330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam (I believe) some time ago. I'm not entirely sure when, or where from.
Pours a fairly deep brown colour, a little like sepia ink. Head forms a very fine ring around the edge of the glass, with fine spotty lace. Body is surprisingly light, with powdery carbonation. Looks decent all up.
Nose is decidedly odd. It has a pronounced liquorice and sassafras character to it, which makes it smell a lot like root beer. It has a slight savoury note all the way through it, while it does maintain a sort of bass note of toasted grain stoutness. But it really just fades into the background, to be honest.
Taste is similar, although the sassafras note really almost becomes medicinal on the back, giving an almost minty note like some form of institutional toothpaste. It doesn't help that there's very little sweetness on the front, and all of the roast bitterness dumps itself on the back—this accentuates some of the harsh notes of the finish.
Overall, yeah, I'm not a fan—it's different, but never in a particularly good way, and to be honest, the characters make it a bit of a slog to get through.
60 / 100
Belgian stout, brewed with Turkish delight, lactose, fairy floss and popcorn for GABS festival 2017. Tried in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a coffee colour, clear body with foamy beige head. Looks alright, yeah.
Smells of very little. Some light roasty notes from the malt and maybe a touch of subtle clove from all of those adjuncts, but that seems like an odd isolated character to come through from so many additions. Disappointing.
Taste is better. Chocolate malt upfront, somewhat sweet that develops a nice coffee and spice character midway. Rosewater notes on the back which adds an interesting element but also turns it pretty damn sweet. More interesting than the nose promised, but it's overall pretty confused. I'd be intrigued by a straight-up rosewater Belgian stout, or popcorn Belgian stout, but it's just muddy and amorphous in the middle.
Decent body with a touch of alcohol warmth which is quite pleasant.
Yeah I feel like I was expecting to be able to detect all the big flavours throughout but it's just a muddy mass in the middle of the palate and I don't get as much of a melange as I expected. I don't want to stop people trying ambitious things for GABS (and let's face it, Tim at HopDog wouldn't pay attention if I told him to) but this was a bit too much of a stretch.
75 / 100
Belgian Extra Stout with Raisins, brewed for GABS festival 2017. Tried on tap there.
Pours dark-brown, dark right to the edge. Beige head, foamy that doesn't retain brilliantly. Not too bad though, yeah.
Very Belgian nose. Chocolate and dark fruit blending with coffee and spice, with clove and coriander characters coming through as well. Big and pleasant.
Taste is roasty, mostly, but earthy-spicy as well. Good chocolate sweetness that smoothes out the roughest parts on the mid, with a phenolic finish blending with clove and a good roasty bitterness. Yeah, I quite like that.
Decent body, warms through with the alcohol on the back.
Feels like it's going overboard at times, but it reins itself in with clever use of adjuncts just to take the edges off. I really need to pay Foghorn a visit one of these days as I've only tried a couple GABS beers from them and they've both been great.
This was retried and shortlisted and ended up my #17 beer of the festival.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Fizzes and almost gushes on opening—a less careful uncapping probably would have seen me lose some volume at least. Pours a deep brown colour, with a loose-bubbled head of foamy chocolate, that runs out of steam quickly and leaves no lace. Body has a bit of weight, but less than you might find in another 9% beer. Looks decent all up.
Nose is pleasantly funky, with a dark vinous, tannic quality sitting above some fairly mild and fairly neutral toasted malt characters. Combined they give some slight semi-savoury chocolate notes, mingled with a hint of berries or peachskin.
Taste is decent enough, but here the tannic quality breaches the malt a bit too much—it leaves the front palate biting and dry, and flattens out the back, not leaving enough body for the malt to ride on. This, in turn makes it feel bitter from the roast in the finish. Carbonation is also high, although it doesn't prickle as much as it might have towards the back, and never gets to what you'd term "fizzy".
Overall, it's not bad, but the compromises you take in body and flavour aren't made up for with a commensurate increase in complexity or interest. The 9% alcohol is well hidden, but it does feel somewhat like you could hide anything behind the tannins. Indeed, the tannic qualities are really stark and tend to overwhelm everything else.