70 / 100
440ml can purchased from Beer Cartel. A Xmas present from Sam.
Pours a pleasant ebony brown colour, with a filmy, but decent head of beige that leaves long soapy streaks of lace. Body is lighter than expected for the ABV, and the carbonation is correspondingly swift and surprisingly large-bubbled. It ends up swirling up quickly and dissipating.
Nose is excellent, however. There's such a wonderfully well-realised coffee aroma—like walking into a welcoming, fancy-but-not-too-fancy cafe and knowing that you're going to get good coffee, good food, and that the staff are not going to be dickheads. There's a smoothness to it too—milky sweet and leavened by the vanilla. But the coffee itself has to honestly take a lot of the credit—it's a lovely blend. Rich and deep with chocolate, earth, and sweetened with caramel and toffee. Props.
Taste is also good, but it doesn't quite manage to plumb the depths and complexities which the nose promised. It is lighter in the body—in particular towards the back, where it drops. The milky caramel sweetness the nose suggested doesn't materialise, and this makes it feel like it's not supporting the complexities that are probably there in the richness from the coffee beans. But there's a pleasant swoop of coffee from the front—robust, slightly bitter and with a hint of metal—to the back, which is smooth with chocolate and mild roast.
The feel is a weak point in an otherwise good beer. For an 8.1% ABV beer with coffee, you want more body and sweetness to support it, and this leaves too much on the table.
Overall, I like it. But part of me almost wishes it didn't smell so damn good. It's like it's setting itself up for disappointment. But I can't complain about what's the high point of the beer. And it is a high point.
74 / 100
On tap at the Whaler in Battery Point.
Pours a dark cola colour, bit of a red tinge. Head is non-existent but maybe due to the pour. Just a cloud of listless beige foam and a thin ring of lacing.
Smells a little thin but chocolatey and good. Has cocoa character without being too rich, decent subtle roastiness. Not huge, but nice characters and good balance, not much out of place.
Tastes good. Not mind-blowing but a good mix of roast, sweet and bitterness. Good malty presence upfront with some chocolate that blends seamlessly into mid palate of roast, with a subtle touch of wood smoke, then finish is roasty bitterness, a hint of herb and spice from some hop bitterness, and some distinct licorice notes as well, but it's all just simple roast malt and the characters that go along with it, well handled.
Mouthfeel is a little bitty and then dry on the back. Some slight carbonation texture.
Yeah, drinks well and good on a Tasmanian winter's dusk. Tas breweries should do more dark beers and less IPAs. Don't follow the trends; set your own, even if it's reverting to more traditional styles like this.
75 / 100
33oz brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer by Sam, given to me for Christmas, many months ago.
Pours a deep black-brown, almost an opaque ink colour, with an initially foamy head of dark chocolate brown, that fizzes quite a lot and then settles into a very thin ring. Body is slick, but after the initial flutter, it's very still, with very little carbonation. Looks good even so.
Nose is very pleasant indeed, with a rich creaminess from the vanilla that turns into a milk chocolate sweetness. There's some mild coffee, but with all the sweetness, it's quite subdued—it's not the sharp bracing espresso you sometimes get with a dry-beaned coffee beer. I like it.
Taste is also very good. There's a smoothness to it from the vanilla, and I'll admit aided by the excessively low carbonation, which adds a sense of creaminess without adding too much body or sweetness. The back is balanced by judicious coffee, with a slight mineral bite towards the finish.
Feel is smooth, with just enough body to stop it from being too thin and lifeless due to the low carbonation.
A very pleasant beer. Drinkable and balanced, with nice creamy dark notes which wouldn't be out of place in a much heavier beer.
77 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Bobby's Liquor (slash porno shop) in Santa Clara, CA.
Pours a thin -bodied black-brown colour with a coarse, bubble head that fizzes out to a thin ring and a sheen of film across the top of the glass. Lacing forms in long streaks. Carbonation is surprisingly minimal—perhaps it blew its load on that first initial burst. It looks mediocre, to be honest.
Nose is great, however. There's a very pleasant concoction of freshly ground coffee beans and hazelnut chocolate. It provides a nice mixture of flavours, and lifted by a kind of vapoured pungency. It doesn't have a lot of depth of sweetness behind it, but that should only really be a problem if it's too light on the palate to carry the flvaours. Let's see.
Taste is smoother than expected, and while it does not indeed have a lot of back-body sweetness, there's something that holds it all together nonetheless. It has enough weight to it, just, and a hint of vanilla which suggests smoothness that perhaps isn't there in reality. But all of these manage to tie things together, leaving the coffee, nut and chocolate pastry characters to excite the palate. I like it.
Overall, it does enough. There's some pleasant things in here, and while it doesn't have all of the complexity of a truly phenomenal beer, it does manage to craft something very coherent and very worthwhile from what it has. I like it.
78 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very pleasant deep espresso brown colour, with a genuinely lovely, fine head of beige that leaves excellent, complex, sheeting lace. Carbonation is also lovely and fine, moving swiftly through the body. Looks really good.
Nose is pleasant. There's a nutty sweetness that comes through, but doesn't overwhelms the tougher, darker roast notes. These are very pleasantly added to the mix, which gives it a depth and sophistication. But it's also got that creaminess, that sweetness, that makes it seem warm and approachable too. I'm a fan.
Taste is also good. It's smooth and long from the front to the back, with less of the nuttiness and less of the sweetness. It comes across as less complex as a result, but that probably aids the drinkability. The back has a slight fragrant upkick, which has overtones of raspberries and cherries. The finish has a touch more of the roast character, which gives a very slight acidity to the finish.
Feel is very smooth. It works really nicely.
Overall: honestly, this is a cracking beer. It's not a beer that flaunts its complexity. It's not an extreme beer. It's just really beautifully balanced, beautifully made and beautifully drinkable.
Bottle bought for me by Jez, drunk by myself.
Pours a dark umber colour, with nice bubbly beige head but it doesn't stick around, just leaves a thin spit-cloud of foam on the top. Lace is a bit slippery. Right colour but looks a bit thin and insubstantial.
Smells roasty and quite bitter. May be a bit cold, as it's mostly burnt coffee grounds, with a touch of bitter cocoa rich. Chocolate. Slight sour twist and maybe a hint of nuttiness but otherwise not much on the vanilla or coconut front. As it warms it certainly turns sweeter, gets some rich chocolate but still a bit sour-roast and bitter. Not bad though.
Taste is yeah, portery. Good chocolate malt character, with rich cocoa nibs towards the mid. Quite bitter mid-to-late, with espresso and some unsweetened sticky cacao. The coconut shows up very late; just an afterthought really but it's a pleasant character. Actually though it could have gone balls-to-wall bitter and I'd be OK with that. The sweetness on the back kinda lightens and weakens it in the end rather than blending with the bitterness to balance it. I feel like the porter itself is quite strong and the adjuncts just waft through the palate rather than really taking centre stage like they should. It's a very decent porter but I wanted more from the coconut in particular.
Good body, a little bit dry and coarse as it goes through the mouth, but it smoothes out by the end. Pretty decent.
A good winter drop, but at the end of the day I feel it's just a standard porter, and quite a bitter one that isn't as balanced as it could be.
61 / 100
Brewed for GABS Festival 2017. Tried in a sampler at the fest.
Pours a deep brown colour, with lovely dense, beige head that forms a neat crown on the top. Looks really good, nice porter.
Smells pleasant; nice sweet roasty character. Chocolate and some dark fruit characters, with a touch of caramel, maybe a slight spice note and some vinous characters being produced from the fruit. Pleasant.
The spice note I detected on the nose really comes to the fore on the palate, and it's a bit weaker for it. Vanilla/caramel malt on the front, maybe a bit lacking on the roast. Big star anise character that turns the sweetness on the front a bit savoury, unfortunately. Not unpleasant overall but a bit lacking in the flavours that were promised.
Body's a bit thin, so it feels a little raw on the back. But not bad.
Not too bad but really lacking in the PB&J characters that I was otherwise looking forward to. Ultimately a bit disappointing.
62 / 100
Sweet porter brewed in collaboration with Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches for GABS 2017. Tried at the festival on tap.
Pours a brown colour, fairly dark; typical porter colour really. Beige head that's a bit whispy and cloudy. Looks alright.
Smells sweet, pleasant, but not a lot of character to it. General caramel sweetness, slightly cake battery with a touch of vanilla. Not a lot of complexity to it and a bit lacking on the darker notes.
Taste is a bit better; more of a chocolate character and slightly darker. Still very sweet overall though, with a big lingering caramel note that dominates, without the roasty or chocolatey notes managing to ground it properly. Does what it promised but I was hoping for something a bit more explosive.
Decent body, no real texture to it though.
Alright, but don't really detect the cookies in this; feels like a generally sweet generally porter type beer.
Red porter, infused with cherry and vanilla brewed for GABS 2017. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.
Pours a brown colour, clear with slight whisps of beige foam being the only remnants of a lacklustre head. Looks brown (not red), flat and listless.
Smells strongly of vanilla, with a sweet caramel backbone. Well constructed and pleasant with just a light roasty note lingering behind.
Taste is a bit odd. Sweet upfront, again with that caramel-vanilla interplay, develops into a very sweet mid and late palate that takes on a medicinal character, with a touch of star anise and an odd sickly sourness on the back. Somewhat unpleasant, and I feel the cherry is strangely used without interacting with the sweetness.
Body is alright, decent enough texture as it goes down.
Yeah, sweet but strangely sour. I don't think it's infected but the sourness just doesn't belong and doesn't work. Not a huge fan.
73 / 100
Chocolate coconut and rum imperial porter, brewed for GABS 2017 and tried at the festival in a sampler.
Pours a very dark, black colour really. Head is beige, foamy and retains thick. Nice head. Nice everything really.
Smells sweet, boozey and roasty as you'd expect. Coconut and vanilla on there, with some sweet coffee character and a distinct dark fruit note as well. Maybe a hint of rum. Bit sweet but plenty to like.
Taste is good; better than the nose, too. Chocolate and coconut upfront, with a touch of vanilla that continues throughout thanks to a big oaky character. Boozey on the back. I actually really enjoy that palate, and I'm surprised, because there's very little here that isn't sweet but somehow it balances pretty well.
Decent body, with warming alcohol on there. Not too bad.
Surprisingly pleasant, but maybe a bit unnuanced, like it's just all sock-in-the-face big blarey flavours and lots of adjuncts. Still, I enjoyed it.
I retried this and shortlisted it but it didn't end up cracking my top 20.
Pours a mahogany colour, really too pale for a porter no matter what adjuncts are in it. Large bubbly head, beige in colour, that looks alright. I guess it looks caramelly but it's an odd porter look.
Caramel on the nose, with a toffee kind of edge, and a hint of some currants and other dark fruit. Could use a bit more darkness on the aroma, it's a bit sweet and meek.
Taste is very sweet. Mostly malty, but with distinct caramel and chocolate notes. Again has that strange dark fruit character, late-mid, that's unexpected and doesn't necessarily mesh with the rest. Subtle roasty bitterness towards the back but could definitely use a bit more. I like to be reminded that I'm drinking beer even when something's mimicking a childhood sweet, and this doesn't even taste that Jersey Caramel-esque to justify its lack of beer character. But it's not unpalatable.
Body is quite nice, full but smooth. Not much presence though.
Not bad, but it's disappointing at GABS, because something that calls itself a Jersey Caramel Porter needs to be balls-to-the-wall caramel to stand out, and the worst crime of this beer is it really doesn't stand out at all. It's a decent, mild porter at best.
Choc Vanilla Coffee Porter, brewed for GABS 2017. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.
Pours a very dark coffee colour, really very dark even to the edge. Beige head, whispy with large bubbles. Pretty decent porter.
Smells hugely of chocolate, big and cocoa-rich, with a touch of sweet espresso and some darker roast. Very pleasant.
Taste is also chocolatey, quite rich and gooey with a slight vanilla sweetness especially upfront. Not a whole lot of coffee, it kind of smoothes and lingers on that chocolate note from start to finish. Pleasant and very decent but also very simplistic and single-minded.
Body is full, actually a little thick maybe and it makes the palate seem thinner. But not bad.
Yeah, Feral certainly know how to make a good beer. They haven't delivered anything exciting here, but it's a very solid drop.
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a rather insipid brown colour, with a thin crest of beige, that only persists as a thing ring, leaving sparse specks of lace. Body is light, holding only fast-moving carbonation. It doesn't look great, to be honest.
Nose is a little better, especially after it warms up a bit. There's a pleasant coconut aroma which works with a heady sweetness to become something quite recognisable. It's easy to believe that the kind of blunt sweetness is chocolate, and chocolate and coconut is a lovely combination.
The taste doesn't quite follow through on this promise though. For one thing, it's really quite thin, and lacks body and sweetness—this means the darkness on the palate feels a bit too bitter and ashy, despite the fact in a sweeter beer it would provide a beautiful balance. It's not bad, even so—there is still coconut through the center of the palate, but it's not what the beer's all about, and when you take it away, it feels weirdly insipid.
Feel is very light, which is a real shame. That, and the lack of fullness in the flavour are the fatal flaws of this beer.
It's not a bad beer, and far from being undrinkable. But it is disappointing. All the more so because it's also promising. It just doesn't deliver on that promise—the nice aromas of coconut, for instance—as a result it's a missed opportunity.
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a very lightweight, and rather thin brown colour, turning a weak-tea bronze colour at the edges. Head forms frothily, but only becomes a subsistence of weak mesh atop the glass, leaving some dull beige lace. Body is noticeably thin and weak. It's honestly pretty uninspiring.
Nose is underwhelming. There's a very faint dusty cacao character to it, but otherwise, it's weirdly generic, with a hay-like grain character and no depth at all. Slight pongy character comes through after a while that smells like raw prawn shells. Not good.
Taste is also pretty weak. There's a thin body that leaves no basis for complexity, that stays somewhere between flat grassy grain and watered down sugar water. On the back there's, perhaps, a very slight hint of cocoa, but no richness and certainly not the balancing dark bitterness it sorely needs. It's not good.
Yeah, have I said "not good" a couple of times? It's not good. This is a pretty unpleasant beer in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it almost certainly doesn't deliver on the "chocólatté" or even the "chocolate". It's just very underwhelming.
On tap at the Horse in Surry Hills during SCBW.
Pours a dark brown with murky colour to the edge. Beige head, small but decent density. Lace could be stickier but it's nice. Good.
Smells of what it promises. Smoky, roasty with a touch of vegetative chilli heat. Could maybe amp up the roast factor, it's mostly smoke and otherwise a tad empty; some roast could really add some backbone. Still, it's nice.
Taste is predominantly roasty, bizarrely enough. Inverse problem of the nose. There's some choc sweetness, and mostly roasty porter character. Touch of smoke late-mid and some very, very subtle jalapeño heat on the back. This would probably be a crowd-pleaser but personally when you say jalapeño I want to be smacked in the face with chilli heat and/or flavour. I know I'm a minority of one but I still think it 's weak. Decent -even good- porter but could have been so much more than this.
Decent body, heat makes a bit of an appearance on the feel late.
Yeah, not a bad porter but I feel like it's diluted to appeal to the masses. Power to it, the masses will hopefully like it. But to me it just doesn't pack in enough flavour for what was promised.
76 / 100
Official beer of Sydney Craft Beer Week. This was a collaboration between The Grifter and Frankie's Pizza. Something like a Porter/Lemonade hybrid, it's brewed with berries.
Pours a deep, brown-black, letting in some light at the corners. Head is a flimsy off-white which leaves a little cantering lace. Body is fairly light, holding some mild, fine carbonation. Looks decent enough.
Nose is interesting. There's some slight toasty notes, turning slightly dusty like a cellar. There's maybe a slight hint of fruit to it that lightens it and perhaps makes it a little sharper. There's some vague hints of melted chocolate coming through as well. Nice.
Taste is great. It has a lovely toasty base, but this is immediately sharpened to a point, and peppered with mild, sweet-tart berry notes. It tastes like raspberries coated in chocolate fondue. Or of warm brownies spiked with candied orange peel. Very tasty.
Feel is a bit thin. It's about what you expect for the ABV, but were it 7% ABV with the same kind of profile it would probably bear a bit more weight.
Overall though, I really like it. It's genuinely doing something really interesting, and it's doing it well. It makes sense. That's a very cool trait to have when it's also something unique and unusual.
81 / 100
Tried on tap at Über Tavern in Seattle.
Pours a deep solid black brown, with a fine, filmy head of beige that leaves full, sheeting lace. Body is fairly light, and the carbonation is swift. Looks good though.
Nose is really bold and bright, with a lovely fine fresh coffee character. It's sweetened though, and comes across beautifully tempered and milky sweet as well. Hints of gooey caramel and vanilla as well. It's very nice indeed.
Taste is similar, although there's a slight thinness which stops it from fully reaching its potential. Front is pleasant bright roast, turning more robust and full-bodied towards the back and allowing the coffee to flourish. But there's a pleasant, if thin sweetness running through the centre to the back that gives it backbone and smoothness. It's very good.
Overall, this is a really nicely done beer. Sweet where it needs to be but beautifully accentuating the coffee, which becomes its centrepiece. Balanced, drinkable and coherent. Love it.
22oz brown bomber purchased from Marketime Foods in Fremont, Seattle.
Pours a deep brown, almost only amber when held to the light. Head is a frothy, but coarse-bubbled off-white, leaving nice sheeting lace. Body is a little thin, and the carbonation is forms of large bubbles when tilted. Looks okay.
Nose is pleasantly toasted, with some mild dark chocolate and shaved cocoa aroma. There's maybe a weak hint of coconut if you're looking for it, but it's dominated by the darker notes. It's pleasant.
Palate starts fairly smooth, but light, with chocolate and (finally) some coconut on the front. There's a sharpness through the centre, which is a bit disappointing, but this smoothly transitions into a pleasant vanilla and cinnamon character towards the finish. Bitterness does linger a little bit, starting with that sharp note in the middle of the palate.
Overall, this is a decent enough brew. It's not a beer that really wows me, but it's pleasant enough. A more prominent coconut character might help, but so would a more complex base beer.
330ml can purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a murky, but deep brown colour, with a fine, insubstantial head of beige, that leaves pleasant, intricate lacing. Body is fairly light, leaving swift, fine trails of carbonation as it moves around. Looks decent enough.
Nose is quite pleasant. The smoke is subtle, and woven nicely into the malt backdrop. This is fairly broad and rich, giving toasty bread and dark chocolate. There's a sweetness to it, but it's well-integrated into the other flavours. The overall impression is of toast cooked over a campfire, drizzled with a little honey. It's nice.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a lightness on the back, which would be to the detriment of the flavour in most beers: but here there's a firm malt structure that persists throughout. Otherwise, there's a light, slightly sweetened smoke note on the front, and a slightly dull metallic note in the finish, which is the only character that's really out of place. Mostly, it's pretty good.
Feel is fairly light—a richer feel would help it, but it's not bad as it is.
Overall. I'm pretty happy with this. It's not a world-changing beer, but it's handily made and there are some nice characters to it. It hopefully forms part of a fairly solid core range.
78 / 100
16oz tall can, purchased from Slowbeer. Canning date printed on the label is February 15 of this year, so it's about 6 months old.
Pours a pleasant ebony brown, with a beige head that persists as a very fine ring. Tiny specks of lace form leopard spots. Body has a bit of weight, despite being quite fluid. Carbonation is very fine. It's a pretty pleasant looking beer.
Nose is toasty and sweet, with perhaps a little more weight towards the sweetness. This comes through as a dark brown sugar note, edged perhaps with a little instant coffee and cigar tobacco. It's really nicely integrated overall, but it is very sweet.
The flavour is much better, because that brown sugar note evaporates, leaving a lovely dry, toasty palate, filled with complex dark malt notes. These lend themselves to slight smokiness, more tobacco notes, dark chocolate, cacao and even hints of liqueur. But it's dry as well, leaving the back palate beautifully lean. It makes it super drinkable.
Feel is also good. It has weight to support the flavours at the front, but these taper off, leaving just enough to support and enhance the complexity through the middle and back.
Great beer. This is really well put together, well-integrated and with subtle, coherent complexities. I liked it a great deal, and I'll certainly take notice of any beers from Collective Arts that cross my radar in the future.
79 / 100
On tap at GABS 2016, with a high sense of anticipation after Big Shed scored my highly coveted beer of the festival award in 2015.
Pours a mahogany colour, dark to the edges though. Head is lovely, nice retention of a beige foamy crown. Bit pale maybe, but looks like a nice porter anyway.
Smells wow, yeah like a cherry ripe. Huge coconut and cherry aroma, some dark fruit sweetness, hints of chocolate and peanuts as well. Sweety, a touch sour from the fruit maybe, slightly roasty. Yes.
Tastes like a cherry ripe, too. Sweet upfront, with vanilla and chocolate characters, gets more roasty and bitter towards the mid where it is balanced by a big coconut character, and then the cherry and dark fruit sweetness come through late. Nicely cleansed on the back so it doesn't get bogged down in sweetness but that's still the lingering memory of the palate, along with just general nostalgia that it so successfully evokes. Great stuff.
Body is a little disappointing, it's quite thin for the big flavours it packs in. I feel most of the flavour is from adjuncts so the malt base is a little lacking.
Tastes like a cherry ripe. In beer. What more could you ask for given the promise this had? Wonderful nostalgia constructed beautifully. Shit, these guys have done it again.
This beer ended up my number 4 beer of the festival.
73 / 100
On tap at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours a mahogany-brown colour, slight red edge. Beige foamy head with pretty great retention. Nice lacing. Looks good.
Big coffee on the nose. Cake battery malt, with a spicy roasty edge, touch of cinnmamon. Yeah coffee is dominant with a bit of a spike but there's nice creamy sweetness around the edge as well.
Taste is big on the coffee, big flavoured and big complexity. Both sweet and spicy coffee notes come through at various times. Notes of chocolate, vanilla, bitter cocoa and nice smooth espresso bitterness. Creamy. Really very good palate, great balance.
Body is sadly a little thin, but not really to its great detriment. Hint of warming alcohol.
Yeah, I expected nothing from this beer, and got quite a lot. Good porter and good use of coffee.
This beer was longlisted for beer of the festival but didn't crack the top 13.
74 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Pours a pleasant silky black-brown with a coarse-bubbled head of beige that fizzes out to form a chunky ring. Some weak streaks of lace. Carbonation is rapid and coarse-bubbled through a fairly light body. Looks decent, but it doesn't wow me.
Nose is great, however. Pleasant charcoal-smoked aromas atop a pleasant bittersweet chocolate basis, with some slightly livelier hop notes giving a bit of punch and lift. It's mild, but it's complex, and everything is well integrated in such a way that it feels like everything is in tandem. It's nice.
Palate is similar. There's a lightness to it, that stretches out the dark malts and the bitterness into a aniseed and cracker dryness. Smoke is present throughout, but it's much more subtle here—noticeable on the front, and adding to the slightly ashy roasted quality in the finish. Under it is a firm structure of interesting, slightly nutty malts, which give it firmness, despite the light body and the relatively low ABV.
Overall, it's a very well-constructed beer, and one that does something interesting, while remaining very drinkable and approachable. That's no mean feat, and Feral show themselves to be very competent craftsmen once again.
12oz can purchased from WhichCraft in Austin, TX.
Pours a decent black-brown colour, with a thin body, but some nice fine carbonation at the edges. Head forms a big, frothy head of pale mocha to begin with, but it doesn't persist, dropping to a thin ring. Looks decent enough.
Nose is slightly worty, with pronounced grain and malt notes giving it a suggestion of underattenuation, which is the last thing I was expecting from this beer. Under it there are some hints of chocolate, carob and a vague spicy aniseed note. But the sweetness is the main event, and it's really something of a disappointment.
Taste is similar, although there's a lightness to the body and a dryness in the finish which at least puts to rest any thoughts of underattenuation. Still, the flavours run from wet grain to yeast cake, and they don't really embrace some of the darker notes. If anything, it feels bland. Finish has a slight stab at liquorice or some other aromatic, but it's the merest afterthought. Overall, it's rather dull; and what's not dull is either unpleasant or uninspired.
Feel has a bit of weight in the front, but thankfully dries out in the end.
Overall though, I'm unimpressed. It's not a bad beer, but there are certainly bad things going on in it. I can maybe see myself swilling a pint of it from tap without thinking about it too much, but when you sit down and look at it, it's mediocre at best.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at Flying Saucer in Houston. A Ghost Chili Porter seemed a little bit too intriguing to pass up.
Pours a pleasant dark chocolate brown colour, with a slightly coarse, but persistent head of mocha. Minimal lacing. Body is a little bit light, but the carbonation is pretty reasonable, forming tight, fine bubbles. Looks decent.
Nose is pleasant. Toasty dark chocolate comes through, a bit dusky and dark perhaps. There's maybe something slightly aromatic and sharp from the chilli, but it's subtle. It gives it some slight overtones of aniseed, rose and cardamom. I like it.
Taste is mostly that of a well-constructed porter. Pleasant mid-palate malts, with smooth chocolate notes; no harshness on the back, tending almost to a genuine sweetness. You don't notice the chilli on the first sip, or the second, but the more you go on, the more it builds: a spicy, biting, peppery, prickly feeling in the finish, that gets hot and aromatic. There's still a pleasant slick vanilla/chocolate note though that seems to nullify the burn somewhat. I like it.
Feel is impressive. There's a wonderful smoothness to it, but the chilli gives it almost a fizzy, firecracker burst on the back. It's wacky, and very cool.
Overall, it really does work in an interesting way. The chilli is so subtle when you enter, and it manages to become the main event by the end. It's super interesting if nothing else, and that's no mean feat.
83 / 100
On tap at Maquila. Full disclosure that this was poured to us on the house, even though I was about to stand up and order one myself. Enjoyed with dessert.
Pours a dark brown, no real edge visible to it. Head is beige, thin but nicely dense. Doesn't stick around like perhaps it should, but lacing is pleasant. Love that colour though.
Smells coffee and rich dark chocolate. Some light cherry medicinal notes, and some light sweet spice. Nice portery aroma, fairly sweet but well grounded.
Taste is rich and good. Big vinous notes over all of that plus a rich, gooey and thick dark chocolate flavour as well. Mud cake, slight cherry and vinous edge on the back. Roasty and delightfully dry on the back. Wonderful drop. If I have a criticism - and it's not really a criticism - it's that it seems maybe more aligned to the stout style than porter style. But I'm not even really sure what that means.
Smooth, albeit slightly thin. Decent presence though.
Cracking sweet, rich porter. Chocolatey and pleasant. Great for after dinner.
71 / 100
On tap at the Ale Project.
Pours a dark brown colour, colour only appearing when held up to light. Head is pale beige, a light spit cloud. Lace is alright. I like the colour, unimpressive otherwise.
Smells roasty and chocolatey. Big toffee edge to the malt, with caramel and a touch of espresso. Nice porter character.
Taste is roasty, spicy, with some unexpected vanilla and oak notes. Caramel, with some dark chocolate notes, touch of spice with peppery cumin notes, some sweeter cinnamon and cardamom and the finish is somewhat hoppy with a touch of grass and some medicine. Pretty decent. Nice porter.
Smooth, fairly slick. Touch dry on the back. Quite nice.
Very decent porter actually. Has a nice mix of roast, sweet, chocolate and a touch of hopping.
76 / 100
Bottle enjoyed with tomato soup lunch at Friðheimar in Iceland.
Pours a dark espresso colour, micro head of light beige film. Trickle of bead around the edges. Looks alright, standard but needs more head.
Smells roasty, grainy. Notes of cocoa and coffee beans. Hint of spice and pepper, cardamom/vanilla. Quite pleasant.
Taste is impressive. Nice toasty grain note upfront, then gets more bold midway. Dark chocolate and espresso abound, with a lovely roundness to the flavours. Some piquant spice notes late - black pepper, more espresso and maybe a touch of cinnamon. Toasty, warm, bold and slightly sweet but finishes nicely bitter and roasty. Lovely.
A little thin at first but then fills up the mouth with a decent body. Little bit sharp on the back but pretty nice texture.
I like this a lot. Bold coffee porter that doesn't overwhelm or stick uncomfortably with one flavour only.
81 / 100
Tried on-tap at the K&B in Surry Hills, during their 33-tap Feral takeover.
Pours a lovely ebony brown colour, with a very fine head of tan that sits around as a creamy ring, and leaves excellent lacing. Body is firm and tight. Looks great, overall.
Nose is very pleasant as well. Mild chocolate toastiness, dusty and dry but still maintaining some richness. There's a very mild touch of smoke too, which is very pleasant. Smooth vanilla comes through as it warms, along with a touch of carob. Nice.
Taste is even better. It's smooth and rich, but restrained and balanced. Plenty of solid toastiness, with a pleasant nutty character. Slight smoke in the back, which just gives it a touch of its eponymous ash. But with the smoothness and the balance it really works. I like it a lot.
Feel is great. Sleek, slick and silky. Gorgeous.
It's amazingly done for 6.5% or so. There's a lovely smooth richness to it that speaks of a bigger beer, but this one maintains its easy drinkability. Great stuff.
58 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown colour, with some hazing although not genuinely opaque, and clearer at the edges. Body is fairly light all things considered. Head is a very pale beige and forms a fine ring around the glass. Lace forms in nice solid rings however. Looks decent.
Nose is disappointingly dull to begin with. Very light, with a mild chocolate and barf character and no real sweetness to it. It ends up feeling pretty dusty and dry.
Taste starts out smooth but eventually shows that it's also pretty light and empty. Some mild chocolate and a rather disappointing flabby sweetness on the back that just devolves in to a flat deadness by the end. Not much in the aftertaste beside a faint suggestion of lingering carob.
Feel is very light.
This was a grave disappointment for me, because the concept sounded very fine. It's perhaps more drinkable because it's so light on flavour, but I didn't really want to drink it because it was also fairly pointless.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a solid brown colour, clear at the edges, but otherwise hazy. Body is solid and holds fine lace. Head is beige with a firm ring of bubbles that forms minor streaks of lace. Looks like a bitch.
Nose is pleasant. Some mild nuttiness and a hint of marzipan, along with an odd candy quality that reminds me of some flavour of Jelly Belly I can't put my finger on. It's toasty and fragrant, with a slight lilt of fruit. Quite nice stuff.
Chocolate and marshmallow characters on the front again with the candy fragrance. Reminds me a little of Polly Waffles. Middle has some vanilla and a little stewed cherry. Back is smooth and pillowy with an aftertaste of slight spice. It's all very good.
Feel is smooth and long.
I really like this overall. There's a lot of pleasant characters going into it, even when they jump around a bit. Plenty to like here.
57 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne. This was on my very first paddle of the festival.
Pours a deep brown colour that may be clear—we could tell if it wasn't so dark. Body is solid with fine static carbonation forming when the glass is tilted. Head is beige, forming a solid ring and leaving solid sheets of lace. Looks very good.
Nose is immediately caught with vinegar and wood, giving a noticeable balsamic tone to the beer. There's a deep irony vegetative quality as well like crushed silverbeet and a medicinal or inky tone. It's interesting at least, but I don't love it.
Immediately tart on entry, combined with a wood character that's more like sawdust than oak barrel. Astringent and slightly medicinal in the middle, with a persistent bitterness that turns woody and vegetative on the back. Some lingering tannic notes make the finish and aftertaste quite dry.
Feel is tight, tart and slight.
I'm not a big fan overall. The tannins really harsh up the finish, leaving it floundering in the disjoint wash somewhere between a Flanders Red and a smooth Barrel-Aged Porter. I think it's a bit of a mess.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a muddy black-brown colour with solid hazing tending towards fully opaque. Body is also solid. Head is beige, and forms in a fine ring which leaves very decent lace. It looks good all up.
Nose is tart but dry, with some toasty and tannic notes under the acidity. Some slightly charred bread comes through as well. It's pretty nice all up.
Light, tannic entry on the palate signals that the beer's going to be quite dry. And it is, with some tartness to liven it up through the centre. Slight tingle on the back with more of that dry vinous tannin. Back is pleasant and fairly clean. The central part of the palate though does feel like it lacks some complexity.
Feel is light, which works reasonably well with the beer.
Overall, it's pretty good stuff. It could use a bit more interest and flavour complexity on the palate, but it's still a nice brew.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep red colour with a solid bodyweight to it. Clarity is good, and it forms some nice carbonation to watch when tilted. Head is yellow and forms a fine ring and good thin lines of lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is slightly toasty with a little cocoa and chocolate. Some mild coconut comes through as well, although it's all a little weak overall.
Front is clean with more cocoa coming through. Toastiness again on the mid-palate, also with a flavour like burnt fireworks. It gives it a lingering fragrance which I quite like. Back has some slight nuttiness, which isn't entirely right for a porter. Slight tingle of chilli on the finish.
Feel is smooth enough.
Overall, I'm happy to be on board with this. It's decent and drinkable, but with enough passing interest to keep it credible at a festival like GABS. Not a standout, but a solid entry.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a dark brown colour with a weirdly sloshy centre. Body is thin with minimal but fine carbonation. Head is tan, forming only a very minimal ring around the glass that leaves little lace. I'm unenthused.
Nose is immediately unpleasant: it smells like Jif. OK, maybe it at least smells like orange-scented Jif, but the cleaning product aroma is unmistakeable. Certainly there's a hint of chlorine to it—it smells like I've just finished scrubbing my toilet.
Pithy bitter orange on the palate with just a slight faint chocolate character by mid way through. It feel built around orange oil, giving it the distinct quality here of furniture polish. There's a hint of butyric acid on the back too, tending towards truly medicinal. Despite all of this it's actually excessively bland at the same time. It turns out that's actually an advantage when all of your flavours are mildly unpleasant.
It's really not great, and I don't want to drink much of it. I remember at the Sydney session, our poor friend Rich bought himself a whole glass of it because he liked the sound of it and was sadly disappointed. If only he'd asked me first. At least it allowed me to get a full photo of the glass.
71 / 100
Tried on-tap during GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a black-brown colour with flashed of red in its depths. Body is smooth, and seems quite clear when you peer through the darkness. Head is a very thick ring of fine, deep mellow brown. Lacing is solid, as you'd expect as a result. Carbonation is swift through the body. Looks very good.
Nose is a little inky, with some chemical quality coming through before it settles down. Then we get a little dark chocolate, a slight carob note and a hint of spice. It's not bad.
Smooth entry on the palate with some vanilla and cacao giving a dusty basis. Body is pleasant enough, smooth and thick, eventually getting a bit of chilli kick that ultimately ends up building into a real burn that swamps everything else.
Feel is: burning.
Overall, by the time I'd finished my sampler this had started to hurt a little. It's not bad though, and if you like your chilli beers painful, this is probably right up your alley (or will be the morning after).
71 / 100
Pours a very dark brown colour. Clear with dark tan head - almost coffee crema coloured. Foamy density and retaining quite well. Looks good.
Smells of chocolate, with vinegar. I know that sounds worse than it smells. Roasty, but funky. Pretty nice.
Taste is smooth. Chocolatey, rich and cocoay for the most part. Some barnyard funk, again a touch of vinegar but mostly just sweet and portery. Not bad, but I'm wanting a bit more edge.
Body is so smooth. Full, with a touch of warming alcohol. Superb.
So much chocolate, I feel it dominates. I wanted more Brett funkiness. Nice, though.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse during their 4th of July Spectapular. This is a 100% Brett-fermented porter.
Pours a proper deep brown, fairly thick but with fine rushing carbonation. Head is a fine crest of brown, that stays as a pretty firm, persistent ring of mocha. Lacing forms in slight rings, but doesn't stick around for a long time. Looks pretty good.
Nose is pleasantly bold but with an edge of funk to it. Pleasant toasty edge to the brew gives it some weight, while the Brett gives it a slight oranic quality and a touch of mild acidity like kalamata olives. It's quite nice.
Taste is quite similar. Rounded, fairly sweet and pleasant dark malt characters around the edges of the palate. This is shot with a surprisingly subtle Brett note, giving a very light quality of reflected funk, and again a mild acidity like black olives. It's actually pretty mild for it's 100% Brett fermentation, and the malt grounds it in a way I wasn't necessarily expecting.
Feel is soft and smooth, with nice fine carbonation.
Overall, I'm actually pretty happy with this. There's some nice, unusual elements to the brew, but it's restrained enough to stay quite drinkable and pleasant, even with its odd complexities. Good stuff.
75 / 100
Barrel-aged chilli porter brewed for GABS 2015. I finished the last session of GABS Sydney by shotting a taster of this.
Pours a very dark brown, dark even for a porter. Beige head, sparse bubbles but nice retention. Pretty good.
Smells oaky, with bourbon character. Some sweet spice including cinnamon and licorice. Dark fruit coming through on the back as well and some chocolate undertones. Slight vegetative character, but very nice.
Taste is sweet as well. Chocolate malt provides a backbone then sweet bourbony oak giving notes of coconut and vanilla. Fair chilli heat comes through on the back but the bourbon oaky stickiness balances it well. I like this.
Yeah a spicy hot mouthfeel, just the way I like it. Fair alcohol whack as well. Bit messy maybe but I like it well enough.
I like the use of chilli in this style, it works well. Great contrast and lots to enjoy.
Choc Chilli Robust Porter brewed for GABS 2015.
Pours a brown colour, quite pale at the edge, with lovely head - creamy, dense and beige and retaining nicely. Good-looking porter.
Smells sweet, with big caramel malt upfront that descends quickly into rich chocolate aroma with notes of dark fruit and a slight vegetative character - possibly from the chilli. Lots of nuance.
Taste is sweet as well; lots of cocoa-rich chocolate and a fair sugary caramel hit to it as well. Vanilla on the mid-palate and then finish is roasty, with a touch of spicy espresso. Despite the palate profile it feels sadly one-note though, and I feel the nose promised more. No chilli flavour or heat.
Decent body, nothing special about the texture or feel though; just on par.
Not bad, could use more chilli. Just a chocolatey porter and not overly exciting even then.
Pours a brown colour, quite pale at the edge though. Head is pale beige, largeish bubbles and decent retention. Looks pretty standard.
Smells sweet, with a grainy edge and a fair caramel aroma and a touch of salt. Nutty edge overall; don't get a lot of chocolate.
Taste is a bit more chocolatey, especially upfront even though it's more chocolate grain than chocolate chocolate. Caramel comes through leading into the mid and then there's a touch of salt on the finish. Fulfills brief, but isn't packed with flavour like I'd imagined it could be.
Decent body, decent texture. Actually pretty good.
A nice beer, but it just has hints of the huge flavour that we probably all imagined. It's a great idea for GABS but not executed well. Good but disappointing.
76 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, maybe a touch pale for a porter. Just a touch. Head is beige, somewhat foamy but retaining a very decent crown indeed. Pretty good.
Smells fruity, with cherry notes blending with a touch of barnyardy funk. Not a lot of oak character but a slight tart, vinous edge and some notes of clove. Not bad.
Taste is complex and interesting. Vinous and tart mostly with a decent whack of oak as well. Some spice mix characters coming through with cinnamon taking the fore. Touch of dark malt late and a bit of vinegar. Bit chaotic but plenty to like.
Body is full, smooth and glorious. Smooth as. Perfection.
Pretty tasty beer, smooth and awesome. Maybe more emphasis on the plums would have lended it a bit more cohesion on the palate.
This was my #7 beer of the festival.
76 / 100
Cherry Choc Vanilla porter brewed for GABS 2015.
Pours a dark brown colour with nice foamy dark-beige head. Retains OK. Not bad, looks portery.
Smells spicy and desserty. Chocolate notes with lots of cinnamon character. Touch of vanilla maybe and some subtle cherry. It's subtle but there.
Taste is sweet and pleasant. Strong vanilla characters blending well with the chocolate sweetness and a very slight roasty edge. Cinnamon comes through as well with a slight red wine note late. Touch of cherry sourness with lots of chocolate. Rocky roady goodness. Very tasty.
Body is full, smooth, with just a touch of warming alcohol. Pleasant.
Smooth, really nice beer. Worthy.
Following Melbourne sessions this was my #2 beer of the festival. Upon further revision in Sydney it was knocked down to #3.
61 / 100
Pours a brown colour with head that seems cream-coloured but it's just a cloud on top, no bubbles or foam at all. Looks pretty meh, but the colour is nice.
Smells a bit odd. Distinct orange notes on there, with a slight chocolate character and a touch of vanilla. Also a slight clove spice and some chemical esters. A bit sour on the orange as well.
Taste is orangey; rich and, again, a bit sour. Spice notes as well, slight peppery and clove edge. Slight vinous character towards the back. I quite like the sour and spicy edge, but it could lean a bit more on the chocolate to get the blend right. Not quite as much as it could have been.
Little thin on the mouthfeel, but otherwise fluid and fine.
Not bad; a bit intense/off with the orange flavours and could use more chocolate sweetness.
73 / 100
Pours a very dark brown but clear, with nice pale beige head that retains quite well. Looks good.
Smells pretty nice. Lots of red wine-soaked oak, very vinous overtones with a touch of dark fruit and licorice. Slight tartness to it. Pleasant.
Tastes slightly different from what I expected. Loads of oak to it without sweetness - it's all rich, even earthy, red wine - woody and vinous in equal measure. Touch of barnyard from the wild yeasts gives it a big funkadelic hit late. Not bad at all.
Decent body, slight texture but not overdone.
Tart, pleasantly oaky and vinous drop. Don't get a lot of PKB on there; the beer we all knew and loved is no more.
Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans in Pyrmont. A peanut-butter porter, so I was on board from the concept alone.
Pours a deep brown-black, with a very fine, creamy head of beige. It almost looks like it's on nitro (the Quarrymans didn't call this out, so I assume not). Fine bubbling at the edges when tilted, although it's rather still otherwise. Minimal lace. Body is firm, but slick and fluid. Looks good.
Nose is very sweet. Indeed, even sweeter than I was expecting. I get a bunch more vanilla than peanuts when it's fresh off the tap, but as it warms up, the nuttiness comes through. Of course Bacchus is going to get that flavour in there—it's been a rare experience when Bacchus have said their beer smells like something and then it doesn't. This ends up with the aroma of a warm peanut butter cluster.
Taste is smooth and quite dry on the back, with a firm nutty character looping from the mid-palate later. Slight linger of roasted peanuts in the finish, but no roasted malt to give it a slight bitterness is really feels like it needs. There's a faint toastiness, but nothing to cut through all the thick richness.
Overall, it certainly fits the bill, and it's pretty pleasant all up. It is certainly a little thicker than I would have ideally wanted, but to cut it with too much bitterness would be maybe to ruin the experience. If they made it three percentage points higher in alcohol, then maybe the booze could provide the balance and carry the sweetness the way it needs to.
57 / 100
Sounds like the Vaccine spiked with additional ginger. Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans in Pyrmont.
Pours a mid brown colour, quite hazed, with a coarse head of pale beige that leaves some mild clumps of lace. Body is pretty thin, as I found with the original Vaccine. Looks decent enough though.
Smell is actually surprisingly mild. It's largely a bit empty apart from a reedy slight flat malt character, twisted a little with a slight wry herbal spice. There is a bit of ginger fragrance that comes through—it's subtle though.
Lots of butter in the palate for some reason, which gives it a slickness and a thickness. Faint spicy dried ginger powder comes through at the edges. There's that hairy wasabi character that builds up on the back as well. Otherwise, it's a smooth-tasting porter with little body. Some vanilla seeps in towards the back as it gets warmer. I'm not sure I like all of the clashing characters, to be honest.
Feel is thick, but the Quarrymans sheet says this is no bigger than the original Vaccine, so I'm not sure what to make of it.
Overall, yeah, I'm not a big fan. But then, I wasn't a fan of the original Vaccine either—in fact I probably liked it even less than this—so this is maybe a slight improvement. I know this beer has some fans, but it's not for me.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at The Ginger Man in Austin, TX, after trying it a few other places and not reviewing it.
Pours a solid brown hue, with deep red tinges to it, and quite clear at the edges. Head is a creamy tan colour, and forms a solid mass of fine bubbles that stays fairly persistently. Body is also quite firm. Lace forms in nice sheets. Carbonation runs through the body is fast streams. Looks good.
Nose is toasty and slightly dry, but full flavoured despite this. There's a pleasant buttery note to it, that works itself into a mild toffee-like sweetness. Some nuttiness is noticeable, and it does have a slightly bitter edge like pecan skin. Grain characters are toasted and very pleasant.
Mild entry on the palate, toasty and again buttery, as though the toast has soaked up all the melted butter. Smooth sweetness through the centre, with a creamy quality to it. Moderated carbonation helps this as well. The nuts come through on the back, slightly raw and husky. Aftertaste is rather dry, and a little empty after the rich mid-palate.
Feel is light, but quite slick. It's very decent.
Overall, I really like it. It's a solid beer with an interesting twist, but manages to stay coherent, balanced and approachable. At 6.8, it's too big to be truly sessionable, but the flavour-profiles right to make you want to drink more than one.
Tried on tap at The Ginger Man in Austin, TX. This is a collaboration between Uncle Billy's and Christine Celis (daughter of original Hoegaarden brewmaster Pierre Celis), who has been travelling and touring and collaborating with breweries across the US. This is apparently a cross between a Porter and a Belgian Dubbel, with added coffee.
Pours a deep red colour, with very strong clarity—immediately this is showing its genesis as a dubbel as well as a porter. Body is light and fluid and holds some fine, fast-streaming carbonation. Head is beige and forms a firm, fine ring. Lacing is thin, but forms intricate streaks.
Nose is immediately a little odd, and perhaps surprises no-one with its dichotomy. Weird tartness is immediately noticeable, but it's almost as though it comes from the coffee beans. There's a little sweetness too, some combination of dark fruits from the Belgian yeast and chocolate. It's a very odd aroma, and a little off-putting if you can't get your head around it.
Taste follows more along the coffee-route, with a dry roast flavour on the front balanced somewhat with some rounded Belgian yeast notes. Mid-palate is a little lighter, and it shows that the beer doesn't have the creaminess I'd associate with a porter. Again the coffee comes through, with some sweet-tart fruit like dried cranberries. Back is rather light and evanescent.
Feel is smooth, but light bodied. It works for what it is, even if what it is is a little confusing.
Overall, it's unusual, but drinkable, and quite interesting. It certainly tends towards the Belgian style more than the straight (or even quirky) porter. But it's certainly an unexpected collaboration that's come up with an unexpected beer.
78 / 100
Tried on-tap at The Hay Merchant in Houston.
Pours a deep, dusky brown with a huge, frothy head of beige that does eventually settle down after its coarse bubbles collapse. On the way, it leaves some really good thick, sheeting lace. Body seems light, but moves rather languidly, so it's probably an illusion. Looks decent.
Nose is immediately big and woody, almost brandy-like for the accentuation of the oak. It smells very booze heavy, but again this is probably an illusion more than anything. It has a spicy kick to the sinuses as well, giving hints of cherry and berry alongside the sharper notes. There's not much in the way of toast or porter to it—it's all about the barrel (or the oak-chips, I suspect). But it's a nice unusual kick. I like it.
Taste is similar—it's almost vinous from all the oak, and oddly this seems to make the beer seem thinner. Possibly because it's not that huge a base beer, but it's given the treatment that's often better-applied to big imperial stouts. What we do get is a little toasty, with hints of coconut, children's Panadol along with sharper notes of cherry and capsicum. It's very highly carbonated to, which accentuates that slightly vinous, almost acidic quality. Slight pepper comes through in the aftertaste. It certainly has a lot of complexity, even though it feels a little bit light—it has enough to let the complexities come through, but still feels a little lightweight.
There's a lot to take in, and the lightness and lower-ABV probably makes it a little more practical to drink than a big barrel-aged stout, even though it feels slightly less balanced than some of those examples. Still, it's hard to deny that this is a very worthy beer—and the complexities to explore are certainly the result of some careful production.
81 / 100
Tried from cask at The Hay Merchant in Houston.
Pours a deep, glossy brown colour, with a very fine reverse cascade of beige from the case. Beige-to-brown head forms as a ring of foam and stays fairly persistently. Nice fine specks of lace as well. Looks great.
Nose is also pretty great, and again probably aided by the serving type, which gives it a smoothness and integration. Big milky coffee sweetness coupled with some smooth mocha chocolate, and slightly lifted by the bite of fresh-roasted coffee beans. To be honest, it's hard to deny that it's somewhat one-note, but that one note is created well.
Taste is very pleasant, accentuated again by the smoothness of the handpull. Coffee comes through with some slightly warming chocolate notes. The smoothness accentuates characters of milk and cream. Finish has a bit of roast around the edges, but it's clean and soft in the centre. Hint of heat perhaps in the finish—more a bite of boozy kirsch flavour than any real alcohol taste.
Feel is great from the cask, as it always would be. But this beer in particular seems to benefit from it.
Overall, this is a cracking brew. Very drinkable and smooth—putting a beer like this on cask is a deeply sensible decision. Keep them coming.
81 / 100
Barrel-aged porter tried on-tap at Easy Tiger in Austin, TX.
Pours a port-like brown colour, quite clear in the body and fairly light-weight. Head is a fine beige-tan ring that looks rather flimsy but ends up staying fairly persistently. Carbonation is large-bubbled but languid in the body, which is surprising given the body looks so light and fluid.
Nose is huge with oak right from the start, almost giving the woody, qualities of an aged red wine. Toasty and tannic with a sweetness that comes through like port again. There's lighter qualities too: a little pepper and maybe some straight grape must. It's all big and bold and pretty impressive.
Light, mild cocoa entry on the palate with a little oak, but the wood is much less present here than on the nose. Instead, we're left with the residual tannins, some red-wine dryness that continues towards the back. Finish is long but very dry, continuing the vinous quality of the mid-palate. Some grape juice provides a little sweetness to it. Aftertaste has a little chocolate or cocoa linger to remind us that this isn't just about the barrel, but maintains that dryness.
Overall, this works for such a big beer because it's so dry. 9.5% is hard to believe, but something about the structure makes it really drinkable if it truly is that big. It's a great drop.
78 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from... um... somewhere that definitely has a license allowing takeaways. Drank at home.
Pours a very nice deep brown colour, with a full and frothy head of tan that stays fairly persistent if pocked. Lacing is a little sudsy, but forms in relatively persistent sheets. Body is quite light, but it works given it's only 5% ABV. The carbonation is a bit swift as well as a result. Looks good all up though.
Nose is very pleasant. Toasty and slightly nutty, with a very faint suggestion of smoke in the upper reaches of my nostrils. There's a weedy, slightly vegetative quality to it as well, which helps lighten it a little. Mostly, it's pretty good.
Taste is actually genuinely excellent, which does come as a bit of a surprise after the aroma (which is good, but certainly didn't hint at this level of depth). Here, there's a beautifully constructed layering of malt flavours, giving nutty notes with chocolate, mild savoury smoke, praline, rye bread, and a pleasing demi-sec finish that leaves is clean and refreshing, while leaving enough body for the aftertaste to linger. It's really very good indeed, and this all in 5% ABV.
Feel is also good. It has a little extra body while the complexities express themselves, but the back is slightly lighter and drier to help punctuate the ending.
Overall, yeah, this actually ended up being a much more sophisticated and complex beer than I'd anticipated. There's a lovely smoothness to is as well, which, when matched with the light, dry finish, helps make is seem eminently drinkable. This is genuinely cracking stuff when you get down to it.
74 / 100
Dark red brown, beige head, thin with nice lace. Sticky; decent look.
Smells chocolatey with vanilla, cocoa, some caramel. Nice roast, nice porter.
Taste is pleasant: chocolate with vanilla and caramel, notes of cinnamon, pepper as well? Finishes sweet, chocolatey, dry on the back. Good porter.
Smooth, but a bit light. Not bad.
Nice porter, nicely made.
On tap at the Nomad Brewing open day.
Dark brown colour; yellow tinged head. Small bubbles, thin lace but OK.
Smells salty and smokey. Big cured bacon aroma, yes anchovy, ham, ham stock even with ham bone notes. This ham beer is all bones. Fishy, meaty. Interesting.
Taste is more palatable than my imagination had credited. Smokey mostly, with some meat character coming through, notes of anchovy with savoury umami character. Slight bacon too, then finish is nicely roasty; well balanced with mild dark bitterness just settling out the weirdness. Still, weird mostly.
Feels ok, bitty and quite dry at the back.
Weird beer but really well handled. Everyday drinker? No. But it's really well made and palatable for weirdness.
73 / 100
Dark brown, gorgeous head. Foamy, pale brown, nice and thick. Hand-pump does its thang.
Smells lovely. Chocolate, notes of whiskey, mild spice, caramel, mint. Gorgeous too.
Taste is portery, somewhat boozey from early on. Kind of accentuates the wasabi a bit more than I'm used to, sort of blends into and pre-empts it almost. Peppery, earthy at the back. No heat, some lovely oak notes which could be accentuated more, the earthy spice is a bit strong in this one.
Mouthfeel is absolutely crucial here and it helps boister the flavour, the whole thing is creamy, chocolatey and smooth. Maybe a touch boozey is the worst part. But texture is silky, divine.
A touch on the strong side. Considering I count myself the original vaccine's #1 fan I think adding some intensity is not necessary. Nice additional dimension, but a little much.
71 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour, touch of sediment. Head is beige, small but nice and dense. Good lace. Looks good.
Smells roasty, slightly sour with caramel, licorice, slightly spicy. Little weak but decent.
Taste is roasty, chocolatey and pleasant. Nutty hints, a touch of spice, hazelnut, pepper and coriander seed. Sweet upfront but well balanced. Nice porter.
Smooth, decent body. Bit of texture. Nice, bit dry.
Could use more hops for US-style but nice body and caramel hints.
75cl brown bottle purchased and consumed at Erzbierschof Punkt in Winterthur, Switzerland.
Pours a deep dark red, like black blood. Head is very fine but also very thin, forming just a ring of beige around the top of the glass. Body is on the lighter side, but it's ok.
Nose is predominantly toasty, with a hint of acidity, probably the influence of the passionfruit. The fruit fragrance otherwise is rather mild, and something softer and fatter like banana. As it warms a bit more, there's a bit more coming through—passionfruit is finally noticeable, but not the sharpness I'd expect, just a soft tropical character. It's nice at least.
The taste is interesting. There's surprisingly little on the front, just a thin toastiness that develops into proper roast darkness towards the back, and making it seem a bit dry. There is some fruit on the back as well, though—probably from the passionfruit, but tasting more like rose and raspberry to me, with a finish more like peaches. Solid bitterness throughout.
Feel is thin for the most part, although the fruit seems to soften it a little for some reason, despite the fact that it's probably the fruit that's adding to the thinness in the feel.
Overall, this ended up okay, but not as exciting as I feel it could have been. I have the impression it should have been better, but perhaps the concept is better as a concept than the reality could be.
Tried on tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a firm brown colour with some definite hazing to it. Body is fairly light, especially for the ABV, and doesn't have a lot of carbonation visible. Head is a firm ring of beige that leaves lots of intricate lace. All things considered, it looks pretty good.
Nose is toasty and pleasant. Some tobacco characters noticeable, along with a slight cannabis overtone. This is unfortunately only backed with a rather thin malt sweetness which lacks the richness to truly express some of the other characters. It's still nice enough though.
Light, thin stretchy entry on the palate that only really develops into a fairly mild mid-palate. Some toastiness, and some slightly bittersweet malt through the centre. Towards the back there's even a hint of smokiness, which is a slightly interesting addition. Finish is fairly light, but with a mild astringency to it. Feel is also quite light overall.
Overall, it's decent without being exciting. Mornington do much better and more interesting beers than this, so while it was solid enough, I think I have higher expectations.
650ml brown bottle purchased from Barny's in Alexandria, Sydney.
Pours a cola-brown hue, with a coarse-crackling head of beige that last only about as long as the head on Coke would, settling out very quickly to a mesh that looks like dragonfruit flesh, flacked with tiny dots. Body is extremely light for 8% ABV.
Nose is certainly odd. There's a dry, dusty cocoa character to it, but also a lot of aridity—there's so little sweetness and it lends other characters a leg-up to put their weirdnesses on centre stage. I get some pepper characters, a little black olive and papadums. This is on top of the base beer, which has some oddly vinous tones to it. There's also a strange hint of chlorine in the mix. All up, it's a bit of a mess.
Taste is fairly similar. There's a thinness to the body that runs through from front to back, leaving very little room for much in the way of flavour or complexity—it just doesn't have much to work with. That being said, there is some mild cacao notes around the mid-palate, and a linger of powdery cocoa on the back—very dry, however, and lacking depth.
Feel is a bit empty—it feels like there's a little weight there, but some of the vinous characters seem to rip it back to its bare bones.
I don't get it. Is this bottle just clearly bad? I don't notice anything in it that would explain the insipidness of it all, but insipid it most certainly is. I'm really quite disappointed—I'd heard some reasonable things about Hangar 24, but my first exposure to them is certainly woefully awry.
Brewed for GABS 2014 in Melbourne, which is where I sampled it on-tap.
Pours a deep amber-brown, fairly clear and reasonably bright. Head is fairly solid although the carbonation (minimal though it is) swirls through it fairly quickly. Head it a fine ring of white perhaps tinged with a suggestion of orange. Not much in the way of lace. Looks okay though.
Nose is glucose-sweet, but very thin, giving a suggestion of carbonated water along with the sugary sweetness. There's a wild peppery smoke that comes through as well, rather pleasantly, but it's a bit weak overall.
Light entry to the palate with a hint of bush smoke to it, before the weakness allows a touch of acidity to poke its head up. A little spice appears on the aftertaste, but otherwise it's very, very weak. Not unpleasant, just weak. Feel is so light that it's almost pointless.
The lightness makes it fairly easy to chug, despite the more interesting flavours that you should supposedly savour. But it just feels as though it's neither providing much in the way of flavour, nor a truly drinkable beer.
82 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam.
Pours a lovely rich dark brown colour, with a fine head of mocha that leaves little sprigs of tight lace. Body is thick and nicely heavy; it leaves a beautiful set of streaky carbonation. Really beautiful look to it.
Nose is also really lovely. Tight, toasty richness with overtones of coffee and nut bread, and a slightly dusty, perhaps peppery tone that gives it a leavened character. Plenty of solid nutty sweetness underneath as well—it's a really very genuinely good aroma.
Taste is also good. Smooth, rich sweetness with a pronounced savoury nuttiness that develops into a roasty bite on the back. Middle has some smoothness from the malt, and a full palate that really helps the complexities develop. A touch of smoke and almost a vinous character on the back palate help sustain some of the richer more broad tones of the roast. It's really quite pleasant stuff.
Feel is lovely and smooth, with a bite from the roast.
Overall, this is a really lovely brew, and I'll be honest, I didn't quite expect it to be this good. It has the richness on the palate to support a lot of complexity, and while the complexity is subtle, it is certainly present. It gives a lot of nuanced style to a beer that could have been pretty by-the-numbers. Really very good stuff.
Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a hazy, dark brown colour with a decent weight to the body and a slight futz of carbonation through the glass. Head is mocha in colour, and forms a fine persistant ring that leaves a solid residue of lace. Looks pretty decent.
Smooth, slightly spicy or mysterious chocolate notes comes through on the nose, along with a strong fragrant vanilla character. Some banana tones are a bit unusual, if not unpleasant, and there's a surprising resiny note as well. It's certainly interested at the very least.
Figgy, aromatic sweetness comes through on the palate, along with some vanilla and chocolate notes as it settles in on the mid-palate. Unfortunately it drops out a lot towards the back, leaving it a little weak and lacking depth. Some more richness I feel would really help it, although the feel is pretty smooth anyway.
It's pretty decent all up, if it does give up on some of its more interesting aspects towards the end. If it's a bit dull, it's also pretty drinkable.
A 100% wheat "porter", spiced with wasabi. Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont.
Pours a dark, dark brown colour with a thin head of orange-beige that settles out fairly quickly, but leaves very nice, fine and tiny lacing. Body is really lightweight—almost brutally so. It almost looks thinner than water. Very strange.
Nose is slightly nutty with a touch of toasty malt coming through. Some vanilla sweetness or almond praline. There's a slight grassy, grainy hint, and perhaps just a suggestion of wasabi, but it's very mild. Not bad.
Taste is extremely thin with that watery body really conspiring to undermine things. Light husky toastiness around the outside with a touch of biting mustard heat on the back. Slight popcorn character comes through the centre. There's weird aromatics towards the back (I guess the wasabi), but there's no medium to carry the flavour. Afraid not.
Feel is really genuinely thin and weak. I guess this it what you get by only using wheat. It's a big disappointment.
Doc, what have you done? I get it—experimentation is your craft, but this is a bit of a dud as far as I'm concerned. I guess my shock is just an indication though that Doc's experimental duds are rare.
72 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Cost me $0 because they only had the 6-pack price in the system, so they chucked it in for free. Nice.
Pours a dark, oily brown with some ruby tinges to it. Head forms frothily at the start, but settles out to very little, just some messes of off-white around the edge of the glass. Looks decent, but without anything that really impresses.
Nose is very pleasant. Broad sweet chocolate aromas rise up early, with some structure to the malt behind it. Early, when it's a bit cooler, there's a light peppery note to it as well which creates some interest. As it warms, it's chocolate all the way.
Taste is also good, but without a big sweetness in richness on the back to really carry the chocolate illusion. Cocoa comes through early, dusty and dry with a true cacao bitterness that comes through pleasantly towards the back. This dries it out, preventing the beer from getting cloying—but to be honest, I wouldn't mind a bit of cloy on this beer.
Feel is rich, despite the dry finish in the flavour. It's like it's set up for a better flavour profile, as though they're future proofing it against tweaks they may do—it makes me believe that this beer could be even better in the future.
It's still a really great beer—for a brewery that prides itself on its sours, I'm impressed at how smooth and sweet they make this beer. It's really very drinkable and enjoyable, even though you probably feel like it's more of a gimmick than a sophisticated brew.
70 / 100
A collaboration between The Celt Experience and Brasserie St-Germain, this is a rye porter. Tried on cask at Draft House in London.
Pours a dark brown colour, with a decent if oily clarity to it. Head is a frothy mess like you often get from a cask pour: huge coarse bubbles only formed from agitation. No lacing. Body is oily but slim. Looks decent enough.
Nose suggests good things: lovely spiciness from the rye giving a little aniseed note, while the malt gives toast and darker roasted notes. Vinous characters also come through touched with a hint of additional booze. Rye is subtle, but it thins it out a little and probably contributes to that light vinous acidity. Nice.
Slight capsicum characters on the front of the palate, before some smoother malt comes through. Roast is not far behind it, adding a slight harshness. Tannins also crescendo on the back, rolling over the slight boozy spice and the thinner rye notes. Lighter in the feel than you'd expect from a cask pull, especially for one this big.
Very nice. Despite the booze, it's a very drinkable brew. The complexities to it keep drawing me back, even as it stands heavy and dangerous.
42 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from some random shop in Soho, London. My first Icelandic beer.
Pours a pleasant deep brown, opaque and firmly hazed. Head forms a fine but unpersistent head of beige that nonetheless leaves some large-patterned lace. Fine carbonation when tilted. Looks reasonably good.
Nose is extremely mild, to the point of pointlessness, if you get my meaning. Some faint, toasty malt, perhaps a suggestion of smoke, and a little citric fragrance. But it's searching for it to find these characters. Mostly, it's almost pointless.
Taste is certainly a little better. Smooth malt forms a solid basis, and although it doesn't do a lot with what's there, there is a touch of roasted malt, and some faint smoky characters that almost leave a spicy twinge on the back. Still, it's extremely weak as well: nothing like a robust flavour.
Feel is weak and thin: it's perhaps this more than anything that makes this beer seem so insipid.
Overall, this is pretty bad. It's a very, very poor effort at a porter, or any sort of dark beer in general. While I'm pleased to have tried a beer from Iceland, this is a very disappointing introduction to the country's output.
Tried on-tap at Brewdog Camden in Camden Town, London.
Pours a very dark brown, very hazed with solid weight behind it. Head is milk-chocolate in colour, forming a fine but subsiding crest. Lace forms solid patterns. Looks pretty decent overall.
Nose is toasty. Dark chocolate aromas come through, along with a bit of ashyness to up the tempo a bit. Malt is well restrained apart from that, making the beer feel a bit subdued overall. Nice enough.
Taste starts with some clean roast, before the chocolate comes through a little bit more on the mid-palate. There's little body though—the mid feels slightly empty and grainy. Finish has some dusty dark notes, smooth but ephemeral, and a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. Feel is very light indeed.
It's pretty drinkable—perhaps too easy to drink: it could have a bit more weight and be a better beer, but that's probably not what they're going for. Overall: for the foremost punk brewery in the world, this is remarkably restrained and conforming.
87 / 100
A barrel-aged robust porter, with all manner of delicious things added to it. I tried this at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst, during their Brewers & Chewers evening during Sydney Craft Beer Week, while having a yak with Joss from the brewery.
Pours a dark brandied red colour, quite clear and bright in the glass, but with depth to it. Solid body, with a fluidity but also a sense of stickiness. Head is white and fairly minimal, leaving no lacing and showing no carbonation. Still, looks pretty good overall.
Nose is phenomenal. Just like a Cherry Ripe: sweet, luscious and rich with chocolate, coconut from the oak, cherry aromas, and with a chewy togetherness that makes it feel wholesome and good. Slight hint of acid from the fruit comes through as well, creating a pointy spark to hang everything else off. It's gorgeous stuff.
Taste has a surprisingly clean and light start, with fresh cherry juice creating a light sweet-tart entry. Coconut, chocolate and a sweet hibiscus/karkadeh flavour permeate quickly though, creating a rich, gooey body. The chocolate lingers for a little longer than most, while a hint of chewy apricot finishes up, allowing for a brighter finish than might otherwise have come about. The aftertaste lingers gorgeously as all of the expressive complexities dance one last encore.
Feel is slightly light. It works because of the fruit characters: although if a bit thicker, it would be a rather interestingly different beer.
Overall, though, this is absolutely cracking stuff. Extremely tasty and complex, with such poise and balance between the disparate elements. It's a phenomenal beer.
72 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. For reference, this was called the "Norse Porter" there, but it's the same beer as what is generally called their "Porter".
It's a good looking beer from the outset. A firm, porter colour with a fairly pronounced clarity to the body. Head is gorgeous and thick, and sticks around in its deep creamy brown crest until the bottom of the glass. Looks great.
Nose is mostly on the money, especially with a pleasant dark, toasted bread character that permeates and gives most of its body. A slight nuttiness raises a little sweetness as well. There's a hint of something vegetative to it as well, and some minerally chlorine notes, but they're minor things, and don't detract much from the basis.
Taste follows similar lines. Firm bready characters through the middle, with a lively sweetness akin to roasted hazelnuts. It gets a little thin around the mid-palate, with a slight char on the back which is more pronounced than it needs to be. Mouthfeel is excellent though, despite the suggestion of thinness to the flavour.
All up, it's actually a very good, well put-together brew. There's plenty of flavour, and it's remarkably drinkable for what it is. I always like Haand's beers, and this one is no exception.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Quarryman's in Pyrmont.
Pours a fairly light-bodied but dark hued brown with some red coming through on the edges. Head is a little coarse, surviving as a thin film but leaving very solid lacing. Fine languide carbonation belies the lighter body. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is relatively light-on. Slight, subtle fruit with a touch of cherry coming through and a milk-chocolate sweetness which is pleasant just like their Temptress. It does feel toned down a little bit, but it's pleasant enough.
Taste is great, however, and here the concept seems to come together pretty well. Mild smooth chocolate flavour is lifted from being stick and sweet by the fruity lilt on the back, which in turn provides a slight freshness to the palate. A slight dry cocoa character sticks around, giving a mild tobacco smoke evanescence on the back. It's still dark, but it has the evocation of a late evening barbeque, or the blanketing bushfire smoke of a summer in Australia.
Feel is relatively good. Clean, but light, without adding much weight to the beer itself.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this. I wasn't quite sure what this was going to be like, but they've pulled off the concept with some degree of success. I'm always happy to drink a rich, dark beer in summer anyway, but if I had to have a "summer porter", this is pretty close to what I'd like.
70 / 100
22oz bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a really dark brown, almost black in the body, but with some clarity and a slight brown colour at the edges. Head is a little bit filmy, but forms a fine ring of beige around the glass. Carbonation is quite fine in the body, but the body overall is surprisingly light. Looks okay though.
Nose is great. Big brown malt body giving roasted, but sweet and slightly nutty aromas, no doubt enhanced by the pecans. There's a slight brown-sugar/crumble character to it as well, which enhances the suggestion of sweet pecan pie. It does a pretty decent job of matching its description, I have to say.
Taste is also very good. Really pleasant nutty notes always mingled with a slightly fragrant sweetness. Front of the palate is light and sweet, but towards the back the porter notes come in more strongly, giving a rather dark roasted character, almost suggesting a bit of char or ash. It's a bit of a downer in a way, because otherwise the beer is right on message.
Feel is light. Decent enough at least.
Overall, it's still pretty impressive. The nutty characters do come forward very nicely, and if they stayed more persistently the beer as a whole would be more successful. Even so, it's tasty stuff, and definitely worth seeking out.
Pours a brown colour with nice pale beige head. Doesn't quite stick around, but otherwise looks not bad.
Chai on the nose, yep. Touch of rye bread and sourdough in with the mix of cinnamon, licorice and a big wallop of star anise. Not bad at all.
Taste is very decent. Lots of chai on there with a nice blend of cinnamon, clove, plus licorice, star anise and a subtle twist of lemon. The darker malts with the spice mix gives a touch of rye bread character as well. Nice malt base and nice blend of chai spice.
Slight carbonation tickle on the mouthfeel, otherwise goes down fairly well.
Yeah, decent chai spice character and well balanced. Worth a drink.
Pours a brown colour, quite cloudy. Head is just invisible, it's not there at all. That's a big downside because the colour of the beer is quite nice.
Big sourdough character on the nose, with a touch of rye and a big coffee hit. Spicy notes on the coffee with star anise and licorice adding piquancy and sweetness. Pleasant.
Taste is more of the same; coffee, spice. Sourdough malty notes with more licorice and spice tending towards clove and coriander for a little more savoury character. Coffee is dominant, but complex and interesting.
Nice body; for something with no head it's surprisingly well-textured and fluid.
Yeah, very nice coffee porter. Delivers what it promises.
75 / 100
Pours a dark-brown colour with a bit of haze. Head is beige, foamy, but doesn't really stick around, just leaving a thin rim after a while. Not bad.
Smells sweet, with a touch of coconut, chocolate, slight roastiness and a touch of cherry. Yeah, pretty decent.
Taste is awesome. Roasty, with cocoa, chocolate, but a fair whack of coconut and cherry on there as well. Slightly tart on the back but it works in really well with the other darker characters. Nice dessert porter.
Dry body, tingly carbonation. Alcohol is well-hidden but it's nothing special body-wise.
Nice edge to a traditional style. Sticks to dryness, which is a bit of a shame. Nice flavours otherwise.
83 / 100
Purplish-tinged dark brown hue. Head is ochre, pretty dense but thinned out to a rim. Interesting, and head revives well.
Smells spiky and pungent. Vanilla, cinnamon, plums, mostly. Spice, sweet and a massive amount of coffee roast. No other word, it's intense.
Taste is less intense, but carries on the same notes. Huge vanilla sweetness with caramel drops, a touch of coffee roast, but yeah, creme brulee kind of sweetness as well. Could be off-putting but that roasty bitterness just tacks up the sweetness to make it not just palatable, but drinkable and enjoyable.
Little bit of booze pull, but stands up OK thanks to a sizeable and smooth body.
Everything about this beer made me recoil at first, but with every subsequent sip I fell more and more under its spell. Sweet, desserty, and quite amazingly balanced, with its most intense notes intricately counterbalanced. This is a far, far better beer than I initially gave it credit for.
75 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney on my return.
Pours a deep, indeed robust, black-brown, with a faint hint of ruby-brown at the edges. Head forms fairly solidly at first, settling to a mess of chunky pancake bubbles across the top of the glass, fairly deep brown in hue. Body is solid, and it holds fine carbonation very well. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant: toasty and dry with noticeable overtones of coffee, a little pepper and a suggestion of acidity. Slight salty characters are tempered by a lingering, almost ephemeral sweetness that gives a deep rye bread type of note when they combine. It's good stuff.
Taste is quite similar. Again, there's not a huge sweetness or body to it, and here the coffee characters are much more pronounced—but there's a filling quality to these two things together. Mild roasty grain on the back is very smooth, and the lingering coffee notes caress the back palate while providing a slight punctuation of pepper. Finish is long, but lacking bitterness, so it's never harsh. Very nice.
Feel is slightly light, but it's not too bad, and it probably aids the drinkability somewhat.
Overall, this is a pretty cracking drop of beer, plenty of character that stays pleasantly balanced and coherent. The flavours are good, but it's how they're placed together that makes it as approachable and drinkable as it is. Good stuff.
Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne in May, I'm only just now entering some of my reviews. With 90-something (?) new beers that I sampled and reviewed, you understand my delay, I'm sure.
Pours a thin brown colour with decent clarity to it and a rather light weight behind it. Head is an oat-tinged white in colour, forming a slick oily film across the top of the glass. Looks decent enough.
Nose is a bit light all up, and with some of the spices providing oddities of aroma that don't necessarily work. I get aniseed which pings off the malt to be slightly rubbery. There's also some chocolate notes and a hint of ginger. But, again, it's a little bit light. Not bad all up though.
Taste has some pleasant roast characters on the front, before that aniseed character comes through a little strongly again, giving that rubber note another foothold. This cleans out by the early back palate where the aromatics seem to reach a pleasant equilibrium giving the perfume of an southeast Asian marketplace. Feel is very light: it could certainly use a bit more.
Overall, though, it's quite nice. It could use more body, more roast and could reign in the spices a little so they work more coherently together. It's got ABV to play with, so it could definitely afford a little bit more weight and sweetness at least. Nice overall.
79 / 100
220oz brown bomber purchased from Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich.
Pours a decent brown-black colour, with a relatively light body that doesn't hold carbonation. Head forms a decent filmy crest of golden-crispened brown and the lacing is excellent. I'm a bit surprised at the body, but otherwise it looks pretty decent.
Nose is wonderful, and delivering on everything I expected. Lovely oaky vanilla characters, cut with a crisp, fruity coffee aroma and underpinned with rich dark chocolate and malts that give sweetness but nothing in the way of grassy graininess. It's sweet and luscious and impressive—I don't care if it's also something of a gimmick. Gimme gimme gimme.
Relatively smooth and light entry on the palate just peppered with a little coffee spiciness. Big rounded, slightly empty vanilla characters come through in the mid palate. The back palate is where the richness is: dark chocolate and red mole pricked with more of that coffee bite and everywhere fresh and vibrant from supple vanilla. It's very pleasant once you get here: a little bit lacklustre beforehand.
Feel is very good: light enough to remind you it's a porter, but with heft to remind you it's 10% ABV.
Overall, it's a lovely brew, but perhaps one that was always going to be lovely. The flavours are pronounced and are quite well balanced. It's drinkable and very tasty. Something perhaps stops me from gushing wholeheartedly about it, but there's no doubt that it's a very fine brew.
I tried this beer for the first time at the brewery when it was very fresh and very new indeed, but circumstances (ahem, drunkenness) prevented me from giving it a proper review. I did remember enjoying it a great deal, however, so I was very pleased when my brother bought me a bottle for my birthday from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a solid dark brown with good clarity and a rather light body. Head forms a middling lattice of large, pale brown bubbles and then only really because I poured with some vigour. In fact, the beer seems almost uncarbonated, but that's perhaps not that unexpected for a beer with a long barrel conditioning.
Nose is full of oak: big vanillin characters mingling with the darker malt notes to give subtle berry hints. Not much in the way of juniper on the nose, except perhaps a savoury crispness that comes through. The oak is clearly dominant though: the way it works with the other characters give subtle purple grape and molasses notes. And that's a pretty decent thing.
Taste is pleasant, and here the juniper comes out a little more, giving a slightly tart, slightly bitter vegetative character to the centre of the palate. Under it is a solid, if relatively light porter, which rests on faint roast without much broad maltiness. The aftertaste has a touch more of that juniper note which to me is somewhere oddly between savoury and bitter. It could either use a touch more carbonation or a bit more body to help the feel: as it is, it ends up being a little bit flat.
Overall though, I did enjoy this a good deal. I remember the juniper being more prominent when it was young, but (ahem) there were circumstances that perhaps prevented me from giving the most rigorous opinion at the time. My suggestion is, however, that you drink this sooner rather than later if you have a bottle: the oak has already given it all the time it needs to age, and I think the juniper character might just get more and more lost the longer it goes on.
Bottle purchased at Top Hops Beer Shop in NYC, drunk in a hotel room in Ottawa to try and lighten my luggage load before the flight home.
Pours a red-tinged dark brown, some fizz around the glass. Head is beige, OK but a bit thin. Bit soft-drink-looking, really. Darker would be nice.
Smells sweet. Big vanilla hint with milk chocolate, touch of nutmeg. Richness, but more of a molasses than a roasty kind. Not bad, but very sweet.
Taste is fairly sweet as well. Vanilla permeates throughout, with a touch of cherry cola midway, dry-roasted spice late with cinnamon bark and a mild pepper note. Sweet, desserty beer. I need some more grounding. Some roast on the back would really carry this and make it a much more mature drink.
Mouthfeel contributes to its meek spirit, it's quite thin and yet retains a slight syrupy texture.
I'm being harsh with this one as I'm very sensitive to sweetness in beer. There's probably a lot for others to enjoy in this.
On tap as part of the Local Taphouse 'Dark Side of the Local' makeover.
Pours a dark brownish colour. Beige head, just a rim of bubbles. Lacing is good. Not bad.
Smells a bit boozey, and a bit smokey. Fair vanilla with chocolate but also brandy. Decent, but a bit big.
Tastes big, chocolatey, with a bit of banana to it. Vanilla paste and some rum on the back. Quite sweet and a little bit big, again, but pretty decent.
Feel a bit hot. Touch of fizz. OK I guess.
Not a bad big dark. Nice sweetness makes it quite palatable.
57 / 100
Pours a dark red-tinged brown. Lovely dense beige head. Lacing is wonderful, a beautiful curtain left around the glass. Looks awesome.
Smells boozey. Spicy, touch of tequila and definitely lacking in classic portery notes. Bit of chocolate but overwhelmed by booze.
Taste is a bit more portery; chocolate with touch of smoke and char. Bit of booze, but largely dark strength on the back. Good toasty chocolate sweetness, still a bit big though.
Smooth enough; bit of boozey coating to the tongue though.
A bit big, which detracts from the nuance it may have had. Disappointing from Haand.
77 / 100
On tap at Tørst.
Pours a red-tinged dark brown colour. Head is beige, densely bubbled and retains thin crown with gorgeous swathes of lacing. Pretty amazing.
Chocolatey nose, lots of sweet caramel on there as well. Burnt sugar, toffee, touch of vanilla. Mild, bit subtle, but what's there is nice.
Taste is bit more roasty and meaty (not literally). Chocolate still dominant but with some dry roasted espresso, pepper and a hint of mild dried chilli. Manages to incorporate dry notes into an overall gently sweet palate. Very enjoyable.
Good body, feels it might be thin but then develops a good presence, finishes dry.
Good American porter. Sweet, dry and spicy all held in good balance. Honestly can't wait until my next chance to try more from this brewery, I guess in many, many years' time.
A smoked coffee porter, according to their description, brewed with oats, maple syrup and smoked malt, and then dry-hopped (or equivalent) with coffee beans that had been recently roasted and ground on site at the brewery. That's quite a story behind it. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne (and from a hand-pump since—this review is from my GABS notes, however).
Pours a deep brown colour, with a surprisingly good clarity to it. Body is a little light, and it holds almost no head, just a few loose bubbles around the rim. It's an inauspicious start.
Pleasant aromas though: coffee, waffle and certainly the fragrance of maple syrup. There's a slight roasted malt character, but the coffee dominates this space. There's also a slightly meaty note like grilled chicken—perhaps the smoked malt making an appearance. It's nice.
Taste is a little lighter however: clean entry on the palate with some coffee characters balanced with a smooth malt not. Finish drops out quickly though, leaving it clean and light, but also a bit weak. Surprisingly, an aftertaste of maple syrup sticks around on the back after everything else has felen out. Feel is light but relatively bright.
Overall, this was a relatively tasty drop. Unfortunately, to date Riverside's beers have just had me squealing with excitement and so this is a relative disappointment. Don't be fooled by my saying that though: this is still a really nice beer.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. This was Moon Dog's GABS entry, a collaboration with Norway's Nøgne Ø which they called a Cherry Wheat Porter.
Pours a deep brown colour with quite a clarity to it, turning yellow at the edges when the light sneaks through. Body is solid and doesn't have much noticeable carbonation. Head is a fine beige ring. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is pleasant: cherry and chocolate both definitely come through along with subtle secondary flavours like concord grape, kirsch, sharp, spicy cinnamon and an underlying booze character. It's not really extremely potent: if it kicked me in the face with its strength as well, it would be exceptional.
Peppery entry on the palate, before a big up-tilt in boozy cherry. Sherry sweetness and booze mingled with more of that spicy cinnamon character. On the back is a pleasant return to smoothness and sweetness—coconut, chocolate with a pleasant bite of grape juice. Dry on the finish with a cocoa character lingering in the aftertaste.
Feel could be heavier and it would lend the beer more gravitas. Maybe it's the wheat, which I don't get any other perceptible benefits from.
Overall, though, this is lovely stuff. Spicy, lots of character and delivering plenty of complexity and flavour. I like it a lot.
A soured cherry porter, tried from a bottle at Penny Blue during their Sourfest evening during GBW2013.
Pours a deep, black-cherry colour, with a hint of deep, bloody red. Head is full and deeply pink. Body is very light and soft and there's almost no carbonation visible. No lacing either. Love the colour, though.
Cherries on the nose with a slight hint of weird, off-kilter smashed cocoa nibs. Some grassy characters come through as does a little rounded, flattened tropical fruit. Sour milk chocolate. It's a bit light, but it's certainly interesting.
Taste is surprisingly rather clean and smooth. Some pithy characters through the centre of the palate and a little cherry skin on the back. There's a hint of acidity to it, but it's all very mellow and smooth: there's not a touch of sharpness to the sour character. There's also not a touch of roast to it, apart from the slight chocolate and cocoa tones in the aroma. On the palate, there's no chocolate at all: not much hint of the porter.
Overall, it's a bit watery and thin, and the lack of any semblance of porter past the aroma is a little disappointing. But the cleanness is quite pleasant, and the mild acid is restrained and interesting. It's pretty decent all up.
73 / 100
330ml bottle, with some wacky artwork performing the knock-knock joke whose punchline names the beer. Good work, Mikkeller. Purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a deep brown, with translucent edges. Head forms a filmy laced top and a crisper ring of pale brown. Lacing is excellent, tight and intricate. Lighter than expected body, but it holds some nice fine carbonation. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is undeniably odd. Roasted, slightly nutty and quite brown malt tones, giving toasted bread and sweet brioche, mingled with a sharp, bitter-sour citrus tone—peely, dank and potent. Together it provides an earthy, organic character: not far from loamy soil turned with compost. It's rich and pungent, but slightly disconcerting at the same time.
Taste is dark. Indeed, the roast which was present on the nose didn't prepare me for just how sharply dark this was going to be. Bitter chocolate characters, coffee grounds and char are very prominent here, and I believe they're accentuated by the bitter citrus character. This character doesn't linger like hop acids would, but they set off the tastebuds to accept the bitterness from the roasted malts, so they have a similar effect. It's quite an intense experience, and an extremely interesting one.
Feel is light, but decent enough. It doesn't get in the way of the beer by any means.
Overall, this was an odd, but rewarding beer experience. The yuzu doesn't make its own flavour so noticeable, but it does accentuate and distinguish some of the flavours already extant in the beer. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but I'm very pleased to have tried it.
330ml bottle purchased as part of a mixed 6-pack from the brewery in Alfredton.
Pours a solidly deep brown, opaque almost throughout, and yet I can still tell it's brown and not black. Head starts off its life as a reasonable froth of mocha/off-white, but becomes a thin ring pretty quickly. Carbonation is loose and racing when tilted. No lacing to speak of.
Nose is dark, but rounded, and smoothed out. It has some of those sweet, slightly heady Belgian aromas, but set on a different basis: the darkness comes through to give some depth. There's not a lot of true roast character, more mild coffee, slight chocolate, a touch of aniseed, and perhaps rounded out with a hint of creamy vanilla. It feels a little like it's ticking the boxes: Belgian, yep, vanilla, yep, porter, yep. It doesn't do anything else to really warrant its existence as a style though.
Taste is a little more pleasant though: in addition to the mild roast and the aromatic vanilla character, we get a sharp sweetness like dark berries, which mingles well with the darkness inherent in the malt. Slight uptilt in tartness on the back: nothing like an infection, perhaps just the suggestion of those berries, a flick from the vanilla and the aromatics inherent in the Belgian yeast. Finish is a little empty, however.
Feel is quite light. It's actually rather disappointing: I get the Belgian aspect of having a light finish, but I think this needs and perhaps deserves more.
Overall, it's fine. Indeed, it actually has some amount of interest that works reasonably well. But it's perhaps a case of too many variables causing some chaos. I think the Belgian yeast and the vanilla work against each other: one or the other would probably make an interesting and flavoursome beer, and together they just create a mass of anti-synergy.
69 / 100
650ml bomber given to me by my brewing lecturer. This particular bottle may have been ~12 months old. Shared with Sam.
Pours a deep, dark brown colour, lighter at the edges, with a muddled, flaky cola-coloured head. Some streaky, but thin and watery lace. Fine, perhaps thin, body with minimal carbonation. Overall, it doesn't look particularly exciting.
Nose is mild and toasty, with a bit of sweet, estery fruit: banana coming through in particular. Slight peppery characters, and some cocoa and sweetness as it warms, giving it a toasted banana bread character. There's not a lot to it, to be honest, but it's not bad.
Taste is a bit better. Sweet darkness on the front, with raisins, sultanas and some toffee, before a robust, almost ashy bitterness swells on the finish. There's some rummy booze, a hint of pepper again, and some earthiness. It's maybe a little bit too thin in the mouth, but the carbonation is fine.
Overall, yeah, it's nice enough, but it's far from being really exciting or interesting. It's just decent. It's missing some overarching structure and complexity, and ends up feeling a little too generic.
Pours a dark chocolatey colour, beige head, with nice specks of lace left behind. Trickle of bead. Decent-looking porter.
Smells a little odd; maybe salty characters floating over a meek chocolate porter aroma. Sweet carob character as well. Not bad.
Taste is quite interesting. Sweet but savoury in equal measure. Some vinous notes, pepperberry, clove and salt. Mild roastiness on the back ties it all in well, but there's really nothing very emphatic here and it could easily be mistaken for any other porter.
A bit thin on the mouthfeel really, a hint of texture but feels a tad empty.
A bit on the weird side. Some decent enough notes but never quite seems sure of what it's doing.
76 / 100
After some disastrously crazy beers from Red Duck, it's nice to see them try their hand at something less likely to offend. 330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours surprisingly light and clear: a deep red-brown colour that's clearly transparent in the light—perhaps a little too dark for a red ale, but probably only halfway between a red ale and a porter. It could be around IBA territory, which they seem to acknowledge on the bottle. Head is a fine accumulation of pale off-white bubbles—these form larger bubbles, and then dissipate to a film. Lacing is speckled and ambiguous. Body is quite light. Looks decent enough, although the colour is surprising.
Nose is mildly roasted, with some pleasant uptilt from the hops. The sweetness from the malt mingles to give a musk character and a hint of crushed vegetation. Some grainy notes are pleasant as well, giving a mild toasted bread underpinning to everything. It's nice stuff.
Taste is mild but balanced: pleasant flat roasted malt provides a biscuity basis, on which are layered faint hints of floral hoppiness, giving some spikes in flavour content, but not any overpowering bitterness. Some vegetative characters do round out the back palate, however, giving a crispness that you wouldn't expect in your average porter. It is, as they say on the label, very well-balanced.
Feel is smooth and light, with just the right amount of fine carbonation.
Overall, I'm really very happy with this. I'm often pretty harsh on Red Duck when their all-or-nothing experiments go awry (see, for example, Smells Like A Pony), but I'm glad to see that their more balanced and more traditional beers are as good as this one. Very solid stuff.
44 / 100
Finally wrapping up my notes from Sydney's Craft Beer Week: this was part of 4 Pines Keller Door series on the theme of the week "Beer Mimics Food". Their Chocolate Seaweed Porter was brewed in collaboration with Three Blue Ducks. Tried on-tap at the brewery's bar in Manly.
Pours a deep reddish-brown, relatively free of haze. Body is surprisingly light, with a beige topping of fine head. Spidery lace forms as well. Overall, it looks pretty decent.
The aroma is the first hint that this is perhaps an experiment too far. The initial aroma is weird enough, with its briny seaweed character conjuring up cooked veggie stank, and funky leaf-mold earthiness. Then comes the chocolate in one of the biggest WTF moments of my beer drinking experience. Urgh: it adds this really banal sweetness that just accentuates how out-of-whack the other aromas are. It's weird, and experimental, but also pretty unsuccessful.
Taste is marginally better, only by virtue of the fact that it's not as big. Some more seaweed characters on the front, mixing their briny fingers in and around a sweet orange peel character that makes it taste like drinking off juice. There's pleasantly, some more roast towards the middle and back to clear it out, but with little purpose; the back feels weak and empty.
Feel is extremely light, if it weren't for the fact that the flavours were vaguely offensive, the feel might be its worst aspect.
This was easily the least successful of 4 Pines SCBW series. This was clearly an experiment, but even knowing that, I have to ask the question "why was it even an experiment in the first place". Knowing how this beer ended up, I can't imagine how it would be really much different. Chocolate and seaweed is a very difficult match, and it makes for a difficult beer.
74 / 100
Pours a dark-brown portery colour, clear with nice foamy head of a deep beige, slight golden tinges around the edges. Nice, decent porter look; has a touch of espresso about its appearance.
Smells very spicy and smokey. Deep roasted malt base with spicy, herbal notes that combined with the roast give a slight ashiness. Quite sharp, too, but it's all quite pleasant. Piquant, like a good wake-up coffee.
Again very spicy on the palate. Lots of tobacco characters on there with herbal notes, some mediciney characters coming in and a touch of pepper. Smoke, too, almost meaty. The roasted malt provides a very solid foundation and complements all these extra complexities well on the back. Very pleasant indeed.
Slightly thin on the mouthfeel, but OK. Smooth texture.
Very interesting brew. More on the interesting side, but I think it makes good use of tobacco. More tobacco should be used in brewing and less for smoking, I say.
73 / 100
Pours very, very dark. Maybe hints of brown up to the light, but they're not immediately visible to my eye. Head is pale beige, settled out but nice nonetheless. Lace is not as clingy as it could be. Looks like a fairly thin dark beer, but a good one.
Smell is smokey and roasty in about equal measure. Stouty sweetness as well, and a touch of sweet pumpking and candied yams to it as well. Yeah, bit of banana, but a decent belt of wood smoke at the back and some roasty chocolatey malt. Not bad at all, but not quite enamouring me entirely.
Taste kicks in with big vanilla upfront, then gets to a fairly decent sweet stouty palate overall. Lots of cereal character, slightly roasted where the charred notes and bitterness - and hint of peppery spice - comes in later. Some banana character, maybe some apricot as well. Overall it's quite sweet, but with a nice roasty boozey heat at the back that tempers it well. Not brilliantly, but well.
Full, yes. Too boozey? Maybe a bit too much heat on the back. Quite dry; still not bad at all.
Quite a big fruity twist to a big, dark beer. I won't pretend I can instantly taste the difference between a porter and a stout but as an imperial porter it tastes sweeter and more stouty to me. I wouldn't mind a bit more dry roastiness coming in to balance and ground it.
57 / 100
Pours a very dark red colour, looks black until held up to the light. Head is cream-coloured, thin but able to be revived with a quick swill. Lace is not that clingy; sinks slowly down the glass. Nice; looks rich and inviting, like Richard Branson after a hit of MDMA.
Smells a little too sweet for my liking. Big grainy smell, almost raw without a lot of toastiness, although a light caramelised aroma hits later. Touch of plum, dates and red grape skins as esters, but mostly that sweet grain character. Decent, but can't say I'm a huge fan, and would really expect more... you know, coffee, from a coffee porter.
Taste is really rather similar, lots of sweet cereal notes. Puffed rice, hot cross buns on there, slight treacle glaze but a decent toasty note running down the back and a mild espresso flavour. A bit diminutive on the finish, there's a linger but it's all quite meek and muted. Slightly toasty and a bit sweet. Quite pleasant, but overall a bit lacking, yet tastes like it wants to be complex.
Yeah, a bit thin upfront but then regains some power towards the back. Drying, not hugely full.
Something's lacking, and I think it's heart. There's some high points and some lower plateaux. Not overall bad though.
Pours a largely dark-brown colour with a slight red tinge. Tan head, foamy with a decent thickness to it. Could be darker-browner, but nice.
Sweet aroma with masses of coconut. Actually puts me in mind of Malibu as the sweetness is prevalent. Vanilla, liqueury sweet. It's a good thing I bloody love coconut because this could be off-putting otherwise. To me though, it's gorgeous.
Lots of sweet coconut upfront on the palate as well. Very nice coconut and vanilla with a slight undercurrent of cocoa. Unfortunately the flavours don't last, and the palate pulls up quite short to finish slightly watery. Nice flavours but they fade away quickly. Still pleasant.
Sadly thin on the body. Could use a bit more of a syrupy feel especially towards the back. More oomph needed, maybe.
I adore coconut so I'm probably not the best judge. I do love the flavours, but overall the beer seems a bit lacking.
76 / 100
Oddly-sized 660ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a deep purplish-brown (almost certainly psychosomatically purple due to the colouring on the label), with a filmy, beige head pocked with plenty of larger bubbles, forming something of a scum on the top of the beer. Carbonation is fine, but extremely minimal. Body is pretty heavy, but fluid. Looks decent enough.
Nose is deep and rich, with a port sweetness melded with some fine roasted coffee and plummy characters. There's certainly something boozy to it as well: almost a berry-heavy red wine. The sweet fragrance has a suggestion of yeast-genesis to it, which gives it almost a suggestion of a Belgian Strong Dark, or a Weizenbock. It's really quite fascinating stuff.
Taste drags it more back into less fragrant, less anarchic territory. Here there's more of a solid roasted character, and a relative lightness to the body. There are still hints of fragrant fruitiness: amaretto, marzipan, dried currants and halva around the edges, along with a slightly astringent bite towards the finish, which suggests more booze. It's really very pleasant stuff.
Overall, this is pretty interesting stuff. It has the roasted bite of a deep porter, but the fragrance and booziness of a slightly funky dark Belgian ale. The result? I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but it makes me intrigued enough to seek out more from Moor.
22oz bomber purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a dark, but relatively fluid black colour, with a fine ring of beige-foam around the edges. Spotty, patchy lace forms erratically. Body looks really quite light, and the carbonation, while fine, runs through it pretty quickly. Looks ok, if not spectacular.
Nose is pleasantly deep and dark, without being too sharp, smoky or ashy. Roasted notes, some chocolate, a bit of turned earth, tobacco and coconut. It's all pretty smooth, and while not aggressive, it's quite full-flavoured. Nice stuff.
The body is very light—it's the first thing I notice when I take a sip—meaning that although the flavours are pleasant, they feel a bit weak and thin. There's more of that nice chocolate and mildly roasted grain character, a hint of something vegetative and supple, and a slight coffee note on the finish. But for 7% ABV, I'm surprised at how dry and thin it feels. It really needs more.
It's a shame, more than anything, because in many ways this is a very nice beer. It has some pleasant, well-integrated flavours and subtle complexities, but it feels like it dropped the ball overall. It should be better.
84 / 100
350ml can purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. I love beer in cans. It's hard to tell its exact volume as almost all of the writing is in dense Japanese, but it's hidden there when you look.
Pours a very deep roasty black-brown, with a mildly frothed head of mocha that dissipates to a very thin film. Nice fine messy lace. Carbonation is quite fine, but the body is relatively light, meaning it sluices through quickly. Overall, it's a very decent looking brew.
Nose is also very pleasant, with a roasty toasted bite and a mellow chocolate or buttered brioche sweetness. Some heft in the aroma, meaning it stays very nice and rich. It's a very nice smelling, if not overly complex nose.
Taste is excellent: solid roasted basis, with a clear, rounded fullness to the palate, lending some smoky coffee, earthy spices and even a savoury umami character. Lovely stuff. The finish is really nice and long, and maintains a decent sweetness right to the back where it tastes like a crumbling mound of dark demerara sugar.
Feel is light but solid, and certainly full for a beer that's relatively low in ABV: pretty much spot-on for this style and flavour profile.
Overall, wow—I'm very impressed indeed. I wasn't expecting this to be as good as it is. It's really tasty, drinkable and flavoursome, but manages to stick really well within the pleasant mild, roasted genre of the porter. Really excellent, well-made stuff.
74 / 100
On-tap at the Italian Spectapular at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours a deep, solid and pretty gooey and oily black colour. Head is a filmy brown hue. Relatively light bodied in the glass. Looks pretty good.
Nose is rich and roasty, with some mild toasted tobacco notes and a pretty deep sweetness backing it up. Some true graininess comes through to back up the other roasted characters. It's very pleasant.
Taste is big and smooth, and smooth without any clinging sweetness. Languid roast on the front, with a nice clean biscuity finish. The tobacco adds more of a sweetness to the back, and some depth and complexity to the finish. Ahh... It almost makes you want to take up smoking.
Nice stuff: I'll pay that for sure. Very smooth, rich and flavoursome with a lot to offer. Were I not so brainwashed to believe that this beer is probably giving my mouth cancer, I'd drink this regularly.
71 / 100
Had on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne (as an aside, I believe with this review, I've entered my last for the festival, only 3 months late!).
Pours a reddish black-brown colour with surprising clarity. Body is firm, supporting a beige-brown fine, filmy head that provides excellent lacing. Looks really good.
Nose is almost insane with coconut: paint-stripping coconut essence or buckets of compressed Malibu. It's like green coconut water. It's intense. There's no roast to go with it at all, this is just about the coconut, and it's exaggerated and over-the-top.
Surprisingly light entry leads to a welling of bright, brittle coconut sweetness. Stacks of coconut milk on the finish, leaving it semi-fragrant and slightly rich. Again, there's not much sign of the roasted characters suggested in the look, but by this stage you get what it's pushing. Yeah, these guys like coconut.
Feel is smooth and decent enough.
Overall? C'mon, show me some interplay, show me some contrast and complexity. This is just coconut, coconut, coconut. It needs some roastedness, some "porter" of some description besides the look of the thing. Blast me with something else as well and then you can blast me with coconut.
76 / 100
On nitro-tap at the brewery in Seattle. Something like a smoother, more pumped up version of their Troll Porter.
Pours a deep brown-black colour with solid opacity and a firm body. Head is insanely thick and smooth, forming a crema-to-off-white head that leaves creamy lace. Tiny bubbles when tilted. Yes.
Creamy smooth aromas from the get-go. Milk chocolate, slightly, judiciously toasted grainâit creates a mild smoothness that doesn't over power. No overt roasted characters. Smells great.
Taste follows this theme as well. Light, creamy entry, with a touch of roast which gives a slightly acid tone. Clean, smooth mid-palate feels slightly empty, before some more prominent dark characters come through on the back to leave a lingering roast with a hint of sparkling effervescence.
Feel is smooth and languid from the nitroâit really helps overall, as I feel is might feel a bit thin in and of itself.
Very smooth, clean and mild. Lovely to drink.
Tried on-tap at the brewery in Seattle.
Pours a deep brown colour, with flashes of red to it. Body is opaque and solid, with a fluid aspect to it. Head is a pocked solid film of mocha-off-white. Some solid lace. Looks pretty decent.
Some roast on the nose, a little nutty grain characters and some mild malt sweetness. Overall, it's pretty dull, and very generic.
Light roast on the front palate, but very little body or sweetness to back it upâit leaves the mid-palate feeling rather weak and empty with some mild carbonic characters. Slightly grainy roasted characters on the back. It just underlies how generic it feels.
Mouthfeel lingers a little, but it's still exceptionally light.
This is very average, and not very exciting. It reminds me of a "dark ale" brewed by a mass-producing brewery, only paying lip-service to what makes the style good.
Had on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown colour, with some opacity to it. Body is quite fluid, it seems. Head is beige, perfect in weight and form. Decent lacing. Overall, it looks very good.
Nose is a bit of a disappointment. Mild roast comes through, but otherwise pretty bland. There's perhaps a hint of smoke to it, but it's really just another character of the roast, which forms just about the only discernible part of the brew.
Light vanilla on the front before a weak darkness comes through in the form of some empty chocolate or cocoa. Finish is quite dry, with some carbonic acidity able to push through above the desolation. Feel is very flat indeed.
Overall, this is not bad, but it is very, very dull. It's a shame, because these guys are capable of better.
81 / 100
On-tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA.
Pours a really nice amber-brown hue, with a touch of red when held to the light. Body is relatively light. Head is amazing, a solid firm but clear, persistent beige. Lace is incredibly solid. It's a pretty amazing looking porter.
Nose is something of a disappointment, truth be told. There's some mild grain notes with a touch of sweetish biscuit or graham cracker. There's an odd hint of savoury fruit, a little like stewed tomatoes.
But it's uphill from there (and how). Mild, smooth chocolate entry on the palate leads to a gorgeous, roasty warmth on the mid, giving smooth hazelnut overtones. Finish has a slight bite of subtly bitter roast along with more cleansing, mellow nuttiness. Finish is capped with a clean bite of roast. Awesome stuff.
Feel is surprisingly light, but with a slight tingle to energise the palate.
Lovely. Just lovely stuff. Smooth and drinkable but with stacks of complexity and richness. Love it.
Bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West, in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a deep, dark black; yep, opaque, deep, black, and opaque (did I mention opaque), with a ridiculously large head of mocha-beige foam that forms as a dangerous crescendo and threatens to overwhelm the lip of the glass. Lacing is excellent, as is the weight of the body, given what it is. Looks good.
Nose is smooth and roasty, but to be honest, a little generic. Sure, it has the pleasant clear dark malt characters, a mild nuttiness to cut through and an all round smoothness and roundness; but haven't we all seen this before? It's solid. Check. It's decent. Check. But I'm also a little bored by it.
Hmm, I have similar sentiments about the flavour, although it's solid, again. Surprisingly, it lacks a little body, and the nutty sweetness that was present on the nose abandons it here, leaving the roast and the dark ashy bitterness to do most of the work. There are other interesting notes though, including a flash of liquorice through the mid palate and an odd saltiness towards the finish. It's interesting, but not coherent enough as a whole. Feel is light but pleasant.
Overall, it doesn't quite work. There's a dearth of sweetness in the body that it really needs, meaning it leads too strongly with the ashy roasted character, but has nothing to carry it. In some senses, it feels to generic; in others it needs to be pulled back.
47 / 100
Bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a pleasant, deep red-brown, with a solid clarity. Body is firm enough, and the head is frothy and thick, although it doesn't retain particularly well, and there's only minimal lacing. Still, it looks pretty decent.
Nose is mildly grainy with a smooth vanilla undertone, but an unpleasant echo of tinny metal comes through as well. Vanilla is dominant as it warms, almost making it smell overly sweet. The vanilla's a nice touch overall, but it doesn't really blend with the other characters, mainly because no other character is robust enough to keep up.
Taste is rather thin, with a fake vanilla sweetness coming through the centre, before a harsh roasted, almost tobacco ash character comes through on the finish. It's no better as it warmsâthe body still feels thin, there's no sweetness to support the vanilla, and the bitterness on the finish adds a dollop of unpleasantness to top things off.
It's not terrible, but it should be better than this. It's way too thin, and there's not a depth or complexity to it. Moreover, what characters it does have don't gel together into a coherent whole, and some actively rebel against the flavour of the whole. Disappointing.
79 / 100
I'm usually a little unenthused about BrewDog's beers, but I'm usually over the moon to try a new Lost Abbey beer. This is a conflicting experience.
Pours a deep reddish black colour, still somewhat translucent, with a fine film of ochre brown one the top. Some speckled lace and a very solid and firm body. Lots of fine carbonation when tilted. I like that the colour is not intensely black. It keeps it in Porter territory. It's a good looking beer.
Nose is big, friendly, comforting and boozy, with deep barrel notes giving vanilla and caramelised sugar. There's not a lot of roast to it, or indeed much that is sharp to keep the sweetness at bayâthe closest that comes to it is a sherry or port like booziness that just suggest a little acidity. But it's impressive nonetheless. Like a big barrel-aged American Strong ale.
Taste is smooth and light, with a very woody port cask flavour on the back palate, the melds into a faint reverberation of salty roastedness. Indeed, there's an umami character on the back palate, like beef stock or vegemite that's really odd, but not unpleasant. This cuts through the oaky sweetness that fills out the rest of the palate. As a result, it's not too heavy, not too cloying, and all the characters manage to stay complementary and in balance. That must be tough work.
Overall: impressive stuff. This is a really pleasant and interesting beer that manages to be both complex and balanced. These are pretty much my by-words when it comes to beer I like, so I'm unashamedly enamoured.
88 / 100
I've been really excited to try this beer ever since I learned of its existence. After missing out on it in 2010 by the merest of margins, I managed to find a bottle of it at Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley on my most recent trip to California. Shared with @LaitueGonflable (who originally expressed interest in it) and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a thick and pleasant black colour, with an initially frothy and solid head of mocha-brown, but which subsisdes to a fine film. Some speckled lacing, but not particularly strong. Body is fluid, with the hint of weight behind it, but otherwise looking a little thin. Overall, it looks decent enough, but it doesn't have anything particularly spectacular to its name.
Nose is wonderful. Somehow, the pumpkin ale genesis has transferred beautifully here, with a sweet pie-spice aroma coming through prominently, while still maintaining a lovely deep dark aroma that meets the criteria of its appearance. Sweet nutmeg and cinnamon, with caramelised pumpkin and brown sugar, all with a pleasant toasted bread and lightly roasted backing. It's gorgeous. It would be an exceptional aroma for any pumpkin ale, but it makes a pretty decent, if unusual porter aroma as well.
Smooth entry, with a pleasant roasted character, that smooths out the longer the palate continues. I'm very pleased to say that here the chocolate gets its day, with a supple chocolate fondue-like sweetness coating the palate. This mingles with the roasted, slightly savoury characters, and the leavened pie-spice aromatics, leaving a luscious overall impression. Finish is rather dry, but it feels like a dry finish was almost demandedâit allows the spicy characters to dance on the finish, while not making it heavy and undrinkable.
This is a really lovely beer, and one I'm very, very pleased to have sampled. The dark pumpkin beer works so well here, because the balance is right. There is no sense of the pumpkin and spice being overwhelmed, but at the same time, it's clearly a deep, chocolatey porter. It's win-win whatever way you look at it.
39 / 100
Cheers very much to my bro Aaron for bringing this back from a recent trip to Texas. It seems Texan beers are rare in the parts of the US I ever get to visit.
Pours a disappointingly light looking brown colour, with oily hints at the corners. Head forms as a passive slick of film across the top of the glass. Body is also thin and light, but with a pleasing fine bead of carbonation. It's ok, but the negatives draw down the positives leaving it looking pretty average.
Nose is mild with filtered coffee aromas, and a touch of husky malt giving a twinge of grainy sweetness. Other sweet confectionery hints give notes of marshmallows and powdered sugar. It's not very full, and the coffee flavour seems lackadaisically layered on top of a relatively substandard beer otherwise.
Taste is also thin, with weak filtered coffee flavours riding along for the ride, awash a faint watery palate of nothingness. Slight raw beany character towards the back, and a slightly gritty finish like coarse dirt. Eh. Feel is particularly empty, letting even the purported marshmallow sweetness drop away to nothing.
A pretty disappointing brew, all up, and a sad initiation to Texan craft beer as far as I'm concerned. There are two more to come from Aaron's haul, so hopefully there's some redemption there.
84 / 100
Quite an amazing pour: initially, it looks like it's not going to form a head at all, just leaving some yellowish-brown turbulent bubbles in the top of the deep, brown-black body. But then tiny bubbles start to nucleate forming a rich, chocolate-brown head of very fine film. This eventually settles out a little, but it's still creamy when it's filmy. Body is rich and full, leaving powdery static carbonation when swirled. Lacing is excellent. Looks like a fantastic beer.
Nose is intense, with big roasty high-cocoa chocolate characters, and savoury, slightly spicy characters of cardamom, aniseed and caraway seed. There's a hint of booze to it too, but it mellows into a nutty amaretto sort of character. Really quite unique and incredibly pleasant and complex.
Taste is a little lighter and less complex, but it has such a length on the palate, lending sweet chocolate on the front, before smoothly transitioning into a roasted bittersweet finish. Chocolate and cocoa still seem to me the dominant flavours, and some of the spice suggested on the nose has dropped out a little. Still the roastiness has nuanced layers to it, giving some brewed coffee tones above the smoother bitter chocolate notes.
Feel is wonderful, at once slick and light, but with that chewy lingering character that allows the flavours to mellow and develop in the mouth.
Really lovely brew this one, even by the high standards I place on Haand. They really do a good line in "Scandinavian" pseudo-traditional beers, which ironically puts them in the avant garde of the craft beer scene.
76 / 100
Pours an extremely dark brown, almost opaquely black, and only leavened in hue at the very edges, where it becomes an oily, translucent chestnut. Head is bulbous and large-bubbled, almost fizzing up in extravagance. The colour is a pleasant very light coffee-crema beige, and the lacing forms as sudsy rings as it falls. The head and the associated carbonation is a little worrying, but otherwise it looks pretty decent.
Nose is pleasant sweet coffee, all the way, cut slightly with a touch of crisp acidity, possibly from the carbonation, as it settles down a little as the head does. Touches of leather, chocolate and pepper come through as well, all providing a dark roastiness, that never really gets towards roasted or astringentâit's a mild sweetness throughout.
Taste is lovely, and the feel is way better than I expected. The slick, oily palate has the texture of cold espresso, and it manages to coat the tongue with its array of coffee, milk chocolate and creamy sweetness. Very clear and clean, and very lusciousâthere's not huge complexity in flavour, but the simple sweetness is soothing, warming and comforting.
Finish is surprisingly long, and while some of the sweetness drops out on the back leaving a sense of dryness, those cocoa and coffee characters retain the ghost of the sweetness, so the illusion lasts for much longer.
Really nice brew from Haand, who I believe I'm yet to have a disappointing beer from. This is smooth, slick and very drinkable, while making a really nice showcase of the coffee.
Dark brown colour, mostly black except at the very edge. Head is beige, thin and dispersed, leaving specks of lace behind. Looks pretty standard, but not bad.
Smells roasty and a bit stouty. Plenty of espresso but a nice sweet edge with unsweetened chocolate providing some balance, and a touch of pecan towards the back. Again fairly pedestrian aromas, but decently put together.
Taste is also fairly nutty, with sweet pecan and hazelnut flavour pervading. Not a lot of roastiness except the sweet and nutty notes are slightly darkened, to an overall fairly chocolatey flavour. Hint of licorice on the back and maybe a whisper of leather. Quite decent porter, but again there's nothing really interesting here, and ultimately it's a bit sweet and a bit bland.
Decent texture for the style, really. Foamy and dries up quite well. Yeah, nice.
A fairly standard effort; could use more oomph from somewhere but it's decent drinking.
76 / 100
Purchased in New York, brought back to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very deep, murky almost-black, frizzled brown at the edges. Head poured dark and solid to begin with, but settles to a mild film of chocolatey brown. Body is very pleasantly firm and thick, and forms some nice fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it's a decent looking brew, but not a spectacular one.
It's all uphill from there though. Big roasted, sweet/savoury notes on the nose, giving dark coffee, brown bread crust and a hint of red wine tannins. This is all smoothed with a mild malt sweetness and the suggestion of vanilla. Lovely blend, and while still rather mild and subdued, it makes for a very pleasant aroma.
Taste is similarly pleasant. Roasted notes form the basis, but these are assuaged by a mild milk sweetness and more of those vanilla overtones. Slight hint of leather on the aftertaste, along with a cleansing, but not prominent hop bitterness. Smooth and luxurious on the palate, while maintaining fluidity.
A really nice beer, and probably a holotypical American Porter. It's well made and solidly believable. Great drop.
57 / 100
Pours a murky dark-red, almost opaquely dark except around the edge. Head is lovely and dense foam, almost like honeycomb. Lace is sticky in trails. Looks wonderful.
Smells very grainy. Quite sweet with spent grain and bread dough, slight roasty note to it almost to the point of spicy espresso. Yeah, very barley, wet mash aroma. Could definitely use more, it's a bit bland and pedestrian.
Taste is unfortunately similar. Plenty of flavour but never really goes anywhere. Grainy upfront with burnt caramel and a hint of dates. Develops more roasty notes midway, mild black pepper and licorice come through that are the highlights here. Hint of cinnamon on an overcooked-toffee malt finish, and still retains that grain mash flavour without quite developing any interesting fermented esters. A bit one-note, but not unpleasant.
Fairly light, with a hint of sharp booze midway through, and quite dry on the back. More malt body wouldn't go amiss.
Bit underwhelmed here. Doesn't really go anywhere, yet it's a bit too much for a session beer.
Bottle purchased in, indeed, Palo Alto (well, close to, anyway), and brought back to Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney.
Pours a dark, but translucent brown colour, with a rather light coloured, and fine head of beige. Pleasant fine, if insubstantial lacing. Pretty light body, but not too bad overall. It looks decent, at least.
Nose is pleasantly roasted and slightly sweet, giving characters of cocoa and palm sugar, and indeed perhaps a slight coconut hint. slight hint of sulphur early on. It's quite mild, but it's an alluring sort of mildness, that makes it seem more drinkable.
Taste is similar. Very light bodied, and quite thin on the palate, but with a pleasant mild roastiness, and a (possibly purely psychosomatic) hint of coconut. It's certainly taking that mildness a little further than the nose did, and it's certainly weaker for it, but it's not a bad brew overall.
Yeah, it's mild, and drinkable for its mildness, but it's not something that's going to make you stand up in bright-eyed enthusiasm. It's solid, without being outstanding.
78 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, just hints of colour at the edges. Head is beige, small bubbles but fizzes away leaving a thin rim of foamy lace. Looks like a standard porter; not bad.
Smells pleasantly dark. Lots of cocoa nibs give a rich gooey chocolate note with minimal sweetness. Hint of vanilla bean and some wet bark, but mostly just thick roasty darkness; very nice indeed.
Taste starts out as expected, with lightly roasted grain giving mild dark bitterness upfront. Richer, chocolate notes take over, reminiscent of a great mudcake that just doesn't give a shit about sweetness because it's so gooey and rich and buttery. Just a few musty notes on the mid, but the chocolate character lasts to the back. Sort of fades our with an unfortunate sour spiced cola flavour, but enough of that dark, bitter chocolate remains to forgive it. Nice, rich porter notes.
Slick and smooth mouthfeel with a bit of a chalky texture on the back where the roasted malt does the whole astringency thing. Not bad though.
Note to other BAs who's reviewed this beer, do yourself a favour and grab an uninfected bottle, because I think this is a cracking good porter. Would match really well with chocolate fondant and fresh berries.
62 / 100
Pours a reddish brown colour, with a very pleasantly thick head of jaundiced beige. Body is very light, and there's not a lot of visible carbonation. In some sense, it looks a little insipid, but the colour and the head are wonderful.
Mild roasted characters on the nose, with a hint of thin seltzer character. Minimal sweetness, although the toasty character evokes characters of bittersweet chocolate and mild roasted coffee. A hint of salt, or sea to it as well, which is a little unfortunate. It's mild overall, but not unpleasant.
Taste is very similar. Thin roasty characters, which give the impression of watered down iced coffee. Minimal sweetness, minimal body, and everything piles on at the start, leaving the back very flat and empty. Feel is particularly weak.
Pleasant enough in its way, albeit a rather bland and insipid way. It's drinkable, and relatively light. There are far better out there though.
Ridiculously cheap at BevMo in Milpitas, CA, I couldn't resist picking up a bottle of this, even though it's yet another "Tied House by another name" brewery. These always seem destined to let me down.
Pours a thin dark brown colour, with a fine, slightly foamy head of pale beige. Lacing is ringing and rather fluid. Body is quite thin and light, although the moderate carbonation forms in rather fine bubbles in the body. It's not bad, but I've seen better.
Nose is genuinely quite pleasantly smoky, without going over the top into bacon-beer territory. Granted, apart from the subtle smoke, there's little else, perhaps just a lightweight toasted grain character, but the smoke is nicely done, and a lightness otherwise isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Unfortunately, the taste does need a bit more body, with minimal character apart from the roastiness which forms the majority of the flavour profile, and the smoke, which sits carefree above this, never integrating with the rest of the palate. Mostly, it turns out to be like lightly toasted bread, with that overlaid smoke character sitting around the top.
Feel is overcarbonated, giving a prickly, seltzery, soda-like effervescence, which doesn't suit the style.
I've had worse, I've had better. To be honest, it's not too bad, and the lack of body does lend it a light, drinkable quality. Still, this also gives it its rather lacklustre profile overall. Not bad to try, but not necessarily something I'd bother picking up again.
73 / 100
Pours a dark, hazy brown colour, with a filmt but fine ring of coffee-coloured foam at the edges of the glass. Minimal body, minimal lacing, and, in fact, the lack of any sort of head forming is a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, it's alright.
Nose is pleasantly balanced between a sharp coffee bite, and a smoothness of creamy vanilla. Mellow and light, but pretty well representative. There's a touch of thick, slightly goopy under-attenuated malt to it, but otherwise, it's nicely held together.
Light and pleasant on the palate, lifted by a decent jolt of roast grain bittersweetness on the back. Initial characters of dusty cocoa and light roast coffee get taken on an upswell in the bitterness stakes. Feel is light throughout, which is fine for the style, and accentuates the sharp roasty, charring character in the finish. I can see a bigger version going for something bigger, with more sweetness to compensate as well.
Overall, a nice brew, and one that is surprisingly gentle and drinkable. Despite this, it packs plenty of flavour, and feels pretty solid throughout.
77 / 100
Pours a dark cola, hint of brown up to the light. Head is ochre, nice and dense. Lovely lace left behind; looks great.
Smell is coffee-esque with lots of toasty malt and chocolate notes. Yeah, cocoa with a hint of espresso. Spice, yes, but not a lot of smoke or chilli. Maybe just whispered suggestions. Nice porter smell though.
Taste is a good balance. Starts portery with toasted grain that develops cocoa and coffee on there with light roasty spice, dry-toasted cumin and coriander seeds. Hint of chilli on mid balances well with cocoa-rich chocolate nots and hint of smoke, then nice finish with a mild chilli heat to it. Very enjoyable, with the most bold flavours not overdoing themselves. Not to everyone's taste but I'm definitely a fan.
Thin on the feel, though plenty of substance to it.
Yeah, I like a good spicy dark beer. And this be one. This gives credence to the idea that chilli can be served with dark beer.
62 / 100
Cola coloured with cinnamon-coloured head, nice and dense with pleasant lace. Looks good.
Smell is chocolatey and sweet. Lots of cocoa with touch of cake batter, peppery yeast and touch of coffee cream. Not bad.
Taste is a bit lacking with slight dark malt giving dark caramel, then develops cocoa notes with touch of rye bread and then some fresh banana on the back, just subtly. Bit roasty, bit brassy. Not bad but could pack more of a punch on the front.
Smooth, full mouthfeel, but not seamless with notable carbonation tingle.
Enjoyable drop, leaves me wondering though.
77 / 100
Cheers to @laituegonflable for the bottle.
Pours a pretty pleasantly dark and rich borwn colour, leavened at the edges, but otherwise pretty heavy and opaque. Head is foamy and crispy, but formed of very large bubbles, giving a honeycomb effect the the top of the beer. Decent sheeting lace, and there's obviously some heft to the body. Not a bad look, all up.
Nose is roast and dark, with a very decent smoke character and a touch of something quintessentially Scandinavian. It's the darkness, the bleakness or the rusticity. It's thin and crisp, but also dark and redolent. Very nice.
Taste is dark and chalky, with a big bitterness that comes across like a fine powder of espresso. I like the roastiness that comes across in a really big porter, combined with the lightness of body, which lulls you into the sense that you could drink quite a lot of it. It's really dark and very roasted, but the lightness in the body pleasantly brings it back.
Very decent brew. All the elements come together very pleasantly, to give a really robusty flavoured but surprisingly drinkable 8.5% ABV brew. The rye probably adds its own subtle complexities, but by the end you don't careâit's a well-integrated and very tasty porter on its own.
78 / 100
Pours a deep and very opaque brown-black colour, with a very fine head of chocolate brown. Body looks almost yellow-oily on the edges. Very sharp and classy looking. Body is just a little lighter than it could have been, otherwise, this is top-notch.
Nose is crispy and dark, with a sharpness that maybe speaks to the smoky chipotle note. In some senses the smoke gives it a lightness, although this and the true charred nature of the roasted malt mingle meaning you can't extricate either of the characters. Nice.
Taste is really pleasantly smoky and dark, with a tingle of spicy chilli on the back of the palate. But it's subdued enough that in mingles with the smoke, the roast and the slightly astringnet bitterness, dancing on the palate and giving a zing to elevate the beer above any other.
Very nice brew. Very nice indeed. It has the classic Mikkeller elan, but with the lift of something sharp, weird and different. One of my picks. Good beer.
73 / 100
Purchased from an unassuming little shop in Oakland, CA, and brought back to Australia. Shared with @tobeerornottobe.
Uncaps with barely a hiss, and pours very slowly, with almost no carbonation or head. In reality, there's some static carbonation when it's tilted, but otherwise, the head that forms is a honeycomb of huge bubbles that look like they've arisen purely from the disturbance of being poured. Colour is a deep brown, translucent at the edges, but opaque in the centre. Can't say I'm overly impressed overall, but it's not bad.
Nose is very pleasant with a great sweet roasty grain character that really gives it that sweet American edge. A hint of smoke comes through, but it mingles with the roasty, grainy sweetness nicely, giving a pleasant dark and devious aroma.
Taste is very similar, although the feel is very light, and it feels as though it's missing some body. But the roasted grain gives some pleasant coffee and toasted bread characters; an almost savoury note to what you feel should be a malty sweetness. It's very pleasant.
Overall, it's a very decent beer, and one I'd certainly be happy to drink again, or even on a regular basis. Although there are some aspects that just offend me slightly (the body, the head and the lack of smoothness on the palate), overall it's a pretty good package.
70 / 100
Bottle purchased from the International Beer Shop in Perth.
Pours a deep brown colour. Very certainly brown, with a clarity that lets you see the true hue. Body is fine, but solid, giving heft and slickness to the beer. Head is a filmy dusty white colour. Minimal lacing and only fine streams of carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is smooth and round, with a hint of sweet esters and very minimal roast character. There's a depth of character that suggest weight and complexity, but I feel the sweetness is just very slightly overdone, and needs a bit more grain or roast to pull it back.
Taste is much better, and it does have that almost cleansing roast bite to balance and strengthen the complexity of the palate. There's still a fair bit of sweetness to it, and it sits a little bit too long, but the balance is better. Touches of halva and nuttiness lift the palate on the back.
Feel is smooth and light, but the undercarbonation is noticeable.
A good beer, but a very slightly odd one. It's too sweet, to my mind, and it needs something more to pull it back. Nevertheless, it's a tasty beer, with a good deal of complexity.
87 / 100
Had on-tap recently at The Gutter in Brooklyn. This also happens to be my 1400th entered review, and I thought this was a more worthy recipient of that honour than the Davidson Brothers Ryely I actually had before this one.
This one pours a lovely, crisp brown colourâvery opaque, only crinkling at the edges with a reddish hue. Head is very fine and mild, with an almost creamy mocha or espresso crema appearance. Minimal lacing, but the body is good for a relatively low ABV beer.
Nose is toasty with mild coffee dark raisin hints and high-cocoa chocolate. All extremely smooth and really well integrated, while having the clout to make it heady and potent. The darkness doesn't get to stout-level depths, and as a result it's an extremely smooth and very generous porter.
Taste continues the trend: delicious. Smooth, but light, with wonderfully dark, slightly charred, almost smoky characters pulled back rapidly by the creamy feel and the chocolate sweetness. Dark, but smooth and refined. It has the sophisticated smooth sweetness of dark chocolate or affogato. Just lovely.
It's a lovely brew, just gorgeous. Certainly one of the best porters I've had, and what's more, it's relatively light; almost sessionable. Just a brilliant brew. Certainly one of the most flavoursome beers I've had at this strength.
On cask at Barcade in Williamsburg, New York.
Pours with a frothy, disintegrating cask head; a lively red-black colour. Head is still surprisingly solid, considering the beer is under-carbonated or completely uncarbonated in the cask. Colour is deep, but is still quite clear. Looks pretty good.
Nose is shockingly, very bready, with big residual yeast characters and a wet rye character. Very mild otherwise, but clear and clean. Not bad, but missing something.
Taste is smooth and savoury. Not a lot of either chocolate or rye, although the deep bread character makes another appearance. Light peppery characters come through, with a touch of cleansing chlorine. A touch of tobacco and gritty bitterness on the finish. Very smooth feel and a lively cask character, but missing flavour. Flavour!
Had better, especially from this brewery. But this was very pleasant and exciting to get to try.
75 / 100
What an awesome collaboration. So pleased we're really getting some craft beer love down here in the Southern Hemisphere, even if most of the impetus is coming from our New Zealand friends, who (let's face it), are killing our Aussie asses on the craft beer front.
Purchased this one from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill in Sydney.
Pours a dark, but relatively clear black-brown colour, with a light dusting of tan for the head. Body looks quite lightweight, although the carbonation is fine enough to stay quite static when swirled. Lacing is patchy and sudsy. Not a bad look.
Nose is a little meaty, with just a twinge of smoke character (certainly not a big emphasis). Some dark grains and a little leavened sweetness, perhaps sticky dates. Very nice.
Taste is similar, with big roasted notes on the front that slip away to a cleansing and soothing light sweetness on the back. Flavours of carob and dried fruits arise on the back with a smooth vanilla note, while the tantalising roasty, smoky character dances on the finish. Feel is light, but slick and smooth despite this. It makes for a nicely balanced and rather delicate palate.
Very nice brew, although probably not as out there and envelope-pushing as I expected from a trans-hemispheric collaboration between two breweries that are not averse to pushing the envelope individually.
But what they've come up with instead is a really nicely balanced, interesting, and drinkable brew. Let's hope for some more such collaborations in the future.
Pours a very dark, almost impenetrably dark, brown, but with ruby-red tinge up to the light. Head is extremely generous - beige in colour and tightly-pakced bubbles, nice cratering on top and small trails of lace. Retaining about an inch of head. A powerful-looking porter; does it have heart?
Smells very meaty and smokey. A good rich bacon aroma with very pleasant spicy notes around the edges; reminiscent of peat smoke but with some tasty cumin and star anise fragrances as well. It's still just a smokey aroma though, pleasant and rounded though it be.
Hard to get past the smoke aroma, but thankfully the taste doesn't stab you with it all the way through. Starts pleasantly dark 'n' quite mild, with roasted chocolatey malt and slight hints of burnt toast and espresso - especially late-mid where the smoke starts to show again and really accentuates the coffee notes. As I said, smoke emerges again towards the back, giving woody notes and a fairly sour meaty character, but interestingly gains a peppery spice on the back, with a slight licorice hang. Well-constructed porter palate with a nice addition of smoke on the back. Good job.
Fairly - though not complete - full. Slight note of carbonation late, not enough to be harsh but enough to expose the shortcomings of the body.
I kind of wish this collaboration had produced something more...tasty? Rather than experimental? But I also feel this beer recapitulates what I think of DFH in general - talented at brewing but never seems one to make a beer for general, everyday drinking.
60 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse's GABS Festival. I actually was under the impression that this was the beer that was going through their newly installed Randall, but I was mistaken.
Pours a dark, reddish brown-black hue with a fine head of beige creamy froth. Lacing is chunky and pleasant. Body looks a little thin, but not too bad.
Nose is full of coconut juice, the fresh green slightly organic and rank type. Some chocolate comes through dusting the top of the fresh coconut. Hints of plasticine. Minimal cherry on the nose for a beer called the Cherry Bomb. It's quite brusque.
Taste is a bit vinous, giving a slightly acidic character on the front. Dusty coconut comes through with a very dry finish. Very mild throughout though, and the chocolate has largely dropped out on the palate. Certainly needs a bit more body. A bit more overall flavour would help as well.
Not a bad beer, just a relatively weak one.
69 / 100
Pours a very dark brown with murky red tinge in it. Head is mediocre, beige-coloured with a thin ring and some small but sticky trails of lace. Not bad.
Smells beautifully chocolatey, rich and dark and sweet with a good belt of roasty espresso as well. Complex, chocolatey sweetness, a slight alcohol whisper and slight burnt character as well. Tasty, aromatic big porter.
Taste is not quite as good, sadly. All the flavours are there: chocolate, roasty malts but the booze kind of gets in the way. Sweet on the assault, chocolatey with caramel and vanilla. The alcohol then gets quite warm and the flavour strong; ethyl hints and some espresso burntness. Nice and sweet but mildly bitter roast on the back. Yeah, just that booze whoomph in the middle just throws it a bit off-balance.
Full body, but a bit flat at times. Not bad for the style but could use more rise and fall where the flavours swells and dips.
A good beer for tasting but not everyday drinking.
Pours a hellish red-tinged dark brown. Head is great, beige and dense with a Sauron-esque ring around the top, nice cradle of sticky lace. Could be darker, but still nice.
Smells decent. Lots of chocolate on that with a belt of coconut and vanilla and some brown sugar sweetness as well. Very nice really; dark, sweet and rich but just lacking cherries. Cherry aroma and/or tartness would really give this a pop.
Taste is quite dark up-front with roasty notes and a touch of cocoa. As it progresses it produces flavours of roasty espresso and some sour cherry notes, maraschino with a touch of claret. Decent dark, mysterious beer, but it's crying out for more sweetness on the palate, more coconut and maybe even some lactose wouldn't go astray. Not bad, but I can't help but think how much better this could have been.
A bit thin on the body, but foams up nicely in the mouth to produce a decent texture, leaves pretty well.
Yeah, a decent beer. Could have been exciting and great, as it is it's just pretty good.
Had on tap at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a dark brown, slightly woody around the edges. Head is beige, a thin crown but retaining what's there quite well, leaving nice sticky trails of lace around. Yeah, looks quite nice.
Good porter smell; roasty but not very burnt. Quite a lot of coffee notes, with slight sourness that almost becomes meaty at times. A bit bland, but all the right characters in good proportion.
Tastes quite roasty, with dark chocolate notes at first that quickly attract coffee characters heading towards mid-palate. Slight char flavours and a bit of vanilla come through later. Loses a bit of its intensity on the mid, where flavour just coasts through mildly without adding anything. Finish is roasty and espressoesque; not bad but could use either more sweetness or more booze to lift the flavours a bit. Overall the palate profile is slightly lacking. Decent porter but not a fantastic beer.
Good texture; quite smooth, not a lot of body but there's not meant to be, complements the flavours well. Yeah, quite good
The slight sour roasty note comes across at times a bit like cold coffee. Only slight, but it's there enough to make me think twice while drinking. But I'm enjoying it enough. Again, decent but not brilliant.
75 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour; clearly brown though, up to the light. Head is virtually non-existent. Thin film of beige lace but nice and sticky. Yeah, looks quite good, not great.
Smells very banana-esque but lots of rich English toffee sweetness and chocolate as well. Mostly sweet - brown sugar is a keynote - with nice fresh banana and a touch of coconut flesh as well. Not bad; in fact quite nice.
Taste is pretty decent. Nice and chocolatey with more of that tropical character - lots of banana and fair hit of coconut as well, more toasted/dessicated in character this time. Roastiness comes through, not very bitter but chocolatey-sweet with a hint of wood smoke on there too. Yeah, hint of oak? Anyway, it's good fruit and tropical notes backing up - not balacing, not complementing, but coinciding with - the mild roasty chocolatey flavours. A mild beer but lots to like.
Texture is alright. Fairly smooth, very very dry at the back though which is unfortunate.
A very enjoyable beer though, distinct tropical spin on the porter style.
Pours a dark brown, very dark with mahogany tinge up to the light. Head is spectacular, huge and ochre, but sinks maybe too quickly, with uneven craters and some lovely sticky trails of lace behind. Maybe too clear, would like a bit murkier, but pretty damn good.
Smells like coffee, in a word. Yeah, that's fuckin' coffee to the max, with that burnt, roasty espresso aroma just emanating like radio waves from that. There's a spiciness, and a bitterness, but really it's all just roasty espresso and I could get the same aroma from a fresh brewed long black. Hint of bread as well maybe? No, it's coffee.
Taste is very bitter throughout palate. Heaps of roasty characters with charcoaly notes on the assault followed by more intense espresso flavours that are really quite spicy, giving pepper and oak and some dark sour cherry notes as well. Almost a soapy finish to it as it's quite ascerbic. Could use more chocolatey notes or some lactose or possibly some wood, but just a touch. It's quite nice, just very intense coffee flavours.
A touch on the thin side at first, but lots of nice lively texture and leaves nicely smooth. Not bad.
Yeah, as drinkable as a good long black. I like it for one, but couldn't go for two in a row. It might make me jumpy and anxious.
81 / 100
urchased in California, and carted back to Australia to crack open. I do love craft beer in cans - it's a shame no one in Australia does it.
Pours a very pleasant deep black-brown, with an opacity to it which causes the edges to glow slightly when held to the light. Head is very fine bubbled, almost creamy, a very pleasant milk chocolate colour. Lacing is decent, although the head becomes a bit filmy after a while. Looks very tasty. I approve.
Nose is delicious, really quite extraordinary, giving that lovely oaky vanillin American stout character of coconut sweetness, obviously without the straight oak. Rich and full, with slightly smoky roasted character, big chocolate notes and that lighter and fragrant coconut dancing over everything. It's a phenomenal nose. So full, so complex and so incredibly luscious and delicious. I've rarely had better.
Taste is smooth and full, and again extremely well mingled between the sweetness of coconut and chocolate, and the slightly more astringent roastiness. Still, it's a very smooth an d luscious beer throughout, only turning on a slight phenolic character on the very back. Feel is a little thinner than it could be, but something about the can gives is a very fine carbonation.
Overall, a fantastic beer, and a wonderful drinking experience. Such lovely flavours, so well integrated. Just delicious.
59 / 100
Pours a deep and very dark brown colour, with a very large and frothy head of light brown bubbles. Lacing is clumpy, but stays in quite consistent patterns on the inside of the glass. Some clarity to it as well, despite the dark colour - something which definitely makes me consider it a porter rather than a stout, even if that brewery had not labelled it so. Looks good.
Nose is roasted and dark, with a huge coffee hit, but but burgeoning sweetness and a touch of dank acridity. Around the edges is a character like frozen mint peas. Really, it's a very full and robust nose, which covers a swathe of the spectrum, moreso than the initial whiff of coffee would have you believe.
Taste is disappointingly thin, and to be honest, a little unpleasant. Where I expected coffee to be dominant, it's only a slight roasty bitterness, while more organic characters (possibly the frozen peas I noticed on the palate) come through in force, giving a rankness to the back. Body stays rather thin throughout, which I find very disappointing, particularly for this style, although the ABV probably suggests such a thing.
Disappointing, in the end. It has some promise, but there's not a lot of merit on the palate, and it feels thin and reedy by the end. Not one of my favourites of the style, or one of my favourites from Midnight Sun.
85 / 100
Pours a very dark brown. Just brown when held up to the light, but mostly black. Impenetrable head is ochre, thin film and unevenly sunk with lovely tight lace. Damn fine porter. I like the colour especially. Could just use more head. But then, couldn't we all?
Oh, mega chocolatey on the nose, with lovely sweet and roasty balance. A large vanilla aroma blends with milk chocolate. Hits all the right notes, without falling into the easy trap of being too sweet.
Taste is pretty nice as well. Starts with fairly strong cocoa with a slight bitterness. Blooms wonderfully into a rich, sweet chocolatey flavour. Lots of milk chocolate and a hint of espresso giving a mocha edge I guess. Quite sweet late-mid, a bit lactic and slightly over the top but just slightly. Otherwise a beautifully sweet and dark drop, just a big mélange of sexy chocolate. I would definitely rub this all over my body, if I were so inclined to rub beer all over my body.
Fairly good body. Doesn't quite cover the carbonation here, which is pretty unnecessary. The achilles' heel of this drop. Could use a nitro-widget to be perfectly honest, smooth out the edges.
Beautiful beer. It's a cracker.
Jeez, guys, I get it. You can put wax on your caps. But seriously, it's unnecessary for a crown capped bottle, and whatever you're using is ridiculously difficult to remove.
When I finally do extricate the beer from the shattering plastic of the cap, it fizzes violently, leaving an obscenely large, overcarbonated head a good 4 inches high, above a dark reddish black coloured body. Head is quite a deep beige colour, but is far too big - even a gentle pour gives me something I need to wade through to get to the actual beer.
Decent dark characters on the nose, with a sweet vanilla note that is almost unfortunately wiped out with a faintly vinous acidic presence. I think there's something funky going on here, because underlying everything are these very pleasant choc-vanilla notes that scream as though they want to come through as soft and sweet. But the acidity ruins it.
The acidity is less pronounced on the palate, but it does feel like there's something skewed a little weirdly here too. Fortunately, the pleasant nutty and vanilla characters stream through more robustly here, especially on the back, leaving a round and sweet afterpalate. Through the centre, there is a rather pleasant dollop of roasted, charred grain bitterness which adds some depth to the palate. Feel is a little thin for such a strong flavoured beer, but it's not too bad.
There's something a little off about this beer overall, and even if it got everything right, it wouldn't be a stellar example of a flavoured American Porter. But it's drinkable enough. More like credible homebrew than credible commercial craft though.
83 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney. For all appearances this was nitrogen pumped, so I've put that as the serving type.
And indeed, the appearance is amazing. The body is extremely thick and rich; a lovely deep ebony black colour, with a clear delineation between it and the creamy and fine beige head. Must be off nitro-tap, I've never seen such a creamy head from any other. Lacing is amazing. It's a truly extraordinary looking beer.
Lots of chocolate on the nose, with a subtle but noticeable dabble in roasted bitterness. Creamy and smooth characters, sweet vanilla and a little cherry essence. Lovely.
Chocolate on the palate, incredibly smooth but with a lightness that leavens it slightly. Mouthfeel is creamy and slick: just awesome. It's so creamy and delectable. The dark chocolate tends towards big roasted grains but doesn't quite get there, leaving it supple and soothing.
This is an absolutely lovely drop of beer. So smooth, so drinkable and so delectable. On tap, it's fantastic. In my opinion, it's one of the best brews Australia has done in recent times, and proof that Australia's craft beer scene is burgeoning.
89 / 100
Pours a slightly reddish murky-brown colour. Head is extremely generous when poured - a little too generous really, as it retains well so needn't be so strong. Silly head. Small beige bubbles about 3-4 fingers thick, lace is a bit thin. Looks pretty good overall, don't really need so much head though. Once a night usually does me.
Smells pleasant. Lightly roasted grain with nice toasty notes. Sweet, with hints of chocolate and some raisins adding tartness. Slight woody character at the back. An appealing nose but also a great porter character. Dark and roasty but mild and modestly sweet. Excellent stuff.
Taste is also mild, but really smooth. Mouthfeel is lovely, just glides through with no harshness but a modestly full body adding a very slight viscosity in the mouth. Flavour is softly roasty, with a gentle espresso flavour on the front proceeding to light roasted grain, a very slight maple syrup character providing sweetness, then some more dark notes for the finish. Just pleasantly bitter with a touch of cocoa and some woody hop flavours emerging that dry out the palate a bit, but don't add any harshness, just complement the roasty flavours perfectly.
The bottle claims its contents are "perfectly balanced" and I'm inclined to agree. It's not often I drink a porter that makes me say "wow", nor am I often awed by a beer's mild-mannered drinkability, but Sierra Nevada have created something really special here. This is the sort of beer that could really turn a pale-lager-drinker's head towards the darker side of life and love. Something to savour or indeed to scull pints of all night.
75 / 100
Pours a murky oaky-brown colour, very dark but a nice brown hue at the edges. Head is beiege, modest but good, retaining a thin crown with some specks of lacing but it clings wonderfully to the glass. Yeah, colour could be a bit darker but otherwise good.
Smell is strong, and wow! Bizarre! That's nuts! Huge booziness but lots of spice and funk. Chilli, coriander seeds and dark chocolate, yeah, massive spice with some hints of banana, copper, star anise and black pepper. Pretty bizarre, vanilla and brown sugar as well for some sweet notes. It's so bizarre I'm a bit unnerved, but it's fascinating.
Taste is less bizarre, and I'm not sure if I'm disappointed as a result. Lots of brown sugar through the palate with boozey notes and hints of walnuts and star anise. Notes of berries and chocolate and some espresso coffee on there as well. This is complex, so I might need to throw out one-word flavour descriptors. Coconut. Figs. Dried apple. Licorice. Peanuts. Wood smoke. Metal. Fascinating, but it just doesn't quite charm me that much. I'm more interested in it as a case study than as a full-time sexual partner.
Swills nicely, nice stickiness, slight sharpness form the warming booze, but overall very nice feel to it.
Distinctly odd but decidedly enjoyable.
71 / 100
Pours a pretty damn dark brown, really not getting much light through that. Head is modest, but nice and dense with ochre bubbles. Lace is insanely good when tilted, nice and clingy. Nice froth when you swill the head. Looks fantastic.
Smells quite dark, also sour. Interesting cherry and coconut aromas with a bit of cranberry and raisin. Yeah, very fruity and tart but with nice licorice spice and a hint of booziness. Dark, tart spicy and sweet. That is magnificent. Chocolate and nuts as well? Just beautiful aromas.
Taste is more sour than anything else. Actually I sense it's a bit thin in comparison to the nose. Fairly dark, with mild roasty flavours, hint of espresso on the mid. Lots of tart flavours though, with some cherry notes and red wine, bitter chocolate and cranberries. Could use more roastiness and possibly more sweetness, although the palate is interesting overall. Just has an odd tartness that is nice, but not sure it needs to be so dominant. Could be magnificent with more oomph!
Swills well in the mouth, with a nice thick viscosity to it; leaves very dry though and could have used a bit more sweetness to counteract. Feels slightly over-attenuated.
Yeah, a very decent drop this with nice flavours. Unfortunately it just lacks sparkle in some key areas.
Pours a relatively pale gingery-brown, quite murky with cream-coloured head. Dense on top and retains very well with a slight wobble to it. Slow bead; looks alright, could be darker though.
Smell is quite chocolatey and fairly sweet. A good earthy cocoa doesn't quite offset the slight milky sweetness. Overall has more a caramel aroma than chocolate. Fairly nice though, appealing.
Taste is fairly sweet on front, caramel malt with creamy sweetness gets a slight sourness midway with cocoa and slight medicinal flavour; weak but noticeable. Unsweetened chocolate floats to the surface at the end, providing a decent aftertaste although the less enjoyable sourness continues to the end. Could use more roasted malt; has a slight grain grist character to it and more bold roastiness would cover it a bit better. The sourness seems more a result of inadequate bitterness mixed with sweet. Not unpleasant though, just could be better.
Quite a foamy body with a slight sizzle on the tongue from carbonation - not so desirable for the style.
Yeah, the flavour is not quite delicious but it's acceptable. Paddys shouldn't be afraid to darken up their beer a bit. I'd find it more drinkable if they did.
60 / 100
Pours a fairly murky red colour, head is quite nice, looks thin and delicate bubble-wise but the size of it is substantial. Lace is not that great. Looks good, but not great.
Smells quite musty actually. Fair caramel maltiness at the front but with a distinct sourness, hints of roasted malt on there but a bit weak, like the malt wasn't quite roasted enough. Overall a little chocolatey, but also a little weak.
Taste is not bad, a bit richer I think. Yeah, starts with a hit of toffee that quickly turns sour with plum notes and a hint of apple, then a bit of roastiness towards the back, slightly spicey with pleasant dark flavours and a slight over-exuberant piquancy at the finish. Provides heat that isn't strictly necessary. Nice overall flavour but has an odd blend of roasty darkness with quite thin sweetness. Nice, but not amazing.
Yeah, a real fizzy texture, quite effervescent. Fair body though helps it along its way.
Enjoyable enough drop, but nothing particularly special.
89 / 100
Pours an absolutely lovely deep ruby-black colour, with a frothy and solid head of chocolate brown foam. Body is incredibly thick, and it pours with some amazingly awesome cascade. Really delicious looking.
Nose... Holy crap. Big spicy characters all over it, giving some chilli spice, but it's mingled with huge dark chocolate characters and a huge whisky booze character. Oh my god. It's amazingly powerful, and so incredibly delicious. Amazingly awesome.
Taste is very rich and dark, extremely boozy and heavy. Big and delicious. Spice is also present here, with some sharp prickly adherence midway through the palate. Leaves a big and extremely robust character all over the palate that dances and sparkles to the very end. What an excellent beer.
This is really, really good. Deschutes do an amazing job in general, but with this special release, they have really given us something special. So smooth, yet so complex and delicious. I love it.
69 / 100
I'm quite impressed with Bridge Road in general - they do some really interesting things. I hope this is one of them.
Pours a very dark, almost opaque black-brown, with only a fine film of light brown. Lacing is excellent. Looks very dark and deep, although it seems to lack some body. Very nice though.
Nose is lovely, it really has those big oaky, slightly vinous notes of the best American oak-ages examples, with some slightly smoke-tinged notes and dark grain. Slight spice, almost a capsicain note to give some fragrance. It's really, really, nice, and wonderfully complex. Lovely.
Taste is a little thin, but has some big bold roasted characters, and a quite noticeable acidity, possibly attributable to the oak. Feel is quite weak, and a little insipid, which is quite a shame, because otherwise there's a lot of pleasant characters to it.
It falls down in the end, but there's certainly some good characters to it. Everything is weighted towards the nose, and there's very little else to hold it up in the end. Nice enough though.
Clear but dark red-black colour, with a big and frothy head of beige bubbles. Rocky head, that leaves some sudsy lacing. Not particularly thick or heavy in the body, but it looks pretty decent overall.
Nose is redolent with an overcarbonated carbonic acidity, some dark grain notes and an odd wheat-like banana fragrance. It jangles oddly against everything. I can't say I'm a huge fan.
Slightly peppery flavour on the palate, with a thin feel. Dark grain forms most of the backbone, giving some deep roasted notes, but the spice character is the only uplifting element otherwise. Feel is depressingly thin.
No, there's not a lot to this, and it's missing a lot of character. It needs more depth, more complexity, and more flavour overall. A shame, because I've enjoyed other Steam Exchange beers.
Pours a clear brown, with a slight orange tinge to it. Head is slightly off-white with nice sheet of lacing that doesn't quite cling to the glass. Clear, very light bead. Not bad.
Nose is sweet, quite malty, with pleasant caramel toffee notes. A fair hint vanilla provides shades of light, while a mild chocolatey character adds a darker note. Quite milk chocolatey really, maybe slightly too sweet, but nice for sure.
Taste is sweet, perhaps too sweet. Lots of caramel and vanilla on the front with milky character underlying and a hint of cocoa at the back. English toffee comes through late with an interesting red ale character, and there are hops apparent, but not very distinctive in flavour. Pleasant enough flavour but feels very thin on the body and has a slight bitterness which is unwelcome bacuse it is not well-matched by hop flavour.
Lacking in parts on the palate, but quite pleasant drinking.
59 / 100
On tap at the Local Taphouse's Canadian SpecTapular in Sydney.
Pours amber and bright - definitely more amber than brown, with a lightly frothy head of white foam. Lacing is excellent, however. Carbonation is languid and pleasant. Pretty nice looking beer.
Slight notes of grain on the nose, with a little bit of caramel backing it up. Minimal hops. It's pretty light all up - not a huge amount to it.
Taste is grainy with a little roastiness coming in. Some bitterness on the back that comes as a surprise -- it doesn't really feel like a roasted grain bitterness. Feel is quite thin; it needs a lift somewhere and doesn't really deliver one.
Drinkable enough in its way, but the bitterness on the back is annoying; it comes from nothing and doesn't have a lot of body to warrant it. It's alright, but nothing particularly exciting.
Pours a deep dark reddish-brown colour, with a frothy head of cream-coloured foam. Head stays on the edges of the glass in clumpy lacing. Body looks a bit thin, but not bad overall.
Wow, odd lactic acidity on the nose, almost smells like a wild or Flemish Red. Big vinous characters of dark vinegar and crushed citrus leaves. There might be other things in there, but they're overpowered by the acidity - this is just off.
Taste is similar, but bringing into the mix some rough dry chocolate on the back, which cuts through the acidity awkwardly. Yeah, the infection's just all through this - as much as I hate to review a beer not at its peak, there's something seriously wrong when you can even allow a beer at this stage of infection to get out to the public.
The other reviewers weren't kidding, there's something wrong with this beer. I can't believe that a lactic acidity was what they were going for here, and it must have been present at bottling time, which implies that they bottled it in full knowledge of its state.
Poor form, Bright. Maybe I'll try it again sometime when you've got your sanitation fixed up.
Pours a dark chocolatey colour with pale beige head, sinks fairly quickly, leaving trails of lace and bubbles on the top. Could use more head, but nice porta colour, looks a bit thin in the glass.
Nose is pleasantly sweet with nice roasty espresso notes, a nice earthiness to it and yeah, mocha character. Nice dark chocolate with a nutty edge, hints of almonds and a lot of pleasant coffee grounds. Very nice porter, nice mocha character.
Taste is nicely roasty which verges on ashy and bitter. A lot of espresso ground roastiness throughout, hints of oak, some unsweetened chocolate on the mid but yeah, gets a mildly sour note towards the back, reaching for espresso bitterness but never quite reaching it. Just falls short of its potential but there's enough there to help me imagine what it could be. Just tastes a bit watered down on the finish and seems to trail off from the pleasant bitter coffee sensation on the front. Nice, but not mind-blowing.
Mouthfeel I think is where the watered-down sensation mostly manifests itself, a bit thin and lacking in the body. Dry on the back but just an underwhelming palate for the most part.
Still a pleasant after-dinner beer. It is roasty and there are no unpleasant lingering flavours, just never quite reaches its flavour potential.
A final shout out to my mate Charlie, this was the last of the beers he brought back from Vermont and shared with me.
Pours a red-tinged dark brown, umber at the edges. Head is decent but modest and sinks fairly quickly. Nice clingy off-white lace, sinks in gorgeous sheets. Very good-looking porter.
Nose is very chocolatey indeed. A cocoa cloud with bitter-sweet chocolate, some pecan notes, darker caramel sweetness as well and a slight whisper of coconut. Simple nose, but very appealing.
Taste is a lot more sour than I expected. A bit of cocoa on the front, then descends into sourness with a fair amount of oak flavour, a slight hint of ink, but mostly a weak coffee grind character. Lacking in roastiness, it's decent but a bit lacking, needs a more rounded character and some more malt, or even some lactose, might help? Just falls off a bit on the back while being mostly tasty.
Mouthfeel is foamy with a nice body to it. Goes down smoothly. Feels like it might be thin but there's a lot of presence in the mouth. Great feel.
Yeah, a decent drinkable drop, but could use more flavour.
76 / 100
Pours a burnished deep brown, with a filmy head of just off-white bubbles. Nice thickness in the body: the carbonation stays static when it's swirled. Looks very tasty.
Holy crap, that's a hell of a nose. Deep sweet chocolate and light roasted characters with a heady, almost overpowering pot-pourri, lavender and marshmallow sweetness - like the most overwhelmingly floral honey. Incredibly unique. I'm not sure I've quite smelled a beer like it, and that has to be worth something.
Lots of chocolate on the palate too. Still very sweet, but with a pleasant dusty bitterness on the back to dry it out a little. Quite long on the palate, although the feel is a little thin.
To me, the aroma is easily the biggest attribute in this brew. It's terribly unique, but I hence find that it doesn't necessarily integrate very well with the rest. Still it's a very interesting beer, quite smooth and easy to drink.
On tap at Paddy's Brewers Market Festival. I wanted three middies for me and my mates, but they only had enough for one - we shared it, and they very kindly gave it to me for free.
Pours a deep dark brown, tinged with red at the edges. Some decent beige foam on it that dissipates a little, and only leaves a poor lacing remnant.
Dark notes on the nose with a light acetic acidity to it, a little roasted sweetness, but it smells very generic to me.
Smooth on the palate, roasty sweet with a blithely medicinal back palate. The phenolic character sticks around for too long, but otherwise it has some rather pleasant porter characteristics. Mouthfeel is smooth, and it was served at a good cellar temperature.
Drinkable, and a pretty decent porter. Good characters stylistically, and structurally sound. If it has some odd notes, they can be forgiven, because overall, it's pretty tasty.
79 / 100
Pours a deep garnet brown, with a phenomenally thick and boisterous head of tan foam. Lacing is excellent, leaving tiny shell patterns down the edge of the glass. This is a very fine looking beer, and an excellent look for a porter.
Light sweet, dusty chocolate notes on the nose. A hint of carbonic acidity, and a decent amount of cellar mustiness. Quite dark, but with a wonderful fresh leavened note. Quite good.
Really nice clean dark character. It's certainly not ashy; it's just deep with dark chocolate notes, that ride lightly over the palate. Plenty of sweet characters, but they're very delicately handled. Finish has a refreshing note of seaweed. Mouthfeel is disappointingly thin, but you probably pay for the lightness on the palate somewhere.
An extremely drinkable porter. Not huge on the palate, but it has really pleasant characteristics, which are well integrated, and make for an astoundingly sessionable beer. I could certainly drink this all night. Unfortunately, I only have one bottle.
74 / 100
Pours a reddish dark brown with a flaked chocolate-coloured head of stiff foam. Some dissipation in the head, but it leaves great lacing on its way down. Looks pretty good.
Very prominent smoke character on the nose, with underlying sweet chocolate notes. Mostly, this is smoke, though. Not, perhaps, as overpowering as, say, the Schlenkerla rauchs, but it's far and away the dominant character.
Lots of smoke on the palate, with a dusty, roasted, charred character on the finish. Quite light bodied, and not much hint of the chocolate sweetness that seemed apparent on the nose. Mostly this is dry, smoky and carboniferous. Mouthfeel is chalky and a little thin.
It's a robust smoked beer, and certainly something to be reckoned with. Quite full of smoke character, but elsewhere it just feels a tad thin.
79 / 100
650ml bottle, lovingly transported home to Australia and shared with friends.
Pours a dark, but clear, brilliant ruby-red with a surprisingly light off-white head of meringuey bubbles. Nice lacing. The colour is great; it's deep and delicious looking.
Strong, pleasant dark aromas on the nose. Characters of chocolate, cherries, timber and peat. not incredibly smoky, but there is an underlying hint of it. Even a little vanilla of American bourbon sneaking in. Quite deep and delicious.
More smoke on the palate, a pleasant outdoor woodfire character. The dark malt is more prominent too, with a charring roasted character providing the back palate bitterness. Among this, though, are lighter notes of cherry and tart fruit, that just peek out from around the edges of the dark, smoky foreground. Mouthfeel is great, quite thick and rich without being too heavy.
A very smooth but very complex beer. Enjoyable and pleasant, with lots to explore.
Pours a thick, dark, red-tinged colour with masses of head that is nonetheless thinly webbed and dispersing quite quickly - which is good, because that much head wouldn't be much good - and ends up a thin film of mocha foam. Little bit of lacing. Really quite nice.
Fair burnt coffee aroma, bit of charcoal, but not as pungent as other darks. The saving grace is a slight creamy aspect, giving it a nice chocolatey aroma. Nice, could be more powerful. If I had known what this was while trying it I would have been surprised at the lack of smokey character on the nose.
Curious taste. Quite a lot of terrain in this palate. Starts with a rich, cocoa-heavy chocolate character and then gets actually darker, like black coffee, only the mouthfeel is light and smooth and carries away the over-roasted flavour so you almost don't notice it. Finish almost has a raisiny character, it's slightly tart but mostly quite sweet, with- this will sound crazy - a flavour almost akin to musk (and I don't mean animal semen). It's not as powerful as some darks that I've had, but there's a lot of character on that and the flavours are quite pleasant. Again could probably use more, but it's very good for what it is.
57 / 100
Very dark, opaque orange-brown-black. Carbonation isn't visible through the body, but the head is a thick and gooey mocha of fine light brown. Mix of small and large bubbles coalescing on the head. Looks great.
Nose has a very malty, brewday kind of fragrance to it. Very rich, pretty sweet, and even a bit of peaty, smoky character as well. Nice.
The palate is a little bit of a let down, with a dominant smoky, charred character being the leading player. Not nearly any hint of chocolate or even much malt sweetness. It's rich, but not very balanced. Too charred on the front, and the mild smooth character on the back palate comes in too late to save it, and really needs a bit more sweetness.
It is drinkable enough, but it's too dominated by the charred smoky character. If it had just a bit more balance it would be a much tastier beer.
75 / 100
Deep, rich dark red-black. Excellent creamy head. Looks smooth.
The nose is toasty and rich. Good aromas of roasted grains and chocolate. Nice.
Smooth tasty roasted flavour on the front palate. Dries out to a long, rich finish. Quite dark and complex. Despite this, is silky smooth on the mouthfeel, and very easy to drink. Very pleasant.
I enjoyed this one a great deal.