|Highest Rated||Cuvée Bleu (97 / 100)
||Average score||72 / 100 (Very Good)|
|Lowest Rated||Apricot Sour (6 / 100)
73 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a slightly muddy mahogany colour, with firm hazing through the body. Head is a lovely fine crest of pale pink or orange, that leaves long thin tentacles of lace. Carbonation is also very fine. Body is lighter than you expect for the ABV, but suitable for this style of beer.
Nose is dominated by the blackcurrant, which is definitely the most prominent character. But as it warms other notes come through, especially vinous notes from the wine barrels. These add more of an earthy tone than any more fruit, or even acidity. But the blend of oak and blackcurrant gives the suggestion of balsamic vinegar. Slight white pepper note late.
Palate has a distinct tartness to it. It actually accentuates the fruit to some extent, because it comes through as very tart berries, very young grapes or perhaps something laced with citrus juice. Plenty of barrel towards the centre of the palate, adding an earthy wood note that takes the edge off the acid. Finish descends into juicy blackcurrant and grapeskin notes.
Feel is soft and only mildly carbonated, but the acid adds a sharpness to it which cuts a little.
I'll admit that the acid actually ends up making it less drinkable than I would have otherwise liked. There's complexities to it, and the fruit characters are nicely added (both the currant and the wine notes). But after a while, all I feel is the acidity.
85 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Tasty Beverage Company in Asheville, NC. Brought back to Australia and shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a fairly clear, bright golden colour, with a boisterous head of white that sits lively, but loose-bubbled on top. Carbonation forms in refined streaks like a good champagne. Lacing is sudsy, and only forming in clumps. Body is light and clean. Looks good.
Nose is excellent, and quite interesting. Strong herbal aromas, with hints of nettle, dried apricot, crushed dandelion and chamomile tea. It's like walking through the countryside on a rainy day. It goes nicely with the hint of acidity, which is tied to the dried fruit note, creating a path to blend all of the good bits together. It's very nice.
Taste is beautifully restrained. It's not overly acidic, and that helps the other characters get their turn in the front. Again, dried apricot is quite prominent, blending the acidity and the other aromatic notes. The complexity is good, with hints of carob, crushed petals, pea pods and a pronounced aftertaste of elderflower. Really, the complexity here is excellent, and there's always something new exploding on the palate.
Feel is light and crisp with acid, and just enlivened judiciously by a fine carbonation.
This is a lovely beer, and an exceedingly interesting one to boot. I like the combination of fine acid and aromatic botanicals. These are picked with care, and in such a way to beautifully complement one another. Bravo.
71 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam and Andrew back in Sydney.
Pours a pinkish plum colour, with a very fine head of very pale pink that leaves expressive complex lacing. Carbonation is fine but very swift. Body is actually quite light, but it has a refinement to it which is pretty good. It looks a bit like very classy carbonated apple-boysenberry juice. That's a positive thing.
Nose is quite pleasant. It does have a sweetness from the berries, which give it a depth and roundness quite separate from the tartness, although the fruit does seem to contribute to the overall shape of the acidity as well. At times it seems a little bit dry, perhaps lacking some complexity. But I think it's honestly pretty solid and nicely made.
Taste is indeed a little simpler than it might be, but there is a refinement to it. The currant character is actually quite strong here, and quite connected to the acidity, which gives it a tart, almost pithy underripe fruit character. There's a slightly powdery, almost gritty character in the finish, which adds earthiness and a vegetative note. Hints of aspirin and seltzer in the finish.
Feel is a touch overcarbonated—it actually seems to exacerbate the acidity as well.
Overall, it's a nice beer—it's quite strong towards the acidity, which gives it a challenge to the palate. I've had similar beers which give you more complexity.
83 / 100
750ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA. Shared with Sam & Andrew back in Sydney.
Pours a deep golden colour, with just a hint of a suggestion of pink to it, and an offwhite head that foams up a lot, and settles out to a solid cm of cap. Carbonation is beautifully powdery, flowing in long streams when the glass moves. Long broad streaks of lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is tart and bright, with a fairly strong stonefruit note that almost gives off almond kernel brightness. There's a vanilla character as well which is smooth, and adds some depth. As it warms, the fruit becomes a bit stronger, but it also develops mild characters of green peppercorns and a little leafy greens. It's very nice.
Taste is strong, with a genuinely prominent tartness. It does feel like it's unbalanced though, because the vanilla smoothes it out, and there's still plenty of fruit giving pithy skin notes. Light, soft finish, with fine carbonation and a dry, champagne character towards the back of the palate.
It's a really nicely done beer—it's very much the kind of dry complexity you get in a good sparkling wine, and the fruit notes are really well integrated. It's very nicely done all up.
81 / 100
Pint can purchased from somewhere in New York, I can't remember where. Brought back to Sydney, where I shared it with Sam. This is an unblended foudre pull beer.
Pours a pleasantly hazed golden colour, deeper in hue in the glass than at the edges, with a finely created head of off-white which provides lovely long streaks of lace, and some tine specks. Carbonation is refined: powdery and swift through the glass. Looks good.
Nose is decent enough. It does have a touch of kerosene to it, which gives it a harsher than expected character beyond what you expect from a sour. But mostly it restrains this behind vinous, oaky notes, with a little bit of crushed vegetation and a touch of olive brine.
Taste is much better, however. It has a pronounced stonefruit sweetness, which gives it depth and juiciness, even though here the acid is also much more prominent. It stays in balance, with soft, powdery peach flesh towards the back, that's shredded with riesling and sauvignon blanc characters. Feel is lovely. Powdery but bright.
It does get quite acidic over time, and that makes it more of a trial to drink than it needs to be. But the production of those stonefruit notes is just really beautiful, and despite the additional tartness, it never feels out of balance at all.
750ml dark green bottle purchased as part of the Wildflower Collective 2019.
Pours a deep, dense, opaque cherry red-black colour, with a faintly purplish-white head the persists as a very fine ring. Carbonation is powdery and fine, forming long lines of straight carbonation when tilted. Lacing forms in small circular specks. Looks good.
Nose has a strong cherry character, with a mild astringency to it as well—it's a kind of tight, plasticky sourness that almost gives characters of acetone and kitty litter. These are not necessarily bad things, they just speak of an intensity to the flavour. As it warms, there's a slight peppery note, hints of very old, oxidised red wine, and a kind of mossy dankness.
Taste is similar in a lot of ways, but it actually pares back the astringency a good deal. It still has heavy cherry characters to it, including a medicinal bit towards the back. But there's warmer, softer tones to the palate. It get musty suitcases, cinnamon and brown sugar, crumbling sandstone and halva. The astringency is still there, giving that slight overtone of something plastic and artificial, but it's mostly ephemeral, and it mostly due to the aroma sticking around.
Feel is soft and delicately carbonated.
Overall, this isn't one of Wildflower's best, and they know it. The Collective notes with this note that it is "the result of making use of a huge crop which otherwise would have gone to waste. It is not something we are likely to repeat or something we feel is hugely indicative of our ethos". So I pass on the caveat here.
89 / 100
500ml bottle given to me by my mate Aaron when visiting him in Denver. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam to wet his new baby's head.
Pours a vivid black-raspberry colour, with a vibrant, fine, candy-pink head, which turns to a pinot-stain ring as it goes down the glass. Body is glossy with a lovely fine bead. It's an exceptional looking beer.
Nose is extraordinary. Very lush raspberry weight, with a bright candy acid tartness. Slight aspirin character, seltzer and saline powder. There's a rougher leafy quality as well, with a hint of mild green peppercorn. There's a slight vinous hint of wine, but absolutely no suggestion of tannin. It's very good.
Taste is also good, but it's not as lush, rich or complex. Slightly briney on the front palate, with raspberry, cherry skin, zesty lemon and salt backing it up. Fine body towards the black, with a long vinous tartness—it's the kind of tartness you associate with a riesling or a sauvignon blanc, which is a trip given the colour. Soft, smooth feel, with just a velvet touch of carbonation.
This is a genuinely lovely beer. It has amazing complexity, and the softness on the palate is very good. But it's the lush fruit which really sets the beer apart. It's really good.
74 / 100
750ml dark olive bottle, purchased as part of the Wildflower Collective. This is an Australian Wild Ale with NSW strawberry gum, which is an aromatic variety of eucalyptus.
Pours a slightly hazed golden colour; certainly more hazy than the regular Gold. It forms a small ring of bubbles on the pour, but within five minutes this is mostly gone, leaving the beer itself quite still. Body is light and fluid. Minimal carbonation to begin with, but very still by the end.
Nose is very interesting. The strawberry gum is prominent on the nose, giving sweet bush aromatics, with notes of strawberry bubblegum mixed with the crackle of dry undergrowth on a hot summer day. There's an interesting interplay between the herb and the wild ale, which gives a slight tartness, mingling with vanilla and clove. It's honestly a very clever combination.
Taste isn't quite as good, and it comes in waves. The olida is strong on the front, giving a pronounced leafy strawberry and rosemary note, but this clings to the acidity providing a measure of astringency on the mid-palate. This glides softly into a pleasant ephemeral smoke character, like a bushfire on the other side of town. The back is slightly vegetal though—the herb leaves a little too much vegetative character, and disconnects from the acidity. The finish is slightly floury—a character I do sometimes find in some bottles of WF.
Feel is pleasant—slick, but cut with acid.
It's still a very nice beer, and it's a really interesting expression of what they're trying to do, especially with providence of their ingredients. I can imagine this is just the first step in experimenting with indigenous herbs and spices (and, no doubt, fruits). And it is an auspicious step, if not the final destination—I can imagine it gets better.
97 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Tried on tap at Odd Culture at the Taphouse.
Pours a deep, opaque and staining crimson/purple—intensely coloured. Head is a subtle ring of mulberry inflected lace. Carbonation is very fine, but fast through the body. The weight is fairly light, but there's a slickness to the body. Looks very good, especially that colour.
Nose is excellent. Lots of wood right on the forefront. Oakiness comes through quite strongly, but there's also lots of freshly hewn timber and sawdust. Sweet fruit provides a broad sweetness underneath. But there's loads of complexity unfolding all over the top. There's obviously blueberry, but there's also notes of celery, cocoa, black raspberry, currants and aged balsamic. It's seriously wonderful.
Taste is also amazing. Soft tannins on the front, with a little vinous bite that develops into rounded, dark fruit. The back palate has wood and tartness, with juicy characters of stewed blackberries, overripe blueberries and pinot noir. It's sweet and slick through the mid palate, but livened by a judicious acidity in the finish. Feel is slick, and slightly grippy in the finish. It's so complex, but perfectly crafted.
This is almost certainly the best Australian beer I've had all year, and it's probably one of the best I've ever had. It's so amazingly complex, but with such coherence to its form. I'm incredibly impressed. No matter how high my expectations are for La Siréne, they always seem to find some way to exceed them.
750ml brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a slightly hazed rosé colour, with a flimsy loose ring of pinkish bubbles that dissolve fairly quickly. Carbonation is coarse and swift. Body is very light, and rather thin. All up, it's a nice colour, but otherwise a bit underwhelming.
Nose is rather pleasant. It has some classic wild fermentation characters, giving a bit of shoe leather and gin botanicals. But there's true acidity as well, this time perhaps guided towards lime from the lime addition. But to be honest, it maintains a kind of herbal quality throughout, and it's less like the blackcurrant and lime of the label, and more like bitters.
Taste is clean and crisp, but quite thin and all on the front-palate. I do get some juicy berry notes, with a kind of citrus crispness, but these are subservient to the quick turnover of the mid-palate acid. This washes away the complexity, leaving the back dry and fairly empty. Mouthfeel is coarse-bubbled, with a wash of foamy carbonation which pops out of existence around the centre of the mouth.
It's not bad all up, but I feel like it's a surprisingly weak entry from JP. It's crisp and drinkable though, and the low ABV would probably make this a pleasantly sessionable brew. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the form-factor or the price point to make that a realistic option.
80 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney. I've tried this from a live cask at Cascade in Portland, but this is the first time I'd had the bottled version. This was the 2013 edition.
Pours a deep chestnut brown with red tinges at the edges. Head forms a coarse mass of beige that persists as a fine ring. Lacing is minimal, but we get some long streaks over time. Carbonation is very fine, and swift.
Nose is sharp, perhaps too sharp. It's a biting acid character, but it almost trends towards metal shards and petrol. It's a little better as it warms, as a little of the fruit comes through—but to be honest, the fruit is itself a tart aroma, and it doesn't mask some of the tighter more intense characters. Underneath this all are sweet characters of sultanas and currants.
Taste is much, much better. Here, the fruit is expressed beautifully, leaving the tartness to provide the structure but not overwhelm the palate. There are definitely raisins and dried fruits through the middle of the palate, and they works nicely with both the acid and the brighter fruit notes. Towards the back, there's a little bit of aromatic oak. Finish is very long—it's extended by the acidity, and a slight evanescent heat of booze.
Overall, I'm a fan. I do think this is much better in bottles with a bit of age on it than it was when I tried it live and raw. But even now, it's a vivacious beer, and it has a lot of punch that remains untamed. This is the sort of beer that will probably still be kicking 10 or 20 years down the track.
84 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased as part of the Wildflower Collective 2018. This is a blend aged on NSW white peaches. Packaged 4 April 2018. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a bright, pale golden colour, with a firm ring of just-off-white bubbles that leave long, craggy streaks of lace. Carbonation is very fine, but restrained, forming languid streams when the glass is tilted. Looks good.
Nose is quite pleasant. There's a really nice stonefruit character that's noticeable right from the start, with a little plasticky tartness. It does have a slight yeast undertone, which adds an earthy character—something that I've noticed as something of a trademark in Wildflower's beers. Otherwise, there's a fair amount of vinous acidity and a cut-grass greenness that lifts everything.
Taste is probably better. Here, the peaches are quite prominent, and provide the main structure of the palate. There's acid characters around this, giving light tartness—something like young sauvignon blanc. It has a twang of plasticky lambic-like characters in the back, but it's smoothed out nicely, with characters of tart peach and cranberry continuing the acidity while dampening the sharpness.
Feel is dry and tart, with a smacking crispness on the back.
A lovely brew, and this shows Wildflower really finding their rhythm with what they're trying to do. This is a lovely, well thought-out beer, and the fruit addition is judicious and appropriate. Very nice stuff.
79 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a hazy orange-gold colour, with a fairly flimsy head of white that leaves specks of lace. Body is light with coarse, swift carbonation. Looks decent enough.
Nose is interesting. I definitely get the passionfruit, and a slight lactic curd character. But there's also surprisingly savoury characters to it as well, including powdered white pepper, bread crust and lime leaf. It's very interesting, and I genuinely like it.
Taste is also pretty good. There's passionfruit all over this, and it lends a bunch of different flavours including hints of the crunchy seeds, and the pithy sharp bite of the pulp. There's definite intrinsic acidity though as well, with a biting vinous character like young riesling. It lends a sophistication to the beer.
Feel is sharp and biting—the acid here is almost a bit too much. It's very tart, and it almost starts to hurt after a while.
Yeah, good beer though all up. The tartness is really well-realised and the passionfruit is a fair match for it. I'm a fan.
71 / 100
Pours a golden, slightly orangey yellow colour. Head is off-white, foamy with large bubbles on the side. Thin, unsticky lacing. Looks alright but pretty unimpressive.
Smells tart. Melony, with a touch of citrus too; rindy and slightly bitter as well as quite tart and sharp, even. Intriguing sweetness behind it though; still fruity and fresh but just a nice cakey malt character backing up and even accentuating those sharp acidic notes. Interesting.
Taste is also quite melony, from start to finish really. Nice swell of tart acidity towards the mid with the fruit character prevailing in the end and providing a good fresh finish with a touch of candy sweetness and just a fresh zest to complement the acid which could otherwise be a bit overwhelming. Tropical at times, tart puckering citrus at times and otherwise a good rich melon sweetness. Quite pleasant.
Bit of substance to it; puckering takes over a bit on the back and quite dry to finish. Not bad but could be better/smoother even within the style.
Drinks like a tart cleanser; good sharp acidity but maybe a touch too dry on the back because it's nicely balanced for the most part otherwise.
58 / 100
Dirty orange colour, very cloudy. Head is off-white, nice and foamy with good density to it, bit thin but good texture. Decent lacing but not amazing. Looks pretty good.
Smells a little rank to be honest. Has some light fruity aromas with some cake batter sweetness, mango and orange peel, but there's also a bitter coriander and galangal spice and some weird funk behind it as well. Leans on the wrong characters from that too, so it just smells off and a bit of a mess.
Tastes weird too, but maybe better. There's just a more pronounced and pleasant profile to it but it still has some weird characters in there. Tart upfront, some mild berry notes, underripe though, with some citrus, then develops some earthy spice midway with a slight soapy character. Clove, pepper and yeah, galangal, like a back of the throat dry heat to it. Finishes too earthy, spicy with only a mild fruity fresh note that's quite nice; banana mostly and could redeem it if it were more prominent. Just not very exciting in the profile.
Mouthfeel is pretty decent; smooth with some nice complex textures from some wild yeast throughout but goes down nicely. Definitely the best part of a lacklustre beer.
Drinks alright for all its problems. Just has too much of a savoury character. Actually it's nutty, I've just noticed. Maybe a touch almondy? Could be alright with more freshness or acidity on the very back.
87 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam & Loz during a brewday.
Pours a bright golden colour, with a loose-bubbled head of pure white that also has some eggy fineness around the edge of the glass. Body is light and liquid, although the carbonation is very languid. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. It has a sharp greenness to the hops, almost the punch of Nelson Sauvin, or perhaps it's just an analogue of that due to having the acidic, vinous quality of the beer behind it. I get kiwifruit, honeydew melon, lime and starfruit. It's really genuinely pretty lovely.
Taste is also very good. Here there's an acid, but it's constantly linked to the fruit characters, which gives it grape-like qualities with undertones of unripe blueberries, champagne and babaco. Finish is slightly pithy, with a dryness from an eventually effervescent carbonation. That's really very fine indeed.
Feel is sparkling, and tingling towards the back with the cumulation of acid and carbonation. Lovely.
That's a genuinely cracking beer, folks. The acid is really nicely done, and the combination with the fruity hops is inspired. It takes some skill to pull that off so well. And this hits that sweet, balanced spot that makes everything harmonise.
80 / 100
Bottle purchased at the Oak Barrel; tried by myself on a Tuesday evening because why not, indeed. Note that this beer is probably a year in the bottle, but I'm OK with that for the style.
Pours a russet brown colour, amber shimmer at the edge. Head is white, bubbly and not retaining that well. Little rim of lace around the edge. Mild sedimenty haze. Looks OK.
Smells very funky indeed. Bretty and organic that gives an almost cheesy wild aroma. Tempered in its off character by some nice cherry notes and a slight vinous character. Interesting sweetness throughout as well which is interesting; cinnamon and vanilla character. It's all quite an interesting aroma for sure.
Taste is a little flat possibly because it's old. Just doesn't seem as lively in its complexity as it may have been fresher. It's pretty good, though. Starts rich, somewhat tart with some cherry notes and developing into a richer vinous flavour, Shiraz really with berries and a robust spice note as well. Cherry comes through stronger on the back and there's a funny thickness on the body that seems almost gelatinous as it coats the mouth. More of that mild vanilla flavour to finish which is a really nice complement and I imagine would be smashing with a nice fruit pie dessert. Yeah the finish is largely built on the barrel-ageing and it really makes it something special. Apart from that it's a standard fruit sour.
Mouthfeel is yeah, a little thick and flat by this stage. Pads out any tartness well though but I suspect it's just mellowed and thinned out, and fresh it could be enjoyably puckering and sharp. Or unpleasantly puckering and sharp; I'll never know.
Drinks well; great interplay between sweetness, tartness and rich complexity to give an interesting and challenging drop that's also strangely quaffable.
82 / 100
Bottle obtained by Jez as part of his collective subscription, generously shared with me at Mother's.
Pours a pale gold colour, mild haze. Head white and bubbly when poured but dissipates to a thin film with steady bead. Not much to look at, really, but fine. Champagney.
Smells funky and earthy. Big spicy character with coriander and lemongrass blending with a nice tart edge. Vinegar and rich vinous character, slight dry champagne note. Touch of berries late. Weird earthy coriander note sometimes too. Pretty nice, smooth.
Taste is very nice indeed. Big complex fruity character upfront, with a rich vinous note plus tart characters of lemon, lime and blackberry. Gets a big swell of funk midway giving rich vinegary character and some earthiness. The tartness lingers to the back giving a nice fresh, acidic finish. Slight textile character late similar to leather, but mostly the acidity covers it well. Very pleasant.
Mouthfeel is smooth, oddly meaty and substantial, with a nice drying sensation. Absolutely superb fir the style; great body.
It drinks beautifully; dry and tart and richly complex but that body is miraculous. So smooth; it really is growing on me a lot.
77 / 100
750ml bottle received as part of my Wildflower Collective membership. This is a referment of a particular barrel of Gold with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Shared with Sam.
Pours a slightly hazed, slightly peachy golden colour, with an initially loose white head that fizzles out to a very minor ring. Body is light and slick, moving swiftly around the glass when swirled. Some fine streams of carbonation. Looks decent.
Nose is quite pleasant, and not dissimilar to the base Gold. Some sharp grape must notes, but driven more by the stonefruit characters in the base. Slight earthiness—dusty and a little bit floury. Some sharper notes of honeydew and green lemon as well. Very pleasant.
Taste is quite nice. It has a persistent tartness through the centre of the palate, with a slight plasticky flatness that grates towards the back. More stonefruit, and semi-sweet, semi-tart citrus. In the finish, we finally get the distinct vinous notes of the sauvignon blanc, which have a greenness of underripe fruit, and an almost champagne dryness. It's a really pleasant feel. Nice bite of acid, but a lovely dryness and pucker on the finish.
Yeah, this is nice. The grapes give a nice twist on the Gold, which I admit is my particular favourite of their base range. I suspect this might even balance it out in a way that improves it.
85 / 100
750ml dark green bottle: the first release as part of the Collective, got as part of the first shipment. Shared with Loz.
Pours a slightly hazed bright golden colour, probably about the identically same hue as the Gold, given that's what it's based off. Head is a very fine ring of pure white that sits as an almost creamy suggestion around the rim. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant indeed. It has a lovely undertone of sweet apricot stonefruit, which provides the bass note of the beer. Above this is a slight plasticky acidity, which provides sharpness and bite. It's slightly coppery, with aromas of crushed mineral salt and smouldering magnesium.
Taste has a really nice acidity on the front. It's not puckeringly sour, but it has a beautiful structure to it. The mid palate brings the fruit, with a lovely overripe apricot character giving a stewed sweetness through the centre. The finish is dry—more mineral salt characters with some solder-smoke bite, and a tight, controlled acidity that never overwhelms the palate. It's more the demi-sec pucker you get from a good champagne. I like it a lot.
Feel is lovely. Light, but tightened with a well-controlled acidity.
This is honestly pretty amazing. It has all of the loveliness of the Gold, with a sweetness through the centre of the palate that supports it in a way that feels missing in the base beer. And the base beer is a pretty amazing beer.
83 / 100
375ml brown Belgian-style bottle, capped rather than caged and corked. Purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a pinkish tinged orange, with a fine and persistent head of off-white that leaves long streamers of lace. Body is fairly light, but the carbonation is very fine. Looks good.
Nose is pungent, in a good way. This is aged in Zinfandel barrels, and has raspberries and wine residue added to it, and you can tell. It's got loads of funky fruit to it, and plenty of sharp acid. It has undertones of carambola and peach, which are really just the hidden qualities of the must and squashed raspberries. It's really very nice.
Taste is really quite sour. It's controlled well though—it has a very prominent vinous acid, turning towards citric with elements of lemon and unripe orange. In the middle of the palate, the sour grapes and raspberries come through though, with a more direct fruit character that never separates itself from the tartness. Finish has a touch of mineral quality, almost salty from the intensity of the acid. It's pretty impressive.
Feel is clean, but slicing with that extremity of acidity.
Overall, I'm genuinely impressed. And I say this as someone who's been impressed with the general quality of Calicraft's beers in the past. But this is a step beyond. And this is a step into the realms of the kind of beers that will put them on the broader map. And I honestly hope they get there.
70 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. This is batch #11 bottled in February 2017, apparently.
Pours a pleasant pure golden colour, with lots of vibrant carbonation. Head is a coarse-bubbled ring of white, with some oily streaks across the top of the glass. Body is very light. Looks decent all up.
Nose is very pungent. Huge, lactic and gueuze-like funk, with a big, punchy acid character right from the start. Hints of apple and sour milk, with a champagne-like effervescence. Undertones of cacao and mint. Impressive beer.
Taste is indeed quite sour—it's not unexpected from the characters on the nose, but often there's a little restraint on the palate despite that. Big, green apple tartness, more citric and tartaric acid than lactic or acetic, but it's still cutting and very strong. Lots of apple and lemon, some crushed greenery, but not enough to swerve the acidity onto a different track. As a result it feels like it's lacking a little complexity in some way.
Feel is light and sharp—sharpened in particular by the biting, powerful acid.
Overall, this is an impressive beer. The level of acid is indeed quite intense, and it's done with a single-mindedness that's hard not to respect. This is a well crafted beer to be sure—it's just also an end point that seems over the top.
500ml caged and corked brown bottle purchased from Lukas Liquor in Denver. Shared with Sam.
Pours a clear, rather deep golden colour, with a minimal white ring of head that dissipates, almost leaving the beer looking still and dead. Carbonation still flows in minor bubbles towards the cap. Looks a bit underwhelming though.
Nose is slightly metallic, and has a twang of hydrochloric (or dare I say it, butyric) acid to it. Under this, there's noticeable barrel characters, giving a pleasant enough aged vinous quality. Peach isn't really that noticeable, except that there's a sweetness over everything which provides a kind of comic foil to all the coppery, bile and metallic characters. Hrmm...
I taste it with some trepidation, but although it starts with an overly sweet fruit character, there's a kind of pleasant acidic bite towards the back, lending a light and dry sauvignon blanc flavour in the finish. Peach is noticeable around the middle, which is genuinely pretty pleasant, especially when coupled to the true acidity. The sweetness on the front is unpleasant though, and the metallic aroma can't be ignored on the palate.
Feel is light and crisp. It works okay.
The acid really tries hard to clear things up, and the flavour on the palate can be quite good. But it's really hard to get over the flaws here, and they really drag down the beer—it's a hard beer to get exactly right, and often, like with this beer, even getting off the mark slightly can make the overall result a big miss.
Pours a shiny gold colour, brassy. No head, and no revival even with aggressive swirling, which means there's little else to comment on. It smells like an interesting beer but in all honesty it looks appalling. Completely dull and flat.
Smells tart, and oddly spicy. Kind of a tobacco character to it, herbal and peppery with a slight fruity piquancy. Touch of roast at the back. Yeah citrus, vinous, herbal. Slightly by the numbers in that it's got many aspects of it but they're not blended in a big complex way. But pleasant and interesting.
Taste is nice too, and even more interesting in fact. Starts out tart and curious with a big citrus note, some under-ripe peach and pineapple as well. Develops some robust herbal characters midway with that sweet tobacco note, some tomato as well (so yeah, tomacco, ok why not) with a slight grassy character and mildly metallic note on the back. Tart from front to back as well with a slight astringent acidity on the very back but quite smooth. Intriguing character; good complexities and an interesting craft to it. Really can't pick the style from the palate.
Little flat, little thin. Just a light pull on the back to its credit but otherwise not that fascinating.
Drinks fairly well. Good tartness to it, good complexity but overall pretty well blended to be nice and smooth.
Can given to me by Jez for Christmas. I'm really not convinced about classifying it as a Wild Ale but every other website calls it that. I mean it's a Bretted IPA so I feel it should be an IPA... but I just don't care enough; I was hoping other websites would say IPA as that's what I would call it but when there's consensus the other way, like I said I don't care enough to fight it. For the record though, you're wrong, everyone else.
Pours a burnished amber colour with stupidly effervescent head, sinks nice and foamy and uneven leaving some sticky lacing trails around. Looks pretty decent except for the exuberance of the head.
Smells pleasant; bretty funk giving a nice tart character with the sorachi ace providing buttery and citrus notes to complement. Smells quite sweet in the end; oaky and cake battery almost with some nice crystallised fruit characters. Yeah, enjoyable.
Taste is a bit rougher. Starts kinda oaky buttery with that sorachi ace having a big piney lemony note upfront, then the brett takes hold turning it kinda funky bitter and emphasising the rindy side of the citus notes. Odd cinnamon character early on too, and the finish has a slightly odd sweetness to it as well; I think it's the hop that just isn't that great for bittering, and it ends up providing a quirky vanilla malt character to it. In the end it feels bulbous in the middle with this big tart, funky flavour that doesn't really develop or go anywhere.
Mouthfeel is decent body wise, bit of pull throughout and especially on the back where it just feels puckering. Not great but not bad.
Overall drinks a bit too tart, and needs some earthier hops to ground it and take the edge off the tartness. It just feels like unadulterated citrus for much of it, and the sweetness on the front and back just stand in contrast to it rather than counteracting.
Bottle shared by Jez at Father's place in Orange. Served blind, I think.
Pours a cloudy pale champagney colour. Film of tightly-packed bubbles around the edge. Slow trickle of bead through the body as well. Not much lacing. Looks flat, wild maybe.
Smells tart, with some bretty funk and a big fruity acidity; lemon, lime and passionfruit, maybe some melon as well. Earthy spice, with cinnamon and cardamom and black pepper. Some juniper as well and maybe a touch of vanilla sweetness. Very pleasant.
Taste is quite tart. Has a big citrus acidity to it, that starts on the front and undulates in waves all the way through, including a linger on the back. Some notes of melon and guava on there, with a rich fruity character midway, and then bretty wild funk takes hold late mid and turns it really quite tart, with a really puckering lemon juice/vinegar kind of astringency. Decent construction to it, but what it's really crying out for is more sweetness; just a bigger malt presence or some adjunct even that would take the edge off the acidity. Because it's nice but pretty strongly, even harshly, tart.
Mouthfeel is quite fuzzy and tangy, and a lot of lively bugs and weirdness fizzing around. Interesting; again maybe a touch thin.
Drinks alright; bit too tart to be nice and refreshing but some nice flavours and pretty good palate construction.
Blended barrel-aged wild ale. Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas 2017, tried on NYE 2017-18.
Cloudy orange colour, chunky sediment in the body. Head took some pouring to promote, but settles out to a thin rim of large bubbles. Lacing is really nice but otherwise looks nothing special.
Smells pleasant; bretty and oaky. Big buttery french oak character with some notes of vanilla as well. Big, tart, vinous kind of character with a hint of some citrus - maybe kumquat- and underripe berries as well. Pretty nice melange, well reined-in.
Tastes quite a lot on the tart and wild side. Quite vinegary really with a sharp spike of astringency halfway through and a long, lingering citric acidity to finish. Some nice fruit characters midway that give a freshness, and a pleasant bretty wildness follows on from this, but it's ultimately very acidic and needs refinement. What's really lacking is the oak; so much character on the nose but on the palate it's gone walkabout, and the lack of sweetness/woodiness is really what's allowing that wild acidity to take hold for the most part. It's a pleasant flavour but it really goes a bit overboard late on the palate.
Mouthfeel is a little tingly, with a decent body to it. Feels dry at the back from the pucker but I don't really feel it otherwise than an after effect. Pretty decent.
Yeah it feels very tart upfront but then it grows on me. The lack of oak is noticeable but it's not a shortcoming as I drink because the wildness is well-rounded. It's just the finish and the linger is a bit harsh and tart.
49 / 100
Day 23 of my 2017 #fletchmas Advent Calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a strange, confusing colour; kind of orangey-amber but with a pink tinge to it as well. Head also has a slight pinkish white hue to it, and it fizzes out steadily to leave just a ring of bubbles at the top. A swill encourages some life but it looks pretty fizzy all told so the retention just isn't there. Looks odd; not great but OK.
Smells interesting just based on the fact it came in a can. It's tart and funky, but actually not in a thin, Australio-soured way, it's actually pretty good. Fruity, with raspberry, apple and some blood orange character. A note of vanilla, and some subtle earthy funk behind it. Mildly vinegary with a slight corporeal, salty hint to it as well. Quite like it but I'm not sure it's really clear what it wants to be
Taste is, hmm yeah, definitely Australian or at least being soured by someone without a long tradition of cultured sour ales. Loses all the goodwill it had about midway; starts with a nice, subtle but distinctive tartness. Good use of fruit on it giving it some fresh zest, but it runs out of steam by the mid-palate to be replaced with a cloying bread yeast character that constitutes the entire back. Some light biscuity malt character and an odd phenolic bitterness late, but otherwise it's just a yeasty character that doesn't have enough wild unpredictability to keep that acidity going to the end, and it just dries up. I shouldn't be disappointed really, but I did hope for more from the nose.
Mouthfeel is fine; a little thin and a good pucker without going overboard. Decent construction to the texture.
Drinks alright; with subsequent sips the acidity on the front kind of softens the yeasty note from the previous sip, but it's just riding the coat tails of how dominant that kind of tartness is, rather than earning that flavour itself.
78 / 100
Tried on tap at Crooked Stave's Taproom in Denver. It's a "Burgundy sour ale aged in oak barrels with blueberries".
Pours a purplish, dark red hued base colour of brown, with a fine ring of beige. Carbonation is swift but fine. Body is light. No lacing, but I really like the colour, so it gets a pass from me.
Nose is intensely sour, with acetic notes coming through and accentuating the barrel character. But it also has a ketchuppy sweetness to it. Blueberry is noticeable but mostly for its sweet notes. The sourness is tart, lactic and sharp. It's nice.
Taste is sharp,but light on the front, with a smooth, mild fruit entry. Back is way more acidic, biting with tartness and citric acid. But by this stage, there's also loads of barrel to smooth things out as well.This allows the blueberry to come through: smooth and distinguished.
Feel is biting—for a sour, it's properly sharp and cutting.
This is a lovely beer done right. The acid is strong, but the beer never feels unbalanced.
76 / 100
Sauvignon Blanc Referment Wild Saison. Tried on-tap at Bitter Phew during Zwanze Day 2017.
Pours a pale peach orange colour, very hazy and elusive. Head is a fine ring, leaving lots of tiny specks of lace. Long fine beads of carbonation. Fine body too. It looks very good.
Nose is mostly okay, but it has a meaty, bodily character to it, with some mushroom mould and earth. Otherwise, there's subtle soft fruit, grape must and some pepper. It's aromatic, but sometimes in not quite the right way.
Taste is sweet and tart on entry, with peach and botrytis. Slight earthy cling on the back, turning meaty. Hmm. Cleans up after a while, but the yeasty aftertaste sticks around. Peppery finish, with nice cushioned tartness. Once the organic notes and the clinging yeast clear up, it's a lovely brew.
Feel is mild and crisp. Works very nicely.
Overall, it's undeniable that it has some (minor) flaws. But they're flaws on a beer that's extremely well conceived, and that has it in it to be truly excellent.
80 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased directly from the brewery during a tour there. Brought back to Australia where I shared it with Sam and our Dad.
Pours a pale, cloudy peach-tinged yellow, with only a loose ring of bubbles, that doesn't persist. It looks more like cider than beer. Carbonation is fine, though, and it persists in the body, even as it goes on. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is great. Lovely soft stonefruit character is well-integrated to a sharp acidity. There's green apple tartness and true fruit acid as well, but it's all connected. The apricot is subtle, but it's ever present. As it warms, I get more of the barrel as well, giving soft butter and vanilla. Lovely.
Taste is also very good. It's built around a very pronounced acidity, especially on the front. It has an almost citric bite, turning more toward a vinous character like young Sauvignon Blanc as the oak gets some prominence. In the mid and the back is where the apricot comes through. Again, it's subtle, but it's integral to the success of the beer, coming through persistently with lovely semi-sweet aromatics.
It's so fresh and lovely. It's successful because of the sharpness of the acid, and the way it so seamlessly integrates this into the apricot characters. They know what they're doing.
6 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam as part of the 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a very pale yellow colour, relatively clear, with a loose-bubbled white head that sinks very quickly, to the point that it has no head whatsoever. As a result, there's also no lace, and the carbonation look low. It's not a very exciting brew.
Nose is also very flat. There's a faint musty tartness to it, like you might get with a bad saison, but also savoury cereal notes, and a kind of woody hop character like you might get in a mass-produced Australian lager. I'm unimpressed.
Taste is worse. Like, seriously: what is this? Foul, cloying cereal sweetness that persists and persists from the mid-palate to the back, with overtones of vomit and semi-sour garbage water. It's foetid. I can't drink it.
Feel is pointless. I don't even care what it feels like because the taste already makes it painful.
I really hoped this was another troll pick. But it was a real selection; it's just unbelievably bad. This is the worst beer I've had as part of the advent calendar, and that includes the unpleasantness of the Erdinger Alkoholfrei.
75 / 100
On tap at Zwanze Day 2017 at Bitter Phew.
Pours a burnished orange tinged golden colour, without much head. Just a razor-thin rim of lace when tilted. Pretty much expected; nothing really special here.
Smells fruity, with just a hint of barnyard at the back of it. Distinct oaky notes with mostly vinous character but a hint of vanilla as well. Lemon, grapefruit and yes maybe gooseberry as well, fine. Quite subtle, but what's there is nice.
Taste is definitely something else and it's quite beautiful. Wonderful tart, wild complexities but with an alarmingly soft sweetness to it as well. Vinous oaky notes, developing some berry and peach towards the mid, a noticeable banana sweetness late-mid with a touch of paw-paw. Finishes tart, with green apple and grapefruit sour notes and a big Bretty bitterness. Pretty damn good.
A bit bitey, crackly in the mouth with some really sharp stabs of acidity. Expected but fairly untamed nonetheless.
A very good blend for tasting. Not as immediately seductive as Wildflower's other drops, but a nicely tempered maelstrom of conplexity overall.
69 / 100
Pours a golden burnished amber. Head white, foamy, bubbly with decent cascade on tilting, some nice sticky lacing. Looks pretty nice.
Smells earthy, slightly funky. Touch of citrus but largely barnyard, with a hint of peppery spice. Nice, but very commonorgarden.
Taste is similar but amps up the tartness which is good. No real character to the tartness though, it's just a wild buggy acidity, that amps up early on and lasts towards the finish where it turns earthy and funky. Lingering acidity helps to freshen it up. But yeah, it's decent and quite pleasant but it feels quite unnuanced, like it's the textbook parts of a tart saison without any complexity around the edges. So even though it's pleasant it feels like it just delivers purely on expectations, without any more. Still, it's good.
Smooth, good body that carries the tartness. Slightly rough on the very back.
Drinks nicely and is a good cleanser after the Avery pump[ky]n. The fact that it isn't jazzy or glamorous seems beside the point, because it is also just very pleasant and clean, if maybe a touch too tart.
73 / 100
Bottle ordered direct from the brewery probably the day it went on sale. Tried at home by myself.
Pours a gold colour, quite pale and quite cloudy but a little thin like it isn't holding its colour consistently to the edge. Head is white, thick and foamy that sinks to a thin crown, with nice lace. Looks pretty good.
Smells tart, funky. Distinct saisony character, just that organic barnyard funk with a slight grassiness. Lovely tartness at the back though, with lemon and tangerine, plus a touch of berry and hibiscus adding a sweeter, softer tartness. Yeah, lovely is the word. Just lovely.
Taste is funky too, more funky than tart. Slight citric note on the very front but then develops big funky barnyard notes; lucerne and a slight medicinal and rubbery edge. Finish is strangely sweet, with some vanilla and caramel character together with a lingering funky acidity that gives a slight oaky note along with some mild citrus. Slightly phenolic overall and a bit biscuity as it lingers. Tasty, but I don't feel it really draws out all the complexities in the blend.
Distinct pull to it; body is alright with good malt padding but not perfect, as there's a definite pucker on there as well.
When everyone else seemed to prefer the gold to the amber and I loved the amber so much, I thought I may join everyone else and this would blow my mind. But yeah I just am an iconoclast, and while this is very good I do prefer the amber.
48 / 100
Brett Trois-fermented fruit sour beer brewed for GABS festival 2017. Tried there on tap.
Pours a champagne colour, pale and very cloudy. White foamy head that doesn't really stick around. Not great; pretty standard for variously-soured beers in AU.
Smells sweet, and a bit off. Big caramel malt character with some typical Bretted notes of damp/wool aroma, some salty and even corporeal aspects to it as well, with a touch of dry champagne on the back. Smells really bitter somehow, too. Don't love it.
Taste is a bit better as it's more tart. Champagne notes upfront develop into a tart crisp green apple character midway. Develops more of that damn wooliness towards the back that devolves into a lingering off bitterness. OK I guess but at its best it's little better than your standard kind of unblended, uncultivated sour beer.
Thin body with a fizzy mouthfeel. Adds some texture to a pretty flat palate.
Yeah, a bit disappointing just apropos of those bitter off-flavours that undermine any nice cleansing tartness this could otherwise provide. Not impressive.
76 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased direct from the brewery.
Pours a rather clear golden colour, with a frothy, pleasant head of white that settles out to a persistent ring. Carbonation is quite mild after the initial bust, but forms in slow streams when tilted. No lacing. Looks decent.
Nose is lovely. Nice soft oak, with a vinous quality like chardonnay. There's a hint of acidity to it, but it's not the main event. Mostly, it's based around the oak, buttery and smooth, but with aromatic, organic tones. There's also a faint earthiness, possibly due to the yeast, and maybe a hint of phenols which add a slight chemical character.
Taste is also pretty good. In the front, it's very soft—a slight champagne acidity, and a muted oak character that mostly just gives flat wood. Towards the back, there's a bit of gritty yeast, but a fine, tight acidity mostly covers it. Finish is lingering, with a slight mineral character that isn't unpleasant.
Feel is light and crisp, which works well.
It's good, again. I think it's not as complex as the first blend, but it's well-integrated this time, and the softness helps create some consistency.
71 / 100
Kettle-soured ale. I don't know; I never really know how to classify these GABS beers, this one seems too big to call it a Berliner Weiss, and it's all about the adjuncts too. Raspberry, citrus peel, lactose and blue pea flowers were added to give it a distinctive purple colour, designed to resemble a Fruit Tingle cocktail. Tried at GABS in a sampler.
Pours a purple colour; have had more vibrant purple colours at the festival, kind of pale violet with a touch of red to it. Very cloudy and no head at all. Interesting colour but dull otherwise.
Smells tangy, fruity, slightly sour. Quite pleasant really, with a touch of pear and green apple and a slight vanilla sweetness. Not bad.
Taste is great. Tangy, tingly, yeah quite cocktail-esque but also reminiscent of the fruit tingle lollies which I assume the cocktail that this is imitating is imitating. Citric notes, with grapefruit, lemon and orange zest. Underlying musky rosewater note. Nostalgically nice and good sour beer characters too.
Good body, decent texture as it goes down, no sharpness.
Tastes tangy and pleasant. Good cleanser and pretty nice beer, too.
76 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear burnished golden colour, almost towards copper. Head forms in a coarse, frothy mess that leaves intricate lace. Carbonation forms in long, fine streams that move more slowly than you expect. Looks good.
Nose is pleasant without being exceptional. There's a soft wild ferment/barrel character that comes through with a little honey and lightly acidic chardonnay. There's a little leafiness to it too, which is pleasant. But all up, it's a bit mild.
Taste is better. It has a crisp tart green apple acidity that runs through the centre of the palate, and matches nicely with the very fine carbonation, and the slight suggestion of oaked chardonnay. Finish is vinous, with more of an earthy turn. It's genuinely very pleasant.
Feel is crisp and light—a little more carbonation would enliven it even more, but it's decent enough as it is.
It's a pleasant brew. The acidity is tempered, just enough to give it the tartness, and to make it seem bright and clean. It ends up being a nice, cleansing brew, with enough character to make it interesting.
74 / 100
A "raw ale", brewed with Egyptian heirloom barley. Tried on-tap at the brewery in Denver.
Pours a pleasant, very hazy straw colour, deeper in colour in the thick parts, with a fine ring of white foam for a head. No lacing. Body has a bit of weight behind it. Looks decent.
Nose has a slight tartness to it, mixed with a savoury-sweet character like ketchup. More pleasant notes come through as well, in weird combinations. I get toasted sourdough, white pepper and lemonade. It's very pleasant.
Taste is similar. There's a nice lemonade sweetness to it, backed by a savoury bass note—crackers and dip. There's a blightness on the back which gives black pepper and salty cheese muffins.
Feel is bright on the entry, but with weight coming in behind it.
Overall, I rate it. It's a nice brew, well put together, with enough twisted interest to make it weirdly worthwhile.
74 / 100
A bretted, barrel-aged version of their Big Hoppy Brown, apparently. Tried on tap at the Brewery in Denver.
Pours a ruddy brown colour, with a fine, frothy edge around the glass. Body is light for 10%. Carbonation is rapid and thin. Long edges of lace streak down the glass. Minimal body overall, which is the only oddity.
Nose is very pleasant. There's a mild tartness, melded with rounded, smoky dark malt. Hints of marzipan, melted vanilla ice cream, cut grass and paint. It's complex and very good.
Taste is also decent. It starts rounded and brown, with a bit of fruit and some savoury malt around the outside. Slightly tannic towards the back, with a bit of barrel and red wine. Sourness is also present, but it combines with the tannins to complement one another. Finish is slightly sweaty and dank.
Feel is grippy with tannins. It's an experience.
It's good stuff. It's complex, tannic (did I mention tannic) and bold. The 10% alcohol is well hidden, which aids the drinkability too. It's a tasty beer.
Grape marc-soured wild ale brewed for GABS 2017. Tried at the festival on tap.
Pours a champagne colour, very cloudy/sedimenty with cream-coloured foam on top that dissipates to a disappointing ring of lace. Looks flat and cloudy. Eh.
Smells tart, with great vinous character. Puts me in mind of a good champagne, with some more sour notes including lime and a slight vinegar character. Quite pleasant
Tastes vinous too, and tart. Champagne, blending with unripe green apple and some citrus character towards the back. Fair acidity on the back with a touch of oak wildness and some more of that vinegar character. Really popping with sourness, and quite fresh and pleasant for it.
Decent body, a little bit puckering especially late-mid but not unpleasant.
Not bad at all; good crisp, tart beer. Good cleanser and just enjoyable in its own right as well.
Tried on tap at GABS 2017.
Pours a dark-brown colour. Lovely nitro head, retaining a good half-centimetre in my sampler cup, tan colour with clear body. Looks lovely.
Smells, basically, of fruity coffee. Coffee and chocolate are strong but there's a slight acidity to it like underripe berries or something. Touch of cinnamon and subtle roast bitterness too. Nice.
Taste starts off like a conventional coffee dark beer - definitely coffee on the front that develops roastiness towards the mid and then turns tart and sour on the back, with a big barnyard character and a fresh passionfruit character. Definitely an odd twist on the palate, and I'm disappointed by the lack of oak given it's meant to be oak-aged. But otherwise not bad.
Full body, nice texture.
Decently constructed but I'm not sure it really works.
Based on scores, I retried this and shortlisted this beer but it didn't end up cracking my top 20 of the festival.
72 / 100
Sampler tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours an ebon black colour, with good clarity and a solid weight—surprising for a 5% sour beer. Head is pale brown and beautifully creamy, leaving sheets of lace.
Nose is very pleasant. Toastiness surrounds the aromas and provides structure, while the stars are notes of light roasted coffee and berries. Smooth, fragrant notes of banana leaf are also present. Very nice.
Smooth vanilla entry on the palate, which provides a stark contrast once the tartness comes through. This is present on the mid-palate, with a slight acetic bite. The back brings in the coffee notes—long and languid with a contrasting twang of metallic acid, that lingers into the finish. Feel is very, very smooth, which is a lovely complement to the rest of the beer.
In many ways, this isn't my cup of tea—I'm honestly not a general fan of sour beers unless they're very good. And coffee is an overused flavour. But this is good, and I should just learn to accept that La Sirène just generally know so well what they're doing.
330ml squat Belgian bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with some workmates. Pours without the lees.
Pours a clear bronzed golden colour, with a fizzy head that settles out into a persistent fine off-white ring. Some very fine, but minimal lacing. Carbonation is rampant but very fine. Looks good.
Aroma is a little flat, and muted, but it has the trappings of a good sour. There's a sharp fizz of acid, and some underripe fruit characters—yes, perhaps even a little dry white wine grape. But there's also a rather pronounced metallic character, giving a coppery, oxidised twang. You can also smell the overt carbonation with a seltzer sparkle coming out.
Taste is a bit better though, mostly on the back, once the carbonation has cooled its jets. There, it's a subtle dryness, tempered with a mild riesling acidity. There's some fruit notes through the centre, but more metallic overtones as well. The front is kind of hard to feel due to the excessive carbonation, but I suspect it follows the same pleasant curves of the rest of the palate.
Overall, there are some things which really harm it, but it's a decent beer overall. The tartness is nicely created, and the grape addition adds a shape to the acidity. I suspect this bottle might not have been handled all that well, but I've had other beers from Alvinne via the same route that have been excellent. So it might just be a lesser variety.
Pours a burnished orange colour, quite coppery really with a steady bead. Head is nice when poured but sinks to a thin white film, fed by the bubbling underneath. Lacing is thin but nice. Looks pretty good, maybe touch dark.
Smells coppery, with a touch of noble hop. Deeper down there's some nice toffee malt and a good tart fruity character, giving overripe pear and some apple notes. Not as much as I'd expect from a brett-fermentation but pretty pleasant.
Taste is quite bitter. Funky and earthy and quite phenolic throughout, with a decent spicy Belgian complexity, that then gets a bit metallic on the back. There's a dour earthiness that takes the freshness out of it, and just a hint of some fruit on the very back, somewhat spicy but kind of grainy, almost like a rye character and certainly not a lot of nice tart funkiness that I was hoping for. Pleasant enough but yeah a bit dour.
A bit of fizz that gets more potent on the back with some slight puckering from the yeast. Fine for style but not ideal.
I've had more immediately drinkable beers, but there's a good palate construction and decent balance to this that make it certainly palatable if not exciting.
75 / 100
330ml squat brown bottle given to me by Sam some time ago. It's been sitting in my fridge looking unloved for many months. Best before date in January 2018.
Pours a lovely Ribena purple colour, with a mauve heave of fine bubbles that settles out into a fine film. Carbonation is sparse but also fine. Body has a bit of weight behind it, which is not bad for 4.5% ABV. Looks pretty good.
Nose is slightly underwhelming. There's a slight lactic bite, with a suggestion of tannic wine. There's also some slight floury, yeasty notes which don't do it much good. It's relatively inoffensive, but it's not as aromatic or complex as the best sours.
Taste is a whole heap better. There's a really sharp, pungent tartness to it, which feels biting and crisp. It's actually really well created. It lingers towards the back, with a pleasant aftertaste from the blackcurrants—somewhat vinous, but with an underlying sweetness. Finish has red grapeskin and a slight bite of aspirin and carbonated water. It's really very good.
This definitely redeems itself by the end. There's a huge amount to recommend this, even though the nose is underwhelming. It has a really well-created sour character, and everything else rides on that.
82 / 100
Bottle purchased from Wildflower direct online. Enjoyed by myself, because fuck you I can enjoy a 750mL bottle of beer by myself if I like. You're not my Mum. Except you probably are, because who else would read these reviews? Sorry Mum, I withdraw my 'fuck you' comment.
Pours a good rich amber colour, slightly cloudy with off-white head, fluffy and dense and retaining really nicely. Head is clingy and thick. Looks beautiful, kind of expected a bit darker but yeah. Nice.
Smells tart and oaky and wild. Big corporeal whack when I first poured, that evolves into barnyard and dry grassy notes. Big champagne whiff as well, with some crisp green apple and lemon zest. Touch of wood on the back as well. Maybe lacking a kind of body, it smells all acid and cut and doesn't have the grounding behind it. Still an impressive blend.
Taste is lovely. Similar to the nose in the character, but it's much softer than the nose made out. Wild barnyard notes upfront that grow and swell in complexity to the middle where it gets tart, with some distinct oaky notes that gets a bit vinous, some chardonnay on there with a slight gooseberry hint as well. Buttery towards the back, but lingering with a zesty fruit character and a hint of grass and undergrowth. Wonderful.
Distinct pull and pucker from the wild yeasts but there's a decent malt base to stop it being too dry or cutting. Actually feels bigger than it is, at 6%.
Nicely blended so there's plenty of wild notes but none of the rough edges. Really fresh and drinkable. I am very excited to see the next set of blends, where the complexity can go even crazier, especially if it's as nicely controlled as this is.
82 / 100
Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor, shared with peeps for my birthday as a cleanser.
Pours a cloudy pinkish amber colour, with white bubbly head. Trails of lace left behind. Not bad, pretty wild.
Smells tart; berries and tropical fruit and apple cider. Touch of wildness, touch of freshness. Really nicely constructed.
Taste is tart, wild. Big passionfruit character with big pineapple character as well. Notes of funky farmhouse but fresh fruit finishes it off and makes it refreshing and very clean on the back. Citra and wild yeasts work a treat together. Take note citra fans, this is where it works.
Tangy, slightly fizzy from carbs. Beautiful texture. Just a bit bitty, bit of bite, just works perfectly.
Drinks a treat. This is what citra was meant for; stop using it in IPAs I say and use it in sour beers instead. Tangy, tart and refreshing. Beautiful.
76 / 100
33cl squat Belgian bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with some work colleagues.
Pours a lightly hazed, bright golden colour, with a fully, rocky head of off-white. Carbonation is pronounced. Body has a little bit of slickness, but it's surprisingly light for the weight. Looks pretty good.
Nose is pretty nice. Pleasant classic sour characters come through with acid and oak, combining to a pleasant vinous aroma. But there are sweeter aromatics too, giving characters like green apple candy and lemon sherbet. There's also deeper, earthy tones: toasted rice, rosemary and wet clay.
Taste is also very good. The extra booze here adds a richness and a length to the body, while the acidity stops it from being too full or too fatty. It has pleasant sweet vinous characters, like ripe, fruity grapes, mingled with a sharp carbonation that enlivens the palate. The earthiness is mostly gone, although there's a slight yeasty character in the finish. Again, it's good stuff.
Overall, this is a very nice beer, with a lot of pleasant characters to it. There are complexities to discover, and it's all wrapped up in a package that make the 10% ABV very passable and approachable. Good stuff.
59 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased from the brewery.
Pours a very hazy caramel amber colour, with a little weight in the body. Head is really quite fizzy, ballooning up in a taupe crest but then running out of steam, leaving the beer looking quite still and dead. The colour is nice though.
Nose is pretty decent. There's a sweetness underlying it, which gives it some vanilla oak characters, but the wild characters do manage to make their presence felt. There's a sharp organic character like banana leaf mingled with some green peppercorns—with the sweetness it turns towards aniseed and spice cake. Interesting, but not exceptional.
Taste is similar, and perhaps lacking a little complexity. The front is won by a carbonic character, matched with a surprisingly aggressive effervescence. Fortunately, it develops into a more subtle wild character, with some soft acid and a touch of banana. Finish is slightly metallic, but with a fuller sweetness that's just very slightly cloying. Feel is very fizzy in the front, slightly dry and tannic in the back.
So, yes indeed. This is nowhere near as good as the Gold Blend I had earlier, and others who have had the Amber have been extremely impressed. So it's likely there's some inconsistency or variation in the batch. This is really only passable as a wild ale, and lacks a lot of the promise and complexity shown by the Gold I had. I'm still hopeful for more in the future.
80 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased direct from the brewery.
Pours a pleasantly hazed bright golden colour, that seems to refract and diffuse the light, making it glow. Head forms a bubbly white mass that settles out to a pleasant fine ring. Carbonation is fine and mild through a light body, but still suggests refinement. Minimal lacing. Looks a picture.
Nose is wonderfully vinous. Lovely bright acid fruit characters, complemented by a judicious woody oak. Note of peach, gooseberry, sawdust and unripe berries come through, combined with a metallic zing. It's bright and vibrant, with wonderful complexities. Very good indeed.
Taste is also good, and well constructed. Front is very lightly tart, with young white grape juice, kaffir lime and tea. Acidity comes through towards the middle, but the body is quite light, and it disappears quite quickly, rather than lingering and providing more complexity. It's judicious again with the oak, leaving a softness on the back of the palate which connects with a hint of earthy yeast. Feel is light—a little extra acidity would help here by lengthening the palate. It certainly doesn't need to be thicker or sweeter though.
Overall though, this is a cracking start from a new enterprise. This has some lovely wild ale notes to it, and shows someone who knows what they're doing. I'm sure it's also only a taste of things to come.
70 / 100
Bottle served blind by Jez.
Pours a very cloudy peach colour, kinda brown but also really very vibrant colour. Cloudy as hell. Head is whispy, but a good clingy lace to it. Just some bubbles left on top. Not bad but maybe a touch too cloudy.
Smells earthy. Somewhat funky and wild but a good dose of earthy, even gravelly spice. Touch of sweetness too, kind of honeyed in character, slight fruitiness to it too. Yeah not bad once you get involved. On the surface a little bland.
Taste is definitely funky, but plenty of fruit notes as peach and pineapple take hold, and last to late-mid. A funky phenolic character on the mid as well, with a light spice note and some lingering citric acidity on the back. Touch of bitterness on the back, that adds to the heavy dominance of the finish, which is otherwise quite nice and fruity but has a strong finish that could be toned down a bit.
Fluid, and nicely padded. Touch of acidity on the finish that cuts a bit too much but otherwise really, really nice.
Drinks well, and quite pleasantly. Bit of a bump here and there where its a bit too strong but otherwise plenty to like. Given it was later revealed as a collaboration between arguably my two favourite brewers (EDIT: Yes, they are actually my #1 and #2 ranked breweries in the world), this was a bit of a disappointment. Certainly, at least, less than the sum of its parts.
LATER EDIT: Jolly Pumpkin was on a knife-edge in my rankings ahead of Firestone Walker, this was a slight blow but enough to move FW up into second place behind Anchorage, and JP down to third.
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very turbid peach colour, with hints of pink to it. Head is a slightly peach-coloured crest of frothy white, that leaves superb rings of lace. Body is quite light, but it holds pleasant fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is immediately bright with underripe raspberries, which become absolutely the dominant character. But it connects with a slightly tart character, and a hint of salt. There's also a suggestion of caramel underneath everything—with a pleasing savoury note.
Taste is pretty good. There's a pleasant raspberry note on the front, with earthy hints of pepper and cracked rye. But it's quite thin, and there's a mineral character on the back which develops into a kind of gritty bitterness—again, there's a suggestion of salt in the finish.
Feel is sharp and crisp, with a bit from the tartness on the back.
Overall, it's nice—but it's also a little bit fractured. It doesn't all necessarily work together to create something coherent, although in the anarchy there is a kind of complexity to it. It's fun as a one-off at least.
375ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a very hazy peach-coloured golden, with a very insubstantial head that's hard to promote. It forms some fine carbonation, but only really a mesh of head, formed more from the perturbation of the pour. I'm genuinely underwhelmed.
Nose has the pleasant oaky character of Almanac, with a bright, sharp acidity and vinous notes of underripe grapes. Definite hints of white-wine acidity, almost turning to a briney black olive character. Not much in the way of hops.
Taste is also pretty good, in the standard Almanac way. Again, the hops, wherever they are, are not actually anywhere. But the barrel character is nicely created as always, with a slight upkick in acidity towards the back, and a powdery lemon candy character. Feel is surprisingly flat and weak—it does indicate there was a carbonation problem here. It's lacking liveliness with the low carbonation, and a low carbonation would also explain the appearance.
Overall, it's nice enough, and Almanac do do a good line in crafting that consistent barrel sour character. But this feels a little bit as though as though it's only the base, without anything setting it apart on its own. The hops, sadly, are missing in action.
83 / 100
375ml miniature Belgian style brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a pleasing peach-coloured hazy golden colour, with a frothy, but slightly insubstantial head of white. This dissipated after a while leaving almost nothing—no residual froth, no lace. Body has a bit of weight, but the carbonation is sparse. Looks decent enough though.
Nose is great. Subdued, but well-constructed Brett aromas give scope in the mossy, organic dimension, while hops provide fragrant tropical fruit, with pineapple dominant. This is a character you can often get from Brett too, so the two work in sync. There's a vague sharpness, possibly a lactic acidity, turning astringent, plasticky or metallic. It's all good things for a wild ale.
Taste is even better. There's a beautifully contructed or blended core to this, with just the right amount of tartness driving forward a broad flavour of tropical fruits. More pineapple comes through along with mango, and once the tartness expresses itself, there's hints of passionfruit as well. Finish is clean, with a bit of acidity that never becomes too sour or too intense.
Feel is clean and light—undercarbonated perhaps, but the acidity adds some bite that would be otherwise provided by the effervescence.
Overall, this is a cracking beer. This is the first I've had from these guys, but it definitely marks them as someone to watch. The acidity is tempered, and the hop character is worked wonderfully into the intrinsic flavours of the beer. It's really quite impressive.
71 / 100
330ml squat Belgian-style bottle. This was "Edition 2015".
Pours a very hazy pink-tinged amber, like an old oxidised and unappealing bottle of rosé. Head forms a fine mesh of salmon-coloured foam. Some minor streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine, but the body is light. Looks decent enough.
Nose is quite tart, with a slight herbal berry quality from the sloe. There's not a vinoues quality to it, despite the oak aging though. Instead, it gets its complexity from those herbal, savoury qualities. It's an interesting twist.
Taste is pleasantly tart, with a true lambic-style acidity on the middle to the back of the palate. The sloeberries are less prominent here, although they provide a kind of encapsulating sweetness around the edges, which is internally blown apart by sharp acid. Finish is genuinely very tart, with a biting fruit acid character that really cuts.
Feel is actually quite slick, and it lacks carbonation, but makes up for it with sharpness.
Overall, it's not as wildly complex as a lot of other beers of its ilk, but the sloeberry addition is a surprising quirk to it, and it works quite well.
77 / 100
500ml caged and corked brown bottle purchased from Bottleworks in Seattle. Shared with Sam back in Australia.
Pours a pleasantly clear coppery gold colour, with a full, frothy webbed head of off-white, that crackles out to almost nothing fairly swiftly, leaving very little after a short period of time. Body has a little bit of weight, but not much in the way of carbonation. Looks decent enough though.
Nose is great: big bretty farmyard notes that lend brusque organics on top of a clean, green hoppy fragrance. There's a slight caramel note which adds a bit more depth to it, and accentuates the peppery notes of the brett and hops. It's good.
Taste is also very good. Here, the brett gives lovely tropical notes, with pineapple coming through nicely. It's balanced though with a pleasant bitter hop character that shows pepper and clipped grass. Sweetness is judiciously used. It provides balance for the other characters to glide on, but never becomes overt.
Feel is rather slick, but a little dead. It's perhaps a bit undercarbonated, or runs out its carbonation too quickly.
Overall though, this is a really nice beer. The brett adds some very pleasant elements, and it's put together in such a way that it's all very coherent.
81 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from PCC Natural Markets, Fremont, Seattle.
Pours an extremely pale, almost witbier white-yellow with similar cloudy hazing. Head forms in a fuzzy gauze across the top but quickly disappears to nothing. Body is very light, and the carbonation is minimal. Honestly, it's not a particularly appealing beer from the look.
But that's not what it's about, clearly. The nose is excellent, as you might expect from an Almanac beer. There's a beautiful green acidity to it, giving notes of lime and kiwifruit, but sharpened with spicy lambic-like notes, turning gaudy and plastic in the best possible way.
Flavour is also very good. There's a sharp biting lambic, wild yeast note that's tempered and muted enough to let some of the fruit characters to shine through. Again, this is dominated by the kiwifruit, but the sharper lime and passionfruit make their presence felt as well, although these are artificially elevated by the intrinsic acidity in the beer. But all together, there's a lot of nice flavours, and they're judiciously balanced enough to make the beer seem coherent.
Feel is quite light, but sharp with a touch of acidity and some very fine, very light carbonation.
Overall, it's another fine beer from Almanac, who seem to have the formula down-pat for this kind of beer. From there, it's just a matter of tweaking it in various ways. The Tropical Platypus is, then, a pleasant tweak on the standard.
Bretted beer aged in Cabernet barrels for three months. On tap at GABS 2016.
Pours an orange-amber colour, fairly cloudy. Head is foamy, cream-coloured and retaining a medium crown. Looks good.
Smells soft-drinky, but in a good way. Tart but sweet, with some fruity lemon citrus notes and a touch of passionfruit. Mild barnyard hints, some dark fruit from the wine barrels and just a hint of oak. Not bad.
Palate is better oak-wise, it comes through fairly strongly late-mid. Slight graininess upfront that turns quickly fruity, with lemon and passionfruit still the dominant characters. Some barnyard bretty funk towards the back, slight tartness and lots of notes of fresh fruit. Nice balance, and pretty tasty.
Body is thin, slightly tingly, not bad style-wise but nothing remarkable.
Pretty nice Bretty pale ale. I don't get very overt hop notes but the fruit/Brett tartness is well combined otherwise.
62 / 100
Forgive me for the very generic style description, it's described as an oaked sour beer. So open to interpretation. Tried at GABS 2016.
Pours a very pale gold straw colour. So cloudy it's practically opaque. Head is white, dense and creamy with nice retention. Looks thick, and infected, in a good way.
Smells mostly yeasty, and disappointing. Some nutty character, and some Brettanomyces characters on there but not a lot of complexity. Feels lacking in the body so it's just pure yeast.
Taste is better; sour. Sweet malt upfront with a touch of vanilla, then sourness takes over but more wild than tart, with a big Brett character that leads into a smooth oaky finish towards the back. Touch of cinnamon and some more vanilla to complement the funky notes. Pretty great in the end.
Decent body, less texture than I would have expected though.
Pretty good in the end. Off-putting at first but it pulled it all together in the final analysis (i.e. the palate)
Pours a dark burnished amber colour, Jez's (pictured) has a thin crown of head, mine (not pictured) has none at all. Some occasional bubbles up the body. No lace. Looks kinda listless and flat.
Smells sharp and fruity. Notes of strawberry, lime, and sour cherry. Touch of cakey sweetness with a slight caramel note, and a lactic funkiness at the back. Bit sharp but very appealing.
Taste is also quite tasty. Sour throughout, with lime and berry notes - strawberry, raspberry and cherry. Gets a funky earthy note midway with some rye spice, and then some sharp notes on the back. Quite spiky actually, with a hint of vegetative flavour that gives a sensation almost like chilli heat, it's from those bugs that really pull back the body in a big way. Slight creaminess midway too which is a good counterbalance, but yeah it's overall a bit sharp. Otherwise tasty.
Nice sharp sour drop, bit too much pull and wildness but some tasty fruity notes as well.
79 / 100
Pours a yellow-orange-saffron colour, fairly cloudy. Lotza bubbly head when first poured, settles to a few clumps of off-white bubbling. Lacing is OK, not very sticky. Looks alright.
Smells funky and pleasant. Slightly grassy with dried hay, some horse blanket but tilted towards a nice tart fruit note too - sweet orange, mango and a hint of lychee and pepper. Pretty tasty.
Taste is hugely complex. Tart upfront that gets funky bitterness, with lucerne and earthy notes rolling around lemon, big passionfruit flavour and some peppery hop sharpness as well. Finishes fresh, with some piquant citrus notes that linger beautifully. Nice melange, lots of weird and wonderful flavours but reigned in as cleanly tart and fresh in the end. Tasty.
Little bit rough with a fair pull from the wildness. Decent enough body to carry it off, but feels a bit heavy.
Really enjoyable drop. Intriguing, complex but ultimately very palatable.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Spec's in Houston. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very hazy golden colour, tinged towards peach, with a very coarse-bubbled, almost excessively frothy head of off-white. Minimal lacing, due in part to the lack of cohesion in the head. Body is very light, which is pleasant enough, with some nice if coarse-bubbled carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is great. Very pronounced bretty funk, with a slight lemon sherbet twang. The funk though is earthy, which gives it a gritty full basis. The leavening citrus quality is pleasant though, and it brightens it up substantially. Very nice.
Flavour is more driven towards the funk, and the earthiness in particular. There's a rather course bitterness through the centre, that plays off against the vestige of acidity to create something like aspirin, or orange juice after brushing your teeth. The lemon flavour is subdued here, largely due to the dryness in the body, and the absolute lack of sweetness.
Feel is very bubbly and aerated, which gives froth to the light body, but also makes it feel bloating.
Overall, it's decent, but it looks and smells better than it ends up tasting. It's an interesting beer, but I've had better iterations of the same kind of concept.
75 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Brewed with citron, blood orange and yuzu.
Pours a perfectly clear, pale golden colour, with a slight ring of white around the edge, after some fast foaming. Carbonation is tight and fine, mostly forming when tilted. Some minor specks of lace. Looks decent.
Nose is ripe with funk, picking up much more barrel and vinous notes than hints from the citrus. Indeed, there's a pronounced woody chardonnay note which takes over most of the aroma, although this is perhaps buttressed slightly by mild candied peel characters—the blood orange and perhaps the yuzu coming through. It's nice.
Taste is very tart, but perhaps a little empty as well. There's good vinous, barrel aromatics around the front of the palate, and a solid bite of really quite pronounced acidity. But the mid palate feels surprisingly empty, and it's a slot where more of the fruit notes would have been quite welcome. Finish is biting from the acid, but soft from some residual oak. All up, it's pretty good.
Feel is also very good. It's quite light on the palate, and without bombastic carbonation.
All up, it's a pretty decent sour, and another good entry from Almanac. It fits squarely in with their other Farmer's Reserve beers, even though it doesn't go above and beyond.
82 / 100
Bottle gifted me by Jez; shared with people on NYE.
Pours a burnished red colour, somewhat cloudy. Head is beige, nice density but not a huge volume. Decent lacing. Could use more head but otherwise looks great.
Smells fruity and tart. NZ tangy tropical hops abound but matched beautifully with a vinegary tartness: a touch vinous and citric with passion and pineapple. Bit underplayed, but a great combo, beautifully realised.
Taste is sour upfront. Tart, vinegary note that gets more funk and barnyard towards the middle. Bit of lucerne and slight umami towards the back, then nicely cleaned up by tangy tropical hops. Passion, lychee, and some lemon. Not entirely clean so there's a mild off funkiness late but otherwise a lovely palate construction.
Nice body, smooth through the middle. Touch of pull on the back. Lovely.
Great combo and back to classic 8 wired after a couple of mid-range efforts at least in my recent memory. A lovely twist on an already great beer.
72 / 100
Bottle purchased from Leura Cellars, shared with Father Fletcher while a bit drunk; he kept needling me to finish our Euchre game which I was winning.
Bright orange colour, cloudy. Reddish. Head is beige, fairly lacklustre. Lace is alright, but retention is not great.
Smells barnyardy, touch of vanilla. Hint of barnyard funk but sweet in equal measure. Grassy, funky. Really quite pleasant, acidic but sweet. Great balance.
Taste is also funky, and fairly hoppy too. Somewhat barnyardy but pleasant and smoothes out on the middle despite seeming like it was heading to heavy phenolic territory. Has some citrus notes late that help to clean up but has some nice sweetness from the malt lingering as well. Touch of spice as well and some grainy notes. Slightly Belgian, somewhat funky. Not bad at all, especially for the size.
Feels smooth, thin body but smooth. OK.
(I'm going to leave the overall comments unedited as I think they're hilarious)
Drunkablitity is pretty giod. Tastes good, gies down smoothly. Goes down smoothyly, that is.
Bottle gifted me by Jez; shared with people on NYE.
Pours a dark burnished orange. Head is beige, pillowy foam. Lacing is alright. Body a bit cloudy and dirty. But alright.
Smells a bit burnt. Blood orange with some tropical hop notes. Bit resinous too, maybe a touch roasty, weirdly? Pleasant but a bit odd.
Taste is tart, and gets tarter. Spreads out across the palate and then develops some strong acidity late, together with hop resins. More blood orange and lemon pith. A touch boozey midway that gives a slight bourbony edge. Nice palate construction but the flavour is a little too pithy, could use some freshness or crispness. Possibly just some more lingering acidity.
Touch of pull, decent texture overall though.
Would like it a bit lighter. The booze tends to drag it down, whereas on a lighter body the acidity might be fresh and pleasant. Nice enough though.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Looks like you'd expect: like the Tall Poppy. Red and very clear, with a firm, but bubbly head of white that leaves specks of lace. Very fine carbonation, especially when tilted, when the bubbles become powdery. Looks good.
Nose is really pleasant indeed, but mostly because of the hopping, which gives it lovely bright citrus notes mingled with a bit of malt. Under it though is the suggestion of acidity which is definitely going to come through more. I get a little vinous tone, or maybe some underripe oranges. Interesting.
Taste is very weird though, in a way that actually finally makes the beer a bit of a questionable endeavour. Initial acidity melds with some lingering hop character to emphasise that tart orange juice character. Back is dry and semi-bitter, with some spicy overtones of fennel seed. I find it more palatable if I slam it back, but if I let it linger, there's a weird confluence of characters that I honestly don't much like.
Feel is thin and clean. Decent enough.
Overall though, I think this is a weird misstep. Maybe I'm just seeing too much Tall Poppy in it, which is genuinely one of my favourite beers from 8 Wired. As a result, it feels like a perversion of something dear to me, rather than something on its own terms.
82 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. My second in the Almanac dry-hopped sour series, and possibly also my second known dry-hopped sour in general.
Pours a very cloudy pale peach yellow colour, with a fine, but slightly bubbly head of white. Some minor specks of lace. Carbonation is fine though, and it forms in pleasant, fine streaks. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is quite pleasant, with a pithy, citrus character mingling with earthier lambic tones. These together give a rise to notes of stonefruit and crushed greenery, which is a pleasant combination. Oddly, it's not quite as intense and astringent as the Simcoe version, but that could be nothing more than batch variations.
Taste is really very good though. The stonefruit again comes through here, more prominently, giving a pleasant sour apricot note from front to back. Slight pithy, bittersweet lemon notes do come through as well, but it's not actively sour, nor is it truly astringent like an aggressive lambic would be. Back is quite soft, with a powdery lightness that prevents excessive acidity. I really like it.
The feel is good as well, as a result of this—it's mild in the finish, without an intense aggressive acidity to pucker the mouth.
Overall, this is extremely good. And yet, it's better than the Simcoe example for reasons that I really didn't expect. Indeed—I think the aroma is much better on the Simcoe version, which really makes no sense if the only difference is the dry-hopping. Here, the palate is subtle, well-integrated and the acidity is constructed in such a way to make it very pleasant and drinkable. Whatever it comes down to, this is certainly a winner.
375ml brown bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Interesting collaboration between Trois Dames, Jester King and Crooked Stave, each brewed to the same recipe, but using the local wild yeast for fermentation.
Pours a mild amber-honey colour, with a very minimal, undercarbonated head, that defies promotion. As a result it looks pretty dead and still after just a little while, leaving no lace and no carbonation. That's a bad sign, unfortunately, and this beer certainly does not looks very good.
But we're on the up. Nose is pleasantly striking, with sharp, lambic-like notes of acidity and greenness. There's notes of pithy bitter lemon, tomato leaf, and a strange floral note that actually suggests some sweetness. It's nice stuff.
Taste is also fairly decent, and there is indeed a sweetness that softens—some might say blunts—the acidity. Pleasing wild notes give some crispness, a little crushed vegetation and lemon soda water. But there's not a lot of bite and acid on the back—we get a slight sherbet or ice note of tightness, but certainly nothing very astringent. It actually works rather well, although you feel like it's a flaw stylistically.
Overall, it's an interesting brew. I actually think it's more drinkable for its stylistic weaknesses, and the simplicity that comes through on the palate makes it feel a little more approachable. But I guess I don't drink wild ales for their drinkability and their approachability. I would really like to see more subtlety and complexity in a beer like this.
74 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco.
Pours a very hazy peach-yellow colour, with a voluminous, but ultimately coarse-bubbled crackling head of white that leaves specks of lace. Body is fine and fluid, holding good, powdery carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose immediately makes this beer an extremely interesting proposition. To be honest, I was wary of the dry-hopped sour concept, but this just works. Pleasant, pungent acidity permeates the aroma, but is whipped up into new aromatic levels by the hops, which lend their own kind of citrus pithiness. Together, they give some classic gueuze-like notes of crushed tomato plant and rubber. It's fragrant and very unique.
Flavour is also pretty solid, although it has some drawbacks that weren't present in the aroma. Good, pleasant tartness on the front, which gives a little taste of apricot nectar and unripe pineapple juice. This develops into a faintly yeasty character on the back though, which does become slightly chewy, wet and dank in the aftertaste. Hops aren't particularly noticeable here except for the aromatics that stick around in the front-palate, but it's built around a pretty solid sour anyway.
Feel is pleasant. Pithy and light, with a fine carbonation.
This wouldn't work unless you got the elements just right. You couldn't do this with any hops you chose, nor could you do it with particular types of sour beers. Simcoe here is particularly good, especially as it's a very aromatic hop, and it pleasantly accentuates the qualities of a fine sour. Do I see this taking off? Maybe—but I can imagine that other breweries will have a hard time doing it quite like Almanac.
83 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish-hued amber, with an initially coarse head, that bears a slight resemblance to soda-pop. This settle out to a faintly pink-tinged ring that looks quite silky and fine. Carbonation is minimal when it's just sitting in the glass, but forms in powdery whirls when the glass is tilted. Looks good.
Nose is immediately hit with tart cherries. Big fruit note, but tempered with some smooth barrel characters, that give it a little vanilla and sweet dried fruits. I get maybe some sultana, coconut and dried apricot. There's also a suggestion of something minerally to the acidity, almost a faint whiff of pool chlorine or ozone. All up, there's lots to explore, and the bulk of it is beautifully smooth and well-integrated.
Taste is also very good. The cherries do provide a lot of the surface flavour, giving some tartness and mild tannic notes, but the structure of the beer is in its blending and the barrel characters. Here there's smooth vanilla mingled with other dark sweetnesses—a suggestion of crumbled chocolate cookies, red velvet cake and more coconut. These form a basis on which is layered the tartness. This rears up again towards the back, but never overwhelms the palate—instead, we're left with a smoothness, some lingering tannins and more of that mineral note. Here it turns towards burnt sparklers and asphalt.
Feel is great. There's some weight to it to make things mostly smooth, but it's counterbalanced by a very fine effervescence, and the sharpness of the acidity.
Lovely, supple beer this one, blended beautifully while being very firm in what it's trying to present outwardly. There's something so well constructed to it that all the complexities seem perfectly designed to fit together to form the whole. Really great beer.
73 / 100
4.7% "sour pale ale" brewed at Buxton in collaboration with Evil Twin. Purchased from Leura Cellars. BB date of 31/10/2015, so I'm getting close.
Pours a clear and rather bright golden colour, with a minimal, but fine head of white that sits as a very thin ring and leaves a few specks of lace. Carbonation is quite fine and languid, and the body looks denser as a result, even though it's still quite light and flowing. Looks decent.
Nose is very pleasant. Subdued green apple acidity gives it a cleanness, that bounces off some nice rounded Belgian notes. The base is a little grainy, and it tends a little towards musty as it warms up. There's also a slight kick to the acidity as well that almost gives it a twinge of the truly acetic. It's pretty nice all up.
Taste is also good, mainly because it's very light and crisp, and the acidity doesn't hang around too long. It hits at the start with a fragrant, bright tartness, that does evoke underripe fruit, in particular green apples or crabapples, but then settles out to a dry midpalate, and a sparkling crispness in the finish, rather evocative of either brut champagne or very dry sparkling cider. It is pretty drinkable.
Feel is very lightweight, but it has a pleasant effervescence to it.
Overall, it's a nice beer, and a refreshingly drinkable and approachable sour. It doesn't have the robust complexity of its bigger brothers in the style, but it also shows how well a sour beer can do in the sessionable, I'll-have-a-couple, category.
69 / 100
Pours a pale yellow, quite cloudy. Head is whispy, white with some trails of lacing left behind. Looks OK but could use more head.
Smells Bretty. Bitter funk, with nice tart notes of Chardonnayed oak, buttery with a mix of apple, vinegar and some clove notes. Very nice.
Taste is funky; leans on the vinegar side of the nose. Quite tart upfront, gets some oaky character and a dirty Bretty funk late. Some apple, but mostly just slightly off, maybe with some umami earthiness and fruit. Not bad.
Bit of pull, decent body. Holds up well.
Decent enough; has some nice funk notes there but doesn't quite burst with enough complexity, so it ends up tasting a little bit off.
44 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a dark, reddish brown colour with some hazing in a light, thin body. Head is beige, forming a thing ring without much in the way of lace. Carbonation is fine and fast. Looks okay.
Smells of very little. Slight hint of vinegar or olives perhaps and a very faint touch of spice around the edges. But mostly it's quite dull, which is a genuine shame.
Front is very light on the entry to the palate, developing into an equivalently dull, floury flat mid-palate. Supposedly sour, the closest we get is a kind of seltzer nothingness on the back with a very faint weak spice. It's really terrible weak and watery. I'm not quite sure I understand why.
Is it drinkable? Sure. So's water. I don't want to pay to drink water at a festival though. This was a big disappointment to me—I hope Richard comes up with some better sours in the future. He had a fantastic line of them at the Wig & Pen.
79 / 100
750ml brown JP-style bottle, a collaboration with Upland. Purchased from Spec's Austin. Shared with Sam.
Pours a very pale lemon yellow colour with solid hazing. Head is a rather coarse affair, leaving a pocked ring of white bubbles around the edge and only a few shards of lace. Body is pretty light, but the carbonation is very fine, forming in thin streams. Looks pretty decent all things considered.
Nose is very pleasant JP acidity, with a touch of rubber and a tempered, almost sweet suggestion of fresh pepper. Some sweet-savoury characters come through as well—maybe a touch of tomatillo and ground coriander seeds. It's quite pleasant, even though it's rather subtle.
Taste is also good. There is more of that sweet, almost vegetative savoury character here, giving a touch of underripe tomato, along with a mild fruit note, probably from the persimmons. Proper acidity on the back that get leavened with the pleasant pepper note, leaving the back quite dry, but with a linger of fruit skin.
Feel is bright and light—very little that's unpleasant on the aftertaste.
Overall, it's a very tasty, and very drinkable brew. There's enough to set it apart from the other Jolly Pumpkin beers, and enough to tie it to the flock. The persimmon is a nice twist, and they've done a really good job of integrating it into the beer here. I enjoyed it a great deal.
58 / 100
Pours a dark brown - not quite black - with touch of cloud and some medium foamy off-white head. Have seen better.
Smells like a dark beer. Vanilla and other sweet spice on there with a touch of coffee. Slight woodiness on there as well but not a lot of sour.
Taste is more sweet: caramel and vanilla upfront that descends into lightly roasty and woody back palate. Touch of cola to it, but again no real tartness. Needs more sour.
Body is a little thin, carbonation tingles through. Not bad.
I expected far more from this. There's hints of sour upfront but nothing really noticeable, and because it finishes all roasty it just tastes like a dark beer. Not a terrible beer, but disappointing.
Tried from a bottle at the brewery in the Hill Country outside Austin, TX. A long slow ferment over three-and-a-half months makes this seem a fairly labour-intensive brew.
Pours a hazy brown-amber hue with a firm, but fluid body. Head is a middling ring of beige that settles out quite quickly, just leaving some patchy smears of lace. Carbonation is fine and soft, especially when swirling or tilting the glass. Looks good.
Nose is odd, and not in the ways I was expecting. Mostly, it smells very worty, with a sweet amber, crystalline sweetness that seems really quite out-of-place. Slight weird funk comes through that turns slightly herbal or organic. But it's always seeming to work against that wort character—I can't say I'm a fan.
Light and tart entry on the palate suggests that the sweetness might just be an anomaly, but there is a little bit of it through the centre. Here it just adds a little smoothness against the crisp tartness, almost giving a mild nut-husk flavour to the beer. The sweetness does come through again on the back through, again cut with some mild acid that leaves a linger of bitter-tart grapefruit in the aftertaste.
Feel is clean but long, with that mildly astringent citric bitter note sticking around.
It's a really weird combo all up though. That thick, malty aroma is really mismatched in my opinion, and it really detracts from the brew as a whole. That being said, the rest of the structure is really good, and if that leaves the beer as just a curiosity overall, then it still means it's worth trying.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at the brewery outside of Austin, TX. This is a bière de coupage, where young hoppy beer is blended with old beer that's been allowed to sour.
Pours a lovely rich yellow hue with some haze. Head is initially huge, settling to a firm foamy white. Body is light and calm, struck with a little finy, bubbly carbonation. Lacing is awesome, forming in full frothy rings as the beer goes down. Looks great.
Very rustic note that melds some sharp, green harbal characters with a good punch of acid. Vegetative qualities like crushed celery come out along with fresh spicy notes like cracked peppercorns. This is packaged up by a smoothing aroma a little like melon. It's nice stuff.
Taste starts light on the palate, with a hint of pepper that develops into a genuine twang of funky bitterness. Slightly pithy on the mid-palate, with more pepper towards the back. Finish has a slight hint of peachskin as it dries out, with a nice, foamy finish to help smooth everything back together—in fact on the very back, it's almost as though there's a hint of sweetness that wasn't there before.
Feel is good. Clean for the most part, but with a slightly foamy quality that makes it feel a little smoother despite the funk.
A very decent brew all up. The funk provides some bitterness and dryness towards the back which helps keep it drinkable, while the smoothness helps integrate all of the characters together. I like it a lot.
Bottle gifted by Jez for Christmas, shared with some folks on NYE.
Pale gold, clear. Lots of bead. White bubbles around the rim. No lace. Looks soft-drinky. But OK.
Smells fruity and tangy. Massive lychee aromas, melon, orange. Mostly lychee. Pleasant, but could use more gravitas.
Taste is tangy, lots of lychee and citrus upfront, a bit empty midway then finishes with some astringent tart notes. Some melon and grapefruit character on the back. Nice fruit notes, disappointingly sparse on the mid, could use more transition from start to finish. Nice flavours though.
Full, bit of texture. Slight warmth. Not bad.
Nice flavours, not a whole lot of coherence. Just some nice flavours thrown into a beer but not melded into an interesting whole.
59 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a hazy, quite light orange hue, with a frothy head that fizzles out pretty quickly to form a very fine ring of white fed by some fairly languid and tight carbonation. Body definitely has some weight behind it, despite the fluidity of it overall. It looks pretty good.
Nose is great. Definite tight astringent acidity to it—oaky, vinous, almost plasticky characters like you get from a proper lambic. There's a slight dull whack of grain to it, but these are overridden by the wild yeast notes, which give it it's brightness and vivacity. It's very pleasant indeed.
Taste is definitely something of a let down, however. There's the makings of a tight, clean wild ale, with a straight acidity on the front giving more vinous characters along with some apple and grapefruit flavours. But on the mid to the back, there's a very pronounced yeastiness that mingles with that hitherto moderated sweet grain note, which makes the beer feel heavy and flabby, and finally manages to overtake the pleasant tartness. The end of the beer feels sweet and boozy when it should feel dry and bright. In the aftertaste there's the ghost of the remaining acidity, but with the dank grain character, it ends up reminding me a little too much of the acidity at the end of a vomit.
Feel is actually fairly heavy, although the acidity does do its darnedest to poke through and add some clarity to the beer.
Don't get me wrong: there are certainly some good things here, and the more you drink, the more you can get used to some of the oddities. I like that there are local breweries doing this kind of thing. But I can't help but compare this beer to some of the better wild ales out there, and it's really not in the same league.
Pours a burnished orange-amber, very still and flat in the glass. No head; no revival with a swill. Yeah, very uninteresting.
Smells pleasant. Bretty funk with a nice zesty acidity to it. Some metallic character and a fair herbal shade as well. Citrus, herb and funk. Could be bigger, but what's there is nice.
Taste leans far more on the bitter, phenolic side of funk. Some fresh Bretty notes upfront then gets somewhat medicinal midway with big Belgian yeast notes, then finishes a bit tarter, with a nice mild orange peel character and a touch of grapefruit. Bit light, like it's just lacking body and has some odd yeasty notes just floating on the top. Mouthfeel is really thin and flat, slight pull on the back.
I enjoy drinking it enough, but it's quite lacklustre. Beers with this kind of character tend to be more charismatic, and this just seems insubstantial.
81 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars some time ago. Cracked open with Sam & Rich during a brew day.
Pours a rather clear burnished golden colour, with a fairly decent weight to the body. Carbonation is very low (indeed it barely fizzed at all when uncapped), leaving only a few pocked bubbles in a ring around the glass by way of head. No lacing to speak of. It looks ok, but certainly a bit dormant.
Nose is very pleasing. Soft acidity gives some vinous overtones, with a hint of something fruity and sweet—perhaps something a little tart as well like black cherries or apple skin. There's also a very vague, plasticky lambic tone which suggests some deeper sophistication to it. I like it.
Taste is also good. Here there's certainly still the acidity, but it's interworked with a slightly tannic character, which enhances the comparison with wine. Mild bitter-tart characters on the back, suggesting perhaps a little grapefruit. Dark red fruit characters come through on the back, giving a mild medicinal tone on top of everything else. It's complex and engaging, with a lot of subtlety to find.
Feel is fine. It's light, and certainly lacking in effervescence due to the low carbonation. But the tartness gives it a life of its own.
Overall, this was a very fine beer from Haand, who have a tendency already to do very fine beers. I liked the acidity, and some of the more interesting characters underneath it—it's a sipping beer, no doubt, but one I'd perhaps like to sip on more often than not.
77 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam.
Pours indeed a deep brown, porter-esque colour, with a fairly fine and solid head of pale brown. Lacing forms in intricate, messy lace, and the head becomes a pocked mass that stays fairly persistently. Body has a lightness to it but it still holds fairly fine carbonation. Looks really very good all up.
Nose is very pleasant. Deep darkness is caressed and perhaps stabbed by a perverse acidity which runs through the centre of the dusky chocolate notes to provide a weird crispness. Slightly vinous overtones, with a definite suggestion of oak. It's really very pleasant.
Taste is really lovely, with the toasty porter characters coming up to fulfill the basis of the beer. At its heart, it is genuinely a porter, with a robust but well-constructed roasted malt presence providing structure to the brew. And then comes the tartness—it has red-wine overtones, a touch of wood-aged balsamic vinegar, and even a depth of vanilla that you get from bourbon barrels. It's really quite lovely stuff.
Feel is a little bit thin. With the acidity, it's not unexpected, but really it could have a bit more to aid the complexity.
Still, overall, this is a really very good beer. It is a very nice structure laced with lovely acidic complexities. It's maybe not up with the pinnacle of the wild styles, but it's a really nicely created and well-balanced example nonetheless.
73 / 100
A blended wild-fermented beer with added plums aged on oak for 15 months. Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Very pink in colour from the plums and very hazy from, well, probably all the shit that's been happening to it. Head is pink and leaves a flimsy ring after a while that leaves no lace. Body is light, and allow little streams of carbonation to pass through with little interference. Looks decent enough.
Nose is very nice. Gueuze-like funk comes through with oak and proper sharp acidity. There's a little sweetness noticeable too that gives a touch of sherbet—this is perhaps a little out of character, but otherwise I really approve. Very nice aromatic stuff.
Light jammy sweetness on the front doesn't really ever get cleaned out, despite a fairly noticeable aspic acidity that leans heavily on the oakiness. Rose comes through as well, lending a little smoothness. On the back we get the fruit: not just the plum and sherbet, but an aroma like strawberry as well which lingers on the aftertaste. Feel is light but smooth.
Overall, I really like it. I have a feeling this is the first sour I've had from Little Creatures, but it sure is an auspicious beginning. Let's hope they ramp up a few more in the future.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne. This is a blend of other matured Mussel Inn beers centred on a barrel of their Manuka ale.
Pours a bright copper colour, surprisingly clear and light in the body. Head is firm and solid, pure white and quite persistent. Lacing forms in solid clumps. Carbonation is fairly prevalent. Looks very good.
Mild whiffy sherbet character comes through on the nose—although not a real acidity. Slight woody notes and some other mild organics come through as well. Smells pretty decent.
Taste has a light tartness on the front which becomes something of an apple-scented astringency through the middle. Back is clean but still with that mild bite. On the finish is a little bit of bitterness giving a light grapefruit pith kind of character. Not bad.
Feel is thick but fairly mild. It works okay with the rest of the beer.
Overall, this is decent stuff, but Mussel Inn have done some standout beers in recent years and although it's good it doesn't feel quite up to the same standard. That's not to say it's not worth trying—but try it on the way to sampling some of their others as well.
71 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a solidly-hazed amber colour, very light in body and weight. Head is a yellowish off-white, but rather filmy and minimal. Not much in the way of lace. Carbonation is almost entirely absent, making the beer look still.
Nose is extremely vinegary on the front, with a big apple cider character dominant. This develops nicely though and ends up delivering some lemon pith, and oaky vinous notes like sharp young Sauvignon Blanc. On the back is a little funk and pepper. It's quite good by the end.
Orange peel character comes through on the front of the palate, rounding off into a sweeter deeper fruit sensation once the oak comes through. The back is incredibly sharp though, giving bitter-sour grapefruit and a harsh cut of malic acid. Feel is light but astringent. Pithy orange retrieves some semblance of decency to it. Long linger of that grapefruit sour-bitter melange. In the end, it's a journey, but not an unpleasant one.
Overall, it's hard to take much of. The power of the sourness is impressive though, and certainly gives the suggestion that with a bit more maturation this would settle down. Alas, this was a once off.
80 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Brought back to Australia and shared with Sam and Rich
Pours a bright candy pink colour, with a very pale pink head of coarse bubbles. Lots of fine specks of lace as it settles, although the body itself is pretty light and weak. Carbonation forms in streams. The colour is very interesting, and overall it looks really very good.
Nose is tart and crisp, with a pronounced berry aroma right from the start. Almost gueuze-like plastic funk comes through, very tart and very astringent. There's also a slight stringy sweetness: like a slightly artificial sugar note running through it.
Taste is very good: strong tart characters throughout, with a lactic note running through them all. There's a darkness to it which is rather unusual—it's probably something from the barrel-aging, I get some vanilla and wood around the back which rounds out the crisp blackberry tartness. Lots of vinous characters and a slight vegetative crispness towards the finish as well. It's really very nice.
Feel is clean, direct and sharp—like a knife along the centre of the palate.
Overall, this is a cracking sour. Genuine acidity and fruit, but with complexity and subtlety. I really like it a lot.
75 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco.
Pours a fairly bright, but very hazy golden colour, with a very frothy and pretty persistent crackling head of white. Lacing forms in big messy swirls across the outside of the glass. Body is light and fluid, although the carbonation is fine and makes it look thicker than it is.
Nose is incredibly vinous, smelling like very little other than a very dry, very bready champagne. Very sharp, effervescent tartness, dry crispness, with overtones of spice and appleskin. Indeed, as it warms, the apple character becomes more prominent, laced with a cinnamon-sugar character. It's pretty aromatic. I like it.
Taste is undeniably weird. Very weird indeed, and the dynamics of it are not only unexpected, they almost feel wrong. Crisp, apple-like opening, bone dry and dessicated like champagne-yeast, that somehow becomes sweeter and thicker as it goes along. Lemon character comes out towards the back, with perhaps a bit more funk to broaden the palate. The feel is weird: it feels backwards in that it starts so pointedly and broadens out to a mellow richness. It's almost unnerving.
I really didn't know what to expect from a lemon-infused beer brewed with sourdough yeast, and I can't help but feel that I still don't know what to expect from the next one I have. But this one, weird though it was, certainly is an entertaining experience.
70 / 100
Tried on-tap at Draft House in London.
Pours a very cloudy pear-juice colour, almost green-yellow. Head is a little frothy, but very thin, leaving only a little mess on the top of the glass. Lacing is minimal. Looks pretty interesting at the very least.
Nose has definite sourness to it, plus funk and a bit of decomposition. Lemon sherbet at the sweeter end, green olives at the more dank end. Probably some Brett to it, but the guy behind the bar seemed to think it was a sour mash, so perhaps not. Still, it's pretty complex, if a bit whiffier than the cleaner, straighter wild ales.
Tart entry on the palate, more vegetative notes towards the mid-palate and a bit of rotting undergrowth or wet, mouldy grain. Slightly briney on the back, with lots of acid. This leaves it bone-dry, but astringent and very sour at the same time. Finish cleans it out: champagne-like, dry and tart, and slightly salty.
Feel is dominated by the acid, which has free reign to shape the palate.
Overall, it's very crisp and drinkable especially on the back. I like how truly acidic it gets—blended with the funk it ends up being a pretty complex and impressive package.
70 / 100
Pours a reddish dark brown. Head is pale beige, thin rim of lace really. Doesn't really cling. Looks a bit lacklustre.
Smells a bit on the funky tart side. Some mild chocolate malt notes, but large amounts of balsamic, some vinous character and a touch of port. Bit subdued, but what's there is nice.
Taste is interesting. I accidentally gulped down my first taste and it was a bit of a baptism of fire. More slowly savouring now, and it's got a sweet vanilla note upfront which is a bit odd. Develops lots of big tart notes - vinegar acidity mixing with brown sugar and fortified wine. Really tart though, crisp with an underlying berry fruit character that makes it very appealing. Finishes puckering, though, which is a shame. Otherwise the feel is fluid - a bit of body but mostly just a pull from that acidity.
Nice dark lambic style beer. Impressively sour, but enough good flavour around the edges to keep it interesting and appealing.
75 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour with mocha-coloured head. Small, whispy but leaving decent lace. Looks pretty good.
Hugely Bretty and tart. Nice, deep roast on there with strong balsamic notes, a touch of washed-rind cheese and figs. Slightly intimidating, but very intriguing.
Taste is funky and tart as well. Touch of spicy espresso upfront first though, before funky notes take over midway. Distinct balsamic note, some bitter chocolate, notes of fresh figs, wood smoke and grains of paradise on the back. Finishes dry, and could use a bit more edge. Very intriguing palate though.
Decent body, texture feels nice, but doesn't quite have the bold presence demanded by the bold flavours. Some more body or more carbonation would do different things, but either one would make it seem less meek than it is now.
Quite a bizarre drop, but well-handled, with the off, funky notes and dark bitter notes clashing in a battle for flavour supremacy. Neither wins in the end, but what does win is enjoyment.
71 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.
Pours a deep, oily black, with a loose but frothy head of pale brown. Pretty light and fluid in the body, and carbonation that swirls wildly when tilted. Minimal lacing. It looks a bit weird to be honesT: very light bodied for the depth of colour. Interesting at least.
Nose is very tart, and marked with a prominent oak character, much like a good Flanders Red. Unlike a Flanders Red, however, there's also a dense darkness to it, giving roast and coffee notes that permeate the more acidic cherry aromas. Some coconut comes through as well. It's really quite complex, but a little anarchic at the same time. I like it.
Taste is similar: plenty of tart flavours bouncing around, but at its core is a strong dark malt presence, making it seem more like a stout than a wild ale. Indeed, the main contribution of the bugs seems to be to rip away all the sweetness and body, making it feel very narrow on the palate. Cherry aromas still stick around, and there's a sheen to the malt that gives off some oak. Extremely unusual: I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
Feel is dense through the centre: but there's actually not much true acidity, nor body to support a lot of the flavours. It works in a weird way, but again it's a strange choice.
Overall, this is still pretty good, with an oddly directed inoculation of brett and bugs. I certainly don't think it's one of Anchorage's best, but that's a pretty high bar.
81 / 100
750ml classically Bruery-orange-capped bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.
Pours a dark, but very fluid and light-bodied brown, with almost negligible carbonation. When tilted there are some fine streams, but otherwise it looks pretty dead in the glass. Head forms a pocked ring around the edge of large, sudsy bubbles. Looks okay, but no better.
Nose is surprisingly sweet, with dark fruits providing the bulk of the aroma. Mild plasticky funk comes through as well, leaving a little hint of the future, but otherwise, there's more in the way of berries and a slight chocolate hint. As it warms, surprisingly, the funk comes through a little more, with a definite gueuze-like vegetative character making its presence felt. It's actually pretty solid.
Taste is impressively sour. From the outset, when a metallic bite signals that there's something funky going on, this stays sharp, acidic and intense. Vinous, barrel, acetic, plenty of intense balsamic vinegar, Cantillon-level gueuze tartness, and a lingering finish that leaves crushed tomato plant and more plasticky aromatics. Impressive stuff.
Feel is tart and astringent, but with a fluidity that's quite pleasant.
Overall, yes, this is good stuff. Probably the best beer I've had from the Bruery. This is sharp, intense and unrepentant. The darkness doesn't come through all that much, but then the colour is just impressive. Yep. Well done.
Brewed with yeast cultivated from the brewer's beard, that's probably enough to put some people off. But I'm game for anything. 22oz bomber purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill.
Pours a slightly hazy orange colour, strange because it looked quite clear in the bottle, so had maybe been disturbed. Head is a pancake-pocked film of pure white that leaves some streaky lace. Powdery carbonation. It looks decent enough.
Nose is slightly Belgian in character, with some hint of funky Brett-like aromas. Slight vegetative overtones, some green olive and a bit of spice. In any case, most of the aroma comes from the yeast, and it's fairly neutral otherwise. I guess that's the point.
Taste is bright, light, and fairly clean. Slight bready yeastiness on the back, along with a hint of astringency and a touch of spice. Finish is smooth bur rather empty: perhaps just a touch of salt or acid. Feel is light, but relatively smooth.
It's pretty drinkable, and honestly, pretty dull. Apart from the gimmick of its genesis, there's not a whole heap here that makes this stand apart. Unless you care, and know, what it is, it's a perfectly decent, perfectly forgettable brew.
60 / 100
Pours a gold/amber colour, just slightly cloudy (was expecting more, potentially). Foamy white head sticks around OK. Not bad.
Smells savoury, spicy, saucy. HP sauce and barbecue sauce in there, with a big belt of tomato. Spicy; savoury. Unique.
Taste is similar with a touch of tartness as well. Apple cider notes with a touch of vinegar. More of that tomato note, both sweet ketchup and underripe fresh tomato on there, umami notes and a touch of salt. Errrm... weird.
Body feels a little light, but I think it would really make this a challenge if this flavour resembled the texture of sauce at all, so I'm grateful it's light.
A distinctly odd one. Will be a challenge to pretty much everyone, but it's growing on me. good on Adamson for trying something so completely whack.
Pours a pale champagne colour, slightly cloudy with foamy white head. Quite a noticeable trail of bead through the middle; looks good.
Smells tart, funky, lots of complexity. Chardonnay, with some oak notes and a touch of vinegar. Some barnyard funk blending with fruity notes on the back - grapefruit and green apple and a slight savoury touch. Pleasant.
Taste is quite bitter. Nutty malt upfront with a touch of pecan, then delves into vinous territory with a touch of oak, vinegar. Late-mid starts to get acidic, with lemon and grapefruit on there before big phenolic bitter finish. Quite Belgian in the end, and a little strong. Not ideal but pleasant enough flavours.
Tingly carbonation; otherwise decent body.
Good way to start GABS festival 2013 with this one. Bit too much phenol and could use a bit more tartness. To be honest I was a little disappointed with this, but then that's what you get when you pair up two of the best brewers in the country - stupidly high expectations.
70 / 100
Pours a pale orange colour, bit of cloud. Head is white, decent lace but just a ring. Alright.
Smells Bretty and funky. Good vinegary tartness with rich apple, currant and balsamic notes. Yeah, redcurrant, tart, some wild funk. Very pleasant.
Taste more funky and more tart as well. Lots of barnyard with wet lucerne, some touch of balsamic, strawberry, champagne on the back. Quite a pleasant, European funk note to it. Not overly polarising, but a good deal to make you sit up and take notice.
Full mouthfeel, lots of little bits in my mouth. Pull on the back.
Funky, not overly refreshing. But if this beer were a person, I would let it look after my kids. It's alright. I trust it.
78 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam and Rich back in Sydney.
Pours a pale golden colour that was quite clear until some of the voluminous sediment made its way into the glass, leaving a slight hazing. Head is fine and white, as is the carbonation, which is powdery when tilted. Lacing is specked and not particularly persistent. Otherwise, though, it looks pretty good.
Nose is full of wild yeast characters giving a direct sharp acidity and slight fruity overtones. Some nectarine comes through, but I certainly don't get much strawberry, and the fruit is coupled with a plasticky overtone from the yeasts and bugs. Vegetative notes become more dominant as it warms. It's still quite pleasant though.
The taste is much crisper and probably the better for it: clean, sharp acidity through the centre of the palate giving a vinous, slightly oaky and slightly tannic bite. The strawberries definitely come through here, leaving an unusual aromatic sweetness on the back that almost seems completely discoupled from the acidity. Sherbet and green apple acidity on the finish. Feel is crisp and almost burning from the acidity.
Overall, I liked it a good deal. The acidity is very well realised and the fruit characters add their elements without really changing the case line of the beer itself—it's just going to keep doing what it wants to do, and that's what I want it to do as well.
76 / 100
Short bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Rich and Sam.
Pours a clean clear cloudy orange, with a persistent head of white that leaves streaks of sudsy lace. Body is quite fine and thin. Carbonation is decently held. Looks pretty good.
Nose is fresh and bright: slightly fruity, with a rounded acidity that reminds me of berry gelato. Almost a pleasant gueuze-like character to it, but with a savoury grain character that pulls it back into true ale territory.
Taste has a very pleasant acidity through it that provides the core and basis of the beer. Some sweet fruity characters come through around the edges: a little stone fruit skin and more of those fresh berry characters. And there's also a decent grainy malt character still permeating it: it grounds it in some sense, but also provides a counterpoint to the acidity.
Feel is clean and light. In fact, a little more body might help the beer veer away slightly from the acidity—but how it is, it just emphasises that the acidity is the core.
Overall, this is very good stuff: bright, fresh and clean with decent balance and plenty of interest. Almanac continue to have a very good run with me, providing exceptionally clean and integrated wild ales.
73 / 100
On tap at Tørst.
Pours a pinkish-tinged deep red. Head is off-white slightly, small bubbles that dissipate to nothing. Nice colour, otherwise meh.
Smells tart and spicy. Plenty of red vinous notes with malt vinegar, black pepper and sour cherry. In the Belgian style of sours, very intriguing and refreshing too.
Taste is tart from start to finish. More vinous notes and plenty of sour cherry. Gets dry, peppery spice midway and then crisp sour vinegar notes late on the palate. Manages to finish with a sweetness, like fruit-infused vinegar. Makes it very drinkable and pleasant overall.
A bit puckering, but smooth enough late. OK body.
Very nice sour ale. Couple of organic, almost mulchy notes on there but mostly just crisp yet complex flavour bomb.
75 / 100
How to even start on this beer? 1.5% ABV Kombucha beer, fermented with a traditional Kombucha SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). I had no idea at all what to expect, and still this beer was way off what very faint expectations I might have had. Tried on-tap at the 2013 GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours innocuously enough: a hazy golden colour with a solid hazing. Head forms a white, ringed crest, quite fine. Some lacing and lots of carbonation. Looks good.
Now it gets weird. Sweet and sour. Tomato ketchup. Brown Sauce. BBQ sauce. Smoky, funky, sickly sweet and piquant. And yet utterly captivating. "What the fuck is this?" I say, and can't stop myself going in for another sniff, and another, and another.
And it continues: spicy entry on the palate, pepper (where did that come from?), acid, more ketchup and malt vinegar. And now another direction? Smoky, burnt tea, Lapsang Souchong. And again, now it's savoury and dry. More HP sauce? Onion? Pepper? Where will this go next? It is *so* extremely bizarre—like out of the realms of anything I've ever tried.
I do believe that this is the most bizarre beer I've ever sampled. I can see how people would hate this—worse even, I can see people creating religions dedicated to the destruction of this abomination. But all it takes is a little acceptance and you can completely embrace this bizarre, misshapen monster. Utterly, utterly unique and outstanding. This was no doubt one of my highlights of the festival.
62 / 100
On-tap at the Courthouse Hotel in North Melbourne during Good Beer Week 2013. This was part of the ACT's takeover for the Pint of Origin events.
Pours a deep golden colour, almost tending to amber, with a clear body that stays light and fluid. Head forms a solid film and a decent ring of just off-white. Not much lacing forms as it goes down. Carbonation is fine. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Very light characters on the nose, in fact almost muted. Searching for them is difficult. Some earthy tones come through, a little ginger spice and a faint sourness like copper. It's not really winning me over with the flavours anyway, but the fact that they're so mild, is the true disappointment.
Light mild entry on the palate too. This develops a little through the centre, with some coppery metal coming through, a little earthiness and some lemon sherbet providing something of a counterpoint. On the back is a fruity sweetness like apple juice: it's not really either funky or sour. There is some earthiness though and a little pepper.
Feel is light and fluffy.
I'm just not sure this beer either hits its stride or knows where its stride wants to be. It's strangely lacking in character, or else its characters are elusive to me.
A raspberry brown ale, soured only using lactic acid directly, not through lactic or wild fermentation. Almost certainly not technically a "wild" ale, but then probably neither is any beer inoculated directly with nice clean strains of Brett or Lacto. Had from a bottle at Penny Blue during their "Sourfest" event at GBW2013.
Pours a mostly brown hue, with a bit of red to it when held to the light or at the edges. Body is hazed but pretty solid. Head forms an off-white, solid slightly foamy ring that leaves some patchy streaks of lace. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Loads of banana on the nose: too much. Funky overripe fruit and cut grass with a thick sweetness like brown sugar. Only after a while can I perceive the sour: some acid and a bit of green vegetative character. That's about it. I'm not enthused.
Light and prickly with acid at the start, but soon after, there's stacks more banana and again lots of brown sugar sweetness. Finish is astringent and very dry: it's like chewing aspirin, with a little tartness but plenty of harsh bitterness as well. Finish is yeasty, somewhat Belgian in conception but with that medicinal finish.
Feel is also very dry, thin and astringent.
I'm not a fan. Really. The acidity makes it thin and the banana character makes it bloated. Together it's just a mess. I like the experimental nature (I'll always try interesting sounding beers), but this is not one I'll be in a hurry to reach for again.
59 / 100
Brewed for the Australian International Beer Awards dinner, this collaboration between WA's Feral and the ACT's Wig & Pen brings together two of Australia's finest brewers. They term this a "free range ale", with malts from the UK, wild and conventional yeasts from Belgium and the USA and Australian hops. Tried on-tap at GABS 2013 in Melbourne.
Pours a light golden colour without a lot of hazing. Head is white, foamy and full leaving sudsy lace as it falls down. Carbonation is very full as well, almost a little too much. But overall it looks good.
Nose is very disappointing and doesn't have the fraft and complexity I expect from either of these guys, let alone together. I get musty wine cork, a fractured, fusty yeast note and a suggestion of vinegar up in the sinuses. Despite all of this, it's actually rather light. It's a disappointment.
Unfortunately, the taste follows similar lines. Light, peppery entry moves to a pretty thin mid-palate: slightly vinous with a hint of grain. Finish lacks the clean acidity I was expecting and in fact ends up yeasty, earthy and rather bitter. Once it's gone all that's left is a dull dry drone in the aftertaste.
Feel is light and easy with some fine carbonation bubbling through it.
It's easy enough to drink, but has many drawbacks. I'm probably most disappointed because the pedigree of the beer suggested it was going to be magnificent. This should have been a hit, and it ended up being a mediocre footnote at the festival.
71 / 100
22oz bomber purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA. I was intrigued to try this purely for the novelty value anyway, but I know there's another kombucha beer coming up in my future, so I thought it would be nice to have a comparison.
Pours an insanely light coloured yellow-white, almost transparent apart from a fine hazing. No head forms at all, and indeed there seems to be very little carbonation either. Body looks a little thick, but maybe just because it's so still. It's unique-looking at least, but I don't really know how to rate it.
Nose is tart and earthy, with a slight organic undertone, and masses of ginger. There's something biting and refreshing about it. I'm getting oranges, a little pepper, green apple juice, some tannins even a little oak. It really quite complex and very interesting.
Taste starts out similarly, with clean, sweet-tart characters of green apple skin, lemonade and sour candy. But there's an undeniably earthy, organic and slightly unpleasant aftertaste, quite possibly SCOBY-related. It gives the beer an unsavoury character that reeks of old yeast or garbage sitting in the sun. After a while, the ginger rears up a bit more strongly, leaving a spice character which almosts masks the organic note. The tartness is nice though on the front, and when the ginger comes through more, there's a very nice transition from the acidity to the spiciness.
Feel is light and prickly from the ginger spice.
Overall, this is very interesting, and something I'm pleased to have tried. I don't think it's something I'd drink regularly, but the refreshment is good enough that's it's certainly something I'd consider again.
74 / 100
375ml bottle purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA. Brewed with "heirloom pumpkins, fuyu persimmons and fresh ginger" and aged in white wine barrels. Yep, this sounds interesting.
Pours a relatively bright, slightly hazed golden yellow colour with a white fizzy head that foams up and out, leaving very little. Body is quite light, but it holds some moderate fine carbonation when tilted. Had I not already had a sneaky sniff of it, I'd not be feeling particularly enthusiastic right now.
But I had had a sneaky sniff, and it smells wonderful. Funky, spicy and acidic, this actually smells a little more like a well-crafted wild than I was expecting. Indeed, the pumpkin only provides a little colour to the aroma, and doesn't dominate, or even stand out particularly much. Instead, the main characters are plasticky lambic-tones, earthy funk, and old oak. The pumpkin and fruit comes through subtly, providing a richness underneath, coming through more broadly as it warms. It's a very pleasant aroma.
Taste is clean and light, but surprisingly thin—although that could also be part of the cleanness. Tart, acidic entry, very gueuze-like, before some carbonic tones stretch on the back. Peppery notes sprinkle the back, along with a zesty aspirin bitterness. A little organic greenery finishes it off—again very clean, but also lacking a little complexity. It's all very good, but it's less interesting than I'd hoped.
Feel is clean and light, but it feels like part of the problem in the lack of complexity.
This is a good beer, and well-crafted. To get that nice funk and acidity just right is no mean feat. It just feels slightly one-dimensional though, and for a beer with so many ingredients, that's something of a disappointment.
74 / 100
330ml bottle from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Tried alongside the Saison version and the Brett. bruxellensis.
Pours a quite clear orange-amber hue, with a reasonably full and frothy head of white that leaves some streaky lace. Body looks reasonably light, and doesn't actually hold a lot of carbonation. Overall, it looks reasonably good.
Nose has a sticky, plasticky tone to it, but it's extremely muted. Slight papery aroma, a little faint greenness, some herbal tones. Overall, though it's really quite weak. Having tried the brux version just before it, this seems tame and weak by comparison—perhaps it feels a little like some of the best characters from this are missing, and some of the aromas present here are best served when mixed with the brux.
Taste is clean and clear, with a decent green funk which sits on the middle of the palate. Mild carbonic-like acidity runs the length, and allows the beer to finish very cleanly on the back. Again, it feels like this is just filling in some holes in the brux. The acidity and cleanliness of it is actually very pleasant though: without a true puckering sour character, it remains very clean and drinkable.
Feel is light and dry. It matches the beer nicely, and provides a very pleasant drinkability to the brew.
Overall, yeah, I like this. It's a lot less complex and a lot less flavoursome than the brux version, but it's also a little cleaner, fresher and more drinkable. Together, I feel like they make a complete package.
78 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Bought with two others from the series, the Saison and the Brett. lambicus.
Pours a rather clear orange-amber hue, with a filmy head of white that only sticks around as a ring. Lacing is excellent, forming intricate, artistic streaks across the glassware. Body has some weight, and holds a good deal of very fine carbonation. Overall, looks pretty good.
Nose is impressive. Big funky aromas from the yeast, giving a multitude of different flavours: peach, plasticky gueuze-tones, green apple skin, lemon dish cloth. It has an acidity noticeable in it as well, or at least the suggestion of acidity. Oh, it's very good: and this all comes from the yeast. Having just tried the Saison version, this one quite clearly gets its advantages from the yeast and the yeast alone. It's a funky bonanza, quite beautifully drawn.
The taste is also pretty decent, although it does suffer the same fate as the Saison did, namely that it's almost bone dry. Here, though, the yeast lifts it a little. Green apple flavours and a mild flat acidity help drive this forward, while the hops seem a lot muted by the funk. Carbonation seems to be a bit strong. In the end, it feels a better showcase of the yeast than the Saison version did: this has a lot of Brett-y characters and a truly wild genesis.
Overall, this is good stuff. This would actually be a pretty decent wild ale in its own right: the aroma in particular is superb, giving a full spectrum of impressive yeasty funk. And otherwise it's very solid. I feel like this gave me a good look at the underbelly of the yeast.
56 / 100
Pours a golden champagne colour, light bead feeding a fairly stagnant head. White, with decent lacing. Standard.
Smell tart. Belgiany. Sharp vinegary acidity, touch of lemon and some Barnyard funk as well. More than tart and more than spice, the essence of weirdness itself. Nice, though. Subtly sweet.
Taste is...ummm... smokey? Where the hell did that come from? Tart, balsamic and grapefuit upfront; touch of pearl barley in the middle then weird, woody smoked bacony goodness at the back. Not really a perfect mesh, and what's exciting and novel at first soon becomes quite incongrous. Odd.
Sharp tartness upfront on the feel, levels off towards the end. Not bad.
An experimental brew, it would appear. Doesn't really work for me, I'm afraid.
60 / 100
A collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Russian River? Sign me up! Tall 750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a clear, bright, slightly coppery golden colour, with a fizzling head that froths at first, and the subsides to a very mild ring. Body is fine, slippery and light, holding some minimal carbonation. No lace. It's actually remarkably unassuming, and much less exciting than I thought it might be.
Nose is better. Definite earthy Brett tones, apple skin, sweet sugar toffee, fairy floss, some banana leaf. But it's actually much more subdued than I expected. There's a hint of funk, but no more, and certainly no wild acidity. I'm a little bit surprised and a little unenthused.
Taste is similarly subdued: in fact, perhaps even more so. There's that sugary sweetness coming through again, more toffee, laced with just suggestions of earthiness, some faint horsey tones, and some cherry- and apple-skin on the finish. Feel is exceptionally light and thin.
Overall, I'm massively unimpressed. This is tame, dull flat and uninteresting. Holy crap this needed something more: it really is lifeless. It ends up "domesticated" to such a degree that it's insipid, weak and unable to fend for itself in the wild.
77 / 100
Pours a gold colour with slight haze. Off-white head is foamy and nicely dense. Looks decent.
First impression of the smell is there's a touch of urine on there. It's organic, and very corporeal, but all from this organic funk which is actually quite enjoyable. Plenty of fruit comes through as well and a fair hit of acidity. Fresh, and pleasant, yeah.
Big mango hit on the palate. Fruity and sour and pretty fresh. Mango and touches of tangy passionfruit, hint of lime. Very cleansing, really, with loads of funky characters and a nice fresh Summer fruit vibe to it. Bit of booze on the back is a slight mar, but otherwise very nice indeed.
Bit of dry alcohol, funky and mildly puckering from the wild yeast.
Very nice beer overall, fruity and funky. Wouldn't exactly seduce the non-converted but I'm loving it.
80 / 100
Pours a pale straw-gold colour with slight cloud throughout. Head is white, consisting of large bubbles, sticks around alright. I like the haze; otherwise alright.
Woah, big sour notes on the aroma. Spicy, fruity and tart. It smells like those sour cola bottle lollies. Beautiful sweet-edged tart, crisp, candy-esque aroma. A cracker.
Fruity and sour on the palate. Light, almost thin body but with a pleasant complexity of flavours. Crisp and clean largely with the palate dropping maybe a little too short? The flavour is lovely so I want more! Sour candy, stewed fruits, could have lasted me a bit more.
Not too dry on the mouthfeel, which is good. Decent feel for the style.
Love the character of this beer but it's a little subdued. Could amp up the oomph, if that makes sense.
57 / 100
750ml classically odd-shaped BdB bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a full pinkish amber colour, with the pink washing out and disappearing when held to the the light. Head forms a fine film, but dissipates to a ring of white after a brief period. Some streaks of fine lace. Carbonation is also very fine, and abundant when tilted. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is powerfully flavoured with raspberries, with the fruitiness coming through really very strongly. Under this is a suggestion of funky acidity, and perhaps a faint wet grain character, but there's no question: the "lamponi" provide the bulk of the aroma here.
Taste is not so straight, but doesn't really intrigue me with its complexities. Instead, we get more of that slight wet grain character, and more of the real funk, both of which obscure and confuse the purpose of the beer a bit. There's some true tartness on the back, but by then the grainy character has come forward, meaning that instead of the fresh citric bite that might have accompanied it, the tartness accentuates a harshness.
Feel is clear and crisp, and with a pleasant bite at least.
Overall, this is fair enough, but I've had better from BdB. This feels a bit slapdash—like adding raspberries to a beer that was disappointing as a straight wild ale was going to mask the fact that it was disappointing.
86 / 100
Bottle purchased for me by @LaitueGonflable, so I thought it was only fair to crack it open with him, and the freeloading @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a rather gloomy burnt orange hue, with a fine but insubstantial white head. Lacing is patchy, but solid where the loops stick. Body looks pretty solid and the carbonation is nigh-on static. Not bad at all.
Nose is clean, and tart with some green apple coming through along with a weird fudgey sweetness. Oddly rounded, with a slightly meaty hint like honey-soy chicken. Oh my, this is an odd and disturbing beerâand that's just how I like them.
Taste starts with a peppery astringency and a hint of limey acidity. Then, whack-bang out of nowhere comes a smoked character that ensures that all bets are off. Did I say this was odd and disturbing before? I didn't even know what an odd and disturbing beer tastes like then. The smoke tingles on the back, but the green-apple acidity still manages to stalk through the haze, leaving a really rather unsettling combination. Whoa, indeed.
Feel is light and spritzy, which is just so weird and off the wallâso I guess it fits in with the rest of the beer.
Bloody hell but Haand do some fascinating things with beers. What's astonishing is how well they seem to work. This is weird, abrasive and makes me want to have a little confused cry in the corner.
And yet I love it.
74 / 100
500ml bottle purchased for me by @epiclurk.
Poured half the bottle carefully into a glass, avoiding any sediment. A clear, but extremely effervescent beer is the resultâbold red in colour, with a good 5-7cm of spongey foam sitting above the body. The colour is nice, but the carbonation in the body seems excessive. Overall, not a bad looking beer, but I can see burping in my immediate future.
Nose is a pleasantly mild funky character, with a hint of vinous acidity to it. Some oak, a little berry sweetness, but the promise of refreshment whatever else. It has a slight coppery edge to it, and underlying everything is a dry, slightly floury tone. If that gets too prominent on the palate, it could be a problem. But the nose is nice.
Taste is, fortunately, cut from the same die: a clear, refreshing, slightly wild, but not exceedingly sour body, that leaves a dry and clean finish. There's a herbal flavour fluttering around the edges, and there's very little body to it overall, which is not unexpected for a wild. Not much in the way of malt or sweetness, or berry characters at all, except perhaps for the lightly herbal, perhaps slightly bitter sloe.
Overall, though this is good stuff: nicely balanced, clean, refreshing, and with a wild edge that doesn't trample over everything else. I think this is a much more sophisticated Hedgerow than their previous release. I'll be looking forward to next year's with greater anticipation as a result.
Bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a bright, brilliant rose-red colour, with a fine pink head. Speckled, patchy lace. Body is quite fluid and light, but it holds some nice fine static carbonation. Overall, pretty decent.
Nose is funky and a little acidic, with a touch of berry sweetness, a leafy, tea-like character, and perhaps a slight coconut note. It's all a little thin, but I like the directness of it, and the direct acidity.
Taste is a little thin, and the acidity seems to go directly to your stomach. There's some clear cherryskin flavour, and a touch of oak and coconut, but really, it's a bit weak and lacking in depth or at least complexity. I really want the acidity to be more pronounced if it's going to exist at all: at least let me taste it.
No, really, this is a decent beer. I feel like it's a little bit sub-par for the great tradition of American Wilds, though. There, they use all of the mysteries of their fermentation to explore strange new complexities. This feels simple and mundane by comparison.
71 / 100
Had on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne: this was W&P's offering for the festival.
Pours a light golden colour, with some hazing. Body is soft and lightweight, supporting a fine white head. Lace is firm ans slightly bubble. Looks good, overall.
Nose smells almost exactly of sour cola bottle candy. It's bright and sharp, but smooth as well: mild funk comes through along with a creamy sweetness. Awesome stuff.
Taste is somewhat weaker than I expected, especially after such a fragrant nose. More cola bottles on the front, but with a more prominent herbal note towards the middle. On the back, instead of the true acidity I expected, we get a Bretty funk, and a slightly cloying and oddly sweet yeast character. Feel is light and somewhat flat.
It's crisp, light and drinkable enough, but this has signs that it could have been much better. Still, I love Wig & Pen's sour offerings, and this is another good example.
91 / 100
On-tap at the Cascade Barrel Room in Portland, OR.
Pours a deep, deep red hue with a gorgeous gradient of haze through the glass. Head is a fine, bubbly ring of white. Body is solid, as you'd expect for a beer of this size. I just love the colour and the partial hazing. It looks amazing.
Complex aroma: big oak characters, mingled with true acidity, pinot noir and cherries. Lactic bite comes through to brighten it: despite all of the oak and vinous characters, it feels light overall. Lovely stuff.
Light acidity on the entry gets smoothed by a creamy sweetness, although the acid keeps popping up throughout the palate. Mid-palate has some more vinous and oak notes along with true fresh cherry characters, before a move to rubbed spices and cinnamon on the finish. Wow. Such complexity. The feel is suitably light and crisp.
The only down side is that this is a powerfully acidic brew after a while, and you feel it: you couldn't drink more than one without it starting to hurt. But oh god, is this good. It's so damn good.
83 / 100
Had on-tap at the taproom in Portland, OR.
Pours a deep golden colour with solid hazing. Weight is quite light, but it holds very fine carbonation. Head is a firm, consistent white that leaves some lace.
Nose is hugely prominent with ginger, leaving a spicy hot afterimage on the olfactory organs. There's some hint of peely lime coming through. It tastes very bright and very robust: it almost seems fake.
Light crisp entry gives ginger spice and a hint of light vinous characters. The ginger continues but the wine drops away, building up a candied sweetness on the mid palate, before a very dry and very crisp and sharp exit leaves a biting brusqueness, and some soda characters. Feel is sparkling and clear.
This is a really bright, refreshing and awesomely drinkable brew. I've never had a better ginger-spiced beer before. Great stuff.
69 / 100
Tried from a "live barrel" at the Cascade Barrel Room in Portland, OR. This was edition III.
Pours a reddish amber colour, with a surprisingly clear body (didn't expect that from a barrel, especially not a live one). Weight is light and fluid. Head? Well, there's no head to speak of at all. Neither is there carbonation. All oddities, but expected oddities.
Nose is vinous, with hints of rosÃ© or clear, colourless white wine. Some mild berry notes come through along with a twang of lactic acidity. It's a bit flat and dull, overall, which is something of a shame.
Flavour is a little better: light crisp entry, with hints of pinot, and a light, mild lactic wildness towards the mid-palate. There's not much in the way of berry, although it is "beery": there's a slight grassiness which gives it a rather generic tone. Puckering acidity builds towards the finish, leaving a very brusque aftertaste that lingers slightly too long.
Is it too young? There's something a bit too raw about this, as though it hasn't integrated all of its elements properly. Needs some more smoothness.
(I was tossing up between having this or the Apricot... I was disappointed I tried this one...)
74 / 100
On-tap at Cascade's Barrel Room in Portland, OR.
Pours a candy-like red-blue hue with some slight haze and a solid weight behind it. Head is firm, slightly filmy ring of white. Looks solid enough all up, although there are detracting things about it.
Aroma: well, blueberry... Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry. Very pronounced and strong, and not all that complex. No, I lie: there are characters of rosÃ©, and a clean, fresh brightness to it beyond the pips and pith of blueberry skin, along with an apparent tartness. Pretty light and clear overall, and not overwhelming.
Light, clear entry as well, with some sharp acid developing into a cleanness mid-palate that swoops into earthier territory later, giving blueberry skin and a clean, light finish. It's a bit less complex than I expected, even though the nose didn't suggest huge complexity. The feel, which is very light, doesn't help.
Overall, though, it's a drinkable and pleasant brew. The crisp acidity is not overwhelming, and it's smooth enough and bright enough to keep it interesting. I think it was one of the low-lights of the visit, however.
79 / 100
Had on-tap at the Cascade Barrel Room in Portland, OR.
Pours a very clear golden colour, with striking clarity. Some ringing, patchy lace is pretty much all that exists of the white head. No visible carbonation. Solid, but not inspiring.
The nose is gorgeous, however. Vinous, bright sauvignon blanc characters give a clean, pickled acidity. Gooseberries, passionfruit all laced with a slight earthiness. Very impressive. It's not all the complex, but you just want to keep inhaling it nonetheless.
Light, acidic sparkle on the front gives a clean crisp entry, before the middle gives characters of gooseberry, sharp, bright herbs and a hint of chlorine. Clean finish with a light citrus overtone. Despite the acidity and sparkle, it feels really smooth all over; so much so that it almost feels like its defining characteristicâthe feel is creamy. It's odd for a wild, but it works.
Really nice drop this one. Like many of the others, the acid builds up after a while, but the smoothness holds this in check for longer than some of the others. Still, this is another impressive beer in an amazingly impressive range from Cascade. This was the last I tried on my visit, and it left me with the impression of having experienced a truly remarkable place.
81 / 100
On-tap at the Cascade barrel room in Portland, OR.
Pours a clear, bright golden colour, with a hazy, light-weight body. Head is white, and forms some firm, frothy contours atop the beer. Looks decent.
Aroma is immediately dusky and bretty. Apple characters with sharp citrus, astringent bite and a slight vinous tone. Not a lot of straight oak. It's perhaps not as big as it might have been, but it's still very complex.
Light grape juice on the front of the palate melds with more citric bite. Mid-palate has a husky bone character, giving a crisp, pronounced but rather plain Brett note. Finish is clean and dusty, with a ping of acidity that resonates to an aftertaste of pear skin.
Feel is clean and light. Very nice indeed.
The acidity is a little hard to take after a while, meaning it feels somewhat unbalanced. Despite this, it's a good wild ale, and one worth seeking out.
80 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS.
Pours a light golden colour, partially hazed with a firm body. Head is full and solid, and just off-white in colour. Decent lacing and streaming fine carbonation. Looks good.
Big passionfruit characters dominate the nose, with a mellower mango character coming through when it warms. Acid does come through, and gives it a bite and in some ways accentuates the tropical fruit characters, much in the way salt accentuates characters in savoury things. Lovely.
On the front of the palate, the funk comes through more strongly, giving an unclean bretted character. This is swept quickly under the rug, however, by a big passionfruit character that continues and thins towards the back, leaving a cleaner earthier funk and a crisp acid to finish off. Not much movement around the palate, even though the characters develop over time. Aftertaste leaves a hint of rind. Feel is light and crisp.
Really, this is refreshing as hell, and really quite delicious. It's up against some steep competition in the GABS sour beer stakes, but it's a really interesting brew, and well executed.
71 / 100
Pours a very dark brown, but clearly brown, nearly orange, up to the light. Head is disappointing but where beer hits glass it leaves some very nice lace. Pretty good; could be better.
Smells lovely and funky. So much barnyard funk with citric acidity, but also an impressive array of good dark malty notes as well. Chocolate meets vinegar; is this the creation of a new culinary sensation? Probably not. Something about this aroma gives me a headache, but I can't deny it's very impressive and intriguing.
Taste is sour from the assault - probably not to its advantage. Some slight dark grain, chocolate and buttery notes that just get immediately sour with sharp vinegar notes, quite nice and refreshing but it can't quite last to the finish, which is fairly sweet with hints of carbon and lemonade. The bretty vinegar character is still present but its dominance peaked in the late-mid and more on the finish would make it cleaner and more inspiring.
Bit sharp and infected on the back, but a good texture otherwise. Decent body.
Sour, refreshing enough brew. Not quite sure why it was chosen to be dark, it could work just as well in a paler version. Nice, though.
71 / 100
Pours a faint, uncarbonated red-black, turning to brown at the edges. Lacing is fine and patchy, leaving tiny dots on the side of the glass. The head itself, however, is disappointingly non-existent, only forming as tight lace around the edge. Body is pleasantly fine and buoyant for the ABV, leaving a fine shape of static carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is immensely sharp and acidic, even giving some Gueuze-like tones of plastic and rubber. It has some mild oaky characters to it, but it is undeniably a little one-dimensional, relying on that lambic-style funk to bring it's interest and sharpness.
Taste is crisp and acidic, with a light, almost empty finish. Some slight fruity aromas come through on the back (possibly the cherry plums), but they're ghostly; almost as though they appear in aroma only. Oak is noticeably absent on the palate, and I feel like some more fullness in this regard would really help it. Feel is light and somewhat empty.
This feels a little bit like a poor man's Rodenbach Grand Cru. It has the pleasant sharpness, the crisp acidity, but not the fullness of palate or the depth or complexity. I'm very impressed that a brewery from Australia got this close, but it's a case of "close, but not quite there".
77 / 100
Pours a burnished metallic coppery colour; white head, fluffy and webbed out with nice, thick lace. Looks good.
Smell is lovely. Tart with a nice organic funk to it - wet hay but also underripe peach, raspberry and some nice fresh grass clippings. Clean, crisp, fresh. I'm a fan.
Taste is quite sweet upfront. Caramel flavour with vanilla bean that lets some nice organic flavour build around the edges. Barnyard funk, touch of banana and peach, hint of mango as well and some burnt sugar on the back. Could use more tartness, 'tis a lot sweeter than I'd thought. But still very pleasant, with a good balance to it.
Swills well with good body. Some more fizz to cut through would be welcome.
Drinkable as anything, this beer, but it leaves me wanting more tartness.
76 / 100
Pours an orangey-amber colour, bit of translucent haze in the body. Head is off-white, tiny dense bubbles forming a thin film of lace. Not bad.
Smell is funkaholic with mega tartness. Oooh, loveleh. Lots of vinegar notes with a sugar-cream edge, notes of raspberry, spiced pear and honeyed yoghurt. Underripe apple and barnyard as well. Lovely melange, erring oddly on the sweet side, but all the more enjoyable for it.
Taste also has that creamy edge, starting with malty notes giving condensed-milk-caramel notes before quickly turning tart, giving me strong citric notes with lemon juice, cranberry and vinegar, touch of tamarind late-mid but it's still quite subdued and not overpowering at all. Sour, mostly, with a maybe unfortunate residual sweetness lingering towards the back but in spite of its unwantedness it does temper the tart finish. Pleasant beer.
A little bit puckering from the start, and really ends up with a bit too much drag. You can feel it long after it's exited the mouth.
A decent cleansing sour beer, but some finesse is lacking. Maybe an additive to drive the tartness in a particular direction, or some more malt for balance, would be welcomed.
87 / 100
375ml gueuze-style green bottle purchased from New Beer Distributors in New York. Brought back to Sydney to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a slightly hazed and chunkily sediment-disturbed orange-gold, very similar to a gueuze in this regard, with a crackling and alive head of fine white bubbles. Lacing is stretchy and patchy. Decent body, but almost no visible carbonation, which is surprising.
Nose is sharp and astringent, with big bold acidic tartness. It's slightly like very acidic fruit juice, and less of the robust, funky, rubbery characters you get off a good gueuze, but it really reminds me more of the Belgian style sour beers than the duskier, fuller American Wilds.
Taste is actually very pleasant, without a big spike of acidity, but without the too-full slightly sweet body that can sometimes come from a half-assed AWA. Here we have a pleasantly tart fruit character, with a crisp finish and lovely light mouthfeel that sharpens and directs the flavour into all the right zones. Exceptionally smooth for the sharpness and tartness; it softens the palate while staying exceptionally drinkable and refreshing.
Awesome American Wild: probably fair to say the best I've had that didn't come from Russian River. The crisp drinkability and the directness of the acidity really hark back to the canonical Belgian lambics, but the smoothness on the palate gives it that vault into the new world.
83 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse as part of the Mikkeller Tap Takeover. This was beer #10 of 20. Halfway there...
Smooth and light bodied, slightly hazy orange colour, with an initially crackling and vivacious head that settles down to almost nothing. Minimal lacing, and very light body.
Nose is sharp and funky, without a lot of true acidity, but with a really direct crushed green vegetation and an big organic funk. Green appleskin comes through, giving it a crispness that balances with the round almost classic Belgian yeast character.
Funky and raw and organic on the palate, with aromatic blue cheese, sharpness and a long funky grain character to finish with, like rye sourdough. It doesn't have a great deal of acidity or tartness to bite the palate, but it has that really big Belgian brett character all over it. Lovely.
Very, very nice wild ale. Very much on the Belgian side of things, without a lot of true acidity. More of the round Belgian funk and the organics of something like Orval.
77 / 100
Pours a very pale, almost dayglo straw colour, with mega-opaque haze and mega-fluffy head, white and dense the consistency of lightly whipped egg whites. Nice sheets of lace, looks great.
Smell is very pleasant. Lots of funk to it, with a lovely tart edge of lemon zest, a touch of guava and some underlying barnyard characters. Touch of vanilla and even meringue on there, really lovely and refreshing nose.
Taste knocks your socks off. Mega, uber sourness with vinegar from the get-go and develops into a strong, puckering lemony flavour. Bit off-putting at first, but it does develop some lovely complexities and smoothes out by the mid-point. Still very tart but with a touch of cinnamon, underripe raspberries and some cake batter malt underlying. Bit too tart for the "wow! Drinkable!" factor, but still very good.
Yeah, tartness really comes through as puckering and sharp on the feel. Feels like this would cut my mouth up if it went unchecked and unshared.
A bit overdone just in parts, but I do like a good sour beer, and this is definitely a good sour beer. Maybe some more age on this would mellow out the sharp edges.
86 / 100
Ah, a Russian River sour. Always a great privilege to review a new one, although it does mean that there's one less still waiting for me out there. I think this indeed might be the last widely available example I've yet to try. How sad.
Pours a bright hazed yellow golden colour, with a frothy and relatively fine head of white, that leaves rigorous and webby lace down the inside of the glass. Looks the business.
Nose is fresh and redolent with tart citric fruit and a oak-fermented vanillin character that smooths this out. Under it all is a big earthy, funky depth that gives whiffs of organics and odour. It adds such an awesomely weird complexity to the nose. Love it.
Taste is tart and rich, with a clean feel and profile that allows the vinous acidity and smooth oak characters to meld into something that is funky and weird, but also remarkably crisp and drinkable. Green apple tinge, white grapes, earthy funk and pleasant dryness on the finish. Oh lovely.
Top-notch brew. It's remarkable how clean, drinkable and refreshing this isâusually the RR sours are about depth, complexity and mind-blowingnessâthis is perhaps the perfect summer drinking beer. Crisp, refreshing and biting. Lovely beer.
60 / 100
Tried this on-tap in 2010 and wasn't overly impressed. This time, I have a bottle which was brought back from the US to Australia. Let's see what I think this time around.
Pours a cloudy yellow-golden colour, light but bright, and holding nicely. Head is initially immense and frothy, but it subsides somewhat, leaving very solid and clumping, almost egg-white lacing around the outside of the glass. Looks really goodâthe sort of beer you see and say "I'll have what he's having".
Nose is round and smooth, with big Belgian notes, but perhaps not the funk or acidity I expected. Rather, it has stewed tomatoes, pepper and a little turned earth, but nothing more rustic and organic than that. Very pleasant, but not exactly what I was expecting.
Taste again misses a lot of the wild notes, but it has a pleasant Belgian roundness to it. Quite a thin body, with a slight crisp bitterness and a yeasty dry finish. It's pretty bland, to be honest. It doesn't have the depth of a true Belgian ale, but it doesn't have the crispness, complexity or refreshment of a good wild.
Sigh. It doesn't really know what it wants to be. It's not a good Belgian style ale, and it's not a good American Wild, it just sits in the void between the two. Again, I'm not particularly impressed. I expect more from Allagash, and from American Wilds in general.
On-tap at Toronado in San Francisco.
Pours a cloudy, but very light lemon yellow colour. Head is minimal, but fine and filmy where it appears. Minimal lace as well. Looks very light in the body, and looks still when tilted.
Clean, and oddly hoppy nose, with a slight wheaty acidity. Some acidity, a pleasant roundness and a bit of assy funk. Mostly, the characters derive from the wheat, with a very slight sweet citrus overtone. Very nice.
Taste is lemony, with citrus dominant and a very light bodied wheat backbone. Funky finish, like orange citrus candy, and an echo of celery: fresh and bright. Feel is very thin, which works, but it's still very thin.
It's a nice beer. Easy to drink, but with plenty of interest. The wild elements give it its edge.
86 / 100
Tried on tap at the Feral Brewing Ale Stars, Local Taphouse 07/12/10.
Pours a pale gold colour with distinct haze, almost opaque. Head is white, with lovely lace decorating the glass. Top of the head sinks in a concavity. Pretty nice-looking beer.
Lots of acidic funk on the nose - citric tinge and cranberries on there with a slight woodiness as well. Slight bubblegum character emerges as well, yeah very nice funky aroma, lots of great characters.
Taste is very funky with an odd but interesting sweetness. Caramel and vanilla on the front that is overtaken by sharp tart funk; underripe berry notes and lemon juice bur then the sweetness reemerges on the back, complementing that sourness just wonderfuly like a really great rich cheesecake or fruit liqueur. The sweetness moreover tames the acidity and lets the mouth recover from the spike of tartness. This is a wonderful beer, beautifully crafted and balanced and really hits me in all the right spots.
Fair body with a great texture as it goes down, not too puckering. Pretty damn nice.
A great beer - awesome palate and refreshing as hell.
85 / 100
83 / 100
Pours a vibrant orange colour with delicious dense head, about 2cm thick, retaining well with craters bubbling on the top. Stunning ring of lace is left behind. Slight haze shows a slow but steady stream of bubbles. A few floaties chunks which are a bit unnerving, but otherwise damned nice.
Smell is very funk-é, with a lot of tart yeast aromas coming off that, hints of cranberry and citrus zest with a slight paw-paw note as well. Slight brassy fragrance as well. Seems a bit simple, but decent, yeah.
Taste starts out sour, stays sour. Kind of vinegary on the front, with more of that brassy metallic character, then gets really pleasantly sweet actually, early on the mid, with a sweet-and-sour-sauce flavour and maybe some lemon squash. Lemon juice is the dominant flavour on the back, lots of citric acid with a very slight rubbery character as well. Nice fresh zest on the very back kind of clips off the sourness so there's isn't much tartness left lingering. Yeah, very nicely done - potentially repellent but is made crisp and refreshing. Good sipper for flavour but also very good for just throwing back - again, like lemon squash.
Good body to it, and no harshness from the wild yeast. Pretty damned nice texture, actually.
Yeah, I like this a lot. It's sour and interesting, but really nicely quaffable. A very steady and skilled brewing hand is behind this. Great Summer or Spring quencher.
88 / 100
Pours a deep light golden-brown colour, with a fine bubbled and incredibly dense head of white foam. Lacing is superb. Not just patterns, but full sheets of bubbling sticking to the edge of the glass. Odd, slightly chunky static carbonation as it's swirled, as though the bubbles get caught in clumps. Really lovely looking brew.
Very full and very lovely nose of oak, acidity, crushed vegetation, sour fruit, wood shavings... I could go on. Very sharp, extremely oaky and wine-like and extremely intense. Lovely complexity.
Immediate acidity on the front palate, but it mellows just divinely to earthy wood characters, with a hint of cherry pip, green apple skin and a resinous hint of rubbed lemon rind. I love the way it just relaxes on the tongue, giving you the full force of the acidity straight up, before almost melting to something soft and supple. Mouthfeel is crisp and subtle, but it gives this three-dimensional dance throughout, starting rigid and sharp and finishing languid and soft.
What a lovely drop of beer, and a truly excellent wild ale. There are reasons this is rated as highly as it is. In terms of straight complexity, I think I actually prefer RR's Consecration, but this is probably a more true, more pure and more raw example of the genre.
75 / 100
Pours a nice red-tinged amber colour, quite hazy through the body. Head is quite wonderfully dense on top, leaves some really nice trails of lace around. Head retains a good amount. Yeah, nice head, very nice lace, haze is good too, all pretty damn nice.
Okay, nose is certainly a tart one. Lots of underripe fruit notes, cranberry with other berries - raspberry, blackberry. Lots of funk as well with that slight washed-rind-cheese note. But yeah, pleasant, refreshing. Goodly amount of sourness.
Taste is very rich and strong. Quite tart for the most part with lots of cranberry and funky cheese notes, some blackberry as well and hints of pear and apple. Lots of tasty tart fruit, sour even, but all very fresh and lively. Slight buttery flavour underlies it all, but doesn't really come to the fore. Overall it's a bit simple, just strikes me as all the bits of an American Wild Ale with nothing extra special here.
What is special though is the mouthfeel. Awesome texture, just a very slight tingle from carbonation, great body, great feel. If all beer felt like this I'd be a very happy man.
Yeah, a tasty, refreshing beer. If it had more character this would be sensational, but it's very drinkable.
71 / 100
Purchased at Healthy Spirits in San Fran, and lovingly carted back to Sydney Australia to crack open with @LaitueGonflable.
Slightly hazy reddish amber colour, with a good and vivid head of creamy white foam like full-cream milk. Lacing is absolutely superb, giving such intricate patterns down the side of the glass. Carbonation is surprisingly absent for a wild.
Big sour characters on the nose, with robust oak notes and big vinous, almost vinegar notes. Very classic American wild notes, but with a surprising carbonic acidity to it - surprising mainly because it's not very exceptionally carbonated.
Taste is very astringent, the acidity really comes through a lot. Lots of oak, with a strong bitterness coming through the back, but it's a weird almost spiritous bitterness - nothing like hops or roasted grain. Mouthfeel is spritzy and light, which very much suits the style.
It's a nice enough beer, but it's a little bit too acidic and intense, without the complexity to make it really exceptional. I've had better Wilds, and better beers from Jolly Pumpkin. Still, it's hard not to respect it.
75 / 100
Pours a murky, cloudy bronze colour with pleasant beige head, dense bubbling looks similar to frozen Coke. Sinks quickly, leaving rings of thick, foamy lace behind. Almost opaque from the haze, yeah an interesting wild brew.
Nose is sour and kind of funky. A lot of barnyard character - hay and corporeal, salty notes with a good dose of pleasantly tart, fresh fruit. Good berry character, blackberry and juniper with a hint of pear and a citric tang - although not a lot of citrus aroma, just that sharp acidity. Pleasant and refreshing with a good sweetness underlying it all.
Taste is nice and refreshing, a lot of tang and twang, snap crackle and pop throughout the palate. Starts with fresh tartness, lemony with some bite. More fruit character comes through midway with distinct berry flavours, raspberry and underripe blackberry for some crisp, if a little puckering, flavour. Finishes with a distinct rindy bitterness, almost cheese-like but without the pungency. It is the most unlikeable part of an overall really fresh, drinkable sour.
Has a distinct bite to this with a bit of palate-tearing acidity, almost bordering on Cantillon puckering. With a good gulp, it foams up nicely to provide a layer of protection but otherwise I wouldn't keep this in my mouth for long.
75 / 100
Almost gushing on pour, only some quick thinking saved it. Pours a red-tinged amber colour, very cloudy, with a frothy and lively head of lightly pink foam. Lacing is good. Carbonation is vibrant. Looks pretty good overall.
Huge acidity and funk on the nose, with sweeter notes of rosewater and fairy floss. Very much full of sour fruit characteristics, with some very distinct sour ale funk to it as well. Wow, this is one riproaringly wild ale on the nose.
None of the acidity on the palate, but huge oak characteristics, with dusty yeast and organic funk to it, with a lingering grapeskin bitterness on the back. Pretty dry on the finish, with those big woody oak characteristics sticking around untill there's only oak, and no beer left. Phew.
Mouthfeel is carbonated and sparkling, but not overwhlemingly bubbling, given that it was so lively when opened.
A pretty nice Wild, I have to say - it could use a bit of acidity on the palate, but I'm very glad it wasn't as sour as the nose suggested it may have been. The dryness is welcome, and I like that it has such a refreshing profile as a result. A very nice Wild Ale.
73 / 100
Pours a dark burgundy colour, deep red tinge in the light, beautiful beige head with a slight pink tinge. Dense and creamy, with a goodly amount of sticky lace, could be thicker. Pretty damned nice.
Lots and lots of funk on that nose, with some lemon juice, green apple notes, yeah, just kind of wild in general. Maybe a hint of some roasty malt notes but it's primarily sour with a washed rind cheese hint and green underripe fruit. Not puckering, though; pleasant.
Taste is nice. Good maltiness on the front, with dark roasty notes not to the point of being ashy. Funk comes through strongly on the mid with a note of cheese rind, some lucerne character and a good fruity note with hints of dark cherry and blackcurrant. Finishes very dry but never gets puckering, just a nice refreshing tartness. A nice rich beer overall with a nicely tempered funky sourness.
Feels a little thin and then the dryness is a letdown. With that much dryness I feel I'd want more texture.
A refreshingly sour wild ale, not overly done. Quite a nice balance.
76 / 100
Pours a deep reddish black colour, with a frothy and vibrant head of mocha-coloured creamy foam. Lacing is excellent. It looks active as well, an interesting characteristic for such a dark beer. Really nice, and very unique.
Nose is a big oaky whiff, like sticking your head in a used wine barrel. In fact, the oak almost precludes everything else - leaving big vinous notes, a touch of acidity and lots of strong wood characteristics. There is something a little sweeter behind it as well, like dates or vanilla, but mostly, the acidity and the vinous oak rule the roost.
Taste is more complex than expected, and doesn't have the big acidic characters I was preparing myself for. Deep dark tannins around the edges with a light vinous acidity which just highlights some of the other depth. Some almost Belgian-style round meaty characters, finishing a little roasted and dark. Feel is thin, but expected for the style.
A very decent American Wild. Pleasant complexity, lots of oak character, subtle acidity and a nod to the Belgian genesis of the style. I enjoyed it a lot.
Had on tap at Monk's Kettle San Francisco. Pours a clear light golden colour, with just a filmy head of white bubbling, that stays mostly around the edges. Looks relatively thin in the body, quite light all up.
Some funk on the nose, a little organic mulch character and a bit of barnyard. Certainly no vinous, oaky or acidic notes, however. Belgian characters of tinned baked beans are noticeable, adding some roundness. Not bad.
Funky on the palate too, again with a slight vegetal organic character. Thin and biscuity through the mid, with a slick and wet finish, that nonetheless still feels as though it's lacking a bit of body. Long afterpalate at least, but overall it doesn't feel particularly complex. It ends up simple but inoffensive.
Drinkable enough, and the alcohol content isn't present at all. Fine enough to drink, but I've had some much better wilds.
95 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Brought back from California wrapped safely in my luggage, cracked open with my bro @LaitueGonflable to celebrate his 500th review on BeerAdvocate.
Pours a dark deep blood red colour, dark grape-juice with a filmy tan head that collapses very quickly. Lots of carbonation swirling up through the depths, which makes the beer look alive, with a nice bead. Looks very heavy in the glass as well, although the carbonation is large-bubbled. Looks very decent.
Big vinous notes on the nose - lots of tannic red wine, tobacco leaf, dark curranty fruits and a hint of musty oak. Slight funk coming off it as well - although the acidity isn't present here, there's a whiff of barnyard and ripe cheese on the nose. Altogether, it's a wonderfully refined nose, sweet subtlety bouncing off rambunctious wildness.
Extremely long and full palate, starting with vinous acidity backed with earthy oak and tannic tobacco leaf. Port like heat seems to well slightly as the palate continues, leaving a warm booze note. Just when you think that's the end, up comes the berry-like currant note flushing its sweet-sour finish like warmed Christmas pudding over the palate. It is ever threatening to burst to extremes, but everything holds everything else together and it just rampages down the middle ground, never veering too far one way or the other. Coupled with this is the complex mouthfeel, that lingers through crewy and ripe at the start, almost touching harsh heat as the alcohol note comes through, before finishing with a cleansing, slightly puckering note. I've possibly never had a beer with a longer and more expressive palate - the fact that long after the beer is gone, there is still a dance of different characters developing is absolutely sublime. The complexity is amazing - the way the palate develops after each sip is absolutely stunning.
This is an absolutely exceptional beer. There's no getting around it. This beer proves why American Wild Ale is a unique style, and why it is such a well-regarded one at that. It also cements in my mind Russian River as an exceptional brewery. The complexity is incredible - I can't believe how much there is going on. Let's just put it bluntly, this is a really, really, really good beer.
97 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Pours a murky, Hellish red colour, brown mostly but with an ominous red tinge. Modest beige head sinks to a rim at the top. Lace is fairly nice, sticky sheets but not very clingy. Bit of cloud in the body. Nice colour, otherwise fairly impressive.
Lots of character on the nose - mostly sweet, with lots of fruit, berries and currants on there. A very sweet, almost creamy character comes up behind, a bit of caramel sweetness, some light toffee and some light milk chocolate notes. Also on there is funk, a hint of leather, pongy brie, barnyard animal notes. Lots of oak as well, and even some vanilla. Funk is slight - just a nice whisper lingering at the back of the nose, which is not just very nice - it's divine in fact. Superbly complex but balanced, just gives a lot without demanding. Incredible.
Taste is sour all over that. Starts off quite acidic, with a sharp citric twang to it, and the flavour of that continues to the mid without ever going overboard and being puckering, or painful. It's almost like the mid is 'cut off' by the flavour of the currants, which comes through fairly late but just in time it seems to clip off the puckering sourness. Really impressive effect with tart, underripe berries on the front, really seems painful, then a sweet-but-tart currant character and plenty of rich, fruity flavours on the back - prunes and currants and a big brandy alcohol warmth. Hints of oregano and other mixed herbs as well complete a really excellent, interesting palate profile. It gives you all the power of the funk but without the intensity or harshness. A challenging brew, but very, very enjoyable.
Slick and dry on the feel, really. Lots of body but never thick or syrupy, goes down well and although the puckering flavour is so expertly cut off, the sensation is still there, and the mouth feels a little sucked dry at the end. Good for the style though.
An excellent, extremely thirst-quenching, interesting, pleasant, beer. I could go on. An excellent choice to be my #500 review.
60 / 100
Pours a clear red-brown hue, with a small head of browning-white bubbles. Lots of spirited carbonation running up the edges of the glass, leaving a lot of audible crackling. Head dissipates after a while. Not bad.
Fair bit of funk on the nose. Some barnyard, oxidation, sweat and seltzer acidity, with sweet notes of cherry juice seeping through. Certainly pretty funky, which is what you expect from the style, and the kriek aroma provides some grounding. Nice.
Some acidity on the palate, with an initial sharp note that rapidly drops to a duskier copper bitterness. Tastes extremely oxidised, and quite full of funk. The cherry aromas on the nose are absent here, which is a surprise, and quite a disappointment. The major component is the copper character, which rather unpleasantly reminds me of blood. Mouthfeel is lightly effervescent.
This is an odd brew. It has the funk, but not the acidity of a Wild, and the cherry juice is really only hinted at. It's not undrinkable, but it is unusual, and I had some difficulty getting my head around it.
84 / 100
It was quite a trek around the Bay Area for me to find one of these. Well, it was a profitable way to spend a Saturday.
Uncorks with a massive "thok". No gush, fortunately. Slightly cloudy with a little disturbed sediment, a nice yellow gold colour, with a wonderful thick head. Excellent lacing. Looks great.
Nose is redolent of white wine, massive oakiness and light sour overtones of must and fermentation. So much oak though - I love it. Deep and earthy, but with lighter fruitier notes shining through. Cherries, citrus and kaffir lime. Great. Just great.
Taste is huge, with a massive tongue-slicing of organic acidity. Green apples, young sauvignon blanc grapes, even tending towards the sourness of lemons and limes. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and full, lending some gravitas to the enormous spike of puckering acidity.
What an amazingly flavoursome beer. It sure packs a punch; easily as good as some of the Belgian Geuezes I've had the pleasure to try.
Amazingly drinkable and refreshing with a quite incredibly powerful taste profile. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
70 / 100
Pale golden colour, cloudy appearance with steady bead feeding a decent snowy head that isn't hanging around for encores but is leaving a deliciously fragile lacing cradle. Great, for the lacing. Otherwise nothing exciting.
Really very delicious nose. Champagne characters with a slight sour fruit element but a lot of pleasant grapey aromas. Slight hint of a tang, not quite sherbety but sherbety is the closest I can come, linguistically.
Wow. And...wow. Okay, that taste really surprised the arse off of me. (If I'd known what this was, perhaps not quite as much, but still) Very, very mouth-puckering sour palate, but yes I was dead right about the tang because there it is loud and clear. It's very citrusy really, like lemon squash that's leant too heavily on the lemon. At the same time, a very rich, robust mid-palate, rather (I'd say) champagney again. Like the tang on the nose, it's kind of like poorly-hidden alcohol, only without the alcohol intensity. Just a rich billowy palate, like a cloud of octopus ink. Full marks, beer, for the surprise factor. And a fascinating palate to boot.
Not an everyday chugalug beer but an interesting, bold palate that grabs you by the balls and spits in your face "I am an interesting, bold palate." Mouthfeel is very puckering. I feel it killing my tastebuds with its acidity.
74 / 100
Nice 750ml brown Belgian-style bottle, caged and corked. Pops explosively with very little effort on my part. No gushing at least.
Pours a pale golden yellow with masses (and I mean MASSES) of big bubbled carbonation racing like anarchy up through the beer. Creates a huge-bubbles froth of white head that crackles its way down to a lace collar. Not much lacing. Looks crazy already.
Certainly a funky nose - notes of apricot and apple cider, sour gummi worms, overripe fruit, candy floss, and a organic compost kind of aroma. There's also a spicy kind of pepper character to it too. Wow, funky, phunky and phat.
Taste is not as weird as you'd think. Nice lightly sour entry, reminds me of a sour candy I used to eat as a kid - not mouth puckeringly sour, but just the hint of it. There's a weird swelling of bitter character mid-palate, and then the rest of the sweetness drops away, leaving a dry, hop resin character at the very end. It's not as sour as I was expecting, nor as fruity - but the flavour profile is just so out of sync with most beer - I felt as though it was caressing all these weird parts of my mouth that never really get to experience beer.
What a wild ride, if you'll pardon the pun. A crazy beer, full of phunk and character. Thankyou Brett (annomyces) for adding an entirely new dimension to the beer spectrum.