

Taste is pretty similar. Sharp characters come through, again with the lemonade note quite noticeable. Other notes give it a dusky grain and semi-savoury hop note, like a dusty cellar. It actually reminds me of the notes you get in a good Kellerbier. Grainy finish, but very light and clean, with a crisp, mild bitterness on the back. Pretty solid. Feel is nice and crisp.

It's very drinkable for its lightness. There seems like there's not much to it, but there are things to find which make it relatively interesting by the end. (Copper though? I think not).
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Final bottle in my Bridge Rd advent calendar. Enjoyed about a sixth of the bottle before accidentally knocking the glass off the coffee table, breaking my favourite Riedel glass and spreading the beer all over the loungeroom floor in my clumsy attempt to catch the glass and prevent it from breaking.

Pours a dirty red colour. Very opaque and largely umber. Head is beige, nice volume to it with a nice foamy density. Lacing is pretty decent too. Looks good, but the colour isn't pretty however you spin it.

Smells strongly hoppy. Spicy, with a fresh pepper and bushy aroma to it. Some citrus tang, grains of paradise, turmeric and some late stonefruit. Slightly salty minerally note as well. Could use a bit more oomph from the malt, it's faded into the background and the hops are a little unbalanced so more anchoring would be nice.

Taste is very tangy, fruity upfront, big stonefruit note before the spice character comes through midway. Decent crystal malt character, with a slight resinous hop note late-mid trailing into the finish. Ends with a fruity piney note, slight lemongrass character and lingers with a metallic chemical bitterness. Feel like the topaz is very strong here, and some more late Galaxy would really freshen this up, but otherwise its nicely balanced and drinkable for the style.

A bit tough but a good body helps smooth out the texture quite well, so it feels hefty and powerful but not overboard.

Big hoppy red ale, lots of body, lots of spice. Feel like for the whole Aussie christmas thing it could use more life on the palate, it feels a bit gravelly and weighty.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Mash Collective - Dead East Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a very hazy, deep amber colour. The opacity of the beer makes the colour darker, almost tending towards brown. Head forms a loose mass of off-white that leaves thin streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine and fairly rapid. Looks decent.

Nose is quite pleasant. Rounded, slightly generically fruity hops give it a pleasant sweet redolence, coupled with a tight, almost savoury malt presence. Slightly toasty, grainy and dusty. As it warms, there's a touch of pepper and eucalyptus. Interesting.

Taste is also pretty good. Solid, but uncomplicated malt gives a bit of basis, but leaves the body rather thin and light. Hops give a little leafy spice character on the back, again a little hint of eucalyptus and perhaps here some sharp pine needle as well. Finish is a little dry, but with an odd almond cake or nougat aftertaste. Again, it's interesting.

If they were trying for a particularly classic red/amber ale, they probably missed the mark a bit, but if you take it as something on its own terms, there's some interesting diversions in it. Certainly pretty drinkable and pretty enjoyable.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack
Reviewed by Jez on 04.12.15 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
330ml brown bottle purchased from the brewery direct as part of their Beerdvent beer advent calendar. This one was today's entry, for the 4th of December.

Pours a rather murky amber colour, certainly not properly red, although it's hard to see due to the haze. Head is a filmy coat of off-white that leaves some spidery lace. Body is full and fairly heavy, holding some pleasantly fine carbonation. Looks decent enough, although the colour is a little sad.

Nose is very pleasant. rounded, rather full-bodied malt notes, with a lovely hop counterpoint that gives sweet fruit notes mingled with crisper, greener notes. As the warms, the malt turns a little more grainy, but still toasty, giving it more complexity. It's really quite pleasant.

Taste is pretty clean, and very well attenuated in the body. Crisp grainy notes linger through the centre, and to the back of the palate. Hops are present, but they're not sharp, or particularly bitter. They provide a slight bite on the back, and some aromatic fruit notes around the edges, a little like green papaya and honey dew melon.

Feel is also pretty good. Surprisingly light given the body and the ABV.

Overall, very drinkable for 7.5% ABV, and crisp despite the complexity of flavour. Yep, this is a nice beer, and a very pleasant one to unwrap on the first Friday of December.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Johnny Octane Red IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 12.11.15 from a can
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
500ml tall black-and-white can purchased from Camperdown Cellars on Parramatta Road.

Pours an absolutely lovely colour: spot on, deep blood red like pomegranate juice. Head is fairly fine and frothy initially, but loses some volume quickly, just settling as a film. Lacing is nice though, forming some fine specks as it goes down. Body is surprisingly light, but the carbonation is pleasant and fine. It looks really good—I particularly love how deep the colour is.

Smell is also spot-on. Lovely bright hoppiness, crisp and citric, balanced with a very pleasant undertone of mild toasty malt. There's a hint of something metallic that sharpens it further. As it warms, the malt becomes the main event again, but it clearly still in balance nicely. I like it a lot.

Taste is also good. Firm hoppiness throughout, going from crisp and citric at the front, to a more generic, pronounced bitterness through the centre and back. Finish is quite dry, with a lingering hop bite. Malt really only provides a slight restraint on the hops, and doesn't really add much of its own flavour. As a result, there is a slight thinness to the palate as a whole. It's not necessarily bad, as it does make it more quaffable, and surprisingly, the 8% ABV is quite well hidden.

Overall though, this is a cracking red ale. Lots of hops, with tweaks of flavour that set it apart from your regular IPA. It's a style that, when done well, I really adore.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.25
Ridgeback
Reviewed by Jez on 13.10.15 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on tap at Flying Saucer in downtown Houston, TX.

Pours a proper clear amber colour, tending towards red, but a little bit too light to count. Body is very light. Head is fine, forming a slightly insubstantial ring of white that nonetheless manages to create some fine lacing. Moderate carbonation. Looks decent enough.

Nose is very mild. There's a little bit of fruity sweetness to it, and some smooth notes of vanilla laced with a dull neutral malt character. Some tinges of grain come through a little, but not enough to provide much interest. It just comes across as a little flat overall.

Taste is smooth enough. Pleasant rounded mid-malt characters, with minimal bitterness to balance it. It stays fairly smooth though and doesn't get too sweet. Finish is a little coppery, with a touch of blood and maybe a suggestion of acid. Eh.

Feel is smooth enough and easy enough—you don't end up tasting it much as a result, which is perhaps something of a blessing.

Overall, it's not a really exciting brew, but it's very quaffable due to its smoothness and its very moderated flavours. Under the circumstances, I was perfectly happy with it—it made for an easy beer to drink on a humid autumn evening.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Dawn of the Red
Reviewed by Jez on 06.10.15 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a really disappointing colour: deep golden, but not even getting towards a bronzey amber colour, let alone true red. Head is a filmy, but fairly persistent cap of white that leaves some streaks of lacing. Body is light, but the carbonation through it is fine. Looks fine apart from the colour—but the colour should be the centrepiece of a red ale.

Nose is rather pleasant. Decent citric hops underpinned with a very subtle, but present toastiness. The hops have a freshness that suggests other undertones as well: cut red apple, pine needles and rosemary. They're really rather good all up.

Taste is fine, but here, the lack of colour and malt is really noticeable. Instead, we get what would make a reasonable IPA palate, with a firm bitterness giving notes of pine and resin, but almost nothing besides a slightly honeyed/toffee malt basis. It's enough to support the hops, but for a red ale, I really, really want something to distinguish it, and this doesn't have it.

Feel is solid, smooth and firm, which works nicely. It would work even better with a bit of malt presence.

Overall—need I say it again? There's one fatal flaw in this red ale, and that's that it's not red. Otherwise, the structure and the hop bill is good, and it's still a tasty, drinkable beer. But if I pick up a red ale off the shelf, I'm not expecting an IPA.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Skully Red IPA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.09.15 on tap
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
On tap at the brewery, 20/09/15.

Pours a brown-tinged red, mostly amber. Head is off-white, small tight bubbles. Sheets of lace are nice. Clear. Looks pretty good.

Smells citric and piney. Touch of walnutty malt, slight bitterness on there. Mostly sharp hops. Not bad, could use a touch more malt.

Taste is a little malty upfront with a slight toffee edge and a slight dark chocolate note. Decent hop character late, bitter and resinous. Touch of citrus but mostly just dank hop notes. Not quite enough bang for the 'IPA' buck, but drinks nicely.

Smooth, good malt body. Touch drying from the hops late.

Decent, but could up both the malt and the hops a bit. Tastes slightly normal red ale-ish, possibly even veering into carbonated Irish red territory.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Beazle Brew
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.09.15 on tap
Overall:
80 / 100
(Excellent)
On tap at the Royal Albert as part of their leftover Nail takeover a couple days later.

Pours a reddish-tinged amber. Fluffy cream head; small bubbles retaining nicely. Good steady trail of bead keeps it up. Could be a little redder maybe, but good.

Smells fruity and delicious. Pineapple with lime hops, mango and pungent passionfruit seeds. Not too sweet but still just hops swimming in water, bit light. Still, very appealing.

Taste is hops from the get go. Maybe some crystal malt underlying it, clean and biscuity somewhat. Hops are passionfruit, a twist of lime zest, mango and some peach. Tropical, summery, tangy and enjoyable. Yum.

Smooth. Malt presence is felt more here than in flavour. Gorgeous for an IPA-ish style.

Lovely. Second fantastic red ale that I've tried from Nail this year. A cracker.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.25
2015 Seasonal Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap during GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours a solid reddish-brown colour, quite clear in the body but with a bit of weight behind it. Head is beige/tan and forms a fairly solid crest that leaves some decent lacing. Looks alright all up.

Nose is slightly nutty, with a bit of mild mid-range grain. Then, if you search, there's a little bit of salt or yeasty vegemite, but then very little else. It's not bad, but it's not terribly interesting after the fact.

Again the palate is a little bit nutty, and smooth on the entry at least. Mid palate brings in some slightly rustic grains and a bit of peppery spice, along with more bitterness that turns slightly ashy. Back drops away very quickly, leaving no sweetness. The end is quite dry and the aftertaste is almost empty.

Feel is very dry and empty—it definitely need s a little something more.

Overall, it's OK. It's certainly not a bad brew or badly brewed, even if it is a little dull. I may even drink it in the future if there was nothing better on offer.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Rye Hand
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours an amber brown hue, very, very hazy and decently weighted in the body, especially for 5.2% ABV. Head is off-white, forming a decent, solid crest that leaves very good lace. Carbonation is very fine. Looks good.

Nose is quite citrussy on the front, with some juicy mandarine coupled with a slight dusty nuttiness. It is a bit light overall, unfortunately—if the flavours were bolder they'd be a really nice mix.

Light and dull on the front palate as well, although by the mid-palate there's a pleasant nuttiness and a little mild fruity hops. The back has a bit of an odd kick to it, giving a slightly spicy tomato character like pizza sauce, but this disappears almost as quickly as it appears, leaving the back rather empty.

Feel is a bit dull and flat.

Overall, it's drinkable enough. I like it well enough that I could see myself cracking a six-pack at a BBQ sometime. If it didn't really stand out at GABS, that's no bad thing really.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.75
Fire Within
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours (yep) an amber colour, like it should, with some hazing and a decent weight behind it. Head is beige, and forms a solid full ring that leaves sheeting lacing. Carbonation is very fine. Looks good.

Nose is pleasant, with some fruity hops coming through on the start, with some toasty, sweet malt underneath. There's a touch of pineapple and a vague peppery note as well. It's not huge and in my face, but it's pleasant enough.

Front is initially quite peppery and with an immediate bitterness that seems a little premature. Some fruitiness swoops in in the centre though, along with some decent, pleasing mid-malts providing a little caramel sweetness. Big bitterness on the back and definitely some booze. The linger is a little metallic and medicinal.

Feel is a bit sharp, especially given its ABV.

Overall, it's decent enough. Disappointingly, it's not as smoothly crafted as Akasha's other beers so far, and (to my disappointment) it's certainly no replacement for Riverside 44, Dave's previous hoppy amber ale.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Betelgeuse
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours a solid amber colour, hazy and glowing in the glass. Body is solid. Head is an off-white beige forming a fine ring that leaves some mild, but long streaks of lace. Carbonation is very fine, almost powdery when tilted. Looks very good.

Nose is great, with a very pleasant blend of sweetness and hops. It gives notes of strawberry cream set against a slight nutty malt. Hops are fruity, giving mostly nectarine and a little dark berry. It's very nice indeed.

Taste starts out well: hoppy with a slight savoury grain note on the front giving a mild toasty quality. By the mid palate though a very harsh booze character comes through. You can taste it. There's not enough body to mask it either meaning it rips apart the promise. Back is slightly astringent, but finally there's a hint of sweetness to smooth it out. Aftertaste has some bitterness and a touch of bush spices.

Feel is hot with booze and tingling with the final dose of bitterness.

Overall, it's a big beer, and it feels it. Without the harshness of the alcohol, this could have been a standout. As it is, it's decent, but it's maybe not worthy of its 10% ABV weight.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.07.15 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours an amber colour, clear with foamy beige head retains thick. Slow and attractive bead. Looks good.

Smells malty. Big caramel edge with a touch of apple and lemon from underutilised US hops. Slight herbal edge. Not bad.

Taste is caramalty upfront. Touch of vanilla that develops into a mild citric bitterness. Midway seems almost chocolatey, and then trails off into unfortunate yeastiness. Not bad but possibly a bit old; hops just seem subdued and they could tie it all together.

Decent body, touch of edge as it goes down.

Not bad, but needs more cleansing. Finishes with a touch of yeast and some medicinal sweetness and just needs something sharp to cut through.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Fire Within
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.06.15 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Pours an amber colour, clear with nicely beige head - large bubbles and retaining a medium crown. Maybe a bit pale, but not bad.

Smells typical Padden. Caramel malt with a slight toffeed edge, and bags of US hops - citric, tangy and pleasant. Not bad but not a lot of edge.

Taste is malty upfront, mostly an English toffee character, then hops take hold late-mid with a big citric twang, but finish is sadly all booze. Bit heavy with a slight medicinal note as it transitions from lemon and grapefruit into big brandy booziness. Nice otherwise but a bit strong for me.

Alcohol is sharp on the back, otherwise the body is fine.

Don't love it, it's a bit heavy. Tastes like a Dave brew, but (and I really hate to say this) I think Riverside brewed a better GABS beer this year.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Rye Hand
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.06.15 on tap
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale amber colour, touch of cloud with decent beige head, thinnish crown retaining. Not bad.

Smells malty upfront with caramelised peanut character, develops some nice fruity hops late - new world, possibly NZ but more likely Australian. Nice tanginess; good character generally.

Taste is similar; malty on the front with a walnut character and touch of cereal grain, then develops a nice hoppiness late-mid with antipodean fruitiness and a touch of American citric character. Touch of spice as well and finish has a slight yeasty character. Maybe some anise and maybe some wood. Pretty decent beer.

Thin body, touch of tingling carbonation. Not bad.

Quenching drop. Will go nowhere at GABS but certainly not bad.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
2015 Seasonal Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.06.15 on tap
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
This very exciting and differently-named beer from Endeavour was their GABS beer, 2015.

Pours an amber colour, really quite dark. Head is beige, foamy texture and retaining OK. Bit dark, but at least it's red.ish.

Smells somewhat roasty, with some chocolate grain notes, a touch of spicy espresso and some herbal character. Not really what I expected, but not terrible.

Taste is fairly disappointing and underwhelming. Chocolate notes with some sweet coffee that doesn't have the edge it promised on the nose. Grainy notes that gets slightly nutty late. Not a lot of hop so the whole thing is really very sweet. Needs more balance.

Body is a touch on the thin side, slight carbonation tickle as it goes down. Alright.

Maybe better overall than I expected actually, but still a touch too sweet for me.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Betelgeuse
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.06.15 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
In a radical departure, KAIJU! have done a hoppy beer for GABS 2015. Yes, I can hear your head exploding from surprise from here.

Looks mostly amber, slight red tinge. Cream-coloured head with large bubbles sticking around OK. Not bad; decent colour.

Smells fairly malty upfront, caramel touch to it with a slight nuttiness as well. Citric hops mostly, with a US west coast edge but a bit of NZ sweet stonefruit hops that give a slight cloying edge. Fairly nice overall though.

Taste is caramel grainy upfront, again. That melange of hops, with American and NZ in equal measure throughout the back of the palate. Slightly phenolic on the back, maybe a touch medicinal with that resinous/sweet mix. Not bad.

Touch of booze on the back, but a nice full body that pads out any hop rawness nicely.

Boozey, hoppy. Pretty much what you'd expect from these guys.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.04.15 in bottle
Overall:
32 / 100
(Nasty)
12oz brown bottle purchased from Whole Foods Lamar in Austin, TX.

Pours a very clear, but clearly very pale hue—more like a slightly copper-twinged golden than anything like Amber. Head forms a mild froth of off-white to begin with, but settles out to a very thin ring of white. Light bodied. Looks okay.

Nose is not great. For a start, it's really quite weak, without much potency of anything. But them, when you start searching you uncover some rather unsavoury elements: specifically, a mildly moist grain character and something flat and cardboardy—perhaps not classic oxidation, but there's certainly something unpleasant about it, and when there's nothing else to mask it, it becomes a dominant characteristic.

Taste is marginally better, perhaps because there's a crispness from the carbonation that provides something to cover up the rest. It's still pretty weak in the flavour stakes, with thin graininess providing the bulk of what is there—and the bitterness that does come through on the back ends up feeling rather harsh. Again, it's not great, but it's better than what I ended up with on the nose.

Overall, I'm not a fan, and it's certainly an inauspicious start for Saint Arnold for me. I know that they have better to offer, but this first entry makes me very cautious about #2.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Hoppy Joe
Reviewed by Jez on 27.03.15 in bottle
Overall:
50 / 100
(Not Great)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. It was one of two bottles I purchased (from separate locations), but cracking the first one, I decided the bottle was a bit dead, so waited until the second one to do the review.

Pours a very deep, dark colour for a red ale—much closer to brown, unless you hold it perhaps to direct sunlight, in which case it's still brown, but with a very dark blood red coming through slightly. Head is large and frothy, forming a faint beige cap to the bear and long threads of sinewy lace. Body is light, but it's only 4.7%, so it's to be expected.

Nose is fairly decent. Mild clean fragrant hops give a slight aroma of pepper with some floral tones. Under this is a rather dank, earthy malt character, that has more akin to dusty grain bags and turned soil than to sweetness. It's not bad though—it certainly has some complexities of flavour to it.

Taste is worse, unfortunately. Here there genuinely is a very earthy, almost gritty flavour that permeates from start to finish, giving a minerally flavour like freshly-trodden-on gravel. Hops accentuate this with a rather metallic bitterness towards the back, which is not softened by anything in the body given its low ABV. Finish actually is reasonably clean given the shortness of the palate.

Overall, I'm still disappointed with bottle 2, and at least now I've given them two tries, which is more than most others. It's a shame, really, because I've had some Lervig beers that are quite tasty, but this doesn't work in a couple of ways, and by the end I was pretty unenthusiastic.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.0
Brockwell Brewedwell Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.03.15 on tap
Overall:
80 / 100
(Excellent)
On tap at Kingston Public.

Nice tomato colour, amber at edges with gorgeous dense film of cream-coloured head. Retains some decent lace. Looks awesome.

Smells hoppy; pleasant and floral. Some resinous notes and biscuity malt character behind it. Citrus, rosewater, biscuit. Classic red ale notes, maybe a bit subdued.

Taste is pleasant, refreshing. Fair biscuity malt continues with a touch of cereal and oatmeal before hops take over midway. Citric, floral, resinous and mildly grassy. Finishes a little medicinal, but surprisingly smooth. A pleasant palate construction: hops taking centre stage without overwhelming the malts or the taste in general.

Full-bodied; bit of tingle. Maybe a bit too fizzed on the back, finishes too dry and parching. Otherwise great.

Classic red ale characters, handled with characteristic restraint and respect from Nail. A winner.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.5
Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.03.15 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a red colour, frosty at the edges. Head is beige, maybe slightly russet tone to it? Nice retention, medium density with nice cradle of lace. Looks good.

Smells toasty and malty largely. Slight dusty coating of English toffee, chocolate and a hint of rosewater at the back. Can't get much hoppiness because it's too cold. Pleasant though.

Taste is also a bit subdued due to the cold. Has a decent malt backbone. Fair toffee malt upfront with caramel edges that descend into chocolate midway, stops shy of being sweet though. Finish is somewhat roasty with a nice amber bitterness on the back palate. There's a trace of some bittering hop in the way the malt is cleaned up, but more a hoppy pull feel than a lot of flavour. That's fine; they're subtle.

Bit of sizzle; body is mediocre. Fine for ABV, but the carb doesn't add much.

Nice amber ale, quaffable and yet savourable.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 4.25
Carolina
Reviewed by Jez on 19.02.15 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.

Pours a pleasant, very deep amber colour with good clarity. Body is quite dark, but the clarity helps it stay as an amber rather than pushing towards a brown. Head is a little flimsy, only forming a mild film of off-white pocked bubbles that leave little lace. Body has some weight but looks a little dormant as well. Looks decent overall though.

Nose is pleasant enough. Rather rough, slightly herbal hop characters come through, with a hint of spritz and lemon to give them a bit of a lift. Earthy malt notes are also noticeable, almost a suggestion of roast, along with something slightly bready or savoury. As it warms, oddly, there's a brightening of the aroma, with a little sherbet or zest coming through. It's actually pretty interesting.

Taste is also pretty solid. Good structure to the malt, with some mild sweetness to give it body, with more of those savoury tones across the top, giving a little more toastiness and with aromatic characters like burnt toffee or carob. This is balanced by a subdued bitterness, which allows some hop flavours to bounce around in the back of the palate, while not becoming too bitter overall.

Feel is reasonably good. There's a smoothness from the low carbonation, but a prickle from some build up of hop oils on the back of the palate and perhaps just a suggestion of heat from the slightly elevated ABV.

Overall, this is pretty solid stuff. I like a good hop-forward amber ale, and this is a pretty good one. The malt is nicely done in particular—if it were fresher, or if the aromatic hops were a bit more forward it would probably be superb.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Cloud Catcher
Reviewed by Jez on 05.01.15 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.

Pours a deep amber colour, certainly many shades darker than the Pacific Ale, giving up a more orange hue when held to the light. Clarity is good, body is light. Head forms a firm base of slightly frothy white that leaves some decent streaky lace. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is very muted. Slight rounded stonefruit aromatics along with an odd touch of toasted grain. As it warms, the fruit characters become very slightly sweeter, but it's still a pretty listless aroma all up.

Taste is a little bit better. Here, there's a pleasing nutty character from the malt, mingling with the apricot flavour from the hops—probably more the Ella than the Galaxy. Finish is quite dry and a little bit dusty, with a slight cling of carbonation.

Feel is very light throughout, although the sweetness on the palate makes it seem a little bit thicker.

Overall, it's decent enough. The dryness on the back helps it stay drinkable, despite the suggestion that it's actually fairly sweet. It's certainly not my favourite from the stable though, and in fact perhaps underlines once again that S&W's seasonals are a bit formless.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.25
Dragoon
Reviewed by Jez on 15.12.14 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
650ml brown bomber bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a very deep red—in the thicker areas of the glass it almost tends towards brown. Head is a very fine and very pleasant cap of yellowish off-white. Lacing is streaky and complex. Body has a lot of weight behind it, with some lovely fine carbonation. All up, it looks really very good indeed.

Nose is also quite pleasant. Mild but nuanced hop notes give some pine and a little rounded fruit character. Slight pithy character comes through as well. Underneath is some firm malt, giving a good sweetness matched with a very slight toasty or grainy note. It's good.

Taste is also nice. Pleasant maltiness on the front, with a slight barley-sugar quality and some toasty characters that click in place with the hop bitterness as the palate continues. The back feels a little dry and thin, with a slight evaporation of the malt leaving the hop character tending towards a little astringent. Feel is certainly on the lighter side of things, with the build up of hop oils on the back of the tongue to drive things the longer it goes on.

Overall, it's a nice beer—after a while, there is perhaps just a little lack of balance towards the back, but it's still solid stuff.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Grand Pappy's Whip
Reviewed by Jez on 17.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a murky deep amber colour—were it not for the haze it might potentially be red, but as it stands it certainly seems pretty dull and muted. Body is a little flat, but with some weight behind it. Head is a fine clinging ring of off-white that leaves a few streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine at least, and quite languid in the glass. Looks decent enough.

Nose is quite restrained, but not unpleasant. Mild hop character gives it a faint lilt, but mostly it's a rather flat maltiness driving it. There are some mild sweet citrus notes to the aroma, and a dark caramel character which sits rather dormant in the centre. As it warms, there's a touch more graininess to it, and the hops give a slightly more organic, herbal note. Again, it's not bad.

Taste is also fairly solid. There's a decent body to it, which helps support the beer and give it a bit more richness and depth than it would otherwise have. Light slightly spicy hop character runs down the edges of the palate, diving into a cushion of malt that lends the back a bitter toffee finish. There's a light prickle of bitterness on the back, but it's certainly not what you'd call hop-heavy here. Feel is great. Very smooth and rich—it makes the malt character more prominent, but really lends some weight to the beer as a whole.

Overall, it's a pretty decent red ale. I like my reds a little more aromatic when it comes to hops (especially an "imperial red" as this calls itself), but the weight is good, the booze is there, but well restrained in the flavour. Overall, it's a pretty drinkable drop.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Slaytanic Swill
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.11.14 on tap
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
On tap at Frankie's during SCBW.

Vibrant red colour. Head has a pink tinge but mostly cream coloured, nice density and retention. Decent lace. Looks nice.

Smells fairly malty, kinda grainy and bland. Hint of cinnamon on there and maybe some noble hop aroma hiding at the back. Fairly weak and uninteresting.

Taste is a bit better; fair German bocky character with Munich malts and a touch of roasted wheat that develops a decent boozey whack midway. Some mildly phenolic and earthy spice notes late on the palate. Somewhat of a cherry note as well, not sour or fresh but just an additional note to a fairly bitter and kind of boozey back. Kind of a Soju note to it. It's not quite interesting enough to augment a fairly bland beginning. But a well constructed palate overall.

Body is thin, as such the texture from the carbonation and alcohol come through sharply mid to late and dry up a bit much.

A bit thin and uninspired, sadly like most of the Edge beers I've had.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.0
Shiffty Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 22.08.14 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at Spooning Goats in the city.

Pours a fairly clear, but quite dark amber-brown colour, with a milky off-white head that stays fairly persistently. Lacing forms in long sheets down the glass. Body is quite light, but it hold some swift streams of carbonation. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is quite toasty, but light throughout. It has a rather thin quality to it, and even a vague suggestion of acidity. As it warms, it's a little smoother, with a touch of vanilla or carob coming through. Again, it's quite decent.

Taste is also solid. Mild, fine grain notes provide a basis with a toasty character from start to finish that dries out towards the back. The back overall is pleasantly neutral, which keeps the beer very light and drinkable—it doesn't leave any lingering astringency or even too much roast. Feel is light, but it works fine for the beer.

Overall, I'm going to be honest—it's hard to deny that this is very much in the style of James Squire Amber Ale, with a bit of additional smoothness and cleanness. That makes it certainly a nicer beer. But at the same time, it doesn't do much out of the ordinary. It's just a well-made brew that fits squarely within its genre.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Trip Hop
Reviewed by Jez on 20.08.14 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a very pleasant orange-red-amber colour, very clear and quite bright. Head is a nice fine lace of off-white that forms a bibbly ridge at the edges of the glass. Lacing is excellent. Carbonation is beautifully fine and forms in long streaks when tilted. Looks very good.

Nose, initially, has a rather pronounced sulphur fart character, that dissipates over time. Instead, it leaves a pleasant enough mid-malt character, slightly savoury with a hint of something sweet-spicy in the fringes. Seems nice enough.

Taste is also quite pleasant. Very nice mid-malts all the way through giving a subtle structure atop a mild but persistent organic hop bitterness. It's quite clean throughout, and feels well-made and very well-balanced. Slightly flat towards the back, and the carbonation is almost absent here, but overall, it's pretty nice.

Feel is smooth but light, and really lacking carbonation. I think a little more could really help it.

Overall, a pretty drinkable brew, with some nice structure to it. It's certainly not overwhelming with flavour, but it's pleasant enough and has some nice characters to it.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.75
Angry Peaches
Reviewed by Jez on 09.08.14 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.

Pours a clear but deep coppery colour, with a fine head of off-white that dissolves into large pancake bubbles fairly quickly. Lacing is tight and intricate, which is good to see. Body is a little bit light, and the carbonation is coarser than I expected. Not bad though.

Nose is a nice blend of slightly nutty malt characters and indeed something of a stonefruit hop aroma. If not angry peaches, then perhaps some slightly miffed apricots. There's something a little grassy as well, which isn't unpleasant, but again detracts a little from the peach aroma that was clearly the goal. Still, it's quite pleasant all up.

Taste is very nice. Clean and pleasant through, nicely balanced between that nutty malt structure, a slight uptilt of booze and a clean bitterness that works with some of the fruity flavours. Back is clean, but with a crisp linger of hop acids to give it a sting in the tail. Yeah, I like it a lot.

Feel is fairly smooth and clear, without getting too heavy or rich. It works well.

Overall, a very nice brew from Garage Project. Were it not sold on the premise of aggressive, absurd stone fruit, it would just be a very fine beer in its own right. When you're looking for peaches though, you may end up a tad disappointed—better to just appreciate this beer on its own merits, of which is has many.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Pan Pacific
Reviewed by Jez on 06.08.14 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Tall 650ml brown bomber purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. This is an amber ale "inspired by the humble ANZAC biscuit".

Pours, indeed, a solid amber hue, quite deep but with some good clarity to it. Head forms a coars crest of off-white initially, but fizzes out to a finer ring soon after. Body has a little bit of weight to it and it holds some static carbonation when tilted.Lacing forms in weak streaks. Looks pretty good all up though.

Nose is a tad disappointing, to be honest. There's a weak sweetness, but no big hop character like I was hoping. Instead the ANZAC biscuit character seems to be at the expense of the classic malt or hops, leaving a slightly insipid dryness that could be coconut and rolled oats, but more rightly seems like nothing. I was looking for a note on its date of production on the bottle, but couldn't see anything—possibly this has just dried out with age. It's not bad, but it's not really much of anything.

Taste is certainly a lot better. Here, at least, there's a solid structure of malt, and a tantalising suggestion of golden syrup towards the back that does rightfully evoke the "humble" biscuit. This takes its toll a little though, as the back is rather dry, and slightly more boozy than you'd expect. Some suggestion of coconut comes through in the finish—as a rather ephemeral and slightly frothy afternote, it must be said. It doesn't ever really feel unbalanced, but it certainly doesn't wow with flavour the way many other Garage Project beers have done.

But still, it's fairly drinkable, and it certainly has that skein of innovation which makes Garage Project's beers attractive as a group. Happy to have tried it, but I'll probably stick to some of their other beers by preference.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
The Former Tenant
Reviewed by Jez on 27.07.14 from a growler
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
Squealer purchased from the brewery by my brother Sam at their opening night.

Pours a lovely amber-red colour, clear and burnished, with a very fine and fairly persistent head of off-white that sits in a fine crest atop the glass. Lacing forms in pleasant streaks. Body has a bit of heft to it, and holds fine carbonation well.

Lovely hop aromas on the nose: big, fresh and bright, with an underlying weight to the malt which gives it a little oomph. Together there's a lovely savoury tone to the whole thing: it's bright, but balanced and the malt and grain make a really lovely counterpoint to the bright, sharp hop characters. Love it.

Taste is also very good. Here the malt is more pronounced (as it should be?), giving a fullness and richness to the palate that allows the hops to seem very mellow by comparison. Here, they layer a zestiness that's really quite smooth and light, light lemon creme or lemon meringue pie with a touch of pepper towards the back. The smoothness to the palate is really what sets this apart—it's really quite gorgeous stuff.

Feel is clean but very smooth—perfectly weighted as it should be.

Overall, this is a stunningly good beer, especially from a new brewery. This is lovely, lovely stuff—probably one of the best red ales out of Australia right now, and there's some fairly stiff competition for that crown.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.5
2014 Endeavour Vintage
Reviewed by Jez on 24.06.14 on tap
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.

Pours a toasty-brown colour, quite clear in the body, but not really the red colour they claim. Body is light, with a fine streaming carbonation through it. Head forms a little ring of off-white that leaves even littler rings of lace as it goes down. Looks decent enough.

Nose is toasty, with a hint of berry or other fruit sweetness. Not much else to it though and it feels a little weak overall. The aromas aren't bad, though.

Light bitterness on the front, stopped short by some toastiness that survives through the centre of the palate. It's pretty thin though, with just a woody bitterness surviving all the way to the back. Here there's something almost salty in the finish. But it's all very light: aroma, palate, mouthfeel.

It's okay overall—and far from being an actively offensive beer. But it's not a great American Red, and it's just really not that interesting overall.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
PB
Reviewed by Jez on 24.06.14 on tap
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
One half of the unique collaboration PB&J from Bootleg and Thirsty Crow, brewed as separate beers but designed to be blended. This review is just for the PB in isolation. Tried at GABS2014 in Melbourne.

Pours a clear golden colour with an off-white head that forms a solid, fine ring around the edge. Body has a bit of decent weight to it and holds nice fine carbonation. Lace forms in nice rings as it goes down. Looks pretty good.

Nose is pretty weak. Mild, slightly nutty tones on initial entry, before they fall out leaving the beer smelling rather yeasty. Paper and flour tones take over while a suggestion of peanut in the background reminds you what this is meant to be.

Taste is also fairly light. Crisp entry with a hint of amber malt that turns dank and husky in the middle of the palate. Back is also very light, with a little crispness and a stank of yeastiness. Aftertaste is fairly weak, but at least here there's a linger of peanut shavings. Feel is extremely light.

Overall, this is pretty lacklustre stuff. It was certainly not the equal of the &J in any case, and felt a little like it let down the blend as well. Disappointing.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Red Red Wine...Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.06.14 on tap
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Brewed for GABS 2014, made with Red X malt and grape juice from the Hunter Valley. Tried on-tap at the festival.

Solid amber in the body, quite clear but very lightweight. Minimal carbonation, even when tilted. Head is very firm, however, forming a white crest that sticks around even as it doesn't provide much in the way of lace. Looks okay though.

Light orange blossom fragrance on the nose with a neutral malt character that turns slightly amber or toffeed part way through. There's also a rather unpleasant acidic note that comes through (like the first suggestions of butyric, even if not quite that).

Taste is a little better. Clean orange notes make an appearance on the front, with some weak sweetness through the centre of the palate. Flaccid, grainy malt flops through to a fairly smooth, but fairly light aftertaste, spiked with just a little bitterness.

Weak in the feel, which is not really that surprising.

Overall, it's drinkable, but really quite unexciting. While there's nothing truly offensive about it, it also just feels a little pointless.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
YuleSmith (Winter)
Reviewed by Jez on 06.05.14 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
22oz brown bomber purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco.

Pours a pleasant clear amber hue, with a thick and frothy head of yellowish-white. This stays around for a while, eventually maintaining itself as a very fine film with islands of larger bubbles. Lacing is minimal but fine. The body certainly has some heft to it as well, looking very nice overall.

Smell is also good: pleasant bright hoppy characters encapsulated by a robust malt structure that seems to assert its dominance. The result is a pithy melange of the two: bright and fragrant, but deep, with sweet/savoury malt as well. The combination is almost spicy as a result. Nice stuff.

Taste is also good. Here the malt provides roundness and cushioning, but the hops provide the flavour, especially on the back, where they give a pleasant resiny bite. Slight almond characters develop from the malt notes when the hops become more dominant. Finish is long and smooth, which really helps mask the alcohol, which is genuinely fairly high. Feel is great. Languid and thick, but with a crispness from the hops.

Overall, this is genuinely cracking stuff, and I guess I'd expect no less from AleSmith. It's fragrant and bright, but with depth and gravitas. A really well-crafted beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.25
Hook Island Red
Reviewed by Jez on 17.04.14 from cask
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Tried on cask at The White Horse on Parson's Green, London.

Pours a lovely deep, genuinely red colour, very clear in the body like a sparkling ruby. Head is still but firm, forming a frothy beige cap to the brew. Sudsy lace is left as the beer goes down. Carbonation is fine when the glass is tilted. It looks good overall.

Nose is slightly toasty with a touch of deeper roast characters and fruity hints of strawberry and red currants. Herbal tones come through with the hops, blackberry leaft and slight note of fresh lemon. It's all very smooth though and rounded off. Lovely.

Taste is clean on the front. Smooth with a faint hint of roast. Some strength to it, giving a surprising weight to the body. Bitterness comes through on the back, with some slight tea tannin characters. Lingering oils render the back slightly bitter: certainly not a smooth, sweet strong ale.

Feel is smooth but flat. Pretty nice, and it works well with the flavours.

Overall, this is pretty drinkable stuff. The tannin characters build up a bit on the back, but otherwise, it's very solid stuff.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Reset
Reviewed by Jez on 12.04.14 in bottle
Overall:
26 / 100
(Nasty)
33cl brown bottle purchased from Domus Birrae in Rome. Cool label featuring wrap-around lettering in impossible shapes. Freshness date of September 2014.

They call this an American Amber Ale on the bottle, but I've never seen such a pale amber before, more of a deep golden colour, with a filmy and weak head of off-white. This only persists as a fine ring around the edge. No lacing. Body is solid though, and it hold very fine carbonation. Overall, it seems a bit off.

Nose is muted and dull. Some faint slightly grainy malt characters come through, and a slightly rank vegetative character that reminds me of the zoo. But mostly, it's just nothing. There's not much going on here at all, and it's a shame.

Taste is similar, or perhaps even slightly worse. The flat grain character is prevalent, but laced with an unpleasant yeastiness here. Hops provide a slightly earthy vegetative character—plaintively trying to lift up the flavours of the malt, but it doesn't have much success. Feel is pretty weak, even weak given its ABV.

Overall: just a disappointing mess. No, not a mess—a mess implies that there's something going on, and this is mostly just empty. There's not enough content to constitute a mess. It's just poor.
appearance: 2.75 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Porpora
Reviewed by Jez on 15.02.14 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
660ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Rich and Frosty during a brewday.

Pours a slightly hazy brown colour with a relatively fine head of almond-white. Light speckled lacing forms on the glass. Body is fine and firm, and holds some lovely, powdery carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is rather subdued, especially given the "Hopped Bock" of the label. Grainy, pleasant malt character, with a hint of orange peel or something bitey and a little citric. It's very subdued though, the hops are certainly not prominent. Not bad, but not extremely exciting.

Taste is better: smooth and bright, but with a solid grainy malt basis. On the back the hops come through, with a clean, slightly citric bitterness. Aftertaste has more of that lightly sweet orange character. It's all very nice stuff.

Feel is also good. Smooth but liquid and clean.

Very drinkable, especially for the ABV. It's clean and bright, with enough weight to balance it, and provides an interestingly different experience. Overall I did like it a lot.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 29.01.14 in bottle
Overall:
33 / 100
(Nasty)
330ml bottle shared with me by @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a rather surprisingly pale golden colour, made slightly darker than golden by the haze. Body is quite light. Head forms a lattice of edged bubbles in off-white, leaving tiny specks of lace. Not much visible carbonation. It looks okay.

Nose is rather less than okay. Dusty emptiness permeates it, with a hint of grain husk, and a weak misty nothingness like a ferment of white sugar. Perhaps a twinge of earthy hops, but not much—it's just mostly very weak.

Taste is also light and dull. At least it's mostly clean, but there are permeating characters of sugar-water, more of that dustiness and a thin, empty finish. Surprisingly there's a touch of pithy bitterness on the back that almost adds a bit of interest, but there's also a floury wet-bread note that clings on the finish. Feel is very light, and very weak.

Very weak effort. I think I liked this beer the least of all of the Prancing Pony beers, and to be honest, I didn't really care for any of them.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Magnifica
Reviewed by Jez on 03.01.14 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(OK)
Gushing 330ml dark green bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a very hazy orange-amber, slightly burnished with a remarkably small head given the gush. Minimal lacing, pretty light body with low retention. Looks okay, but not much better than that.

Nose is slightly spicy, with a hint of clovey orange, and some true hop character. Underlying grainy malt gives it some basis, but some of the spice characters do dominate a little. It's a bit strange.

Taste is light-bodied with minimal sweetness on the front, leaving the back open to a fair assault from those spice and bitter hop notes. Very dry finish, slightly chalky and with a hint of aspirin. The bite at the back actually harms the drinkability a little bit, but it has a bit more true character than the other dell'Eremo beers I've had.

Overall, it's okay, and more aggressive than I expected, but this doesn't make it all that drinkable, which is probably the key characteristic for a beer.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Mummy Have A Bite
Reviewed by Jez on 31.12.13 in bottle
Overall:
30 / 100
(Nasty)
A Toffee Apple Amber Ale named after a Peter Combe song? Whatever the beer's like, Moon Dog's marketing guru has certainly hit on a beer that I was going to buy. 330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a certainly clear amber colour, excellent clarity in fact, with a relatively fluid but fine body. Head forms a fine film across the top of the glass, in an off-white skein on the body. Carbonation is very fine at least.

Nose definitely has an apple overtone, but also a significant hit of booze: much more than was welcome, and certainly more than was expected given it only weighs in at 8.2%. It smells a little bit like appleskin soaked in vodka. Not much malt behind it, or any real sweetness at all—just solvent character. Sorry, guys...

Taste is very similar. Apple overtones, here at least with a bit of malt coming through, but quite thin and with a determined boozy presence right through the middle of the palate. Booze is way, way too present, leaching all of the potential flavour out of it. Solvent finish, like drinking ink, makes it really quite harsh on the back.

Feel is okay, I guess. It has a lightness to it, but it doesn't have much to work with.

Overall. Five stars for concept and naming, guys, somewhat... um... less than that for execution. This is a big hot mess as far as I'm concerned. But you certainly got me to buy the one bottle I drank at least. If you keep doing that, I'm sure I'll keep buying them.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Mummy Have A Bite
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.12.13 in bottle
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a red colour, thin white head, decently webbed with a thin cradle of lace. Looks alright, yeah.

Smells a little malty, with a touch of fruit. Thin, maybe some booze on there as well. Not much to it.

Taste is also boozey. Quite brandy-esque. Some toffee malt notes but just tastes rather ethanoic and not very much complexity or residual sweetness, which is frankly the only thing I expected or really wanted from a toffee apple beer. Disappointing.

Full, bit warm on the back. OK.

Drinks a bit bland, just tastes like extra fermented sugar; I feel there could be more residual flavours created to give a better toffee apple flavour or complexity. I also question the decision to age this in Calvados casks, it's unnecessary and just adds more booziness without first harnessing the principal ostensible flavour here. Quite disappointed with this, I find it simple and bland flavour-wise and just overdone in the boozey stakes.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 2.75
Rocket Science Red Planet
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.12.13 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Tried at the Sydney Craft Beer Week launch party.

Pours a reddish-tinged amber colour. Cloudy. Head is small, bubbles with decent but clumpy lace. Looks nice.

Smells hoppy, with nice malt notes. Distinct cinnamon and nutmeg notes with some brown sugar toastiness and some tangy hops. Pleasant, but a bit two-streamed. Doesn't quite meld together.

Taste has more hoppy notes. Apple, some citrus, that gets bitter and almost metallic on the back. Some malty notes, blends better with hops to merge subtly into bitterness from the slight toasty front. Decent drop; some nice toastiness.

Bit of texture, bit of hop pull, yeah it drinks alright.

Nice enough red ale. Nice hop/malt balance, maybe a bit more on the hop side but decent.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Baby Bender's Sticky Rib Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.12.13 on tap
Overall:
78 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at the Welcome Hotel in Rozelle as part of their Beer Mimics Food event during Sydney Craft Beer Week. This was probably the most triumphantly successful beer in that theme.

Pours a deep red-brown colour, solidly but note ludicrously hazed. Body is firm and fairly rich, with very fine carbonation. Head forms a pale beige crest, a little filmy but leaving some lace. Looks decent.

Nose is immediately successful in mimicking what it's trying to do. Plum sauce, sticky and sweet, smoky and porky. Clinging, heavy richness makes the sauce seem to drip with gooey lambency. Some spice is noticeable as well. Gorgeous stuff, and absolutely spot-on what it was attempting to do.

Similarly on the palate: indeed, it's just following on from the nose. Plum and prune characters on the front pepped up by spice on the mid-palate. Here we get some rum, bourbon and aniseed fragrance. By the end, the porky, rich sweet smoky character run riot: peppery, flame roasted meat, plenty of smoky drive. The spice builds up after a while, leaving it pretty hot on the back. Feel is great—matches the flavours nicely until that burn starts to accumulate.

Mostly, this is just damn great. It's extremely successful at what it was trying to do, and Ross from Bacchus also managed to make a supremely drinkable brew from it as well. This was a riproaring success as far as I was concerned.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Juniper Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.12.13 on tap
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans in Pyrmont during Sydney Craft Beer Week.

Pours a solid-amber red with a little weight to the body. Good clarity and streaming fine carbonation feeding an off-white head, which becomes a firm ring. Not a lot of lace. Looks decent enough: the colour in particular is pretty nice.

Spicy and herbal on the nose. Caraway and dark bread reminds me of a German breakfast. Some sharp peppercorn characters and yep, a little juniper coming through as well, giving a slight freshness. It's pretty heavy, and pretty powerful. Impressive.

Cedar comes through on the entry along with more herbal notes: here there's stacks of juniper that mellows into more complex aromatics: pot-pourri, gardenia, pepper always with a woody undertone. Lingering savoury juniper onto the back. More meaty bread and a hint of bay leaf. Great stuff.

Feel is light and sparkly. Surprisingly, it makes a good addition to the herbal, spicy characters.

Overall, I'm pretty super impressed with this beer. It uses juniper in a powerful way, but never does it feel like it's overpowering. It just creates great complexity. Wonderful stuff.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Bloodhound
Reviewed by Jez on 13.12.13 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
330ml bottle purchased in Auckland.

Pours a pleasant, deep ruby colour, with a filmy, pocked head of pale beige. Body is solid, and the carbonation is fine. Lacing forms in some streaks, but the head itself is pretty sketchy, so there's not much for it to work with. Looks decent though.

Nose is very nice. Pleasantly rich malt basis spliced with a slightly sharp hop tone that stays crisp and bright. The hops turn a little grassy after a while, which is a bit of a shame, but the malt stays pretty smooth without turning grainy as it might have. Some dusty cocoa tones come from the amalgam once the hops flatten out. Overall, it's decent enough.

Taste is surprisingly less solid than everything else was suggesting it would be. Mostly, there's a thinness to the front and middle of the palate, meaning that there's little basis to build upon. Some roasty tones come through on the back, again with more cocoa characters, and a touch of those grassy hops. Fortunately, it doesn't become unbalanced at any point, the malt that does arrive on the back matches the slight late bitterness, but the front is surprisingly empty.

Feel is also a little weak. It's okay, but only okay.

Overall, this is decent enough, but given the other ParrotDog beers I've had (and the fact that I love me a Red Ale), I was expecting this to be a lot better. It's still worth checking out, but it got me a lot less excited than it should have.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
BloodyDingo
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 06.12.13 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours an amber colour, bit of haze with foamy off-white head, sticking around to a thin crown. Looks alright.

Lovely hop aroma. Touch of caramel malt for sweetness, then big citrus notes with grapefruit, lemon and a nice twist of passionfruit. Gorgeous.

Taste is a bit of a letdown. Nutty malt upfront with a touch of peanuts, plus some buttery character, then hops are all late additions I would imagine, so any bitterness they may have produced just hasn't been. Lots of mango, with a touch of passionfruit, and just finishes quite cloyingly fruity, almost like rotting fruit. Bit saccharine for me overall.

Nice full body, no sign of the 8.0%.

Sadly lacking in bittering hops. I need something more to cut through all the malt which is understandably plentiful and the flavour hops which are very fruity. Could see others really liking this but it's not for me.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Great Oak
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.12.13 on tap
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Brewed for GABS Festival in Melbourne 2013. Called a 'red/brown' ale on the booklet; I've classified it as a red because that's more how it came out.

Pours a rich red colour, clear with slight off-white head. Webbed out a bit but dissipates quickly. Not very brown, and a bit listless-looking.

Smells very sweet, with buttery caramel notes and a big whiff of medicinal phenols. Not much else to it, just mediciney-sweet. Not hugely appealing.

Taste is dry, and grainy. Nutty malt upfront with oatmeal and a touch of pecan, develops some slight toffee flavour on the mid-palate before moving into woody territory - oak and cedar wood with a touch of sawdust. Remains sweet throughout, and doesn't really go anywhere.

Body is fine, fluid with a bit of mouth presence.

I don't really get a 'great oak' character, tastes and feels a little underattenuated. Certainly underwhelming.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Andy's Reserve Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.12.13 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Spiced amber ale brewed for GABS 2013 in Melbourne. Tried there on tap.

Looks fairly pale for an amber ale, more of a gold colour really, with a bit of haze. Head is cream-coloured, large bubbles but retains OK. Not bad.

Smells quite sweet with a decent malt base to it. Touch of fresh coriander leaf, with some hoppy notes of pink grapefruit, pear and lemon. Not a lot of spice but a very pleasant amber ale aroma with a twist.

Taste is similar, very amber ale base with a touch of English toffeed malt before hops take over midway. Grapefruit, lemon and whispers of dry white pepper on the back. Again not a huge amount of spice, but nice amber ale characters nonetheless.

Body is slightly thin but carbonation is not overdone so it goes down fine.

Not sure what the intention was here, but I'm not really feeling the 'spiced amber ale' vibe. It drinks as a pretty decent amber ale, but I would expect Mountain Goat to put together a decent amber ale anyway.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Shepherd's Warning
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.12.13 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Barrel-fermented red IPA brewed for GABS festival in Melbourne, May 2013. I assume this is just a barrel-aged version of their Shepherd's Delight but may also be a rejig of the recipe. Tried on tap at the festival.

Pours an amber colour, fair amount of cloud to it but virtually no head. Quite meh.

Smell starts out with deep caramel malts giving a touch of English toffee before resinous, floral and fruity hop symphony of grapefruit, lemon, pear and pineapple. Tangy, citric overall. Could use more oak though.

More woody character on the palate. Malty again upfront but a touch of sweet oak character. Hops are again tangy and fruity with pear and lemon mostly. Decent hop notes but again I sort of expect more complexity from oaking.

Decent body, little bit tingly as it goes down. Alright.

Maybe a bit more oaky/boozey than the Shepherd's Delight, but it leaves me feeling a little underwhelmed. Also, completely unrelated to the beer itself but I feel they missed a marketing trick with these two beers. The names are really great but could have been used on a couple of really disparate styles instead of one just being an oaked version of the other.
appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.11.13 on tap
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
Pours an amber-red colour, clear with foamy cream-coloured head. Sticks around OK. Bit pale for the style maybe but otherwise very nice.

Smells quite sweet upfront, caramel and toffee notes mingling with the malt, then fruity notes from the hops, with banana, passion and lemon. Bit muted hops-wise but pleasant.

Peanutty malt upfront on the palate. Slight buttery notes with a hint of banana and a faint whisper of lemon. Actually gets quite earthy with a touch of lucerne and very dry on the back. Hops essentially go nowhere, and are a bit disappointing.

Full body, quite nice. Touch of booze on there but not too sharp.

More imperial than 'red' ale. Would like to see this with the hops amped up a bit and the booze toned down a bit. Potential here but doesn't quite go where it should.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Ruby Tuesday
Reviewed by Jez on 19.10.13 in bottle
Overall:
47 / 100
(Not Great)
Tried from a poured bottle at Vic on the Park during the Sydney Craft Beer Week opening party.

Pours, yeah, ok, amber-ish in colour, but quite pale and a little weak and light. Very good clarity in the glass, but minimal carbonation to keep it vibrant. Fine head of beige covers the cap. It looks decent enough.

Nose is pretty dull. There's a slight maltiness there, and a slight huskiness that makes it feel slightly German in style. In fact the nose is similar to that slightly grainy maltiness you might expect in a strong German lager, like a Märzen. But it's also just weak and dull, which ruins that illusion.

Taste is similar, but oddly because it's perhaps even more bland than the nose it just helps it be inoffensive and dull. There's a slight creaminess in the taste which is pleasant enough. Otherwise it contains similar characters to the nose. Some weak malt and a faint husky grain note.

Feel is light, and with a surprising hit of aggressive carbonation, which I didn't expect from the appearance.

Overall, though, this isn't great stuff. For a limited release beer, they really haven't looked far beyond the realms of what they usually do: it's a typically Matilda Bay affair.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Rocket Science Red Planet
Reviewed by Jez on 19.10.13 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at the Vic on the Park during the Sydney Craft Beer Week launch party.

Pours a solid red colour with decent weight to the body and a little haze to scatter the light. Head is very firm, a crackling tangle of pale yellow that leaves very solid lace. It's a great looking beer.

Pleasant rounded hops on the nose with some citrus to provide a sharper tone. Underneath is a very solid caramel malt that gives some sweetness, but mostly provides balance: a little like marmalade it its balance of sharpness and sweetness. Slight herbal notes and a little pepper come through as well just to make it interesting.

Taste is very pleasant. Bright and clean entry that soon gets more heft from the malt making the mid-palate smooth and substantial. Cleansing bitterness on the back integrates with a burnt sugar/caramel character that evaporates into a burst of fresh herbs. Nice stuff.

Feel is lovely: smooth and clear with a latent carbonation. It's like a cask pull. Great stuff.

This is seriously good stuff: and it just solidifies Dennis as a producer of very fine beers. They're doing interesting stuff, but pulling off balance and coherence as well. Nice work.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.0
Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a pink-tinged amber, very cloudy. Head is off-white, thin rim of bubbles at the edge. Not much lace.

Smells malty, caramel with nuts, pine and citrus. Pine nuts as well. Touch of zest, cake batter. Bit sweet, but decent edge.

Tastes a bit earthy, spicy. Fair roast but doesn't last beyond the mid, where it gets citric and quite dry. Yeah, earthy, a bit spicy, fairly bland, actually. I like my ambers a bit tangier, but it's OK.

Smooth, full, good body. Not too much drying on there.

A bit off from what I like or expect, but decent beer.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Mountain Goat 15th Anniversary Triple Hightail Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 14.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
54 / 100
(OK)
640ml bottle purchased from Steve's Cool Booze in Kingsford.

Pours an extremely goopy and hazed reddish amber, with a very fine head that looks to form a creamy nitro-style cap to the beer, but settles out to just a ring. Lacing forms in tiny dots around the edge. The body is the main event here: thick, rich and solid, holding fine if slight carbonation in its wake. Looks pretty good all up though.

Nose, somewhat surprisingly, is very reminiscent of the standard Hightail Ale. Slight toasty grain characters with a supple but somewhat muted sweetness. Indeed, there's a slightly earthy hop bite to balance it, which gives it a slight metallic tone with a little pepper. As of now, I don't see the "triple" part.

Taste is a little better, however: more of that faint toasty grain on the front, and plenty of metallic hops on the back. In fact, the metallic bite lingers for a long time, propagated by the body, which is definitely richer and fuller than the regular or even the Rare Breed double. Along with the increase in body is a noticeable booze character, leaving a little heat, but more astringency, especially when paired with the metallic character on the back. At the end, it's coppery, almost rusty.

Feel is full and thick, but as I said, this actually harms it slightly as it's extending the back flavours.

Overall, it's about what you'd always get when you turn up the volume on the Hightail Ale. But the Hightail Ale's strength is in being flavoursome while staying light and approachable: once everything is raised to the nth degree there are some flaws which seem to get amplified. It's still drinkable, but I don't think it's particularly successful.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.0
Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 13.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a properly deep amber colour, almost a fine red like a pinot noir. Head forms a solid froth of beige to start with, settling out to a fine film and sturdy ring. Carbonation is fine, and there's some serious weight to the body, despite being only just over 5% ABV. Looks pretty impressive.

Nose is also very pleasant. Big rounded malty notes come through with a little toasty nuttiness that works well with the sweetness. This is punctuated slightly by a subdued but present hops note, which lends a little sharpness—although when this mingles with the toasty characters from the malt it turns a little metallic. Overall though, it's very good.

Taste is also good, if more tending towards the standard amber ale characters, with a slight dark malt character towards the back and a lilting but ultimately ephemeral hop bite. On the front though there's some pleasant chewiness from the body and richness from the malt, giving a little caramel and more of those nutty characters. Finish is abbreviated slightly by the toastier malt characters, meaning the sweetness drops out. This is actually no bad thing from a drinkability perspective, but the sweet, nutty characters are the most pleasant flavours on the palate, and they're lost slightly by the end.

Feel is smooth until it gets chopped at the end, but mostly it's really nicely done.

Overall, this is a cracking beer, and a great first release from these guys. I love that they've packed a lot of flavour and a lot of body into a beer of this ABV: it makes it both tasty and drinkable—and I do see myself drinking more of this.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.25
Dark Red IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 01.09.13 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at Pumphouse Bar in Sydney.

Pours a genuinely deep red with good clarity, but a really nice depth of colour—it's definitely living up to the "dark red" of its name. Head is beautifully creamy, just off white, but rich. Full, streaming lace. It looks awesome.

Mild neutral hops on the nose. Clean and crisp citrus takes the bulk of the interest above a slight malt character that doesn't really add anything flavour-wise, which is a bit of a shame given the dark colour and the body. It just ends up being a little more generic and a little less powerful than it should be.

Very clean entry on the palate, but again, this just underlines how neutral and limited the malt character is. Smooth plasticky note from the hops balanced with a slightly rounded character. Some crispness on the back, but almost no bitterness. It is all in balance, at least, but it's balanced in a rather bland way. This could be twice or three times as aggressive and be five or six times as interesting.

Feel is good, following through on the promise of the body and that beautiful creamy head.

Overall, this is clearly well-made stuff: it's crafted well, balanced, and without anything out of place. But it should be bigger for what it is. If the flavour was just upped across the board it would be a really top-notch beer.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
The Kenyan [v.2]
Reviewed by Jez on 30.08.13 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
650ml brown bottle wrapped with hessian, purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA. Shared with my good beer-drinking buddy Rich.

Pours a deep reddish-hazed amber. In fact, despite the haze it seems to have a clarity of its own. Head forms a frothy, pocked mass at the start, but settles down to a ring of foam with some islands of film. Lace is minimal. Body looks pretty decent and it holds relatively fine carbonation. Looks good.

Nose is rich with coffee. In an IPA, I'd usually expect the fruity characters to come through, but here, while there's still certainly fruit characters, the chocolate tones of the coffee come through strongly as well, giving a non-sequitur of mudcake and iced coffee to go with it. It's still exceptionally fragrant, with fresh-bean cherry and berry tones coming through. Really lovely stuff, and extremely powerful.

Taste is quite similar in some ways. And in some ways this is a little bit of a disappointment. The coffee provides all of the structure throughout the beer, leaving very little for the malts to do, and perhaps overwhelming any chance the hops had to provide bitterness—and it's a bitterness that I feel is needed. On the back, this flattens out quite quickly, leaving a flat caramel sweetness laced with the reminiscences of coffee grounds. It's still quite pleasant, but it's certainly less exciting than the nose.

Feel is smooth and a little lacking in carbonation: it works, but again I could see it working better.

Overall, though. I'm pretty happy with it. The coffee is a bold character, and it's used with purpose here. I would love it to have a little more complexity beyond the coffee, but it's a really quite pleasant beer nonetheless. If nothing else, this beer will prompt me to seek out some more from this brewery.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Mountain Goat Fancy Pants Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 14.08.13 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
640ml bottle purchased from Red Bottle Liquor in Alexandria. Best before date of 30/11/2013.

Pours a very clear, and very ruby red colour: quite a lovely hue. Lots of large-bubbled carbonation streams through the body and forming a relatively thick and quite slick head of cream-coloured froth. Lacing is excellent, forming big wide swathes with internal intricacies. Really looks very good indeed.

Nose is pleasantly clipped with a crisp hoppiness that gives some citric tones and a dusky, slightly earthy tone. Not the fragrances I expect from the Galaxy listed on the label, but pleasant nonetheless. There's a pleasant grain fragrance to it as well that brings it into proper amber ale territory as well. It's actually a really nice amber nose.

Taste is clean and smooth for the most part, with a fragrant nuttiness from the malts. Hops provide balance, but not very much in the way of bitterness: just a slight metallic character on the back. Slight green leafy character comes through as well to meld with the grain and nut characters through the centre and towards the back. It's nice stuff.

Feel is good, rounded but slick: the hops at the end give it a little twist to finish it off, but the slickness in the mouth means that there's a real gravitas and persistence to the flavours.

Overall, this is well-crafted and very tasty stuff. The malt profile is expertly put together, and even though I feel like the hops might have dropped out of this one just a tad (it was maybe a couple of months ago that I bought it), it stands up very well, showing off its quality and stability. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Calico Copper Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.08.13 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dark clear red. Head is beige, bit thin but retaining OK. Lace is alright. Nice.

Quite malty; fair nutty notes, a lot of citrus and other fruit on there as well. Subtle, though, and quite malty all up. Quite pleasant.

Good malt base throughout, at times nutty, caramel with toffee and some sweet spice notes. Hops are again subtle, quite tangy but not overboard. Bit of roast. Nice flavour equilibrium, doesn't quite go all the places I want it to, though.

Smooth feel, bit of fizz on there. Pleasant enough.

Bit too tangy to be quaffed, but not quite enough complexity to excite the American hop fan in me. Still, nicely made beer and worth drinking.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
BloodyDingo
Reviewed by Jez on 08.07.13 on tap
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)
Tried on-tap at the GABS 2013 festival in Melbourne.

Pours a reddish copper hue with some faint hazing. Body is very solid. Head is a fine ring of white that leaves pretty good lacing in sheets and rings. Carbonation is very fine. Overall, it looks pretty good (and it's up from here).

Nose is excellent. Crisp, bright orange characters backed by a solid malt presence. Some toasty characters come through as well, to really distinguish it as a red from a generic IPA. Hops are predominantly fruity: tropical but sharp, like slightly underripe pineapple.

Light, fresh entry on the palate with green fruit flavours coming through. Along with this, though is a clean but chewy malt basis that sticks itself into the mix right from the start. The hops well up giving big, juicy fruit flavours through the centre, rounded by that ever-present malt. The hops become a little spicy later before turning into a clean, balancing bitterness on the back, leaving behind some lingering tropical fruit characters: soft mango and papaya. Lovely.

Feel is gorgeously rich and supple. Plenty of weight to match the malt.

Overall, this is superb stuff, and a beer I must have overlooked for some reason later in the festival, as I don't believe I tried it again later. Re-reading my notes to write up this review makes me sad that I didn't get a second shot at it—but I'll certainly be on the look-out from now on.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
961 Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.07.13 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars Kingston Rd in Stanmore/Camperdown. Appears not to be bottle conditioned. Freshness date of November 2013.

Pours a pleasing amber colour, very clear and bright, but about two shades two light to be actually red. Head is a firm beige that forms a slight and fuzzy cap and recedes to a thin ring. Minimal lacing and not a lot of visible carbonation: what's there is tight-bubbled.

Very savoury nose, crushed grain and dusty grain bag, but with a slight citrus overtone, like fresh lemon squeezed over fried calamari. Definitely lots of malt character, but strangely not a lot of sweetness: it's as though the flavours come through but there's no heft to them or sugar left in them. It's interesting.

Taste is a little lighter, but still maintains that grainy malt-without-sugar character that was so prevalent on the nose. Indeed, the body is quite crisp, and the grainy characters give both a dusty, peppery ephemeral lightness and a meaty substance. Feel drops out towards the back leaving a very faint tingle of carbonation and a hint of sweet lemon flavour. But it remains substantially savoury, which is interesting in itself.

Overall, it's an interesting beer. I'm not sure it works quite well enough for me to be really excited about it, but I like that it's doing something slightly different to usual.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Shepherd's Delight
Reviewed by Jez on 06.07.13 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
568ml imperial pint bottle purchased from Chippendale Cellars in Sydney.

Pours a fine rose red hue with a frothy head of white foam. This settles to a fine ring, but still looks pretty decent. Lacing is minimal and the body is a little light for the ABV, but not unacceptable. Looks pretty good.

Nose is bright and crisp from the offset, pleasing crisp and green fragrance: plenty of citrus (perhaps tending a little towards detergent, but we'll forgive it that), with a rugged earthy undertone. Some green grainy malt, but not a lot: the hops take charge, which is fine. Some additional complexities to the malt character would help differentiate it from a standard IPA.

Taste is very pleasant. Here there's a strong malt presence, which doesn't get in the way of the hops, but is more prominent than something just providing a platform. The hops are still quite dominant, however, providing a clean bright, fruity but sharp flavour throughout. Cleaner on the back, leading to a crisp pointed finish.

Feel is smooth and clean, perfectly suited to the beer.

It could do with a little bit more complexity to the malt character: otherwise, this is great stuff. Clean, bright, flavoursome and drinkable. Very happy with this—I think it's one of the better LC single batch range so far.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Boa's Bind Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 06.07.13 in bottle
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Slightly dumb-bell shaped 345ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Yeast has been filtered out of the bottle. As has no doubt been stated before, this is Woolworths' in-house beer label.

Pours a very clear but truly amber colour, with an initially rather frothy head of pale beige. This settles to a faint but fine ring of white and a few islands of listless bubbles. Carbonation is fine, and there's a moderate weight to the body. Looks decent enough.

Nose is also relatively pleasant, although woefully empty of the purported Cascade and Chinook hops mentioned on the label. Instead there's a rounded malt character giving some grainy toast and a slight molasses sweetness. If anything hop-wise it has a slightly earthy, hedgerow sort of character to it—reminiscent more of English hops to me. It's really not bad.

Taste is more lacklustre, losing much of the apparent sweetness and becoming rather dry and flat as a result. Mild flat grain carries it forward with a slight zest of carbonation underneath. Slight cardboard and blackberry notes towards the finish with a touch of listless bitterness evanescing away to nothingness.

Feel is fine—the bubbles of carbonation are too prominent, but that's more an issue with the lack of flavour than anything else.

Overall, this isn't all that bad. That being said, it's certainly inferior to the much more ubiquitous (but similar) James Squire Nine Tales, so I don't know if it will get much of a foothold really competing in the same space. At least, I hope it doesn't.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 11.06.13 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Tried on-tap during GABS 2013.

Pours an orange-amber hue, almost red, but not quite getting there. Very good clarity, with minimal residual haze. Body is solid. Head forms a very solid, very pleasant off-white/ecru colour, leaving full, frothy lacing. Lots of fine carbonation as well. It really looks great.

Nose is pleasantly balanced between malt and hops, perhaps with the sweetness coming out a bit more strongly: I get carob, preserved orange, stewed fruit and lots of toffee, or sticky sweetness. It's cut and balanced only a little by a slight pepper character. But still, it's pretty pleasant.

Pepper noticeable on the front, along with a slightly medicinal herbal bite. The sweetness comes through the centre, with carob, lightly toffeed caramel and malt, before the back picks up the hops, giving a sharp, almost phenolic character—a clinging bitterness in the aftertaste. Mingled with the remaining toffee characters, there's a slight buttery note to the finish. It's not quite right, but it's not all bad either.

Feel is very smooth.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this. Sure, there are some flaws, but overall it's a pretty damn good package.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Yakima Scarlet
Reviewed by Jez on 22.05.13 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
On-tap at Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew during Good Beer Week 2013.

Pours a slightly red-tinged amber hue, with some very mild hazing. Body is decently weighted. Head forms a just creamy-white solid ring, with some film across the top. Very solid, intricate lacing. Overall, it looks good.

Quite sweet on the nose. Lots of malt, butterscotch and toffee, cut with some green, slightly fruity hops and a little pine fragrance. But really, the sweetness wins out. It's not bad, but very sweet.

Light malt on the front of the palate too, with a slightly balancing stewed orange character. Caramel through the middle, with a crescendo in the hop character that leads to a bitter, spicy, almost hot hop character on the back. Some resiny characters stick through to the aftertaste. Feel is full-bodied and strong.

It's a bit heavy to drink a lot of. The sweetness is a bit heavy and the malt and hops do tend to work against each other somewhat. But there are things to enjoy in it nonetheless.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Charmer
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle tried at Spooning Goats.

Lightish red colour, very clear. Head is off-white, very dense, thick, lovely and creamy. Far better than a bottle head has any right to be. Awesome retention.

Very floral nose, lots of rosewater, bergamot, some citrus tang with a touch of bitterness. Nice, but a bit subdued. More malt aroma would support and emphasise the hop notes, they seem a little empty and flighty now.

Taste is reasonably hoppy. Again, no really noticeable malt. Orange citrus zest, earl grey, some herbal bitterness and a touch of peppery spice on the back. Hate to keep bleating on about it, but I'd like a bit more malt, the hops kind of float here, and it feels a little thin as a result.

Decent body, but a little dry from the hops.

Acceptable for the style, but the hops are dominant without being particularly outstanding in potency or complexity. Could most obviously use more malt to create a base and emphasise the hops as well as provide balance, and make it go down smoother. Possibly more late hopping would help excite the palate as well. Bit disappointed in this to be honest, and I certainly wouldn't put it in the top 30 beers in Australia.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Forty Four American Amber
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.05.13 on tap
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Had on tap at Spooning Goats.

Pours a cola colour, lots of red tinge to it. Head is foamy, beige, fairly thin with large bubbles. Some bead. Great colour, nice otherwise too.

Notable roast to the nose, a little smokey and some red wine notes. Above all is a big hoppy character, citric with a touch of resin, grapefruit, slightly burnt but really lovely.

Taste is similar: plenty of bitter roast from start to finish providing a solid base. Some amber roasty malt with metallic edge to it. Hops are very very present, loads of resin, pine bark, citrus zest and mandarin. Quite spicy on the back where the two characters blend. It's all a big piquant blend of lovely flavours. Yum.

Noticeable pull from the hops and quite dry. Certainly enough body to carry it through, but not entirely smooth.

Exemplary American amber. Nice roasty character but great hop dominance as well. Great beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Ise Kadoya Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a rich red colour, quite cloudy. Head is off-white, fairly dense. Nice lace. Looks pretty good.

It smells roasted, with toffee, slightly oxidised spice - bit of aniseed as well, yeah it is OK.

Tastes malty, with notes of toffee. Gets resinous hops midway, touch of oxidation as well. Decent 'English' character notes, bit of spice at the back, fennel with white pepper. Not bad, but pretty bland for something calling itself an 'imperial red ale'.

Decent body, maybe a bit full. Dry at the back but yeah seems almost sticky.

Decent red ale. Lacks the imperiousness expected though.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red God
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
78 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a burnished red colour, furious bead on the sides. Big, generous head - fluffy with sticky lace. Nice.

Smells awesome, loads of resinous floral hop notes. Rosewater, musk, citrus, pine bark and a touch of raspberry. Ooh yeah that makes me want to drink up, for sure.

Loads of malt underlying, very nutty with hop resins early. Citrus pith and pine resin, lots of sharp oils and acid. Quite a lot of floral late-hopping character to counterbalance, so it's alright, but no denying it is very sharp. Beautiful sweet malt underneath though and a touch of alcohol heat. Pleasant.

Undeniable alcohol heat. Nice, full texture but a very big hop pull.

Pleasant big hoppy red ale. I think one of the best I've had from the east coast, and not just because the hops are very west coast in character. It's because it packs a big malty punch under it all, showing it has respect for the power of the hops it's using. Great job.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Dead Cat
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
Pours a reddish amber, thin head. Lace is OK. Looks alright.

Smells hoppy. Grapefruit, resin, pine, some green apple. A little meek, smells a bit like watered down hop juice. Nice, but underdone.

Tastes similar. No real body, but hops are dominant. Citric, piney, getting resinous towards the end. Reminds me a little of Brewdog Nanny State, in that it's heavy on hops to the point where it could be really nice with a bigger body, but there's just not enough malt there to pad or balance the hop pull. Decent flavours, but off kilter.

Thin body, then so much hop pull and dry. Meh.

A bit too light, flavour becomes overpowering. Potential there but it would then be a bigger beer. Needs to be toned down a bit to make it suitable for 4.7% I guess.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Shepherd's Delight
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 19.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a rich red colour. Head steadily grows with the pour, then a vigorous flurry of bubbles settles to form a tasty saffron-tinged crown of thick lace. Pretty beautiful-looking beer.

Smells resinous and piney, but a great, almost tart, citric hoppiness floating atop it all. Grapefruit, pineapple, some green pepper and turmeric, green apple and lime on the back. Could use a bit more malt presence for balance, but it's hard to care much since the hops smell so good.

Wow, the same issue is there on the palate. Hops dominate from the get-go, big lime-citrus flavour, touch of pine wood. Malt is there but it's a flimsy backbone, touch of toffee and some lightly toasted grain, but there's just a swirling haze of hop aromatics and esters raging around without ever finding firm ground to stand on. Muddled grapefruit, pine resin, cedar wood, green apple and then not a huge hoppy finish. Just a lot of hop flavour without much presence. More early hopping is probably needed, and maybe more malt body. There's promise here as far as flavour goes but it just feels quite empty.

Not a bad texture. Plenty of hop pull, but there's just enough malt to temper it.

Feel like they've gone really hop-mad here and have lost what a great flavour story can be told by a simpler hopping schedule and strong malt base. Bit too much new-world brewing and not enough respect for why old-school traditions exist.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
McCarthy's Bane
Reviewed by Jez on 07.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
650ml bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a solidly red hue, almost fruit-like in appearance, with a messy, bubbly head of off-white that sits stark and static atop the beer. Lacing forms in modest streaks. Body has a pleasant weight behind it, and holds fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Nose is muted, but along the right tracks. Some slightly piney, woody hop notes come through above a gritty grain character. Some rounded, earthy characters are also present: I think more likely from the malt, even though the character is somewhat similar to a dusky English hop aroma. There's a hint of metallic twang as well as it warms. It's ok, but not spectacular.

Taste is also quite muted, here falling towards the malt direction much more than the hops direction. It's pleasant enough with a nutty malt character forming a hill on the palate that is lightly streaked with hop bitterness towards the back to provide some balance. It's all a little bit by-the-numbers, but it's balanced enough, pleasant enough and quite inoffensive. But it doesn't excite me.

Feel is smooth with a tingle from the carbonation.

Overall. Yes, yes, very decent. It's not going to make you gasp in awe, but it's a pretty solid red ale that doesn't really do anything wrong. That's no bad thing.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Rye'd Piper
Reviewed by Jez on 05.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
650ml bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Pours a murky reddish-brown colour, with a thin filmy head of yellowed off-white. Lacing forms in grid-like patterns, quite intricate. Body is light, but holds quite fine carbonation. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Nose is heavy with rye. Big sweet-spicy, slightly grassy grainy tone runs this quite strongly, with a slightly sweaty green fruit character providing the only counterpoint. It really smells quite malty, but the rye malt seems to be dominant, which gives it that spicy, grainy, bready note. It's certainly different, and certainly interesting. That's worth a lot.

Taste suffers as a result of the heavy rye load, however, with a significant lightness leaving most of the palate feeling rather empty. The malt is nowhere to be seen, just that reedy rye spice that hides behind the hops and doesn't provide much balance. As a result, the hops (which are much more noticeable on the palate than on the nose) dominate here, leaving a thin, sharp bitterness racing through the centre towards the back. Even though it's not a particularly hoppy beer, it feels much more so than it is, due to the lack of balance. It's a bit disappointing.

Feel is actually not as bad as the taste might suggest, it has a crispness which is quite pleasant, and it works with the lighter flavours in the body. However, a fuller feel and more breadth in the body would be a better combination overall, I feel.

Overall, it's actually pretty interesting, even though it doesn't work as well as it might have. The rye is certainly noticeable on this beer, which makes it a novelty, but it lacks the balance and craft of a truly great beer.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Resurrection Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 01.05.13 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Very Good)
An "India Amber Ale" according to brewer Dave Padden, hopped with Mosaic and aged on Hungarian oak. Tried on tap at Spooning Goats in Sydney.

Pours an orange-tinged amber-red colour, with quite solid hazing. Body looks good and relatively full. Head is a fine, frothy mess of off-white, that almost crackles like a hand-pumped beer. Lacing is superb. Looks very good.

Nose is sweeter than expected: some caramel, a little oaky vanilla, rounded and a little flat. There are some earthy hop characters coming through, leafy and a little bit herbal. It's a little blunt, but it's not bad: just not as big as I expected from Riverside.

Taste is good. Very smooth sweetness on the front with a touch of the oak character. Hops come through on the back, giving a mild organic fruit character: sweet, but earthy at the same time. There's some marmalade on the finish, with a crisp hoppy bite, that genuinely feels more like an amped up English variety than the American kind.

Feel is exceptional. Smooth, but clean. Rich, but bright. It creates the balance in this beer: and drags everything up with it. The rest is good: the feel is superb.

Overall, this is a very good brew. It maybe doesn't push the oak enough, or differentiate itself enough from the rest of the range for a seasonal, but not differentiating yourself from Riverside's excellent range of regular brews is really no bad thing.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Charmer
Reviewed by Jez on 25.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
41 / 100
(Not Great)
Having tried this a couple of times before out at Spooning Goats and Harts, I thought it was time I sat down at home and reviewed it. This particular bottle was purchased from Camperdown Cellars at Kingston Rd.

Pours a ruby-tinged amber colour, relatively clear, with a very carbonated, frothy and loose head of off-white. Body is pretty light and doesn't hold any of the carbonation. Lacing is streaky and patchy. The colour's nice enough, the head is a bit much.

Nose is disappointingly mild: some faint, slightly earthy hops mingle with a light sweetness: not really a maltiness though. Some dusty citric overtones, but nothing like what I expected: the hops seem dusky and dank rather than bright and crisp, and there's not a really good sense of malty basis to back it up: something I want even more in a Red Ale than an IPA or APA.

Taste is even more disappointing. Here, along with all the concomitant mildness from the nose, there's also a severe lack of body, meaning the beer feels reedy and thin. Mild, metallic entry before some flat, leafy, organic hops whimper into nothingness. Feel is flat and dry, especially on the finish, as it peters out without much being done.

Overall, I'm deeply disappointed in this brew. Wayward brew at Riverside, which has much better beers along similar styles—and this particular brew was rated more highly than any of Riverside's offerings in the Local's Hottest 100 poll. This is limp, lethargic and lazy: it doesn't have any of the power or flavour that it needs, and ends up being a very mediocre, forgettable affair. Sorry, guys.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Dark Red IPA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.03.13 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Had on tap at the brewery. I'm aware of how hideously offensive the term 'Dark Red IPA' is. I don't care.

Pours a nice burnt earth colour, red tinge up to the light. Head is beige, and pleasant. Nice density with awesome lace left behind. Looks a treat.

Smells pleasant. New world hop character with pine, passion and a touch of lime. Chocolatey malts complement the hops well.

Taste is big and hoppy. A bit of chocolate and roast from the malt, then big hop characters, earthy bitterness with notes of green pepper, pine wood and citrus. Very decent IPA structure, with a nice malt character. It's not quite roasty like a black IPA, but certainly something darker, sweeter to prop up the hops. Nicely done.

Feels alright, goes down nicely enough. Decent body doesn't leave too much hanging despite the obvious and abundant hop oils.

Nice IPA with a good twist, well constructed.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
4 Pines New Orleans Breakfast
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.03.13 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours an amber colour, fine bubbles; nice beige head, cloudy bosy at least slightly. Not much lace, but still looks nice.

Lovely rich, spicy coffee nose. Earthy characters with toffeed malt, chocolate and nice soft coffee roast, not overwhelming. Complex and very enticing.

Taste is a little less impressive, at least in terms of the initial wow factor. Hints of chocolate, dough and pie spice, then soft coffee roast at the back with a piquant roasty spice. Breakfasty enough, and pleasant. Has subtleties that are not present on the nose, and just as much complexity. Feels wholesome, grainy and pleasant.

Bit of sharpness at the back, otherwise full and nice.

Tasty, interesting drop. I have to admit this was my most anticipated of the Beer Mimics Food series and it certainly didn't disappoint. Hope to see this one re-brewed sometime.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
BdbBi(G)Bodyibu
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 24.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a red colour, steady bead. Head is huge, fluffy and generous, beige in colour with great lacing left behind. Wonderful.

Hoppy, but a good malty base. Caramel, toffee with resiny pine notes, some nutty and spicy characters as well. Pleasant red ale aroma.

Tastes fairly malty, grainy mostly. Barley with some caramel, toffee, and toasted quinoa. Touch of roast on the back, with resiny hop oils. Could use more fresh flavour, dry hopping or late citric hopping. Decent balance overall, but feels a bit flat and flavourless late. I'd like a fresher finish.

Smooth mouthfeel, quite pleasant. Bit dry on the back.

Decent red ale, but doesn't leave me feeling too happy. Freshen up the back and you've got a deadset winner.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Dead Cat
Reviewed by Jez on 14.02.13 on tap
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney as part of their Scandinavian Tap Makeover.

Pours a pretty clear copper hue, with a very fine and persistent head of just off-white. Body is fluid, but with a little heft to it. Some streaky lace is left behind as the head goes down. Carbonation is fine and dancing when tilted. Looks good.

Nose: bang! Sweaty, sweet hops giving big fragrances of pine and passionfruit, even heading towards crushed herbal notes of sweet basil and myrtle. Very fresh, very big, nicely tied together. Lovely stuff.

Light on entry on the palate, some faint fluid and smooth sweetness, but rather flat, and missing the hops which were so prominent on the aroma. There's a very slight uptilt mid-palate, with some nutty characters, but it feels pretty watery and flat still. By the end everything's dropped out, leaving nothing on the aftertaste.

Feel is smooth and pleasant enough.

It's a shame about the mid-palate, but I guess at 4.7% it was always going to be lighter than the aroma suggested. It still has some nice classic characters despite its flatness. Not bad at all.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
4 Pines New Orleans Breakfast
Reviewed by Jez on 12.02.13 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Part of the series of beers 4 Pines brewed for 2012's Sydney Craft Beer Week, under the theme of "Beer Mimics Food".

Pours a pleasantly burnished, slightly hazy amber hue, with a solid body. Head is a very fine off-white, and it leaves some solid if somewhat patchy lace. Not much carbonation is visible at all. Love the colour.

Nose is very good, both matching the Beer Mimics Food theme and being tasty in its own right: bright, fresh coffee aromas mingle with hints of waffle and syrup sweetness. There's a slight toastiness behind it too beyond the coffee character. Not only can you see the food genesis behind the beer, you can see that this was a good idea.

Taste follows similar patterns. Some mild sweet coffee on the front, accentuated by a clean bourbon vanilla character, turning to mocha and toasty, grainy richness mid-palate. On the back is a lingering maple evanescence, along with a hint of burnt toast; perhaps even a touch of smoke.

Feel is smooth but light. Pleasant enough.

Overall, this is some really good stuff. Very smooth and really quite drinkable, but with some interesting and surprising flavours.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Imperial Red Ale - Beer Camp #65
Reviewed by Jez on 04.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
355ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours pretty much the perfect colour: deep ruby hued, with a frothy off-white head consisting of large bubbled honeycombed together. Lacing leaves fine tracings as the head settles down. Body is quite weighty, with some heft to provide a thick canvas for the fine bubbling that expresses itself when tilted. Overall, it's a really good looking beer.

Nose is clear and clean, but not as big and exciting as I'd hoped. Mild, smooth faintly fruity hop aromas mingle with a muted caramel malt character to give a red ale aroma that feels like it's just going through the motions. Some brighter, leafier characters come through when the beer is swirled, along with the faintest hint of slight roast. It's not bad, but it really should be significantly better given its pedigree.

Taste is similar: mildly fragrant hops, blended with a rather empty but noticeable malt presence. Some booze on the back kills everything quickly though, leaving a rather astringent emptiness that allows the hop bitterness to slice through on the back—this is despite the fact that the hop flavour is actually rather minimal. Faint acetone character on the finish, mingled with some crushed grass.

Feel is fine, although the lack of sweetness suggests a lack of body as well, even though it probably feels ok.

Overall, I'm woundedly disappointed by this. I love red ales (imperial all the better), and I really hoped that Sierra Nevada would give me a better example than this. While it's still decent enough, "decent enough" is far below the benchmark set for Sierra Nevada.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Red God
Reviewed by Jez on 04.01.13 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Excellent)
Bottle gifted to me by @LaitueGonflable, originally purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Batch #01, bottled June 2012.

Pours a very, very hazy deep reddish amber hue, with a slick and fine film of pale yellow on top of the glass. Body is very solid and thick, and although the carbonation isn't particularly fine, it stays pretty static when the glass is tilted. Some small, patchy lacing. Looks good overall.

Nose is that beautifully fragrant and rich blend that works so well in a red ale: sharp, spicy hops pressing their piney note into a deep bed of sweet, deep caramel. Citrus fragrance, comes through, along with a slightly floral note, the fragrance of which maybe just accentuates some of the booziness when you get a big whiff of it. But overall, it's aromatic and stylistically good stuff.

Taste follows very similar lines. Lovely bright, citric hops on the front palate, mellowing into sweet sultana characters on the mid, and a burnt toffee richness on the back. The hops are front-heavy, but this is nice in a red: it allows the malt to have its place too. Mild toasty characters come through on the finish, almost giving a reprise to the sultana notes that appear earlier—it's a little bit like an overcooked, peely fruitcake. Very nice stuff indeed, a very well-constructed red palate.

Mouthfeel is smooth but strangely empty: it could even use a bit more carbonation, or a thicker body.

Overall, this is excellent stuff. In particular, I love how well the malt and hops are balanced: both are given equal standing on the nose and on the palate, which is just right, as far as I'm concerned. I feel a bit like it doesn't do anything outside the mould of a classic American Red, but it sure does fill that mould very nicely indeed.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Mornington Peninsula Imperial Amber
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
82 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a rich amber-red colour, clear throughout with foamy cream-coloured head that's a little thin. Good emulation of an American amber look.

Lots of malt on the nose: nutty and sweet. Plenty of US hop character with a slight roasty-toffee note towards the back. Lots of malt but well backed-up hops. Toffee, roast, spice, pine resin. Very nice.

More malt upfront on the palate, with spicy notes and nice floral US hop character towards the back. Bags of complexity and loads of flavour. Nice hops are doing exactly what they should: counterbalancing the malt and cleaning up the palate. Great job.

A little bit of warmth from the booze. Finishes dry.

Great amber ale that's been amped up with confusing, or losing the essence of the style.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Resistance Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a deep red colour, clear with foamy beige head. Sticks around nicely. Good-looking red ale.

Lovely nose, with loads of hops, US and NZ in equal measure. Tangy, citric, pine and floral notes, loads of fruit and bags of tangy aroma. Touch of toasty malt underneath. Yeah, lovely.

Lots more tang on the palate, floral and fruity hops with passionfruit, citrus and rose. Nice sweet malty backbone as well, finishes tangy and hoppy with a hint of spice. Very pleasant.

Full body, a little bitty. Pretty nice.

Really nice red ale. Good malt, good hops, and well balanced.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Forty Four American Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 09.12.12 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
From a 330ml bottle. This one was part of a case purchased from Beer Cartel, although Spooning Goats in the city is my favourite haunt for grabbing a glass of this brew.

Pours a deep amber-brown, with what could be hazing, but could just be a very dark colouring. Head is voluminous when poured: a rocky, frothy beige that forms in large bubbles and leaves some pleasant sudsy lace. Body is really surprisingly light and fluid, but holds a small amount of vivacious carbonation. Pretty happy with it overall.

Nose is a beautiful blend of crisp, direct hops and melded solid malt: the malt gives hints of chocolate and dusty grain, while the hops rise above and give a lovely brisk sharpness. There's nothing particularly citric about the hops, and that's great in this beer. It's more of a clean, green-and-earth crispness that balances and hangs on to the malt. Good stuff.

Taste is also great. Earthy depth to the palate, with a rich, supple malt presence forming a consistent and dependable stage. Above this is a crisp, bright hop flavour, that dances pleasantly, leaving a leafy, tea-like fragrance and a bite on the back palate. Smooth roast rounds out the finish, giving a sense of completeness, but also a comforting warmth, suggesting that you can snuggle with it for just a little longer.

Feel is smooth, but there is a touch too much carbonation to this particular bottle—it's certainly not been an issue in the past with other bottles I've had.

Overall, I love this beer. It's a beautiful blend of malt and hops, and provides that amazing balance that seems to be the hallmark of Riverside's brews. I love the fact that I can get such quality beer so fresh in Sydney: this is the equal to any American Amber I've had.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Mornington Peninsula Imperial Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 27.11.12 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours an intense, deep red colour, with enough haze to capture and refract the light. Head is a voluminous yellow-white to begin with, but settles to a foamy centimetre or so that leaves solid, sudsy lace. Carbonation forms in fine, rather fast-moving streams, and the body looks solid if not really thick. Overall, it looks very good.

Nose is a lovely bright mixture of hops and malt, with some pleasant toffee and cake characters balancing a fresh, bright, fruity and slightly citric hop aroma. Gorgeous. Slight peppery notes come through, but in a supple flavour-accentuating way, working off the sweet toffee malt and binding zesty citrus character. This is really excellent stuff.

Taste is smooth on entry, with some subtle toffee characters coming through, before the hops give a rather brusque uplift of bitterness, giving a slightly herbal or peppery tone to the rest of the palate. The hop flavours are minimal, in some regards, there's not much of the fragrance present on the nose, but the bitterness is undeniable. It's a bit plaintive by the end.

Feel is full and rich, and very pleasant.

Overall, though, there's no denying that this is a very good beer. You're in safe hands with MP Brewing, and when they do such a great style you know you're going to get something special. Excellent stuff.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Kingpin Double Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.11.12 in bottle
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Not quite sure exactly how it got there, but there you go. Shared with Rich after a large homebrew bottling session.

Pours a pleasant bright amber colour, perhaps red if you look at it in the right light. Head is a pocked, bubbly and rather inconsistent off-white, leaving some spotty, pathy lace. Body is pretty light (certainly lighter than expected for a 7.5% ABV red Ale), but holds some fine carbonation. Overall, it looks good without being exceptional.

Nose is sweet with mild malt, but lacking much else in character. Perhaps a bit of pepper comes through, but it really feels pretty flat and uninteresting. Not a lot to talk about: as it warms, there's maybe some chalky character of a mineral gravel note. But that's not much of a positive.

Taste is similar. Light malt makes a pleasantly dull basis, with a hint of very mild roast in the back. On top of this is certainly the suggestion of hops, but they feel skeletal or tired: a faint bitterness without much true bite or flavour. Pretty average stuff.

Overall, it's drinkable enough, and I don't get the sense of a particularly high ABV beer, which is good at least. But it's just dull: there's really not a lot to it. It feels as though all the flavours have given up, and they're putting in only the most perfunctory effort.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Young Henry's FBi Radio Red
Reviewed by Jez on 05.11.12 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at the brewery during Sydney Craft Beer Week. Beer was brewed to support local radio station FBi, and was brewed using Davidson plum but in the hoppy American Red Ale style, purportedly.

Pours, in fact, a solid amber hue, with perhaps a tinge of red to it, perfectly clear when held to the light. Body is really very light. Head is a pleasant creamy white hue that leaves impressive lace. Overall, it looks pretty decent.

Nose is hoppy, but with a slightly herbal, slightly ashy hop character for the most part. Slight cereal grain character comes through, possibly just the conflation of the leafy hops and the sweetness. It's solid and decent without being exciting.

Taste is mild and smooth on entry, again progressing into those slightly grainy malt characters mid-palate. Fortunately, the hops do manage to cut through it a little, leaving a relatively clean finish by the end. Aftertaste is smooth, with a rustic, slightly herbal bite to it.

Overall, it's not bad stuff. It tends toward bland rather than flavoursome, but it's solid enough.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Mornington Peninsula Grouch
Reviewed by Jez on 07.08.12 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
On-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.

Pours a reddish amber hue with some mild hazing. Head is off-white forming a firm ring that leaves no lacing. Minimal carbonation. Perhaps the most disappointing part is the body, which looks really surprisingly thin for its ABV. Hrmm...

Slight sweet hops on the nose, with some faint peachy aromas or sweet orange. There's a hint of greenness to it as well and a bit of spice. Overall, it flirts with a number of different hop characteristics, but doesn't embrace any of them.

Light crystal sweetness on the front palate leads to some crisp, lightly carbonic characters part way through. There's a greenness again, but it's another pretty generic character. Back is empty, like all the characters deserted it without really thinking about it. The only exception is a slight resinous buildup of bitterness on the back which becomes more prominent over time.

Feel is particularly light: it really needs more.

Overall, no it's not a bad beer. But MP do much better than this, so I found this something of a disappointment.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Sunset Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 06.08.12 on tap
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
On-tap at Harts Pub.

Looked truly red on the pour, on closer inspection it's actually amber, but it's close enough. Head is an off-white fine ring of foam. Some bubbly lacing around the edges. Light body, but it looks smooth and supple. Brilliant clarity. Looks very solid.

Nose is light with clean, fresh citric hops, very bright and zesty. There's a hint of carbonation to it, along with an earthiness light turned clay, and a sweetness like light caramel or carob. Very pleasant.

Taste is light but really nicely balanced. Clean zesty light hops on the front, with a smooth, but leavened sweetness towards the back. At the interface point it gives a pleasant sugared citrus character. Light grain characters, with a tendency towards roast, dance around, but they get smoothed out of existence after their entry. Nice balance: super drinkable.

This is great stuff from Two Birds, much the better of their two regulars so far. Flavoursome but light, and with depth to interest you. I'll certainly be drinking it again. And again.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.12 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
On-tap at Six Acres in Vancouver, BC.

Pours a very pleasant truly red, almost deep ruby hue with a fine, slightly bubbly white head. Decent lace. Body looks pretty fluid but supports some fine carbonation. Looks good.

Nose has a pleasant generic malt character to it, that cushions a big, slightly biting hop character that melds into the earthier base notes. There are hints of crushed vegetation, and some deep earthiness to the hops, making it a lovely match to the malty characters in the base beer. Nice stuff.

Taste is also great. Here, you realise the hops are really quite strong, providing a strong bitterness that just latches on and intermingles with the deep grainy, slightly nutty malt characters. There's a piquancy to the hops which makes me think American varieties, but the flavour profile is actually similar to an overdose of EKG. Whatever it is, it works well.

Feel is smooth and soft.

Another great beer from Parallel 49, who I believe were my favourite brewery I tried on my short visit to Vancouver. I tried three of their beers, all of which were worthy, and all of which were interesting.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.07.12 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney.

Pours a gorgeously clear, genuinely red hue, with a fine, bubbly crackly head of creamy beige. Lacing is fine and patchy. Body has some very decent weight behind it, but maintains a fluidity. Nice stuff; I really love the colour.

Nose is clean, hoppy and spicy, with pink grapefruit pith and zesty lemon dominant, along with a hint of cinnamon and a grassy, almost herbal edge. White pepper comes through as well, adding to the spritzy, spicy, sharp characters. Great stuff: it could use a bit more malt basis, but otherwise, it's nigh-on perfect for the style.

Taste is surprisingly light, but not unpleasant. Very mild entry gives way to a pronounced but restrained bitterness laced with more peppery characters, and a grassy vegetative note. More lemon and grapefruit rule the ending, leaving it feeling a little acidic on the finish. Feel is certainly lighter than I expected, and a little disappointingly so, especially given the weight of the beer, and the appearance of gravity to it.

Overall, it let itself down somewhat. This beer looks great, and smells great, and I expected something great when I put my lips to the glass. Unfortunately, even though it was good, this meant that it didn't deliver on its promises: it should have been magnificent.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 23.07.12 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Had this on-tap at the brewery in Newport, OR.

Pours a reddish-amber hue, I guess right on, stylistically, with an off-white head that forms a firm ring and no centre. Lace is patchy, but the carbonation is fine and sits nicely in the solidly weighted body. Looks pretty good.

Nose is disappointing: some light caramel characters, and a hint of reduced leafiness, that perhaps gives a suggestion of mint. Not much else, meaning it feels pretty empty overall. Eh.

Light entry on the palate, with some definite mint mid-palate. Herbal and fragrant going towards the back, until we hit some pepper and a slight hop bite on the finish. Aftertaste is quite clean. Feel is smooth.

Overall, hey, it's not bad. It's a bit dull for a red ale, but hey, you can't have everything.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Phat Matt's Red
Reviewed by Jez on 08.07.12 in bottle
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
Bomber purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR.

Pours a solid amber hue, not red as it should be, although slightly more red than often is the case. Head is a bubbly, inconsistent pearly white. No real persistence to it. Overall, decent, but uninspiring look.

Nose is slightly mealy and round, with a good grain character, but not enough hops to keep it in check. This style should have a stronger, fresher hop character, to meld and bounce with the malt: to be honest, it should have a tad more roasted or at least pronounced malt as well. Disappointing.

Palate is flat, slightly grainy but underwhelming in general. No hops to speak of besides a clear slight earthiness on the back palate. Meh. M-E-H, meh. I've had considerably better beers that don't even think about it—this is verging on completely lazy.

Overall, extremely average. This is bland and pointless, even if it's not actively offensive. But its lack of effort almost turns it that way. It really should be better than this.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Proletariat Red
Reviewed by Jez on 07.07.12 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
650ml bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland OR.

Red ale? Pfft, I spit at your naming. This is a dull amber at best, quite clear with a filmy, inconsistent head of milky white. Lacing is patchy. Body is light, but the carbonation is fine. Eh.

Nose is grainy and earthy, with some punchy, slightly herbal, vegetative hops, surprisingly English in character. There's a hint of pine to it, but I'm not feeling the "Northwest" either, guys.

Taste is better. In fact, the taste is very nice indeed. Here, the grainy malt character develops a richness that intermingles nicely with those sharp, herbal hops, leaving caramel spiked with a fresh bite. It's still a bit off what I'd really consider a "Northwest Red Ale", but at least it has some balance and interest here.

Feel is a bit too light, even for a non-Red Red.

Overall, I feel as though it's worthwhile. It was really straining against my expectations, but it had enough going for it that it made me take notice. It hadn't totally won me over at the end, but I feel I understood it a little better.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Speed Bump
Reviewed by Jez on 02.07.12 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
On-tap at the brewery in Healdsburg, CA. Seems like a light version of Red Rocket, although they listed Red Rocket as an "Amber" on their list, and this as a "Red Ale".

Despite this listing, it pours a deep amber colour, certainly more amber than red, with a fine but full head of off-white. Lacing is messy and complex, and the body is solid for a relatively low ABV beer. Looks good.

Nose is bright with a full bouquet of the typical hops you expect. Citrus, a touch of pine and some sweeter fruits that blend with the malt into a fresh cement and dust aroma of huskiness. Good stuff.

Tasty palate, although a little thin. The clean hop character carries on the fragrance into the flavour. Spicy, a little chlorine, juniper and holly. Very light, but punchy malt gives a touch of mild roast to the mix without providing any more body.

It's a tasty beer: a nice clean mixture of malt and hops. It's missing a bit of body, but you expect that from this ABV level, so it's forgivable. The advantage of course is that it's more drinkable for it. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Castaña
Reviewed by Jez on 24.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
"Craft flavoured beer", according to the bottle. OK. They list the style as "Amber beer", calling it also a "malt beverage brewed with chestnut flour". That made it sound interesting enough for me to pick up a bottle from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

I've classified it as an American Amber, because I don't believe Herbed/Spiced Beer is really a good category for any brew, but otherwise that's probably where it belongs.

Pours a light amber hue, perhaps with a psychosomatic suggestion of chestnut, with a fine, filmy head of pure white, that leaves very little lacing. Body is fluid and quite light, but the clarity and colour are nice. It's a pretty decent looking beer overall.

Nose is a little flat, except for an odd hint of smokiness and a touch of oak or vinous acidity. There's some grassy, grainy malt, and a touch of earth. Overall, it gives it a rustic feel to the aroma. Certainly not unpleasant.

Taste is light, but malty, with some pleasant sweet grain characters and a touch of spice, nuttiness and a little bounce of acidity. Hops are subdued, only perhaps suggesting a taint of bitterness more like earth or roots. Feel is light, but smooth—the beer feels significantly undercarbonated.

Overall, an interesting enough beer. The chestnuts don't really seem to come forward at all, but it's solidly made otherwise. Not the most exciting beer I've had, but worth a visit.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Epiphany Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Pours a very hazed brown-amber hue, with a fine, somewhat insubstantial head of yellowish white, that forms nicely when poured, but eventually subsides to film. Some speckled lacing. Body looks surprisingly strong for the ABV. It's not great looking, but it's not bad.

Nose is, again, not great, but not bad. Blind, it seems like what you expect from the style. Generic slightly piney US West Coast hoppiness, with a touch of sweetness and turbid malt. The sweetness forms perhaps as a little too strong for the hops, which are middling at best, but it ticks the boxes for the style at least.

Taste is similar, in that the two characters are quite generic. However, they sit quite disparate from each other, with the malt providing a chalky caramel and carob character that dominates the front, before a strikingly bitter, oily hop presence comes through on the back. It's not unbalanced as a result, but it sure is pretty ordinary.

Yeah, it's not great. It's not bad. It's not much of anything, except that it doesn't wildly deviate from style. I'm certainly not a huge fan, but I can't really fault it either. And maybe that's what's annoying me about it.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Evil Twin
Reviewed by Jez on 17.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA.

Pours a quite dark reddish-brown colour, with a hint more towards amber than truly red, with a bubbly, minimal head of yellow-mocha foam. Lacing is solid, but the head itself dissipates to a filmy scum atop the glass. Body has nice weight to it. Not bad overall.

Ooh, nose is just lovely: clear, clean zesty hoppy fragrance, above a solid malty fullness, but never overly sweet—it neither devolves into the candied orange sweetness you can get from some West Coast hops, or the overt toffee-caramel sickliness that can come from too much malt. It's a lovely balance.

Taste is also solid, although the lack of sweetness here actually makes it feel like it's a little limp and empty. Still, the zesty hop character translates well here, leaving a pithy orange peel and clean leafy freshness on the palate. Malt is minimal, only leaving a slight grainy character in a crescendo through the middle that dips out to a roasty flatness. Feel is the main culprit, although the lack of sweetness and body also makes it feel a little unbalanced for the style.

Overall, it's a decent beer, and maybe I'm just a little narrow-minded in the parameters I like in my ARAs. Without the extra malt, and with the hop flavours being the main driving force, it doesn't taste dissimilar to a middling IPA. I've had much better.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
BdbBi(G)Bodyibu
Reviewed by Jez on 10.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
Don't blame me. That's it's name according to the bottle—on both the front and the back...

Pours with a massive head, almost stupidly big, that collapses to a foamy rocky landscape above a deep amber-orange body. Solid heft to the body, although perhaps not as big as it could have been. Surprisingly little visible carbonation in the body, as though all of its effort went in one enormous thrust into making the head. Not bad though.

Nose is brightly hoppy, in a clean, clear generic American IPA way, lending citrus rind and pine needle, with a whiff of pepper and spice. It's really quite clean and bright and fresh; a very solid example of the style.

Taste is very pleasant. All the classic hoppy resinous characters, but with restrained bitterness, and no harshness or astringency. Solid nutty malt character gives some backbone, while the fragrant pine and resin dance across the top. It's clean and fresh and very solid work.

Feel is light, but weighty enough to support what it needs to.

Really good brew: my first outing with Birra del Borgo, besides their My Antonia collab with DFH. I like what I see.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Red Tail
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 06.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a vibrant ruby colour with very nice cream-coloured head. Fluffy with nice marshmallow effect on top, lovely trail of lace. Bead is enthusiastic, and maybe a bit too much. Otherwise looks fantastic.

Smells pretty tasty, too. Nice toffeed malts underlying with a nice hoppy overlay. Slight citrus and balsamic for tang, with a herbal medicine edge to it, kind of dirty but not bad, especially with that fruity lift from the other hops.

Taste is quite malty upfront, although the assault gives slight apple notes from British ale esters. Develops roasty, slightly chocolatey grain notes midway that smooth out nicely towards the finish with a slightly metallic note, but this is largely cleaned up by the bittering hops; slight citrus and a hint of maraschino cherry, before finishing herbal with a bite of ginseng. Nice, malty but ultimately clean and pleasant beer.

Bit too much carbonation for my liking; it just pops too much in the mouth and marring what might otherwise have been pretty smooth as there's a decent body there.

Wasn't expecting much from this beer, but it's really silenced my inner critic. Rich and malty but very satisfying as well. This tasty beer will make a nice complement to me eating my words.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Resistance Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.05.12 on tap
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
On-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.

Pours a genuinely red hue, with a dash of brown to it, with a very mild haze. Fluid body, lighter than you expect for the ABV. Head is a full, firm yellow-white colour that leaves solid lacing. Love the colour. It's a great looking beer overall.

Nose is delicious and full, and presses its case from the first whiff. Sweaty aromatics, pressed oily hops with massive citrus characters. This adds a wonderful crispness to the round malt which sits forming a basis. Delicious, rich, full and spot-on stylistically. Awesome stuff.

Light grain on the front of the palate, with a hint of hops giving a peppery bite, before this blooms into a big fruity uplift of passionfruit and lemon rind. Grain sits underneath it all, and ends up parking on the back palate along with a cleaning crisp hop finish. Feel is smooth but crisp. Lovely stuff.

Great stuff from Bright. They nailed the style, and put together an amazingly tasty and drinkable beer. One of my top brews from the festival.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Powder Hound Winter Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 19.05.12 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a burnished gold colour with steady bead. Head is off-white, a bit whispy but nice uneven sinking with clingy lace on the edge. Quite a decent-looking head; otherwise slightly meh.

Smells pleasant and hoppy. Nice citric notes with a side order of mango, melon and apricot. Nice English malt behind it, slightly burnished again and maybe a touch of booze. Quite pleasant.

Taste is quite a malty-hoppy blend. Lots of rich, quite earthy English toffee malts with a touch of carob; gets resiny and slight citric hop notes floating over the top. A little bit spongey and dank, but it's not such a heavy bittering hop flavour that it gets bogged down towards the back. A touch of melon ester on there as well, then finish is tangy and light. Could use a bit more bitterness but it's quite clean notwithstanding. Not mind-blowing, but pleasant.

Clean and fairly smooth. A touch above watery and nothing too sharp.

Nice, drinkable hoppy beer. Wouldn't be complaining if there were more, but it's still decently put together.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Duck Hoppy Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 24.03.12 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
Bottle purchased

Pours a lovely hazed mahogany-amber colour, with a fine, but slightly frothy head of off-white. Some subtle lacing, but not a lot. Body looks solid but fluid. Overall, it's a good-looking brew.

Nose is full of sweet fruits, but luscious, dark and juicy varieties, not the tropical or citrus sharpness I might have expected. Instead we have dark plums, sultanas and apricots, all fixed together with a dark, bittersweet toffee aroma. There's a hint of carbonic acidity to it as well. It's blended very nicely, however. Smells great.

Taste is also sweeter than expected, with subtle touches of green hop character around the edges. Very smooth and mild bitterness comes through, replaced later by sweet ginger snap characters, and an odd touch of meaty savouriness on the finish. As the beer clears up entirely, some residual aromatics come through giving the scent of lavender. Interesting.

Feel is smooth and full, with a pleasant cleanness.

Overall, a really nice brew from Red Duck, and one I'd be happy to drink on a regular basis. Indeed, apart from The Ox, this might be my favourite of their brews so far.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Powder Hound Winter Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pleasant light copper amber hue with a very fine, indeed powdery, head of off-white. Some patchy lace is left. Body is quite fine and fluid, but with a nice slickness to it. Very fine carbonation. Indeed, "fine" is coming up a lot in describing the appearance; it is a fine looking beer.

Nose is muted, with a touch of crisp, generic American hop aroma that smells as though it's been left a little long. Some clean, lemony dish detergent aromas, with a touch of chlorine and turned earth. Nice, but not that exciting.

Taste is pleasantly malty, with a solid backbone of faintly toasted malts, leading to a clean but pronounced American hop bitterness on the back of the palate. Clear feel lets the crisp hop characters shine, lending a freshness to the mix that a heavier body would mask.

Overall, a pretty nice hoppy American amber ale. It's smooth, and the malt is perhaps a little less pronounced than it could be, but it's a good, if somewhat middle-of-the-road example of the style.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Rackham
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours more golden than red, with head that's nice, dense and retaining well. Lace is pretty nice too. Needs more red colour for sure, but otherwise damn fine-looking beer.

Smells very pleasant with tangy fruit and lots of pie spice - cinnamon, clove and star anise primarily. Hint of raisin, with peach and citrus and a hint of pine resin late. Sultry and spicy, but a nice fresh twang. A real winner here.

Taste is Belgian and malty, lots of burnt sugar verging on quite roasty bitter. Molasses, with some clove and aniseed and a hint of pepper towards the back. Hit of hops on the finish with resiny notes and a fresh citric twang, but Belgian spiced malt lingers on the back. Very pleasant.

Smooth and full, quite sticky though. Would like more texture, maybe more hop pull or spicy yeast dryness.

Tasty brew with lots of flavour. Tangy and spicy but maintains a drinkability from good use of malt.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Starfish Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours an American red-ale colour, but nice and vibrant. Head is off-white, large bubbles but irregular. Lace is sticky and bubbly and there's a thin layer of head remaining. Looks nice.

Smells quite nutty and malty. Plenty of toffeed peanut, salted caramel and a nice floral hop note behind. Not dominant, just nice tangy and subtle hints of lavender, grapefruit and orange peel. A nice, appealing balanced malt-grenade (not quite malt-bomb).

Taste is a goody. Quite tangy on the assault with plenty of light lemony hops, hint of mint and sage with a touch of a buttery note as well. Gets sweeter and slightly boozey midway where big malt notes lie. Nutty edge, with lots of English toffee and burnt sugar, with just a dollop of a sharp hop resin late making it veer off into slight astringency. Apart from that one duff note it's an incredible smooth, well-constructed palate.

Quite thin on the feel, almost watery and feels pretty empty. Disappointing for the size and for the palate.

Nice tasty beer though. Maybe needs a few kinks ironed out of it but it's an enjoyable drinking experience.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Frog Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours an Imperial Red Ale colour; a bit paler towards the edge. Head is beige, nice and foamy with small visible bubbles, thin crown retaining but lace is gorgeous. Light bead, clear body. Looks good.

Smells weird. Very fruity, with raspberry mixing with pear and peach. Tart, fruity, kind of fresh and enjoyable but oddly tart; needs more malt to back it up. Bit meh, but still, I'm intrigued.

Taste is also very weird. Fruity and tangy, with an acetyldehyde flavour upfront, then blackberry and packham pear, with little more towards the finish. Bit bitter at the back, but it's all sort of organic fruit notes; mildly tart but mostly sweet, almost entirely bland and uninteresting.

Bit bittty in the mouth, little bit of tartness to it. Not great.

Yeah, a bit weak and uninspiring, but mostly just odd.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Expedition Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a rude red ale colour, bit of cloud with dense pillow of marshmallowy head. Beige colour, nice ribbon of lace left behind and good retention. Looks very good; not quite excellent.

Smells very tangy and hoppy. Lots of citric notes, but hints of acetyldehyde and perry as well. Maybe some green pepper and a big wallop of pineapple. In fact it's totally pineapple. Yeah, big, massive pineapple. Not sure I like beer smelling that much like pineapple, but hey, let's go with it.

Taste is not bad, but still very fruity on the back. Starts with decent caramel and toffee malt but gets very tangy and fruity with hop oils and some alpha acidic notes. Hint of more pineapple that gets almost puckering but it's sweet, bitter, sour and hoppy as a nice blend. Not bad, really, quite refreshing even though it doesn't quite hit the mark. I think there's a goodly amount of hop bitterness there so it's fairly clean and drinkable. Bit weird, though.

Foamy texture, quite full and well-weighted though. Yeah, not bad.

Not sure I genuinely love it, but there's a weird, very refreshing quality to it. I might not be proud of it, but I really could drink it most of the night.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Shark Attack Double Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a murky red colour with weird static floaties that look like flecks of ash. Head is lovely and fluffy, great crown retaining and some gorgeous lace behind. Could do without the floaties, but otherwise spectacular.

Smells pleasant, if a little boozey. Lots of malt with hints of nuts giving toffee, macadamias and almonds, with a big citric hop note giving quite a sharp, almost peppery astringency. Just a hint of some spiritous alcohol as well. Nice notes, but a bit overblown.

Taste compensates, with malt and plenty of it. Sweet, almost honeyed toffee notes on the assault, overlain with a slight citric hint of hops that take hold mid-palate and take it into a nice tangy finish, with hints of copper and a mild honey-glazed ham note as well. Just hints of ash and oak, plus peanuts and pepper. Really very pleasant and enjoyable palate, just a bit hot at the back.

Yeah, full enough but not very textured except for a flaggable booziness which takes over and dried up the finish in a spiritous way.

Pleasant beer; if that booziness subsided I could drink this all night.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Rackham
Reviewed by Jez on 31.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
36 / 100
(Nasty)
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a really worryingly light and burnished golden amber colour. Not a touch of red to it, and in fact the colour itself is a little bit insipid even for an amber. Head is a filmy off-white, which leaves some sheeting lacing. Light body, minimal carbonation. Really disappointing look, to be honest.

Nose is mostly sweet, almost overtly so, with some slight earthy hop characters and a slight nut character. Mostly there's a sweetness reminiscent of extract or unfermented wort. It's not all that good.

Taste is also awkward. Here, in addition to the sweetness and the earthiness, comes a slightly spicy Belgian yeast note, leaving a residual pepper and acetone note on the finish. It dries out the palate, leaving it astringent and stretched. Sweetness has dropped a little bit, at least, but the other characters clash in anarchy, and don't meld to make coherence, nor bounce off each other to create interest.

Doesn't work at all for me. The Belgian characters warp the palate unpleasantly, and the earthy bitterness doesn't do it any favours. This is a genuine miss for Yeastie Boys, who do some of the most interesting beers coming out of New Zealand (and hence, the world). But this is a pretty much failed experiment, for me.

appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Stoke Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 30.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a lovely pleasant red-amber hue from the bottle, with a filmy fug of off-white around the rim. Minimal lacing, and the bubbling is large. Colour is great though, and it has some depth in the body. Looks pretty good to me.

Nose is sweet and slightly grainy, giving a whiff of something roasted—together it tends towards something sticky and toffee-like. Otherwise rather light, and there's not much in the way of hops to cut through the sweetness.

Taste is actually surprisingly light, with none of the residual underfermented wort character I expected from the sweetness on the nose. Instead, it gives pleasant sweet nutty notes balanced with a slight metallic bitterness on the back, which is surprisingly springy, keeping the palate from degrading or disappearing too quickly. Light feel leaves an empty mid-palate, but it's not too bad.

Overall, not a bad brew, albeit not a particularly exciting one. It's clean, relatively well balanced and drinkable, while having a decent amount of character. I'm surprised that there are such bad reviews of it here—if anything, I would have thought it's inoffensive enough to not provoke strong emotions either positive or negative.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Rocket Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a delicious red colour with clear body. Head is cream-coloured, quite frothy and bubbly but a bit whispy; not a lot of lace. Looks nice, but nothing special.

Smells pleasantly hoppy. Nice malt to it with sticky English toffee and brown sugar, then a minty and spicy hop note, with a nice citrus tang and a touch of fresh berries. Pleasant, fresh and sweet. Good balance.

Taste is quite malty really. Lots of sweetness with toffee, caramel and rye bread. Slight tang glides over the top, never really assertive with a slight cider acidity and light lemon notes. Finishes clean and well, but never pummels the palate into accepting its unquestionable greatness. Bit brassy, bit minty, slgihtly spicy and slightly dry but ultimately quite fresh and drinkable. Good red ale.

Bit watery throughout, more presence on the back than anywhere else.

Nice, fresh brew. Doesn't have the ashy bitterness of an IPA but at the same time it could have upped the hops a bit and I wouldn't be complaining.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Starfish Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 12.11.11 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, brought back to Sydney and opened with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.

Lovely hue, a truly good bright ruby red, with a collapsing, but pleasantly silky head of yellow white. Body is lovely and fine, leaving tight carbonation when swirled. Some patchy lace. It's a really lovely looking American Red Ale, absolutely what you want from the style.

Nose is also good, with a lovely fresh hop aroma giving some sharp citric fruit characters, but leavened with hints of rosewater and potpourri. Under this is the hint of roast, a touch of malt, suggesting that this is deeper and not as one-sided as an IPA with similar hop characters. Really nice.

Taste is a little bit of a let-down, but still solid for the style. Clean malt draws the palate forward, with just a hint of greenness from the hops around the edges of the palate. Slight tingle of bitterness on the back, but it doesn't do enough to really clear out the maltiness. It's still very pleasant, but it doesn't quite hit the mild graininess or the robust hoppiness quite right.

Feel is smooth but light. Quite pleasant.

It's a pretty decent American Red Ale, but this is a style I particularly love, and I love it more when breweries do it in a way which fits with my rather narrow expectations for the style. Yeah, that probably makes me a bad person.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Hud-a-wa' Strong
Reviewed by Jez on 26.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Somewhat afraid this bottle might be a bit old. It was purchased a month ago, but hopefully it was fresh enough then. Best before date says March 2012, at least.

Pours a hazy, but relatively clear bronzey copper colour, with a very fine but flat head of off-white. Some patchy riddled lacing and some decent heft to the body. Looks pretty good.

Nose is incredibly rich and malty (and immediately makes me think I've waited too long to drink this, given the lack of hops). Almost smells like unfermented wort. Big sweet malt juiciness with flashes of dates, caramel and earthy yeast tones. Completely not what I expected at all (it would be great with an insanely fragrant hop presence of the top).

Taste is lighter, with some mild biscuity and sweet savoury caramel characters giving a basis to a decently bitter hop presence. Somewhat nutty characters come out of the amalgam, giving a lovely blend that I wish was accentuated by some additional hop fragrance. Feel is smooth and rich, and suitable for the heavy malt presence.

Needs more hops! Especially on the nose. I can only hope they fell out in the aging process, because this has the basis for a great, robust American Amber. Certainly, there's nothing stopping me from buying this again, but I wish this example was as good as I feel it could be.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Cable Car Small Batch Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 18.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
6 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
Interesting colour, a burnished, coppery golden hue, almost like very pale yellowish brown. It's oddly difficult to describe. Head is almost non-existent—it dissipates soon after the pour, leaving nothing but the suggestion of bubbling around the edges. Carbonation is weak and large-bubbled. Looks extremely insipid. Even the colour, which is curious, looks unappetising, ultimately.

Nose is generically grainy with a touch of sweetish malt. Perhaps a touch of bitterness, but it could be just the action of the carbonation giving a seltzer hit. The sweetness is too much, and what other characters it has only manages to move it into the realm of sweet-savoury, like Pizza shapes. Eh.

Taste is sweet and cloying, with a falling back palate that suggests the wateriness of Bud. Almost an unfermented grape juice character on the front, before the carbonation bites in a feeble attempt to claw something back. But it's useless, this is appalling.

An absolute train-wreck of a beer. Cloying but flavourless, sweet where it shouldn't be and utterly undrinkable. This is a disaster in a glass. Stay well away.

appearance: 1.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 1.0 | feel: 1.0 | drinkability: 1.0
Boont Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 11.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
28 / 100
(Nasty)
Pours a coppery orange amber colour, with a very good head of pale, off-white bubbles. Lacing is also good, forming in patchy circles. Clarity of the body is excellent—all up, in fact, it's an excellent looking beer.

Nose is slightly sharp and metallic, with an underlying cloying fruit sweetness, a little like green bananas. Hint of acidity to it as well, giving a whiff of slightly rank stomach acid. Ew. Is there something wrong with this bottle?

Taste is similar. Slightly rank unripe banana character with a mealy cereal mid-palate and a lingering melange of copper and sugar. Feel is grainy but persistent, with that sugar coating on the back sticking around for way too long.

Wow. I'm really suitably unimpressed with this. It's cloying, sugary and altogether rather unpleasant. Given how widespread this is, I was expecting something at least mild and inoffensive, but this genuinely not something I want to drink often, if at all.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Stone Levitation Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 11.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
80 / 100
(Excellent)
Straddling the line between amber and red, this beer pours a burnished, deep mahogany colour, bright ruby when held to the light, otherwise a slightly murky amber. Clarity is great, however, and the head forms lightly into a film of off-white. Lacing is classic. Looks pretty awesome.

Nose is sharp, crisp and delightful, with big citric hop fragrance pounding the nostrils from inches away. Robust characters of other sweeter fruits too, mostly apricot, pineapple and nectarine. It's so fresh, so bright, so powerful and so delightful. I've had far more timid noses in beers double or triple this one's strength. Awesome.

Taste is unsurprisingly much more subdued, but the hoppy characters translate very nicely into flavour, but not bitterness. This helps the palate, which is very light on—too much hoppiness would leave it unbalanced. Instead, we get bright tropical fruits at the start, before a subtle bit mid-palate and a dry, cleansing finish.

Insanely drinkable, quenchable and quaffable. This is an insane session beer, one of the most flavoursome and exciting beers under 5% ABV I think I've ever had. And despite the lightness on the palate, it never feels empty. Great brew.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Calico Copper Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 10.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a deep copper colour, almost with a reddish tinge to it, and a fine-bubbled head of off-white. Lacing is frothy and patch, but solid, forming around the glass in solid enough rings. Body has some heft to it, rather pleasantly, and the carbonation is mild but extremely fine. Looks good.

Nose is grainy and bright, with pleasant slightly toasted characters and a mild fruit character, perhaps just a hint of banana. Some subtle crushed greens get a look in as well. It's all quite mild, but it's pretty well integrated, and quite pleasant.

Taste is a little thinner, and rather metallic, with a coppery bite towards the bit to back and a slight astringency. Graininess comes through to clean up on the back, or rather it just appears once the metallic character drops out. It's pleasant enough, and it has some character to it, which is good.

Not a bad drop. Sessionable, with enough character. No, it's not the most exciting brew in the world, but it's solid.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Expedition Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 08.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
89 / 100
(Superb)
Ooh, yeah. I love it when a red ale pours a genuinely red colour. This is one of those, a brilliantly deep ruby hue, with a filmy but exceptionally fine head of creamy off-white. Lacing forms in rings and is pleasantly persistent. Body is heavy but fluid, leaving tiny bubbles of carbonation when swirled. Looks great.

Nose is fantastic. Wonderful blend of slightly dark, caramelised malt characters with a bright hop crispness that brings it into a wonderful melange—mixing hops and malt in a way that accentuates both, but also complements. Biting with slight resin, but subtle with biscuity depth. Lovely.

The taste is probably even better. Here the lightly grainy malt character comes through giving a basis on which are layered jammy, fruity hop characters, always tempered with a brisk bitterness to cut through on the finish. A tiny bit more body would help it a little, but this is a real nitpick. It's a lovely brew.

Exceptionally drinkable, and absolutely characterising what I love in an American Red Ale. It has the fresh, bright hoppiness, the mellow malt character, and blends the two superbly. I already regarded Drake's well, and yet this beer just made them shoot up even further in my opinion.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Maiden Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a coppery red colour with mild haze and slight bubbliness. Head is off-white, quite generous with big bubbles on top and retaining a nice thick layer of lace.

Smell is largely fruity, with a lot of ale yeast py-products, giving pear, green apple and slight sultana notes. Hint of leafy hops at the back but predominantly sweet. Not bad, though.

Taste doesn't have the fruitiness of the nose at all. Hints of malt on the front with grain notes that get very earthy on the mid, providing resinous hop notes, hint of grapefruit and some late carraway spice. Woody, earthy, a little bit dirty with just a touch of that pear fruitiness on the back. Not an overly tasty palate; has a grittiness that lacks refreshment, but the beer overall is fairly well constructed.

Sparkly, mostly dry mouthfeel with a bit too much sizzle. Can't say I love it.

Fairly standard offering, not sure I'd drink another if it were on offer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
He'Brew Genesis Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.09.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a burnished amber colour, fair bit paler than I expected. Head is off-white, sunk to a film of small bubbles in a cradle of yellow-tinged lace. Not a bad-looking beer, but I'd like more colour and more head.

Smell is very malty. Lots of toffee, caramel and bubblegum, with a "banilla" hybrid coming through on the back. A bit oversweet and cloying, really, and could use an anchor in the world of adult aromas.

Taste is also malty. Starts sweet with caramel grain, develops more complex sugars midway, with toffee and vanilla before ending on a fairly brown sugar-esque note with remnants of that bubblegum character from the nose but more earthy, with the malts giving notes of the grains from whence they might otherwise have sprouted. Hint of resinous hop on the aftertaste suggests that it is hops that have cleaned up this palate. Yeah, bit of pull from the resinous oils towards the back. Far more impressive with palate, it's got technique.

Not as full as I would have liked, bit drying all the way through. Not bad for the style.

A beer that screams at the top of its lungs "Hello!" and then shuts up forever.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Julesnadder
Reviewed by Jez on 13.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
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.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Fat Cat Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 11.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Excellent)
Holy crap. I poured this (big bottle of) beer without looking at the ABV and said "uh oh, this is really heavy". Then I discovered it's under 4.7% and I was shocked. This looks really heavy and thick, even leaving carbonation when tilted. The body is a pleasantly deep amber-red (probably skewing a little towards the amber more than the red), and the head, while a little tempremental, is a pleasant lattice of well held-together large bubbled beige. It's a really impressive looking beer for under 5% ABV.

Nose is gorgeously hoppy, with great fresh West Coast American hop characters of citrus, ripe fruit and grass, that is really cut pleasantly with a depth of grain that gives it more basis. It's perhaps missing a bit of potency, but otherwise, it's absolutely classic, and so captivating.

Taste is clear and ripe, with a really nice cantaloupe character making the most of the green hoppiness and melding nicely with what sweetness the body can give. I love that there is a bit of residual heft to the body without being overly sweet or cloying. The hops are the main event, but they're really subdued enough to provide balance.

The 4.7% means this is supremely quaffable, and the hops and character means it's just plain delicious. This is a really, really great beer, and a great example of a hoppy American-style red ale. Genuinely one of the best examples I've had from outside the USA.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 5.0
Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a russeted bronze colour with lots of steady carbonation. Head is off-white, sunken to thin clouds of really dense, clingy lace, which looks lovely but some retention would be nice.

Smell is light and pleasant. Floral hop notes hit the olfactory with a touch of lemon, lavender and a marginal metallic bitterness, touch of verdigris on there. Could use more of those lighter floral hops, or a bit more caramelly malt. A bit underwhelming, whereas the aromas themselves are nice.

Taste is a bit funny. Starts kind of nutty and bitter, with a marzipany edge to the malt. Mid-part of palate is almost sour, with a weak metallic twang to it. Touch of richer, earthier malt with slight hop oil roundness to it, and a mild toasty touch late. Ultimately a bit of a mish-mash, some nice flavours but not enough, and not really situated where they'd play best on the palate. Cleaner bitterness hits too early, need more of it on the back.

Thin, watery mouthfeel really. Not a lot of texture despite the bubbles that are visible. A bit meh, really.

Not a bad beer, I just think it's confused, and a bit asymmetrical on the palate. But drinkable.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Purchased from Leura Cellars, as a result of the relatively new import of North Coast beers to Australia. Awesome.

Pours a bright orange-amber colour, without perhaps the red tinges I expected. Head is full-bodied, frothy and persistent, leaving speckled lacing, and forming a wonderful crown to the beer. Relatively good body to it, and the carbonation is fine. Looks good.

Nice mixture of herbal, slightly spicy hops with a round base of malt. Touches of lemon and citrus come through nicely to cut through the meaty malt, leaving a well-structured nose. Nice.

Taste is a little less full than I expected, especially the weight of the body, which is thin and a little flat. Peppery hops stand up well through the centre of the palate, giving a mild and nuanced bitterness, but the malt sweetness disappears, leaving very little connection in the palate. It feels a little empty as a result.

Drinkable little beer, and probably more so for the clear and thin palate. It doesn't feel like a really well-rounded brew, but it certainly has enough character to make it worthwhile drinking a few.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 30.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased in New York and brought back to Sydney to drink with @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a ruby-tainted amber colour, with a nice heft to the body. Head is firm, but a little listless, although a hearty swirl reinvigorates it. Pleasant creamy white shade to it. Minimal lacing, and the body is quite light, but otherwise, a good looking beer.

Nose is light and fresh without being very sharp, exciting or bright. Aromas of cut green apple, wheat chaff, and turned earth make this a subtle, rather than explosively hoppy beer, but the flavours are all nicely integrated.

Taste is smooth and light, with a clean green hop character treading the length of the palate, but not releasing a lot of bitterness. Some light grainy malt structure balances this nicely, although neither the hops nor the malt make a striking or exciting contribution. It's more just a well-rounded, smooth and pleasant brew.

Very drinkable, and my comments about the lack of mindblowing flavour shouldn't mask the fact that this is a very well made and enjoyable beer. A tasty drop that would be relatively sessionable, even for 6% ABV.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
XS Imperial Red
Reviewed by Jez on 19.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Small 7oz bottle, which I love. Perfect sampling size for one.

Pours a murky reddish-brown mahogany colour, with a fine head of beige. Almost frothed open when uncapped, and there was plenty of disturbed sediment, even leaving the last centimetre or so in the bottle. Nice heavy body. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is very malt-driven, with a big boozy alcohol presence as well. Caramel and port, with touches of brandy, raisins and butter, with only a slight herbal or grassy tone to suggest any hops. Oddly, it lacks a little roundness, as though it doesn't have the real sweetness of the characters, just their essence. Not bad, but not astonishing.

Taste is also very similar. Weak body that doesn't fill the palate, with just a whiff of overcooked toffee before a melange of booze and hop oil bitterness creeps in through the centre to the back. Shocked at the lack of body and sweetness—this feels unbalanced and empty even for what would be an insane hop-driven beer—it makes it feel stale, thin and rather insipid.

A big let-down from Rogue. I love American Reds and I love Rogue (mostly), but this dropped the ball on both counts from my expectations. It ends up being a pretty average beer, and it should be a lynchpin of their high-end range.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Grand Ridge Mirboo Madness
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 16.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a hearty ruby colour with nice off-white head - slight pinkish tinge from it probably due to refraction. Lacing is extremely nice, sticky trails around the edge, whispy cloud on top. Very nice.

Smell is very, very sweet. Mega-malt bomb with dried fruit - sultanas, dates and raisins. Rich, lightly toasty caramel abounds - could use more hopping to add zing; it just smells sweet and a bit heavy. But nice.

Taste has similar characters but less of them, really not as potent as the smell made out. Slightly watered-down English toffee malt upfront that doesn't really go anywhere. Richer, quite toasty grain notes re-emerge late-mid together with a fairly sour grist kind of character, slightly wet and dank. Feels surprisingly empty, and doesn't have a huge texture.

This appeared like a tasty beer but it was very much let down on the palate. Needs more body and hops to carry the flavour.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Grand Ridge Mirboo Madness
Reviewed by Jez on 15.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
One of my favourite styles of beers is American Red Ale. Let's see if the lowly, and seemingly once better Grand Ridge can do it justice with this one-off release.

Pours a decent reddish amber colour with an initially frothy if disintegrating head of off-white. This almost immediately transforms itself into film on the top and a little patching lacing, meaning it's a little underwhelming overall. Body looks pleasantly heavy. Not a bad look. It's certainly an acceptable look for the style.

Nose is quite boozy, surprisingly, with some rather pungent fusel characters coming off right from the get go. This mingles with a strong, malty character, not unlike a strong doppelbock or astringent barleywine. It's an aroma I associate with beers like Samichlaus—not something supposedly high on the hops, and only weighing in at 6% ABV.

Taste is a little better, as there's some clean bitterness, and not a lot of heat. Rather, there's a washed out mid-palate of light grain with a direct but rather generic bitterness through the centre. It's light enough, and it does something like the American Red Ales I know and love, but it's like a shadowy example; one that doesn't really know how it's meant to taste.

Not bad all up, but not an amazing brew either, and certainly not something I'd serve to someone to give them an example of a wonderful style.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Fat Cat Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a Hellish-red-tinged dark brown. Head is beige and uninspiring, really had to pour aggressively to promote any foam, and it just sits there on the top, looking bored. Murky haze in the glass, not much lace. Looks OK, but unimpressive.

Smell is very floral and hoppy. Sweet toffee underlying with a light toasted edge. Plenty of fruit, with raspberry, pink lady apples and blackcurrant. Some edge to it with mint and licorice backing up. Citric, slightly crisp at the back; intriguing and pleasant overall.

Taste is prevalently malty. Lots of English toffee notes, with some nutty edge - almond meal and some oated bread characters. There's a nice hoppy touch that comes through midway, mostly citrus with a slight herbal edge towards the back. Not a very bitter beer, the malt carries through to the finish and maintains a nice steady flow of flavour. In many ways this strikes me like an English pale ale, but the American hops are well utilised to create a good finishing balance and lift what could otherwise be fairly bland drinking to very enjoyable drinking.

Fairly smooth feel, light but not too thin. There's a slight rough edge on the tongue from the hops. Otherwise fine.

Pleasant, understated beer, very quaffable and nicely flavoured.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Premium Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
36 / 100
(Nasty)
Pours a shiny ruby colour, clear and bright. Head is beige, nice and dense. Disperses to form a nice cloud with some fingers of lace behind. Great colour, great everything.

Smells very malty and nutty, with actually a not towards funk at the back. Rich English toffee malt with walnuts/marzipan edge. Touch of sourness as well, fresh cut grass, lucerne and black tea. Intriguing and enjoyable.

Taste is...less successful, in many ways. Taste starts off malty with a touch of English toffee to it, and contrives to go rapidly downhill from there. Flavour disappears, in essence - bland, grainy mid-palate with maybe a herbal touch to it, then a watery and bread yeast finish that lets go too soon. With the colour, and even the odd aromas, I expected a lot more flavour than this. Uninspiring.

Thin feel, mostly. A bit of presence on the back but just a watered-down grain texture overall.

A disappointment. I really thought there was something here, until I tasted it.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Premium Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 09.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
21 / 100
(Awful)
Purchased in the US, at some Whole Foods store. Can't remember which. Probably Los Altos. Anyway. @LaitueGonflable is very pleased I bought it because he got to share it with me back in Australia.

Pours a reddish, very pale rose hue, like a very light bodied red wine. Head is fine but filmy, leaving big bubbles around the edge, and a mesh over the top. Not a lot of lacing, but it leaves speckles here and there. Not a bad look overall.

Nose is grainy and a bit lacklustre, with some organic rice characters that remind me of before-bedtime warmed sake. Certainly, there's a very Asian Rice Lager kind of character to it. And not a lot of hops. That's bad.

Taste is similar, with a coppery character, and a sweet thinness, giving a cloying sticky rice abasement that really crushes any good characters on the palate. There's metallic characters on the front, cloying and unpleasant sweetness on the back, with a hint of rotting odour. Urgh.

Feel is thin, but sticky enough to leave the unpleasantness around for too long.

Blech. I was willing to give this the benefit of the doubt, but the longer I drank it, the more unhappy I became. Perhaps @LaitueGonflable is not happy I brought this back for him. Maybe he would have been happier if it had stayed far, far away.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Santa's Private Reserve Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 16.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a red-tinged amber colour, big explosion of froth when I opened the bottle. Head is a nice beige colour, just a very thin crown of dense, clingy lace. Not bad.

Smell is very fruity and sweet. Quite tangy with citrus notes, some pineapple and dried apple. Touch of raising, cola and some sherbet as well. Nice complex sweetness with touches of tangy hops.

Taste is an intriguing one. Lots of sweetness upfront with zesty dried fruit - cranberry, raising and dried citrus peel on there. Then gets very dry midway while remaining sweet. Develops a toasty flavour on the malt, with lots of cocoa, a touch of pistachio and mild star anise (without the spice). It's largely just sweet overall but a nice roasty flavour at the end with a touch of hop oil that develops it into a darker, more wintry style brew. Still pretty simple but it's enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin with distinct carbonation sizzle. Doesn't spoil the beer, but there's nothing special or enjoyable about the texture.

A good beer and a nice wintry take on the style. Not amazing though; some decent flavours but doesn't form an exciting whole.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Fixed Gear
Reviewed by Jez on 12.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Pours a gorgeously coloured red-amber hue with a frothy, but not particularly persistent head of off-white. Lacing is decent and rather solid. Body is full and firm. Looks very nice indeed.

Nose is warm and full-bodied, with a relatively sweet malty tone cut through with a pleasant bite of citrussy hops. Hint of copper as well. From the depth in the sweetness to the classic hoppy characters, it appears canonically American.

Taste is smooth but relatively light. Grainy entry, spiked with a little lilting lemon hop character, before a faintly sweet, slightly carbonic mid-palate. Finish is dry, with a slight metallic twang and a hint of earthy yeast. Feel is smooth and pleasant, but the lightness is a little disappointing.

A decent brew with a good amount going for it. Drinkable, and stylistically pretty good. Certainly good enough to make me keep my eyes open for other Lakefront beers.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Censored
Reviewed by Jez on 02.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Always been intrigued by the label on this one (can't call things "Kronik" any longer?), but it only seemed to be in six-packs when i saw it, so picked up a single for reviewing purposes when I could.

Pours a coppery orange colour, burnished and clear, with a crackly head of white, that subsides rather quickly to little more than a film of white. Decently heavy body for a beer of relatively low gravity, some lacing when tilted. Looks pretty good.

Nose is light but slightly malty. Some brew-day sweetness noticeable, with just a hint of cracked grain. Minimal hops presence. Slight meatiness to it. It feels all quite rudimentary and rustic. Not bad, but not particularly inspiring.

Taste is similar. Sweetness on the palate with a hint of grainy bite on the back with a whack of carbonic acidity. Again, there's nary a whiff of the hops, and while the grain character is pleasant enough, it just doesn't do enough to make me want to drink more than a few sips.

Not a bad brew, just a relatively uninspiring one. Drinkable enough in its way, but lacking a lot of interest. I could drink it, but can I be bothered?

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Nectar
Reviewed by Jez on 01.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Red? Hardly. This is a coppery orange colour, without much depth of colour that I'd expect from a Red Ale. Still, it's bright and clear, and the head is finely created, sitting as a very tight white film on the top of the glass. Decent body. Not bad looking overall.

Nose is slight and sweet, with some subtle tropical aromas from the hops. A little bit of additional wholesome grain gives it a bit of depth beyond a hoppy pale ale or weak IPA. Nothing overly exciting, but not bad.

Taste is a little less exciting, to be honest. Here, there's a grainy main note that gives a wholemeal bread dryness throughout the length of the palate. Hops are noticeably absent, as is any hint of the sweetness on the nose. Perhaps, there's a slight uprise in bitterness on the mid to back, but it doesn't do much of a job on clearing out or complementing the grain.

Feel is pretty good actually, smooth and fluid with a balanced crispness.

Eh. Not a terribly exciting brew, nor a particularly well-crafted one, I feel. It's drinkable enough, but there are far better examples available surely everywhere that this one is available.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Phoenix
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 29.04.11 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a deep reddish colour with arrestingly beautiful head - yellowy beige, perfect finger-thick volume, craterous bubbles on top and sinking slowly to leave trails of sticky lace behind. Stunner.

Smells really very lovely, but with a sting in the tail. Lots of sweet caramel maltiness with some vanilla notes, maybe a hint of diacetyl but not enough to spoil. Nutty touch and maybe some light floral hops. Sting is a slight ethanoic intensity at the back which renders the sweetness a bit of ambiguity. Overall very nice though.

Taste is a malty malt-bomb from malt street. Sweet and pleasant, caramel burst on the front that develops really pleasant, complex sweetness on the mid, barley and toffee and brown sugar with a nutty edge. Has a brandy alcohol heat late-mid and lasting onto the back, which is a bit lacking in the taste department. There's nothing declarative on the finish, just a lot of residual sweetness and a fair booziness. Maybe a touch of woody hop as well. Very enjoyable palate, not too sweet and not too heavy for the most part, but enough of both.

Not quite as thick on the body as I might have expected and as such the booze is really noticeable on the back.

Yeah, maybe not that drinkable and a bit unpolished in places, but a very enjoyable and tasty beer.
appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Tall Poppy
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.03.11 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a murky Hellish red with beautifully dense, but thinnish, beige head. Retains really nicely and leaves some cracking dense lace. Looks yeah, uh... cracking.

Smells quite hoppy, really, but with a good toffee malt base. Plenty of burnt sugar and treacle and a great hop hit cutting through with strong citrus and pine notes and a touch of peppery spice. Slight brandy kick to it as well. Cracking bloody nose.

Taste is pretty nice; not quite up to the standard of the nose. Pleasant, almost grainy - but heavy - malt on the front. A touch of English toffee and brown sugar that then gets slightly citric but without a huge hop hit; touch of pine resin and oak and leaves with a nice fruit rind bitterness. Rounded out with a slight lemongrass and white pepper aftertaste, this is a pleasant beer, absolutely. Not quite cracking, though.

A bit thin at first but gathers viscosity towards the back. Still not enough; feels a bit lacking. Rather than cracking.

Overall it's quite a cracking beer though; complex and full-flavoured with a really nice spicy fruity edge to it. Good job.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Relief
Reviewed by Jez on 27.02.11 on tap
Overall:
50 / 100
(OK)
On-tap at the Local Taphouse for the Great Australian Beer SpecTapular.

Pours a standard orange-amber colour. Some haze in the body. Head is fine and white. Gives some great lacing. Looks decent enough, but it's certainly not red. Not a chance.

Minimal characters on the nose. Bready on the front with a bit of crushed grain. Minimal hops. Ends up very dry and weak.

Taste is light and dry, with some corn tortilla characters on the back. A little weak bitterness that doesn't assuage the water character that sits throughout. Slight nuttiness. Feel is light and thin.

A shame. A beer brewed for a good cause, but it was easily the worst beer at the festival. No Pacific Ale, this one, and each time I try a different Stone & Wood beer, I wonder if they just got lucky with that one.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Red Relief
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 24.02.11 on tap
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)
Pours a red-tinged dark amber with gorgeous dense, off-white head, sunk to form some fantastic thick, sticky lace. Pretty cracking drop.

Smells quite grainy. Not bad, fairly sweet, mild with a touch of caramel and a mild grassy note, but yeah, more hopping might be welcome for this particularly palate. A bit stiff and dull, actually. Not a lot here.

Taste is similar, which is a shame. Grainy mostly, with a barley and corny assault. Develops more rich, fermented notes toward the mid with a slight phenolic edge that lasts to the end. Lacking a finish here, with the only bitterness seeming to come from the yeast than anything else so it almost trails off after the mid. I find this a bit dull and uninspiring.

Full enough body for 4.7 but no real texture to speak of, so it's flat without being thin. I think this style would be better coming off a nitro-tap.

This really come across like a mildly fermented malt beverage and needs more beer character to pique my interest. Inoffensive, but I'm not a big fan.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Tall Poppy
Reviewed by Jez on 22.02.11 in bottle
Overall:
87 / 100
(Exceptional)
Purchased for me by @epiclurk and cracked open with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.

Genuinely gorgeous colour, a true deep ruby-hued red, almost like a deeply coloured rosé, with a full if large-bubbled head of beige foam. Some sticky lacing, and a really nice heavy body, which gives it a thickness and some sticky carbonation when swirled. Looks very nice indeed--a great look for a beer.

Nose is very heavily hopped, but with a sly subtlety to it, almost giving a twinge of aniseed and dry undergrowth. In some respects, it smells like a very freshly hopped beer that has got a little old, even though I know this bottle is fresh. Certainly some spicy richer characters; not just the prevalent sharp freshness of clean dry hopping. It's still very nice nonetheless.

Taste is--oh my god--just wonderful. Here, the slightly subdued hoppiness shows it full colours. Here, we have a brilliantly balanced beer. Here, we pull out all the stops to showcase the brilliance of the American Red Ale style (or as they prefer to call it an India Red Ale; an apt title). Lovely malt characters balance with the light fresh bitterness to give a subtle balance and a nutty finish that gives the classic hoppy red ale character. Just lovely.

Feel is just a little too thin--for a red ale, I'd really love some extra thickness, but it still does a good job.

A really, really lovely brew. A brilliant example of the style, and genuinely as good as some of the top American examples I've tried. Delicious.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Prime Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 21.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
50 / 100
(OK)

Had to be done at some point. I've tried the others from this "brewery" and have been unimpressed. Let's see what the only "ale" in their range can deliver, and see if I can't use some more ironically placed quotation marks.

Pours a coppery-red hue, with a filmy, but pretty consisted head of fine off-white bubbles. Lacing is pretty thick and decent. Body has decent clarity. Overall, it's not a bad looking beer.

Nose is surprisingly sweet, with a cloying caramel character and esters of banana. A very slight copper character comes through, but it's certainly not enough to cut through. It only mingles enough to give a faintly dark, slightly salty Vegemite aroma felt around the back. Eh.

Taste is also quite flat, leaving a husky grain character on the front and a weirdly roasted, slightly salty character on the back palate. Sweet cereals become pronounced the more you drink, which makes it an effort to finish. Feel is very flat and still, with a thinness that does nothing to help the simpering flavours.

No, this really doesn't do it for me. To be fair, it's better than "Fusion Brewing"'s other, extremely lacklustre beers, but it does not do nearly enough for me to stop dismissing them as a poor marketing gimmick. Sure, I didn't drink this to accompany a slab of steak, but nor do I think my enjoyment of the steak would be improved by this beer.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Fantapants
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.12.10 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Tried at Local Taphouse Ale Stars 07/12/10.

Pours a rich ruby red, with enormous off-white head; nice and dense, retaining very well but sinks slowly, leaving some quite phenomenal lace on there, tight and dense. Clear body; looks amazing.

Intense American and NZ hop character on the nose. Huge citrus with passionfruit seed, pine needle resin together with some caramel notes at the back. Largely just huge hoppy aroma, fruit and wood resin. It's nice, but I would like more complexity, it's just a wallop in the olfactory with hops and a bit unnuanced.

Taste is quite malty on the front - toffee with hints of pine needle coming through immediately after the first assault. Then a slight fusel alcohol burns through the mid-palate which is cut off nicely by the intense hop flavours -resiny and piney but with a spice to it and an asparagus vegetation edge to the bitterness. Nice flavours, but a bit short on the finish, like the intensity exhausts itself early.

Texture is a bit lacking; not as full as I would like. Texture is OK but I would like more gravity to the feel.

Yeah, a nice bitter beer but could have been better. It strikes me as a sort of Leeroy Jenkins brew; all power and needs more finesse.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Fantapants
Reviewed by Jez on 13.12.10 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

On tap as part of the Feral AleStars night at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.

Pours a deep and vibrant cherry-red/amber hue. Head varies between huge and frothy to filmy and soft. Light beige colour to it. Decent static carbonation when swirled. Good body, lovely colour. It's a great looking brew.

Nose is redolent with citric hops, with nuances of other tropical fruits, peach stone and a little pine. Bit of nuttiness as well, but not a lot. Decent enough.

Sharp and bitter on the palate, with the bitterness just opening up enough at the end to let that light nutty character come through. Sharp apricot notes and plenty of hop bitterness throughout. Unfortunately, that waft of nut is the only red character coming through. Not a lot of roasted character, burned toffee or the like. In the end, the palate is nice, but feels a bit mismatched. Feel is full enough.

This is a lovely style of beer, but this one is missing the point a little. The bitterness is pronounced as it should be, but it's not balanced and matched with malt or roasted notes as much as I feel a red ale should be.

There are better American examples out there, for example Bear Republic's Red Rocket, or Ninkasi's Believer. The fact that I'm comparing this beer to those beers though must mean it's doing something right.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
5 A.M. Saint
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.12.10 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours red amber colour, clear, but with a slight cloud. Head is beige, sinks to a modest crown with nice lace left behind. Looks pretty good.

Good American character on the nose, lots of nutty malt with marzipany bitterness and lots of pineapple and passionfruit from the hops. Fruity and bitter. Quite pleasant.

Taste is malty with lots of American hop, nutty on the front with fruity notes, lots of passionfruit and spicy bitterness. Some notes of oatmeal on the mid-palate and the first touches of a brown sugar flavour. But quite bitter on the back with that nelson sauvin-esque heat, quite an astringent bitterness. Nice spicy heat to balance it but slightly acerbic with a slight flaxy character. Decent flavours, just a bit unbalanced and hot in places.

Drinks with a good texture. Lots of carb but not over blown. Goes down pretty smooth.

Yeah, fairly tasty beer. Good hoppy finish makes for challenging, but rewarding drinking.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
2010 Reserve Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
52 / 100
(OK)
Pours an ominous red-tinged deep amber with a bit of cloudy haze. Head is off-white, quite nice when poured but doesn't have much fight against the evil forces of gravity. Quick bead keeps a small film alive but it's like trying to give CPR to a decapitated man. Not only is he not going to make it, there's nothing there to act upon. Lace, however, is nice and sticky, and overall doesn't look too shabby. For a headless corpse.

Smells quite sweet with a lot of grain character. Hints of dry-roasted barley and some nutmeggy spice that doesn't cover up that odd citric tartness that spells 'weak aroma'. Chocolatey note and almost cola coming off as well. Quite nutty, really, but light and without much earthy bitterness. Bit of a mish-mash and nothing truly great.

Taste is a similar kind of blend. Flavours kind of all hit at once, with not a lot of development in the palate. Sweet grain, rye bread and some cocoa notes on there, while hop notes follow shortly afterwards but don't make much of an impact. Slightly citric with passionfruit and kiwi on there as well. A light bready flavour pops up at the end, exposing the shortcomings of the hops. Yet the texture is oddly dry at the back; for the most part it's fairly thin with a lot of carbonation sizzle, and I think that's what's dessicating the palate here. But in spite of the confusion, this is not unpalatable, and the welcome bitter touches add a drinkability to an otherwise fairly bland affair.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.5
2010 Reserve Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 28.11.10 in bottle
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)

Pours a slightly dark orange, but certainly light for an amber amber. Head is filmy from the start, a faint but fine bubbled crown of white. Minimal lacing, no visible carbonation. Looks mediocre at best, and extremely disappointing at worst.

Nose has slight hints of nutty grain, and a whiff of carbonic acidity, otherwise the grain character becomes a bit muted and slightly rank. Bit of burlap sack to it, which is rather unpleasant. It's very light on though, so while it's not particularly exciting, it's not very offensive at least.

Taste is very thin indeed, very lightly sweet grain character on the front, with a reedy finish of husk and faint acidity. Very little on it, and the characters it does have are disappointingly weak. Feel is exceptionally lacklustre, a thin and uninspired body to match the minimal flavours.

Certainly not a very good beer, and far worse than their Pale Ale. The lack of body is atrocious for a beer they think will age well, and this beer makes me feel scornful of their whole claim to "vintage" beer. Very mediocre indeed.

appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0
5 A.M. Saint
Reviewed by Jez on 25.11.10 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

On-tap at the Local Taphouse, Sydney.

Pours a mean and lean bright red colour, touched with burnished amber. Head is like whipped orange cream. Minimal lacing and apparently no carbonation. Haziness in the body, could almost be mistaken for a fruit beer.

Nose is crazy with fruity hops, but with a strangely compelling underlying hint of chocolate. Together, it gives a sweet caramel character, or something akin to squashed overripe fruit. It fits the American style, but has that odd BrewDog twist to it.

Taste, however, gets oddly skewed between the two. There's not nearly enough hop bite to cut through the sweet chocolate and malty caramel character. Gives it a slightly mental peach twang, and a light butterscotch character, although I don't attribute it to diacetyl - just the oddly clanging mixture of hops and malt. Back is nutty with a hint of marzipan, feel is sparkling.

Decent, and reminiscent of the great west coast styles, although oddly skewed in a way that makes it both more interesting and less enjoyable. Very drinkable though, and I liked it well enough.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Believer
Reviewed by Jez on 31.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)

Pours an extremely thick and heavy dark amber brown colour. Not a lot of red to it, but the head is something of a phenomenon: a big and frothy crest of pale orange. Minimal lacing, but the head is pretty exciting at least. Looks good.

Nose is pleasantly blended between roasted malt and sharp west coast hops. Citrus is present in abundance, particularly grapefruit, with a light grassiness, but it's mellowed by a nutty and dark roasted grain character that also lends a slight sweetness. It's a good example of a red ale nose; deeper and darker than an IPA, but with the same resolute hoppiness.

Taste is pleasantly balanced again. Hops are sharp on the front, giving a slightly astringent bitterness, but this is backed up with a round and pleasant roasted nut and caramel character through the back, which gives some deeper and slightly darker characters. Very pleasant.

Feel is clear but smooth, and the hoppiness clears out the back nicely.

Yeah, this is a nice beer. Plenty of character, well balanced, true to style, very drinkable. I enjoyed it a lot, and I'll look forward to trying more beers from Ninkasi.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Frog Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 30.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a very deep amber colour, probably with hints of red to it, but it's subtle. Head is extremely foamy and rocky, it's solid enough that it forms pits and mounds on the top of the beer. I almost want to post a photo of it with my review; it's quite unique. Lacing is minimal, but clumpy. There's not a lot of it hanging around, but it leaves extreme stickiness when it is there. Pretty decent look.

Unfortunately not a lot on the nose. Some malty grain, quite a wholesome character, but missing something. Some fresh hoppiness, but not a lot. A little seltzer water, and a subtle twang of acidity. Not that bad, but not that great either.

Taste is similar. Big notes of roasted grain, with minimal hop character, and a slightly odd cherry pip acridity through the centre. Finish is dry and empty, with just more soda acidity, and a light capsicum flavour - not the spice however. Something to the pleasant grain notes, but it feels like it's off kilter from the style. Mouthfeel is smooth enough, but the carbonation is a little too pronounced and it ends up rather bloating.

Not bad, but not that exciting either. Becomes a little tiresome to drink more than a little of, especially with the overt carbonation. But it's pleasant enough, and has some nice characters. Just doesn't live up to my expectations for the style.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Deadicated Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 29.10.10 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)

On tap at Zibibbo, Palo Alto.

Pours a lovely deep, dark copper colour, with twinges of red. Head is fine, poured a little low, but it has good retention. Very still in the glass, but looks solid. Sudsy lacing. Looks nice.

Pleasant nut characters on the nose. A little roasted malt sweetness, almost caramelised on the palate. Flavours of toffeed almonds. Some hoppiness wafting around to cut through the sweet flavours a little. Very nice.

Taste is very similar. More nuttiness, sweet candied almonds in particular. Hint of seltzer bottle water coming through on the back which adds some refreshment and lightness that wasn't suggested on the palate. Bit of bitterness on the back. Pleasant and reasonably crisp finish. Unusual, but pleasant for an amber. Mouthfeel smooth on the start, but crisp on the finish.

Yeah, this is a very nice beer. It's a good example of why an amber ale and a red ale are different styles to my mind. This one is nuttier, and maltier, while still retaining a subtle American hop bite. Very pleasant - this is something I could drink all night.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a lovely red tinged deep amber, with a full and forthy head of yellow-white bubbles. Lacing is excellent and consistent right down through the glass. Looks very sticky and thick, and very tasty. I love a good looking Red Ale, and this is one. Could be more truly red, but it's pretty good.

Nose is a little thin. Little sweetness and a bit of reedy piney hop fragrance. A touch of grapefruit. Not a lot on the nose overall though.

Taste is better. Pleasant sweetness with a nice bite of hops through the centre. Finish is pleasantly malty, with just enough remaining hop oil to cleanse the palate. Buttery feel, very pleasant. Perhaps a slightly sweeter palate than perfect for my ultimate American red, but it delineates it nicely from a darker IPA.

Very nice beer, although lacking in some key areas. Well, whatever. I'm happy to drink it. I'm still waiting for an Australian brewery to get this style right.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Fat Tire Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)

Clear light amber colour, with a very solid head of pale off-white. Good lacing. Bit clear, but the head is great. I don't know why, but it looks quintessentially "beery" to me. Quite tasty looking.

Bit of toasted grain on the nose, and a touch of yeasty bread dough. Some subtle hops, but not really robust; more like a faint lemony zing. OK though.

Smooth palate with a crisp English Ale maltiness, giving a nutty character. Bit of light bitterness on the finish. Light, but smooth on the feel at least.

A good general drinking beer, and one that's easy to session. Went decently well with Wing Stop wings.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.07.10 in bottle
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
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.
appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Shark Attack Double Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 23.05.10 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)

Opens with a fizzle belying what will pour to be a massively frothy-headed beast. Wonderful deep and vibrant red-brown colour, with a very fine-bubbled head of almost orange-sherbet-coloured foam. Lots of tiny streaming carbonation, but it's clear that it's having some difficulty pushing through the thick body. Really, colour, body, head this beer has the complete package - an absolutely divine brew to look at.

Nose is redolent with sweet and robust hop fragrance, almost tropical fruits with an underlying dose of dusty grain. It's an odd juxtaposition of fresh and luscious hops with musty cellar floor. Very pleasant all up though. A very nice nose indeed.

Taste is somewhat more one-dimensional - largely consisting of a sharp and vibrant, if somewhat overwhelming hop bitterness through the centre of the palate. Some fusel presence on the back adds a bit of heat, and at least another element which mingles with the bitterness, but it's missing some of the promised body to back it up. It feels very dry on the finish, and the hop oil residue is really pronounced, leaving it exhausting on the palate.

Overall, this was missing something. Although it does present some raw and unabashed aggressive hop character, to my mind this needs to be balanced with something, and it was missing from the flavour.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Sesquicentennial Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.03.10 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
22oz bomber (I think?) bought from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a reddish-brown colour with fairly thick haze throughout - very decent head, ochre in colour and quite dense. Decent retention with some really delightful lacing. Fair carbonation as well, yeah everything here is decent.

Nose is very malty and hoppy, really nice aromas coming off that. A lot of west coast hoppiness and a large amount of sweet toffeed barley, with some nice spicy notes being given off by the hops as well. Overall, standard really, lots of malt and hops but still, nicely handled.

Taste is predominantly malty, a lot of rich, earthy tones with toffee, molasses and soil. Some hops come through late, with a bit of a woody bitter tone at the end. Slight citric character on the bitterness, but not aggressive as in Old Crustacean, for example. Look this is quite a standard beer, lots of malt, slight hoppiness, but it's really well-handled and balanced superbly.

Foamy and fairly well-textured, quite creamy but with a bit of roughness from the hops. Not ideal but certainly manageable.

This is an extremely drinkable, sessionable beer. The balance is brilliant and I could just quaff this all night.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Sesquicentennial Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.03.10 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a cloudy reddish amber colour - deep and heavy looking with a robust frothy head of yellow-white. Good lacing. Looks a bit murky, otherwise very fine indeed.

Nose is a deliciously full blown West Coast hop aroma, lots of citrus, tropical fruits and pine. Sharp but resonant, full of juicy hop flavours. Very robust and full-bodied. I love it.

Taste is slightly disappointing, but only slightly. It lacks some fruit sweetness - lacks some of the big IPA characters. It has a slight crystallised sugar character on the back, and a thin bitterness following it up. Bitterness is muted, but it's also somewhat isolated, given the rather void sweetness. So it stays balanced, but also a bit empty. Not bad though. Mouthfeel is thick, with low carbonation.

It's a very nice beer, and for its somewhat empty palate it's more drinkable. Very clean, crisp and very enjoyable.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Maiden Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 24.12.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a darkish golden colour, amber is probably stretching it a little, with a filmy but persistent head of white suds. Not much lacing, but it's not too bad. Looks a bit static in the glass, but I do like the fine bubbling in what counts as the head. Not bad.

Very light, and not particularly pungent nose, although pleasant fruity hints of sweet orange and dried apricots come through, along with a smooth buttery sweetness. Really, not much to it though.

Taste is smooth and pleasant, with a nice bite of hops through the centre of the palate. Otherwise very clean around the edges, with some buttery malt notes providing a base. Finish is not particularly dry, with a slight lingering sweetness balanced by a slight metallic zing. It's not a huge palate, but it's very well balanced and really refreshing - certainly nothing off or unwelcome. Mouthfeel is balanced nicely between smoothness and spritzy carbonation.

Yeah, this is a very nice beer. It's not huge, but it's well-made and it's very drinkable. By the end of the glass, I was won over.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
American Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.12.09 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)

On tap at Sydney's Local Taphouse.

Really lovely red-orange colour, slightly cloudy, with a filmy but solid head off off-white fine-bubbled foam. Excellent lacing. Body a little thin, but otherwise awesome. A great looking beer.

A little smoke on the nose, quite a meaty, pan-juices aroma - it's also hard to dispel the image of dog-biscuits. Quite sweet after a while, not very hoppy. Full of malt and biscuit sweetness. Not a huge nose, but nice enough.

Taste is very similar. Subdued malt sweetness and a light copper bitterness on the back. Quite smooth, almost milky at the start, before the more rugged characters of the malt-grain and metallic bite kick in on the back. Mouthfeel is smooth but a little thin.

Very drinkable and quite enjoyable. Smooth, rich and flavoursome without being overwhelming. Nice.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
American Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.12.09 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a slightly murky red colour with a brown tinge, nice ruby aspect. Head is off-white, good retention, medium density. Lace is nice, thick and sticky. Looks like a fine beer.

Nose is very malty with a light toffee aroma and a cakey malt touch. Slight mustiness from hops at the back, with a light floral edge. But mostly caramel and sweet; not overpoweringly so. Nice.

Taste also quite malty. Lots of caramel and butterscotch - a little diacetyl-esque but I don't think it is, it's just a particular malt character. Tastes like cake mix or cookie dough with buttery sweet flavours and a vanilla edge. At least at the front. Coming up behind is a refreshing wave of bitterness, one that verges on the phenolic, which is a bit much after such sweetness. A bit of a milder hoppiness would really hit the spot. Earthy with an acerbic battery acid character and a mediciney touch. Tempers the sweetness but leaves a little too much bandaid. Nice, but a bit too much of sweet and bitter.

A bit wet on the mouthfeel, watery rather. A bit of body as it goes down but not enough. OK for the flavour but lacking.

Not bad overall, could have been better.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Duck Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.12.09 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a nice burnished copper colour, blood orange really, with voluminous cream head, sinks slowly all webbed out leaving nice trails of lace behind. Steady bead in the brew. Looks really good, and ideal for the style. Only fault is the lack of head retention.

Nose is a decent amber ale smell, fair amount of malt with a slightly tart edge, slightly vinous and with a mild spice aroma, hints of nutmeg and clove, some light caramel notes. Good indeed.

Taste is fairly malty - distinct aspects of Vienna malt, with some earthy acerbic hop characters. They come in midway, slightly overpowering the pleasant burnt toffee character which hides behind. Bit of champagne on the front and a bit of soil on the back. Not too bad, but not an exciting explosion of flavour. Not as much malt as promised by the nose, really. A bit plain, but not bad.

Mouthfeel is good and full, nice texture, leaves a little dryer than I would like.

Goes down pretty nicely, just a bit too astringent to be immensely enjoyed.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Cascade Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 24.11.09 on tap
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)

On tap at the Mountain View location.

Pours a very clear amber colour, quite light, and thin in the body. Again, there's no head to it, but they fill the glass right to the top so it's perhaps an intentional thing. Looks pretty tame overall.

Nose is pretty weak. A little sweet grain, and a dash of honey. Jenny says strawberry jam, and I can maybe believe it. There's certainly sweetness to it. Very little hop character.

Taste is also pretty weak, but on the palate it comes across as slightly more clean and refreshing. Certainly not a lot to recommend it in terms of flavour, but it's smooth enough, and the mouthfeel is crisp.

Not impressive, but pretty drinkable. I've had far better Amber ales, including some pretty mainstream examples in Australia, but it's not bad. Just pretty lame for such a niche market.

appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Razorback
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a healthy rich ruby hue with furiously strong carbonation and a good froth when poured. Beige head is healthily dense and sticks around like a good bit of head should. Lacing is very decent, as is this beer's overall demeanour.

Nose is very English, with a very deep, pungent malt bomb aroma, slightly roasted with a lot of toffee character as well as bready grain, cocoa and a slight hoppiness, which is mostly floral although yeah, it's overwhelmbed by the malt. It is a bit one-note, but pleasant, and I do quite like a malty beer.

Taste is also incredibly malty. Flavour is sweet and dense with a deep, lightly toasted grain character, a pleasant nutty edge with hints of cashew and marzipan. A fair toffee character as well, all in all it's a hell of a malty beer. But he'll never know. At 4.8% this was presumably put on a short boil and as a result, hops are conspicuously lacking, although there is a light bitterness on the very finish, that lingers rather than hitting you. It's okay though, as it obviously isn't meant to be very hoppy.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, not so syrupy but a heavy load to carry. A very pleasant drop, although it has to be said, the palate is slightly short and it's really simple with an extreme maltiness being really the only flavour. It's not overpoweringly sweet though, so it's drinkable. A bit more hopping on the boil would perk it up quite a lot; just needs a bit more of an edge.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
St. Rogue Red
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.09 on tap
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)

On tap at Sydney's Local Taphouse US Beer SpecTapular.

Beautiful brownish red the color of strawberry jam. Beautiful, slightly cloudy, and just great. Excellent lacing. Luminescent and amazing. I'm a fan. Colour is outstanding.

Really lovely American hop nose, fresh and pleasant, lots of amarillo and cascade. Redolent with the really wonderful American characters. I love it.

Lots of bitter-to-sour characters on the palate, very smooth, but with masses of delicious in-your-face American hop bitterness. It's not terribly complex, but it's tasty as hell. Clean and so American - I cannot express how much I love that character in my beer.

Drinkabkle and delectable. I really like this beer; a really good American hopped ale. It was a perfect way to end my evening of American beery goodness.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
St. Rogue Red
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.07.09 on tap
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours very red, with a brown tinge, very hazy appearance. Head is deliciously beige and pretty thick, dissipates to a thin rim over the top. Pretty nice, excellent head and excellent lacing.

Nose is quite barleywine-esque, with a strong malt character and lots of burnt toffee. Hints of a herbal, coriander hop aroma, slightly citric and herbal, very nice actually. Very sweet, very herbal. Good barley smell.

Taste is sweet and toffee-esque, with a brash herbal hop flavour, a lot of toffee, and a big bitter finish. Has aspects of capsicum and tomato, and a good tropical hop hit with passionfruit/pineapple and a slight piney flavour. A bit of a mishmash, somewhat sweet but very bitter, doesn't blend as well as your average IPA might. Mouthfeel quite thick, maybe even too thick for such a bitter brew.

Overall a decent, drinkable brew, just a little imbalanced.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Rocket Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 03.06.09 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)

Pours an excellent deep red hue with an insanely creamy head of beige foam. Lacing sticks to the glass like honeycomb; thick and heavy and chunky. The retention on the head is amazing too, staying solid and sticky all the way down. An amazing looking beer.

Very nice balance of hops and malt on the nose. Some nice citrus pine notes with a sweet treacle toffee character underneath. The hops are certainly the more dominant part, but the richness and body of the malt adds some gravitas to the brew.

Great dark sweet notes on the front palate, which are leavened by sublimating hop vapours, and a residual bitter character on the back. Nice roasted caramel notes, with a prickly resin backbone. The body is surprisingly light, given the big flavour profile and the rich malt notes. But it works well, again adding a leavening note on the palate.

They say this is a barstardised style of beer. They're probably right. But it works very well, with big characters from a surprisingly low ABV. It's exciting and rewarding, but still smooth and drinkable.

Keep barstardising, Bear Republic!

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Storm Cloudy Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 01.06.09 in bottle
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
So far so good, slightly cloudy. Translucent appearance. Colour is yellowish, and carbonation is full and eager. Head is of a modest thickness and settles in the middle, leaving a thick lacing crown around the edge. Looks like a pretty decent ale.

Nose is pleasant. Quite APA, with a fair light hop hit generating a decent tropical fruit aroma, with passionfruit, pineapple and pawpaw coming to mind. Not quite as blossomingly fragrant as your LCPA; hops are a bit subdued, but nice all the same.

Tastes considerably more tart, with the hops releasing their acids without generating a huge amount of bright or floral characters on the palate. Front is slightly herbal, while the majority is quite tart, almost puckering, with a citric quality and a fizzy mouthfeel that gives this a consistency reminiscent of pub lemon squash. I think ultimately it's the result of a lot of only one type of hop (amarillo, according to the label), with a base grain that's underemployed, so the hop is dominant yet simple.

It's like a huge, muscular warrior trying to use a huge heavy club to pound a quick, furtive samurai-trained opponent. That is, if you're willing to cast my palate as the quick, nimble opponent who's ready for anything in this horribly tortured analogy.

It just seems a laboured effort, and the palate is too weak to carry it all. Body is thin and uninviting. Overall, a bit bland and too astringent to be hugely enjoyable. Worth a try but not a repeat.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.05.09 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a nice red-amber colour with a good two fingers of frothy yellowish foam. Lacing is great, some dissipation of the head. But this looks pretty damn tasty, I have to say.

Very strong Amarillo nose, which I guess is to be expected - lots of resin, crushed vegetation and a lilting citrus character all combined with strong green peppercorn notes. It's good for it's power - not hugely complex, but very decent.

Nice hop characters on the palate, sticky resin, sharp and strong. Not a huge amount of malt though; or at least, the malt is largely overpowered. Light tartness on the back, not a huge amount of residual fading bitterness. Mouthfeel is a little flat too, could use a little more lift.

Apart from the slightly darker colour, this could easily pass as an IPA. Surprisingly, considering its classification, this seems unbalanced towards hops, and the malt base that the top IPAs is missing here. Still, it's very drinkable for all that, and I could easily go for a second.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Victoria Bitter Original Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.05.09 in bottle
Overall:
38 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a brown-yellowish colour with no carbonation but a viscous beige head leaving some good, sticky lacing. The liquid wobbles in the glass. Not bad, really.

A hint of gritty herbs and maybe some soiled vegetation on the nose, but man, I had to plunge my nose into the glass, tilt the liquid up and snort to get any sort of aroma from this. What a non-event smell. Bad.

Taste is not too bad. Deep and rich flavour with fair amount of hops. Very malty, actually, too much even. Slight hint of unpleasant syrupy sweetness on the mid-palate, but it's slight enough. Overall it's quite rich-flavoured, but not in a pleasant, impressive way. Just thick without any complexity on the palate. Mouthfeel is not very pleasant, sticky and cloying.

Aside from all that though I'm astonished to say it's inoffensive enough to be drinkable.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Highwayman Thrice Hopped Red Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 27.03.09 on tap
Overall:
31 / 100
(Nasty)
Pours a deep red, almost purple in colour. A bit of head, but not much. Lacing is fan-fuckoff-tastic.

Nose is very malty with a very prominent diacetyl character. Very malty, but very simple, and not very good.

Diacetyl again on the palate, with a slight hoppy character on the back palate, and a slight nutty finish - I'm not sure where that's from. The fact that I don't know what it's from is the best part of it because the aspects of this beer come crashing out like a badly-timed cymbal strike in the middle of a symphony. This is a mess of a beer, to put it frankly. It's clearly been fermented too high, creating a strong over-sweet butterscotch flavour, and then an unbalanced hoppy hit at the back that comes across as unnecessary, because it's too little, too late.

Mouthfeel is a high point, very smooth and quite full. This is too sweet to be quaffed as a session beer, yet too bitter to be savoured and enjoyed as a sweeter option. This is badly balanced, and badly brewed. A disappointment from Squire.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 2.0
Red Emperor Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.01.09 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
Pours a very browney ambery colour, in fact it's exactly the hue I would call 'amber', perhaps with a slightly reddish tinge - this is presumably why the name, and for some reason I had thought after the first one I had that this was a red ale, but I guess I was wrong. No head, although there is a steady carbonation running up the middle, just not feeding into any foam at the top. A bit flat, but otherwise everything's in the right place.

Pleasant fruity smell with a slight hint of brown sugar permeating on the nose. Fair hint of hops as well and quite well rounded, with a good balance between the sweet and the bitter. My nose is a bit congested though, so allow for a certain margin of error. It smells quite good though, bodes well for the taste.

Taste is a little bit weak, although the same characters that attracted me to the nose are there. I think the main problem lies with the mouthfeel, which is very thin and watery. Front palate has a slight sugar 'n' spice feather touch but it doesn't last long, the mid palate introduces hops which stay to the end, but not in any bold and imposing way. It's a fairly well constructed palate, the flavours are there and in the right sort of order, but overall the whole thing is a bit thin; the flavours don't stretch the imagination, and the finish is bitter but bland. Maybe it's my months of drinking every IPA I can lay my hands on, but this seems like it's trying to have a bitter finish, but not quite making it.

Really though I just can't get past that dismal mouthfeel. There's just no body to this beer, it's like malt and hops were dissolved slowly into water. The characters would be more impressive if there were a foundation on which to stand, but they're falling through the cracks. Drinkable of course, but disappointing.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Fat Tire Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.09.08 on tap
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a clear brown-amber colour with a pretty decent head of off white bubbles. Minimal carbonation, but excellent lacing.

Quite roasted aromas on the nose, hints of sourness, leather, a bit of copper. Certainly not a lot of hop freshness - this is just a decent malty beer.

Taste is also quite roasted, with rich malt characters, a little butter and biscuit. A little sourness again, and a vague hint of copper. That being said, it's rather flat, until the very end when there's a vague hop-pellet aftertaste. It's not the greatest note to finish on, but it's something different at least. Mouthfeel is quite nice, but a bit thin.

It's a drinkable enough beer. It's quite pleasant, it doesn't have any really noticeable flaws. But it doesn't excite me at all. And in the end I found that a bit disappointing.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Victoria Bitter Original Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 19.04.08 in bottle
Overall:
34 / 100
(Nasty)

Someone gave me this one as a blind tasting, and while my review isn't glowing, I was heartily surprised at it when it was revealed. Anyway...

Pours a slightly golden yellow colour, with a rocky off-white head. Minimum carbonation. It looks alright, but not amazing.

Subtle, slight vegetative aromas on the nose. Quite light, but not bad, although a bit bland.

It's very light on the palate too, and I'm starting to think "boring" might be a better description. I don't know if it's this bottle, or what, but it's also flat. Mouthfeel is appalling - it's like water.

Very short palate, not a lot of character, and not great. True, it's just dull, but boy was I surprised when I discovered what it was. Surprisingly drinkable beer from the Carlton stock.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 1.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Storm Cloudy Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 04.11.06 in bottle
Overall:
49 / 100
(Not Great)

After trying (and disliking) two of the other beers brewed by this brewery, I felt slightly masochistic going in for another - fortunately, this WAS better than the Mallee Bull and the Murray Honey Wheat.

Pours cloudy (at least that's right) orange-golden golour. Good solid head, fine carbonation. Pretty good look to it, to be honest.

Pungent butterscotch nose with a int of citrus. The two don't mesh though, so it ends up smelling like a butter menthol cough lolly. It's not altogether bad, but the major elements just to work together, and it ends up being overpowering and sickening after a while.

The taste is better though, although that's probably not too difficult. Slight citrussy fruit palate, but it has a very long clinging aftertaste, which recalls the sticky slightly-off butterscotch of the nose. Not great, but it has some character to it at least, More than can be said for the other two brews of theirs I've had.

Mouthfeel smooth a suitable for the style.

Overall, it's the best Mildura Brewery beer I've had, but it's not up against much competition.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0