77 / 100
Variant on Little Rivers' (excellent) Dark Lager, brewed with red licorice for GABS 2017. Tried in a sampler at the festival.
Pours a brown colour, mild haze. Head is cream-coloured, large bubbles, retaining OK. Not bad; standard for the style and the head is nothing special.
Smells like red licorice. Tangy, a little spicy and predominantly sweet. Notes of chestnut and cereal grain, some caramel to the malt as well. Maybe a bit medicinal, but I personally like it a lot.
Taste is similar. Vanilla and caramel malts upfront with a nice hint of roastiness that goes well with the notes of red licorice that come through - tangy, spicy but quite sweet, with a hint of cherry that borders on medicinal. But as a lager it's nice and clean on the back so it doesn't get too bogged down, just provides lots of sweetness and then clips it all off to make it moreish. Impressive; I like it.
Decent body for the style; fairly thin but not without presence in the mouth. Not bad at all.
Yeah, I like that. Sweet candy, but nicely balanced and ultimately clean.
After retrying, this ended up my #9 beer of the festival.
77 / 100
Bottle given to me by Father Fletcher for Christmas 2016. Would have been enjoyed in front of the Boxing Day test if it weren't raining in Melbourne.
Pours a dark, murky reddish brown colour. Clear so it shows some light through. Head is off-white, nice and dense, thin rim when poured, just an edge of bubbly lace around the edge left. Looks perfectly fine.
Smells really pleasant, although I'm not sure it's really what I expect from the style. Nice roasty character, but largely sweet with a dark chocolate note and a fair whack of vanilla bean. Slight coffee roast edge, but yeah it's really quite pleasantly sweet; somehow a bit too much for the style and I'd like a bit more bitterness lingering. Still, here's hoping for the palate.
Taste delivers a lot better, actually. Has that dark, roasty edge from the get-go, but pulls back particularly on the sweetness, with just a faint caramel malt note underlying the mid-to-back. Slight roasty bitterness returns towards the finish, with subtle chocolate undertones and a hint of raisin, then cleans off in a nice crisp lagery way. Faint whisper of bittersweet chocolate lingers on the back and a little dry spice as well. Really quite a pleasant drop.
Mouthfeel is as you'd expect from the style; light, quite thin really and somewhat prickly from the carbonation as a result. Feels a little insubstantial just based on some of the flavours.
Drinks really well; pleasant blend of bitter and sweet flavours that's well balanced and well cleansed. It's not a style that we get a lot of in Australia, but if we could get more like this I'm definitely all for it.
41 / 100
Pours a quite pale mahogany colour, not nearly as dark as I expected, clear body as well which doesn't help. Nice foamy head, off-white with some lacing left behind.
Smells a little bit roasty with a twist of berry. Bit of tang and maybe a touch of spice, but not much. Just lightly toasty brown ale-style notes.
Taste is malty upfront, with a bit of rye spice and lots of caramel toffee, then the berry note comes through on the back - more just a slight kiss of tartness than any distinct juniper note. Bit weak, and quite disappointing.
Body is decent, feels OK as it goes down.
A disappointing drop. Juniper works very well in beer and I feel they've been far too conservative with this. I know it's an expensive ingredient but just go nuts!
A "dark lager brewed with Juniper berries", and hopped with Nelson Sauvin. Brewed for the GABS festival in Melbourne, which is where I had it.
Pours a faint and rather clear brown colour with a very light body. Head is a firm ring of off-white that leaves some sheeting lacing. Interestingly, there's almost no carbonation visible.
Nose is dull. Faint roasty malt, perhaps a touch of bread, and some sweetness. But no juniper at all, no Nelson Sauvin, and in fact, very little else to give any interest whatsoever. It's not bad: it's just dull.
Light entry on the palate: some dark malt, but both rounded and clipped. There's a slight upturn on the mid-palate (but only slight, mind you), with a slight medicinal character (perhaps from the NS), and just a suggestion of juniper. The back falls out, with a thin sugar water character emptying to nothingness.
Feel is very light indeed.
It's drinkable enough, but exceedingly dull. This really should have been much more interesting: and I was hoping for something unique. It was a shame.
Pours a dark brown with red tinge, great-looking beige head. Retaining nicely; leaves some beautiful lace behind. Looks a treat.
Malty, grainy on the nose. Some dark fruit, chocolate, carob and a touch of cinnamon. Pretty decent but standard.
Grainy on the palate, with a cocoa puffs kind of character. Some dark fruit late-mid: plums and sultanas on there. A slight charry note and some nutmeg late. Not bad, but thin. Needs more body and more oomph on the palate. Tastes slightly underattenuated and/or watered-down.
Pours a dark burgundy colour, vivid scarlet up to the light. Head is creamy beige, not retaining well, just a mist on the top now, with decent lacing around the edges. Nice colour; would like a bit more head.
Smells quite malty. Dark, though, and sweet, with hints of chocolate, molasses, peanut butter and red grape skins. Hint of diacetyl at the back; I think if the aroma had more toastiness it might cover it. It's overall still quite toasty, but there's this stale sweetness that creeps in and makes itself uncomfortably at home.
Taste starts well, with a light toastiness that begins us in friendly territory. Develops nice earthy malt notes midway, with a touch of wood as well. Some spice and berries on the back, maybe blackberry, cinnamon and a hint of peanut to finish off. Yeah, nice light roastiness, bit of spice to keep the complexity up. Overall there's not quite enough to cover the slight over-sweetness, but it's decent enough, with a nice earthy finish that's cleansed by the lager yeast.
Fluid, but a bit of presence on the tongue. Mostly smooth. Very nice feel actually.
Thinking about similar styles on the Aussie market, I think the closest comparison to this beer would be Burleigh's Black Giraffe, and this holds its own compared with it. This is sweeter, and a little less 'exciting' in flavour, but nevertheless a smooth and palatable dark lager, and a pretty good gateway to dark beers.
87 / 100
Purchased from Ledgers Liquor's in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a deep brown hue, that takes on a tone of ruby when held to the light. Head is a fine off-white, that persists rather well. Body is solid, but promotes almost no lacing in the head, despite the fact that the head retains so well. Fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is nutty and mild, with slight roast overtones and an oddly pleasing sweetness. Slight mineral overtones come through, lending a touch of iodine or chlorine, but it's not unpleasantâin fact in the true culinary sense, the salty twang brings out, complements and accentuates the roast, the sweetness and the other characters in the aroma. It's very pleasant indeed.
Taste is also very good. Smooth, clear, but juicily toned entry leads to some rich malty sweetness marked by an overtone of roast. Slight charring characters on the back suggest gunpowder and match heads. The really smooth feel helps sensualise everything else: leaving it captivating and clear.
All up: really lovely stuff. In no way comparable to the generic Euro Darks which share its classification. In fact, this has the complexity and style of the better doppelbocks (if perhaps losing something of the booze and sweetness). Don't let the classification put you off: this is very good indeed.
73 / 100
Bottle purchased for me by @epiclurk from Beer Cartel in Artarmon.
Pours a pleasant deep bed colour, perfectly clear, and certainly dark when not held to the light. Head is large-bubbled and rather insubstantial. Decent lacing around the edge of the glass. Some heft to the body, and very moderated carbonation. Looks decent.
Nose is pleasantly balanced, with a surprisingly fresh hop character I wasn't expecting. This mingles with some fragrant European style malts to give a surprisingly uplifting aroma. Really quite nice.
Taste is also pleasantly balanced. Dark malts give some gravity and sweetness, which pings off a slightly fruity basis with some estery hops coming in late. Smooth toffee flavours come through mid-palate, but never add too much weight or sweetness. Slight metallic character is a bit of a distraction, but otherwise very pleasant.
It's mild, but it has some hidden interest and complexity I wasn't expecting. Certainly the best of the stable I've had so far.
62 / 100
Pours a dark ruby colour, not quite black though with plenty of colour. Head is beige, sparse bubbling but decent crown retaining. Looks nice.
Smells largely dark. Not an unpleasant dark but it has more of a Munich dunkel aroma with not a lot of pils. Notes of chocolate grain, cocoa nibs and some brown bread. All quite pleasant, but it's all grain and lacking some hops.
Taste starts out grainy; some dark rye bread that develops into earthy chocolatey notes with some spice characters - licorice and a touch of leather. Hops come through on the back as a subtle cleansing/bittering note, and minimal drying from the yeast. Still feels very malty overall and to my mind could use a bit more of a hop punch and a lighter, crisper palate.
Feels a little like a lager in that it's moist and light in the mouth, but goes down heavily and more like an ale.
If this didn't look so fluid, I'd have sworn I was drinking a porter. It's actually a very nice beer, but it kind of doesn't check a lot of the pilsner boxes for me. I feel like it's more of an experiment, and yet if the hops and lagery notes were more emphatic it might not be as overall pleasant. So I'm a bit conflicted, really.
Pours dark and quite opaque, a deep black-brown colour, although the head is incredibly lacklustre. It's not even a film, just a collar of rather overtly large bubbles. Oily residue on the top. Very light body. It's very unassuming.
Nose is very thin as well, slight dark grain note, faint adjunct character, with an earthy character than genuinely reminds me of soil. Slightly sweet, very faint. Not a huge amount on it.
Taste is similar. Slight caramel sweetness, bit of corn syrup and a very faint burnt crisp character on the back. Feel is abominably thin, and lends nothing to the otherwise bland palate.
Very thin, and really not worthy of a lot of discussion. It's bland, thin and really quite unexciting.
45 / 100
Tried out of a bottle at Auckland Airport. That's mostly for my benefit when I read this review in the future, it has no bearing on the review.
Pours quite a lusciously thick deep red colour. Surprisingly goopy in the glass for a beer that's only 4% ABV. No head whatsoever, unfortunately, even with a reasonably vigorous pour. There is, perhaps a slight accumulation of bubbles around the edges that get released when it's swirled. Not bad all up, I'm quite impressed with the body, in any case, and the colour is very pleasant.
Minimal character on the nose. A bit of grainy sweetness, but very little else. Indeed, it reminds me of other Speight's beers I've had, although whether I'd say that if I were tasting it blind, who's to say. Not a lot to it, in any case.
Taste is similar. Slight honeyed grain character that lingers throughout, and dries out to a husky cardboard note on the finish. Feel is smooth, thanks somewhat to the body and somewhat to the very low carbonation levels. Not a lot to it, but it's inoffensive at least.
Not the best beer I've ever had. I think that's certainly a safe thing to say. It's mild and inoffensive, perhaps a little too sweet after a while, but otherwise pretty forgettable.
Tried at the brewery in Prague.
Dark mahogany-black body with a pancake bubbled crema head. Excellent retention and lacing. This is a bold, robust looking beer.
Sweet roasted coffee nose with hints of dark chocolate and brandy on the nose. Overall the heavily sugared coffee wins out though. Not bad.
Decent coffee roasted flavour, still rather sweet with a chocolatey backbone to it. Not so much toffee sweetness, which would make it sublime, but very pleasant all the same.
Mouthfeel a little limp, could use some smoothness.
Very drinkable dark lager, quite pleasant.
8 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
Beer from a can - how bogan of me.
Pours a standard, slightly pale golden with nice dense white head, medium thickness, disperses a bit leaving a thin cushion. Fed by steady carbonation coming from about six isolated sources at the base of the stenge. Not bad, seems an appropriate appearance.
Smell? Apparently there is one. Well, there should be, it's beer. Hmmmm...
A lot of effort and I daresay some imagination gets me a pilsener-esque malt kind of smell and maybe some hint of Pride of Ringworm. But this is the imagination of some weird offspring of Lewis Carroll and Hayao Miyazaki talking. There is absolutely nothing there, really. Just a void where aroma should be.
Very uneventful, short and simple palate. If my life were as interesting as this I'd look forward to the exciting pain and torture of hell. Starts off bland, finishes bready and bland. Seriously, I would love to give an in-depth analysis of the malt profile, the intricacies of the bitterness and the beer's complex vicissitudes, but it would be comparable to going deep sea diving in a bathtub. With no water in it.
There is the slightest, slightest whisper of some caramel malt on the front and mid palate (and that is ALL there is), and then once it reaches the back of my mouth for swallowing it gives me that bread yeast character from a blend, maybe of POW and some cheap adjunct. But even the nastiness of this beer is weak and practically unnoticeable. That's not to say it's not nasty, it's just too piss-weak to make me retch.
Mouthfeel is as thin as a single cotton fibre, has absolutely no body. I guess all I can say about this is that it's drinkable, because even air has more toxins and more body than this. "Full Flavour" the logo says. My ass.
60 / 100
Absolutely beautiful cherry red body, with a slightly filmy head of yellowish foam, riddled with pancake bubbles. Dissipates to a film with some lacing. The colour is quite beautiful though.
Very strong malty nose - lots of unprocessed molasses, malted grain, a hint of barnyard organics and a surprising note of coconut. Very rich, sweet and heavy. Possibly one of the most full on malt noses I've yet tried.
Also, just malt, malt, malt on the palate. Lightly roasted, but extremely sweet and heavy, almost to the point of insanity. There's no balance here - it's just sweet, thick, gooey, sugary, unrefined madness. Mouthfeel at least fits with the syrupy goop.
This is a pretty extreme beer as far as I'm concerned. I can't even notice any hops, just very, very sweet and malty - it clogs the throat with its insanity. Too much for more than a sip, or a drizzle over a rich and heavy dessert.
69 / 100
Pours a reddy bronze kind of colour, transparent with a very slight bead. Head is decent but doesn't really stick around. Produces very nice lacing. A very appealing-looking drop, but I wouldn't exactly call it 'dark'.
Very sticky and jammy on the nose, with a strong raisin undertone and hints of oak and blackcurrant. Virtually one aroma, although there is a modest, very modest hop hit at the back, but it's more malty than anything else.
Surprisingly refreshing although there is that deep, sticky flavour of spicy raisins on the mid-palate. I think it's just too cold. Waiting for it to warm up now... Still waiting.... Okay, slightly sour on the front, very fruity, with overtones of burnt toffee throughout. Hint of artificial lemon flavour towards the back, like those lemon sherbet lollies (without the sherbet). The dominant flavour though, is that toffee, raisin character. Very heavy for breakfast. Very sweet and heavy, but very good in the mouthfeel. I'd rather have this in my mouth than Saddam's cock. Not all that drinkable this early in the morning, but that's my fucking fault for drinking it this early in the morning.
56 / 100
50cl bottle, with a red and white label, depicting a horseman backed by vaguely psychadelic sweeping red lines.
Dark reddish mahogany colour, with a stable, milk-coffee coloured head. Carbonation forms in fine streams of miniscule bubbles around the edges. Very decent looking beer.
Slightly sour roasted characters on the nose, maybe just a hint of smokiness. Overall, rather roasted and even a bit oaky, but subdued.
Quite a robust palate, strong roasted charring bitterness on the front palate, with a late smoky, maybe sour character to it that leaves you feeling like all the moisture has been effloresced from your mouth. Mouthfeel is quite creamy and smooth, despite the later drought on the palate.
Not a bad beer, and a great deal different from the normal Croatian fare of pale, nondescript lagers. Hides its alcohol well, but only due to its other dominant charred flavours. Overall, it's interesting, but I'd say the Croats do a better example of a pale lager than a strong dark one...
41 / 100
Tall 50cl Black and Red can, with a picture of a stalking panther, or other big cat. Serve cold, it says... Ingredients listed as (watch out!): Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Glucose Syrup, Malt Extract, CO2, Selected Hops, Yeast... Hmm...
Very opaque dark amber red, which is only apparent at the edges. Light bubbled off-white head which fizzles and collapses to a pretty tame ring.
Very little on the nose, no fragrance, no richness, no toastiness. Maybe only a hint of carbonated water smell.
Taste is actually a fair bit better. Initial sweetness, organic, then a decent but not overpowering toasty malt finish. Feels a bit thin in the mouth though, and the lingering sweetness gets a bit cloying.
It's not bad. It's ok to drink, but it's pretty mediocre overall.