Bottle given to me as day 22 of my 2017 #fletchmas advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Ooh boy it's a beauty. Well it's nice and dark looking for a Friday evening. Dark cola colour with a glint of light at the bottom showing some nice fine bead. Head was nice when poured but has dissipated to a thin film of fine mocha bubbles. Lacing is decent. Looks pretty good.
Smells chocolatey and pleasant; has a good cocoa and slightly buttery vanilla sweetness, with notes of cake batter, maybe some cinnamon and a hint of roastiness like espresso hiding away at the back. I'm not a big fan of preponderous sweetness, but that's just a pleasant roast-balanced blend of desserty characters. Very good.
Taste is not quite as nice; there's a thinness apparent straight away that allows the roastiness to turn a little sour early on. Develops a kind of sour dark cherry character towards the mid, what with the general fruity esters that come through at that point. Some decent roasty bitterness on the back, but again quite thin so it becomes a little astringent yet weak, and not enough of that sweetness to make it interesting. It's alright, but just a fairly plain, and slightly bitter, dark ale.
Mouthfeel is not as thin as the light patches on the palate might suggest; there's a good malt base to it so although it's not thick, it's still quite smooth.
Yeah it's got plenty of decent characters but it doesn't quite have enough of each of them to reach a nice balance. As a result it ends up feeling a bit weak and underwhelming.
77 / 100
Pint can purchased for me by Sam for Christmas. With this level of copyright infringement, I hope it's worth it.
Pours a lightweight brown colour, with a faint, fizzy head of off-white that leaves some patchy lace. Body is very light—too light for my tastes. But it's sufficient overall.
Nose is better. In fact, the nose is very good, and almost warrants the inevitable lawsuits. There's a lovely buttery hazelnut character—rich, sweet and slick. It has a dry nuttiness to it as well. It's definitely hazelnuts, but it has a kind of dry roasted character to them, almost like you'd expect from the character of roasting raw nuts on a campfire. Still, it's very good.
The taste is lighter, but while it doesn't have all that buttery sweetness, it does nicely capture those mild, toasted hazelnut characters. It actually makes it more mature, despite the fact that it stretches the comparisons to Nutella. It's also hard to fault it—if it were truly liquid Nutella I might say it was more successful, but this is actually perhaps a better beer. It's lighter, and drier, but that's exactly what it needs to be, and the hazelnut characters are still front and centre.
Feel is a bit lighter than it might be, but it still suits the beer.
Overall: yeah, it maybe warrants the branding. It's genuinely pretty good. The nuts are prominent throughout, and it manages to bridge the gap between beer and hazelnut spread that we've honestly always been looking at and wishing were bridged. Let me hang out for the imperial version, which may be one of the great beers of the world.
81 / 100
330ml bottle purchased for me by Sam as part of the 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar.
Ooh boy, pours a lovely silky rich black colour, with a coarse-bubbled froth of chocolate brown that disappointingly fizzles out pretty quickly. Carbonation is very fine through the body, forming powdery swirls. Lacing is only minor specks, but it looks good. Overall, it's decent enough, and promises more from its depth.
Nose is great. Big dark cocoa and roast character, mingled with sweet overtones of vanilla and toasted nuts. I definitely get some peanut, but there's more sophisticated characters like scorched almonds and a hint of fennel. It's really very nice.
Taste is also extremely good. It's smooth and luscious, with a pleasant initial chocolate flavour that develops into deeper mocha and espresso tones. More coconut towards the back, although the other true nuttiness is largely gone. It's got a strong bitterness on the back, but this is a good thing, like a chocolate coated coffee bean. Feel is slick and silky, without feeling too heavy or chewy.
Overall, this is a really genuinely lovely brew. It's silky and sweet, but with depth and sophistication on the back. It's like a really well-made dessert that challenges you as well as fulfills your sweet tooth. I'm impressed.
42 / 100
On tap at GABS festival 2017.
Pours a coffee colour, quite dark with glints of colour around the edges. Cream-coloured thin rim of lace, but no real head of which to speak. Pretty meh.
Smells sweet, like too sweet. Cake batter with a big sort of milky chocolate character. Quite a touch of salt to it too. Smells weird, and not in an intriguing way.
Taste is also a bit weird. Chocolate malt character upfront that's a little darker while retaining that sweetness. Sour towards the back with some odd spice notes - clove and star anise largely. Not much else; maybe slightly savoury. Not terrible but really not a lot to it.
Thin body, especially for the size. No rough edges but feels a bit insubstantial.
Yeah, has a weird sensation all over it, a little bit salty and a little bit unpleasant. Interesting idea but I think it needs more roasty stout oomph in order to carry it off.
Another tough GABS beer to classify. I've gone with stout, because although it's apparently got chilli in it, it's sold as a chilli chocolate stout and so I feel the chilli is only incidental to the chocolate, which is incidental to the stout. Also has finger limes in it apparently, so yeah good luck with that, beer taxonomers of the future. Tried at GABS on tap.
Pours a coffee colour, nice beige foam on the top. Doesn't retain very well but otherwise looks OK.
Smells grainy, but dark. Some chocolate notes and some dark fruit, maybe some coffee. Not much else, which is disappointing given all the adjuncts promised.
Taste is alright, fairly stouty. Peanut character upfront, that develops some sweet vanilla-infused chocolate notes, then a good roasty coffee character midway, slightly spicy as well but in a coffee rather than a chilli way. Lacking the lime, but ultimately it's a decent stout.
Nice mouthfeel; quite smooth and full and goes down well.
Not a bad stout, but a bit disappointing in that it fails to fulfill its own promise. Kinda straightforward stout, in the end.
78 / 100
500ml can purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a ebony black colour, with a very fine, crema-coloured head that leaves lovely fine, intricate lace. Carbonation is quite slow, but surprisingly coarse as well. Overall, though, it's a good looking beer.
Nose is pleasingly smooth, but with a robust toastiness giving it depth and darkness. There are pleasant buttery undertones of vanilla and a slight coffee character which almost turns slightly metallic or acidic. It's pretty nice all up.
Taste is actually slightly better. There's a sharpness through the middle, with a fresh, robust coffee character that develops towards the back, smouldering with a hint of tobacco and ash. But all around this it's really pleasantly smooth with notes of vanilla and oak. Carbonation adds a fine sparkle throughout, which is very pleasant.
Overall, it's a really tasty brew. It's subtle in places, which provides balance, but it has character and boldness enough to make it interesting. That makes for a really pleasant beer all up.
Tried in a taster at GABS 2017. A stout infused with NZ sea urchin.
Pours a dark brown colour, with some haze in the body. Weight is decent, although the carbonation is very minimal. Head is just a thin ring of beige. It's a little insipid overall, but not bad.
Nose has a spicy aniseed character that almost suggests a bit of wild funk. Otherwise, there are standard stouty characters of dry, dark malts that turns perhaps a little savoury due to the urchin infusion. It's a bit underwhelming.
Aniseed again in the front of the palate, with not body to back it up. Indeed, it jumps from a thin, dry mid-palate to a strong acidity on the back; something not promised in the description, so I can only assume it's a mistake. Finish has lemon and smashed acidity. Nope.
Feel is thin, but the acid really wrecks the palate as well.
This doesn't work for me. Why the acid? Intentional or not, it doesn't work with the rest of the beer, but given they don't even mention it in the description, I can only imagine it's a mistake. Which makes it worse.
70 / 100
On tap at GABS 2017.
Pours a brown colour, quite dark towards the edge. Beige foamy head that dissipates quickly. Nice colour, but a bit listless.
Smells minty; fresh and chocolatey. Notes of cocoa-rich chocolate and caramel sweetness on the nose, with some herbal and woody characters mingling with the mint, maybe some licorice as well? Smells pretty damn good.
Tastes like what it promises; maybe a bit predictable. Chocolate on the front that gets quickly fresh, herbal and a little spicy with some big peppermint notes. Touch of roast that lingers towards the back as well, and it's overall a bit heavy, and sweet. The peppermint is strong but also sweet and it could use a bit more cut-through. Still, very enjoyable.
Decent body, slight warming hint of alcohol.
Nice beer, this flavour combination is always going to be a winner for me.
71 / 100
Bottle given to me by Chris, enjoyed by myself.
Pours a deep dark brown with a slight russet tinge. Head is mocha-coloured, nice when poured but sinks pretty quickly leaving a nice rim of lace and a few sparse bubbles on the top. Nothing overly special.
Smells nice and rich with a good robust espresso aroma to it. Slightly burnt with vegetative and berry hints. Slight peppery spice, and a hint of chocolate at the back. Fairly predictable but a good dose of complexity to it as well, and otherwise nicely balanced.
Taste is roasty, dark. Nice dark malts upfront that descends into a long mid-to-late coffee flavour, with a rich earthy roast lingering on burnt towards the back, but mellows out into a nice smooth finish that doesn't overload on bitterness. Some chocolatey hints around the edge from the malt, and a nice herbal hop touch on the back to clean it up. Again it's a coffee stout; pretty predictable for what it says but nicely balanced and pleasantly delivered.
Decent texture, quite fluid but it gets a nice robust pull on the back as it gets more bitter towards the finish. Not bad.
Yeah, it's quite a nice little winter warmer. I think the coffee is quite a simple espresso flavour and the most enjoyable parts of the palate come from the malt and hops bill, I think the coffee used could have had more complexity that would work really strangely and wonderfully with the malty depth.
71 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a black-coffee-brown hue, really ruby when held to the light, and with noticeable clarity. Head forms slowly, but when it's there, it's a persistent film of taupe, that leaves leopard-speckled lines of lace.
Nose is really quite surprising. It's very coffee-flavoured, but in a weird way that also has overtones of slightly expired milk, or artificial creamer. It lends it a broad, rich sweetness that's cut through with the coffee flavour. It's certainly extremely interesting.
Taste absolutely matches this. It has a light, but smooth entry, without much sweetness, but with a hint of the earthy coffee hints to come. Then it wells up with a creamy coffee character; only slightly bitter, but with hints of that lactic milk, that tastes like it comes from a communal institutional urn. I'm actually impressed that they managed to capture the flavour so well.
Feel is slick and firm. It's almost sensual.
Overall: it's actually impressive in a number of ways. It captures the character of American coffee rather well, in a way that sadly won't endear itself to coffee drinkers from other parts of the world. But it's a well-crafted brew to do it so well, and that's worth something.
75 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from Whole Foods, Los Alto. It's a stout with coffee from Chromatic coffee in San Jose.
Pours a pleasant deep brown, with a bit of weight in the body. Head forms a pleasing film across the top of the glass, a firm beige colour that leaves very mild sheets of lace. Carbonation is fine, and static when tilted, but very vigorous and swift-moving when swirled. Looks pretty good.
Nose is nicely put together. The coffee is definitely noticeable, but the base beer has nice hooks into it as well, which connect with the coffee and make it seem coherent and integral to the rest of the beer. There's a sweetness to it that helps this as well, even though for the most part it's fairly bright and aromatic. Nice.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a strong malt structure to it, providing a little sweetness, but mostly a coherent, toasty, semi-savoury base to the beer. Above this is laced extra layers of sweet white coffee, condensed milk, light caramel, and a very faint hint towards the back of mild liquorice. Yeah, it's nicely done.
Feel is pretty soft. It's not a rich, full, heavy beer, but it has enough breadth to support the flavours.
Overall: I'm really pretty happy with this. I've never come across Camino Beer before, but this is solid enough to warrant further outings with them. I'm a fan.
62 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me somewhere in Tasmania by my Dad.
Pours a proper black-brown colour, quite pleasantly opaque in the body, although quite thin and fluid in weight. Head is a coarse-bubbled cap of beige that leaves a few floundering streaks of lace. Looks reasonable, but no more.
Nose is fairly straightforward. There's a pleasant, uninspired coffee and toasted note around the front, with some sweeter notes like roast nuts providing depth. The sharper notes turn slightly dusky, with a hint of ash and smoulder.
Taste is a bit better too. There's a pleasant malt structure that allows just a bit of breadth to the palate. It's toasty and nutty, but subdued somewhat by both the lightness of body, which caps the length of the palate, and the ashy character, which provides a punch of bitterness towards the end.
Feel is surprisingly supple, despite the lighter weight. It allows just enough time for the flavours to express themselves.
Overall, it's a pretty decent stout. It ticks the boxes without doing anything especially exciting. Mind you, it doesn't do anything much that's wrong, either.
61 / 100
Small taste poured by Chris on NYE 2016, having been muled back from Portland.
Pours dark brown with beige head, decent density; retains just a thin rim. Lace has a good cling to it, but not amazing. Looks pretty good though.
Smells stouty. Roast, with some chocolate sweetness lingering behind. Touch of some candy sweetness as well. Caramel, also. It's quite nice but quite a generic sweetish stout.
Taste is quite well done with the s'more-ness because there's a really good biscuity malt base that tastes distinctly crackery, then the roast comes over the top - bitter unsweetened chocolate but also a touch of burnt character which may or may not be intentional, but it gets kind of ashy bitter which dominates on the back, so although it's ultimately quite sweet, it's quite bitter too so I think the burnt is probably unintentional. Not a bad drop, but does turn a bit strong on the back.
Quite sticky but also thin, could use something to cut through as it's a bit gluggy overall.
Not too bad but it needs a little more sweetness to really sell itself as a s'more stout. Apparently in the taproom this beer is served with a toasted marshmallow, and I think it would be an interesting and rewarding combo. On its own it does feel like there's something missing.
72 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a very rich deep ebony brown, with a frothy, fine and persistent head of crema foam. It's so thick that it leaves masses of sticky lace, that forms in sheets, globs and leopard-print on the side of the glass. Body has a bit of weight to it as well. Overall, it's a fine-looking stout.
Nose is great. Really wonderful broad sweet malt aromatics provide characters of buttered toast, chocolate, cocoa dust and smouldering char. It's a little light, but at 6% you wouldn't want it to punch too strongly. I really like it.
The palate lets it down to some extent though. It really does have quite a thinness running through it, which is actually surprising for 6% ABV. It's not a small beer. But this than accentuates the bitter roast character a little more than it should. There are other pleasant notes though—there's a silky, buttery sweet character that edges towards vanilla, and some faint aromatics give a little note of liquorice and blackcurrant. But it is a disappointment after the excellent aroma.
Feel is thin. And it really does the beer no favours—I'm genuinely surprised that it ends up as weak as it is.
It's a shame there are negatives to the beer, but in all honestly, the negatives are noticeable only in comparison to all the things that are good about it. It's still a really very good brew, even if it has more potential than it delivers.
330ml can purchased as part of the Beer Crate 2016 Advent Calendar.
Pours a a deep reddish-tinged brown-black, with a frothy, slightly fizzy head of pale chocolate that fizzles out and doesn't leave much lacing. Body is fairly lightweight, and the carbonation is coarse and swift. I'm loving finally getting a dark beer of some description from Beer Crate, but it's not an overly exciting looking one so far.
Nose is toasty, and slightly dry, with a vague hint of coffee and kola nut. There are some mild toasty characters to it, and a plaintive whiff of tobacco smoke. Not bad.
Taste is pretty good. There's a complex, rounded palate that creates notes of round, sweet malt, touched with toasty accents. Plenty of coffee comes through, and dark chocolate, with a slight metallic zing on the back of the palate. Bitterness in the finish is strong, like a robust black coffee, so I suspect it's mostly from the dark malts and not from hops.
Feel is actually not too bad—the body is fairly light but there's a smoothness to it.
Overall, yep, I'm happy with this. After a long run of light, bland beers, Beer Crate have come up with something worthwhile, and Black Dog have delivered a perfectly tasty stout.
Poured for me by Jez, served blind.
Pours a dark chocolatey brown, colour at the edge. Head is a rim of beige bubbles, quite small. Decent rim retaining round the edge. Lace is alright; looks OK.
Smells chocolatey and rich. Darkish cocoa nibs, with sweetish vanilla and caramel tinges. Toffee and brown sugar. Nice roast but predominantly sweet. Pleasant.
Taste is a little spicier, especially on the front to mid, then finish mellows out but actually a little bland and neutral. Bit of roast late-mid, fairly sweet chocolate but not a lot. Caramel notes and yeah some boozey sharpness with a touch of pepper midway. Slightly keroseney maybe? Yeah not bad but I feel the strong flavours could be better spread out, they're quite front-loaded and the finish a bit meek by comparison.
As a result of the mellow, it's a bit insipid and could use oomphing up at the back.
77 / 100
Peanut Butter Stout purchased from Whichcraft in Austin, TX. 22oz brown bomber.
Pours a pretty deep oily brown, with a mocha head that leaves fine streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine, but the body is surprisingly light, meaning it rushes through to the top. Looks decent.
Nose is pleasant. Big nuttiness with a pleasant slight bite of darkness and liquorice. It's quite sweet though as well, with a biscuity character coming through. It also has a slight note of sesame, which is an unusual and welcome addition. I like it.
Taste is very good. It's drier than expected, which leaves it very clean despite the ballsy flavours it brings to the table. More peanut butter, toasted sesame seeds, even a slight aromatic rose character. The back, though, has a slight hint of ash to bring it back and clean everything up, like a charcoal cleanse. Feel is very smooth, but very light—it feeds into the concept that it's actually pretty drinkable.
Overall, very pleasant. It's a genuine twist on a seemingly decent base beer. The lightness on the back and the slight upkick in roast towards the end ensures that it doesn't get overwhelmed. I enjoyed it a lot.
Bottle purchased by Jez, almost certainly grey market, so read my review with skepticism. Opened on the stroke of midnight, 1/1/16.
Pours a dark cola colour. Touch of bubbles. Head is ochre, sparse. Lace is alright. Looks OK. Fairly standard.
Smells nutty. Chocolate, hazelnut, rich and sweet. Mildly roasty. Yeah nutty. Maybe a touch old. Nutty notes have a caramelisation that's quite pleasant but has hints of malt getting a touch stale. Still nice.
Taste is nutty, caramelised with mild roast character. Hazelnuts, chocolate, stale cocoa too. Maybe a touch old again, but hints of sweetness and nuttiness. Decent but grey. If beers will be grey imported, this is the style that should be, as it keeps well.
Decent body, bit of texture. Smooth enough.
Decent stout. As discussed I feel it's old. It holds up very well but I think it could be magnificent fresh, whereas here it's just very very nice.
22oz brown bomber purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a deep brown colour, only showing its true tone at the edges, and forming a slick oily weight in the glass. Head is a fine sheen of beige that leaves some minimal but delicate streaks of lace. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. Toasted malt with lashings of bittersweet cocoa and a touch of underextracted espresso. Also some tones of vanilla and marshmallow, which give it a kind of broad sweetness. It's nice stuff.
Taste is also solid, but it has a thinness towards the back that undermines it. It starts off well though, with more of those cacao notes and a touch of vanilla-infused coffee, but devolves a little towards the back as the palate drops away. This leaves a rather weak flavour of spent grounds and unsweetened vanilla pods. It's a bit of a shame.
Feel is rounded on the front, but melts away pretty quickly on the back.
Overall, it's relatively smooth and it has some nice characters to it. But it's not a great package all up, and feels like it's really missing something as things go on. I'll say it again: it's a shame—because this has the potential to be something pretty special, and it ends up being rather tame and dull.
72 / 100
Dark cola colour, beige head almost tan. Dense and bubbly with decent retention. Decent lacing too. Not bad.
Smells roasty. Some coffee and spice, with nutmeg and star anise. Lots of cacao as well, cocoa nibs. Not bad; fairly standard.
Taste is oddly fruity at first, touch of raisin maybe. Gets chocolate, touch of smooth vanilla and some dark peppery spice late. Pretty sweet overall, with that vanilla and chocolate mix. Pretty smooth and nice, and like a good hot cocoa. But cold. And beer.
Smooth, seamless. Could actually use more texture to make its presence felt.
I warmed to this a lot. Sweet, milky stout. Pleasant drinking.
61 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Spec's in Austin. Shared with Sam and Rich during a brewday.
Pours a deep brown-black colour, with an initially full head of mocha that settles down, losing volume and colour. It ends up as a filmy ring of beige that leaves faint specks of lace. Body has a bit of heft, which is good, although the carbonation runs through the body very quickly. Looks decent enough though.
Nose is a little dusty and nutty, without a big character of chocolate, to be honest. We're left with a small amount of praline, perhaps, but there's more of those toasted nut characters than what the bottle promises. It's okay, but it doesn't wow me.
Taste is a little better. Here, the stout character at least is coming through, which gives it a dusky dryness and a bit of roasted oomph. The back is slightly smoother, with a hint of something creamy—perhaps finally a hint of that promised chocolate. This lingers with a bit of liquorice and maybe even slightly fruity. It's decent.
Feel is pretty slick, but it's affected by a surprisingly high amount of carbonation.
Overall, this is solid, but pretty unassuming stuff. It doesn't really leap out at me in any significant way, but it is a solidly built beer. It could have been better though.
78 / 100
Tried on-tap as part of a sampler at the brewery/hotel in New Braunfels, TX.
Pours a proper deep, dark brown colour with some good weight and haze to it. Head is a nice, fine tan, that leaves full, sheeting lace with intricate edges. Carbonation is fine by quite limited and moderated. Looks very good all up.
Nose is also quite pleasant. Slightly earthy, with some grain-like rustic, organic tones, coupled with a pleasant chocolate/cocoa lift to it. It's almost savoury, with a slight meaty char or gravy note to it, which works well to counteract the suggested sweetness from the chocolate.
Taste is also very nice. Toasty and dry, but dusted with cocoa to give it a smooth edge. Mild roastiness comes through, almost in the feel more than anything, with a crispness around the edges. Slight almond amaretto/marzipan character gives it a touch of astringency. But there's plenty of body to it as well. I like it.
Feel is good. Smooth and pleasant.
Overall, I'm a fan. This is good stuff, well constructed and well-balanced. This is certainly one of the best of their range.
71 / 100
Tried on-tap at The Friendly Spot in San Antonio, TX. This is brewed with coffee from Local Coffee, which is (unsurprisingly) a local San Antonio coffee roaster.
Pours a lovely deep brown colour with some good weight behind it. Head is appropriately coloured like espresso crema, and forms a good firm film across the top of the glass. Lace is a nice sharding drop of vertical streaks. Carbonation is very fine. Looks really great.
Light aroma with dry coffee tones predominant with a slight dusky malt character coming in underneath. It's slightly gritty, to be honest, but the roast character is smoothed somewhat by a little sweetness. It's pretty decent.
Light entry on the palate, with a surprising crispness from the coffee. This mellows once the malt comes in, with some smooth roasted characters on the mid palate, aided by some sweetness and booze. Finish cleans this up though, leaving the back toasty and dry. Some coffee lingers with a bit of fruit—almost a suggestion of acidity. Aftertaste has a very mild cling of coffee to remind you what this is all about.
Feel is very solid, but clean, with a bit of weight behind it.
Overall, yeah, this is pretty decent. The smoothness and the weight of the body help it go down even while they provide what I guess are the more challenging elements. Good beer drunk under good circumstances.
80 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars, poured into a pint glass.
Pleasant black-brown body, silky and thick, with a fine and fairly solid head of creamy pale beige, that leaves excellent streaky, vertical lacing. Body is fairly fluid, but has a littler weight, as is evidenced by the fine straggling carbonation that forms when it's tilted. Looks pretty good.
Nose is genuinely pretty subdued, but this is no bad thing. There's a subtle charm to it—a very mild sweet-toasty character that helps it feel comforting at least. There's also a pleasant peppery character coming through, along with some very subtle wine-like notes. It's pretty pleasant.
Taste is also subdued, but really well-constructed. Pleasant deep semi-savoury dark malts, with a smoothness that never genuinely suggests sweetness. Indeed, I'm impressed that this manages to be 7% without being overly sweet, and yet there's still enough body to keep it cushioned against the dark bitterness. It's a really well-balanced beer. Feel helps here as well—smooth but slick, and with a lightness that genuinely helps its drinkability.
Overall, excellent stuff. Garage Project do so well not only because they try interesting and novel things, but because they pull them off with consummate skill. I genuinely think they have an uncanny knack for creating balance and subtlety in even their weirder brews. And in a beer like this which is much more conservative in flavour, that balance and subtlety becomes its true signature.
77 / 100
The younger, more timid brother of the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel comes to us in a 330ml brown bottle from Slowbeer in Melbourne, containing a 4.8% ABV version of something purporting to be the kin of the much stronger BGB. Let's see how it goes.
Pours a deep brown, with a thick, frothy head of beige tinged with a touch of yellow. The body is quite fluid and light, and although the carbonation seems fine, it flows swiftly and with anarchic verve to the top of the glass when tilted, like the hissing bubbles on a troubled sea. Lacing forms in bone-like structures on the side of the glass. It looks as you might expect from BGB's baby brother.
Nose is very pleasant, here taking on much of the lovely sweet coffee-based characters of its predecessor. Quite a bright, fruity quality comes through from to coffee addition, which works with a much subdued roast sweetness to give a sense of fullness in the aroma. This is somewhat diminished by a very slight lightness towards the back—perhaps a slight carbonic character—that suggests a little more roast or a little less depth than you'd get in the full thing. It's still an extremely nice and coherent nose though.
Taste is also relatively well structured for the first part. Pleasant full-cream milk coffee runs broadly through the front and the mid-palate, giving sweetness but briskness, and a slight linger of raw granulated sugar towards the back. It does drop off rather quickly in the finish though, leaving it almost as though there's a touch too much roast bitterness, but really it's just because there's not a lot of true sweetness—only just a touch of vanilla sliding into the conclusion.
It's a nice brew. It is genuinely quite pleasant to get a beer with so much character packed into just 4.8% ABV. But it also engenders the question of why you'd prefer to drink this over the original BGB for any other reason. The characters are so similar, but in flavour it's almost in every way the lesser of the two. For what it is though, it's worth every percentage point of its ABV.
73 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a very pleasant and deep black-brown, sleek and silky in the glass. Head is dark as well, forming a filmy cap of musty chocolate. Some minor globs of lace form. Carbonation is very minimal, forming in racing clusters when tilted, but otherwise only showing up as a couple of thin streams. Looks pretty good all up though.
Nose is dusky and dark, with a pronounced cacao chocolate note laced with a hint of seaweed. Quite roasted for the most part though, giving a solid darkness to its core. I like it.
Taste is very pleasant. Here, it seems to be mostly bitter chocolate all the way through. In particular, there's a thick and coating feel to the body, that allows the cacao character to coat the inside of my mouth. Salt? Not really—there's a slight minerally character towards the back, more like iodine than salt, that ends up just hiding alongside the roasted bitterness that marks the finish. It maybe lacks a touch of complexity, overall, but it's composition is all pleasant flavours nonetheless.
Yep, it's a nice beer—perhaps not as envelope-pushing as it could have been, or as the pedigree of the two breweries who made it might make you expect—but it's a tasty beer nonetheless. And it's silky smooth and drinkable for its weight.
Pours a dark brown, head is beige. Ochre even. Lace sticks nicely. Pretty nice looking.
Smells petrolly. Lots of booze with inky chocolate notes as well. Touch of hazelnut and coffee. Plenty of nice chocolate stouty roasty notes, not much salt. But pretty nice.
Taste is similar. Lots of chocolate roastiness. Touches of nuts, on there. Roasty bitterness is tempered late and tapers off so seems kinda dry late. Probably the salt, just dries up without having much flavour. Could definitely be stronger.
Decent, smooth enough. Bit boozey on the back.
A bit big, and yet the 'bigness' is all stout, when I more expected to be socked in the face with salt. As it is it's a very mild hint on a big stout, and I think they'd have done a lot better dialling back the stout elements to allow the salt to come through as a stronger complement.
Dark brown, mostly black and looks the consistency of petrol. Head is mocha, small bubbles with thin crown on top. Decent lacing. Pretty nice.
Smells roasty, fairly bitter. Big espresso notes with some cacao, vanilla bean and strong caramel. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Taste is quite sweet. Caramel upfront with notes of cocoa and vanilla aplenty. Fair espresso bitterness starts late-mid and goes to the end. Fairly bitter, but a nice overall sweetness. Pretty decent.
A bit dry; yeah OK but a bit thin at times and has a bit of a hump midway.
Maybe a bit portery? Possibly a bit thin, but very decent.
75 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco.
Pours a deep red-black colour, quite clear when held to the light. Head forms a coarse mess of beige froth that leaves tiny, intricate lace. Body is solid without being heavy—it moves around quite smoothly in the glass. Carbonation is fine. Looks good.
Nose is extremely pleasant. Big toasty, nutty sweetness, with overtones of coconut, Nutella and vanilla. Smooth, and extremely potent. Slight popcorn characters come through too, which would be unusual were it not for the darker grounding that just make it become part of the sweetness. Really genuinely excellent stuff.
Taste is much more restrained, but still solid: clean, smooth dark malt with echoes of those aromatic nut characters. Slight liquorice tones and a hint of something slightly medicinal on the mid-palate. The main problem is that it's really quite light towards the back: it makes it feel thin, whereas the nose made it seem like it was going to be smooth, rich and luscious.
Very drinkable overall, and with some really great flavours to it. This could be a genuinely superb brew if it were a bit bigger... I say that, and then remember that perhaps the "bigger" version of this is something like Avery's Mephistopheles Stout. And, yes, that is a beer throbbing with indescribable power. I guess it's no bad thing to be the smaller, wimpier brother to a beer like that.
60 / 100
Tried on cask at Craft Beer Co in London.
Pours a deep red-black colour that looks opaque in the glass—whether that's from colour or from haze it's hard to tell. Body is solid. Head forms a creamy, but coarse-bubbled beige that leaves some lace. Minimal fine carbonation. Looks decent.
Nose has some mild coffee characters coming through and a touch of liquorice. Broad malt basis gives it some heft and a little roast comes through. It's not bad, but it seems somewhat generic.
Light, toasty entry on the palate with a creaminess that seems to sit with it throughout. Full weight comes through in the middle, although there's not a lot of flavour—just that persistent creaminess, which is partially a texture. Coffee comes through on the back, but it has the characteristics of thin water-filtered beans. Mild finish, relatively pleasant with a lingering roast flavour.
Feel is smooth, but a little thin—as though it's a bit cold, even though it's really not.
Overall, it's okay. It doesn't have the complexity or flavour profile to warrant its big ABV bill—it just doesn't deliver a big enough punch. I've had far better similar beers.
Tried from cask at The Rake pub in Southwark, London.
Pours a deep, silky black colour, with a very fine if impersistent head of mocha beige. Carbonation is very powdery, especially when the glass is tilted. Body is fine, but rather light as well. Leggy when swirled. Looks good.
Nose has stacks of chocolate and cocoa. Dusty but smooth with a hint of the boozy liquor underneath—unsurprising as this beer weighs in at 8.5% ABV. Some purple fruit also makes an appearance adding a bleeding edge of mild tartness. Vanilla comes through as it warms. Smells great.
Taste is hit damagingly by a definite tartness: green olive or faint cherry, with a slight bile acidity on the back. There's still chocolate, still dusty cocoa coming through, but that green acidic note kills it: fern bracken and brine. It's not pleasant.
Feel is smooth and fine on the front before it's ripped apart by the acidity on the back. It's a real shame.
Overall, something is wrong I'm afraid. It smells tops, but everything afterwards is a let-down. Despite everything, it's still relatively drinkable with its faults, but I'm sure this is not the way it was intended to taste.
71 / 100
Tried on nitro-tap at the Frog & Rosbif in Paris.
Pours a deep, but fluid black-brown. Body is fairly lightweight, but the nitro covers that up. Head is a beautiful creamy beige crest that leaves fine, sheeting lace. Pour came with some good reverse cascade. Bubbling is powdery but very light. Looks good.
Nose is a bit light: faint, mild toastyness a slim roasted character with some clean malt at its base. Some slight coppery tones come through as well. It's not bad.
Taste is much better. Thin roasty entry that blossoms into a full chocolate basis. Sweet body, roasty but without any harshness: it works really well with the feel from the nitro. Smooth, brown maltiness towards the back and a little lingering cherry on the finish, which blends nicely.
Feel is quite light and a little thin, but very, very smooth.
Overall, this is a very drinkable English stout. Tasty, and easy and easily taken in pints. Nice stuff, and the best beer I had the the Frog.
74 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by my brother-in-law from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a murky brown-black, certainly not opaque, and certainly not black. Head forms a fairly solid and fine-bubbled crest of beige, but settles out to a fine ring with some pancake bubbling across the top. Body looks a bit thin. Overall though, it looks fairly decent.
Nose is pleasant. Chocolate sweetness caresses a mild roast note with lingering overtones of berries and something a little floral. It's quite fragrant, but with depth and with a sweetness and roast to drag it back firmly into stout territory. It's very nice indeed.
Taste is back into more familiar territory, but still with plenty of pleasant things to drive it. Solid mid-level malts give chocolate and sweetness, while the body remains pleasantly dry, leaving the roast to come out more fully in the finish. The chocolate character stays around until the end, leaving the aftertaste smoother than it could have otherwise been. Feel is, as I said, rather light in the body, but it has a pleasant slickness to it, especially on the back.
Overall, I like it a fair bit. There's a little complexity lacking in the palate, but it's still extremely solid, and with good structure. The aroma is really wonderful. It's certainly something I'd drink again.
79 / 100
Tried on-tap at Dejavu Bar in Melbourne during Good Beer Week in 2013.
Pours a deep, oily dark brown, almost opaque, but matching the chocolate theme nicely. Body is pretty light and fluid. Head forms a yellowed crema-brown in a solid, bubbly ring. Lace forms in specks. Looks decent enough.
Nose is awesome. Rich, gooey chocolate cake, rich cocoa with a buttery sweetness underlying everything. Milky hot chocolate. It's intense, sweet and rich. It could maybe have a bit more complexity, but in terms of delivering what they promise, they've nailed it.
Taste has a lighter entry, slightly toasty and dark, moving to more coffee characters on the middle. There's a light maltiness to it and some slightly savoury tones, before a dry, clinging character on the back suggests that chocolate cake flavour again. Really rich and long on the aftertaste: mud cake all over.
Feel is light, but fairly full, with a slight clingingness on the back.
Overall, this is a cracker of a beer: immensely flavoursome and intense. It's exciting, awesome stuff.
83 / 100
On tap at the Quarrymans Hotel during Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours a dark brown colour, thin rim of head. Beige in colour, not much and not much lace. Nice colour, otherwise, cask beer.
Smells like maple and coffee, in equal measure. In the sense that both aromas complement and augment each other to the point of smellgasm. Spice of coffee and desserty syrupy sweetness of maple. Why are there not more things combining these two flavours? Get on that, people.
Taste is similar. Maple has a slight nutty character poking around the sides, with coffee roast and a bit of dry spice up the middle. Coffee doesn't taste as rounded as it smelled, and the maple isn't quite as sweet as it smelled either. On their own, I'd think the two flavours would really wow me, but next to the smell they're not that amazing. Nice, but more dry. It's strange that such a tasty palate should feel like a disappointment. On its own that palate would be a cracker, but the smell is miraculous.
Decent body, feels like a hand pump, though. English and untextured.
Seriously, cracking beer though. Your dessert and coffee in one go. A money saver at fancy restaurants. Get on it, people.
60 / 100
22oz bomber shared with me by @LaitueGonflable. I believe I may have given him the bottle originally, but I can't remember where I bought it from, if so.
Pours fairly dark, solidly brown in the body, but thin at the edges. Body is fairly thin. Head forms a bubbly faint ring around the edge of the glass, in a faint beige hue. Lace forms only in specks. Looks decent, no better.
Nose is great though. Lots of brewed coffee characters, slightly sweaty, but bitter with roast notes. Pleasant and bright, perhaps a very faint hint of sulphur, but it just adds some complexity. Light but very pleasant.
Light clean entry on the palate, with a slight spice character. This mellows into more roasted notes on the mid, but it's really lacking solidity, and the coffee just feels a bit reedy by this point. Finish is a little crisper, and has a touch of roast.
Feel is a bit weak, which underlines the thinness of the mid and back palate.
Overall, it's quite drinkable for its weakness, and it's pleasant enough overall. There's certainly at least some interest there. It feels a bit like it's neither committing to being light, nor is it being really rich. One way or the other and it'd be very good.
81 / 100
500ml bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Stanmore.
Pours a deep, but thin black hue, with a full and rich head of mild pale brown, which works really well. The body is definitely light. For 4.7% ABV, it's not unsurprising. Overall though, it's got a good solid look to it.
Nose is awesome. Big spicy coffee hit mingled with a noticeable hop character that gives it an edgy, herbal tone that works beautifully with the fresh roasted tones from the beans. There's a solid malt behind it: roasty as well, but with enough sweetness to provide some basis. There's a hint of marshmallow and vanilla to it which is extremely pleasant. Overall, I love it—it's great stuff.
Taste is also good. Lighter in body, but with a persistence of roast and a slightly fruity tone to the coffee which gives some berry and stone fruit to the mix. It's a note which works against the straight, solid roast of the base, taking some of the edge off, and somehow softening it into a cohesive whole with the rest of the flavours. It's extremely well done.
Feel is very light: it actually works well enough, but perhaps only because the flavours are so well balanced.
Overall, though, this is yet another cracking beer from Moor. They have impressed me a huge amount with the few beers of theirs I've tried, and this is yet another data-point reinforcing what a fine brewery they are.
72 / 100
Pours a very dark brown; head is a bit lacklustre: beige, rim of small bubbles. Lace is a bit thin and bland.
Big coffee aroma. Burnt, spicy espresso, hints of herbs, black pepper, pepperberries and juniper. Nice coffee; smells tasty.
Taste is similar to other coffee stouts I've had. Sweet, with caramel malt, touch of roast but swimming in a bit of watery malt base. Bit of spice and a touch of espresso at the back, but subdued. This coffee seems nice enough, it could totally dominate the palate and I'd be on board.
Not a bad body. Bit thin, but fair amount of texture. Good presence.
Nice flavour. Could use a bit more coffee character in there.
Pours a dark brown, with a glint or so of mahogany up to the light. Head is darkish beige, bit whispy but decent lace left around. Looks pretty good, although it could easily look better in all aspects.
Smells quite resiny, actually. Fair floral hints coming off that, with some citrus, pine and rubber. Mostly light, and even though it's deliberate, I'm missing something darker, more heavy or just earthier, as it all seems a bit unsubstantial. Nice, but I'd like more.
Taste is a bit better. Still a little light body-wise, but plenty of that resiny hop note upfront, with floral and woody, organic sap notes that transition smoothly into a long, bitter finish. Lots of astringency on the back, with charred roastiness and resinous hop oils competing for the bitter crown. A bit too much, really, kind of lemon pithy and doesn't quite clean up to make me want more.
Body is quite light for the style, but there's a presence by the end. OK.
Have had better dark beers, this one tastes quite heavy but not quite a full enough flavour to compensate for the weighty bitterness. Just a bit ashy and astringent. Not an everyday beer.
57 / 100
Any beer with "Bourbon Barrel Stout" on the label is going to pique my interest. Then, I was surprised to see that this is a relatively low-ABV version, and I was interested to see where this went: in the past my experience with bourbon stouts has almost certainly been limited to Imperial version. 22oz bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a dark, murky black, browning at the edges. Head forms a very fine, silky ring after settling out quickly. Some very fine but quite minimal lacing around the edges of the glass. Carbonation is fine enough, but it moves through the body quickly. Overall, it looks decent enough.
Nose certainly picks up some bourbon: and oddly, more bourbon than oak, with a definite corn character coming through, and a spicy booze note, without a lot of smooth oaky characters. Certainly there's no oaky vanilla, coconut or rounded wood notes. What's there is that sweet corn character, laced with some darkness that comes through as a compacted vegemite character above some slightly overdone toast. Together, it's almost reminiscent of an acidity. It's weird, and I can't say I love it all that much.
Taste is also not all that great, but for quite different reasons. Here the lack of body is sorely evident, and it's what's missing the most from the beer. Thin entry, backed with lashings of sickly bourbon characters that drop out quickly. What's left is a bready, grainy character that lingers long efter everyone else has disappeared trying to avoid it. Finish has a slight kick of sweetness, again possibly the bourbon: but this has an almost butterscotch cloy to it. Feel is very light, but with enough stickiness to keep some of those flavours around for too long.
Nope, this doesn't work for me. In fact, this beer probably explains why my experience with bourbon barrel stouts has to date been only Imperial versions. The bourbon doesn't do anything for this beer, and in fact probably harms it. It takes over the stout, without providing much good characters itself. The flavours are assertive, but they just don't work for me.
Pours a very dark-brown colour, almost black but a bit of light shows through the clear body. Tan head is foamy and thick, crowning off a very nice looking stout.
Nose is roasty and spicy and dark. Pretty dry, too and a little muffled on the roasty side, possibly a bit too much malt showing through and not enough roast. Pleasant, though.
Again quite sweet on the palate, but a good roasty stout character as well. Slightly noticeable alcohol, but it comes across as warming rather than intrusive. Bit of a straight-down-the-line stout, sweet, chocolatey and a hint of roasty spice. Subtle and not bad at all.
Fairly good body, good substance to it. Carbonation is noticeable but the body pads it well. Not bad.
Not entirely my cup of tea overall, but a very decent stout.
71 / 100
Pours a dark-brown colour, slight red tinge to it. Foamy beige head with a decent ability to stick around and enjoy the party. Bit pale for a stout, but looks good for a beer.
Nutty malt upfront on the nose, with a bit of dry spice. Anise, pepper and slightly mediciney. I guess it's sarsparilla-y, although I'm not very familiar with it otherwise. Pretty decent.
Again that nutty malt starts off the palate before descending into big spice territory. Star anise and licorice, really gets a kind of black jellybean flavour. Rooty, earthy and spicy. Can't say I love it, but I'm impressed in it delivering what it promises. Quite mellow, too.
Decent body with slight tingle from the carbonation.
Yeah, not really my cup of sars, but a decent drop certainly.
Pours a dark-brown stouty colour, clear with tan head. Decent, could be blacker.
Roasty and stouty nose, with coffee and chocolate characters. Could have slightly more chilli aroma, but there is some vaporous chilli spice wafting through. Very complex, but lacking a little in the chilli stakes.
Oh. Did I ask for more chilli? Silly, silly Sam. Actually disappointly watery palate mostly, with a hint of roasty flavour towards the mid. Masses, just masses, of chilli on the end. Spicy and hot without a lot else suggesting itself. Aaargh.
Yeah, thin on the feel as well. Flat carbonation too allowing the chilli to strangle the mouth. Could use far more body.
I like a good chilli beer but this has nothing really going for it except the massive chilli heat. It needs to be a component, otherwise I might as well just drink from my crushed chilli jar. Not a big fan.
73 / 100
Interesting: I see there's another similar "double stout" brewed by Matilda Bay back in 2010. This version was supposedly a new beer brewed for the GABS festival in Melbourne. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and not assumed it's just that old version rehashed.
In any case, this is a very tasty brew. Pours a deep, opaque black colour with very solid weight in the glass. Head is a creamy cap of crema that leaves some solid, full lacing. Looks good.
Nose is great: big roasty characters that almost lends a smokiness to the brew. Sweetness comes through with the thick aroma of peanut butter. Delicious, solid and very smooth. Great stuff.
Light entry on the palate, with a little roast, before some middling sweetness comes through to fill it out a little. Some roasty bitterness becomes more prominent on the finish, but it's always very smooth and creamy in the feel, which glosses over anything too harsh or astringent.
This is really nice stuff, unexpected from Matilda Bay, who usually shy away from doing anything beyond the "marginally craft". Let's see them be a bit more experimental in the future!
76 / 100
Had on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. Being a fan of root beer and sarsaparilla, I was intrigued to try this.
Pours a relatively light brown colour with surprising clarity. Body is light, but the head is firm, forming a ring of off-white that leaves patchy lace. Overall, not bad.
Forms a very weird mixture on the nose that feels slightly plasticky. Root beer, sassafras, wintergreen with a grainy malt character that makes the beer feel quite savoury. It's utterly unique and very nicely done.
Light grain on the front palate leaving quite en opening for the spicy sassafras to come through, along with a minty mouthwash and toothpaste character. Finish is round and dark, with a smooth vanilla hint to seal it off.
The only downside is that the weight is very low at 4% ABV, meaning it feels very thin. Still, it helped with the drinkability. I found myself drinking it without thinking.
I'm totally the target audience for this beer, so I'm well aware that others may not share my enthusiasm, but I just loved it.
Next time, Grand Ridge, do an imperial version.
83 / 100
A S'more stout? Sure, sign me up for that. This was a bomber purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a slightly brown-tinged black, with a filmy, but relatively fine head of beige, what dissipates to a ring, and only leaves patches of lace. Body is solid, and forms some tight, fine carbonation. Looks good enough.
The nose, however, is where this starts to get interesting. Huge, sweet biffo in the aroma, giving melted chocolate and puffy vanilla marshmallow characters, above, yep, a sweet, biscuity base of malt and gooeyness. It's like a digestive biscuit dunked in a chocolate fondue. Extremely sweet, but absolutely delivering on its promise. Amazing stuff.
Taste, ooh, is also extremely goodâand to be honest, better than I was expecting. While I thought the promise of the sweetness would not really be delivered (and it's not), there is a genuine commitment to the S'mores theme here, with more biscuity characters coming through, mingled with a genuine crispy smokiness. On the back palate, we get a long, drawn out milk chocolate character, which again doesn't really contain the sweetness of real chocolate, but absolutely nails its essence. Feel is a little light, and I'd even forgive a little booze if this wanted to be heavier overall, but it's solid as it is.
Really, really interesting stuffâextremely well executed, even if the concept of a campfire-roasted sandwich of chocolate and marshmallow is not your thing. I believe I'll have to keep my eye on High Water in the future.
44 / 100
Stout brewed with chilli and chocolate. Hooey. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a full black colour, seemingly opaque but strangely clear at the edges. Quite a light body as well for a stout. Head is a light brown colour, forming a solid ring that leaves chunky lacing. Looks pretty good.
Mild roasted characters on the nose, but it feels pretty empty. Like low-quality chocolate or American filtered coffee. Hint of berry to it, but it might just be the suggestion of the chilli.
Light mild chocolate on the front of the palate quickly descends into an oily sweetness, before everything is wiped off the face of the earth in the brunt of the BURN. CHILLI. BURN. BURN. CHILLI. The feel is intenseâit tingles with the chilli burn for ages. It's impressive, but seriously just destroys the palate.
Oh god. The pain.
72 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour with a glimmer up to the light. Gorgeous head colour - umber with a slight palour to it. Bit too generous, but sinking steadily. Looks great.
Strong, bitey coffee aroma. Fruity coffee beans with pepper, mint and a hint of cocoa at the back. Bit unsubtle, like it's all just wham! in the face with coffee, some more sweetness would certainly raise the intrigue.
Taste is similar in character, but more mellowed out. Roasty and a touch of charry burnt bitterness upfront smooths out to a roasty, slightly bitter mid-palate with a lingering coffee flavour. Touch of caramel comes through then, to add sweetness, before peppery bite of a strong Italian roast on the back, and a touch of leathery licorice. Very pleasant journey, nice coffee notes but very well blended together as well.
Body is OK, but there's a sharpness on the tongue which I can only really put down to fizz. Given the size of the head I think that's fair.
Nice after-dinner stout; I really wish I'd served this a couple of weeks ago with my beeramisu. Drank this with a bowl of Café Grande icecream and it went brilliantly well.
750ml bottle, just capped, purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a very light-bodied dark cola-brown colour, with a fizzling head of mocha foam that settles down to a bubbly ring around the edge of the glass. Some small-bubbled carbonation. Overall, it looks like slightly flat Coke.
Nose is heavy on the coffee, but it's a weak, filtered coffee grounds sort of aroma, and it has minimal sweetness or depth to back it up. There's a hint of something spicy in it as well, like the spike of chilli in some mild chilli chocolate. But really, it's pretty dull, and one-dimensional.
Taste is similar, but perhaps a little better. Here the coffe comes through much as expected with the aroma: a slightly rough overextracted, husky coffee character, but this is backed up with a mild nutty, grainy character, and a wavering sweetness on the back that gives a hint of musk. Body is still extremely thin, however, and leaves little room for the flavours to do very much.
I mean, at 5.7%, it's a pretty low-budget stout anyway, especially when trying to layer it with coffee as well. There are some things to be said for that, but overall, this feels like a half-hearted and pretty insipid effort.
Pours a solid, deep brown colour, with lighter tones at the edges of the glass when tilted. Head forms frothy and full, like the mocha top of a chocolate fondue. Some speckled lacing around the edge of the glass. Body looks full, but quite fluid, and forms tight carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is mostly still dominated by the stout, but a sharp pine resin note comes through relatively strongly, giving a greenish twinge to the otherwise brown-black aroma. Still there are notes of coffee, roasted grains and a touch of coconut.
Taste is unusual, with a deep roasted bitterness topping a touch of sweetness, but not a lot. Instead, there's a sharp vector of hoppy bitterness towards the back, which has the twin consequences of making the roastedness more pronounced, and making the feel seem less full and thinner. The roast and the hops has the other consequence of leaving an odd dark floral flavour, like lavender or holly. It's very unusual.
I'm afraid to say that this didn't work for me all that well; the dark roast it not full enough to support the hops, or the hops don't mesh nicely with the stoutier flavours. It doesn't have the subtle synergy of a India Black Ale, and the hops blast through any vestige of it being a true stout. It makes it awkward, overly bitter, and oddly, despite everything, lacking in complexity.
Probably my least favourite of the Beer Geek series so far.
79 / 100
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse's 8 Wired Makeover.
Pours a dark, dark brown. Pretty much black, with nice darkish beige head, fluffy and dense with stunning lace. Retains amazingly well. Pretty damn close to looking perfect. In fact, it pretty much does.
Plenty of coffee on the nose, roasty and spicy. Hints of pepper and espresso, some dark chocolate, caramel and vanilla. Good, bold and roasty with a decent spice, yet toned and mellow. Very nice stout.
Taste is also spicy and roasty, with lots of sharp coffee notes, hint of burnt character but nothing too astringent. Plenty of spice mid-to-late that never goes overboard, but a bit dry and has a big flavour of coffee mostly. It's very nice coffee but still lacking other darker flavours, could maybe use a bit more Belgian fruit. Plenty of Belgian spice at the back though, so it finishes well. Good palate.
Fairly dry mouthfeel, but great body to it. Yeah, very nice texture.
Great bold stout, loads of flavour but beautifully reined in. We're witnessing a master at work here.
77 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst.
Pours a solid enough black, with a foamy, mocha-coloured head, which is pretty persistent. Great honeycomb lacing down the inside of the glass. Lightish body when tilted, but still forming fine carbonation. Looks nice.
Fruity coffee on the nose, giving pleasantly, but lightly roasted characters, and a dark berry hint. Slightly green, clipped vegetation quality as well, suggesting gum or resin. It's really very pleasant. Light, but intriguing.
Taste is also good, with blends of fruity coffee beans, clipped grass, and a hint of resin. Clear hoppy bitterness on the back helps extend the palate, making it fuller than the body or ABV suggests. Roast characters provide the flavour framework, but the hops actually provide the basis.
Really nicely put together beer. Interesting, but coherent, and nicely balanced. It reminds me most of all of Mountain Goat's Seedy Goat Coffee IPA: it has the same fruity characters from the coffee, blended nicely and balanced with hops. Good job.
Pours a dark red colour, raisiny I guess. Light head when poured, disappears to nothing after a while. No lace. Decent colour, otherwise bland.
Woah, coffee galore, that's a pick-me-up. Deep roast on the nose but powdered coffee in character, largely sweet but with phenolic and spicy hints at the edges. Not much edge to it, but nice.
Taste starts our very weak, with hints of roast espresso but largely just watered-down toasty bitterness. Nothing really asserts itself until the finish and even thin it's a sheepish whimper rather than a yell. Weak, watered down with mild hints here and there of instant coffee. Really unimpressed.
Watery, not a lot of substance at all. For 7% I'm surprised at how weak and thin this is.
Really disappointed, especially after the wham of coffee aroma I got. I've had coffee from 7-11 with more flavour than this.
75 / 100
Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst for the Mikkeller Tap Takeover. On the home stretch, this was beer #16 of 20.
Pours a deep and dark black-brown, with a good fluidity to the brew, and rather light bodied. Head is firm and extremely fine, a lovely light brown colour. Decent lacing. Looks good.
Nose is sharp with coffee and rounded malt, giving a creamy sweetness to the beer. Hint of something savoury to it, but overall it's smooth and solid, with the coffee giving it an edge.
Taste is bright and rather light, but with a lingering coffee character on the back. Cleansing, sharp and crisp on the finish, but the smoothness on the front is really nice.
Very decent brew. It's perhaps a little lighter in body than it should be, especially for 7% ABV, but it's drinkable, and flavoursome and has a good deal of interest to it.
76 / 100
On-tap at the East Village Tavern in New York.
Pours a very decently solid black, just brown at the tips when tilted. Head is creamy, but puckered with bubbles, in light beige. Lacing is full, sheeting and strong. Body is surprisingly good, given the relatively low ABV. Nice fine carbonation. Looks really good.
Nose is toasty, but mild, with a good, slightly smoky notes and a touch of dark liquorice. Smooth and not overpowering, but a little less exciting as a result. Certainly very pleasant.
Taste is similar. There's no smooth richness or overt sweetness, but a pleasant moderated roastiness and a creamy feel from the fine carbonation. Light mocha and liquorice characters come through and get cleaned up by a nice dark roast on the finish. All of this is without the sweetness I might have expected, but this actually makes the beer more light and drinkable, while maintaining a good measure of complexity.
A nice beer. It's not crazy, overly exciting or particularly full-flavoured, but it's pleasant and easy to drink. A nice, moderate ABV stout.
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse. Seems it may have been randalled - presumably through some peppers - although I wasn't told this when it was served. That's another matter.
Pours a dark mahogany colour with murky brown around the edge. Head is a nice ochre colour, nice and frothy but doesn't retain very well. Some lace, but not a lot. Looks decent.
Smells rather sweet. Good toasty underlying but largely cocoa producing chocolatey notes that take on a milky edge, with a touch of vanilla. Brown sugar as well and maybe a slight capsicaian note at the back, but not a whole lot. More of an organic tickle than any real pepper notes. Pleasant, but neither really cock-sockin' nor ball-knockin'.
Taste is not bad, plenty of nice stout notes on assault with mild cocoa and some espresso roast. Midway gives way to that chipotle pepper character, which is quite hot, with a bitter capsicum flavour but more of a mild sizzling sensation. Finish is chocolatey and has a chilli choc overall hit. Quite a nice brew, doesn't wow me as much as Hunter Brewing's choc-chilli porter they did for GABS though. With that in mind, this beer is probably more drinkable, still impressive, but they could have upped the cock-sockin' capabilities.
Thin, with chilli burn. Could use more body to pad it up and restore the balance in the mouth.
This is my first offering from Moon Dog, a brewery with as much hype behind it as BrewDog and as many beers available to the mainstream as Westvleteren. I'm not unimpressed, but at the same time the brewery's hype has preceeded the product. Punk marketing like this can really backfire. In this case they delivered enough, but if they keep promising more I'm going to keep expecting more.
Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. Although it was available through smoked jalapeÃ±os through the randall, I tried the straight version at the upstairs bar.
Pours a deep brown-black. head is filmy and beige to begin with. When halfway done, it has disappeared completely. Lightish body, but good opacity and colour to it.
Nose is dark and stouty, with just a hint of smoke, perhaps as much as you'd expect in a stout with some charred malt. Some smooth characters, but a touch of the extract homebrew to itâslightly sweet and slightly cloying. Not bad, but nothing particularly expressive or extreme.
Taste is similar, although it's genuinely dark and stouty, with some bitter roasted grain character especially on the back. Not picking up a whole lot of chile or smoke or anything that would make this unique. Mouthfeel is soft and reasonably full, but not huge.
I'm terribly disappointed that this is the first brew I've had from Moon Dog, because I had very high expectations, and this seems like a very tame effort from themâcertainly not a particularly big or experimental brew. Perhaps it just needs the Randallized peppers to add the edge.
Ah, Hermitage. I feel a connection with you because I feel a connection with San Jose. Some day, you will make me a truly good beer. Is this the one?
Pours a dark and relatively opaque brown-black with a frothy and quite consistent head of ochre brown. Lacing is sheeting and pleasant. Head collapses after a while, and the body is very thinâespecially for a beer weighing in at 8% ABV, but it looks decent enough.
Nose is roasty and pleasant, giving a good dash of dry and dusty cocoa to the underlying characters of roasted barley and bitter charred grain. Not particularly sweet overall, but with the potential for sweetness, like a good espresso. Not bad at all.
Taste is rather thin, in fact disappointingly so, but with a pleasant lilting roasted dryness that makes a drinkable dose out of a rather simple palate. Roasted grain on the front, with a slight cocoa semi-sweetness mid palate. Back is very dry, and the feel is woefully thin, giving little complexity or basis on the finish.
I'm afraid that Hermitage are yet to wow me, yet again, but this beer is not unpleasant. It's generally tasty, well put together and drinkable. Sure, it's missing depth, complexity and character, but it's relatively easy to drink, and is surprisingly supple for a beer weighing in at 8% ABV.
It's certainly something I'd consider picking up again. I'm surprised at how low it's rating is.
73 / 100
I was staying nearby the Brass Monkey when I was in Perth, so decided it was worth checking out to try their house beer, which I believe is still brewed by S&A.
This stout is a creamy nitrogenated gem, pouring a deep black-brown, with a gorgeous off-white head. Lacing is excellent. Overall, it looks fantastic, just as a stout ought to.
Nose is pleasant, but relatively mild. What characters are there are delicious though, a very interesting blend of woodsmoke and smooth, creamy milk chocolate. It's just enough to make you savour it.
Taste is very mild, but lacking a whole heap of stout character. Extremely smooth on the feel, leaving some subtle chocolate and light cream characters. Still, there's no roastiness, and very little darkness at all.
For all that, it's an exceptionally drinkable and very approachable stout, and one which I was very pleased to try. While it misses some classic stout characters, it makes up for it with pure enjoyment. This is something I would be very pleased to drink regularly.
Pours a dark, dark colour, slight brown up to the light but mostly black. Head is ochre, just noticeable whispy bubbles on a thin film. Lace is kind of scary and Mayan in its patterns on the glass, but quite nice.
Smell is decent, a bit weak though with mild dark coffee notes giving that slightly watered-down espresso character, but with pleasant hints of vanilla and slight coconut character. Touch of oak funk as well, and a mild cherry note peeps through at the back.
Taste is alright. Some milder-than-expected malt notes upfront, dark and kinda espresso-esque, with coffee beans and cocoa on the mid, slightly bitter with a touch of mint and a slight caramelly note to the malt. Yeah, a bit burnt towards the finish but swallowed by a thinness that really detracts from the burnt maltiness of the beer otherwise. Decent, but not wonderful.
Yeah, a decent body as well, a bit thin but not overly so, holds its own.
A pretty decent stout, although I would happily take some more robust flavours in there and still drink a few. I may have been tainted by the extremely good imperial stout I had before this, but comparing it with even Sierra Nevada stout for example I enjoyed the latter a lot more.
74 / 100
Purchased a grey-market import in Australia. I figure at least a stout will survive better in whatever conditions we get it in.
Pours a deep and dark black-brown, with a very deep brown head. Much darker than usual, with a complex and intricate lace on the inside of the glass. I love the lace, which forms in honeycomb patterns, so beautiful. Body is pleasantly thick and heavy. Looks very decent.
Nose is roasty, but soft, just giving some subtle dark notes to an otherwise oily and supple-sweet character. It's not terribly complex, but it has some pleasant aromas.
Taste is nicely roasty. For the ABV, you expect this level of char, because it doesn't have the extra body to bring it into heavy sweetness. Some ash, a bit of toast, burnt grain, with a lightness in the feel that actually aids drinkability, if it doesn't aid the palate.
Yeah, this is a nice stout, without being astounding. It's certainly good enough to be worthy of a couple of retries, and is certainly something I'd happily drink as a session brew, if I wanted something dark. I think that's the mark of a good simple stout.
87 / 100
Pours a very dark brown colour, bordering on black, with surprisingly pale beige head. What's also surprising is its proportions, but pleasantly so, with nice froth producing 3 fingers of thickness. Sinks steadily and leaves only minimal traces of beige lacing behind. A bit... renegade? in places, but a good-looking beer.
Smells very tasty. Lots of dark, roasty characters that are also nicely sweet, with nothing intense or charred to them. I think it's because there's a really distinct West Coast hoppiness to it as well, which just adds a delicious layer of 'fresh' to the toasty bitterness. But lots of chocolate and caramel malts and some cola sweetness, plus a touch of pine wood and citrus. Very appealing nose, American aromatics at their best.
Taste is enjoyable similar. Malty for large parts, with a significant nod to the dark. Chocolatey, with rich cocoa on the front that descends into more bitter territory with hints of espresso coffee and licorice. Pleasant hop character comes through on the finish, doesn't quite 'clean up' but provides an interesting contrast to the dark bitterness, which wins superiority in the fight for finishing flavours. This is decidedly American in character, providing a big "fuck you" to mediocrity and a unique twist on conventional stout flavours. Damn tasty.
Good texture, all the way down. Lots of body but nothing too heavy. Has a slight residual dryness that almost feels viscous, but apart from that niggle, damn close to perfection.
I've learnt in the past couple of weeks that this bottle is a "grey market" import to Australia. Worrying as this could be, I think the folks at SN needn't be overly concerned in this case because this beer I'm drinking is damned delicious. I can only imagine how good this would be fresh and, God willing, I'll be re-reviewing this in California some day.
74 / 100
Pours a dark and rather opaque black-brown. Head is foamy and large-bubbled, and dissipates rather quickly, but is a very pleasant shade of chocolate brown. Sustains a ring of froth around the edge of the glass, with some decent heaviness to the body, although there's no lace to speak of. Looks very heavy and dark - extremely suitable for the style at least.
Nose is deliciously roasted - extremely dark charred malt characters throughout, almost tending towards a black sourness. Slight hints of vinous oaky characters, and a sweet vanilla character mixing pleasantly with chocolate notes. Lovely characters, and much the American style stout.
Taste is also good, even though it doesn't extend the wonderful characters on the nose into something blissful. Roasted malt throughout, with a bittersweet chocolate note and a rather light finish. Quite a light ending, to be fair. It aids the drinkability, but reminds me of what the truly phenomenal and truly heavy American Impy Stouts really give you that this is missing.
Feel is light, really lighter than it should be, even for a 6.6% non-Imperial stout.
A very nice stout nonetheless. I'm not sure I've had a better non-Imperial American Stout. This is very tasty, with some genuinely pleasant and genuinely robust characters, and the lightness means it goes down very easily. Good drop of beer.
88 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst as part of their Canadian Beer SpecTapular.
Pours a very deep, opaque black, with a crusty head of mocha foam. Thick, with lots of statick bubbles in the body under the head. Heavy, devilish and delicious-looking.
Huge chocolate, nutty and vinally ice-cream characters on the nose, with a hint of rye crackers and Nutella. So sweet and lovely; really, really awesome. Not a huge amount of layering of complexity, but the intensity and sweet deliciousness of the characters is great.
Smooth entry, light hints of dark grain, before the soothing vanilla and chocolate sauce characters come through to mellow the palate into sweetness. Very sweet, with only a whiff of roasted charred characters, giving a slight cigar smoke piquancy. Really delicious.
This was a sensational beer, and one of the very best on the day. So delectable, so rich, but so mellow and seductive. Awesome.
71 / 100
Pours a cola-brown, with the colour only visible at the edges once in the glass. Slightly pink-tinged beige head that dissipates to leave deliciously thick lines of lacing around the glass. Steady carbonation is visible. Looks alright, could be better.
Nose is quite delicious, with the aroma detectable during the pour, nice and strong. Sweet cocoa-rich chocolate on the nose with a decent milkiness to it. Can't get any distinct vanilla because it's lost in the sweet mélange presented to me. Toasted grain, sweet corn/rice on there, with light caramelisation, cream and cinnamon. Very tasty, hearty and sexy fragrance.
Taste leands more heavily on the cocoa side and as a result is more bitter. Starts with that sweet character with caramel, vanilla and some lightly toasted bread notes, then cocoa takes over, imparting a strong, robust unsweetened chocolate flavour for the mid which is rich and earthy. Finish lets the sweetness trail off and bitterness abounds, with a light ashy flavour late, notes of spent coffee and tobacco on there. Particularly prominent on the aftertaste, and I'm finding a very slight watery gap late on the finish before that bitterness takes over. From my nose expectations I'm disappointed but despire its faults this is a fairly tasty stout.
Feel is smooth with a little bubbliness as it goes down. Perfect viscosity coats your mouth.
Definitely a good one to drink. At 6.5% it can almost pass for sessionable, and the doses of bitter and sweet are balanced enough to keep you coming back. Look forward to trying this on tap at the Moose and Mountie spectapular at the Local Taphouse in a couple of weeks.
48 / 100
Pours a deep reddish black with only a slightly filmy head of milk-chocolate coloured bubbles. Pretty light in the body. Overall, it's not a particularly impressive looking stout. A little insipid, and not exciting me with its prospects.
Pleasant dark soaked grains and rye bread character on the nose. Whiffs of chocolate coming through as well, but a little subtle. The dark grain notes and toasty characters carry this beer, and leave it very pleasant.
Taste is rather thin, unfortunately, with little sweetness and almost no body. Even the bready grain character is muted, leaving an initial watery character followed only by a light ashy bitterness. Feels rather insipid and severely lacking.
This really is missing body, sweetness and depth. It tastes watered down and not particularly inspiring. Gets very tiresome after a while, and whatever pleasant notes were promised on the nose are really not delivered.
Pours a dark, dark reddish-brown colour with a thin head of visible bubbles. Disappointing head for a Grand Ridge beer, really. Disappears, leaving an ochre rim, although it is fed by some quite furious bubbling, especially around the edge. Lacing is an awesome curtain of sticky film. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite delectable, with a rich chocolate aroma combined with brandied cherries, some sweet nuts and a bit of a latte character - like espresso, but lighter and more buoyant. Smell is overall really quite fruity, but with a pleasantly sweet, yet brooding, darkness as well, like the character of Satan in the director's cut of When Harry met Sally.
Taste has a similar sweet character throughout, with a nice chocolatey edge, only it's tempered by an over-roasted grain flavour, slightly burnt and ashy. It comes through on the mid and leaves a lingering grittiness on the scene, with a moderate coffee kind of flavour and a slight smokey astringency.
Mouthfeel is good, feels a little thin at first, but there is enough body to carry it off. Not great though, just a reasonable fullness.
The burnt bitterness at the back is a slight turn-off here because it does leave your mouth dry and ashy, but there's enough to like here. It could benefit from more of the nice fruit esters off the nose and a slightly lower roast factor on the grain. Decent effort.
81 / 100
On tap at Sydney's Local Taphouse US Beer SpecTapular.
Pours a deep, almost opaque black brown, jus with hints of lightness at the corners - looks like melted chocolate with blackberry syrup. Head is thick, heavy and big. Delicious. Lacing sublime. Hell yes, this is a beer!
Delicious cocoa nibs on the nose, sweet and dusty and rich. That's it, you have to admit, but god it's good.
Nice huge roasty chiocolate character on the palate too. Not very sweet, but the roasted rich bittersweet character of true dark cocoa-rich chocolate. Even a light resin peeping through. Very good.
Mouthfeel very suitable: creamy and smooth. Not terrible thick, but very good.
A very smooth, drinkable and delectable beer. Thankyou Local Taphouse for bringing it to our shores. It was better on tap here than in bottles in the US.
91 / 100
Pours a very imperial-level dark colour, with brown mocha head, slight tinge of brown at the very bottom of the tulip, but otherwise pitch black. Head retains to a medium crown and lacing is to die for. That is a fucking king Henry shit of a beer.
Nose is insanely chocolatey. I mean, that smells like cocoa, if I'm honest. It dominates quite comprehensively. There is a dustiness to it, or a dryness, that makes me feel like cocoa powder should be coming up my nose. Maybe a hint of bourbon as well, but what an amazing smell.
Taste is a strong, rich, bitter cocoa experience, hints of milky chocolate in the front, then a bitter, roasty cocoa character on the mid that extends its mechanical claws in my mouth to expand its deliciousness. I almost heard it say "Go go gadget chocolate deliciousness". There is a slight bitter roasty espresso character on the back and maybe even some hops, of all things? Hops in a beer?? That stop it from being too sweet. Instead it's just fuck hot delicious.
That is very, very, very nice. So well built. Full of flavour, just pleasant. Mouthfeel is slick, nicely full. Great and suits it so well.
I'm a big fan indeed. What a fantastic beer. I could drink that for the rest of my life.
73 / 100
Pours in a lovely satin curve of brown black into the glass, promoting a frothy but large-bubbled head of tan foam. Very dark, but not opaque - there's flashes of deep red visible at the edges of the glass. Head retention is pretty good too. Looks very reasonable indeed.
Nice chocolate and dark grains on the nose, quite sweet and even a slight oaky vinous character too it. Something comfortingly earthy and organic to it. For some reason it puts me in mind of Bear Republic's Black Bear Stout, which is a fine recommendation.
Taste is very roasty, with a pronounced ashy charcoal character. Very little sweetness, which is a real shame - a nice dark chocolate note could have rounded out the palate beautifully. As it is, we're left with the earthy roasted characters, some residual oak and a very dry finish. Mouthfeel is round and light.
A very decent stout - very drinkable and with some very pleasant characters. Once again, 3 Ravens have impressed me not with their abilities or desires to push the boundaries, but with a very pleasant beer made very well.
80 / 100
Pours a deep brown black, with a big head of milky chocolate foam. Lots of sturdy lacing, and the head retention is very good. If the head were just slightly creamier, it would be phenomenal, but it's pretty damn good as is.
Huge sweet cocoa characters on the nose, redolent with rich and heavy melted chocolate. Extremely sweet, almost a hint of fairy floss ramping up as well, but all with a delicate dusty grain note hanging around as well. Just plainly delicious as hell. Goddamn, what a insanely alluring nose.
On the palate, the dark grains come to the fore, with a rich roasted character, leavening to a light burnt cacao husk note. Light pepper mid-palate; finish is still rich and heavy - not a hint of dry or charred notes by the end. Mouthfeel is smooth, but it could be thicker and more coating.
A devilishly delicious chocolate stout. My only benchmark is Young's, which is a hard act to follow. I'm not convinced this is better, but it does a damn good job trying. Still, a very tasty brew, with tons of delicious chocolate character.
I have a glass of dark matter in front of me. When held right in front of the light, it has the slightest hint of a brown tinge (which also suggests it's not completely opaque), but otherwise this is just very, very dark. No head, and nice beige lacing.
Not all that dark on the nose - roasty, certainly but has a quite delicious cocoa edge with a slight hint of vanilla. It's definitely got a sweet edge with maybe a very slight hint of sour at the back.
Taste is a bit more sour than the nose but is complemented by a steady sweet cocoa butter kind of flavour. There is more roasted malt on this than I got from the nose and it's quite smooth and drinkable. Palate is a bit thin in the middle, but that's okay because there's a toasty warm feeling that lingers on the back. Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth.
This is probably a crap dark beer, because I really quite like it.
Very dark, almost opaque black-brown. Yellowish-brown filmy head. It's a shame the head isn't a little fuller, but overall it looks pretty tasty.
Nice toasty, grain-room-floor earthy notes, sweetened by notes of chocolate and butter. A vague sweet-corn character is a little weird, but it's still a pretty robust bouquet.
Smoky on the palate, lightly charred and toasty rich. Palate tapers off pretty quickly, leaving a lighter residual character than you might imagine. Could use a little more body, perhaps, but the characters are pleasant and the palate is tight overall.
A nice little beer. Crisp, with dark, pleasant flavours. Very nice to drink indeed.
61 / 100
Opaque very dark brown to black, with a somewhat bubbly head. No creaminess. Good lacing, but doesn't look like a true stout, to mind.
Nose is quite peppery, with a backgrounding sweetness which ends up making it smell like a bit of Asian cuisine. Quite smoky aromas penetrate as it warms a little, wood and ash. Quite interesting.
Strong sour roasted flavour on the palate, continuing the smoked theme. Long roasted bitter aftertaste. Interesting flavours. Mouthfeel leaves something to be desired. No creaminess. I think a creamier, more viscous body would suit it better. Not a great stout, but reasonably enjoyable.
It's quite a drinkable brew.