Winter Warmer
33rd highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedSpecial Holiday Ale - Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone (91 / 100) Average score64 / 100 (Solid)
Lowest RatedRundy Bum (44 / 100) Number Tried41
Jack Frost
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.03.18 on tap
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
On tap at Hotel Sweeney's, and before you ask, I was only in there to have a beer while I asked for directions on how to get away from there.

Pours a clear ruby amber colour. Head is pale beige, nice density but not great retention; some sticky lacing left behind. Quite a thick curtain really. Impressive yet English and hence not calling attention to the fact that it's impressive.

Smells fruity and basically like oxidation. Loads of dark fruit on there, with raisin and date sweetness, some off apple notes at the back. Not much malt wise, it's all just dark fruit and ale byproducts. Decent but unimpressive.

Tastes a little stale and old for sure. Decent English toffee malt upfront, that develops dark fruit notes; really rather on the fruity end of the spectrum with a mulled cider character. Rather than coming alive with spice on the back though, it plateaus out to a dull wet grain note with damp cardboard, touch of tobacco and some faint pepper. The front has enough peaks in it for me to feel it might be deliberate and just subdued to keep the ABV down, but I'm drinking it at Sweeneys too, so who knows how it's been stored and how much stray urine has found its way from the patrons into the keg somehow.

Yeah some nice enough malt padding upfront, but gets very thin and a little harsh towards the back.

Drinks like a nice mulled style beer but needs something to inject more life, like a big spice bill. Feels kinda wintery but thin, like if your teetotaller
Grandma was trying to make some fun warmed alcoholic drink but without all the interesting bits.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.25
Rundy Bum
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.08.16 on tap
Overall:
44 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a gold colour, very cloudy with sediment. Head is cream, sparsely webbed that sinks quickly. Bit pale for the style, but not terrible.

Smells mostly yeasty. Odd fruity notes that are too light for the style with mango and maybe some apricot. Not a lot of spice character. Disappointing.

Taste is tangy fruit as well, and sweet, with none of the classic Winter Warmer notes. Honey character to the malt upfront, but it flattens out to be quite insipid on the midpoint. Some light clove and vanilla notes on the back but far too subtle for the style and for this festival generally.

Nice full body, big malt presence. Would have thought this would translate to greater depths and complexities on the palate but it doesn't, sadly.

Bit meek and uninspiring generally. Not a fan.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 2.75
Posse Winter Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 15.12.15 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased from the brewery as part of their Beerdvent beer advent calendar.

Pours a deep brown, like ebony, with a thin, minimal, slightly disappointing head of off-white that persists as little more than a coarse ring. Very little lacing either, meaning it looks a bit dead and flat in the glass.

Nose is pleasant. Toasty and a little sweet, with warm notes of anise and cinnamon bark. There's a pepperiness to it that lends some sharpness, but it's mostly quite smooth and sweet. Pretty nice.

Taste is better. There's a pronounced smoothness here to the flavour that layers some vanilla and nutty tones on top of the thin malt base. There's still a touch of sharpness on the back—whether it's yeast notes or actual spice additions I'm not sure, but there's a lingering note of aniseed or maybe pepperberry. Finish is surprisingly light and crisp. It helps the drinkability, but make the end feel quite abrupt.

Overall, it's nice enough stuff. It's not a really exciting standout beer from Bridge Road's range, but I guess the cliqueyness of it being only released for subscribing members makes it a little bit more interesting.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Christmas Pudding Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours a deep brown colour, quite opaque and solid in the body. Head is a yellow-beige colour, and forms a firm, fine ring that forms sheets of lace when tilted. Carbonation is very fine but mild. Looks good.

Big, smooth aroma of brown sugar and nutmeg gets spliced with some other pleasant spicy characters: ginger, orange peel and currants, making the beer live up to its name. It's very aromatic, sweet and very pleasant.

Smooth vanilla entry on the palate with a suggestion of brandy. This develops into a thick and chewy mid-palate with a touch of marzipan and scorched almonds. The back has the spices: lingering currants, powdered ginger and peel. It's really lovely.

Feel is smooth but light, like a thin custard.

Yeah, this beer is on point. They hit the flavours the want to really quite well, and on top of that it's genuinely very tasty. This was one of my favourites at GABS this year.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Christmas Pudding Porter
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.06.15 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a very dark coffee colour, black at the edges really. Head is beige, foamy and pretty thick retention. Looks pretty awesome. If anything maybe a bit dark for the style.

Smells massively sweet. Loads of vanilla with some caramel notes, cinnamon spice, chocolate and lots of dark fruit. Touch of banana as well. Smells warming, and pleasant.

Taste is massively sweet and spicy and delicious. Chocolate notes with compressed dark fruit, a touch of peanut to it as well, and massive cinnamon towards the back. Vanilla, chocolate, spice. Great melange.

Full body, touch of warming alcohol as it goes down.

Reminds me of my first Young's Christmas Pudding Ale taste. Top stuff.

This was my #10 beer of the festival.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.25
Kooinda / Sideshow Decembeer
Reviewed by Jez on 02.01.14 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
640ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer by my brother and given to me for Xmas. 2013 vintage—I don't think there's been any others yet, but there may be in the future.

Pours a very hazy, and quite thick pudding brown with a fine, slightly bubbly head of off-white. Carbonation is very low, but it's interesting enough.

Nose is heavily spiced. Stacks of nutmeg, and certainly notes from the dried fruits, with a piquancy probably attributable to the orange peel. Slight marzipan character noticeable as well. Yeah, it pretty much matches up with the description on the bottle, which is worth something.

Taste is quite spicy, lacking sweetness and richness, which means that the sharper notes are very dominant: orange peel and cinnamon come through a lot, and pierce any deeper notes that come through. More of that marzipan towards the back, and a finish that's really quite medicinal. The same aromatics are there but it makes it all a bit weird.

Feel is actually pretty solid and heavy, but without the sweetness in the body, it feels very strange to me.

Overall, there was a pretty decent spice blend created here, but the beer ultimately didn't quite support it enough. There are plenty of positive things about this beer, but I found it a little bit tough to slug through by the end of the glass.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.25
Winter Sun
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.12.13 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a darkish brown colour, clear with a nice head of beige foam. Looks nice.

Smells fairly spicy. Slight caramel malt base with a touch of cinnamon and maybe some coriander/clove combination. Nice piquancy to it but smells more on the savoury side of spicy than sweet, which is what I'd expect from the style.

Taste is similar. More of that cinnamon/coriander blend, sort of sour spicy on the back. Again malt base is light but all ont he front, doesn't fully continue to the back although there is also a warming booze touch on the back of the mouthfeel. Fair bit of spice but it almost tastes like it's yeast-related? Tastes almost like it's just 'incidentally' spicy rather than it all coming from a nice added spice mix. Or maybe it's just I don't really agree with the spice mix used.

Not a bad drop, but would like more balance and a little more malt presence.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Winter Sun
Reviewed by Jez on 18.10.13 on tap
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap at the GABS Festival in Melbourne. Only now getting around to entering my reviews from the festival, some months down the track.

Pours a deep red-brown colour with some clarity of body and decent weight behind it. Head is a solid ring of beige. Lacing looks decent enough down the glass, and there's some pleasant carbonation when it's tilted. Looks pretty good.

Nose is very mild. Slight musty grain character with just a suggestion of dark fruit around the edges and a hint of chocolate. But mild sums it up: disappointing for a beer weighing in at 6.8% ABV.

Light toasty characters on the front of the palate along with a sight banana or other sweet, fragrant fruit hint. Middle is quite clean with roast coming through to provide a crinkly top note. Some dark fruit does come through on the back along with a suggestion of booze that feels a little anaemic and weak. Feel is extremely light for what it is.

Overall: it's OK, but it's really quite weak. Against the gamut of beers which were at GABS it didn't stand strong, but it's probably alright in isolation.

appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Day Of The Long Shadow
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a brilliant red colour, clear and shiny. Head is a little overcooked, but nice colour and medium density. Lace is decent.Pretty nice.

Smell is spicy and sweet. Star anise and cinnamon are dominant; maybe a touch of nutmeg. Slight boozey note on the back as well. Quite sweet overall; a little bit more piquancy in the spice would be useful.

Tastes quite nice. Sweet and spicy. Caramel-tinged cake batter with a touch of banana. Nutmeg is dominant here, with some cinnamon, aniseed and vanilla on the back. Again, pretty boozey towards the finish, just unsheathed alcohol without enough flavour on the finish. Lovely, really, upfront, but needs more on the back.

Thick and pretty full, but with a nice texture.

Good concept, executed OK. The booze is just a bit too strong; otherwise a really nice beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Day Of The Long Shadow
Reviewed by Jez on 31.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Bottle from Slowbeer, purchased by @LaitueGonflable. Shared with @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a pleasant deep red-mahogany colour, with a very insubstantial head of off-white. The head merely sits as a bubbly film atop the body. The body is pleasantly heavy, at least, and holds some nice fine carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks really good if you don't look above the surface.

Nose is pleasantly sweet and spicy, with some nutmeg and clove characters coming through, along with a stewed or dried fruit sweetness. It has a pleasant richness to it, which the spice just cut through nicely. Pretty good stuff.

Taste is also pretty nice, and nice in ways I didn't expect. Given the heavy sweetness on the nose, I expected this to be rich and chewy, but actually it retains a pleasant lightness about it from the spices, and the dark fruity sweetnesses add flavour, but not too much body. Additionally, the touch of booziness to it springboards off the spicy lightness to give a pleasant cut to the otherwise soaked palate.

Despite this lightness, the feel is very pleasant; it has a smoothness, but doesn't sit heavy and chewy. Good stuff.

Yep, good stuff from the Critters. Flavoursome, but balanced. Interesting, but integrated. Another single-batch winner.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Mogul Madness Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 23.07.12 on tap
Overall:
87 / 100
(Exceptional)
On-tap at the brewery in Newport, OR.

Pours a deep red colour, quite clear, with solid weight behind it. Head is yellow tending to beige, and forms a solid ring. Fine, but arrogant carbonation. Who knows what I mean by arrogant.

Nose is big and juicy and sweet. Toffee comes through strongly, with touches of stewed dates, rum and brandy. It's Xmas pudding in a glass: heavy and sweet, no doubt about it, but with solidity and purpose.

Light toffee entry before a big welling of sweetness and more booze than expected hits mid to late in the picture. Dates and prunes come through along with a dusty roasted character that melds towards a slightly cutting astringency at the end. This helps clean out the palate from that clinging sweetness, leaving a very harmonious if cacophonic whole.

Feel is exceptionally smooth.

Drinkability: well, I'd think it was too heavy, but it's not huge overall. At only 6.6% it's actually light enough to drink more than one, and the awesome depth and complexity ensures you want more than one. Love it.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Bestefar
Reviewed by Jez on 05.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
On a miserably wintry day in Sydney, I thought this was a suitable beer.

Pours a pleasant deep, deep ruby-black colour, with a fizzling and frothy head of pale brown. Body is really surprisingly light given the size of the beer itself. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is bright and extremely vinous, giving off direct characters of red wine cork and a little oak barrel. Spicy and a little fruity, with some musty tannic qualities coming through as well. There's a touch more sweetness than you'd get in say a big, aged Shiraz, and a hint of roast to it, but otherwise it's remarkably similar. Perhaps slightly lacking in complexity, but otherwise good.

Taste is much different, with a bold, roasted smoothness and a smoky back palate, which lends a comforting if somewhat unusual edge to the beer. Feel is a little light, but leaves a smoothness that mingles with the oak and smoke characters. On the back there is a touch of astringency, and a hint of heat to it, which detracts from the drinkability overall.

Overall, a very decent beer, but one I feel perhaps just lacks a little of Haand's usual esoteric charm. There are some interesting parts to it, but it doesn't draw you in and take you deeper what's there on the surface.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Southerly Buster Dark Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 21.11.11 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pretty old bottle, if I recall correctly. Still retains its carbonation, however, pouring with a very pleasant frothy and thick head of off-white bubbles, atop a gorgeously coloured ruby-red body. Carbonation is quite fine and forms in tiny streams up the edge of the glass. Looks quite lovely.

Nose is a little spicy and a little sweet, but with a sharp metallic character coming through and a whiff of carbonation and acidity. The darker hints of leather and cereals are the basis, with these flashes giving some nuance over the top. Rather pleasant.

Taste is a little bit more disappointing, with a flat dry English nuttiness forming the basis for the beer, giving an almond-skin character that peters out towards nothingness at the end. Slight bitterness or astringency on the finish, but very little hint of the spice, and very little sweetness at all. Feel is also very light.

Not a bad beer, all up, but less complex and exciting than initial impressions would have you believe. Drinkable, but not much more than that in the end.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Fireside Chat
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a murky red colour with bubbly beige head, just a cloud of bubbles on top with pleasant lacing. Could use more to look at, but not bad.

Smell is quite fruity and sweet. English-style with toffeed malt, banana notes, some nutmeg and ginger. Spice cookies and a hint of star anise at the back. Bit too sweet overall but again, not bad.

Taste has a bit more earth to it; bit dark with some molasses upfront and then sweet-but-roasty mid, with hints of leather, nutmeg and dried banana chips. Nice dry spice on the back with light pepper, nutmeg and star anise, but retains that residual sweetness which is unfortunate. Quite a pleasant, light 'n' sweet brew, but a bit off-balance at times.

Bit of texture to it, but quite dry on the back. Maybe could use more body, feels a bit thin at times.

Pleasant beer, nothing amazing about it, but I feel they're not aiming for amazing, and they have managed to hit pleasant 'n' drinkable.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a rich red-amber colour with decent crown of cream-coloured foam, sinks to a cloud of bubbles. Lace is lovely and sticky. Nice.

Don't get a whole lot from the nose. Actually smells fairly ethanoic, with a sharp boozey aroma. Hint of vanilla, fresh straw and maybe some caramel sweetness. Would like more aroma, it's a bit lacklustre, although inoffensive.

Taste is far more sweet but still very lacking. Lots of toffee, touch of caramelised pecans for nuttiness, and some slight citric/herbal notes just taming the sweetness late and making it a bit dry. Booziness on the back with oaky bourbon notes, but it ultimately tastes like the sweetness is just swimming in an otherwise empty palate. Nice back, but otherwise uneventful and uninspiring.

Yeah, it's a light-tasting brew, but there's enough body there to keep it going; very dry and boozey at the back.

Feel like this beer misses the mark. There might have been a really nice palate here but it's just gone missing, and you're left with little more than warm booze notes and some sweetness around the edge.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)
Reviewed by Jez on 01.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a suprisingly light reddish copper/amber colour, with a filmy, but relatively firm head of almost-white. Lacing is speckled and patchy in places, but it exists at least. Body is solid, and holds some large bubbled carbonation when swirled, or tilted. Looks alright.

Nose is slightly spicy, with undertones of vanilla oak and a touch of aniseed. It's a little thin overall, and the oak characters start to seem a bit sharp without some sweetness or body to back it up. It seems a little bit like it's an oak beer done for the oak and very little else.

Taste is similar, with oak and vanilla underpinning... well, very little else. Slight boozy twinges around the edge, again with a slight hint of spice, but it's all very hidden and underhanded. The only character that is confident enough to make itself felt is the oak, and that's always felt like a character to complement or accentuate other characters, not to be the be all and end all.

Drinkability suffers because of the heat, and the lack of complexities and characters to make it really worthwhile. I love bourbon oak in things, but maybe this beer is telling me that I just really like the base beer in others.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Fireside Chat
Reviewed by Jez on 01.10.11 from a can
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Can purchased in San Francisco, brought back to Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a deep curranty brown, with a filmy and rather loose-bubbled head of pale beige. Some faint specks of lacing, but overall it looks a bit flat and tired. Body is rather good, and supports some fine carbonation. It's a bit lacklustre overall, however.

Nose is dark and spicy, with pickled ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon coming through, with a warm plum pudding depth and sweetness. It lacks real complexity, but it's quite pleasant as it stands.

Taste is a real disappointment. For something weighing in at almost 8% ABV, there's very little body, depth or complexity to it. Thin, reedy grain characters on the front, with very little hint of the spice or anything that was suggested on the nose. Maybe just a twinge of aniseed near the back, but this mingles with the residual linger alcohol heat to make it reminiscent of raki or ouzo.

No, this didn't really work for me. It's really flat and lifeless on the palate, and although there were some pleasant things on the nose, these were ephemeral and didn't really eventuate. I've had better from 21st Amendment.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Poacher's Choice
Reviewed by Jez on 28.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a deep magenta-copper hue with a minimal head that forms in a white collar around the edge of the glass. Lacing is decent, and it has a full body. The colour is nice at the very least.

Nose is incredibly sweet, with a big stewed dark fruits aroma dominant. The more I smell, the more I get candy aromas coming off: artificial strawberry syrup, Jolly Ranchers and the strawberry cream from inside a Krispy Kreme donut. It's different, I'll give it that, but almost too much. Hopefully, the flavour tempers this a bit.

Taste is also odd, however, with a very big fruit pie character coming through: pastry, currants, with nutty marzipan characters making an appearance at the end. It's certainly not unpleasant, but it's very full and very sweet—fortunately, the slight nutty and grainy upturn in the tail stops it from being too heavy.

Feel is a bit too carbonated, and even a little astringent—I imagine it's a different beer on-tap.

Yeah, not bad at all. A very interesting brew and one with a lot more character than your usual English Ale, if not the refinement and class.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)
Reviewed by Jez on 01.05.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Picked up at Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Pours a cherry-cola coloured red-brown, with an almost soda-like fizzing head of beige. Carbonation even sticks to the inside of the glass like Coke. Light body. I actually can't get over the resemblance to a soft drink. I do like the colour, at least.

Nose is spicy and dark, with a deep toffee sweetness. Spice perhaps comes through most prominently, leaving anise, nutmeg, a little cinnamon and cloves. All very good christmas spices, no doubt. Not bad.

Taste similar, but with a roasted, slightly bittersweet malt character to balance it. Spice is still strong, giving a quite bitter finish of anise and carob. Feel is unfortunately weak—I really feel as though this would benefit from some extra depth, extra sweetness, and some extra body.

Not a bad drop, and good spicy beer to match with winter spiced dishes, I should imagine. I'm glad my regular Christmases involve the heat and the beach. A nice Pils or IPA is my ideal holiday beer.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Willie Warmer
Reviewed by Jez on 25.11.10 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)

On tap at the Local Taphouse, Sydney.

Pours a very dark, almost opaque black-brown, even at the edges and when held to the light. Lacing is good but the head, such as it is, dissipates rather quickly. Body looks a little light, but although the head remains merely a film, it creates some quite intricate lace. Looks pretty good.

Nose is vinous but slightly spicy, dark chocolate and roasted grains. Like dark chocolate dipped shiraz grapes. It's not incredibly robust, but it's deep and very pleasant.

Taste has more bitter chocolate on it, with some slightly acidic characters which really cut back the body a lot. Bit of cherry and a slight astringency. Very dry finish. Chocolate comes through again on the back. Shame about the feel. It really needs a bit more.

I've had better beers, and better beers in this style. It does have that nice astringency, and a nice continuing afterpalate, but it is certainly missing something. Needs depth of palate, more body and more complexity.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Full Sail Wassail
Reviewed by Jez on 03.11.10 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a deep ruby-red colour, with great clarity. Looks like a deep port or a heavily tannic red wine. Head is filmy, but fine bubbled. Lacing is patchy, but decent enough. It forms at least. Body is pleasantly heavy, and the very fine bubbling works well with it. Not a bad look.

Nose is very vinous, big notes of oaked red wine, and a slightly boozy cherry kirsch character. Hints of spice and cinnamon, muted enough, but enough to give a lift to the other characters. Quite pleasant.

Taste is also pleasant, although the booze is a little bit more prominent here, giving a slight heat and harshness to the back of the palate. The front is quite sweet, with some of the spice coming through as well. Light esters on the back give a slight fruitiness along with the boozy bite. Not bad. Feel is surprisingly thin given the good look of the thickness, and the booze hurts rather than helps this.

Decent enough, although it tastes slightly more harsh the more you drink it. There's pleasant characters to it, but it's missing a coherent story, and there are notes which become far too prominent. Good. Not great.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
James Squire Malt Runner
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.07.10 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(OK)
Pours a dark ruby colour with copper tinge at the edge. Head is beige, nice and dense but thinning quickly, leaving a nice sheet of dense off-white lace. Apart from the lace, pretty blah.

Nose is very malty, but with a pleasant toasty aroma. A lot of toffee but the toastiness balances it well, makes it smell like burnt sugar. Hint of molasses and a mild coffee note, maybe a slight banana ester at the back just cuts through. Decent, but a bit too mild, makes it slightly bland and simple.

Taste is different. Malty for sure but has a weak sour character towards the mid, not quite enough to notice, tastes kind of like watered-down red wine vinegar but yeah, not a huge amount. Slight cider twang then more of that richer maltiness on the back, distinct molasses with a mild espresso character, falls short of roasty bitterness though, just a slightly more-robust-than-average maltiness, slightly bitter on the back, but nothing special.

Smooth mouthfeel, but a bit thin, not a lot of texture. Fairly boring.

Ultimately just another bland, drinkable ale. Malty, toasty, sessionable. Doesn't make me leap for joy.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Malt Runner
Reviewed by Jez on 03.07.10 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a lovely dark and rich reddish amber colour, with good clarity. Head is a fine filmy of sticky white foam. Good lacing. Overall, a very nice looking beer.

Nose is very malty, with rich sweet grain characteristics prominent, counteracted by a subtle acidity, perhaps the cherries. Pretty round and sweet, but with just enough to balance it.

Taste is a little thinner than I expected, but it's pleasant enough. Initial grain and bread notes disappear quickly into the very light mid palate that doesn't really expose much at all. There's a welling of roasty bitterness on the back that adds some depth. Overall, it feel a little simple.

A drinkable beer, and not unbalanced, but I feel it needs something a little bit more full and forward to it. Still, a very decent sessioner - mild enough that you could have more than a couple.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.11.09 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)

Pours a burnished amber colour, with a full thick head of off-white bubbles. Good lacing, lots of streaming carbonation. Overall, it looks a very pleasant English ale.

Sprightly green hopped nose, lots of cut grass and fresh English styled hoppiness. Some funk is also present, a light sulphurous note. Little sweetness, which I'm surprised about. Overall, it's a little weak, and a little odd. Can't say I'm a big fan.

Smooth entry, with a mild bitterness crescendoing mid palate. Some faint sweetness on the back, before it dries out to a rather tame and generic English pale-ale style finish. The bitterness is a true English character, quite gritty and crisp. Overall, there's little complexity to the palate, and the dryness becomes quite tiresome after a while. Mouthfeel is crisp, lacks a little roundness.

Overall, a confusing beer. I can't say I'm a huge fan - it comes across as very little more than a rather tame English pale or brown ale. Of course, stylistically, it's pretty smooth and drinkable, but overall, I was expecting something richer and more complex from a winter ale.

Samuel Smith's can do better.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Special Holiday Ale - Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 16.09.09 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
Dark red-brown colour with a slowly-forming beige head that sticks around pretty well once it appears. Leaves some very fine, very sticky lacing, and seems to have a slight haze in the glass. Pretty good, I like the colour, but not a cover-of-Vogue beer.

Nose is rich and malty, lots of toffee on that with a slight roasted character, hint of pine bark and some figs. A nuttiness to it as well, with a slightly acrid bent, just a hint of sourness. Mostly deep and malty throughout, pleasant, yes.

Taste is very similar to the smell, only far more intense. Impressive. I am suitably impressed. A deep, thick and rich malty character with a toffee edge, but far darker, and more bitter, than I would expect, with a large hit of red grape tannins and a hint of espresso and pine resin, quite bitter for what it is. Ultimately tastes a lot darker than I'd anticipated, with a Brazil nut bitterness and a burnt edge to it. Nice though, nice.

Mouthfeel is a moderate thickness, a bit of texture but not very obvious. Good for the flavour though, great match.

This is an interesting drop, tastes darker than it looks and is quite brooding and sullen. But, when it comes down to it, I like it and I like it a lot.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Special Holiday Ale - Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone
Reviewed by Jez on 14.09.09 in bottle
Overall:
91 / 100
(Superb)

Purchased at Monument Wines and Spirits in Concord, CA. Carried back to Australia and cracked open with laituegonflable.

Pours thicker than just about any beer I've ever seen. Seriously, it looks more akin to treacle than beer. Initially, it looks as though it has no head whatsoever, then the long struggling bubbles finally push their way through the gelatinous mass to form a light collar of yellow brown film. Colour is a thoroughly wonderful dark mahogany red - overall, a top-notch looking beer. I'm in love.

Fair bit of resiny, citrus and west coast hops on the nose. More than anything reminds me of Arrogant Bastard. As it warms, there are some spicier notes revealed, perhaps the caraway seed and the rye coming to the fore. Delicious and tantalising, an excellent nose indeed.

The palate continues this monumental trend. A thick and chewy body has a languid time imparting sweet malts, spicy citrus/juniper bitter characters and a resiny sweet back palate that seems to clear my sinuses. It stretches on and on, morphing through sweetness, medicinal bitterness, creamy fullness and pleasant herbal notes. Every sip is a new adventure - it's as though this beer continuous to mature with every sip you take. A thoroughly mystifying, enchanting and bewitching beer.

Truly excellent. This is the way to do a beer that pushes the envelope. Give us something we don't expect, but wrap it in comfort, warmth and familiarity. Exceptionally cunning and amazingly enjoyable.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Christmas Cheer
Reviewed by Jez on 03.04.09 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)

Middling brown-red colour, slightly cloudy with a ring of slightly insipid bubbles. Body looks quite heavy, lacing is ok. Looks pretty nice.

Nose is full of tart fruit - cherries, kiwifruit and something darker like burnt toffee, or a dusty cellar. Even a light smokiness creeping in. Quite unusual, but very pleasant.

Initial tart hit then consumed by a dry cocoa and biscuit character. Vaguely sweet, but not really; it's more that I associate the underlying flavours with sweetness, rather than them being sweet in this beer. There's certainly a lightly astringent character, a little like grape must, finish is dry and dusty with a faint twang of cardboard. Mouthfeel is a bit flat, but otherwise a very interesting palate.

It strikes me that this beer might be a bit old. It has some vaguely long-cellared characters to it, notably the flat mouthfeel and the dry biscuit/cardboard character on the back. Otherwise, though, this was enjoyable, complex and unusual.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Christmas Cheer
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.04.09 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Red-tinged brown, quite dark colour, I had to really gush it from the bottle to produce any head which went down almost immediately. Some reasonable lacing, not much carbonation at all. Looks sweet and sticky, but not impressive.

Spicy and quite hoppy nose, rather strong hints of sultana, but not very sweet. It's actually not very hoppy, I'm mistaken, but there is a herbal or vegetative edge to it. Slight hints of wood as well, otherwise just syrupy and fruity.

Taste is not very sweet but with an earthy spiceyness, maybe a hint of ginger or nutmeg and a slight tartness, like cherries or underripe plums on the finish. If I'm to be honest I think this has gone past its shelf life, no matter what the 'best before' date on the bottle reckons. It's got flavour there but it's become quite bland and slightly dusty. There are reminders of some fairly pleasant fruit tartness, but it would have to be drunk now to get any of this.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.07.08 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Flat, red wine-esque appearance. Reminiscent of the Pepperjack beers actually, or maybe it's just a pepper thing I have. Dark brown/red hue with no head. Flat and listless carbonation.

Nose is very sour and peppery. Kind of chilli spice and fragrant. Slight sweet kind of character but pungence definitely goes to the spice. Quite exotic and impressive.

Taste is quite intense. There's a smokey character to it and a lot of flavour. Thick, rich and tart with a hit of spice towards the middle of the palate. It's quite pleasant. There's a peppery finish to it. Interesting and quite nice but not groundbreaking. Mouthfeel is a bit watery.
appearance: 2.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 20.07.08 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)

Dark, but clear red-brown colour, with quite a light collar of beige foam. Nice lacing. A nice looking beer all up. I like the colour in particular.

Smells bring back images of some type of confectionery from my childhood. Vaguely sour, dark and pungent. Hint of cherry or bitter chocolate perhaps. Interesting.

Vague chocolate character on the palate with a slight hint of mint. Very odd. But it's nice, it has a really familiar, warm and comfortable character to it. I can't pick it, but it's nice.

Mouthfeel is nice, but a little thin.

This is a very pleasant, very drinkable beer. A great brew for winter indeed.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0