English Strong Ale
51st highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedSamuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo (84 / 100) Average score60 / 100 (Decent)
Lowest RatedImperial Red Ale (38 / 100) Number Tried43
The Guvnor II, Part 1: French Oak
Reviewed by Jez on 04.01.19 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam, some time ago.

Pours a pleasant reddish-tinged deep amber, which gives it a refined mahogany hue. Head forms a fine ring that leaves spotty but intricate lacing. Body is surprisingly light, but it has a slickness, and the fine carbonation shows this off.

Nose is a bit dull, to be honest. It's not bad, but it plays mostly with a kind of plain, biscuity character like toasted grains, but there's not a lot of complexity behind it. The oak is definitely missing in aroma, although it does perhaps give an overall smoothness to the beer. But then again, this may just by dampening the overall experience, which is one of the main drawbacks.

Taste is a little better, although it is disappointingly simple even so. It has a kind of cracked malt character throughout, with some toffee notes that really just suggest plain sugar. It has a slickness to it, and I'll admit the alcohol is well hidden—but again that's just speaking to the fact that it's a bit bland. Finish has a touch of bite, and maybe the first suggestion of woody oak.

It's not bad, and it's certainly pretty drinkable, especially for its size. But it's also not really interesting, and you don't feel like it warrants being as big as it is—it's not providing a big complexity, or a powerful flavour profile. And that's a shame for a beer like this.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Dessert Ale (Happy Goblin collaboration)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.01.17 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
On tap at the Local Taphouse.

Pours a malty red amber colour, head is beige, quite dense but sunk to a thin creamy film. Lacing is pretty decent. Doesn't amaze me but looks quite tasty.

Smells mostly of coffee. Big roasty espresso character, with some fruity and spice notes at the fringes, maybe some berry and caramel custard sweetness from the malt as well. Pretty enjoyabl,e but I wish the coffee didn't dominate quite so much.

Taste is a bit more desserty, but is it better? Hmmm. There's a big rich treacle kind of character running through all of that, with a thick syrupy sweetness that just keeps getting sweeter with every sip. Besides that, there is a nice coffee spice character, some dried fruit, and maybe some caramel notes that give a more buttery sweet note. It's obviously meant to be sweet, but it feels a bit dark and weighty and needs a bit more cut-through. It's like having a chocolate fondant without berry coulis. And I mean that as a compliment too, because it is sweet and desserty and rich which is nice, but it's also too much of all those things and needs something more to balance it all out.

Decent mouthfeel, big thick body that kind of coats the tongue as it goes down. Could use a touch of drying in the back.

Nice drop and could see it going really nicely with some fruity Yulli's desserts, but it needs basically more fruity notes in the beer itself, as it's all just a bit rich.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Heinde & Verre
Reviewed by Jez on 25.08.16 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
330ml brown bottle, bottled in May 2015, so about 15 months old.

Pours a really quite thick amber colour, looking very still and uncarbonated until the turbulence starts to displace some very fine, tiny bubbles, which make their way lethargically to the top of the glass, forming a loose lace of yellow-white bubbles. Tiny specks of lace. Once it has its time, it's pretty impressive-looking.

Nose is pretty stylistically accurate. There's a wortiness to the sweetness, giving it a savoury grain character and almost a barrel-like or slight yeasty funk. Some dark fruit undertones accentuate this, even though it's still all about the malt. It's nice stuff.

Taste is also good, with a firm malt presence on the front laying down a slick, sticky basis for everything else. It's all malt through the centre, but the back picks up a slight metallic brassiness, which actually works pretty well, and provides some balance. As it warms, there are unusual, but not unpleasant aromatics through the front and middle of the palate: giving hints of stonefruit, cherry candy and fairy floss. It's very interesting.

Feel is rich and chewy, which is perfectly appropriate.

Overall, this is a really nice beer. It's brewed with a real recognition of the underlying style, and with an expertise that allows the complexities to come out nicely. I'm really very happy with it.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Fallen Angel Pale Stout
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.07.16 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
I think previous 'pale stouts' have been classified as English Strong Ales, so I'm going again with it for this one, even though this isn't really a 'white stout' as much as a 'head trip stout that looks pale but tastes dark'. Brewed for GABS 2016 and tried there on tap.

Pours a gold colour, slightly cloudy with foamy cream-coloured head. Sticks around a bit but not much. Looks pretty pale and pretty good.

Smells mostly of coffee, dark espresso notes with a hint of peppery spice. Not a lot to it otherwise, but not bad.

Somewhat sweet upfront, some caramel grain notes, then the mid-palate and back is all coffee with a big roasty espresso note, touch burnt with a hint of smoke to it as well. Trails off to finish a little phenolic, but really not bad tasting at all.

Full body, slight hint of warming alcohol which is quite comforting.

Not bad at all. Doesn't totally work for me, if only because I don't generally love a pure coffee flavour in beer, but I appreciate what they're trying to do. Quite similar to a homebrew we made, only this is a lot better.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.01.16 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor.

Pours a deep red colour with some cloud to it. Head is pale beige, very generous but a lovely density to it and sticking around too, especially on top. Looks a real treat. Powerful but still very English and refined.

Smells sweet and boozey. Big cherry and brandy character with some dark glacé fruit as well; maraschino with currants, raisins and molasses. Touch of oak and slightly vinous as a result. Pleasant, but a bit pungent and whiffy as well.

Taste is very oaky, it starts sweet and gets more woody as it goes on. Bit of brandy upfront, mildly sharp, then gets a short note of intense dark fruit towards the mid, with cherry and sultanas mostly that linger at the back. Oak is woody and spicy late-mid with a slight herbal hop note coming through too. Finishes quite dry and spicy, and I expected more in the way of sweetness. Almost seems to lose its way a bit midway. Despite the lack of coherence maybe, still very palatable.

Decent body but a bit too much texture; booze rears its head quite firmly here.

Decent strong ale, but it seems a bit dry and simple where it should be darker and more complex as suggested by the early flavours.
appearance: 4.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.5
Best Extra Pale Ale (Platinum Liquor Collaboration)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.11.15 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle given to me free by Adam when I purchased a couple of other beers at Platinum.

Pours a dark amber colour; slightly red. Head is beige, nice and dense but sinks to a thin cloud of medium bubbles. Lace is decent but sinks a little. Looks good; malty.

Smells big and pleasant. Malty, nutty with a big belt of dry spice - rye and a big rich chocolate note at the back. Notes of grassy hop, with a hint of passionfruit, and distinct green peppercorns too. I love the malt complexities on this, might maybe use a touch more hop aroma to lighten up, but it's very pleasant.

Taste is also big and long, with lots of malt complexity. Starts quite dark; not quite roasty but certainly well-kilned. Fair rye spice note and a good helping of pumpernickel bread with some dark seeds. Hops give an odd sweetness to the end; they're tangy which is good, but they're oddly new world with a big fruit salad note, mango and peach and a hint of banana. With this English malt base I'd expect more subtle and earthy hops. All quite nice but I feel like it's a mismatch between traditional and modern flavours. I'm not just being philosophical about beer flavours; I just feel those flavours would match up better.

Bit of bite at the back, maybe boozey. Otherwise smooth and nicely fluid.

Nice drop, but I would've expected and liked it really leaning on the malt and just letting the hops complement and augment the complexities. Those grain sugars are screaming out to be the stars here.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Holdin' Hay Time
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.10.15 in bottle
Overall:
49 / 100
(Not Great)
Second part of 2-pack purchased from Barny's.

Pours a murky dark red colour, quite vivid. Head is off-white, visible bubbles, very light specks of lace. Not bad.

Smells ethanoic, earthy. Touch of caramelised roast malt, slightly bitter, and some simple honeyish fermentation. Slight grain, honeyed oat. Not very Gaytimeish. But not terrible.

Taste is odd. Lacking honeycomb, biscuit, chocolate. Basically everything. Has a slight caramalt flavour, English toffee-esque. Slight honey note on the back but it develops that simple sugar fermentation character, empty alcohol. Not that great. Has mild touches of gaytime but not enough, not well integrated.

Smoothish, yeah quite a nice texture. I guess it's English ale mouthfeel.

See I'd give Moon Dog some props for having touches of the brief, but from Big Shed's GABS beer I know how fantastically this brief can be fulfilled. It should be a stout, for one thing, as it's lacking a chocolate character more than anything. It shouldn't have honey in here, because it's just simple sugar fermentation. Overall I feel the Splice of Heaven was a far superior beer, and fulfilled the brief considerably better, and more cleverly.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 2.75
Twelve Days
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 28.09.15 in bottle
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)
Bottle bought for us by Mother, drunk on September 27, 2015.

Pours a dark murky brown red. Head is quite dense, small bubbles. retains OK and lace is thin but nice.

Smells caramelly, with banana-rum notes, a touch of booze and some rich chocolate with medicinal cherry. Pleasant and sweet, boozey.

Taste is disappointing. More bitter; earthy, almost ashy upfront which gets quite nice on the back but there's a big emptiness on the mid-palate. Tastes king of boozey and plain, with a touch of bitter medicine on the back. The finish is nice but otherwise just disappointing.

Bit heavy yet thin, so a bit stingy. OK texture, but the body is blah.

Smelled great, but just tastes like unfulfilled promises.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.0
Holdin' Hay Time
Reviewed by Jez on 25.09.15 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
330ml bottle purchased in a Scoop Pack with their Splice IPA from Camperdown Cellars on Parramatta Road. Hard to classify in any sort of overarching style, but they call it a "Toffee-Vanilla-Chocolate-Honeycomb-ish Ale". I've called it an English strong based on its colour, strength and the English ale yeast used.

Pours a deep coppery amber colour, with a fine, mild head of offwhite that persists as a lowly ring of larger bubbles, leaving little lace in its wake. Body is fine and very clear, and holds some static carbonation when tilted. It looks a bit dead, but that just perhaps emphasises the "Englishness" of it.

Nose is... okay, but a bit disappointing. You can kind of see what they're going for with the Golden Gaytime theme, but at the same time, it's also rather reminiscent of any biscuit-heavy, hop-poor beer. It's malty and slightly grainy, with a little tincture of mineral bite at the back. If you were searching for adjectives, "toffee", "honeycomb" and "vanilla" may be ones you reached for at least.

Taste is similar. There is a slickness and sweetness to the palate, and a little overt vanilla extract that actually strikes me as slightly harsh. As it warms, there's feels like theres a little bit more weight to it, which helps it feel a bit more sweet and integrated, but you still have to reach a little for the flavours they want you to taste. In the end, it again feels a little bit like a biscuit-heavy English pale ale. It'd probably be cracking from cask.

Feel is okay. It's mostly quite lightweight, but the slickness and residual body help it support the flavours.

Overall, it's decent enough. It's not a bad beer, and it's not actively offensive. It didn't necessarily quite fulfill the brief though as far as I'm concerned (certainly because I've had another Golden Gaytime beer this year which was much its superior). It's ended up feeling like a slightly wayward English ale, when it really could have been something special.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Christmas Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.01.15 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Dammit I Forgot To Put It In My Catalogue. Bottle number is 442/1100.

Pours a deep, rather still red-brown colour, with a rather minimal head of undercarbonated off-white, that forms a ring with some agitation, but otherwise sits as just a fine line around the edge of the glass. Body has a little weight, and when tilted and swirled, there is some coarse carbonation that makes itself known. It looks okay.

Nose is initially boozy, with a pronounced brandy or oxidised port character, but quickly takes on some slightly less salubrious qualities. For one, I get the distinct aroma of processed, individually-wrapped cheese slices, which leave a really flabby quality for the rest of the aromas to try to permeate. But they try—there is certainly a slight spiced fruit character to it with some currants and dark sultanas coming through. It's hard to overlook that dominant note though.

Taste is a bit better, and if you hold your nose when you drink it, it's almost possible to avoid the flavour of plastic cheese. Here there is an acidity which is unexpected, but works in a decent way with the dark fruits, giving a slightly vinous quality to the brew. This develops into a more boozy quality towards the back that tingles with heat. At only 7.4%, this does mean that the booziness is certainly not well-hidden, but it helps in this case where the spice and fruit characters need something else to elevate them. Feel is pretty light and a little sharp, but with a helping hand from the booze.

Overall, it's not really overly impressive, but there are a few things which help it survive its flaws. The acidity is a bit misplaced, as is that genuinely unpleasant cheesy character, but it's heading in the right direction at least.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Imperial Red Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 11.03.14 in bottle
Overall:
38 / 100
(Not Great)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill. A 10% "Imperial Red Ale" with an "intense, even savage, 'English' bitterness". Let's see how it goes. This is the 2012 vintage, bottle number 365.

Pours a lazy amber hue, not really dark enough to be red, with a minimal loose ring of off-white bubbles. Body looks fairly fluid, but also fairly heavy and boozy. Minimal carbonation. After a while, the head just gives up entirely, leaving it completely flat and dead.

Nose is quite sharp with booze and with a toasty character I often associate with an Old Ale. Certain vegetative hints, and something sharp and phenolic: most certainly boozy in a solvent-like way. The toasty note is pleasant, but doesn't do enough to cut through the rest. I'm not a big fan.

Taste is also not great. Sharp, boozy characters run through from front to back, while a sticky sherry-like character provides a slightly unpalatable sweetness. Finish does have some of that purported bitterness, but with the booze it tastes more like some sort of solvent or chemical than an English hop bitterness. Feel is quite light for the most part, but the booze makes it feel heavier than it is.

Overall, I'm definitely not a fan. It's big without purpose and without a lot of class to its bombastic overreach. It doesn't deserve to be 10% ABV because it's not doing anything with that power. There's no subtlety, and very little complexity. Instead it feels a little like they decided that they could make a 10% ABV beer and so it was their duty to.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 2.25
Gary The White
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.12.13 on tap
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a gold colour with slight cloud to it. Head is white, creamy-dense and just sticking like a great gelatinous glob on the top of the body. Beautiful hand-pulled look.

Smells quite sweet. Residual malt flavour with a touch of honey, caramel and lots of vanilla. Slight clove character as well. Could use a bit more spice.

Vanilla again on the palate. Again quite malty with some buttery notes but some decent spice character on the back - coriander mostly with a slight spike of white pepper. Amps up the spice as I would have liked on the nose, but still not enough to eradicate that sweetness which still dominates. Not bad.

Full body, fluid and almost thick. Again nice hand-pulled texture.

Creamy, sweet beer. Not really noticing the 'strong'-ness.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Old Tom
Reviewed by Jez on 06.11.13 in bottle
Overall:
54 / 100
(OK)
Squat 330ml bottle purchased from Stanmore Cellars.

Uncaps without much ceremony, a minor hiss that releases a tiny amount of carbonation. Body is a deepish, oily brown with a seeming clarity in the thinner parts of the glass. Head forms a very fine mesh across the top, eventually petering out to a thin but creamy ring. Carbonation is powdery. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Nose is malt-heavy, but with a distinct savoury overtone. Like rich malt extract spiked with seaweed glutamates. Some grainy notes come through as well, which somewhat add to the body of the savoury character, although they don't really add any additional savoury notes themselves. As it warms, the sweetness comes through a little more, giving some wild honey and crushed biscuits. Not bad.

Smooth entry on the palate belies the strong heat which pounces on the second half, leaving a sherry-like boozy ache on the back. The sweetness drops out about three quarters of the way in, leaving it malt-poor on the finish, and leaving the finish reminiscent of ink. Slight oxidation characters don't help this assuage this impression.

Feel is smooth enough on the entry, but it disappears as the booze increases, leaving it volatile and hot in the mouth.

Overall: watch out. This has an unpleasant heat to the booziness on the back that's not matched by enough flavour to give it structure or purpose. By the end, I felt a little bit battered.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Twelve Days
Reviewed by Jez on 07.09.13 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria. Shared with Rich on the 2013 Australian election evening.

Pours a solid ruby-tinged brown: quite clear, but with a true depth of colour. Head forms a solid cushion of beige, settling to a slightly pocked but still solid film. Streaky lace forms in fine patterns. Carbonation is quite fine and the body is full. Looks good.

Nose is slightly toasty, but with sweeter nuttier tones than you'd get in a stout or a porter. Slight butteriness comes through, and a solidly sweet English base malt character. There's a faint sharpness to it, perhaps a touch of phenolics, a touch of metal or even a suggestion of acidity. It's not bad though all up. Quite pleasant.

Taste is smooth and light for the most part, with a firm, clean entry that immediately imparts some nuttiness and a rounded if slightly insipid sweetness. This disappears quickly though, leaving the beer feeling slightly weaker and emptier than it should be. On the back, the sweetness sits around rather flatly, not doing much and providing a rather dull finish that doesn't go anywhere. It's fine enough for an English ale, but it doesn't have the structure which would make it really shine.

Feel is smooth enough, but the insipidness towards the back means it feels weaker than some of the better examples.

Overall, it's fine, but really not that exciting. When an English ale like this is good, it can really be phenomenal. This one is not that, however—it feels like a by-the-numbers brown, perhaps with a little more weight behind it than you'd usually get, but missing the edge that would make it something special.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Gary The White
Reviewed by Jez on 13.06.13 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
A 6.8% White Stout, with a description in the notes pointing out the difference between a "stout beer" in general and a "stout porter" in particular. This is the former, but not the latter.

Pours a solid golden colour, mostly clear in the body, with a pleasant heft to it. Head is very full and rich, and just turning creamy in hue. Lacing forms in pleasantly thick sheets and the carbonation seems to be so languid that it sticks to the glass. Looks good.

Smooth, rich caramel on the nose, indeed perhaps even trending towards white chocolate to provide a marvelous light counterpoint to its stout porter cousins. Some spice and eve a slight suggestion of vegetative chilli. It is a little light in weight, but it's very pleasant.

Light and spicy on the front palate before those sweet, smooth caramel characters come through providing a full-weighted mid palate. There's a hint of booze, but this quickly chases out much of the other characters, and then evaporates itself, leaving the back quite light and dry. Some body lingers though, leaving a pretty rich feel through to the end.

Overall, this is actually pretty lovely stuff. Smooth and solid and rich, without attempting anything too weird.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Thunderbolt
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.05.13 on tap
Overall:
39 / 100
(Not Great)
I believe this beer is actually brewed at the St Peters brewery for the Pumphouse, or at least was when I reviewed it.

Pours a burnished copper colour, with thin film of off-white bubbles and nice lace. Stream of light bubbles. Not bad, a bit cloudy.

Smells sweet, with sweet caramel grain, plain and sweet and subdued. Maybe a touch of diacetyl. Bit meh.

Taste is similar, very sweet and simple with butterscotch and caramel notes. Some strong boozey heat at the back, but mostly just underattenuated caramel notes with residual sugar permeating everything. Not particularly to my taste, just very sweet on the front and just bitterly boozey at the back.

Thin, lacking body. Yeah just feels and tastes a bit underattenuated I think.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Young Doctor Henry's Night Nurse
Reviewed by Jez on 05.11.12 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Brewed in collaboration between Doctor's Orders and Young Henry's. Seems to be owned a little more by Doc, however than by the Young Henry's folks, hence classifying it here. This was styled as a "stout white stout". Brewed in the historical "stout pale ale" style (rather than, say, BrewDog's Abstrakt Blonde Stout), hence calling it an English Strong rather than some sort of stout.

Tried on-tap at Young Henry's during Craft Beer Week.

Pours a hazy bronze-gold colour, with solid weight behind it. Mild, creamy head forms in a bubbly, pocked and slightly inconsistent mess. Solid, sudsy lacing and fine, powdery carbonation.

Aroma is pretty one-dimensional, but powerful at least: solid sweetness, with a pronounced malt base mixed with a little vanilla, and a noticeable, slightly spicy booze.

Spice on the palate as well, with a peppery character forward turning more boozy and slightly astringent towards the finish. Some vanilla comes through to try to help out, but it ends up just feeling sweet, boozy and heavy. At least it disappears off the finish pretty quickly, and doesn't linger: the feel in particular is big while it exists, but ultimately quite short.

Not bad, drinkability-wise. It's chewy and solid, but doesn't fill you up too much or feel all that heavy once you're done. Don't go in expecting a stout and you'll probably have a good time with it.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
X Ale, 22nd November 1838
Reviewed by Jez on 18.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Found these two brews at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA, and found the concept intriguing. I brought them home to Australia and shared them now, side-by-side with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a very pale golden colour, with a frothy, crackly but insubstantial head of white that leaves patchy lace. Body is surprisingly light for a big beer like this. Overall, I'm not overly enthusiastic, to be honest.

Nose is mild, but with a smooth malt character, and a slope of something slightly sour, or perhaps coppery to it. It may well just be a clear English hop fragrance, but it melds very oddly with the malt character. Interesting, though.

Taste is light on flavour, but with a solidity to the feel and the vectors that would normally carry that flavour. Mild, weak grain, and a touch of booziness comes through, along with a faint hint of coconut. It's not unpleasant, but it's pretty mild.

Overall, it's a little bit dull. Not unpleasant, just dull—and let's face it, getting a 170-year old 7.4% strong ale recipe to be dull is something of an achievement.

appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Iron Brew
Reviewed by Jez on 19.01.12 on tap
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
Had on-tap at the S&A when in Freo recently. Great spot with lovely beers.

Pours a deep amber colour, with an off-white foam that forms a
filmy, slightly slick, but slightly inconsistent head. Lacing is excellent though. Decent weight to the body, giving it some heft, while sustaining a liquid slickness. Looks pretty good.

Nose is heavy with brown malt, giving a formidable grain aromatic character. It also contains a slick sweetness, like syrupy sugar, but that deep, slightly bready malt character is really dominant. It's a little too sweet, to my mind, but you do have to respect the robustness.

Taste is a little better, and suffers less from the overt sweetness, mainly due to the fact that the body is slightly lighter than expected. It smoothes and stretches the heavy brown malt over the palate, rather than concentrating it like the nose does. There's a hint of acetone, or some other mild astringent on the finish, and while the light mouthfeel helps the beer overall, it feels a little flat as a result.

It's decent enough, but it's a little one-dimensional, and not particularly exciting. I feel there is much to be done with the style that could be better explored than it is in this example.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Monkey Wrench Strong Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 19.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Purchase from Sackville Cellars in Rozelle, an oft forgotten little Sydney bottleshop that can have some interestingly overlooked beers.

Pours a hazed and deep red-brown mahogany hue, almost ruby in the light, with a fine and full head of off-white. Lacing is firm and strong, leaving wonderful cascades down the inside of the glass. Body is a bit thin, but the carbonation, such as it is, is rather fine and pleasant. Looks good.

Nose is wonderful—gorgeous melange of chocolate malts giving a dry cacao character, with a big dollop of gooey English blackberries. It's all dark, but fresh and surprisingly crisp. Lovely nose.

Slightly thinner on the palate, with a roasted cacao flavour dominant, along with a green berry-leaf rustic roughness. Blackberry overtones come in late again, with a lingering huskiness. It doesn't manage to fulfill every facet of the tongue, but it's tasty.

A nice beer, and a slightly more elaborate one than you often get from a British brewery. While I appreciate a really good mild English ale every now and then, I'd prefer one like this with just that little bit more oomph.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Canadian Cask - Scottish Oak Aged Beer
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.01.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dirty, murky red with off-white lace head, just a thinnish film after a while. Slight cloud. Not sure about the colour, but looks nice.

Smells whiskeyesque, with lots of sweet boozey notes. Plenty of vanilla with a very intense peppery oak, quite cedary maybe, and mild medicinal hop notes at the back. Interesting, and really quite nice.

Taste is very malty, with lots of other, lighter sweet notes. Brown sugar and vanilla with cedar notes and peppery spice. Some cumin notes on the back and a whiskey booze note. Yeah, I've only had Canadian whiskey once but it has that slight spiced sweetness I remember. Not a huge amount to the beer itself, but it provides a good base for the whiskey notes to launch from, and the balance is nicely struck.

Fairly slick body, but a harsh spicy texture on the mid makes it quite dry on the back. Not bad.

Yeah, decent. Better than straight Canadian whiskey and a nice sweet spice blend overall.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Fuller's 1845
Reviewed by Jez on 23.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)

Whoa, this is a very nice looking beer - a deep red mahogany colour with a fully and robust head of ochre coloured, crunchy foam. Lacing is sudsy, but thick as expected of an English ale, carbonation is very visible through the clear body, but it only forms in tiny bubbles, and has a ways to work through the thick body. Looks pretty damn fantastic.

Nose is blasted with rich raisin and dried fruit sweetness, muted by a slightly buttery and dry yeast character. Very sweet and full though, and fragrant with spicy characters like Christmas cake. All put together it smells like a thick-cut piece of raisin toast, smothered in fresh butter. It's a lovely aroma.

Taste is full and lightly roasted, with enough of the residual sweetness to smooth over the other characters. Slight twang of metallic bitterness on the back, giving a coppery clean finish, with a touch of boozy phenols and a crisply roast bite. The bite on the back is sharp, and cleans it out nicely, but I could also see this going the route of overwhelming and impressive sweetness, giving big soaked fruit characters to the brew. I'm not sure which I'd prefer.

Feel is smooth on the front, but gets stunted by the sharpness on the back, which really cuts it back.

A lovely beer, and a great example of the English putting a more robust and flavourful beer together. Lovely characters, and a good package all up. Something I could drink with abandon (and some amount of boozy haze) throughout the night.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Canadian Cask - Scottish Oak Aged Beer
Reviewed by Jez on 28.11.10 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a very clear, but very deep amber hue. Rather heavy in the glass, with an initially full, but ultimately filmy head of bright white bubbling. Lacing is as good and thick as you expect from the British Isles, even from a reasonably filmy head. Looks like a very decent ale.

Nose is a little diminished for an oak aged beer. Slight weak almost small-beeresque malty grain character, followed by a moderate sting of organic hops, giving a slight aroma of lemon myrtle. Little else, and while it's pleasant enough, it's extremely light.

Taste is similar, although there's a faint woody oak character flittering around the back. Starts with a light organic grain note mixed with a touch of phenolic heat, before the wood comes through with a touch of blackberry-tart hops to finish. Feel is smooth and a little hot, but doesn't have much breadth on the palate.

It's a respectable beer, but one that doesn't really plumb the depths of the great beer ocean. For an oak-aged beer, it's quite disappointing. For an English Ale, it's acceptable.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo
Reviewed by Jez on 25.10.10 in bottle
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)

Pours a very pleasant deep amber orange colour, tending towards brown, with a fine and reasonably full head of crusty white foam. Clear body that seems quite fluid, although the bubbles of carbonation seem to have a tough time making their way through it. Looks very decent, and extremely robust for an English Ale.

Nose is potent. There's no getting around it. Big whiffy booze characters, giving off esters of vanilla and cherry. Slightly coconutty oak characters come through as well, with a slightly medicinal phenolic note to it. Whew, this is a strong flavoured beer. No getting around it. I love the raw potency of it.

Palate is quite astonishingly more gentle, with a subtle sweetness like molasses wending its way through the deeper and more striking characters of oak and light phenols. Incredibly smooth mouthfeel, and so little harshness it's hard to imagine where that 8% ABV is hiding in this subtle English ale. Just a light whiff of liquor soaked cherries at the end give you any hint of it.

This is a lovely beer. One of Samuel Smith's best, and that's saying something. It has all the big flavoursome characteristics you expect in a strong ale, but done with all the subtlety and self-effacing nature that an English ale provides. Gorgeous.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Paddy's Fat Ass Bastard
Reviewed by Jez on 11.10.10 on tap
Overall:
41 / 100
(Not Great)

Very cloudy amber golden colour. Lighter than amber, but anyway, it's close. Head is a pleasant film of fine white with good lacing. Some large bubbles throughout. Looks decent enough. Colour is a bit in between great colours.

Very little on the nose, a bit of lagery PoR character and a slight sweaty sweetness. Green organics come through a little as it's warmed. Not bad.

Taste is filmy and thin, with a slightly astingent bitterness on the back palate. Slight banana esters which bloat it and a long lingering but slightly festering sweet finish. Can't say I'm a fan. Mouthfeel crisp to begin but the malingering characters kill it.

Not a great beer. Paddy's do better, and they do them with style. This is overwrought and tending towards offensive. Wish it had more balance.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.0
Banks's Barley Gold
Reviewed by Jez on 09.10.10 from a can
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a robust and very pleasant deep golden orange colour, with a filmy head of white suds. Leaves some pretty pleasant lacing down the edges of the glass, but certainly lacks volume. Looks very heavy, which is good, with a good amount of static carbonation when it's swirled. Looks pretty decent.

Quite robust on the nose as well, with a good welling of deep malt characters and a sharp, slightly surprising metallic note. But of English burlap sack, but that's probably being a little derogatory. Not bad.

The taste brings it together nicely, with a welling bitterness and a sharp metallic, almost acetone character on the back. Slightly medicinal, which isn't unpleasant, but rather accentuates the strength of the beer otherwise. It doesn't have a huge amount to back it up, but it's pleasantly strong and aggressive. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth with a burgeoning sparkling throughout.

A very decent brew, but it does swerve a little towards the harsh properties of malt liquor in some respects. Sure, it's strong and aggressive, but it feels like it might not just have the characters to back it up.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Paddy's Fat Ass Bastard
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.09.10 on tap
Overall:
39 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a murky orange-amber with healthy yeasty haze and slow but steady bead. Head is quite dense, but thin (from the pour), retains pretty well. Interesting, yeah.

Nose is quite german in character with lots of banana and some cream. Quite buttery and sweet with some caramel as well. Could use more bitterness or spice, something to quell the sweetness, diacetyl definitely apparent.

Taste is strong, I guess. Fair sweetness on the front with caramel and a hint of vanilla cream. Bitterness starts early, a bit scotch-heavy with a really pungent banana note and then gets very POR with an intense carlton draught yeasty flavour that lingers horribly, developing a slight ashy edge on the hang. Has decent malty notes on front but bitter finish is a complete mismatch, it doesn't blend at all, just sort of floats up through sweetness and the two halves ot the palate are just not suited. Actually unpleasant.

Fair body, slight sharpness towards the back and leaves dry. Not bad though

Yeah, not a big fan, unpleasantly bitter, doesn't have nice flavour overall.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Northern Rivers Migration Dark Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.08.10 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a dark red-tinged mahogany colour with very generous beige head. Head looks thin though, densely-pakced bubbles with very little lace - all fizz and no substance. An okay-looking dark ale, but nothing special.

Very pleasing on the nose. Dark, but sweet, with brown sugar, mild coffee notes and some dark fruit, raisins and some preserved lemon. Mild cinnamon and ginger spice lying slightly dormant at the back. Impressive winter warmer nose, treads the line between sweet/sour/spicy (with its three legs).

Taste is an odd one, hmmm let's see... Taste is quite roasty from the start with dark chocolatey malt, slight bitter twang that steadily turns sour by the mid-palate, giving off notes of underripe cherries and red wine vinegar. Not puckering though, just the flavours are there. Roastiness returns for an encore, ascerbically bitter at times with ground coffee and a hint of charred meat. Flavour is maintained well through its peaks and troughs - although I'm not really won over by them.

Decent body, a lot of foaminess in the mouth. Goes down pretty well, yeah not bad.

It is a decent drinking beer but I just find it underenjoyable flavour-wise.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 23.01.10 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)

Pours a lovely, slightly cloudy amber colour, with an initially full head of white foam which disippates slightly to a thin an perhaps a little insipid ring of film. Minimal lacing. Colour is nice, but it looks a little too static and flaccid in the glass.

Nice notes on the nose - lots of toffee and caramel with a pleasant citric fruit character piping through, perhaps a little pineapple which stops the rich malt and caramel from becoming overpowering. Perhaps a slight boozy note too, but that's subtle, if it's really there at all. Nice.

Despite the rather static look of the body, there's a glut of tiny, overzealous carbonation on the palate, which leaves the tongue exhausted by the time it actually starts picking up the other characters. What's there is quite boozy, with some strong acetone characters - very little of the sweetness present on the nose. It feels as though it's a strong ale that hasn't managed to cover its alcohol content. It ends up rather harsh.

Really, this isn't a bad brew, but there's certainly something a bit too raw about it. Perhaps it mellows with age, perhaps is becomes slightly sweeter, and the harsher notes become blunted. Maybe. Hopefully.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Morocco Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.01.10 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a healthy dark brown, a bit darker than cola, with a decent beige head, medium-thick and medium density, leaves a thin crown and thin whispy lace that isn't particularly sticky. Fairly steady bead - yeah, looks pretty good.

Nose is sweet and quite strong. A good belt of treacle assaults the olfactory, with a dark syrupy aroma providing notes of burnt toffee, dark chocolate and a bit of a buttery character. An ethyl alcohol whiff gives a scent like rum, and there is a light mint character lurking as well. Interesting nose but a little overpowering in the sweet stakes for me.

Taste starts off with a sweetness, mostly caramel in character, with a slight fruitiness lingering behind it, fresh blueberries and a hint of citrus. Mid-palate is quite chocolatey, with a good roasted grain character and an oaky character being quite prominent. Finish is vinous - aspects of a rich burgundy with a dryness on the feel, more of that oak and a good hint of molasses as well. It states that there should be a lot of spice, but I don't get a lot, although there is a slightly herbal/phenolic flavour towards the back, reminiscent of thistle or lavender.

It's quite a strongly-flavoured beer, but falls short of being robust in character. It's too sweet to be really ball-grabbing and it comes off as a fairly mild 'strong' ale. Pleasant, but too much of things I don't like so much, and underdone on those I do.

Quite a lot of body on it, but it does feel a bit thin right at the back, and incredibly drying. It feels like a big hangover-inducing beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Brooklyn Backbreaker
Reviewed by Jez on 08.12.09 on tap
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)

Tried on tap at the brewery December 09.

Deep clear copper character with a creamy fine head of white bubbles. Lacing is excellent. Looks a lot like a cask pulled English Ale. Very nice.

Very little on the nose, some amber malts with a slight citruc astringency. Even a slightly meaty character, but it's all extremely muted, and quite light. Overall, it comes across dull on the nose.

Some banana phenols on the back, initially smooth, with a slightly harsh bitterness mid palate. It's soothed by the end at least. Some dry metallic notes at the very end. Quite nice. Mouthfeel is clean, smooth and silky. Very nice.

One of the more interesting Brooklyn ales I've tried so far. It misses something on the nose, but it's pretty smooth, with a decent amount of character.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Old Preacher
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.12.09 on tap
Overall:
80 / 100
(Excellent)
Had on tap at the hotel.

Pours a dark ruby red colour with dense beige head. Lacing is thin and speckled. Nice steady bead. Love the colour, otherwise, it's good.

Nose is very malty and roasty. Good dark toffee notes and hints of cocoa and milk coffee. Slight grassy bitterness, with a slight metallic edge. Pleasant malty English smell.

Taste is actually quite spicy. Starts with hints of that toffee malt flavour, then goes slightly bitter with nice herbal notes, slight medicinal character with hints of maraschino cherry. Fair amount of coffee late on the palate, and that's when spice comes through, together with warmth from the alcohol. Back palate has hints of pepper with some rich malt, grassy hops and lime. What a pleasant palate; starts well, the journey is excellent. Really tasty beer.

Fairly full with a decent body, but does feel a bit watery for a 7.5% drop. Slick, I would say, but a bit thinner than I would like given the flavours.

Very, very drinkable beer though. A damned pleasant drop.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.03.09 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dark reddish colour with very nice thick beige head. Cloudy appearance, typical of a Coopers. Great, though.

Nose is quite hoppy with a slight glazed edge. Hints of a raisin character. Nice but subdued.

Very nice taste, rich and malty with a hoppy finish. Alcohol is mostly well hidden but there is a bit of a jolt in the middle, it's well masked by the hops. Finds its way a bit slowly through the mouth, a bit clunky somehow. This is a very good beer, really, impressive yet pleasant and very fine drinking.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Old Admiral
Reviewed by Jez on 17.11.06 on tap
Overall:
54 / 100
(OK)

Cloudy dark brown colour, with minimal head.

Dark roasted coffee notes on the nose, quite rich and flavoursome.

Very roasted dark palate. Quite toasty, with a sultana-like sweetness. Mouthfeel a little thin. However, the palate is sort of a one-trick pony. It leaves me feeling a little flat. It should have more complexity to it.

As it stands, it's a reasonable dark ale, but little more than average.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5