|Highest Rated||Evensong (85 / 100)
||Average score||59 / 100 (Decent)|
|Lowest Rated||Old Thumper ESA (16 / 100)
On tap at the Woolpack Hotel for the Victorian State of Brews event.
Pours a dark blood orange colour, somewhat cloudy. Head is off-white, pale yellow, really, with small bubbles, nice and pillowy on the top. Looks really pretty nice. Carb-tapped but great density on the head as if it was cask-conditioned.
Smells decent; fruity but malty with a distinct note of Earl Grey. Bitter with slightly tannic but citric characters, and a nice bitter toffee malt that's sweet and slightly darker in equal measure. Citric, malty, creamy, sweet/tangy. Really quite bloody nice.
Taste is a bit of a disappointment. Has a big citrus/fruity palate especially on the mid, but it's quite complex without necessarily any coherency that might bring refreshment. Quite tannic on the back which again feels like Earl Grey but not enough of the sweet citrus. Slightly dull but bitter note with a kind of woody cardboard character, some black tea, and yeah the malt isn't quite enough to cover it. Just a light toffee character that dissipates by early-mid. Not amazing.
A little bit fizzy, maybe a bit thin on the body ultimately. I think in this case a cask would certainly give this the right body for the beer.
Drinks a bit tannic and bitter, sadly. Has great character potential but just feels a bit overcooked on the palate.
74 / 100
12 oz brown bottle purchased from Whichcraft in Austin some time ago. Somehow, this found itself to the back of my beer cupboard, and by the time I'm opening it, it's more than a year past the freshness date on the back. Take this review with a grain of salt as a result.
Pours a pleasant burnished amber colour, brilliantly clear in the body as it should be. Head is foamy, coarse-bubbled, and fairly persistent, forming sheets of beige lace down the glass. Body has a bit of weight behind it, and the carbonation, while coarse-bubbled, is languid. Looks pretty good.
Smell is also good, and is certainly holding up. There's a touch of brassy oxidation, but it melds into the sweet caramel toffee notes so it's almost unnoticeable. Hops are still present as well, giving a leafy herbal quality like freshly cut tobacco. Some earthy characters come through as it warms up—again, totally appropriate.
Taste is really very nice. There's no overt sweetness to it, but lots of malt backbone, providing an almost savoury structure to support the hops. These are clean, bitter and forthright, giving the right kind of grounded, earthy quality you want from the style. It keeps it directed, and with a sharpness on the back that lingers and stops the malt from getting cloying. Feel is smooth, with a little glossy weight from the extra booze.
Overall, this is a really very tidy beer. The hops are holding up very nicely, there's very little in the way of oxidation (certainly not on the palate), and it hits a great number of the canonical elements of the style. If it really is significantly better when fresh, it must be a cracking beer.
59 / 100
On tap at the Forest Lodge Hotel during Pint of Origin in Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours a coppery colour, very clear, with a disappointing head of off-white—it's fine, but it fizzles out swiftly to only a thin ring. Fine, long streaks of lace form from it at least. Otherwise, it's a bit underwhelming.
Nose seems quite decent, with a semi-savoury grain note providing a good basis, and some slight leavening coming through from earthy hops. As it warms, though, the grain turns slightly corny, giving a hint of warm, cheap bourbon. Which is a shame.
Taste is better. There's enough bitterness to balance it. The malt, while still a bit thick, is demoted in importance. Flavour of the hops is nicely earthy and herbal, working with some of the mid-level, nuttier malt characters to get some of those classic English flavours.
Feel is too fizzy for sure. Were this on cask it would be better.
Overall, it's drinkable, and it's far from offensive. The main issue is that it's not a hallmark of the style, but it has a decent stab even so.
Nitro can tried at Jez's, with lots of people talking around me, and footy on. So much distraction.
Pours a burnished dark amber. Nice nitro cascade when poured. Head settles out at small beige crown level. Decent lace, looks quite nice.
Smells creamy-malty with grassy herbal notes too. Tobacco, orange and fresh lucerne. Not bad, to style.
Taste is lovely and smooth: caramel-vanilla up front. Gets apple and some melon notes, sweet citrus midway. Bitter on the back, herbal and mild earthy spice. Yeah fairly sweet, touch of malty pie spice overall. Nice and clean on the back.
Smooth, decent malty feel. No rough edges. Maybe could use a bit more body.
Tasty clean drop, not hugely flavoursome but it's nice and smooth and pleasant.
73 / 100
Best Bitter brewed for GABS 2016 and served on hand pump.
Pours an amber colour, clear body. Head is whispy, cream-coloured with a fair bit of a crown left behind. Looks like a typical hand-pulled bitter. Pretty decent.
Smells malty. Vanilla, caramel with a fair bready grain character as well. Grassy and herbal hops notes at the back. Oregano, and I want to say basil but I think I'm just reading the beer name and projecting.
Taste is very malty too, big caramel sweetness that develops subtly into a mild hoppy back-palate, with grassy notes, herbal as well and just a slight hit of peppery spice which is really quite pleasant. Fairly flat without little palate development but it's as it really should be for the style. Old world brewing at its most controlled and balanced.
Mouthfeel is lovely and silky, as you'd expect. Full body, bit of texture but otherwise flat and smooth.
Another great oldskool drop from Townshend. Really drinkable but also likeable and interesting. It genuinely wouldn't feel like GABS to me without a great Townshend cleanser.
I longlisted this for beer of the festival on a whim. But upon retrying I wasn't able just to dismiss it. It ended up my number 12 beer of the festival.
76 / 100
330ml nitro can, purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt. Poured "with enthusiasm", as was suggested on the label, into an imperial pint glass.
Forms nicely from the nitro, with a little reverse cascading, eventually forming a very sharp interface between head and body. The head itself is just off-white, forming a surprisingly coarse-bubbled crest, but holding some lovely fine carbonation/nitrogenation in the body. The colour otherwise is a mild chestnut brown, made deeper from a pronounced hazing. Looks good though.
Nose is pretty good. Mild, nutty English malts, with a sharp, rugged earthiness from the hops, suggesting turned sod and crushed briars. A slight metallic note comes through, which isn't uncommon with English hops, but it's nicely moderated by the general sweetness from the malts. Perfectly suitable.
Taste is great. There's a very smooth entry, seemingly static and dead from the lack of carbonation, but it's quickly bolstered by some very pleasant malt notes. These are, in turn, balanced by a firm neutral bitterness, earthy and wholesome and filled with old-world charm. Incredibly smooth on the back, making it very easy to quaff, while the bitterness reminds you that this isn't a wimpy, insipid brew.
Overall, this is a really cracking English ale from a non-English brewery. This is clearly someone who knows the charm of the style and of this serving type. My only qualm is perhaps the size of the vessel. This is a beer you need a pint of. 330ml disappears way too quickly.
Had this on tap at Uncle Hops. Note, as I was drinking, I grew very, very sceptical that this was what was on the label, knowing that WtB have also done a 'corn ale' and knowing as well how little the folks at Uncle Hops actually know, or give a shit, about beer. Having said that, reading the reviews of this beer on RateBeer makes me feel that it really just isn't all that great, or doesn't deliver what it promises. So it may have been the right beer, and in that case the score would be correct.
Pours a vibrant orange, high density head but very uniform and dull. Small bubbles, retaining a spit cloud. Clear, fairly steady bubbling. A bit dull.
Smells flawed. Big diacetyl note, rich butterscotch with cereal grain and earthy, spicy hops. Maybe a touch of tangerine, but not lively enough to save an overly sweet aroma.
Taste is diacetyl from start to finish. Starts sweet, buttery and insipid, then develops some sweet grain midway with a big corn flavour as well, possibly DMS. Grainy on the back, not a lot in the way of hop character. Seems clearly flawed. And it's sweet, lacking any classic hop or even English malt flavours. Poor form.
A bit of fizzy texture, kinda dry on the back. OK for style but could use more body.
I'm wondering now if this is a mislabelled beer? I'm wondering if this is the corn ale, but the tap is mislabelled? I'm not saying I would enjoy this more, but I could appreciate it for what it is rather than just sitting here tasting what seems like a horribly off and flawed ESB. If this is really the Bulger, it's bad. Quite bad indeed.
But if it was mislabelled, then Uncle Hops is a bad bar. Unforgivably bad.
I'm assuming this is the same beer as on Untappd, but that hasn't been drunk/produced since 2013. Had this on tap at Hobart airport and was called an Extra Special but not sure of the ABV. Had to explain my review/rating to my boss as I went through as he was fascinated.
Pours a burnished orange-tinged amber colour with nice, healthy, small-bubbly head, off-white colour. Sticks around nicely. Yeah looks great, very English.
Smells hoppy. Earthy, grassy, a touch spicy maybe too. Touch of bramble and some plum fruit notes, slightly dusty and barky but overall pretty nice, clean.
Taste is quite malty upfront, and pleasant. Big toffee notes, burnt sugar that develops a big earthy bitterness, quite dusty and a little peppery with a touch of rosemary and maybe turmeric. Finishes a little bitter with a slight astringency, then gets a nutty edge on the back. Pretty nice eEglish style, an odd tartness on the back which I don't like, if the bitterness solidified better I'd be very happy.
Decent body, not totally solid but fluid and pleasant.
Quite a nice drop; not a style I adore even in its best iterations but it's drinking well and enjoyable.
38 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale, amber-brown colour, with some hazing. Body is firm, and hold small bubbles of carbonation. Head is yellowish off-white forming a decent, fine film. Lace cascades in streaks. Looks pretty good.
Nose is unpleasant. Very worty, smelling immediately like it's underattenuated. Slightly flat otherwise with some grainy notes, and perhaps a bit of bakers' yeast. It's very dull in any case, without much going for it.
Front has a faint tinge of earthy hops, while the mid-palate is yeasty and dirty without a lot more going on. The back is clinging, yet dead and dull. It's really very boring. Feel is very thin—I can imagine this being better from a cask, but it really needs something.
It's not a great beer, mostly because it's so incredibly dull and tending towards flavourless. At the very least it's not getting to the territory of truly offensive, but really that's a minimal bar to pass. ESBs can be great, and this one certainly isn't.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish amber hue with a little haze behind it. Body is solid, holding fast but fine carbonation. Head is very yellow, forming a firm and decent crest that leaves full lace. Looks good overall.
Nose is spicy with anise, clove and turmeric, turning slightly rubbery as it warms. Some vanilla comes through as well to smooth it out as well. It's not huge, but it's decent enough in its way.
Flavour is a lot thinner unfortunately, watery particularly on the entry. The spices come through a little later, but they almost suggest tartness in a beer without a lot of body like this one. Turmeric is pretty strong, but the anise gets its day as well. Back is slightly better with some ginger and vanilla suggesting that it might getting somewhere more full and interesting.
Feel is light and watery. Not great.
It's not awful, but it's based on a pretty dull beer, and the spices don't really do anything but hang around limply on their own. As part of a better structured beer they might have been fine.
Pours an amber colour, clear with large bubble beige head. Sticks around nicely. Looks English, and pretty nice.
Smells Indian spicey, as promised. Big cumin/coriander spice with some coriander and cardamom for good measure. Touch of cocoa to the blend as well and some bitter nut character on the malt. Very decent.
Taste is a bit of a letdown. Caramel malt that descends into a spice-tinged mid-palate but not nearly so big as the nose. Touch of coriander and aniseed, it's still foremost on the palate but its weaker character just shows up the lack of anything else. Kind of meh.
Mouthfeel is decent; a little thin maybe but OK for the style.
Indian notes, but a bit too subdued on the palate. I'd hoped for much more than this.
57 / 100
Pours a brown colour, very slight haze in the body. Head is beige, fairly foamy but just a thin crown. Nice English look.
Smells a bit odd. Buttery diacetyl upfront with a sweet vanilla edge. Mild grassy hop but with the cloying sweetness just smells medicinal. Unpleasan.t
Taste is very sweet as well. Vanilla all over it, but not so much diacetyl. Slightly grassy and medicinal on the back but it's just a light herbal note and provides some decent balance to the sweet front. Still a bit sweet overall.
Flat but the presence in the mouth is OK. Has a decent English smoothness to it.
Better than I thought at first, but not brilliant.
OK, so I'm totally confused about this beer. When I read the tasting notes it made it sound like a sour, almost like a wild saison, so I went in expecting this and got nothing like it. Reading about it since I've heard it called an ESB and a 'Canberra ale', and also part of Bentspoke's core range, which doesn't sound like a wild saison at all. I know I shouldn't blame the beer for some kind of cock-up with the beer menu writer, but my poor review is reflective of what was marketed, what was sold to me and hence what I expected from a master of sours.
Pale gold, somewhat cloudy. Head dissipates leaving nothing. Looks OK but very wild.
Smells blah. Very grainy, lots of cereal with some mild phenolic notes and some orange peel. Certainly expected more from it.
Taste is intriguing. Still too pronounced a grain note, with caramelisation and slight fruit. Slight phenolic funk maybe, a lot of medicinal Belgian bitterness towards the back. Very dry, seems like there's not much going on. Could use more acid which is more what I expected maybe.
Very dry, starts early and keeps going. More malt might give the yeast something to work with as well as providing more padding.
Very disappointed here. Feel like there's much more that could be done, especially when Rich has made this sort of style such a bailiwick of late.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a clean, orange colour, very hazy in the glass with some solid weight behind it. Head is off-white and firms a firm crest with a little froth to it. Lacing forms in solid, proper streaking lace. Carbonation is fine. Looks pretty great.
Nose is definitely English in construction. Herbal hoppiness comes through along with a bit of neutral, grainy malt. Slight menthol characters are noticeable after a while. Really not bad at all.
Smooth clean entry on the palate laying down a wonderful malt structure through the centre of the palate. The hops are noticeable on the back, giving a solid bitterness and the true sense of an English bitter. Light linger hop characters stick in the aftertaste. Feel is fairly good—on cask I can imagine this would be exceptional.
Overall, this is really solid stuff from Townshend, who manage to really glide under the radar at every event I've had them at. The fact that a beer like this could be such a standout at a huge event like GABS is testament to its quality.
59 / 100
Tried on nitro at the Frog & Rosbif in Paris.
Pours a clear, deep orange hue, quite bright when held to the light—otherwise you could almost believe that it was red. Head is a creamy off-white that forms a good deal of pocked bubbles. Powdery fine nitrogenation. Lacing forms in streaming, creamy puffs down the glass. Looks very good.
Nose is mostly okay, but only okay. Faint toasty, malty basis with some more cereal hints. Sulphur tones come through as well though, giving an unmistakable aroma of farts. The rest isn't good enough to override this.
Taste has a slightly eggy entry, perhaps from the persistent fart smell, but then the smoothness comes through, and we get into the meat of it. Toasty, faint caramel tones and a touch of cinnamon on the back. Feel is quite light, and it lacks true sweetness, but it's fairly smooth nonetheless. Still, it's reasonably well crafted and well-integrated.
It's certainly drinkable enough. It's nothing really that special though, and certainly not my pick of the beers on tap at the Frog.
Pours an amber colour - not quite red - with beige foamy head, sticking around nicely with some sticky lacing. Nice enough, but not quite red enough.
Smells quite American-hoppy and nice. Touch of malt on the front with a slight bready hint, then loads of grapefruit, lemon and pine needle. Quite nice.
Cereal grain notes upfront with a touch of oats and rye, before hops take over. They are a bit sweet, unfortunately, with a big green apple character. Develop more dank notes on the back which provides the bitterness needed but come s a little late to cut out the sweetness and seems more of an unconnected afterthought. Not bad palate overall though.
Body is full but still a bit of carbonation through. Alright.
Drinks OK, fairly subtle red-style ale.
46 / 100
Pours a gold colour, bit more pale than I'd like, with thin white rim of lace around the top. Looks a bit meh.
Smells malty. Cereal grain with some bready notes, touch of rye and a slight nutty edge. Not bad, could use a bit more hopping to let me know what I'm in for stylistically.
Taste is also bready. Some cereal notes and a touch of cornbread, some rye and a fairly sizeable yeast note. Touch of spice maybe, but no real hop of any description as far as I can tell. Bready, mostly.
Decent body and feel, goes down quite nicely.
Meh. More of an ordinary bitter than an extra special bitter. English style in the sense of 'could drink lots of this' but I wouldn't really want to.
Pours a burnished brown-amber colour. Cloudy. Head is off-white, decent density but a bit thin. Not bad.
Smells quite hoppy. Fruity notes, tropical, citrus, some grassy-herbal notes as well. English, but with a distinct edge of the new world in there.
Taste is surprisingly tangy. Citrus, with some passion notes, pine. Bit of toffeed malt, then finish is grassy, herbal, with a fairly clean finish surprisingly. Citric, tangy, yeah not bad.
Bit of fizz on there, body covers it pretty well though. Feels a bit fuzzy.
Nice twist on a decent traditional brew.
40 / 100
Tried on-tap during the GABS festival 2013 in Melbourne.
Pours a clear golden hue, perhaps tending towards amber, with a relatively light body without much carbonation. Head is a thin ring of white that doesn't leave much in the way of lacing. Looks a bit dull.
Light and malty on the entry, without the sweetness of the malt, but perhaps with a little bit of earthy spice. It's clean enough, but it doesn't leave much else. Again, pretty unexciting.
Light entry on the front palate, perhaps with a touch of something medicinal. Faint green characters come through later, but they're very weak, and they have very little to work with anyway. Watery in the finish with a slight astringency.
Feel is light, but at least with a pleasant smoothness to it.
Unfortunately, this was a beer that I clicked with. It's not something I'd want to drink often, and it didn't provide me with anything else either. Disappointing, as Last Drop have done some otherwise decent beers.
62 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. Mentioned in the tasting notes that this is meant to be an American Red-style, brewed with English hops.
Pours a solid amber hue, relatively hazy with a full and foamy head of yellow-white. Lace is streaking an intricate. Colour has a slight brownish-yellow tinge to it when it's tilted—that's a bit wack, but otherwise, it looks pretty good.
Nose has a butterscotch-resin hybrid that reminds me of Simcoe: piney, honeycomb and sweet. Beyond that are deeper woody characters: cedar, a bit of bark and always that rounded, sweaty sweetness with a whiff of something more organic to it. It's not bad, but not overly exciting.
Light malt on the entry, before some resiny, oily hops come through giving a piquant, piney bite to the sweetness. Rather dank towards the back, before clearing up on the finish, where's it's clean and light without much residual flavour. Feel is very light and it doesn't hold on to the malt.
Overall, it's light, and tasty enough in its way. But it is rather dull, and I'm not overly enthusiastic about it.
79 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a very pleasant ruby-tinged amber-brown colour, with a rather bright yellow crest of foam. This settles down to a loose ring. Body has a pleasant heft to it, and holds its fine carbonation very well. Overall, it's a really good-looking beer. I like it.
Nose is a pleasant melange of toasty, sweet rich malts and bright, fresh hop characters. There's orange citrus and some blossom tones, with a richness like treacle and cinnamon. They work in concert almost perfectly, providing a balanced and complex combination. It's really quite lovely.
Taste takes a step back from this, but still maintains a very pleasant balance: the malt is less prominent here, and it's less rich and full than I thought it might be. Instead, the hops are thrust forward, giving a rounded, supple fruitiness and a pronounced, but not sharp bitterness. Still, it is rounded and balanced with some toasty malt characters and a suggestion of vegemite. It is, in fact, very pleasant.
Feel is smooth and supple, providing another layer of balance against the hop character.
Overall, this is a damn fine beer. It's very delicately balanced, while maintaining a very full and forthright flavour profile. What's more, it's remarkably easy to drink, and oddly moreish. I'm a big fan.
46 / 100
Ridiculous 750ml oilcan, emblazoned with a kangaroo, which just makes me a little embarrassed. I should note that I've never seen anything like this in Australia. Purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a pleasantly clear, deep golden colour, with a frothy, loose head of white. This burns out quickly, leaving just a ring of foam around the edge and some streaks of lace. Carbonation is quite fine. Actually it looks pretty decent.
Nose is slightly metallic and a slightly sweet: together the characters mingle to give a faint spice character almost like cinnamon. Some empty, light sulphury tones, come through, along with a little greenness or vegetative sweetness. It's not all that great, but it's relatively inoffensive.
Taste is turning a little more towards being unpleasant, with a wet grain and yeast tone giving it an underlying suggestion of organic rot. There's still the metallic character, but the sweetness flattens out and becomes quite dry on the finish, leaving a floury, almost desiccated tone to the finish. This allows the metallic bite to draw out longer than it should, leaving an unpleasant twang on the finish. Feel is light and clear. Actually relatively good.
Overall, this is not a truly offensive beer. It's quite light and drinkable, and for its flaws, it ends up being pretty alright actually. Struth.
56 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from the brewery in Alfredton.
Pours a faintly hazed orange amber colour, with a slight, frothed head of off-white. Body looks quite solid and holds minimal but very fine carbonation. Some streaking weak lace. Looks pretty decent overall.
Nose is faintly floral and a little sweet, with some crushed minerally overtones. Some herbal tones come through, and some crystal sweetness. It all feels very flat: there's substance behind it, but it feels a lot like everything has been buffed and polished to have no edge and little true character.
Taste is similar. Slight grainy basis laced with plenty of those herbal and mineral tones, slight peach characters and a metallic twist. It has some savoury characters as well: a sweetness like stewed tomatoes with melted cheese. Feel is very disappointing. Carbonated, sparkly and light, really not providing any support to the beer, which really would benefit from it.
Overall, it's fine. Really, it is. But it's also either too bland, or too far out of its designation to be well-crafted. I'm not a big fan as a result.
Australia's first craft-beer-in-a-can. Let's see how it goes down.
Pours a vibrant red colour, quite clear. Head is off-white, decent thickness with again, decent lacing left behind. Decent English bitter look.
Smells hoppy, in an English way. Slightly spicy but mostly malty; caramel with vanilla, notes of toasted grain and quinoa as well. Malty, and very English. Hops are there but subtle.
Taste is OK; fairly standard English notes with malty caramel, touch of English toffee on there with Bramling X-esque herbal notes. Touch of lemon and some light woody characters on the back. It's fairly standard, like a lot of Neal Cameron's beers, but there's decent balance to it and a welcome sprucey hop character. Certainly well-made, and refreshing enough.
A little bit foamy in the mouth, not bad.
These scores could have gone up half a mark each, if this were really my kind of beer. I think it's well made but it just doesn't excite me very much, and I think one could pack a lot more flavour and attitude into a can than this beer represents.
44 / 100
Pours an bronze colour, somewhere between deep amber and brown. Very, very little head, just a speck of rim around the edge. More head would definitely be nice (amirite boys??? Eh?) Otherwise it's a nice colour.
Smells malty and English, with a good nutty edge to it. Hops are herbal, mild and English also. Fairly simple, but not too bad. Certainly within style but could have a bit more hop character.
Very simple on the palate too. Sweet grain upfront with a slight nutty edge. Gets more of a cereal edge midway, corn, oatmeal and honey. Not too bad, but really quite bland. Might be alright as a cleanser but doesn't really interest me.
Body is watery/thin, fairly flat. Nothing to hold it up.
Bland, English style bitter. I'd be inclined to call it a plain ol' bitter rather than an ESB, and it's not something that really interests me. Watery, and underwhelming.
58 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a pleasant, clear and deep amber hue, with an initially fizzy and frothy head of off-white. The fizziness is offputting, but it settles to a relatively pleasant minimal film, pocked with some larger pancake bubbles. Carbonation is fine, body looks like it has some weight to it. Overall, looks pretty good.
Nose is prickly with faintly herbal, faintly earthy hop characters, and very little sweetness or malt character. Slight tannic overtones, and perhaps a little spiciness—something like an astringent herb, far from being peppery. It does feel a little bit weak, and really feels like it needs more body and richness to back it up, but it's OK.
Taste is similar—in fact perhaps here the lack of body and sweetness is even more detrimental. Here the hops almost tend towards harsh without any cushioning—prickly herbs, holly, rosemary and dry crushed tea leaves. Feel also suffers, with a thinness permeating the experience. Very little presence from the malt; perhaps a slight grainy character but minimal else.
I understand that the hops should be front and centre in an ESB, but here they feel out of balance, and it's crying out for more richness. I can imagine that this pouring on hand-pump would help, but out of the bottle it's unfortunately the weakest of the Temple range I've had so far.
I had this in a can earlier in Sydney Craft Beer Week, but when it popped up again on tap at Harts Pub's event, I thought it was worth trying there to make the comparison.
It pours a clear, reddish amber hue with minimal weight to the body. Head is a fine and solid beige foam that forms nice small bubbles. It laces the glass with streaky, tight rings as it goes down. Carbonation is mild. Looks pretty good.
Nose is robust but not violent with earth, herbal hops, giving a woody, English character. I'm guessing East Kent Goldings are prominent, but it could be others in that herbal, earthy style. Slight pepper comes through as well. Missing some weight and depth, but otherwise solid enough.
More on the herbs side of thing on the palate as well: green, crushed fragrance on the front, before a rather gritty character comes in part way through. I recall toffee on the canned version, but there's not much of that here: just a mild husky grain note to balance. It also feels a little thin, suggesting that a bit more malt body would help it in more ways than one. Finish has a hint of crushed mint to it, and a mild astringency.
Some creaminess in the mouthfeel would help a lot, as would a little more sweetness.
It's nice enough. It's tasty, rather English in genesis, and with a fair whack of hop character. I think the main difference between the can and the on-tap version came from the serving temperature. The can had some odd fruity esters as it warmed, but I think the on-tap one probably suffered a thinness from being a bit too cold. Otherwise, the two seem to back each other up pretty well.
60 / 100
The claim is that this is Australia's first craft beer in a can. Besides James Squire Golden on Qantas flights, they might be about right. Free sample given away at BeerMenTV's Hair of the Dog Breakfast during Sydney Craft Beer Week. This one was shared with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a deep reddish amber colour, with a fine, but filmy head of slightly milky-coloured white. Carbonation is fine and the body is solid. Some streaking fine lace. Overall, this doesn't look like an Aussie beer from a can.
Nose is rounded with some mildly toasty malt shot through with a slightly earthy English hop character. It has a woody, slightly tannic note to it, and a greenness that doesn't seem to have much to do with freshness. Slightly fruity estery notes come through as it warms as well, perhaps a bit of banana and peach. Smells pretty good.
Taste is similar, with a little more toffee sweetness coming through that bounds off the hop character into a little astringency. More hints of banana, which are now getting in the way. Not a great deal of English malt character to balance those earthy, leafy hops; this job is left to those toffee notes and the banana esters, which really don't provide the right contrast.
Feel is pleasantly smooth, but streaked with a mild bite of fine carbonation.
Overall, this is a solid brew. It's not mind-blowing, it's not even an exemplar of the style, but it's decent enough, and it's worthy enough to be at the vanguard of the craft beer can revolution in this country. Bring on more!
On-tap at the Italian SpecTapular event at Sydney's Local Taphouse.
Pours a clear amber colour, with a weak, light body and absolutely no head whatsoever. Zip. Nada. It looks as though someone's dropped a bit of amber colouring into a glass of water. Well wack.
Light caramel malt comes through on the nose, with snapped wood or bark aromas from the hops. Slight hint of vanilla to it as well. But it's all very bland and a little muted and muddled.
Taste is light and watery for the most part, with some wet, flat toffee characters making a strained but lethargic appearance mid palate, and a rather pathetically meek cheer of hops on the finish, giving a reedy aftertaste. Feel is weak.
Really, this is a pretty unpleasant brew, and it was up against Brewfist's other already unpleasant brews. Very unimpressed.
46 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS 2012 festival in Melbourne.
Pours a mild golden hue with some hazine. Body is soft, as is the head, which forms a light, creamy off-white crest to the beer. Lace is excellent, forming in proper English bitter lines down the glass. Good stuff.
It's downhill from here, however. Nose is very mild with some grain and a whiff of Pride of Ringwood giving an unpleasant earthy character. Laced over the top is an odd pong of egg-white, which is unusual, tending to unpleasant.
Really empty and mildly unpleasant palate as well. Slight weak grain on the front, before a hint of spice and earth as the token hop character. On the finish is a big whack of carbonic acidity, which gives it the aftertaste of a solid puke. Not a fan.
Eh. What can I really say about this? It's either so bland that it's not worth talking about, or it's not offensive enough to really grill over hot coals. It's just a nothing, forgettable and ultimately pretty pointless brew.
74 / 100
Bottle purchased from Plonk in Canberra, when there was a terrible rumour going around that these guys were shutting up shop.
Pours a very pleasant burnished, bright copper colour, with a filmy, slightly bubbly off-white head. Retention is pretty poor, all things considered, just forming a wide ring of bubbles and some speckled lace. Body is solid, and holds some fine carbonation when it's tilted. Colour is great: overall, it's a decent-looking beer.
Nose is earthy and slightly spicy, with some herbal elements, and some mineral characters coming through. Coppery and sparkling, with crushed parsley, leafy English hops and almost a hint of pine: it's not quite pine, but it has that slightly resinous sharpness. Very interesting stuff.
Taste is smooth but flavoursome. Bigger malty characters here, with a chewy grain note through the palate, balanced and kept in check by big earthy and organic hops, and a very slight bite of smoke. Not a lot in terms of raw bitterness, but the hops mesh with the deep, sweet toffee-like malts to give a character not unlike peachskin. It's fruity, and yet dusky and slightly biting at the same time.
Feel is smooth and solid: it forms a very decent base for everything else that's going on.
3 Ravens never give me a beer which really blows me away. But they never, ever disappoint me. This is very solid stuff from them yet again: a very decently made and very tasty ESB, tending to an English Strong.
Tried at GABS 2012 at the Royal Exhibition Building.
Pours a gold-amber colour, clear with a dense creamy head. Retains thick and solid. Looks like a hearty, malty ale; excellent.
Smells dry and yeasty and bland. Just simple grains and bready yeast. Can't say I expected much but it really does deliver a whole lot of nothing.
Maltier on the palate and a bit sweeter. Still a bit dry on the finish but grainy and bland for the most part. Bit odd upfront, like it tastes like crunching down on unmashed grains a bit, just dry cereal flavours. Not a lot of hop to balance the sweetness either, but it's not overpowering. It's just simple, clean ESB territory.
Decent feel, again quite dry with a slightly thin body. Not too bad.
Pretty happy this beer was here at GABS as it couldn't all be craziness. Having said that, this beer really can't escape its blandness and it could have amped things up a bit to fit in just a bit better. Decent crack at the style though.
73 / 100
Bottle purchased from Pearl Whole Foods in Portland Oregon.
Pours a pleasant and true-to-style burnished orange hue, with more haze than expected. However, the haze refracts the light, making the beer glow, which is rather pleasant. Head is filmy and bubblyâa soft off-white. Some lacing, but not all that persistent or extravagant. It looks decent.
Nose is mellow, but brushed with pleasant leafy, darkly herbal and earthy English hops, with a sense of nuttiness like EKG gives (they don't actually list the hop varieties on the bottle though, so that's a guess). It's fragrant for an English style, but still firmly in the tradition. Malty, grounded, almost savoury in its usage of the hops. Quite pleasant.
Taste is similar. Smooth entry, with plenty of neutral to slightly-nutty malt, before the earthy flourish of hops comes through leaving a herbal bite in the aftertaste. Bitterness is pronounced, but leaves a hole in the palateâwhere American high-alpha hops would cut straight through, these hops melt around the edges, letting the malt do more of the work. It's pleasant, and true to the tradition it's attempting to uphold.
Feel is a little bit weak, but it's almost there. To be honest, all it needs is to be pulled from a handpump and it'd be great.
Good stuff. I like it when American breweries do good examples of British styles without trying to Americanize them. Sure, they're duller than they might be, but let's face it: so are the Brits.
60 / 100
Purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley CA. Brought to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeeroronotobe.
Pours a hazed reddish amber colour, with a fine, slightly bubbly head of off-white. Minimal lacing. Body is goopy and gelatinous, and hold carbonation as though it has lost the will to rise to the surface. Looks decent overall.
Nose is, unfortunate, for want of a better word. Really pronounced vegetative, almost weedy aroma, giving hints of earth, bark and mulch. Some malty sweetness to offset it, but it really doesn't help the aroma overall.
Taste is similar, but here it starts to make a little more sense. Big, prickly English hop bitterness through the centre, giving herbal and woody flavours before punctuating the finish with a brisk punchy dot. Some rounded English malt characters give a slightly husky note which roughens the palate, but adds some basis.
Feel is slightly too chewy and thick for what it is: in fact, the flavours seem to struggle to hold on for as long as the feel wants them to.
Overall, this is a beer of contrasts. There are some really interesting things to it, and some things that just don't work at all. I like the really strong English bitterness, but I feel as though that would have been better utilised in a beer half its strength.
Pours a pale orange-golden colour, with a bright and frothy white-yellow head that foams quite a bit, but stays solid enough, and forms some spectacular lacing. Light bodied, and to be honest, it looks a pretty generic English-style ale, but as generic English-style ales go, it's a good one.
Ooh, nose is full of overblown honeyed English malts. Sickly and sweet and potent, and making me turn my head away to gulp down some fresh air. It's all floral honey, and too much. Nothing to balance or pull it back. I just can't stand it, sorry.
Taste is no better, in fact, here, along with the honeyed cloying character is a buzzing chemical bitterness that almost reminds me of Pride of Ringwood, that most hated of Australian hops. Finish is dry and yeasty, giving no flavour at all to counteract the sickly aftertaste. I could go on further, but to be honest, I don't want to drink any more.
A pretty horrible beer. Cloying and sweet, and offensive where it's not purely cloying and sweet. Actively unpleasant. I don't get it.
Brewed with fresh wild hops picked on the Otway Ranges, brewed with English malts. Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst.
Pours a slightly hazy golden colour. Head is fine-bubbled and pure white in colour, although a little too foamy and carbonated. Light bodied. Doesn't look too bad.
Bit of honeydew melon on the nose, with a touch of light floral honey. Touch of fresh greenery (perhaps the vines they added along with the hop cones are making a contribution). Only lightly hopped, but not bad.
Taste is light witha bit of the backbone coming through, giving slight bready characters. Hops are pleasant giving fresh characters of melon, cut greens, maybe even a little watery cucumber. Light, and crisp, and rather tame.
Not a bad brew, but not a huge one. I like people experimenting with wild hop varieties, and I do like the freshness you get from green/wet/fresh hopped beers, but they tend to end up a little bland, and this is blander than most.
Not baf, better tgan much otway anf nore interesting. 3.5
48 / 100
Something of a hybrid Amber Ale / Scottish Ale through the use of Scottish Ale yeast over what appears to be a relatively hoppy Amber ale. Let's see how it goes.
Pours a very pleasing red colour, just slightly burnished to amber orange on the sides. Head is filmy, but very fine bubbled, and the body looks pleasantly thick. Overall, a pretty good looking beer.
Nose is slightly organic, giving up a little citrus and a strong aroma of green apple peel. It's a bit like ale-fermented sugar, which is worrisome, and there's ont a huge amount of depth and sweetness to balance it.
Taste is a little better, giving some nutty grain characters, and a chalky residue. Feel is very thin however, as is the breadth of the palate--it feels as though much of it is empty. A very little amount of bitterness on the back is the only hint of the hops. Quite bland.
A disappointing brew. Not something I'd be that keen to try again. It looks alright, but when it comes to the crunch it doesn't have a lot to offer. Really rather bland.
60 / 100
Purchased in Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill, as part of their somewhat dwindling supply of New Zealand craft beer.
Pours a clearish dark copper hue, with a very fizzy and frothed-up head of white bubbles. Body is very thin, and the carbonation (which looks overly boisterous) streams to the top with minimal effort. Lacing is ok, leaving a few waves of patterning down the glass. Overall, it's not bad, but not particularly inspiring.
Nose is very weak, giving nothing more than a whiff of cooked vegetation and earth, with a overtone of carbonation fizz. Something a bit sweet but organic comes out as it warms a little, perhaps a whiff of dried tobacco leaf or the earthy English hop varieties. Still, not all that robust, but nice enough.
Taste is, again, pleasant but not all that exciting. Some light nutty English malt character on the mid palate lengthens to a slightly astringent bitterness on the back, giving a bite of phenols and aspirin. It's not all that strong, but it's pleasant enough.
Feel is disappointing, with an overtly aggressive carbonation giving too much fizz to the palate.
Nice enough, but nothing particularly groundbreaking here. It's not even that good an execution of the style, but it's inoffensive. Not something I'd necessarily seek out again, though.
80 / 100
Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, with a fine-bubbled head of just off-white. Lacing is complex and detailed. Looks pretty good. Body looks surprisingly heavy for an English Ale, but I'm not complaining. Looks very decent.
Nose is complexly roasty and sweet, with big nut characters coming through along with a toffee caramel character and an earthy tobacco English hoppiness. Again, the body might be exerting too much malt, and not enough hops, but it's really very pleasant.
Taste is also very nice, with round sweetness the basis of the flavours, even though the palate and feel stays relatively lightweight. Light earthy hops and metallic hints of copper pipe and tinfoil. Sweet but pungent cannabis characters lift the palate as well. Finish is extremely long, but from nothing comes a pleasantly cleansing ozone or chlorine note, that far from being unwelcome just dips the sweetness into a bright finish.
It's a lovely blend of smoothness, complexity, depth and raw flavour. Great beer, and one which accentuates just how good the English styles can be.
73 / 100
Pours a dark copper colour, bright but deep, with plenty of streaming carbonation. Head was initially fizzy and frothing, but it settles to a reasonably pleasant and fine film of off-white. Looks pretty decent and stylistically appropriate. Lacing isn't as sticky as it could be, although it appears in sheets, rather pleasantly.
Nose is pleasantly robust with lots of crisp hops, that almost bend a little towards the citric. Hint of tannins ensure it stays grounded in earthiness, however. Also a touch of roasted grains to give some depth. Very decent.
Taste is also quite well constructed, and stays pleasantly balanced throughout. Decent robust bitterness from the hops, with a structure of malt and roasted grain around it. Bitterness mingles pleasantly with the malt at the back to give a moreish nutty character. Crisp finish. Despite the abundant carbonation present in the body, the feel is pleasantly smooth and supple.
A very nice ESB, with plenty of character, and decent structure. Smooth and tasty, and very drinkable.
79 / 100
Presented in an adorable 7 oz bottle. Just enough for a good taste.
Pours a really gorgeous deep red mahogany colour, with a crown of creamy off-white foam that's both heady and boisterous. Lacing is thick and intricate in the best English traditions of the genre. Looks a good drop of beer.
Such a lovely hybrid nose. Deep, slightly nutty, slightly roasted English malt characters (even though apparently the malts are local), with some odd blackberry hop characters mingled with sharper and more pungent West Coast aromas. It's very interesting indeed.
Taste is incredibly smooth and very well done. Despite the creeping hint of American hoppiness on the nose, the palate gives way to a creamy malt centre laced with a touch of very English feeling earthy organic hop bitterness on the back. Feel is divine, so smooth and yet so clear, a lovely feel for an English style ale. I feel like I've not had a better mouthfeel from a bottle.
7.1%? Pah! No such thing. This is a smooth and sessionable ale, roaring with character, but smooth and supple on the palate. A fabulous ESB, and a stylistically true one. Oh America, you never cease to amaze me.
Pours a burnished bronze colour with slow but manifold carbonation. Head is thin, cream-coloured, retaining a thin crown and some nice thick lace being left behind. Great colour, otherwise pretty good too.
Smell is very hoppy. Lots of malt on there with English toffee notes and a slight sour metallic character. Lots of brass/copper and some lemon zest as well. Some honey as well, hiding at the back. Fairly strong, but also lacking in complexity; seems a bit one-tracked.
Very flavoursome. Heavy malt base with burnt sugar and brown sugar, some molasses as well. Lots of hops come through that are quite complex and almost wriggly in their flavour permeation. Earthy, with pine needle resin, some metallic notes and some woody character as well. Makes the finish extremely dry, very attenuated and maybe a touch short on the finish. But it's clean at least.
Good full feel, nice and sticky in the mouth but I really feel it's a bit too dry.
A very nice beer overall, and nice to drink. One of the better ESBs I've had.
Pours a deep coppery bronze colour with a fine and filmy head of white. Lacing is great, forming down the glass in sheets. Lots of fine carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is minimal, with a light grain note amd some slightly floral hoppiness, but it's very muted, and it's certainly served too cold. Served by the brewer too, so no excuses. As it warms, there's a hint more maltiness to it, and it preempts the slight smoke character on the palate.
Taste is, indeed, surprisingly smoky - smoked cheese in particular giving a pleasant sweet but roasted hint. Light and clean otherwise with a pleasant coppery bitterness cleaning out the back. Very interesting.
A very drinkable ESB and a rather enjoyable one. The biscuity smokiness is a little odd, but otherwise it's a good example of the style.
85 / 100
Pours an absolutely gorgeous deep reddish mahogany colour, with a full and firm head of beige bubbling, that leaves soft curtains of lace down the glass. Fair amount of carbonation, and there's a nice light cloud to the body.
I can't get over the colour. It's just delightful, bright but deep, and such a gorgeous hue.
Nose is veritably complex, and surprisingly and pleasantly different from what I expected. Big notes of red wine cork, light cherry liqueur and toasted grains, with an organic lashing of cut crass and lucerne hay. Very well integrated. Smashing nose.
Taste is also very good, light toasted grains and a slick sweetness that round out a crisply bitter back palate, with hints of medicinal phenols. Mmm, it's toasty and comforting, but with a good deal of depth and a refreshing bite. Mouthfeel is a bit too prickly. I wonder what it would be like off cask.
This is an absolutely cracking English ale, one of the best I think I've had. So much complexity, but so well integrated that it sits pleasantly and easily in the mouth. Cheers to Adam @ Platinum Liquor for recommending this one =)
A deep ruby tinged brown colour with an initially frothy head coloured like very finely ground milk chocolate. Head collapses to a film pretty readily. Some reasonable lacing, and pleasant static carbonation - looks like it has a very decent amount of body to it. Looks pretty decent.
Whiffy on the nose - ostensibly very malty, but it has an odd organic, slightly smoky character that smells not unlike dry cat food. Certainly at least a lot of husky, rustic grain bag to it. There's a sweetness underneath it all, but to me it smells pretty rank.
Taste is a little better, but it still has that really oddly organic grain shell character to it. The body is good though - and the sweetness here is more pronounced, making it feel like a richer and fuller beer. It does get a bit better the more I drink, but there's something so slightly off-putting about it at the start.
It feels drinkable, even though it's quite full and thick after a while. Not one of my favourite English Ales. Although it does have character, it has just too much that worries me about it.
61 / 100
Pours a nice coppery colour. Very clear with a large-bubbled head of yellowish white foam. Lacing is only speckles of sticking bubbles down the edge of the glass, but it looks decent all up.
Quite malty on the nose. Bit of grain bag rustic character, and a whiff of banana phenols. Malt is dominant though, with some toffee and caramel notes, and just a hint of roastiness. Quite nice all up.
Taste is similar - very big on the malt, with more of an emphasis on roasted grain. Fresh wholegrain bread spread with molasses. Slightly astringent finish as the roasted character lends some bitterness. Still, it's very full bodied for the most part, very sweet, rich and grain-heavy. Mouthfeel is round without being cloying. Good.
A very full-flavoured beer, almost too heavy to drink much of, despite its relatively low strength. Still, I enjoyed it as an experience - maybe not something I'd seek out regularly though.
60 / 100
Served from nitro-tap at the brewery.
Pours a smooth amber colour, with a small but creamy head of white foam, although the brewery lighting is rather dim. Looks pretty decent.
Smooth on the nose with a bit of malty sweetness, very round with a crispness that reminds me of raw potato. Quite sweet overall, certainly not a big ESB sharpness. But nice.
Sweet grain on the palate, a little dusty - certainly not a lot of hops. Very clean though on the palate, and the texture is very pleasant.
It's an extremely drinkable brew, let's give it that. Would make a great session beer - there's enough character to keep it interesting, not enough to wear out the palate, and it's extremely smooth.
41 / 100
Tried on tap at the brewery during a recent trip.
Pours a slightly cloudy dark golden colour, with a filmy white head. Looks uncarbonated. Some lacing. Not bad, but not great.
Light nose, a slight fruit note, not very hoppy at all. Slight banana phenols, and a hint of sweat. Can't see too much to it.
Taste is pretty thin, with a slight Pride of Ringwood harshness on the back. Slightly sweet, hint of metal. Feel is completely flat, expected for a cask ale, by this is pretty weak. Expected some creaminess from the hand drawn pump.
It has some interest at least, but it is so out of style and unpleasantly chaotic. There's not a great deal to recommend it.
56 / 100
Pours a burnt orange colour with a translucent cloud in the brew. Slow bead trickles up, head is decent but thin, dissipates leaving a film on top, but some nice, thick off-white lace around the glass. Nice-looking English brew.
Nose is fairly interesting. Very funky, resiny for the most part, but a good malty backbone. A thick, caramel-style malt aroma and a lot of almost rank sweetness, kind of like rotting fruit - papaya and banana come to mind. A little bit of sourness gives fruit for thought. A curious nose, can't say I love it though.
Taste is very mild, and borders on bland. Starts with a gentle malt flavour, hints of brown sugar and caramel, then gives off some fruity hints that aren't very sweet, kind of tart actually, with notes of banana and even mango, a bit underripe in character. Leaves a lingering metallic flavour with hints of green tea at the back. Not really sure what to make of this, it's kind of refreshing but it's a bit too bland to really excite the palate, just a bit lacking in flavour really.
Feels fluid with a bit of dryness on the back, kind of crisp but not quite enough.
Not an offensive brew, fairly easy drinking, just a bit dull.
Pours a hazy red-orange colour, with a slightly ribboned-white head of cludgy foam. Lacing is eccentric, but stays fresh enough. Looks nominal at best, but the colour is ripe. Head certainly needs some lovin'.
Wood shavings on the nose are perceptible, with a rufous aroma of dark caramel to backlight it. The wood and pine characters are most dominant, and it freshens up perspicaciously. It almost hints at acidity in an incoherent way, but it's very pleasant overall. I like it.
Quite smooth on the palate, with a round caramel cannoliness. Some partial hop resin partway through spears the glutinous nature of the rest, and the example I had was served too cold, which somewhat benumbs the feel. It's a little emaciated on the palate - it doesn't have the full-bodied and strikingly preternatural bent of the nose, but it's pleasant enough.
Very drinkable, all things considered, with enough interest to keep me titillated. It's not a beer that is going to cause me apoplexy or fanaticism, but it's smooth, easy-drinking and inoffensive.
43 / 100
Pours a burnt orange colour, quite clear but with slight haze. Head is off-white/beige, thin but retaining well and leaves a gorgeous sheet of clingy beige lace around the glass. Steady bead. Has all the right elements, nothing to a wow extent but all in order, sir.
Nose is rather pungent, and malty. A lot of syrupy malt with a boozey phenol underlying, almost a bourbon smell. Hint of toffee and a fair sourness, slight charcoal hint to it, some underripe berries, pine resin and a corporeal, savoury smell like sweat. Interesting, but not sure I like it. It smells a bit slapdash to be honest, not sure what it's trying to do.
Taste is a bit odd as well. Starts quite malty and definitely a good dose of molasses-style malt towards the mid, then kind of trails off, leaving an undercooked dough kind of character mixed with a resiny sour hoppiness, and a distinct medicinal character like crushed up aspirin on the back. Hint of seaweed to it as well. Mostly has a weakly sour aspect, but otherwise seems like an attempt at a malt bomb. I don't think either way it's very successful. Falls short and tastes a bit dour as a result.
Quite fizzy, a little bit of body but you can sense the odd lack of malt on the feel as well. Not great.
Not off-putting as a beer, just fails to be particularly pleasant or interesting. Have definitely had worse, and better.
70 / 100
Pours a dirty brown-amber colour, with a filmy head of white foam. Some sticky lacing around the edges, but not a huge amount. Looks reasonable.
Nose is rather sweet, streaked with a resinous dosage of English hop notes. A little butterscotch coming through, and some pine or menthol fragrance. There's something oddly American about it as well, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is - I believe it may be the level of malt sweetness, often present to fill out the body of a strong IPA. Pretty good overall.
Taste is odd. Starts sparkling with carbonation pressing through a rather malty thick body. Then comes a welling of straight English hop bitterness that doesn't ever really clean up the malt notes. Finishes with a slight butterscotch coating of the mouth, before a direct menthol vector resonates at the very end. It all feels slightly anarchic, but there's enough tying it to the style to make me think it's rather good.
It feels a bit thick and heavy. It also appears they may have changed the recipe lately, as my bottle marks it as 7.1% ABV. Drinkability is down as a result, but it's not a bad brew. Plenty to interest the tastebuds at least.
56 / 100
Pours a fiery English red, like a St. George's cross (the red bit). Minimal head which sinks to nothing in about half a minute. Bead is fast but thin and leaves some small patches of lace. Looks alright for style but am still unimpressed.
Very malty nose, a lot of rich toffee with hints of treacle and some mint. A hint of pine resin is the only indicator of any hops. A bit of a disappointment to be honest. Pleasant, but simple.
Taste is better as far as complexity goes, a nice steady flow of bitter flavour through the palate. Starts with a healthy malt dose, more of that toffee character followed by a long, mild but increasingly apparent resiny bitterness. Very English, with some aspects of tea and a bit of a leather character. Leaves with a slight bitter hang, but mostly clean and pretty crisp. A decent bitter.
Mouthfeel is decently full, feels a bit flat but with a good body. It's English, it shouldn't be fizzy, so it's all good.
Decent brew, not amazingly tasty but pretty good.
57 / 100
Ooh yeah, a "XXX" B. How exciting. Poured into a stein, so far slightly lacking in heaving breasts for a "XXX" beer, but I'm still holding out hope. Nice deep red amber clour with very healthy but unpretentious beige head, sinking steadily, leaving some nice clouds of lace around. Strong and steady bead through a clear but dark body. Very English.
Nose is quite sour, with a lot of Goldings hops on there, very herbal, with a spicy tea character. Aspects of caramelly amber malt underlying, light soil character and a bit of creaminess that I've come to associate with English ale yeasts. A little subdued but very pleasant for what it is.
Taste is fairly rich and pleasant, a lot of faintly dark malt gives a boiled fruit or toffeed character to it, herbal hops come through midway, elements of mint and tea leaving wafting out, with a very light tingle of spice on the back, and maybe a slight yeasty character. Similarly spicy linger, quite organic and herbal in its bitterness, which isn't excessive, and in many ways I would say is of a "bitter" quality rather than an "Extra Special Bitter" one.
I think though that the richness of the malt is underused with the mouthfeel being a bit thin, lacking, watery. Little bit of a nip as it goes down but little else.
This is a session beer to be reckoned with, a lot of nice flavours, subtle clean finish, excellent throughout the palate.
81 / 100
Pours a deep reddish burnished mahogany colour, quite clear with a billowing, overenthusiastic head of off white bubbles. Rocky as anything, and almost overflowing the glass from a conservative pour. Some good lacing though when it settles a bit. Looks very damn tasty indeed.
Lots of gritty noble hop aromas on the nose. Fair bit of pepper, some scale-touched citrus, grass and freshly turned earth. Quite piercing, very refreshing, almost nothing of the new world to it. With the beers I've been drinking lately that's a surprisingly pleasant treat.
Very pleasant and robust bitterness on the palate, not harsh with grapefruit or grassiness like the equivalent level of hopping with and American hop would do. Stays crisp, lightly metallic, sharp but clean. Very little clinging body to it, and that's very pleasant in this style of beer. Very true to style, in my opinion, crisp and drinkable and tasty.
An extremely drinkable brew with buckets of character to boot. Once again, Red Hill shows me they can brew a subtle and classic style exceptionally well.
60 / 100
Pours a burnished gold colour, transparent like amber, not much head promoted - maybe half a finger and beige, with minimal bead. Head retention is pretty good. Lacing is pretty slippery, but it looks like a pretty good bitter.
Funny nose; it smelled quite strong and pungent when first opened, there's less smell now. A lot of malt on it, rich with amber waves of grain, slightly caramelly and some tart vinegar acidity. Hops - possibly Fuggles, although that's a stab in the dark - coming through quite herby, with a basil and possibly parsley hit as well. Decent smell, but not excellent.
Taste is very malty with a chewy biscuity malt being quite prominent, hints of raisin and bready grain as well. Mid-palate gives off some decent hops, quite phenolic in character with a robust cough medicine or Dr. Pepper kind of twang to it. Slight citrus character at the end, but leaves with an earthy, gravelly bitter aftertaste. It's pretty good though, mouthfeel is quite full thanks to the malt and slick due to the low carbonation factor.
Flavours are not your average delicacies, but it's smooth drinking as a bitter, and you know, it delivers what it promises. To be perfectly honest I think it could actually use more hops - the aftertaste is very bitter, but I almost feel like you don't actively taste the bitterness, you're just left with it as an afterthought. Still quite good though, certainly worth a drink.
76 / 100
Pours a very nice reddish brown with a minimal head of beige foam. Lacing is good, carbonation is minimal, which is what you expect for the style. It's not a look that makes me drool with anticipation, but it's reasonable.
Nice sharp metallic English hops on the nose. Clean grass, sawdust and wood notes, with a fragrant lift of fresh fruits to lift it. Note a huge or pungent nose, but what's there is very pleasant.
Clean tannic palate, quite dry and just brushed with that truly traditional English hop flavour. Tea leaves, light fruit essences, resin and barley water. Mouthfeel is very light, but it's not too bad. The carbonation is very well subdued, and just great for the style.
This is a very good ESB to my mind - an English style the English would be proud of, if they'd brewed it. I think it's particularly good that the rowdy extreme-beer culture of American craft brewing takes a deep breath now and again and brews something like this.
56 / 100
Pours a thick reddish brown. It's obvious there's very little carbonation from the uncapping, but with a bit of vigorous pouring I got a slight head of beige foam forming. It dissipates rather quickly but leaves some reasonable lacing. Decent English Ale type of look to it. It's just not terrible exciting.
Some nice caramel malt and sweet vegetative notes on the nose, almost like kumera, with a very faint hop resin note. The sweetness is predominant though, which is something of a shame, although it's a pleasant enough nose overall.
Light sweet characters on the palate, surprisingly dark, with a lingering umami character on the back palate. Some banana esters come through mid palate. Bitterness is extremely muted, just a light tingling of metallic hop residue at the very back. Mouthfeel is a little thin and flat, but despite that, you can still feel the carbonation, as minimally carbonated as this is.
Quite a disappointing brew. To my mind, it's very much a poor British ale style. Light enough in the flavour department to swill down, but certainly not enough interest for me.
Pretty good lacing, first thing I noticed. Almost like it's sitting in a thin cradle of foam. Cloudy orangey-brown colour, no real head of which to speak. Can't see much carbonation but when it's tilted, thin bubbles form near the top. Looks great - heavy and full-bodied.
Lovely smell, lots of ripe tropical fruit with a hint of freshly cut grass. Smells of a candy sweetness and the best and prettiest spring flowers. As a smell it's divine but I'm not sure I wholly approve of beer smelling like this - I'm just thinking it will be too sweet if it tastes like it smells.
Wow, it doesn't. It in fact is very, very bitter, quite a 2IPA bitterness, not at all like it smells. It grows, but rapidly, from a mild hoppy front to an enormously potent bitterness on the mid palate and then settles off for the back. Hiding at the back are the tropical and malty characters I detected on the nose, but they're overpowered by the hops which are a bit too gritty and metallic to make this as delicious as it could have been. Mouthfeel is viscous and a bit clunky.
This is a very respectable brew, not for the faint-hearted or for everyday. But certainly interesting and pleasant enough for sipping. It falls slightly short of greatness.
46 / 100
The drink of England, eh?
Well, I've not seen many English lasses that look much better than this. Pours a gorgeous dark copper-amber colour with a very healthy carbonation streaming up the liquid, and a pillowy, thick head of beige foam, sticking around nicely but slowly drooping. This is definitely what an English ale should look like.
Nose is fairly simple, a very distinct aroma of English hops. A bit faint, maybe because I'm serving it a bit cold, but it's still definitely there. It's a mostly floral hoppy character and slightly balanced by a bit of a caramel malt aroma. Fairly good for what it is.
Palate is a lot maltier than I would expect, both from the nose and from the name of the beer. Very rich, almost earthy hops on the mid-palate with the back lingering in a copper, metallic kind of flavour, slightly sour, almost like when you put your tongue to the node of a battery. But the leadership is usurped by the malt on the front which also contributes to a thick, phlegmy mouthfeel. Not only does it feel phlegmy but it creates phlegm in my throat, almost like there's something lactic there. The head, when sipped, is delicious, like a strong Irish stout head. But it's here where that metallic aftertaste is strongest.
Overall, this is a fairly lacklustre example of a bitter. Mostly, it's not very bitter - it's too malty for that. Secondly, the palate, while having enough complexity to keep you interested, is fairly poorly balanced and the flavours are all essentially lined up one by one for you to count, rather than being released in a gush of flowering complexity. I could take it or leave it, really.
70 / 100
Pours a lovely bright golden hue, with a slight hint of haze. Head is a yellowish film of pancake bubbles - some fine, some larger. The lacing is excellent, just what you like to see in an English Ale.
Nice fruit notes and sweetness on the nose - pineapple and a little tropical, with an underlying molasses maltiness and a light bread/grain character. Hint of something dusty as well, a little Fuggley English hop character perhaps. Nice.
Nice initial sweetness on the palate is quickly superseded by a wonderful dark and dusty English hop robustness which clears out any residual stickiness. For me, this showcases brilliantly those English hops, quite a pronounced bitterness, but not quite the sharp resiny or fruity characters of their American brethren. It's deeper and more mellow.
Mouthfeel is smooth on the initial palate but reaches a crescendo of exciting effervescence to complement the rise of the hops bitterness nicely.
Great beer this one. Fabulously drinkable despite its 6%.
76 / 100
Golden orange body, nicely cloudy with some clumps of yeast sediment. Head is filmy, just a slick on the top and a fine ring of white foam around the edge. Nice lacing. Body looks incredibly thick, the sediment looks like it's caught in honey. Great looking beer.
Delicious, lucsious tropical fruits on the nose. Passionfruit, guava, lime and babaco. Nice, but it doesn't have much else to it. Just the sweet bomb of fruity hop character. Still, it's a great nose. Could use some more crazy complexities to it, a bit more depth.
Really nice flavour as well. Strong hop presence, lots of spicy astringency, which mellows to a dry, vegatative or even chalky character. Long palate dies away very slowly to an almost eucalyptus bite. Nice. It's not a palate wrecker, but it's a pretty powerful beer. Alcohol is amazingly well hidden. You could have told me this was 5% ABV. I like it.
Great beer, but you'd be hard pressed to drink more than one or two. Nice for now though, very robust.
Slightly hazy bronzey amber hue. Good pillowy off-white head fed by masses of fine carbonation. Doesn't look like it's hiding much, but looks very nice all the same.
Very subdued nose. Not much hoppiness. Not much of anything really. Maybe a very slight smoky sweetness. But I'd expect a much more robust and fragrant nose from an ESB.
Better bitterness on the palate, with a resiny metallic hoppiness. It's still pretty subdued, but it has some character at least. Mouthfeel clean, but a bit flat, despite the carbonation.
It's alright, got a bit of bitterness to it. It's reasonably good, and pretty drinkable. Not the best bitter I've had by a long shot.
Deep orangey copper body. Good beige creamy head, fed by persistent carbonation. A decent looking drop.
Metallic zing on the nose, rather sweet but with an underlying bitterness. Quite nice.
A little sour on the palate, underpinned by a deep roasted notes. Some alkaline bitter flavours raise their heads later in the mouth.
Smooth mouthfeel, it disappears rather rapidly however.
A decent drop. Nothing particularly fantastic, but a solid job.
60 / 100
Pours a reddish copper colour with a good thick creamy head. Good retention, with some fine lacing.
Nose is hoppy and phenolic with a nice yeasty basis.
Quite robust bitter taste, with a rather short palate. Stays toasty for a while but falls off rather quickly. It has a very subdued mouthfeel which detracts from the overall effect of the beer.
It's drinkable, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Tried at the brewery, late Oct 2005.
Darkish orange/amber colour, with hints of red. Decent head, which quickly disappears. Quite heavy carbonation.
Smell is rather bland and lagery. There's a little sweetness, like butterscotch or caramel, but it's rather reserved. It's alright, but doesn't bode well for the taste.
The taste is somewhat better than I expected, but still quite bland. Sweetness is predominant, with a hint of dark bitterness, like high-cocoa chocolate. There's just not enough going on to keep you interested, although it would probably make a good session beer.