Belgian Blonde Ale
36th highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedCock & Bull Monk's Habit (93 / 100) Average score67 / 100 (Solid)
Lowest RatedIt's Alright! (30 / 100) Number Tried93
Flemish Sun
Reviewed by Jez on 09.08.18 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer. They call this a "hoppy Belgian blonde", and they're not shirking the hoppiness.

Pours a very hazy, almost turbid dirty golden colour, with a loose-bubbled head of white that leaves coarse, chunky lace. Body is light and fluid, with swift-moving carbonation. I didn't expect the cloudiness. Otherwise it looks pretty good.

Nose is surprisingly sharp—with the Belgian yeast characters I have to fight against the feeling that it's acid funk. Instead, it's possible to recast this as hoppiness (spoiler alert: there's no tartness on the palate, which makes these mental gymnastics easier). It's an earthy, herbal hoppiness though, with characters of blackberry leaf and crushed briar. And that rounded yeasty note lends a slightly fatty character. It's interesting, to say the least.

Taste is also a little bit offputting, but in a way that always maintains my interest. It's light and round on the entry, with a suggestion of sweet Belgian esters and neutral malt. In the mid-palate though there's a strange conflict between the yeast and the herbal hops, which leaves an amalgam of hay and dung. Fortunately, this is cleaned out slightly by a spritz of carbonation and a brighter hoppy herbal note in the back. Finish is lightly bitter, with a crispness from the hops which creates a punctuation mark.

Feel is smooth and light, but with a frothy fullness from lots of fine carbonation.

Overall, I'm intrigued—it's honestly not a beer that I particularly love, but there's such an intriguing balance of characters that my interest is piqued. I'll definitely keep an eye out for what other beers these guys do.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Blonde Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 07.08.18 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
500ml squat brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a very clear pale golden blonde colour, with a frothy, whipped egg-white head of white that leaves long streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine enough, but moves swiftly though a fairly light body.

Nose is fairly pleasant, with light rounded phenols that give a fruitiness which contrasts nicely with a sharper note which could be noble hops, or could be a non-Belgian yeastiness. It's a bit one note, but it's pleasant.

Taste is interesting. Far from having the rounded sweetness of the Belgian examples, this is bold and almost smoky. It has a pronounced mineral bite to it, with hints of sulphur and peat. The finish has an almost salted character, which matches up with a fairly noticeable booze (surprising for the weight). Finish is briny and mossy.

Feel is overcarbonated, and very light. It accentuates the saline characters on the back.

Overall, it's an odd beer, and I have to say it's not a great example of the Belgian style. But it has its own quirks and interest, and it makes for an unusual experience at least.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Sugarfoot
Reviewed by Jez on 01.01.18 on tap
Overall:
78 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at the brewery in Denver.

Pours a slightly hazed, very pale straw colour, almost the shade of a witbier, but not as hazy. Head is a fine, bubbly ring that leaves tiny streaks of lace. Body is very light. It looks pretty good.

Nose is very pleasant. It has a slight twangy, organic Belgian yeast character, but brighter and crisper. There's not quite pepper to it, but perhaps some lightly pestled aromatic spices giving off hints of myrrh and bergamot. Nice.

Taste is also great. Clean and fresh from front to back, and super drinkable. Pepper and Belgian yeast notes on the back giving off characters of plasticine, grains of paradise and just a hint of bitterness. Finish has some rounded sweetness to polish things off.

Feel is so light. It's perfect for the style.

Love it. It's super drinkable and so well made. I'm really impressed that a beer of this weight has this much complexity.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.5
Island Hopper (Bruny Island collab)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.11.17 on tap
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
On tap at Preachers.

Pours a golden amber colour, quite burnished. Head is white, tightly packed bubbles with some lovely Belgo lacing being left behind. Decent foamy retention. Looks pretty nice. Great lacing.

Smells Belgo, but tangy. Some phenolic characters, blending with nice citric hops, stonefruit in small amounts as well. Quite enticing.

Taste is intriguing; nice late addition hops having an impact early on the palate and towards the mid. Stonefruit mainly, with mango and peach as well as passionfruit. Gets quite bitter, with some citrus rind mixing with phenolic Belgian yeast notes. Slightly medicinal towards the back but finishes with a waxy, slightly metallic bitterness. Not too strong or dirty though so it's ultimately quite drinkable but also intriguing.

Swells nicely but gets a sharp pull from the yeast on the back. Starts alright but finishes a bit meh.

Quite a pleasant drop, would like a bit more hop bitterness to drive that finish more, but it's a good blend overall.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.75
Mayday Hills Yee-Hah!
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 28.02.17 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
This is a 100% Brettanomyces-fermented pale ale. 50/50 call whether I call it a saison or a Belgian Pale... I don't know, fucking sue me whoever's reading this. Not even my mother reads these. I read these, maybe. Fucking sue yourself if you have a problem, me. Bottle given to me by Jez, enjoyed by myself.

Pours a pale metallic copper colour, strange paling as it gets to the edge like it's quite thin or there's material in the body that hasn't sunk yet. Head is lovely and generous with nice marshmallowy peak on the top. Lacing is decent but not very clingy. Looks odd but good.

Smells bretty. Funky barnyard character with a slightly crisp citric note, giving both acidity and astringency. Subtle malty note is quite rich, molassesy even, gives a faint whiff of honey even from a while away. Decent, but pretty much just what you'd expect.

That maltiness is quite prominent here, and the beer is stronger for it. Rich caramel toffee note that gets richer, yeah more molasses on the mid-palate. Brett comes through then, slightly funky, a little tart and gets quite organic which works with that malt to create a malt vinegar kind of character to finish. Slightly bitter on the finish but a nice lingering twang of acidity helps elevate it above ashy astringency. Quite pleasant palate really, well balanced with some really strong-flavoured elements working together.

A good body, carried by the malt. Nice texture, maybe a little thick actually, but good.

Interesting beer, intriguing premise. Ballsy malty pale, Brett-fermented so it's quite heavy but nicely funky as well. Nicely put together.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.25
Jam Donut
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.07.16 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Raspberry cinnamon blonde ale, brewed for GABS 2016. Tried at the festival in Melbourne.

Pours a pale amber colour with a slight tinge of pink. Very cloudy, with foamy cream-coloured head on top. Not bad.

Smells of berries, but very strongly of cinnamon which is quite lovely. Touch of vanilla sweetness and caramel in there as well. Pleasant.

Taste swings the other way and is predominantly berries. Somewhat tart and fresh, that descends into a slight cinnamon note late-mid. There's a subtle underlying maltiness which is otherwise subdued under the adjuncts and a bit more sweetness from the body would go a long way here. Thankfully doesn't get choked on Belgian phenols or esters, though.

Body is somewhat thin, touch of carbonation. Not bad.

Pretty nice, but overall just a touch too tart; I like the fresh berry note but without more sweetness the 'joy' factor expected from a beer called "Jam Donut" sort of sinks a little.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
BRA
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 16.02.16 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Called BRA, a 'Belgian Red Ale' but not in the Flanders Red, or even Biere de Garde, sense.

Pours a bright red colour, with as good a nice, dense head as you're likely to see. Lacing is gorgeous. The whole thing looks gorgeous.

Smells kind of sweet; floral and fruity. Notes of green apple, apple skin and some dried orange peel. Maybe some light spice, but not a lot. Smells fairly simple.

Taste is toffee, especially upfront. Burnt sugar, then gets some pie crust/pastry character. Buttery and slightly spicy. Finishes with a touch of phenolic flavour, maybe bitter but the whole thing has a lingering sweetness which is very enjoyable. Quite pleasant actually, although I'm not sure what the intention is. It's well-balanced and well constructed.

Smooth, foamy. Good body, but not too thick. Just goodness.

I'm not sure I've ever had anything calling itself a "Belgian Red Ale" that wasn't a red saison or sour red, and so I'm not entirely sure what it's meant to be beyond a Belgian Pale or Blonde with more crystal malt than usual. But if everything calling itself a Belgian Red was like this beer, I say bring them on. Yum.
appearance: 4.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.25
Wrong Turn
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.11.15 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
"Belgian summer ale with rye and oats". Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor.

Pours a pale golden colour, with a touch of cloud. Head is a little disappointing, but the lacing left behind is very nice and picturesque, layers of foam. Not bad but standard.

Smells lovely and floral. Big musk stick aroma is dominant, with a touch of rosewater; largely sweet. Bit nectary, maybe a hint of agave syrup. Hint of Belgian yeast at the back. Pleasant.

Taste is sweet upfront, with that floral agave character, touch of musk on there as well. Gets a hint of acid midway, maybe some citrus, then Belgian yeast on the back. Earthy spice and medicinal notes, a little bit strong late, but then mellows out on the finish. Touch of fruit then, too, and maybe a hint of rye spice, though could use more rye overall and maybe a touch more florals. Just tastes a bit too bitter-spicy and as a result slightly dour.

Oats make their presence known on the mouthfeel. There's hints that the carbonation wants to show through the thin body, but it's smooth and pleasant sailing otherwise.

Decent brew. I feel like it could have been more fresh and tasty, with more flavoursome adjuncts to complement the yeast better. The yeast seems quite like a contrast to the other flavours and it doesn't all mix together as well as it might have.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Hill Belgian Blonde
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.07.15 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Bottle given to me by Jez for my birthday; shared with Andrew.

Pours a bright orange, light whispy head. Decent lace. Nice character but more head would be nice for the style.

Smells malty, somewhat like simple sugar fermentation. Candi sugar, touch of phenol and spice - pepper and maybe fennel as well. Decent, standard Belgian aroma.

Taste is phenolic, yeah. Fair malt upfront, gets ethyl alcohol flavour midway, then some phenolic, medicinal notes late, but still quite sweet with a caramelised edge. Pretty nice; balanced, appealing sweetness.

Decent body, good texture. Very nice feel in the mouth.

To style, but really nicely handled. I think Red Hill are probably the best Aussie brewery at doing Belgian styles, and since a lot of actual Belgian beers I get in bottle shops are often past their shelf-life, these are well worth checking out.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.0
Red Duck Lapin
Reviewed by Jez on 27.03.15 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a reasonably clear golden hue, quite bright in the body with a thin, fine head of white. Some mild patches of sudsy lace form as it goes down, despite the rather minimal head. Carbonation is good—generally quite low, but persisting well in the body, despite it being a relatively dry beer.

Nose is a little dull. Mild clipped-grass leafy hop character to it, giving an earthiness above some fairly neutral malt. A little mild, funk comes through as well—perhaps just a touch of meatiness, or some slightly savoury estery characters from the yeast. It's not really very potent, but it's not unpleasant.

Taste is a bit better. Here the hops become a bit greener and slightly more fragrant, although there's very little in the way of bitterness. Instead, we're left with some slightly vegetative tones perhaps with a mild herbal quality of crushed fresh mint. Coupled with this is a rather savoury malt turn, accentuated by some slightly earthy yeast characters that bring up the rear.

Feel is light—it's very appropriate, and aids the drinkability.

Overall, it just doesn't quite have enough character to get me really excited, although there are some interestingly subtle things at play here. I like the use of the French Aramis and Strisselspalt hops, which are very nice when used right, even though they certainly don't produce the bold characters of others. But overall, it's nice enough, and certainly pretty easy to drink.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Enkir
Reviewed by Jez on 02.01.15 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
330ml dark green bottle, in the short stubby style that Birra del Borgo do their 750ml bottles as well. Purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.

Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, with a somewhat pocked head of white that actually fades out of existence to nothing pretty quickly. Body is lovely though—firm richness that leaves lovely streams of carbonation when tilted. Some sediment is present, despite my only pouring the top two-thirds or so of the bottle. Looks good though.

Nose is very pleasant. Herbal, spicy characters that give the coriander quality of a witbier, while the richness of the malt adds sweetness to stop it getting too light and frothy. The yeast characters also help here, giving an almost savoury organic character—this adds a sense of meatiness, but doesn't make it feel heavy. It's pretty nice all up.

Taste is much along the same lines. Pleasant spicy aromatics above a fairly solid malt basis, slicked with a clean smooth feel. Back lingers with a faint hint of acidity and even a touch of mineral salt. The feel really helps. The carbonation is low, but there's a fair bit of body for the style, which actually helps sustain the flavours to a degree that helps raise it above the ordinary. Very pleasant.

Overall, it's a really nicely created beer. There's some very pleasant richness to it that put it above a standard spiced Belgian Golden, or a witbier. I did like it a lot.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 19.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
330ml brown bottle purchased at the Triple Ace Bar in Surry Hills. Hey, it was a beer I hadn't tried, so I guess I can't complain about the beer selection.

Pours a very clear amber-golden colour, with a fine, eggy head that takes some effort to promote. Despite this, there's a fine upward shower of carbonation running through the body. Lacing is good. The colour and the body make it look a little generic, but there's certainly good things there.

Nose is surprisingly dull. Coppery, slightly flat and a little bit woody. As it warms up a little there's a faint suggestion of spice, perhaps a little aniseed, and just a little toffee sweetness. Overall, this does smell pretty generic, and certainly as though they've toned down the flavour profile.

Taste is a bit better, with a sweeter, rounder character coming through. Definitely some mild Belgian tones, with a little fake yeasty ester. Slight lemon peel bite matched with some mineral salt. Sadly, it ends with that same woody bitterness that makes it taste very generic—like a PoR-hopped Aussie lager.

Feel is light and oddly empty. Given the sweetness in the flavour I would have expected a bit more to it.

Overall, it's fine enough as it is, but it's definitely worse than the Dark Ale, and probably not even as good (or as Belgian-flavoured) as the White, a beer which I don't much enjoy any way. Most disappointingly, this is not the rebirth of the very good Little Rabbit BPA, which was Little Creatures and White Rabbits collaboration entry at GABS a couple of years back. This is significantly more tame and much less interesting.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 13.06.14 on tap
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.

Pours a pale golden colour, certainly within the realms of blonde with some hazing through the clean, light body. Fine but inconsistent white bubbling forms the head, and doesn't leave much in the way of lacing. It looks a little underwhelming.

Belgian esters come through fairly well, but underneath is a sort of yeasty blandness that doesn't help accentuate some of those spicier characters. A little pepper is noticeable as is a touch of acidity. Not bad all up, but not really that interesting either.

Light rounded entry on the front palate with an immediate dryness which continues throughout. Yeasty tones come through along with a stretched thin malt character. Back is fairly clean, but the dryness has parched most of the Belgian notes except for a faint lingering spice. It's actually not bad. The feel is surprisingly a little fuller than the dryness would make you believe.

Overall, while it's not a mind-blowing beer, it's fairly solid all the same.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Birra Moretti Grand Cru
Reviewed by Jez on 05.04.14 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
75cl caged and corked brown bottle purchased from the local supermarket in Sorrento.

Pours a faintly hazed, natural looking pale honey colour, with a frothy head of white that lacks persistence. Lacing forms in streaky lots down the side of the glass though. Body has some heft. Overall, it looks pretty good.

Nose has some pleasant Belgian yeast characters to it, slight fruity esters and sharper phenolic characters. It lacks a bit of spice and a bit of complexity, but it's generally rounded and fragrant and quite consistent.

Taste also lacks a bit of complexity, but it takes on a bit of clove-like spice, and the extra kick of booze adds some depth to the palate. Rounded and smooth for the most part, with some fruit characters on the back, perhaps a little wild strawberry and green apple. It dries out nicely on the finish with a slight metallic aftertaste. Again, it's not mind-blowing stuff, but it's genuinely pretty solid.

Feel is pretty good. Rounded and full in the front, but with a lightness on the back.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this. It's not going to blow your mind, but it's a very solidly made Belgian-style: rounder and richer, full but pretty easy to drink. Solid stuff.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Golden Age Of Bloodshed
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.12.13 on tap
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
Pours a pink-red colour, with pink-tinged head of dense creamy lace. Looks interesting, and pretty great beer-wise even notwithstanding the pink-ness.

Smells quite savoury, with a whiff of phenolic spice. touch of rye bread, cedar wood and a touch of lemon. Odd vegetative notes lingering at the back, I presume that's beetroot but the dominant aroma is just phenolic.

Taste is similar but more vegetative. Grainy malt upfront with oatmeal character and more of that rye bread note, then earthy towards the mid and late with a touch of cedar wood. Finish is phenolic and bitter. Decently constructed but tastes rather like a Belgian pale ale and doesn't really have a lot of the beetroot twist I was expecting.

Mouthfeel is quite thin, with carbonation creeping through. Disappointing.

Yeah, some maybe subtle, unusual notes but I'm not sure I see the point of them. The beetroot really shouts volumes in the colour but it gets drowned in generic Belgian yeast notes on the nose and palate.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.25
Saint's Devotion
Reviewed by Jez on 16.11.13 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
375ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from Whole Foods SoMa in San Francisco, CA. Shared in Sydney with Sam and Rich.

Pours a hazy pale golden colour, with a big, rocky, bretty head of white that leaves caves as it bubbles away. Lacing is chunky and excellent. Carbonation is fine: body has a little heft to it, but not a huge amount.

Nose is ripe and bretty. Slight acidity, but much more estery tropical fruits. I get tinned pineapple, a little mint and rosemary, sherbet and a mineral saltiness that probably stems from the same aromas as the traditional earthy, horsey Brett notes. It smells wonderful.

Taste is much, much more subdued, without a lot of Brett character apart from an extreme attenuation which leaves the beer very dry indeed. Clean grain characters on the mid-to-late palate along with a slight clinging bitterness reminiscent of the slight mineral character on the nose. It's quite clean, but it's only decent, without the complexities or intensity of the nose.

Feel is also a little light, although it doesn't have a lot to work with anyway.

Overall, it's really quite drinkable, but it promised more than it ultimately delivered. I still like it a lot, but I was expecting a new favourite from Lost Abbey looking at it, and so I'm a little bit sore that it didn't live up to its potential.

appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.75
Devotion Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.08.13 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a cloudy orange-amber. Opaque body. Head is huge, white, fluffy and dense and sinking in parts, but some wonderful lace is left behind. I think the colour could be more decisive: it's in-between shades. Otherwise pretty damn good.

Smells tart and spicy. Plenty of pepper, dry fennel notes, vinegary touch and some barnyard-phenol notes on the back. Lucerne, mouldy basement but freshened with a whisper of cranberry. Very appealing.

Taste is spicy and a whole lot sweeter than I expected. Actually quite sweet, with creamy notes, touch of malt and maybe some popcorn towards the mid. Back had a Belgian spice edge, dry white pepper and coriander seed, with a touch of candied orange. Finishes quite sweet, in spite of some gentle phenols bouncing around the palate. Would like the earthier notes to be plumped up more. Decent, though.

Full body, bit of pull at the back, but otherwise silky smooth and quite beautiful.

Bit confused by this beer. It promised a lot, and my issue is that the flavour's actually a bit insipid. Feels like there's a lot in this beer but the flavour is not felt in any meaningful way.
appearance: 4.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Devotion Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 03.08.13 in bottle
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Large corked and caged 750ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo at Menlo Park, CA. Brought back to Sydney and cracked open with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a bright, hazed golden colour with a crackling, frothy head of white that leaves honeycombed lacing. Body is quite light, and the carbonation is actually surprisingly coarse, rising swiftly through the glass. Looks decent.

Nose is light and a little subtle. Mild rounded notes, a little salted caramel, some plasticky tones and a hint of pepper. There's a very faint lemon character sitting underneath everything, which is nice, but quite hidden. Not bad.

Taste is pleasant: light and slightly rounded, with the lemon character coming out a little more giving a rubbed zesty fragrance to the flavour. Smooth finish without the phenols or harshness that might have been there. Slight bite of seltzer on the back, but the feel is pleasantly smooth, meaning it doesn't get too sharp. It's certainly drinkable, but it is indeed pretty muted.

Overall, this was actually a pretty disappointing drop from Lost Abbey, who have genuinely done some of my favourite beers. This is reasonably pedestrian even for a standard Belgian Pale. While it's drinkable, it really doesn't bring anything interesting or exciting to the table: as a result I can't really think of when I'd choose to drink it again.

appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Golden Age Of Bloodshed
Reviewed by Jez on 11.06.13 on tap
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2013. This is a "heavily beeted Belgian blond" named in honour of Rowland S Howard.

And heavily-beeted it is: it pours a deep, deep red: artificial red, like overly-strong cordial. Quite clear in the body, but with only a light weight behind it. Head is a deep, foamy pink that leaves a solid ring around the glass, but not much lacing. It certainly looks interesting.

Nose is a bit disappointing: there's not much in the way of beetroot noticeable here, and the Belgian characters are a touch generic underneath. Roundness from the yeast, a very light hint of pepper and some earthiness. It feels a bit thin and reedy overall.

Some light pepper on the front palate, with some spritzy carbonation, before a phenolic bite comes through mid-palate. Earthy, vegetative and a bit raw. Finish is quite light and dry, crisp enough, but also following the pattern of being quite dull. No real flavour in the aftertaste.

Feel is very light.

The colour looks great: otherwise it's pretty generic and dull. It was a disappointing beer from these guys, who tend to know when and how to experiment with success. This was not such a successful experiment.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Orval Trappist Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 13.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
How have I never reviewed Orval before? Noticing the oversight, I purchased a bottle from Steve's Cool Booze in Kingsford.

Pours a clear golden-tending-to-amber hue, with a fluffy, relatively large-bubbled, white head, that stays pretty solid and consistent. Body is light, but smooth riddled with very fine carbonation. Looks reasonably good.

Nose is clean and crisp, with a hint of wood, and a slight apple overtone. Some peppery tones and a slight cedar character. It all melds together nicely, giving a slightly aged, slightly fruity character. But it stays pretty light throughout. Yes, indeed.

Taste is actually a lot lighter, a lot dryer than expected. Clean, appley tones on the front. Slight biting phenolic characters towards the back and an uptilt of mild aged funk. The funk actually just dries out the back, and provides much less true funk than I remember.

Feel is light but smooth.

Overall, it's a decent brew, but I remember this being much better. I guess the brett can be patchy anyway, and this may just be a more subtle one than the usual. As it is, it's a decent, but not exciting Belgian ale for me, and one I may well revisit and re-review.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Cuvée De Ranke
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
Purchased on the joint recommendation of Stu from Yeastie Boys and Adam from Platinum Liquor. Enjoyed the bottle all myself one lonely Friday evening.

Pours a golden colour, steady bead feeding a very pleasant heavy head, nice and generous but sinks in strands. Some lacing left behind. Looks nice.

Smells tart and funky. Large organic, earthy kind of offness with a crisp and fresh lemony acidity over the top. Touch of raspberry, too, some dirt and lucerne, but yeah the tartness is a real fresh note, and makes it smell very pleasant indeed.

Taste is also pretty funky, with a really noticeable damp, organic barnyard flavour. Tartness comes through pretty strong, with lemon, vinegar and a very underripe strawberry note. Finishes with a very slight puckering astringency, but it's really just a whisper. The back palate is mostly sweet and fruity, with a big caramelised pear character. Very tasty, balanced and professionally put-together lambic style.

Nips a bit from that wild yeast. Bit foamy from the carbonation and ends surprisingly sweet and full, but inevitably dry.

Great drop. Complex and confronting, but deeply rewarding. Beautifully reined in.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
La Trappe Blond
Reviewed by Jez on 04.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
330ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.

Pours a bright and clear golden blonde colour like you want. Head is a little disappointingly flat after the initial flurry of activity, lasting only as a bubbly inconsistent ring around parts of the edge. Minimal lace. Body is firm but fluid. Overall, it looks pretty decent, but perhaps not up to the standard of the great trappist blondes.

Nose is round and slightly deep, again without the richness and complexity of the best examples. Slight sweatiness, some banana, dark fruity esters and a slight phenolic bite. The sweetness is dominant, perhaps to the detriment of some of the more subtle complexities. It still smells like a decent Belgian blonde, but I guess you have to compare this to a higher bar than many other styles.

Taste is similar. Rounded chewy sweetness, more ripe banana esters, slight plasticky phenolic bite towards the back. There's a lingering sweetness to the finish, which isn't altogether unpleasant: clinging toffee characters stick around after the sharper notes drop out. It's not bad, but it seems a bit like it's just checking the boxes.

Feel is quite disappointing. Really rather aggressive carbonation means the feel and the flavours don't integrate but exist as separate entities.

Overall, pretty decent. But there are so many examples better than this, and some examples that are significantly better. Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Extraomnes Zest
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 31.01.13 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale straw colour, distinct cloud throughout the body. Head is white in colour, large bubbles but nice density to them, and retains thick and meaty on the sides of the glass. Very pale but looks great.

Wow, basil on the nose. No mistaking it at all. Touch of lemon to it as well but overwhelmingly herbal. I'm intrigued, but I really can't get much more than a basil aroma.

Same again on the palate. Slight fruity edge but a big load of herbs. Funny ol' beer. Touch of tang, but more herbs than anything else. Quite savoury at times, but there's a certain level of refreshment from it as well. Glad it's only 5.3%, any stronger and we could be going into very rocky waters indeed.

Foamy, nice body. Not bad at all on the texture.

Not sure if the flavours I'm getting are all intentional. Not very Belgian, some unique characters creeping in which could be a delightful quirk or some egregious error. But the beer overall is not bad at all, and there are some very nice refreshing notes as well. Worth a try.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Moo Brew Belgo
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
46 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a golden Belgian colour, clear with off-white head. Decent Belgian head that sticks around nice. A little bit clear and fizzy-looking, but OK.

Bit simple on the nose. Decent fruity characters and a fair phenolic note coming through as well. Touch of pine and quite mediciney towards the back. Not bad but not great.

A little flat on the palate too, lacking a bit in complexity. Fairly yeasty and that yeast lends a fair few Belgian spicy phenols to the proceedings, but there's a dry booze note as well and quite mediciney towards the back. Can't say I'm a big fan.

Alcohol is there mostly in flavour, not in heat. Body is on the thin side, but decent texture otherwise.

Nothing really appealing about this brew, it's fairly standard and not particularly tasty. I've had better Belgian pales and better beers from Moorilla.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Little Rabbit
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a pale straw-gold colour, very light haze in the glass. Head is white, consisting of large bubbles but a great thick Belgian retention. Good overall.

Malty nose, but lots of Belgian phenolic spice coming through from the yeast. Peppery with a touch of bubblegum, banana, clove, melon and cinnamon. Lovely Belgian blend.

Sweet upfront on the palate, goes into a nice, pleasant Belgian pale character with lots of phenols and spice. Little bit dry towards the back and becomes a little thin or subdued, but a very laudable effort overall.

Decent body, very dry on the back. Not a bad feel.

Very to-style Belgian pale, but nicely handled indeed.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
B.A.L Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 15.12.12 in bottle
Overall:
41 / 100
(Not Great)
Found a trio of these beers at Porters at Northwood. Not having seen them before I decided to pick them up and give them a try. Started for no particular reason with this one. 330ml tallish brown bottle.

Pours a murky golden colour, tending towards orange in the deeper parts. Head doesn't form much on its own, but a rigid pour gives it a crackling, disturbed bubbling of just off-white. This settles to a fine half-centimetre on the top of the glass, and leaves very fine tiny lace. Carbonation is fine, and it looks like it has a reasonably good body to it. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it looks.

Nose is crisp with grains, but painted with a slick, fruity almost-acidity. Some leafy euro-style hops come through, but they're very muted. The slightly tart character seems to win out, and it's a little bit disconcerting, giving a funky character like a Saison, without the rest of the characters of a Saison. Hmm...

Taste is similarly drawn. Here, there's a smoothness to the palate, but that accentuates the sweetness and the fruity acidity, giving it a character like apricot nectar. Definite tart bite on the back lets it dissolve into a fizzy buzz towards the finish. Slight drying hops, but when the faint bitterness melds with the sour character, it gives a metallic note that's actually quite unpleasant.

Overall, this seems wrong to me. There are some pleasant elements, but the acidity and the rampant fruitiness seem like they're extremely unintentional, and they really ruin this beer for me. I can't say I enjoyed this much at all.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.0
Golden State Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 01.12.12 from a can
Overall:
43 / 100
(Not Great)
US pint can purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. It felt like a good beer for the first day of summer.

Pours a clear golden hue, with a middling head of fine white fuzz, that sits filmily on the top of the glass and stacking up against the edges. Minimal lacing, if any: just some spots here and there. Carbonation is quite fine, and the body looks hefty. Overall, not a bad look, but not exceptional either.

Nose is a little flat and bland, but it has some good aspects. Some rounded Belgian notes come through, along with a slight earthy or perhaps peppery tone that I can't place, and hence attribute to the poppy seeds. Sweeter than it needs to be, at least on the nose, with a toffee or corn sugar slickness that feels a bit too much. Eh.

Taste is similar. Big sweetness in particular, with a sluice of chewy, almost underfermented malt characters giving a grainy, thick and heavy flavour to whatever follows. Some spiciness comes through, but not nearly enough, and by the time it's spent itself, the sweetness roars back on the finish, leaving a sticky sickly back palate. It needs something—some crispness, a bit of bitterness, more of that spice—anything to cut back on that sweetness. I'm afraid I was unimpressed.

Overall, I'm really quite disappointed in this beer. It feels like a bit of a mess. Something needs to give: the sweetness is excessive, and the spice that comes through is not enough, or doesn't fulfill the role it needs to play. It ends up sickly, chewy and a little unpalatable.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Petrus Speciale Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 22.09.12 in bottle
Overall:
59 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle purchased for me by @epiclurk.

Pours a mild, clear amber hue, with a fizzling, large-bubbled but relatively persistent head of off-white. Lacing is pretty good, sitting in sticky rings as the beer goes down. Body is pretty light, and only provides the merest of impediments for the racing carbonation. Overall, not a bad look though...

Nose is mildly sweet, with a relatively thick malt character providing the brunt of the aroma. There's a hint of something a little acidic, perhaps a touch of oak or funk, or maybe just the complexities of the yeast, but it lends a little edge to an otherwise pretty dull aroma.

Taste, however, doesn't deliver on this complexity. In fact, here we get nothing more than that malty sweetness, with no real body or weight to back it up: it feels as though the malt appears in a honeyed flash, and then disappears, leaving a watery, unsatisfying afterimage. Slight prickle of carbonation, come residual copper characters and a hint of bitey tannins on the finish to clear up—this means it's not cloying, and it has a touch of refreshment about it, but it's still not exemplary.

Feel is too light, and the tingle on the back palate leaves something to be desired.

It's drinkable enough in its way, but it's below many, many other Belgian beers in this style. It lacks complexity, balance and overall, it just lacks interest. This is not Speciale in my books.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Single Take Session Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 31.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Bottle purchased for me by @LaitueGonflable from Slowbeer. Shared with @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a slightly hazed orange-copper colour, with a eggy white foamy head that leaves branching, intricate lace. Body is light, but solid, and leaves amazingly fine carbonation. Surprisingly good.

Nose is light, but pleasant enough. Some fine yeasty notes and a touch of estery spice, balanced with a slight fruitiness that might be hops. This is all overlaid, however, with a touch of carbonic acidity—something that just makes it feel a little bit muted, perhaps a little bit too old.

Taste is light and clean, with a slight prickle of spice on the back, giving a hint of fennel and allspice. Some yeasty notes come through again, leaving a brusqueness that almost feels like a bite of lemon acidity on the back palate. Feel is smooth, but light.

Overall, this is pretty solid stuff. I feel like this particular bottle might be showing its age, but it has some very pleasant characters to it nonetheless. Nice.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Extraomnes Zest
Reviewed by Jez on 13.08.12 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
On-tap at the Italian SpecTapular festival at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.

Pours a very pale, slightly flat yellow colour with a light body and solid haze. Head is a full crown of white that leaves some solid, sudsy lacing.

Aroma is great, but very strange. Zesty (as should be expected), with some greener hop characters and some true herbal notes. Big aromatic characters of sweet basil and fresh spearmint. It's insane: one of the most herbal and fresh beers I've ever smelled.

And yet, the immediate flavour on the palate is...? Nothing. Not a drop when you first sip it. It takes a little time after it's been in your mouth before those herbal characters come through, lending more basil and mint, along with a bit of roundness from the yeast. Finish has the measure of it: bringing a nice clean and sharp bitterness to clear everything out after the oddness that preceded it.

Feel and aftertaste is clean and bitey, even though the feel itself feels very, very light.

Overall, I wasn't quite sure what to make of this beer. It's really quite unusual, but at the same time, simple, bright, clean and crisp. Whatever I made of it, it was one of my favourites at the festival.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Little Rabbit
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.12 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Collaboration beer brewed by Little Creatures and White Rabbit in Healesville for the GABS festival in Melbourne.

Pours a lightly hazed pale yellow colour, with a soft, light body. Head is filmy but fine, and perfectly white. Lace forms well. The body has just enough weight to support some languid swirling carbonation, which is good. Looks very decent.

Nose has lots of round, sweet Belgian characters: vanilla comes through with brighter notes of appleskin and a hint of pepper. It's bright but smooth, and very aromatic.

More of those round Belgian notes on the front palate, with some yeasty tones morphing into mid-palate phenolics. Slight peppery characters come through, with a finish of sultry apple-blossom sweetness. Very clean on the finish, which helps the drinkability.

Feel is smooth almost throughout, but is pleasantly leavened with carbonation.

Very nice beer. Solid Belgian style pale, done with craft and skill. I can't say I was overly excited by the prospect of this beer, but it really delivered on the day.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Moo Brew Belgo
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.12 on tap
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Had on-tap at GABS in Melbourne earlier in the year. Only just getting around to entering reviews.

Pours a deep golden colour with good clarity. Body is pretty light, and the head forms a fine ring of whitish-grey foam. Lace is decent, carbonation is abundant. Looks decent.

Not much on the nose: just a few loose grainy characters and a hint fo sharp phenols from the Belgian yeast. Very little else in the way of depth or interest, however.

Similar profile to the palate. Light grainy characters with a thin-reedy whine through the centre that doesn't really leave anything. Phenols come through again on the back, leaving a touch of Belgian estery spice and some medicinal characters, but badabing we're done and that's all that we get. Feels very light on.

Eh. Not particularly good. This is a pretty drab attempt at a Belgian, and Moo Brew haven't really had a good stab at it.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Grisette Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 03.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
43 / 100
(Not Great)
Cute 25cl bottle purchased from Plonk in Canberra.

Pours an unremarkable yellow-gold colour, with a touch of haze, and a fizzling, insubstantial head of bubble white. Very light body without a lot of visible carbonation. Some mild sudsy lace. Overall, it looks relatively similar to a bland mass-produced lager. I'm unimpressed.

Nose is sweet and round, cut with peppery, almost astringent ester characters, which give a whiff of wintergreen and mouthwash. Slight wet grain funk, bottom of the barnyard, hay left in the rain, fermenting grass clippings. It gives it almost a fishy or seaweed character. Hrmm...

Taste is blander, but the better for it: the funk and bordering rot/fish character disappears, leaving just the tomatoey roundness, the wet grain sack and a light sugary sweetness on the back. I mean, it's not great, but it beats putting some fragrant marine-life in your mouth. Palate is pretty flat.

At best, this is a run-of-the-mill, weak Belgian pale ale. At worst, it doesn't bear repeating. This is pretty insipid stuff, showing that even the Belgians can be completely uninspired, and can do bland and pedestrian with the best of them.

appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Yuzu's Belgian-style Golden
Reviewed by Jez on 25.07.12 on tap
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
One of the things I liked about Elysian was the truly interesting array of seasonal beers they had—it felt like a spectral palate of different styles and experiments. This was one of them. Had on-tap at the brewery.

Pours a hazed golden hue with moderate weight. Head is full and white and leaves sheeting lace. Looks good.

Spicy fruit on the nose with oddities rearing their head. Durian flavour, dragonfruit and musk come through lending a weird and eccentric turn to the brew. Fantastically different.

Taste is also really good. More spicy fruit on the front, with pineapple, lemon and kiwifruit lending a hand along with the more esoteric examples. Finish is dry, with a pleasant hint of clinging acidity. Feel is light, but nice, and very suitable.

Surpremely drinkable and very, very interesting. This is one of those beers that works, even though it's really quite different from the established styles. It certainly made a refreshing change from a lager on a hot day in Seattle.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Redemption
Reviewed by Jez on 18.07.12 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Had on-tap during a visit to Russian River in Santa Rosa.

Such a light yellow colour that it's almost colourless, and perfectly clear, with zero haze: this is an interesting beer from the get-go. Head is white and a touch too coarsely bubbled, which is a shame, because otherwise it looks phenomenally interesting.

Round Belgian aromas constitute the nose, with a big-ass yeast note walloping everything into order. Slight pepper spice and a hint of astringency. But that's about it. It's nice in the style, but it leaves me a little empty.

Very light entry on the palate, with almost nothing until near the back. Even the mid palate only picks up a little earthy yeast. On the finish, we get some roundness, peppery earth and a hint of astringency like rosemary. But it's a little bit like too little, too late. No, that's not true, it's nice enough, but just not as exciting or spectacular as I'd expected.

Feel is light and clean: again, it's fine, but I want something more.

Overall, yes it's good. It's light, truly Belgian in style, and drinkable. But it's not that complex, and has a few things that I'd personally change.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Rayon Vert
Reviewed by Jez on 02.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle served to @tobeerornottobe from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a hazed, but not particularly cloudy golden orange hue, with a monumental, almost ridiculous head of frothy white, that forms a solid 3/4 of the top of the glass. It collapses as it should, but it's just a little frustrating when it forms.

Nose is a really pleasant round Belgian note spliced with some crisp American hop fragrance. Lemon and a touch of crisp vegetative pine come through, but it's mostly based around that smooth, light and believable Belgian fragrance. It's a nice amalgam, nicely done.

Taste is very light, and really quite Belgian in inspiration. The palate is flat and empty, just allowing the spicy, peppery notes from the yeast to come through, and get accentuated by the yeast, which gives it a slightly green vegetative note. Really the malt lets it down a little—to be fair, it needs some basis, and this has none. As good as the Belgian spice is, it has so little to back it up that it lacks all the complexity that makes good Belgians, well... good.

It's clean and crisp, but really, it does a poor job of the style, and even on its own terms it feels empty and pointless. No, not a great brew, overall.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Luciérnaga, The Firefly
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.05.12 in bottle
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours an earthy red colour, almost umber, with lovely cream-coloured head of fairly dense foam and nice sticky lacing. Steady bead. Looks really nice.

Smells lovely. Nice and funky and tart with a good whiff of bacterial wild yeasts, bending slightly towards metallic. Nice hints of guava, berries and some citrus as well, with a very pleasant vanilla creaminess coming off the back. Fresh, sweet, very enjoyable indeed.

Taste is very tart, and possibly pushes the envelope a bit too far, getting mildly astringent with a lemon pith kind of flavour. Fruity, though, with tart cranberry and apple notes upfront, a touch of peach as well. The bitter note doesn't really come through until late, with the most part being really very smooth with no sharp edges. Hint of vanilla late-mid as it cascades down beyond its nadir. Maybe could use some more pop, but it's a big tasty monster nevertheless, handled with an artisan's care.

A bit of tart acidity, but very nicely smooth out; ends up a bit dry but nothing left at the end; almost seamless.

Lovely, crisp, tart refreshing wild ale with a real naturalistic bent, but all the weird funkiness has been tamed, and distilled into a finely balanced chrysalis of flavour.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Luciérnaga, The Firefly
Reviewed by Jez on 05.05.12 in bottle
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a lovely bright, but cloudy honeyed amber colour, with a fine, but lively head of pocked off-white. Some patchy lacing as its tilted, but the body doesn't seem particularly heavy enough to sustain it for very long. Looks good overall.

Nose is bright and crisp, with subtle hints of funk and oak giving a really rustic tone to everything. Some slightly buttery tones, and a hint of mint and lemon giving a real freshness. Very pleasant indeed.

Taste is flatter than expected, and missing the bright acidity that would have helped it along. Faint, slightly empty characters of watered wine with a touch of herbal vegetation. There's a touch of metallic bitterness on the back, and a slight lilt of funk and mild tartness on the finish but overall it's quite flat. No faulting it for drinkability of course: the bright crispness and the undeniable flatness on the palate make it dangerously easy to swig.

Overall, another very solid beer from Jolly Pumpkin. Unfortunately, I feel as though I now have astronomical expectations for each new beer of theirs I try. This is still a very good beer, but I always expect a world class one.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Hitachino Nipponia
Reviewed by Jez on 06.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
77 / 100
(Excellent)
A very interesting sounding beer, thanks to @LaitueGonflable for the bottle.

Pours a lovely hazed golden colour, with a properly thick bock holding fine carbonation. Head is fine and snowy, leaving perfect lacing and subsisting as a fine mesh on the top of the glass. Overall, a very nice looking beer.

Nose is sweetly fruity, with that odd vanilla, oak and lemon twang from the Sorachi Ace. Under this are sweet tones of apricot, and a touch of banana. The Sorachi Ace makes the beer, as far as I'm concerned, but there are some other touches to complement it.

Taste is also mild and smooth, with more pleasant characters coming from the Sorachi Ace: mild wood, pastry, vanilla and a soft lemon custard character. Clear finish, without a great deal of bitterness—it's more of a dryness that lets the palate finish of its own accord rather than sweeping everything away.

Feel is lovely and smooth, which nicely complements the smooth, silky Sorachi Ace characters in the flavour.

Really nice brew, and interestingly drinkable for a special-release beer. Indeed, I'd be perfectly happy to drink this regularly as a pleasant after-work beer.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Belgian Lawnmower
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 18.11.11 on tap
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a golden colour, slightly wheaty-looking. Head is off-white, nice and fluffy with visible bubbles. Retains very well, steady but slow bead as well. Looks great; these Hopdog dudes have a handle on head.

Smells very phenolic, lotsa Belgian character with fresh-cut grass, bubblegum and banana. Mostly fruity, could maybe use some more spice.

Taste is quite Belgian and phenolic on the front-to-mis, with quite dank notes and mild hints of earthy spice. Gets an unfortunate bread yeast note on the back, just the yeast seems a bit overdone where the malt isn't quite there to meet it. Bit chalky and dry, bit of sizzle on the body from carbonation. Neither palate nor feel strikes me as great, just needs a bit more malt balance at times.

Yeah, lacking in a few areas. The right flavours are there but a bit off-kilter.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Rare Vos (Amber Ale)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 01.09.11 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a cloudy, burnt-orange kind of colour. Head is off-white with nice whipped look on top, slight bead. Looks quite good - no lace though.

Smells rather fruitart, with a grounded Belgian spice underlying. Hints of stone fruit with peach, touch of banana, and some pepper. Not bad, could use a bridge between the earthy bitterness and lighter fruit, they're like two competing armies on the battlefield of aroma.

Taste leans more towards the earthiness - slight floral notes upfront with a touch of lavender that gets quite bitter midway, fairly resinous and spicy with star anise, soapy notes and a touch of cardboard. Lifted with some white pepper, apricot on the late-mid and finishes with a stronger metallic note. Decent complexity but finishes quite astringently. Actually gets better the more you drink, mellows out quite a lot.

Feels fairly foamy in the mouth and quite smooth. Good.

Yeah, maybe a bit too bitter and Belgian for an everyday drinker, but pretty decent.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Rare Vos (Amber Ale)
Reviewed by Jez on 27.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Purchased in California and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a hazed, slightly amber orange colour, with a full and frothy head, initially. This settles to a half-centimetre of fine off-white foam, leaving minimal lacing. Body is quite light. Not a bad look.

Nose is fragrant with organic Belgian notes, but also rather sharp, with a zesty carbonation whack livening up the palate. Hint of caramel grains and a touch of earthiness. All up, it's nice, but it's a little too sharp, and a little less powerful than I like.

Taste is clean and light, with vigorous carbonation that makes the palate smart. Pleasant mild Belgian phenols giving a cleansing sharpness, with a suggestion of acidity on the back. Quite light on flavour, and where it is, it's not the round sweetness I expect, but it's pleasant and drinkable.

It's a good beer, but in my opinion not a great beer. It's pleasant, light, drinkable and quite sessionable for its 6.5%. The characters are pleasant enough, but it doesn't really do anything exceptional.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Golden Ace
Reviewed by Jez on 12.08.11 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle purchased at Warners on the Bay by @LaitueGonflable.

Pours a very hazy and quite light golden yellow colour. Head is frothy and full, leaving some riddled streaks of lacing as it's tipped. Carbonation is fine, but there sure is a lot of it. Looks decent enough, but maybe just missing a little excitement.

Nose is lovely—the weird lemon-butter character that Sorachi Ace gives, atop a slightly rustic grain character, giving grass and hay as a solid basis for the hops. The lemon and butter gives a smoothness and sweetness.

Taste is crisp, but a little empty. Clear entry, with a crisp carbonation. A little bitterness mid-palate, before the buttery and slightly sweet hay character gives its funky load in the aftertaste.

It's a really interesting hop, and the lack of everything else in the beer means that it get shown off. I've seen it used to better effect in other beers—specifically Mornington Peninsula's Sorachi Kolsch, and Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace Saison—but this is tasty enough.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Trappist Westvleteren Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 20.07.11 in bottle
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
The last of my Westvleteren beers purchased in Brussels. It still feels a little like cheating to buy them from somewhere other than the monastery, even if it was in Belgium.

Pours a cloudy, hazed deep blond, quite light in hue. Head is as fine as I've come to expect from the Westvleteren beers. As far as I'm concerned, it's almost their trademark. Carbonation is streaming like crazy. Head is white and bright, and leaves full, solid lacing. Looks pretty great.

Nose is peppery and spiced and rather delicious. Big Belgian yeast esters, characters of spicy preserved orange, and a pleasant dryness. Such a gorgeously classic and spicy Belgian nose. The pinnacle of the style for me.

Taste is a lot lighter, with a very pronounced dryness through most of the palate. Yeasty notes come through with a tingling rustic quality. Still a twinge of that spicy orange, and the feel is creamy, with that lovely creamy Westvleteren carbonation.

A wonderful Belgian blond. One of the best Belgian pale ales I've ever had. While it doesn't have the complexity and depth of flavour of the other Westys, this would easily be my pick to drink regularly. Lovely.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Cock & Bull Monk's Habit
Reviewed by Jez on 09.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
93 / 100
(Superb)
Who classified this as a Belgian Pale Ale? This is a classic example of an American Red, and an unashamedly good one.

Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney at the Kiwi Spectapular. There, at least, it was classified appropriately.

Pours a deep reddish copper colour, with a very excellent head of off-white, creamy foam. Minimal lacing, and the body looks rather light, especially for the ABV, but otherwise pretty good.

Nose is crisp and sharp, with pleasant Kiwi hoppiness balanced by a creamy sweetness. Passionfruit comes through pleasantly and sharply, along with green aromas of crushed vegetation and silverbeet. Just lovely.

Taste is similar, but the malt gives it a tight backbone and vaults it beautifully into style. It's a lovely Red Ale. Depth and breadth from the malt, but a crisp bitterness with tropical and citrus overtones. Just gorgeous. They've absolutely nailed an American style, with New Zealand hops. That's an absolutely cracking combination.

Feel fits perfectly, and I'm loath to complain about the body any more. It sits full, but still bright and sharp.

Wow! What a top-notch beer. A winner, by any standards. This is beautifully balanced, and gorgeously intense. One of the very best on the day.

ed: It appears they themselves classify this as a Belgian Style, which is very, very odd to me. This is no Belgian ale.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 5.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Kapittel Blond
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 08.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a slight pale gold colour with generous Belgian head, white and foamy, bubbling a little on the top but some nice trails of lace behind. Good retention. Looks nice.

Smell is rather sweet. Quite rich with a sweet grainy edge to it, kind of oatmeal-esque with a belt of Belgian must and fresh-cut grass. Quite pleasant overall character, bodes well for flavour.

Flavour is fairly rich and sweet as well, with a big caramelly malt goodness upfront developing into a mellow but full-bodied mid-palate. It takes on some phenolic medicine notes and a touch of champagne yeastiness before the finish which is still mostly sweet, but with a bolder, almost minty, character. Guess it's just combining with those Belgian yeast phenols, it's a decent enough Belgian pale but I've had better.

Feel is suitably smooth, and surprisingly thick for 6.5%, suits the style well and goes down quite easily.

Good beer, wouldn't say great.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Cock & Bull Monk's Habit
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.06.11 on tap
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
The booklet at the Local's Kiwi Spectapular called this an American Red Ale, so...yeah. That's how I've reviewed it.

Pours a red-tinged amber. Head is dense, with wonderful retention. Lace is OK, but could be better. Not bad at all.

Lots of NZ hops on the nose. Passion, massive citrus, floral notes, sherbet, lemongrass and lemon zest. Damn fine.

Taste is malty, caramel on the front, some slightly sour notes with wet grain character. Touch of raising as well with mild, but distinct, hop notes up back. Citrus, pine, very fresh and pleasant. Yeah, great beer.

A bit thin on the feel, but so smooth, it just glides down the gullet.

Great red ale, great beer.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Bourgogne Des Flandres Blonde / Blond
Reviewed by Jez on 03.04.11 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Purchased from Beer Cartel's store in Artarmon. After picking up a six-pack of Aussie beers, I added this one at the last minute, mistaking it for the original Bourgogne. Oh well, let's see how this one goes.

Pours a murky golden colour that shines beautifully when held to the light. Head froths a lot on the pour, but settles to a solid centimetre of aerated foam. Lots of streaming, tiny-bubbled carbonation. Looks quite refined and pleasant.

Smell is also very pleasant, if not particularly rich and complex. Mild Belgian phenols giving some slight spice and a smooth sweet yeast note. Not a lot to it, of course, but it's very straightforward, and rather enjoyable.

Taste is also very light on, in fact almost pathologically so--I'm actually surprised that such a mild palate can be obtained in a beer of this style. Light but smooth front palate, with slight light grain sweetness, before just a smattering of peppery Belgian phenols on the back. It's so smooth and underwhelming that it's almost an achievement in itself.

I can't say that it's a particularly good Belgian Pale, but it's a very drinkable brew nonetheless. Just mild and drinkable. Something I can see myself going for again.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Yeast Series: Belgian Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 31.12.10 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)

Put this head to head with the Yeast Series: Lager.

Pours identical in colour to the Lager, a bright and hazed reddish bronze, shining pleasantly in the light. Head is fuller than the lager, and retains a little better in its yellowish tinged glory, although the lacing here is clumpier and looser. In the body of this one, there's a fair amount of yeast sediment, despite the careful pour. This one probably has a looser trub at the bottom of the bottle. Still looks good.

In contrast to the crisp hoppiness of the lager, this one comes across as much sweeter and slightly spicy. Big notes of syrup and some fruity esters coming through, like stewed plums and golden sultanas. Very rich and sweet - such a contrast between the two.

Taste is smooth and a little flat, although there's still plenty of syrup and spice to leaven it. The ABV is much better hidden in this one than in the lager, where it takes on a fusel astringent character. Here, it smoothly melds with the dried fruit characters. There's a slight hoppiness on the back which makes an interesting contrast, but for this style it sticks around slightly too long, when the fruity esters should be the main event.

A nice experiment, and a great way to show off the differences in yeast strains, but it also exemplifies how different styles of beer need their recipes tweaked to match up with the secondary characters of the yeast.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Demolition
Reviewed by Jez on 03.11.10 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a very pleasant hazy bright golden yellow. Head is full and frothy, leaving some lovely intricately patterned lacing. Dissipation is in full swing by the time I'm ready for a sip, unfortunately, but the bubbling is still fine in the film that remains. Not bad.

Nose is sweet and Belgian, big perfumey notes, extremely floral, with a sweet honeyed character, and a dose of Belgian yeast. It doesn't overdo the yeast, however, and the perfume allows it to stay remarkably refreshing and light. Such a delicate nose for a beer called Demolition, but it's an extremely good one.

Taste is a little lighter than expected, quite thin on the front, with a slight light honey on the back, mixed with a subtle phenolic astringency. Finish is quite dry, with a yeasty dollop that sticks around unnecessarily. It's a shame, given the nose was so floral and complex.

Feel is very light, which matches with the light palate, but again, it's a little disappointing.

Not a bad brew, but there was something absent on the palate in particular, given the promise it had. I've had better from Goose Island.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Dernière Volonté
Reviewed by Jez on 17.08.10 on tap
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)

On tap at the Local Taphouse Sydney's Canadian Beer SpecTapular.

Pours a clousy, very pale yellow. Frothy, creamy head of pure white, with lots of carbonation feeding it. It looks like whipped egg-white on the top of the beer. Nice.

Quite fruity on the nose, with nice big round Belgian yeast notes and a touch of spice. Not huge hoppy characters, given that it's supposedly dry-hopped, but there are some restrained tropical fruit notes which more set off the Belgian yeast. Potent but pleasant.

Taste has odd hoppiness to it which jangles a little against the round and spicy Belgian body. Sweet entry, spice and hops bouncing off each other, and a dry, lightly bitter and phenolic finish.

Mouthfeel is clear and clean and smooth. Very lovely.

Very nice. Interesting twist to a pretty well made Belgian ale, that works. Very drinkable all up.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Murray's Sassy Blonder
Reviewed by Jez on 16.07.10 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)

My second taste, but my first review - this one's from the July AleStars evening at the Local Taphouse with Shawn Sherlock.

Pours a deep golden colour, dark for a pale, but pale for a dark. Head is frothy and pretty thick and forms some nice lacing, although it collapses within a minute or so of serving. Looks good overall.

Spicy on the nose, a little light, but quite sharp. A little fresh character on the nose the hints at hops without giving away a full-blown hop bouquet. Definitely some round Belgian yeast characters, giving a slightly meaty and bold fresh bread aromas.

Taste is very true to style. Clean and fresh on the fore, with a big welling of round Belgian yeast characters. Slightly phenolic on the back with a hint of sweaty grain. Very nice. Mouthfeel is light, but suitable for the style, perhaps a tad too frothy.

A very nice and very easy to drink Belgian style ale. The sharpness gives it some character, and it comes across as very true to the examples it's emulating.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Murray's Sassy Blonder
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.07.10 on tap
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale golden colour with very decent snowy head. Leaves nice trails of lace, sinks steadily leaving some whisps of white foam behind. Clear and champagney in its appearance, quite pleasant.

Nutty is my first thought on the nose. Fair kick of spice with nutmeg and dry champagney character. Mild Belgian yeast gives off some nice phenols and a slight crisp apple ester. Not bad, fairly simply Belgian nose though.

Taste is a bit lacking. Has fair malt on the front with some hints of pearl barley and a slight honey sweetness. Bitterness comes through around the mid, a slight earthy character with a hint of pine wood and lots of Belgian phenolic character. Not overpowering, bits of peppery spice and capsicum, green apple skin. Mild clove and aspirin towards the back. Yeah, a decent Belgian profile but leaves me a bit wanting.

A bit thin on the feel with a bit of viscosity but yeah, not very sticky. Carries the palate but just bearly.

A pleasant drop, has good flavour that doesn't overwhelm. Definitely sessionable but spicy enough to retain the interest.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
La Trappe Isid'or
Reviewed by Jez on 11.06.10 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a turbid and cloudy deep reddish copper colour, deep like a thick Belgian beauty. Head is a robust thick off-white cloud that sinks to a little film. Lacing is ok, and there's a surprising amount of carbonation. Overall, a very nice look.

Nose is a little thinner than I expected, some round Belgian characters come through and a little caramel sweetness. There's a hint of something a little peppery as well and a light hint of something green and fresh, but it's all very light - occurring only as slight accents to the base aroma, which is largely based around the sweetness.

Taste is quite phenolic. Some initial sweetness is lambasted by the big phenolic bitterness, which rolls peppery sharpness up the palate through to the end. A little heat on the back accentuates this again. Really rather punchy, and very direct - it doesn't round out the palate very well. Mouthfeel is tight, but could use more body.

Actually gets rather tiresome after a while. The phenolic bitterness is overwhelming when it's concerted, and I feel the heat in the body a little too much.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
It's Alright!
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.01.10 in bottle
Overall:
51 / 100
(OK)
Pours a pale yellow colour with weird sponge-like cloud just sitting spirally in the body. Head is white and modest - unimpressive is probably a better word - and sinks quickly, leaving some nice sticky lace around, but not much head left. Looks a little bit boring, but I think the lace saves it.

Nose is a big funky affair, with a large number of quite "off" flavours vying for attention. Big smell of sweaty feet, with hints of lemon, grapefruit and cheese providing some backup that kind of saves it from smelling literally "off". There is a slight maltiness lurking as well, but hidden behind the funky front. Pretty sure I dislike this, but it's unique enough that I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Tastes insanely funky. Big hit of strong, pongy brie hits you at the start and continues onto the mid. Very wild, with hints of rotting wood, leather, sweat and a big mushroom/umami kind of flavour as well. There is a slight sweetness but it's rendered quite tangy, and is present only on the front, before being throttled quite mercilessly by that huge funk. Finish is savoury and takes you right into the heart of funkytown. This is unlike anything I've ever had. It's offensive, but has lots of character and uniqueness one wants to like it.

Nice amount of texture on the feel with a perfectly fine body, it's certainly passable as far as mouthfeel goes.

Overall this beer is basically like having a child that has a triple whammy of Asperger's, Tourette's and Downe's syndromes, so it comes across as downright offensive and unlikeable, but it's so 'different' you kind of feel like it was put here to test your limits and is therefore a blessing in disguise. But I still can't really love it like I love my elder son, Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
It's Alright!
Reviewed by Jez on 13.01.10 in bottle
Overall:
30 / 100
(Nasty)

Pours a very light, slightly cloudy lemon yellow colour, with a fine but thin head of white foam. Lacing is pretty good. Looks very light in the body, but that's to be expected, and it goes with the other visual traits of the beer. Not bad looking at all.

Quite pungently sour on the nose. Big notes of green apple, and citrus, with huge funky barnyard characters. Aromatic, but not necessarily all that pleasant, in any case. Really unapologetically funky. About as raw and ragged as you get with brett. I have to respect that at least.

The taste is where it just catastrophically falls apart. It's so thin and devoid of character that I started to wonder if I'd imagined the funkiness on the nose. There's perhaps a slight bitterness on the front, but it disappears so completely I'm inclined to think the flavour is an apparition. A light unpleasant yeast funk appears out of nowhere sometime after the beer seems to be gone, but that's it. It's so bereft of flavour otherwise, that I find myself brutally offended. Mouthfeel is weak and limp - water has more character than this.

What a beer of contrasts. This is a beer that drew me in with a hint of tantalising mystery, then left me tied up on a bed with my wallet and passport stolen and no memory of how I had ever got into this sorry state. I have to say I'm bitterly offended by it in the end, and I really hope I can help someone else avoid it in the future. Beware.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 1.0 | feel: 1.5 | drinkability: 1.5
Raftman
Reviewed by Jez on 02.09.09 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)

Pours a lightly cloudy amber-brown colour with a decent, but small head of shiny white foam. Some good lacing, the body looks a little thin, otherwise a nice looking brew.

Light Belgian-style yeast on the nose, organic and a little fruity, a little deeper, raw peaty character and some spice. Overtones of fizzing acidity are a little unwelcome, but otherwise very decent.

The taste is where this beer really starts to shine. A wonderfully delicate, but intricate and long palate of lightly smoky malts, Belgian yeast and organic must. Some light bitterness mid palate, but this has simply declined to a dry crispness by the end. Body is very light, and it feels strangely carbonated - as though the CO2 hasn't dropped out of suspension. Mostly, a very decent Belgian pale, with a very subtle twist.

I'd been looking forward to trying this beer for some time. Unibroue again doesn't disappoint, although it's somewhat upsetting that I lay my hands on a bottle just as Unibroue cuts its Australian supply. Ah well.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
La Gauloise Blonde
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale straw colour with enormous white head, made of medium-sized bubbles, webs out at the top and leaves trace of lace in isolated patches. Odd swirl of haze in the glass, not sure what to make of that. Looks quite impressive though.

Nose is quite funky and organic, with a fair vinous sourness, like oxidised chardonnay, some decent fruitiness, hints of cherry and red grape seeds and a light oak woodiness. Quite nice, fairly well balanced.

Taste is mega-funky, full of organic Belgian sourness and tart notes. A sweet and spicy sensation in the middle of it all, has hints of peach, honey and almost a cream flavour, helped out by a very creamy mouthfeel, thick and fuzzy at the edges. Finish is lightly spicy, with a slight peppery edge and aspects of a tangy citrus character as well.

Very refreshing, pleasant and drinkable beer with nice flavours.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
La Gauloise Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 22.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)

Pours a brilliant shining golden colour, extremely clear with a massive rocky frothy head of white meringue foam. Lacing is excellent, the carbonation rises in a beautiful stream from the nucleation points on the glass. Looks very nice indeed.

Phenols and light booze on the nose, a good lightly sweet Belgian yeast character, but quite dry and sharp overall. Some soft notes of bread and grain, but it's subtle. Mostly we have classic dry Belgian tones. Nice.

Taste is a little more disappointing, although there is an interesting complexity to it. Light grain notes on the front, which morph through bread and yeast, before a little clean phenolic note mid-palate washes it away. Finish is the best aspect - a sweet fragrant caress of dry Belgian yeast character. Mouthfeel is light and sparkling. Very pleasant.

Not bad overall - although the dry Belgian ales are not my favourite style. Still, this is a crisp and enjoyable example, a little too phenolic in places, and not something I'd enjoy every day. Worth it once in a while.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Murray's Sassy Blonde
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Biggest bottle explosion I've ever had. Fuck! Beer went fucking everywhere. So pissed off but managed to salvage most of a glass.

Pours a very cloudy apricot colour with beige fluffy head, inconsistent, but with a nice whipped look. Lacing is pleasant, if not immensely sticky. Fair amount of carbonation. Pretty nice, actually.

Certainly smelled nice when it was gushing all over my desk. Still smells nice now. Pleasant fruity characters to it, a fair tropical character with mango, apricot and a hint of pineapple, some piney notes on the hops as well, and a very slight musty character. Smells light, sweet and pleasant.

Taste is also nice, with fruity characters creating a sweet but slightly tart front palate with pear and apricot esters. Descends into a more dank, hoppy finish with an incredibly dry and musty finish, with elements of dust and musk, a nutty hint around the edge and a mild woodiness, almost like a nutshell. Nice Belgian tomatoey yeast oversees the transition to the finish, giving this an interesting acrid character overall.

Feel is smooth and fuzzy, very full with firm evidence of malt. Excellent considering the low ABV and the balanced sweetness.

This is a very well constructed ale, with an almost perfect balance between flavours. Finish is long but not overwhelming and the sourness of the yeast counteracts the sweet malt admirably. It's drinkable and inoffensive; I would love to see Murrays tackle a Belgian strong pale ale and really hammer these flavours home.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Raftman
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 03.08.09 in bottle
Overall:
90 / 100
(Superb)
Pours a very hazy copper colour with furious, prolific carbonation throughout the brew. A good bubbly head about 2 fingers thick sits as a crowning touch, leaving some pleasant - but thin - lacing behind.

Smell is gorgeous. Very Belgian in style with a lot of jammy, resiny fruit aromas; raisins, apple and cherry bark, and a good hit of spice as well. Very delicate whisky aroma at the back and a healthy woodiness. It's sweet but rustic, and wonderfully balanced.

Taste is slightly resiny at first, with a nice complex palate profile. Hints of figs, raisins and pine, with a really pleasant whisky character on the middle, along with an obligatory booze hit, which is obviously from the particular malt used rather than the relatively low ABV. It's a very welcome flavour, although not accompanied by a burning sensation. Very grainy flavour throughout but with a refreshingly brusque hop spice towards the back, cleans up the palate superbly and leaves a fresh bitterness as a linger. Doesn't leave much of a smokey character, but just a delicate woody touch towards the back.

Feel is dense and foamy, with a lot of bubbling, just a beautiful texture.

This is a supremely drinkable beer: balanced and complex, a lot of great flavours, very clean finish. In the Unibroue universe this is a dwarf, but it's clearly standing on the shoulders of its gargantuan brethren.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 5.0
Leffe Blonde
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.07.09 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a rich apricot colour - I'd hardly call it blonde - with excellent creamy Belgian head, visible bubbles yet very fine retention, nice and thick and remaining so. Helped along by a steady bead, and lacing is sticky if not very thick.

Nose is rich in layers, with nice spicy Belgian characters, mild clove and cinnamon, but predominantly fruity. Quite tart, with aspects of a dark orange citrus, grape skins and maybe a hint of banana as well. Has a slight hit of brandy on there as well, just a touch. Overall smells like a sweet, warming ale.

Taste is a bit simple by comparison, but still with nice warm potency. Flavour is ripe with a brandy base, hints of prunes and figs coming through with a mild tart citrus character on the back. Definitely a fortified wine comparison is in order, not only because of the rich texture, but because even at 6.6% there is a distinct alcomohol on the finish. It does have quite a warming kind of quality, but it's out of place and a bit off-kilter.

Mouthfeel retains a nice tingle to it, but it does pucker the mouth and dry the palate slightly from that citric character.

We have here a sweet, enjoyable Belgian. It has fullness and complexity, and yet doesn't quite have enough of either. I feel myself just wanting more mystique, more subtle charms. It's like seeing a woman naked before you've even asked her to the movies. It's like you've experienced the hot body but you're wanting the whole experience; you want the soul as well.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Grimbergen Blonde
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.05.09 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a standard golden colour with a deliciously frothy head, lightly sparse and sinking like a marshmallow in heat. Pours with vivacious carbonation that settles into light rising bubbles. Looks like a standard blonde only with a delectable Belgian head.

Smells reasonable sour, with a good belt of that spicy Belgian yeast. A fair amount of wheat malt on that as well, almost salty actually. A bit weak, but with good pleasant characters. Nice aspects of spice and tartness.

Flavour is sour, with grainy characters flourishing throughout, a fair hit of hop towards the back. The tartness is not very citric but rather vinegary which makes this a bit less drinkable than if it managed to generate more fruit. Again, there are slightly Belgian yeast characters but it's salty rather than spicy.

This isn't bad, it's certainly a decent blonde, but it's not delicious. Mouthfeel is nice and full, but smooth and not sticky. Exactly what I would expect. Oh, and this is about a 4% taste, no hint of the 6.7%. Good job.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.0
New Norcia Abbey Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 14.02.09 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a reddish-golden colour, almost rosé in hue, with a modest head of off-white foam that hasn't stuck around, but leaves a thin cloud over the top. Steady carbonation keeps it afloat. Leaves a good, if a little thin, trail of lacing around the glass. Pretty good-looking beer.

Nose is quite delicious and Belgian. Rich fruit characters; cranberries, glacé cherries and a slight hint of something tropical - possibly papaya or something. Fruit is nicely balanced with a more earthy, grassy smell of hops which pervades the nose without annexing it. Sadly I'm serving it a bit cold so it's not as aromatic as I could imagine it to be, but the characters produced are very nice.

Surprising flavour given the smell. First taste is very earthy with very little of the fruit suggested by the nose. There is a hint of a sort of brandy character on the front palate but it dissipates quite quickly, leaving a more gritty finish. Has undertones of a nuttiness, and the palate overall - in spite of the earthy back - is more sweet than bitter or tart. The finish is clean enough not to leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Alcohol is fairly well hidden although it is kind of apparent on the mid-palate. Mouthfeel is fairly smooth, kind of feels watery and thin when it goes in but it coats the mouth nicely when you leave it in for a while.

A bit different from what I expected, but the flavours are certainly pleasant and it's actually a lot cleaner than I would expect from an ostensibly Monk-brewed beer. Drinkable, certainly but a bit less than delicious.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Orval Trappist Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.04.08 in bottle
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a darkish brown-tinged amber, very good-looking head but no real retention. Lacing is dense and divine, clawing at the sides of the glass waiting to explode with flavour - or something similarly anthropomorphic.

Nose is excellent, lots of fruity malt with a hint of peppery spice. Very complex but could be stronger, it's necessary to burrow your nose right into the glass to get the full effect. Not to take anything away from it though - it could be called subtle, and it really is an excellent aromatic beer.

Taste is next to Godliness with a rich complex palate of malty cinnamon-spiced apple characters with a long finish of burgeoning hop flavours. It's not really a bitter finish, just a robust hop flavour that makes you look back on the long, winding journey of deliciousness you were just taken on and smile. This is a truly great brew, with pleasant flavours, a velvety smooth and soft mouthfeel and a delightfully complex character. Highly recommended.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Murray's Sassy Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 27.08.07 in bottle
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)

Amber gold body capped with a white filmy head. The head disippates very quickly, leaving a collar. Decent lacing.

Belgian yeast is definitely prominent on the nose, hints of caramel, candi sugar, and a few fruity esters in there too. Nice. Light but true to style.

Taste is a let down, though, quite flat, with not much richness or character. There's hints of sweet caramel malt, and a grainy, earthy character there, but it's pretty weak and definitely disappointing after what the nose suggested. Mouthfeel is also very flat, almost to the point that you wonder whether it's carbonated.

It's not bad overall, and makes a decent drinking beer. Nice to see an Aussie brewery trying something like this.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Leffe Blonde
Reviewed by Jez on 11.01.06 on tap
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)

Standard amber hue. It does have a decent head at the start, but it doesn't live until the end. this is probably due to the lower than expected carbonation. While it's around though, there's some decent lacing on the glass.

Nose is quite fragrant and sweet. Aromas of butterscotch, caramel and Belgian candy sugar, which however start to overpower a little too much. this means the nose becomes a bit unbalanced, especially for the style where you're not expecting something sickly.

Taste is quite sweet on the front palate, but quickly turns bitter and dry, with lingering volatiles and phenols. The aftertaste lasts for a long time, and I wish it ended sooner. Mouthfeel very weak and thin.

I feel like it should be better than it is. I might revisit it, but this time it ended up drinking like a very bland beer.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3.0