71 / 100
375ml can from the Carwyn Canvent Calendar 2020. To be honest, I'm pretty excited.
Pours a perfect, deep golden colour, with a frothy and persistent white head. The head looks particularly good for something clocking in at 9% ABV. I like the fine carbonation too, which forms champagne-like streams. Very refined. Body maybe has a bit more heft to it than your usual pils, but not so much that you'd take a lot of note of it, were it not for that "9" on the can.
Nose is really very sweet. It's got a richness to it, and a lot of vanilla from the oak. As it warms, it gets a slight buttery note from the Chardonnay. But it is balanced with a crisp, slightly metallic hop character, so while the sweetness is unexpected, it maintains a semblance of coherent pilsener-ness.
Taste is better, because it does manage to maintain a pleasantly crisp and light body. This helps undercut the sweetness, the barrel notes and the fattiness of the Chardonnay. Amusingly, one of the main aids in this quest is the booze, which combines with a crisp hop character at the back—both of which swell just as the body dips, meaning the back is more bitter and brighter than it would otherwise be. But a beer with that sweet Chardonnay butteriness that didn't get that finish just right would be cloying. This dodges that bullet.
Feel is fuller and fatter through the middle than a standard pilsener, but manages to crisp up on the finish nicely.
Overall, this ends up working, almost despite itself. The journey I went on with this beer perhaps goes a little like this: 1) Ooh, this sounds like a great idea, I'm going to love it. 2) Oh yeah, big oaky, Chardonnay buttery sweetness? That's actually a *bad* idea for a pilsener. 3) OK, despite this clearly being a bad idea, somehow it works. It's quite a ride.
72 / 100
On tap at GABS 2017.
Pours a champagne colour, slight haze to it. Head is white, sparsely bubbled, retaining alright. Looks a bit darker than I expected, otherwise fairly standard.
Smells nice. Vanilla and caramel malt characters, with nice tropical notes from the hops floating on the top. Passionfruit and pineapple, largely. Smells very enticing.
Taste is grainy upfront, with caramel malty sweetness blending with pearl barley. Develops some decent citric hop notes late-mid, with lemon and a touch of passionfruit. Finishes slightly bready, but mostly clean with a lingering citric tang. Pretty nice.
Body is thin, with a touch of alcohol showing through on the feel as it goes down. Alright.
Very decent pilsner indeed. Clean, but big.
61 / 100
Tried in a taster at GABS 2017 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale golden colour, very clear in the body and lightweight. Futzy lace of white forms on the top, which leaves some streaks down the glass. Carbonation is also fine. Looks decent enough.
Nose is first and foremost too sweet: it has a candy, barley-sugar character that is the dominant character. There's a suggestion of orange, and a hint of some savoury grain, but they're the only things that really save it.
Taste is light and clean on the entry, with more grain on the mid palate. This gives a slight toastiness again mingled with a slight orange aroma. Back is thin and dry, which works okay, but there's little to no bitterness to back it up.
Feel is light, but too smooth—without the bitterness or the dry crispness of a pilsner, it feels a little off.
It's not a bad beer overall, but I feel like it's not a great Imperial pilsner. It needs that crispness, that sharpness in the hop character. This is too mellow, smooth and really too sweet.
650ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a mostly pale golden colour, quite clear, but slightly blushed from the pinot noir grapes. Head is off-white, and crackling with champagne-like bubbles, settling out to a mild gauzy ring around the edge of the glass. Carbonation is refined but boisterous. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite pleasant; very dry, with yeast overtones that evoke brut champagne. There's a cleanness to it though, crisp like crackers with only a mild overtone of the grapes, and they come in mostly as the beer warms. It's not overly complex, but it's quite pleasant.
Taste owes a lot more to the beer than the wine, with a firm, but fairly neutral bitterness through the centre, coupled with a more astringent character, likely from the fact that there's nowhere for 9% of booze to hide in such a light beer. If you think about it too long, you can start to equate some of this bitterness with grapeskin tannins, but honestly, if you got that far, like I did, you're probably drawing too long a bow. Carbonation is fine and light, but fairly persistent.
Overall, this is pretty decent. There was something more interesting to it before I'd tasted it—the promise of something tantalising—but in the end it ends up not being as interesting as it might have been. It's a decently made imperial pilsner—it hides its strength well given how little it has to work with. But the quirk of the grapes isn't quite drawn out enough to make it something extra special.
59 / 100
Tried on-tap at Spooning Goats in Sydney, after sampling the other storm-trooper themed Imperial pilsner from Feral/Australian Brewer.
Pours a very, very clear, pale yellow colour. Head is white, and forms a filmy mess of head that leaves only streaks of lace. Carbonation is surprisingly quite still—it's fine-bubbled when it's tilted but otherwise pretty minimal. Looks appropriate though.
Nose is rather mild. There's an odd lagery character that comes through a bit strongly, almost giving a whiff of rice or corn adjuncts. Hops are there, but they're almost an afterthought—slightly musky and a little sweet—they're certainly not the main event.
Taste is pretty similar, disappointingly. Really quite light on flavour in general, but with some odd dips that aren't necessarily all that pleasant. Slight bracken/fern bitterness matched with a weird corn-like sweetness. Some bite of hops comes through on the back. Not much booze is noticeable, maybe just like it should be: a big lager that you don't quite realise is as big as it is.
Feel is fine: clean and crisp. It works for the style of beer, but it doesn't do this beer any particular favours.
Overall, the other one I had the same night was the far superior Imperial Pils. Even though I found the Feral/Australian one leaning towards the lager a little heavily, this one seems to take on some of the features that give lagers a bad name. And so this really only can go so far.
70 / 100
Tried on-tap at Spooning Goats in Sydney.
Pours a very clear, bright golden colour, like a big cold beer. Head is a wonderful meringue-like creamy mess that leaves clumpy, persistent lace. Refined, streaming carbonation adds to the effect. Looks on point—a really good imperial pilsner.
Nose definitely tends towards the lagery side of things. Pleasant but restrained German hoppiness, which I wasn't really expecting (although most Imperial Pilsners I've had have amped up the New Zealand hops). The hop character also goes a bit flat once the head disappears, as though all the volatiles were trapped in there. It ends up quite vegetative and a little grassy. Decent overall though.
Taste is pretty nice. Light, smooth and clean, with a big bite on the back, that gives it a finish which is bitter and slightly metallic. This works in this beer though. Finish is empty of what little malt sweetness was there initially, which is appropriate, but the bitterness is big as a result. Slight husky tones, giving perhaps a little nod to a standard Australian lager, with some herbal tones to reminisce about Europe. Booze is genuinely well-hidden. This was my first beer of the night and I couldn't really sense it apart from maybe a slight numbing on the back of the throat.
Feel is great for the style. Light and crisp, but with a bit of weight to carry the flavour.
Overall, this was pretty solid, and an interesting take on the pils, really ramping up a traditional version rather than making a crisper version of what could otherwise be an IPA. I still think I prefer the latter variation, but I do genuinely love to see some variety in what's a great style of beer.
60 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Drinks of the World in Zürich, Switzerland. This is what they term a "Pilsener Wine", which has to be about the stupidest name for a style I've ever heard. Lists "spices" in the ingredients, but doesn't mention which—the website elucidates that it's coriander and bitter orange. Label features what's clearly a caricature of a hippie—get your countercultures straight, guys. Let's just say this beer isn't off to a great start with me.
Pours a rather hazy straw colour, certainly not opaque, but certainly unfiltered, with a fine and very persistent head of white that leaves long streaks of foam down the glass. Lots of coarse carbonation running in slow streams through the body, which does seem to have a little weight to it. Looks decent enough.
Nose is herbal and slightly earthy—they use only German hops in this brew, and it shows. It has a crispness to it, but the flavours are dark and earthy, like crushed roots or dry branches. There's a slight metallic quality to it that sharpens it up a little, giving it a mildly coppery twang. Some grainy pilsner malt comes through as well. Again, it's decent enough without being very exciting.
Taste is a bit better. Here, perhaps the extra alcohol helps provide some complexity, and gives it a yeasty tone not dissimilar to a Belgian blonde (or at this strength, perhaps even a Belgian strong pale or a tripel). But there's still an intervening crispness to it, aided by the hops which, while still rather dusky, add a true bitterness to offset the extra body. Linger of mild estery yeast and late hop bitterness rounds it out and extends the palate.
Feel has a bit of weight to it, I'm not going to lie. But fortunately, there's enough in the way of hops to balance it and bring forward the suggestion of crispness.
Overall—it's okay. It has the strange feeling of being the type of beer that's very constrained by brewing tradition. There's something unflinchingly mediocre about it despite the extra booze, the yeast characters and the spices. But, that being said, it's not bad—just rather uninspired.
86 / 100
Tried on-tap at Spooning Goats in the city.
Pours a very clear, and quite lovely pale golden colour, with a fine, slightly slick head of white that leaves nice lager rings of lace. Body is fine, but fairly light, especially for 7% ABV. Carbonation looks refined. Looks very good.
Nose is great. Clean, crisp and green New Zealand hop characters, with the tang of underripe lime and mild passionfruit. It's so clean and clear and direct. The only thing that I can envisage that would make it better is for it to be twice as strong.
Taste is indeed better though. This is clean and bright throughout, but beautifully balance to a perfect crispness. Hops elide with the underlying crispness to provide a clean, green vector of refreshment through the centre of the palate. Overtones of fruit— little pineapple, dragonfruit and kiwi give it a subtle complexity. Mostly though, this is just beautifully clean, light and drinkable. Feel is just right: light but slick, thin but crisp.
Overall, this is superbly drinkable stuff. I'm really extremely impressed. I tried this some years ago (without reviewing it) and I genuinely don't remember it being this good. But now this is a shining example of how good a flavoursome craft lager can be.
86 / 100
650ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. A Sauvin-hopped 8.5% pilsner fermented with sauvignon blanc juice.
Colour is a lovely clear pale golden. Head forms a filmy crest of white, but it stays pretty persistently, fed by some fine streams of carbonation. The body is actually pretty light and fine, which is just right for a pilsner, imperial or otherwise. Looks just like it should.
Nose is wonderfully crisp and bright, with Nelson Sauvin providing that clear, biting vegetative quality it does so well. With the familiar aroma of sauvignon blanc as well it just amps this up to a crispness that's quite extraordinary. There's a bit of structure underneath, but this is all about that clear, potent grape-like aroma, and it manages to bring that out to its full potential. Great stuff.
Taste is also exceptionally good and very, very clean. Indeed, for the most part it drinks just like a clean, light regular-strength pilsner. Towards the back, the vinous characters come out a little more, giving a slightly tart finish that wavers alongside the hoppy bitterness of the aftertaste. There is a hint of booze evaporating on the back as well, but mostly, the structure is so light and delicate that you can't really feel all of the craziness that went into it. It's very good stuff.
Feel is very light and crisp, with a tingle of fine carbonation and the sensation of acidity you get with a young sauvignon blanc.
Supremely drinkable (especially given its weight), and very, very well-made. I loved this beer to bits. Really quite superb stuff from Garage Project.
71 / 100
Sampled on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne. Brewed with Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and Pacifica hops according to the guide.
Pours a pale golden colour with great clarity to the body. Weight is fairly light, which is okay for the style. Head is fine and pure white leaving some faint, streaky lace. Overall, it looks about right for the style.
Solid entry on the aroma. Stonefruit sweetness along with a bit of herbal sharpness to crisp it all up. This is atop a base aroma which is very clear and clean that allows the hops to sing. Really quite nice.
Light entry on the palate, perhaps a touch of acid from some of the hops. This leads to a nice neutral malt character that manages to stay fairly unobtrusive even as it lends a bit more body than you'd get from a regular pils. Clean, solid hop bitterness comes through towards the back, matched by a nice chewy malt sweetness that lingers in the finish. Feel is fairly rich, which works nicely.
This is a really very drinkable brew. I'd absolutely crank through a couple of these at the pub—and I'd be very happy to drink it again sometime.
750ml caged and corked brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a reasonably clear golden colour, with a big frothy head of coarse-bubbled white that seems to burn itself out almost as soon as it forms, leaving a flat, dead beer with no head or lacing whatsoever. Carbonation was effervescent and coarse to begin with, but soon it too runs out of puff. Not the wildest start.
Nose is fairly disappointing. Faint, chaffy grain characters with a hint of flour and a very, very mild, almost indiscernible organic hop character over the top. Maybe a slight hint of acetone from the booze comes through as well: but it's minor, if it's there at all. Mostly, this just smells weak.
Taste is a little better, mostly for the fact that it's relatively smooth and drinkable for 7.7% ABV. Mild, slightly grainy entry with a residual tingle of carbonation (and here's me thinking it had disappeared entirely), with a slight uptilt of bitterness towards the middle to back. There's a warmth on the palate as well from the booze, which leaves a slight spirit character towards the back. I'll admit it tends towards something like a Euro Strong Lager, but it's still pretty smooth overall.
Overall though, I'm not quite sure I get the point. A pils can be a wonderful beer expression, and an imperial one in my opinion should just accentuate the hops, the structure of the malt while maintaining that crispness. This has something of the crispness, but almost nothing of the flavour. Not poorly made, just boring.
75 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Domus Birrae in Rome.
Pours a faintly hazed, but mostly clear pale golden colour. Head initially forms a frothy, loose mass, but collapses and fizzles out pretty quickly. Some streaks of lace. Fine carbonation. Looks okay, but nothing particularly special.
Nose is also decent without being super exciting. Clean faint green hoppiness, with a European, herbal quality that does give off the Saaz qualities you'd expect. They're pretty muted for in Imperial Pils though. Malt is, however, also restrained, so despite the extra body, it doesn't get in the way: it's still balanced, but a bit weak.
The taste, however, is really excellent. Full front palate sets down a pleasant cushion of neutral malt, and then the hops glide in triumphantly, clean, herbal and fresh. Bright finish mingles with a light sparkling carbonation to accentuate the fresh hop characters on the back. Bitterness is restrained, but present in a good quantity on the back, leaving the finish a little crisp and moreish. It's really nice here.
Feel is good: the fine carbonation works well with the hop characters.
Overall, from inauspicious beginnings, this beer actually delivers something extremely drinkable and very pleasant: a bigger, bitier version of a pils as it should be. It's a shame it looks so dull, and that the nose is so weak—these are things that could be fixed, and you'd end up with a truly superb beer.
330ml bottle purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Stanmore.
Pours a hazy orange colour, thick and ripe with a fine, slightly sudsy head of white. Carbonation is a little listless, but fine in itself, which helps in forming such a fine head. The colour is a bit heavy, but otherwise it looks reasonably good.
Nose is pleasant, but perhaps lacking the pure, unadulterated punch of intensity that it could have brought. Instead, there's a restrained crispness giving off a little crisp green vegetation and a suggestion of citrus. Some ragged malty tones come through as well, but the crisper hops give it an icy quality: as if the true sweetness and graininess of the malt is frozen out of the bulk of the aroma. Not bad.
Taste is light and crisp, and rather pleasant all up. Clean entry with some foggy hop oil aromatics before a light (albeit slightly empty) mid-palate. On the back is a sharp and conclusive vector of hops, which crisps up the feel a little at the expense of shortening the back-palate. By the end, it's a little dry: dry rather than refreshing. Alcohol throughout is well hidden, however.
Overall, I thought this was pretty good. In some sense perhaps, it's tame for a Moon Dog beer, but only insofar as it doesn't really do anything very experimental. In fact, there's still plenty of punch and flavour to it, and it maintains a level of punky charm that fits it in with the rest of the range.
71 / 100
On tap at Murrays at Manly, on my 28th birthday.
Pours a pale golden colour, bit of haze but slow bead as well. Head is white, medium density, good retention. Nice looking pils.
Smells largely hoppy. Lots of zip and zing from new world hops. Lime, pineapple, passion and touch of vanilla, all within a lighter lager shell, not heavy or cloying, just beautifully tanged up.
Taste is huge on the passionfruit upfront. That's the one note - fresh, seedy fruit character that descends into more stonefruity mid with peach and mango in there. Finish is slightly bitter, with a touch of booze flavour and some hop resins. Not quite clean enough for a pils, but there's lots of nice new world flavours here, mostly on the front.
Bit of carbonation sizzle to it on front and mid. A bit thin but a bit of presence on the finish.
The flavour is nice enough to carry this, but it's a little big for a pils and not quite big enough to be a knock your head off flavour bomb. Sits in 'pleasant beer limbo', but quite comfortably I think.
57 / 100
Golden colour, decent head, OK lace. Bit of cloud. Yeah, pretty nice-looking pils.
Resinous hops and lots of them on the nose. Bit of spice and herb: basil, star anise. Butter, too. Touch of lychee. Not bad at all.
Taste is quite gritty and hoppy. Lots of sweet booze on the back, quite ethanoic actually. Not a lot of residual sweetness, tastes a bit overattenuated, very dried out. Lots of hop resins and bitterness. Just tastes a bit off-balance.
Bit hot on the back, OK body though.
A bit of a hot one overall. Too much bitterness, and a little too hot. Maybe in the pils style the malt's just disappeared so it just feels a bit unbalanced.
49 / 100
Found these notes on my phone; I have absolutely no idea when/where I tried it, but I'm thinking probably at the Local Taphouse.
Pours an orangey colour, mild haze. Off-white head, quite dense but sunken a bit, big bubbles on the side. Looks quite good.
Smells very grainy with slight oaty note and hints of vanilla. Bit of booziness backing up, yeah wet grain and a hint of spice. Not bad, but am a bit uninspired for the palate.
Taste is quite heavy and sinky. Grainy upfront with a bit of sweetness, then quickly develops just spiritous, boozey flavour with an astringent bitter edge at the end, kind of pithy and lacking in fragrance. Not really hot and boozey, which I will put down to the lager yeast cutting off in attenuation, but it tastes heavy and a bit dour. It's almost there, but needs a lot more lift from later hopping or more carb maybe? Just a big ugly sister of the pils family.
Not bad, fairly slick but a bit dry on the back, almost cloying as well though, so not great.
Yeah, hot, straight down the throat like a hot stabbing poker. Needs a lift from somewhence.
76 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney as part of their Scandinavian Makeover.
Pours a rather deep golden colour with some fair hazing to it. Head is a persistent, silky white, pocked with small bubbles. Huge, webbing, full, solid lace. Surprisingly light body but fine carbonation streaming rather languidly despite this. Looks decent.
Nose is much better than decent, however. Sharp, prickly aromas of crisp Kiwi hops. Grassy notes and some herbal tones. Even something more organic and ostensibly unsavoury: perhaps wet carpet, 1950s Air Freshener. Oh yeah, that's ripe. I like it.
Taste is full and rich on the front, surprisingly malty given the nose. This provides a basis though, and it develops into a slightly nuttiness mid-palate, laced with sparkly hops and something dirty and hard. Sharp on the back with a big bite: some booze, some clinging oil. Aftertaste is brusquely bitter. Solid stuff.
Feel is very sharp, largely from the hops, but the malt basis gives it a fullness which is quite pleasant.
Yep, this is a very pleasant if big and scary beer. Nice stuff.
71 / 100
Tried on tap as part of the Local Taphouse Italian Spectapular.
Pours a golden colour, clear like a lager should be. Off-white head, foamy and good retention. Lovely head; lovely everything.
Smells nutty and fruity with plenty of hops overlying a cereal grain base aroma. Malty, but in a pilsenery sort of way so it's not too heavy or anything. Hops float on the top, nice and US-style tangy aroma hops. could have used more; in an imperial pils I expect hopping to be more aggressive than this.
Taste is very sweet upfront, loads of malt on it from an obviously big grain bill. Some cereal characters, wheat and oat grain coming through, with lots of US hops that kick in midway and manage a very fine job of cleaning up the palate by the end; citric, slightly piney and grassy. A beer of two halves, but both balance each other well.
Bit of booze on the mouthfeel; otherwise fine.
Kind of pedestrian, but fairly pleasant and enjoyable flavours. Maybe a good bridging beer for more extreme flavours.
61 / 100
I love a bit of chilli in my beer. Tried at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Gold colour, clear with dense white head. Nice-looking pilsener.
Wow, huge chilli heat on the nose, slight grain upfront that gets a slight nutty edge from the vegetative chilli aroma. Organic and slightly corporeal in all honesty. Pleasantly complex though.
Wow, massive chilli flavour as well. Spicy but without a lot of heat. Just a spicy capsicaian flavour. Weird, and interesting but not really my thing. I am, of course, the guy in the world who prefers the heat of chilli in beer to the actual flavour, so I'd like a bit more heat here to be honest.
Still not really big on chilli heat on the texture. It's there, but not really knock your head off kind of strength. Decent pilsener texture underneath.
A bit bland as a base beer, then chilli is added to dominate everything else. Would have liked more to balance out the chilli maybe. I've said chilli too many times in this review, too.
Tried originally in bottle from DFH. This version was on-tap from BdB as part of the Italian SpecTapular festival at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours a light golden colour with clean haze. Lace forms in patchy slips from a pretty solid, creamy egg-white head. Decent heft to the body too. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is super malty: clean husky grain characters with a touch of leafy European noble hoppiness. Some breadiness comes through as well, giving a dryness that's not entirely pleasant. Not bad though.
Taste is clean and crisp, again very light on the hops, but with a pleasant clean grain character which almost fills that role. Finish is a little sweet and a little boozy, but manages to drag a touch of bite from somewhere to prevent it being cloying. Feel is crisp enough, despite the weight.
I'm not going to lie: this was something of an average brew. It's not bad by any means, but the version I had from DFH was much better, and I say this as someone who's not a huge fan of the maverick DFH philosophy.
Had on-tap at GABS at the Royal Exhibition Hall in Melbourne.
Pours a pale yellow colour with great clarity. Body is a light-weight, fluid number, which is somewhat surprising. Solid lace forms from a firm, fine white head and the carbonation forms languidly. Overall, a good looking pils, imperial or not.
Some sulphur present early on the nose, but the bright, sharp hop characters clear this out pretty quickly. Oddly enough, there's nothing that specific about the hop characters, maybe a hint of sherbet and powdered sugar, but no dominant varietal characters. Slight booze comes through as well.
Front is dry and slightly yeasty, before a crisp greenness from the hops comes through, along with some grainy, German pils type characters. Finish is rather bitter and dry, tending to a phenolic bite on the finish. Bright and sparkling feel reminds us of its genesis.
Overall, I expected more, but this is a solid brew. It's almost like trying to brew a German Pils at 7.5% without really trying to make it taste any different. Sure, some things are going to change, but it just feels overgrown as it is.
77 / 100
An imperial pilsner with chilli. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a golden colour with good clarity. Body is light and crowned with a firm, solid white head. Overall, it's a decent if not spectacular looking beer.
Aroma has spicy, fragrant capsicain all over it giving a fresh spicy fruitiness. True chilli comes through as well, melding more with some green hop characters and some rubbed indian spices. Fascinating stuff. I love it.
Clean pale malt on the front, with some berry and fruity chilli characters mid-palate. There's certainly a little burn from the chilli on the back, but it just seems to release more of the fragrant spices. Feel is mostly clear, with just that lingering burn to contend with.
Drinkable if you can withstand the heat. A very decent and very, very interesting brew from Emersons. Very solid use of chilli.
70 / 100
Pours a clear straw colour, with white foamy head, medium thickness and hanging around decently. Nice pale colour; looks like a good pilsner.
Plenty of new world hop character here; fruity and piney with passionfruit and citrus notes prominent. Pleasant complexity, big enough to notice but not so big you forget it's a lager.
Again very NZ hoppy or possibly new Aussie hop cultivars, not quite able to distinguish yet. The hops are most definitely the star here with hop complexity front to back of the palate, fruity and piney with a slight citric twang. Gets a little bit yeasty on the back and there is a little booze character creeping through with a slight phenolic note. Little bit of a rough edge possibly because it's so fresh and hasn't quite smoothed out yet. Otherwise clean.
Nice clean lager feel, with a decent body, the size doesn't make it stodgy, still fluid drinking, but a slight heat from the alcohol.
Nice flavours but a bit big. I'd love to try a non-imperial version of this because really, you can't beat a good new world pilsner and they didn't necessarily have to jump right into the boozey end with this. Possibly with a month or two more conditioning could work very nicely as well.
73 / 100
Pours a dark chocolatey colour with nice brown tinge. Head is light beige, nice and foamy with good, sticky retention. Nice.
Smells very piney and resiny. Hint of dark chocolate malt plus plenty of hops - peppery with pine needle resin, sawdust and herbal notes. Very appealing, with a great blend of aromas.
Taste is a little bit darker, with stronger roasted malt notes giving bitter chocolate, a hint of char and some toasted grain. Hops are distinct, very resiny and herbal with piquant touches of spice, leather and aniseed late on the palate. Interesting complexity, a bit over-the-top in flavour at times, but it's exciting enough to be enjoyable in spite of its occasional heavy-handedness.
Bit too much fizz; the mouthfeel is very busy and could be smoothed out a bit.
Great beer overall from Doc though - more of his crazy envelope-pushing that, in this instance, doesn't really fall into any easily categorisable style. This really toes the line between drinkable and excitingly weird.
Pours a pale champagne colour with champagne-esque bead. Head makes it look like beer: nice foam, big bubbles with pleasant trails of lace around the glass. Looks good, and very nicely pilsnery.
Smells quite grainy, with a pleasant hint of some tart acid behind. Mostly cracked grain though, with pearl barley and a touch of corn. I'm getting a pleasant citric twang behind it, but I would like more, especially for a pilsner.
Taste is also more on the malty side, quite sweet actually. Plenty of caramel, vanilla with a metallic, almost medicinal bitterness behind that's really quite heavy and boozey. Yeah, maybe a bit sweet upfront that then turns too suddenly towards pithy and bitter without a nice smooth transition. Can't say I love this, it's a bit heavy and flat in the mouth and it sinks a little at the end.
Decent texture, with a bit of carbonation to lift the surprisingly heavy flavours, but not quite enough for me to love it still.
Not a huge fan, but it's not unpleasant. Bit disappointed, mostly.
75 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a dark filtered-coffee brown, with a pale off-white, almost pinkish tinged head. Lace is solid when tilted, forming in firm rings. Body is light at the edges, and holds its carbonation well. Looks good.
Nose is pleasantly hoppy, with green, vegetative even slightly sweet herbal characters coming through. Sherbetty lemon/citrus notes shine through as well, with a direct sharp fruitiness that perhaps suggests some Kiwi varieties of hops. Not much in the way of roasted characters present on the nose. Still, it smells great.
Taste is clean and relatively light on the palateâsome fruity hops race through the centre, before a more crisp, biting and slightly medicinal bitterness finishes it off. There's a touch of lightly roasted grains on the back, which suggests over-toasted bread or grain husks. Feel is clean, with a sparkling and perhaps overly aggressive carbonation, which is perhaps the most lager-like thing about it.
This is a really nice beer from Doc. The bitterness on the back is perhaps a little too intense, especially when emphasised by the carbonation, but even if it's not that sessionable as a result, it's still great stuff.
89 / 100
I'd been excited to try this since it was announcedâthe Imperial Pils is a style I feel has a lot to live up to, and often hasn't really delivered in the past for me. But put Epic in charge, and make it a New Zealand version? This was probably going to be good.
Pours classy and clear, a bright golden colour with great clarity. Atop the body sits a fine speckling of white foam, which leaves some solid, sheeting lager lacing. Carbonation is refined through the liquid, but slightly thicker than normal body. Looks good.
Nose is spectacularly bright and fresh with clear, bright and spicy hops, giving a twanging, zesty NZ abundance of aroma. Plenty of lemon, with fresh herbal overtones of spearmint and rosemary. It's defiantly fresh and clear and very exciting.
Taste finally hits the sweet spot for my expectations of the style. Brilliant fresh zingy hops speed down the palate, leaving zesty, jubilant citrus characters in their path. Under this, the herbal, greener, leafy notes give a pleasantly robust but understandable bitterness. The malt character is pushed almost entirely to the background, leaving only a slight mild nut character of marzipan on the finish. It doesn't fall into the trap of being too boozy or heavy, which to me is the bane of an Imperial Pils, often causing it to lose its connection to its Pilsener roots.
Feel is sparkling, but still light and bright, with just a hint of boozy heat to remind you that this is a big beer.
Yes, yes, yes! It pulls out all the classically beautiful NZ pils characters out and builds them up into a spectacular new form. A truly wonderful brewâan epic, larger-than-life lager.
62 / 100
Fizzes quite heavily on the pour, leaving a rather flat looking brew, deep golden in colour, with a lot of weight to the body and a lot of haze. Really looks disappointingly flat when held to critical appraisal, but the colour looks fine and the heft is appropriate; it looks chewy enough, but still flows smoothly.
Nose is deep and slightly sweet, with more heft and more booze than I expected. In some senses, it gets this slightly sweet-acidic orange note, which reminds me of an IPA, but the thickness and sweetness suggests something more like a dessert wine. There's certainly minimal crispness, which I'd like to see in an pilsener, even an imperial one.
Taste taste has a little more bitterness, but again, lacks crispness. Instead, the big body gives it a slick, gooey sweetness that only subsides when the onrush of boozy heat comes through on the back. This, in its way, is a type of crispness, in that it startles the palate in to wakefulness, but it's still not ideal.
I'll admit I've still never found an Imperial Pilsener that matches up with what I think the style should be like, and unfortunately, this follows the trend. I'd love more crispness, more directness, and sharper, brighter palate, but still bursting with enormous flavours
72 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with whispy cloud of head. Not a lot of lace. Steady bead. Fairly decent.
Smell is rich and malty. Thick golden syrup malt overlain with hops for a slight salty aroma. Hints of seawater, oyster mushrooms and sharp orange zest. Intriguing, and I like it.
Taste is light on the front with a well-attenuated malt base. Biscuity with a touch of oatmeal, before hops take over - pine, lemon and orange with more mildly savoury notes, saltwater and fresh pine bark. Slight starchiness and also slight Benedictine-esque clout of booze late-mid. Again, intriguing and again I like it.
Not a bad bod at all for a lager, smooth but thick and a slight tingle to it.
A bit of an odd beer, but plenty to like and keep you drinking.
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during their Mikkeller Tap Takeover. #7 of 20
Pours a bright and slightly hazed orange colour. Body looks fluid when tilted, but it has a depth and a thickness to it which traps carbonation. Head is very fine and pretty full. Looks very decent.
Nose is light and bright, but with a thicker roundness to it, suggesting the extra body. Hint of booze to it, and enough hops to pick it up and lift it properly into pilsener territory.
Taste is bright and pilsenery, for the most part, with hops doing their job well. However, later in the palate, the alcohol comes welling up, giving a slightly biting and raw heat that doesn't really do it any favours. Green and crisp, and in standard pilsener territory. And then bam! Too much heat.
It's a bit of a shame. It's a nice pilsener, that is somewhat ruined by ramping up the ABV. Could have been better.
81 / 100
Purchased from Tribeca Whole Foods. 750ml bottle explodes when opened. At least it's lively.
Pours a pleasantly hazed bright golden colour, just tinged with a burnished orange colour in the deepest parts. Head is frothy and full, forming from some ecstatic but fine carbonation, although it's pocked with large bubbles as well. Slight suds on the edges of the glass.
Nose is peppery and hoppy, with a touch of sulphur. Hop characters are more the leafy, organic characters of European varieties, although there's a twang of citrus flittering around as well. Decent pilsener nose, although not all that robust, especially given it's an imperial pils, supposedly "continuously hopped".
Taste is really good for the style. Bigger and fuller in most respects, but staying true to the crisp, hoppy character of a pilsener. Some glossy sweetness around the edges sets the crisp bitterness through the centre, which is bright, but almost silky in its cocoon. There's a hint of the booze, but it just accentuates the big characters of the beer, without forcing itself upon you.
Feel still has a crispness to it, despite the size of the brew. Een though you can feel the extra body and flavour, it stays true to its stylistic roots.
Great beer. I have something of a love/hate relationship with Dogfish Head; I love their experimentation, and their boundary pushing, but I often find their beers a little misguided and sometimes undrinkable. This is not one of thoseâthis is a big beer, no doubt, but one which has been put together with style and balance in mind. Great work.
Pours a metallic gold colour with nice, generous off-white head; dense and fluffy and sinking slowly. Some nice trails of lace left behind. No bead, yeah looks good.
Smells quite musty and dank. Fairly strong boozey component and sour dour spice notes - coriander and cardamom. Some light citrus lingering at the back, but yeah it's a wall of dank, gritty aromas masking what might have been very light and pleasant.
Taste is a lot lighter, with mild stone fruit characters early - peach and banana on there - that last to the end. Slight musty note with black pepper, coriander and cinnamon midway that gives way to a slight vinous yeast character that dries up the palate for the finish. Late-mid, where the crux of the palate lies, is an odd caramel toffee note that really could be earthier to match the palate, but it isn't unwelcome. Decent, not amazingly pleasing to the senses though.
Fuller than one would think, although the mouthfeel is a little empty. Decent texture.
Nice, sweet beer, but it's really lacking in the pilsner department. Needs to lean more on the non-sweet aspects to produce more balance. It stays in overall sweet territory and isn't unpleasant but not a hugely impressive effort on the imperial pilsner front.
Purchased from K&L Wines in Redwood City, CA, and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable.
After much grunting, swearing, and pain, I extract the cork and the beer pours a crisp clear golden yellow colour, with a very full and foamy head of white. Lacing is honeycombed and thick. Body is also pretty heavy, but with lightness at the edges as it's tilted. Very fine carbonation. Looks pretty magnificent.
Nose is crisp and slightly yeasty, with some genuine light grainy pils characters. Slight metallic hop characters to itâit smells a little like dark crushed vegetation, but not overwhelmingly hoppy, which is more what I was expecting. Not bad, but could be better.
Taste is crisp and rather light for the most part, only on the back does a hint of extra sweetness and a slight heat indicate that this is anything more than a standard pilsener.Metallic hops on the back, which mix with the extra grainy body. Oh, it tries so hard to disguise what it is, and to meld in the same way that the pilsener grain and the hops would work off each other in a regular pils. It almost succeeds, and that would be an interesting outcomeâbut instead it neither makes a smooth and drinkable high-ABV beer, nor an out-there hop-tastic crazy Imperial Pilsener.
Not bad, but it should be better. It has a lot going for it, and I like how closely it resembles a standard pilsenerâbut in so doing, it actually just delineates how it is in fact less crisp and less drinkable than a regular pilsener can be.
I do love a good pilsener, and an imperial one... well, perhaps not more so, but if they sock me in the mouth with extra pilsener characteristics, I'm not going to complain. Let's see how this one goes.
Pours a very light and very clear golden yellow colour, with an initially frothy head of foam, which settles to a white film on the top, that surprisingly doesn't leave much lacing. Body looks quite light for a 7% brew, but it looks decent enough. Genuinely looks like a pilsener at least.
Nose is a little funky, sweaty with a slight corny twang to it, but it's mollified a little by some decent fresh hop notes which give a slight fruit character. Missing a little sharpness for a pilsener, but not bad.
Taste is light, but pleasant enough. Some sharpness on the front with a slight lemon zest character, before a rather lengthy back palate that is drawn out because of quite a sharp alcohol hit on the back. It's not a bad character, but it's the only sign of the "imperial" in the name, and the other flavours aren't accentuated reciprocally. Feel is extremely light, which is expected, I guess.
It's a reasonably well done pilsener, but not a particularly well done imperial pilsener. The harsh alcohol is too prominent, and is the only thing which delineates this one from its non-imperial brethren. Needs something more, and it doesn't have it.
87 / 100
Alright, I've never before tried an imperial pilsener, and here I go with a BLACK one. No comparison possible between this and a normal imperial pilsener, but then is it possible to compare this to anything else anyway?
Pours a murky cola colour, black for the most part but transparently brown at the edge. Head is lacklustre in size but not appearance. Cream colour, small but retaining some filmy bubbles and some nice speckly lace residue. Pretty nice.
Nose is wonderfully sweet, and spicy. Beautiful. Absolutely gorgoues. I'm just going to fill this review with positively valenced adjectives because conjunctions and prepositions just don't do this smell justice. Lots of chocolate. Licorice. Spicy coffee. Soapy notes. Kahlua. Lavender, definitely. Floral, chocolatey, sweet. Bloody brilliant. Fucking love it. Can only be described with gobsmacked sentence fragments. Embalm my dead body in this shit, please.
Yeah, huge licorice all through that palte. Starts with a star anise spice, then gets sweeter but spicier in increasing dosage but maintaining their balance with each other. Fair amount of mint, with mild chocolatey notes and a slight rum hit (distilled sugar flavour) as well. Touch of vanilla towards the back and a hint of alcohol bite, but really well hidden. I can imagine people disliking this if they dislike black jellybeans but to me this beer is just beautifully handled between sweet, dark and spice. Doesn't finish with quite enough gusto but an overall brilliant palate.
Mouthfeel is the slightest bit of a letdown as it feels a bit thin, especially for the strength and the fullness of the flavour. Has a smoothness and a light nip on the back, but just a touch watery.
I'm surprised, actually, that a collaboration could produce something this good. I feel like with something so experimental it would have to be a singular madman's vision that somehow came good. But in this case three mad geniuses have produced something ultra-special. If I ever need to be euthanised I will choose to drown in a huge vat of this beer, after being chased in there by a stampede of naked Japanese nurses.
85 / 100
Pours a deep and heavy black colour, with twinges of ruby when held to the light. Head is only languidly formed, a creamy single finger of beige foam. Body looks dense, and there's some carbonation that stays static in the glass when it's swirled. Little lacing, otherwise a very good looking brew.
Nose is incredibly hoppy, a huge burst of fragrantly pungent and spicy West Coast hops. It almost smells like an IPA - big passionfruit characters, stonefruit, resin. Under it though, there are big twinges of darker things - a little oak perhaps, a bit of roasted malt, and something very classically Stone that I can't quite put my finger on. Something sweet but spicy in it as well, almost like liquorice or juniper. What a nose. It's so unusual, and so beautiful. I know it doesn't really fit into any category stylistically - and as a result, it's hard to score, but damn it's delicious.
Taste just adds another layer of bizarre attraction to it. If I were served this completely blind, I'd be shellshocked by the taste, because after the subtly tweaked heavily hopped nose, I'd be expecting a rush of hop characters. But here the dark characters come to the fore, notes of chocolate malt, roasted grains, rye bread, stilled underpinned by a strong and everpresent hop bite.
What's perhaps more extraordinary is that despite its weight, the mouthfeel stays relatively clean. It doesn't cloyingly layer on the tongue, but clears out once the message has been delivered. Still, there's certainly slickness on the palate, which is only to be expected.
What a great beer. I love Stone's three-way collaborations, they always come up with something so unusual, but something that feels as though it should always have existed this way. This is a classic example - a black pilsener, loaded with hop character and brewed to 10%. In a world where novelty is valued, you can't argue with that.
Pours a deep golden colour, verging on amber, with a filmy, large bubbled head of white bubbles. The head sticks around, even though it had to be coaxed into existence with a reasonably aggressive pour, and sticks to the edge of the glass in pleasant lace curtains. The colour reminds me a little too much of generic pale lagers, and I'd like a fluffier head to begin with, but it looks pretty good overall.
Not a great deal on the nose - a sweet blend of mealy grain character (I'm loath to write "adjunct-y", but it comes close), and some piquant green hops that only exist as a single point of aroma. Unfortunately, it smells somewhat akin to Pride of Ringworm, that most hated Australian hop variety. While this gives it some sharpness, it also conjures up for me the aroma of every poorly constructed Australian macro-brewed lager. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan.
Some sharp bitterness on the palate, but that syrupy honey-like sweetness is present here too, coating the tongue, and making the hop flavour work ever so hard to balance it. Given this is a pils, and what's more an Imperial pils, it has far little hop character to my mind. It has a better flavour profile than the nose suggested, but it seems a little flat, and not very robust to me. Mouthfeel is crisp with fine carbonation, which is a plus.
This one only falls slightly above average for me. It just didn't do enough. It seemed a little too tame and a little too generic. Drinkable enough in its way, but I wanted something more.