71 / 100
500ml brown bottle, wrapped in black paper and wax-capped. Purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a pleasant reddish amber colour, with a fairly persistent ring of beige for a head. It uncapped without a hiss, but there is carbonation there, forming in swirling clouds when the glass is tilted. Looks pretty good.
Nose is slightly oxidised, but underneath this it's layers of malty sweetness, lifted by a slightly woody sharpness that gives the aroma of formic acid. There's an undeniable booze presence, which sharpens it to the point where it's quite potent, even in the nose.
Taste is pleasantly smooth, with all of those layers of malt providing cascading toffee-characters on the palate, one by one. It has a darkness to it, promoted by the additional booze, and some of the sharpness. Interesting the oak characters (assuming they're here), don't smooth out the palate—there's a character of oak here, but it's just the woody bite without the vanillin notes. So it might be that this is just aged in stainless and the characters come from somewhere else. It's decent though, and quite powerful.
Feel is heavy and slick. It suits the beer very well.
Yeah, it's pretty solid. It's far from being the best example of the style, but this is a style with a high bar. It's certainly a celebratory ale, and that's a good thing.
77 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas 2016. Enjoyed by myself waiting for midnight on NYE.
Pours a reddish brown colour, kind of sedimenty. Head is beige, but pale, great look when poured but sinks evenly to a thin rim and doesn't really leave lacing behind which is a shame. Maybe a bit old, now. But still looks good.
Smells boozey and sweet and impressive. Whisky and marmalade, effectively. Raisins, chocolate and burnt sugar. But yeah, whiskey, maybe some rum too because of that sugar note. Pretty appealing.
Taste is also boozey but it's mellowed with age, and is just this tickle at the back of the throat. Slight tang upfront, with dried orange peel and then dark dried fruit: fig, raisin and some prune sweetness. Brandy, and definitely whiskey, on the back. Finishes sweet, rich, basically spiritous. It's big, it's complex. It's not perfect, but it's very impressive.
Smooth, mellowed with age. Has a slight stickiness on the late-mid. But yeah, otherwise pretty great.
Very pleasant drop, has done well with age. I can imagine this being ghastly and hot when it's young but this is three years old and it's tasting very very good indeed.
94 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Tried on tap at Über Tavern in Seattle.
Pours a gooey caramel amber colour, with almost no head, just a single large bubble on pour that pops leaving a razor edge of off-white. Carbonation is very fine though, and voluminous on tilting. Which is unexpected. It's big and unapologetic. I don't care if I don't have a head.
Nose is wonderful. Rich, sweet, with dark tones of Vegemite and smoke. Earthy and rich, but leavened with perfume, plenty of mineral salt and frankincense. This is gorgeous.
Taste is also good. Big sweet, brassy metallic notes, always supported with huge sweetness and malt. Notes of rock salt and peat smoke give it interest but it stays chewy and rich throughout. Back lingers for ages and ages, letting organic notes pop and crackle towards the finish, without and doubt that it's sweet and rich. This is insane.
Feel is gooey and rich, which provides a canvas that without a doubt warrants richness and complexity.
Overall, this is beautiful; just gorgeous. It has the richness, suppleness, complexity and balance to absolutely warrant its weight. This is a cracking, world class beer.
Oaked English Barleywine brewed for GABS 2016. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish amber colour, clear with nice foamy head, beige in colour. Looks a bit heavy and viscous, but pretty nice.
Smells intriguing. Big boozey oak notes, with a touch of bourbon, and some odd notes around the edge. Maybe some new world hops with a touch of passionfruit, and a hint of sourness, possibly oak-driven Brett? Touch of smoke too.
Yeah massively oaky on the palate. Big vanilla and huge coconut character, again develops a slight Bretty tartness late-mid, and a touch of odd fresh hop notes on the finish, with passionfruit. Sweet, big beer, slightly odd with a lack of coherence between the parts, but still the parts are pretty nice.
Full body as you'd expect, but an impressive lack of boozey heat. It's definitely substantial but not hot.
Nice barleywine in the end. Not sure if I totally 'get' it, it seems a bit chaotic and unbalanced so it doesn't totally float my boat, but I like it still.
57 / 100
Tried on tap at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours an amber colour, slightly cloudy with nice beige head, webbed a bit more than I like, but not bad. Looks heavy but pretty good.
Smells very sweet. Butterscotchy, in a good way. Some nutty characters with peanut and chestnut, vanilla, caramel and a touch of oak side-effects. Pretty appealing.
Taste doesn't quite retain that sweetness although it's a driving force. Vanilla/caramel upfront but it dissipates midway into a boozey heaviness that gets quite bitter towards the back and slightly phenolic. Would have liked that sweetness to linger a bit more as it's well forgotten by the end, sadly.
Body is thick, and the alcohol noticeable but not sharp - just warming. Not bad.
Bit earthy and dour for a barleywine, particularly on the back. Just a touch more sweetness carrying through to the finish would really elevate this.
2012 vintage. 330ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very deep red colour, mostly presenting as brown except in the edges of the glass. Body is actually fairly fast moving, but leaves a noticeable slick on the glass. Head is off-white, forming some mild pocked bubbling around the edge and a few lazy specks of lace. Carbonation is very fine and slow moving. Looks good.
You know what? I've been sniffing and swirling for about five minutes now, and I really don't quite know what to talk about. It's not that there's no smell, it's that the smell is almost precisely what you'd expect for an English barleywine, so I don't know what to call out. It's sweet, there's a touch of booze to it. For 4 years old, it's not overly oxidised, but it does have a slight hint of metal to it, that melds with the sugar and booze to give off mild spicy notes. It is, also, a little bit weak—but again that's not that unexpected.
Taste is similar. It's pretty much what you expect. Boozy, fairly sweet, but perhaps with a little more bite on the back, trending towards metallic and tannic. Slight vanilla overtones linger in the aftertaste. The tannic flavour builds up though, meaning it starts to taste more and more astringent as it goes on. That's surprising for a beer of its age.
It's possibly that even 4 years isn't enough age on this. But that would surprise me. It's possible that there is just a bit too much harshness in it. It's also possible that really this beer is yet to hit its peak, and maybe it's designed to last for a long, long time. Maybe I'll hold on to the next bottle for longer.
77 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Shared with my Dad on Xmas Day 2014.
Pours a really lovely ruby red-brown, with excellent clarity. Head is thick and persistent, forming a solid crest of static pale orange. Carbonation is very fine through a very solid body. Looks great.
Nose is also really very good. Solid, sweet body, with a firm, broad basis of malt, that is balanced with a clean Cascadey hop fragrance. That's maybe all there is to it—there's not a lot of deep complexity, but there's a pleasantness to having those two core characters matched so well.
Taste is very supple and pleasant. Strong boozy entry, with a firm malt character giving a big richness to the palate. This is balanced right from the front by a big spicy hop character that ends up being pretty raw and vegetative by the back. Finish ends spicy, piney, organic and almost medicinal.
Feel is thick but with a slickness that helps the drinkability despite the alcohol content.
It is a heavy beer, but there really is stacks to enjoy in it. I'll be honest—it's too raw and raucous for me to consider drinking more than half the glass I shared with my Dad, but I certainly enjoyed what I had.
73 / 100
Dark red with nice beige head, sticky lace sinks a bit. Looks nice and malty.
Smells oxidised a bit, but sweet and malty. Caramel, lots of cinnamon apple as well, which is odd. Spicy, too. Stewed peaches. Bit odd, nice though.
Taste is huge, smokey with lots of malt. Peaches, spice with black pepper, oaky notes with caramel, toffee but almost a seafood character as well. Meaty, chewy malt. Currant sweetness, some piquant spice. Very pleasant.
Smooth, full as expected. Bit of harsh booze on the back but not bad.
Nice brew: some really weird hot spice but thick, malty and marmaladey overall with an odd smoke that's quite an unexpected treat.
74 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.
Beautiful reddish-amber colour, very clear and bright in the body. Some slightly sudsy streaking lace. Body is thick and fine, and holds wonderfully slim streams of carbonation. Looks pretty wonderful.
Nose is incredible. Oaky, bright but leavened with a sweetness that keeps it grounded and tethered. The lightness comes from the hops, which are heady, but still tied to a slightly English earthiness—they give a denseness to the beer. Really beautiful stuff.
Taste is similarly good—here, though it has a sweetness that really takes it beyond anything resembling an ESB. That's fine, but the bitterness has a hard time keeping things together. There's a oakiness towards the back that smooths over all of the oddities, but it's hard to deny that all of the weight doesn't necessarily work.
Feel is very smooth and clean, but with a slick, marble-like sweetness always providing a bit of weight.
Overall. This is nice stuff. As part of the big, intense blended anniversary ales, it's clearly a integral part. But on it's own, it's a little bit of an oddity.
330ml brown bottle purchased from the brewery in London. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.
Pours a pretty heavily hazed bronze-amber colour: heavy in body and heavy in haze, but with a nice fine carbonation that sits pretty steady when tilted. Head is a lovely fine creme of white. It looks thick and really very nice.
Nose is stretched and a little thin. Definite organic greenness, but with a rather unpleasant cabbage note to it. There's a hint of yeasty spice, but really not much to it. Mostly it's dank and a little unpleasant. It has some character, but not all that much in the way of actually pleasant character.
Taste is maybe a little better, perhaps because the sweetness gives it a sense of depth that the other characters don't really warrant. It has a pasty papery note that suggests that it was good at one time, but has just been subsumed by yeast. There's a little bit of spice, but it's really quite flat and disappointing.
Feel is okay. There is definitely some weight there—it's just so disappointing that there's nothing that it works with.
Overall, I'm definitely disappointed. Partizan had some very decent beers on tap (and were genuinely nice guys when I chatted to them), but both of their bottle beers were very disappointing. It's a real shame.
95 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Small 12oz bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney. March 2014 release date.
Pours a wonderfully clear amber colour, with a lovely fine crest of white that looks overtly bright compared to the body. Specks of lace, but not much persistence. Body is thick and fine, and although there's not a lot of carbonation, it's quite fine and static when tilted. Looks really very good.
Nose is wonderful. Big porty sweetness laced with huge tropical fruit notes. Fragrant overripe banana, pineapple and mango, all linked wonderfully with a rich spice that connects somewhat to a suggestion of pepper and booze. I really love it a lot.
Taste is just sublime. Lovely sweet, luscious toffee character, laced with fragrant tropical fruits again: here mango is strong along with a clean vinous note of port or botrytis semillon. Beautiful finish with the wine characters gliding to a fragrant, fruity finish laced with crisp toffee aromatics. Aftertaste has remnants of banana, and a lilting residual pepper spice. Booze is there somewhere but never affects the flavour, which is balances throughout. It's phenomenal, gorgeous stuff.
Feel is thick and rich. Beautifully done.
This is a truly phenomenal beer. The complexity is there, and there's so much to explore. More: there's some really interesting characters that you don't expect even for this style of beer. Even more still: it manages to be phenomenally well balanced, meaning it's supremely drinkable despite the weight. I genuinely love this beer—it's at the very peak of the craft.
500ml brown bottle shared with me blind by my brother Sam.
Pours a pleasingly clear coppery golden colour, with a huge, frothy head of white. Lots of crackly, intense lace. Nice fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is overly sweet, slightly toffeed and a bit sherry-like. Slight spice to it as well, giving more candied orange characters. There's a hint of something soft and vegetative, but not enough to balance the sweetness. I'm not a big fan.
Taste is a little better. Here there's a definite sharpness to it, providing an almond-skin type bitterness through the centre. Around this, the malt still has a slight oxidised character to it, but it's a lot thinner as well, which actually helps with the balance. Back is a little bit dry and dank, but it's pleasant enough.
Feel is quite light, but with a slickness around the edge.
Overall, I'm not hugely impressed, but there's some nice things to it, and the beer is much better than I thought it would be given the aroma.
40 / 100
75cl brown bottle purchased from Cave à Bulles in Paris. Bottle #126/264. Brewed at Brasserie des Garrigues by Get Radical. Contains Pils, Pale, Wheat, Smoked, Biscuit, Rye, Maple Syrup, Molasses and Rolled Oats. They call it a "grain wine".
Pours a pretty light and fizzy pale brown colour, with a head that fizzles out to nothingness pretty quickly. Body is pretty light, but I guess that's what you get with lots of fermentable sugar. Minimal carbonation. Overall, actually not that great at all.
Nose is sharp and boozy, with a cognac-like buzzy harshness, and the residual woody aftertaste of fermented maple syrup. Otherwise, there's a dustiness to it, slightly earthy perhaps, but not really a lot more. Again, fairly disappointing.
Taste is thin and fairly sharp, with a rather harsh alcohol flavour if fortunately not much burn and heat. Metallic coppery characters come through, with a solvent-like aftertaste. Slightly bitter on the back. This lightness in the feel does make it less oppressive than it might have been otherwise, but it's still a big beer without much to say or contribute.
Overall, nope indeed. I tried 3 of Get Radical's beer on my trip to Paris, this is easily the worst. But when you're a gypsy brewer in a beer-poor country specifically going with a "Bière Expérimentale" label, you're bound to hit a few bumps. While this isn't a great beer, others like their Train to Mars brewed at Thiriez make a few mishits like this one worthwhile.
50 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains. No freshness date.
Pours a very hazy brown amber, and despite what I thought was a careful pour, leaving the dregs in the bottle, there are stacks of floating bits in the glass. Head forms a tight ring after bubbling up initially. Body feels heavy, carbonation is fine, but minimal. No lacing. Looks okay.
Nose is sweet but dry, with sherry characters and a slight oxidised note coming through. Booze is certainly noticeable, as is a slight dusty pepper character that's almost the memory of hops. It's decent enough, but not very complex, and smelling a little tired.
Taste is similar in many ways. Papery oxidation comes through a fair bit on the front and mid-palate, more sherry notes, booted along by a strong alcohol kick. Sweetness is actually pretty minimal: at the very least, it's tied heavily to the booze, which is pretty dominating. Bitterness on the back, partly medicinal from the booziness, and perhaps partially from hops. Feel is almost astringent and burning like hot cognac.
Pretty hard to drink, and without the complexities or flavours that warrant the level of booziness. It's a big beer, but it doesn't justify being as big as it is.
71 / 100
Pours an amber colour with cream-coloured head. Large visible bubbles and settles out to just a disappointing rim. Lace is lovely though. Looks like a good heavy drop.
Smells sweet and spicy in equal measure. Loads of caramel toffee to it, with a touch of pineapple and a big belt of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very pleasant indeed.
Malty and caramelly upfront on the palate too, then the second half develops big fruity and spice notes. Touch of cinnamon, maybe some clove, and again a big nutmeg character. Fruity as well, with lots of raisins and a touch of brandy. Tastes like Christmas pudding. Nice.
Full body, with a light kiss of booze warmth towards the back. Bit of carbonation shows through that is unnecessary.
Bit on the intense/heavy side overall, it's a huge flavour bomb and it feels it. Quite nice, though.
74 / 100
Tried this many moons ago at GABS in Melbourne where it was released. I also have a bottle stashed away waiting to be sampled again (which I plan to do soon after re-reading my review from GABS). This is the version I tried on-tap at GABS, which was listed at the slightly higher ABV of 9.5%.
Pours a deep copper colour with quite good clarity in the heavy body. Head is yellow forming a full, bubbly ring around the glass. Lace is pretty decent and solid. Carbonation is very fine; when tilted the carbonation forms powder and the body looks sticky. Looks great.
Nose is spicy and pretty much on-target given their description: sticky sweet fruit cake, lots of semi-sweet burnt toffee, raisins with sharper orange peel notes. Dark fruits abound, but with a spiciness and a booze to give it an edge. Good stuff.
Spicy on the front of the palate. Sleek orange comes through before there are spicier notes mid-palate: nutmeg, cinnamon and brandy, giving a heady, spicy heat like Benedictine. Back is quite hot once the brandy character and its intrinsic booziness have had their say: peely aromatic abound from the front, but mostly it has a hot sharpness from the alcohol.
Feel is relatively light, partially because it's spliced that way by heat from the mid palate. It could be richer to mimic the sweetness of the aromas a bit more.
Overall, it's really good stuff though. It has loads of flavour and is always interesting after each sip. What's more it's exceedingly successful at delivering what the name promises.
79 / 100
Pours a dark burgundy colour. Quite murky but a bit of a vibrant hue when held up to the light. Head is beige, with small bubbles, just a ring of foam left with disappointingly little lacing. Looks good, but a bit too big for its own boots.
Smell is very, very sweet but a nice sweet, with massive, massive coconut aroma - just huge, sticky coconut flesh, touch of vanilla and some pleasant sugar notes. Hint of some peachy, floral hops behind, but it's all that secondaried booze note, lovely clarity and tempered sweetness.
Taste is in a similar vein. Plenty of sweet malt underlying, with caramel, toffee and brown sugar, then over the top comes a succulent boozey sweetness with that lovely desiccated coconut flavour, hints of vanilla, and then yeah, a bite of booze late which is an unfortunate glitch. Palate is beautifully constructed as far as strong, sweet malt bombs go, but that unmistakeable heat from the booze on the back is a definite overstepping of the line.
Good body, not too thick and heavy but the hot booze on the back is noticeable and sharp.
With that in mind, this is a big, cuddly and loveable brew. Flavours I love and the development of the palate is superb. If not for that slight overheated booze on the back, this would have been held in wonderful balance.
80 / 100
Pours an amber-red colour with creamy dense head, sightly beige tinge to it. Retains beautifully. Looks sweet, and great.
Huge malty nose, with plenty of late hop notes giving fruity, tangy and floral characters. No idea where the booze is at this point. Just sweet and floral and lovely.
Wow, what a malt bomb. Huge caramel flavour, thick and syrupy and goopy throughout. Caramel, toffee, sticky, chewy. So sweet but it's somehow so nice as well, without becoming too much. Noticeable booze here, but warm and pleasant. Not too complex, it's just one note throughout without diverging, but wow, really great and enjoyable.
Borders on sharp booze on the feel, but mostly just warm. Flat carbonation, all syrupy and thick.
Lovely sweet malt bomb. Not often I get a wholly sweet beer that I can even handle, but I actually enjoyed this. Just lovely.
75 / 100
On-tap at the brewery in Seattle.
Pours a deep amber, slightly hazed colour, with a very solid body that holds lots of static, fine-bubbled carbonation. Head is a firm, full crown of yellowish off-white that leaves some streaky lacing. Good looking brew.
Nose is rich with chewy, sticky caramel, shot through with singular hops that give a bright contrast. Aromas of musk come through as well giving a nice twist. Good stuff.
Caramel entry, big and chewy, which is soon joined by some light citric lemon characters and a dash of pepper. There's a touch of mild astringency on the finish, along with a boozy note on the back (the only hint of its rather heavy weight yet). There's a slight build up of bitterness after a while, but it creeps up, and isn't immediately noticeable after your first couple of sips.
Feel is chick and chewy, as you'd expect.
This ticks the boxes for a barleywine. Does it go beyond this? Not much beyond, but even getting a beer this big to feel so coherent and tasty is a good achievement.
Pours a creeiply bright and vibrant red colour, don't see a lot of beers quite reach that pre-school red paint colour but here it is. Head is whispy, slightly off-white-to-beige. Lace is decent; not all that sticky. Pretty good though.
Smells reasonably sweet, but very subdued, with subtle stone fruit notes, a touch of metallic aroma, maybe some smoke and some rubber. FAirly fresh, with a hint of tartness. Ultimately, though, a bit weak, especially for the strength.
Taste is wow, quite a lot more potent. Starts off in typical bitter territory with a touch of American hoppiness to it, but gets a big boozey-fruit character midway that flaunts its stuff right to the end. Quite big, with an almost cognac whiff and some sour cherry notes. Oh, it's really quite odd. Like there's not much malt but a great deal of booze on there. Really gets more intense at the back, building to a slight rubbery flavour. Weird and quite intense. Not without its likeable points but I think it's a bit overcooked.
Decent fullness, not a lot of texture. Present most prominent on the boozey back; not bad.
Bit weird, a bit odd but there's plenty of salvageable material here, and I wish I just warmed to this more readily.
81 / 100
Collaboration with Diamond Knot Brewery in Washington. Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a dark bronze colour, quite clear, with a really hefty weight to the body. Big solid off-white head leaves some patchy lace. No visible carbonation. Looks good overall.
Big aroma, all sweet, all rich, and all fattening, even just from smelling it. Huge caramel characters, with sugary butterscotch, all cut with some tannic tea characters and leafy hops. Wow, it's big, bold and really delicious. Great stuff.
Surprisingly clean entry on the palate, before a hint of grain sweetness and a big upswell in sweet melted caramel. On the finish, there's loads of oak cleaned up by that tannic hop bite and a touch of booze on the finish. Lovely feel, creamy and solid.
Overall, this is awesome stuff. The only problem is that it's so huge you have to sip it... (But you don't want to...)
38 / 100
Pours a burnished amber colour with unfortunate yeast floaties at the bottom. Head is off-white, kind of a swirl on the top more than anything else. Lace is disappointing. Yeah, a bit odd-looking.
Smells pungent and a bit weird. Leathery, with some strong molasses and an odd, nostril chewing menthol hint on the top. Quite boozey and yeah, a little bit chemical. Not a big fan.
Taste is also fairly bizarre. Sticky sweetness upfront with huge caramel malt that develops some really insane flavours - dirt, wet dog and sweaty gym towel among them. Nuts and honey and oats on there as well. It's... look, it's an experience. But it's way too off-the-wall for me and just too sweet. Definitely needs more balance in there.
Sticky, thick and leaves thick and gooey. Decent for the style.
Not my cup of beer. Way sweet, heavy and just some distinctly bizarre characters that I find a bit too much to handle. I can see someone else really enjoying this beer, but it's not for me.
91 / 100
2011 Vintage, purchased in May of this year, brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a lovely deep brown, just flecked with hints of ruby. The body is a thick, glutinous blob of chewy malt, and the bubbly inconsistent head is really the subsistent, secondary part of the appearance. Nice fine carbonation. Looks very decent.
Nose is just lovely, and a brilliant archetype of the Firestone Walker barrel-aging genre. Lovely coconut-vanilla characters coming through above a gorgeously thick and sweet malt basis. Slight hints of earthy vegetation coming through, giving a touch of tea and a minerally hint of seaweed. Very nicely accentuated. Lovely.
Taste is smooth, luscious and gorgeous, with big sweetness beautifully worked off the oak tannins and faint acidity. Coconut comes through, along with hints of reduced bourbon, barley sugar and a slick resiny aftertaste. Really smooth, and gorgeously integratedâthe characters all meld together really beautifully, and although the complexities are manifold, they form one coherence, blissful whole.
Feel is spectacularly smooth, while remaining quite fluid. The feel is pretty much the only way to truly detect the alcohol as well, sitting as it does as a warmth on the back of the throat.
A gorgeous beer from FW. I love their anniversary barrel blends, but this one shows that they can do something amazing and comparable with a single brew as well. Great stuff.
96 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Pours a very fine orange colour, with a filmy, but incredibly fine head of pure white. Bubbles form on the top, giving a limpid appearance to the very thick body. Powdery fine carbonation through the body, along with some disturbed floating sediment.
Nose is sweet and rich, cut with pleasant bright characters of peach and oak. The barrels give it a lovely decadenceâa refined quality to go along with the heavy sweetness. Hints of greenness, dust and a touch of pepper work really nicely too. It's very complex, and rich but very refined and sophisticated.
Taste is gorgeous and very different. Instead of the bold sweetness, it has a bright acidity through the centre, giving more of those peachskin characters, and a brightness much like a really nice dessert wine. On the back, however, comes through a slightly brassy, almost vegetative character like fresh celery. This mingles pleasantly with the oak and the sweet, fruity dried apricot flavours and cleanses the palate ready for the next sip. Wow, what a great beer.
So smooth, so sweet, and so perfectly cut with freshness to balance. It's gooey, luscious, exciting and dangerously drinkable. Lovely brew.
75 / 100
How can you not love the idea of a collaboration between NÃ¸rrebro and Mikkeller? Let's see if reality matches with expectations.
Pours a lovely thick and rich deep red colour, with a fine and freckled head of creamy yellow-white. Lacing is extraordinary, especially for the ABV. Some floating sediment from a slightly inattentive pour. Body is thick, and leaves rivulets of extremely fine carbonation when tilted. Looks really good.
Nose is sharp and slightly boozy, but without a lot of depth. Certainly some metallic, coppery bite and a twinge of alcohol heat, but there's only a suggestion of depth and sweetness, and certainly not a lot of hops to lift it. Smells like a very, very old English Old Ale.
Taste really brings it up. Incredibly smooth, rich and still quite boozy flavours, which liven up the rather heavy palate. Hint of darkness on the back, which gives a slightly bitter finish, and cuts off the palate nicely.
Really nice beer. Very smooth, tasty and enjoyable. It's very complex, which I love, but it's all really well integrated.
Pours a very dark amber colour, mostly red really. Head is off-white, just small bubbles and not a lot of foam. Lace is lovely and thick, as you'd expect. Looks decent, but nothing a 2-year homebrew veteran couldn't manage.
Massive sweet smell, but an odd savoury note as well. Huge caramel malt mixes with a big nuttiness - walnuts and macadamias, but a saltiness that borders on sweaty. It's a real peanut brittle kind of aroma; if that weird saltiness could get toned down it could be great.
Taste is very sweet, but not quite as explosively malty as one might expect. Lots of caramel and toffee on there with an underlying fruitiness - sherry, figs and marmalade add a nice tang to the overriding sweetness. Nutty notes come through late - caramelised macadamias and peanut brittle, still retains a hint of that salty character from the nose but it's quite successful in tempering the sweetness on this occasion. It's still just a big, syrupy-sweet beer, and points for hiding that booze behind the smooth, complex sugars. I actually don't love it but I can feel the technique involved on the palate more so than any other aspect, so good work, brothers.
Full and thick body as you'd expect, but no real texture to it. Can't say it's wonderful.
A nicely made beer, but it doesn't wow me.
77 / 100
Pours a dark orange, turbid colour. Head is a thin film, with nice clingy lace. Nice haze, looks alright, not great.
Smells quite intense. Liqueury sweet with apricot, almonds, some licorice as well, marmalade and a slight tartness. Slight edge of smoke as well, just subtly underlying. Very syrupy. Intriguing, but not too excited by it.
Taste is a wham-pack whallop of flavour in the gullet. Huge syrupy liqueury flavour with loads of nutty character - almonds, walnuts and pistachio with rich complex jammy sweetness, lots of apricot and pear. Fair hit of cinnamon as well, and some burnt orange flavour coming through towards the late-mid. What an intriguing palate, it's heavy and massively potent, but finish is very pleasant and just trails off gently leaving you with a big hearty warm smile.
Very syrupy and viscous on the feel, as one would expect. Nice body that suits the style and the palate. The whole thing is just like a dessert wine.
Very sippable beer, but not much more. There isn't any heat though from the alcohol which is wonderful. Nice beer, well handled. Not over the top which would have been such an easy trap into which to fall.
60 / 100
Pours a cloudy burnt-orange colour with odd sedimenty chunks. Head is a thin film which disperses, not much lace at all. No real carbonation either. Really quite blah, nothing exciting here.
Smells very, very rich and sweet, with a vinous edge. Lots of complex sugar, jammy, plummy and rich with fruity residuals - apricot and paw-paw, really. But yeah, very sweet. Pretty nice but has a teeth-rotting intensity to its sweetness.
Taste is also very sweet, but somehow more mellow than the nose. Very jammy and fruity with melon and paw-paw on there, yes peach and apricot as well. A slight spicy note, pepper and nutmeg on there and some cloves providing mild touches as well. A touch of fig towards the back, and then finish is just as sweet as the front. It's all just sweet and liqueury with fortified wine notes and complex brown sugar. Tasty, but a bit over-rich and sweet for me.
Syrupy, thick, lots of texture. Quite nice. Good for style.
Yeah, a very heavy beer, thick and rich like Cottee's topping. A bit too much to have one whole bottle, methinks.
91 / 100
2009 Vintage, purchased in the USA and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @thescotdownunder. Served alongside the 2005 Vintage Calvados Cask version to compare.
Pours a hazed deep orange-gold colour, with a fine-bubbled if filmy head of slightly tenuous yellow-white. Lacing is suprisingly good for the gravity of the brew, and it has some crackling large bubbles to it. The colour is divine, however, and the haziness makes it glow. It's a lovely looking brew.
Nose is pungent with booze and a ripe mandarin orange acidity, which underpins a profound and syrupy sweetness. It's very deep and extremely rich, but surprisingly stays away from the huge malt backbone I expected. Instead, the phenolic notes and the acidity drag it into an unusual lightness, which is welcome, and very appealing.
Taste is ripe with an amazing blend of light citrus on the front - the mandarin makes its presence felt - before delving into this amazing almond nuttiness that gives off all the malt sweetness without the heaviness. Indeed, it balances extremely well between these flavours, lending light grain organics, crushed tea tannins and candied citrus to the syrupy body. The feel, from the syrupy body to the bite of light acidity, is divine, and it makes an absolutely impeccable companion to the flavour.
This is a bloody amazing beer - one which both refines and expands the brewer's art. Such fantastic flavours, such a depth of character, and so well balanced. It's an artisanal item; something to be cherished. Truly remarkable, and one of the very best beer experiences it has been my pleasure to have.
79 / 100
2005 vintage, tried alongside the 2009 vintage regular Harvest. I expect this to have some more extreme characters on it, and certainly some age.
Pours a thick and rather heavy deep hazed orange colour, very similar to the regular example. Head is non-existent, although a vigorous pour gives a bit of bubbling. I should note that there was very little carbonation when it was opened, but for a beer that is five years old, that's not unexpected.
Nose is like refined port, the calvados cask obviously lends something to it. Very sweet and rich and incredibly boozy. Indeed, this is closer to fortified wine than it is to beer, even as I know how wide the beer spectrum runs. Lots of oak, lots of vinous sweetness and lots of booze. Even compared to the younger equivalent, this seems stronger and more intense. I think the calvados cask is what pushes it over the edge.
Taste is actually more subtle, and it's the better for it. The port character is still incredibly strong, and the sweetness is robust almost to extremes, but it has a very subtle and very pleasant acidity to it that is really worthwhile and almost necessary. Finish is long and languid, and the lack of carbonation gives it an excessively smooth feel - with the light heat, it becomes an absolute monster of a beer.
Phew, what a beer. A monster counterpart to the already robust behemoth that was the 2009 Harvest Ale. 5 Years? It might be just a tad too long for it, but the fact that it still has such character in such huge quantities is testament to its quality.
An incredibly flavoursome beverage that I feel privileged to have tried.
59 / 100
Pours a deeply burnished amber colour. Head is very disappointing, can hardly even call it a 'film' - more a ring, of small bubbles. Lace also non-existent. Body is very cloudy, which is the only indicator this is a beer made with, like, ingredients. Looks like it was just too heavy to handle.
Smell is quite funkadelic. Massive weirdness coming off that with a huge rubbery aroma, like massive. Corporeal edge to it as well, like sweaty socks. Lots of spice as well though - tobacco and nutmeg and even sumac. Yeah, chilli as well, plus cinnamon. Fascinating and complex, points for that. But you know, weird, as well.
Taste is very sweet and heavy. Lots of caramel and vanilla malt flavours on the front and the flavour continues onto the finish. Large tart flavour comes through midway, a hint of rubber on it but largely fruity with concentrated berry notes, some cumquat and brandy booziness on the back. A hint of cinnamon and more sumac definitely on the finish, works well with that booziness to create a rich, full palate. Fruity and heavy, really. An interesting drop, but I'd reach for other beers before this one. I feel like I could get most of the same flavours from a liqueur.
Extremely syrupy mouthfeel, with the kiss of alcohol-related death on the back. Could definitely use more texture as it just seems thick and soupy. Carbonation would help here as well.
Yeah, a very heavy drop, but it is quite pleasant for the most part. A good sipper - could see it being served as an after-dinner beer.
Pours a hazed but bright orange-red, almost brown, with absolutely no head whatsoever. It doesn't even fizz as I uncap it. It looks still and heavy and dormant in the glass. Looks very heavy, however; full and thick in the body, with some very small suspended sediment flecks that somehow escaped my ostensibly careful pour. Very interesting, at least.
Nose is big, portly and boozy. Big, rich and sweet, slightly spiritous aromas, that don't particularly rip at my nostrils with their intensity, but which certainly suggest big flavours to come. Lots of brown sugar syrup, dusted coconut ice, and sweet pastry. It's all very round and rich.
Taste is extremely sweet, almost to the extremities of decency. Huge sugary sweetness of roasted toffee, strawberry tart, and straight down the line candy. There's nothing else to it, except the mild acidity through the centre which just evokes different types of lightly fruity and massively heavy sweetness. Feel is smooth and thick as anything.
No, this is too much, as far as I'm concerned. This is a beer that has gone way too far one way and has become unbalanced and difficult to drink. Maybe you're not meant to drink it - maybe you're meant to pour it over ice cream as some sort of sickly delicious sugar syrup, but as a beer, even to sip, it's beyond redemption.
83 / 100
Very cute 200ml bottle.
Pours a very dark red colour, with a filmy head of off-white foam that pushes heartily through the thick body. Legs appear on the glass when swirled, indicating just how thick this beer is. Surprisingly vivid carbonation. Otherwise a good looking barleywine.
Huge port-like aromas on the nose - very strong alcohol presence with a drier note of bread and grain. Very round, nothing sharp at all with it, minimal hop presence, and even the boozy notes which could have an astringency to them seem flattened and oddly comforting. Nice.
Thick on the palate and very smooth - sweet and port-like again, with a light resinous, slightly vinous character. Finish is dry with a light wholemeal flour note. Surprisingly, there is nary a hint of booze to the palate given that the characters otherwise scream out high ABV malt-bomb. It's just smooth, sweet and luscious and deceptively drinkable.
This is an excellent example of a sweeter barleywine. The American versions often tend to make a super-strong IPA as their top-ABV brew and label it a barleywine. But this is really coming in strong from the malt side of things, leaving a smooth, sticky, sweet and undeniably wine-like barleywine. I approve heartily.
Pours a dark, rusty red-brown colour, with only a slight film around the top of the glass. No lacing, but the body looks thick and heavy. Some large bubbled carbonation which pours surprisingly quickly up the insides of the glass. Not bad overall.
Light tannic bitter aromatics on the nose, with a bit of leather and grainy whiskey. Little sweetness, the black-tea tannic notes are the most prominent. Smells rather darker than it actually is.
Taste is redolent with booze notes, especially when aerated. Big clunking notes of dark liquor, aniseed, and acetone with a tingling feel that can't entirely be put down to the carbonation. Rather bitter in a clinging, chemical way. Unfortunately, all the notes are confronting and harsh, with little to leaven or balance the palate.
It's a big and boisterous beer this one, but it feels too much so - there's nothing lively or jubilant about it. It ends up sitting heavy, serious and rather depressingly unenjoyable.
71 / 100
Pours a deep, murky red colour, nice scarlet up to the light, with an ochre head, quite generous with nice dense bubbles. Sinks to a modest crown, with nice webs of lace. Bit dark for a barleywine, but very pleasant.
Nose is a good barleywine aroma, lots of nutty toffee notes and a huge hop aroma, lots of west coast American fragarance here, pine bark and a hint of passionfruit. A slight cardboard aroma creeps in from the hops, but fresher in character, bland without being dour. It's a decent BW aroma overall but not hugely aromatic.
Taste is a bit darker than I expected. Lots of dark, sweet malt, with hints of chocolate, walnuts, molasses, lots of burnt toffee and pecan. Some oaky hints come through midway and become more pronounced on the back. Some dark cherry notes as well. Hops are distinct on the back, slightly gritty and even powdery in texture, with a sharp alcohol bite. The hops don't strangle the palate the way they do in Rogue Old Crustacean (for example). Nice strong malty beer with good clean hoppy finish.
A bit sticky on the mouthfeel, doesn't have a lot of texture, actually feels thin for all its viscosity. Harsh alcohol bite on the back.
Decent drinking barleywine. The 11% is noticeable but not off-putting.
Pours a clear amber colour, slightly orange-tinged, with beige coloured head, modest but sinks fairly quickly, leaving a thin crown of dense-ish foam. Lacing is pretty delightful - nice, thick and sticky. Looks like it should.
Nose - yeah, quite malty. A lot of brown sugar and treacle, along with a healthy dose of methyl alcohol. Smells quite like brandy, but with a distinct sweetness, and a noticeable - if not prominent - hint of American-style hops for some fruitiness. Bit of peppery spice as well, pretty nice. But not sensational.
Taste has malt all over that. Lots of overcooked toffee, brown sugar, rum, even, but yeah, one of the most prominent things is a boozey warmth from the mid-palate onwards that becomes a sting towards the end. Good malty flavours overall - tastes like a barleywine, with sweet brandy, pecans, even some cola, and of course, toffee. The main problem I have is that it's so obviously meant to be a barleywine, and the flavour lacks nuance, giving way to a barley-malt-into-methanol profile with no subtlety. Not bad, but it just doesn't scream brilliantly crafted.
Mouthfeel is harsh from the get go. Obviously alcoholic, with the full stickiness merely a sidenote. Points off for the obvious alcohol, no points "for" for lack of anything else interesting.
Enjoyable enough, just lacks subtlety and nuance.
75 / 100
Cheers to my bro @laituegonflable for the sample.
Pours a burnished copper colour, almost turning pink at the edges, with a filmy but very fine head of creamy white. Lacing is very good, and there's some static carbonation in the glass, which is excellent. The colour is very bright and very appealing. Looks good.
Crisp and sharp, slightly tannic notes on the nose, with residual sweetness, like cranberries and cinnamon. Even a hint of vanilla and marzipan coming in. It's not huge, but the notes are unusual and quite pleasant. Spice is noticeable, and apart from the lack of strength, so is a slightly boozy note. Overall, a very pleasantly different nose.
Smooth on the palate, with some sharp phenols on the front, with a long, languous unravelling of vanilla sweetness as it continues. Very sweet finish, nothing dry or sharp. All the booze notes are saved for the fore. Comes across as rich, languous and engulfing, almost sensuous as it rolls across the tongue. Mouthfeel helps, with a rich creamy thickness accentuated by a slight alcohol tingle.
A very smooth and very drinkable brew, quite rich and with a lot of caressing complexity. It's perhaps a tad too heavy to drink easily, but to sip, relax, and enjoy, this is a winner.
Pours a dark crimson colour with brown tinge, head is dense and beige with small bubbles. Bead streams up the edge of the glass, body looks quite translucent with a fair amount of cloud. Looks pretty nice. Lacing sticks to the glass in gorgeous thick sheets.
Very strong on the nose with a great scotch whiskey pummelling of the olfactory. Some licorice and pepper on there, in fact mega licorice. Some chocolate as well, and maybe some Irish cream, with a lot of boozey phenols. Very pleasant nose with great complexity. Bit too much booziness though.
Taste is complex and vast. A lot to get through here. Starts peppery and descends into sweet dessert wine territory with a distinct sherry kick, very syrupy. Back palate has a sour edge but a thickness like pure cola syrup. Hints of a grainy finish, maybe some husk as well. Hint of mint towards the back helped by slight bite from the alcohol. Oh and overall, very cabernet sauvignon character. Complex, is good and has a well-constructed palate profile. If there is a criticism it's that the complexity muddies it a bit, plus it is a bit too sweet.
Thick with a good amount of texture on the feel. Would like it a bit dryer on the finish.
I'm going to mark this down in drinkability because of the overly sweet nature. I believe it's meant to be like that, and it tastes good for what it is, but the syrupy sweetness makes it a bit hard going.
57 / 100
Pours a very pleasant burnt red colour, the colour of scorched earth. Head is a healthy beige and leaves some stunningly beautiful sheets of lace behind. Little bit of cloud in there, not much bead. Shit I dig that lace though.
Nose is not quite what I expected. A green, sour kind of character with some spice as well - cinnamon and nutmeg. A kind of fresh pineapple character is very distinct, in its tart glory. Not bad, and unique, but ultimately smells a bit raw and simple.
Taste is a fairly, or reasonably, interesting affair. Quite tart in flavour but with no real acid sensation. Elements of that pineapple character blend with some gravelly funk at the back, and a distinct brandy booze sensation as well. Alcohol not very well hidden, really. Oddly sweet overall with a dried fruit character, but a very strong funk on the back. Not quite sure what to make of this.
Mouthfeel nicely textured around the mouth, quite thick and quite boozey, but slick enough to go down. Pretty good.
I'm a bit unnerved by this, don't find it exceptionally drinkable, but it's not bad in any strict sense of the word.
59 / 100
Pours a red brown kind of hue, no head or carbonation. It isn't meant to have any, I suspect. Very sticky and thick appearance, nice.
Nose is very sweet with raisins and a sheey stickiness to the nose. Nice, but not very beer-like. Or rather, not beer-like at all.
Taste is very earthy with an overdose of oak on the front - I like oak but this is a bit too much. Lingering stickiness that lasts through the palate, but isn't very sweet on the back. Another kind of woody character on the back. Seriously, this really isn't a bad drinking drop but I do prefer drinking beer. As hard as it would be to construct, this isn't breathtaking and it sure as hell isn't worth 22 cents a millilitre.