Scottish Export 80/- beer, brewed for GABS festival 2017. In the absence of Martin Townshend sending a traditional Great British style beer, this was highly anticipated by me even though Cubby Haus was completely unknown to me.
Pours a brown colour, slight haze to it. Cream-coloured head, foamy and retaining fairly decently. Looks pretty good, fairly standard.
Smells grainy, with a good malt character. Vanilla, cereal notes; sweet with plenty of nuance to it. Clean and pleasantly sweet without going overboard.
Taste is similar. Grainy, with a malty sweetness all over it. Clean on the back, with some very neutral hopping giving a very subtle citric and herbal character but it really doesn't linger. Not as clean as it could have been, but otherwise a very smooth drinking ale.
Nice texture; smooth and pretty creamy. Touch of carbonation tingle is maybe a bit too noticeable.
Nice cleanser. Great cleanser, even. Not amazing, but a very solid drinking ale.
Retried this beer and inevitably with this kind of clean, unpretentious drop it ended up cracking my top twenty - it was my #18 beer of the festival. As essential as the crazy desserty beers are to make GABS interesting, good drinking beers like this are just as crucial to its success.
42 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Pours a pleasant deep amber colour, very clear in the body, with a slightly frothy, but ultimately collapsing off-white head. Some mild carbonation, that shows to be quite fine when tilted. Body is relatively light. Looks decent all up though.
Nose is reasonable decent. It has a slight savoury grain note, backed by a metallic twang. There is the suggestion of richness under it, giving some toffee and deep malts. It's not outstanding by any means, but it's solid enough.
The taste, however, is a significant disappointment. Here, there's a distinctive underlying fug of creamy corn that makes any intrinsic sweetness feed into a vegetative nastiness. Over this, it has the right kind of structure. Some toffee notes, a little mildly toasted grain, and even a rather dry finish. But it's always dragged down by that cloy of overt fat sweetness that's genuinely not very pleasant.
Feel is smooth. Without the issues it would probably be reasonable.
Overall though, I'm pretty unimpressed. This isn't the sort of beer you want to savour and enjoy. But neither is the sort of beer you can just slug back with abandon. This is a beer without a niche, and I'm genuinely not convinced I like it.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Opens with barely a hiss, and the pour suggests it's lacking carbonation. But instead, it looks like it's just big-bodied, and forms a languid crest of orange-hued off-white above a heavily hazed amber body. There's a lot of weight to it, and the carbonation forms in very thick, fine streaks. Looks very good.
Nose is also very nice. Smooth malt with hints of spiced bread and deep caramel, but always laced with some nice peat smoke that definitely gives it that Islay whisky note. Slight peppery characters come through as well, perhaps giving a slight mineral tone.
Taste doesn't quite match up to the nose. There's a thin suggestion of caramel on the front, but despite a fairly firm body, it drops out rather quickly. This leaves a bit of smoke and peat on the back that bites like charcoal in the finish. Aftertaste is a little ashy, with overtones of medicine. It leaves a slight unpleasantness in the back, rather bitter without purpose.
Feel is still pretty good for such a fairly lightweight ABV. It's got enough heft to support some fairly complex flavours.
Overall, it's a decent beer, with some interest, and reasonably well-constructed. The lack of body makes the back a little harsh, which is a shame, but otherwise I like it a good deal.
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA.
Pours a very pleasant burnished ruby-brown colour, with good clarity. Head is a little bit thin, forming a coarse ring of pale beige bubbles that still manages to sustain some lacing. Body does have a bit of heft to it, and the carbonation is quite languid when tilted. Looks pretty good.
Nose isn't bad. There's some dull dusky malt characters, mingled with a mild metallic note that gives it a suggestion of iodine and tinfoil. Under it is a slight sweetness that gives mild sweet-spicy notes like cinnamon sugar. It's a bit light overall, but it's reasonably well-constructed.
Taste is similar, although slightly lighter, as it seems to lack body. Fine, slightly grainy entry, touched with a mineral bite that suggests some pretty ion-heavy water. Bitterness is mild in the mid-palate, tending away to a slightly thin finish that has aftertones of cinnamon again.
Feel is light and a little thin. I guess you don't want it underattenuated, but given some of the flavours, a touch more sweetness and weight might have helped it.
Overall, it's not bad. It has some nice pieces to it, and it's put together in a coherent enough way to make it reasonably drinkable. But it's not interesting enough to be truly different, which seems to be its main selling point—it's not another hop-forward PA or IPA, but it also makes you wonder if it's even worth having an alternative.
Pours a red metallic colour, flat and uninteresting. Some bubbling, but no head. Meh.
Smells boozey, somewhat weizeny with big banana character, a touch of brandy and port wine. Not bad, but could use more edge. Man, I can picture citrus hops in this, would make this aroma amazing. But then it wouldn't be the same beer.
Taste is better, actually. There's a nice caramel malty underlay which goes along well with the banana esters, and the booziness isn't there, actually feels fairly mid-range and palatable. Still, flat with no texture, touch of nutmeg and cinnamon late on the palate. Tastes fairly pleasant, but could still use more pop. Maybe something to freshen it, but also more lively texture as currently there's none.
Decent flavours, fairly sweet and dessert-like. It's weird I'm picturing what the beer could have been, if it were completely different and made to a different brief.
330ml bottle purchased from Beer Cartel, served to me blind by Rich.
Pours a slightly coppery golden colour, perfectly clear and fairly light-bodied. Head is a fine, slightly filmsy ring of off-white. Some patchy suds-spots of lace. Looks decent enough.
Nose is sweet and spicy, some honey tones, something that could be golden syrup and cinnamon. Banana esters come up as it warms. There's a slightly dank sawdust character to it as well, which isn't unpleasant, but doesn't gel well with the spicy-sweet flavours that otherwise abound. It's okay overall though.
Palate is a little bland, but again with some banana flavour and a sweet-spicy overtones. Unfortunately though, there's very little body, and no real sweetness, meaning it feels a little empty towards the back, even watery. Feel is quite thin, although there's certainly a slickness of the entry.
Overall, it's an alright beer, but not really very exciting. The banana characters come out late, but once they arrive tend to press most firmly.In the end, it actually makes it feel a bit one-dimensional.
Tried on-tap at Dejavu Bar in Melbourne during Good Beer Week 2013. This is brewed to an ancient Scottish recipe, including grapes, mace and a whole chicken.
Pours a deep ruby-brown colour, very solidly hazed. Body is pretty heavy, even heavier than expected. Head is very fine and pretty thin, only forming a minimal ring of beige. Lace forms in tiny specks. Tilting the glass gives a rain of tiny bubbles. Certainly very interesting.
Nose is immediately weird. Musty and meaty with a definite smoky smallgoods character, and some porky frankfurter. Slight oak seems to come through, or a vinous character. Banana wraps it all up. It's very strange.
It just keeps getting stranger on the palate. Rose petal comes through, along with a musty, woody note. More of those smoky characters come through the centre, before the mace comes out towards the back, giving a biting medicine and chemical bitterness out of the spice. Feel is light and dry, again adding to the vinous note.
Yep, this is definitely weird. Bizarre in fact. There are so many complexities to this, and almost all of them are unusual and unexpected. I think this was the first beer that made me ask "what the hell are these Bacchus guys on?"
59 / 100
Pours a brownish-amber colour, clear body, beige foamy head. Doesn't retain very well, but not bad overall.
Smells quite boozey. Malty-sweet with caramel touch and some English toffee. Oak notes combined with a whiff of whiskey. Bit heavy, although all the right characters are there.
Taste is still sweet - malty with caramel toffee notes and a slight hint of banana. Subtle oak notes towards the back and a bit of a scotch whiskey character but decently subdued compared to the aroma. It's still there in flavour but more subtle and palatable.
Feels a bit flat and untextured. Body is OK though.
Flavour bomb, but more on the boozey side than the malty side. Doesn't really do much for me.
This they term a 70/- beer double oaked with added rye. I believe, strength-wise, this should actually be an 80/- (other 70 shilling beers weight in only around 3.5%), but with the extra oaking and rye, I guess it's worth taking the style with a grain of salt. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne 2013.
Pours a brassy, deep copper coloured brown, very clear in the body, light and smooth. Head is off-white, forming a fine ring around the edge of the glass that leaves copies of itself in lace as it goes down. Carbonation is fine.
Nose is toasty to begin with, with some phenolic characters sitting above a rather syrupy sweetness. Slight medicine characters and a sharp bolt of whisky. There's a slightly tart metallic character to it as well. It's all a little light, but the characters are interesting.
Light, smooth oak on the front of the palate with a clean toffee and malt character, turning toasty with a touch of char. It drops away pretty quickly however, leaving the mid-to-late palate feeling a little flat, dry and light, with a reminscence of apple. On the finish is a hint of the whisky from the nose and a touch of slightly peaty smoke.
Feel is very light, which is probably intentional for the style: but the characters could use more.
Overall, it's pretty drinkable. For under 5%, there's some interesting characters there, and it's certainly something I'd be happy to drink.
75 / 100
On-tap at the brewery's tasting room in Portland, OR.
Pours a deep, burnished red colour, with a solid haze and a full, slightly spiritous body. Head is off-white forming a bubbly and fine crown. Some translucent sheeting lace forms when tilted, leaving a gooey and fine residue. Good looking beer.
Nose is malty to its core. Slight sharpness comes through, however, leaving pithy hops, along with a slightly weedy vegetative character.
Light crisp malt on the front palate, with a touch of pepper, before some sharp boozy notes come in half-way through. It loses all hint of sweetness about here on the palate, leaving head and pepper to bring in the rear, along with a touch of vegetation.
Feel is smooth, with the booziness providing a smooth, warming, insidious glow to the palate. It's boozy, no doubt about it. Prickly, even.
You can feel this beer. It's big and bold. But it's not aggressive and arrogant for all of that. It has a conception to it that brings you in. Good stuff.
74 / 100
Purchased from Plonk in Canberra.
Pours a very pleasant ruby-brown colour, perfectly clear and pleasantly still. Head is a firm but minimal froth of off-white, giving a yellow tinge to the crown of the beer. Decent mild English-style lacing. Body looks pretty solid. Good looking beer.
Mmm. Nose is a pleasant mix of smooth, sweet malt, and mild roasted charactersâit has a firm roundness like sweet coffee, mingled with some dark fruity overtones like overripe raspberries. Refined and extremely pleasant.
Taste is a lot lighter, although there are some pleasant toffee overtones, and a rich fruit loaf character towards the back, giving some buttery notes. The feel and depth are what let it down a littleâalthough this comes at the quite considerable advantage of being quite fully flavoured while remaining at only 4% ABV. In fact, although the depth and fullness isn't enough to linger on the palate with a residing sweetness, the fruit and bread notes do stick around, giving a sort of faux-length to the beer as a whole.
Overall, this is impressive stuff. It's not really that remarkable on its own, and I wouldn't be so compelled by it if I was served it blind, perhapsâbut I don't recall having a richer, more flavoursome beer at below 5% ABV before. This does a really good job for what it is.
Pours a dark ruby colour, slight murky brown tinge with a fairly flat, uncarbonated midst. Head is quite lovely: dense bubbles, beige colour, frothy suds on top with some thin lace and very nice retention.
Smell is really rather hoppy. Pleasant caramel malt underlies with a touch of vanilla but it's predominantly grassy from the hops with a slight medicinal bent and a mild earth character at the back. Well-balanced but somehow its appeal has worn thin the more I smell it.
Taste is quite English, with lots of rich toffee providing the major malt characteristics. Develops some earthy bitterness midway where the palate's peak of intensity lies. No real peaks or troughs of flavour though, it's quite one-note with just a mild crescendo of strength. Finish is clean, slightly herbal and XXX-tremely austere, mild and polite. A well-constructed ale, very sessionable, but the flavour just isn't quite a winner. I find it about as exciting as those bland English sitcoms, Are you Being Served? or As Time Goes By. And yes, I'm aware this is Scottish.
A bit sharp and biter on the feel, I think the hops assert themselves more through texture and really could have been more noticeable on palate as a result.
A session beer, definitely. Drinkable as hell, exciting as algebra.
Pours a rich burnt brown colour, very dark and murky. Head is mediocre at best, a simple ring of foam around the edge now. Lace is lovely and sparkly and sticky as it falls. Yeah, looks heavy and decent.
Smells quite malty and reasonably hot. Lots of brandy booziness with toffee and a touch of brown sugar. Mild black pepper adds some life, but otherwise a bit flat in its sweetness. Definitely missing something and it may be the whiskey character.
Taste is a bit better. Malty base with some rich caramel especially on the front. Touches of brown sugar on the mid, then develops some cedar wood with whiskey notes late-mid, kind of a sourness to it similar to spent grain and decent flavours that don't quite mesh with the sweetness. Interesting woody notes, they stand in interesting contrast with the maltiness, yet not quite complementary. Touch of spice on the back as well goes down nicely. Decent palate.
A bit watery mouthfeel-wise, actually, but a decent frothy texture adds interest. Not bad, but not great. Disappointingly thin at times.
Yeah, decent enough flavour and while not a perfect blend it goes down nice and smooth.
70 / 100
Pours a clear, reddish brown colour, with a fine ring of beige foam. Minimal lacing. Some body, which allows some good slow carbonation to form. Looks pretty good.
Nose is dark and quite roasty, but with a light sweetness, almost a wheat yeast estery character. Overall, pretty light, with some pungency.
Taste is pleasantly smooth. Really nice roasted characters, with a pleasant wheaty smoothness. Slight bite on the back, and a hint of something that may be booze. It has a nutty finish. Feel is a bit light, but it has a little body.
Nice enough, but not something that really wowed me. It just had enough character and interest to keep my attention.
75 / 100
Pours out of the can with nary a whisper of carbonation, although a slightly coarse-bubbled head forms in loose rings of beige. Minimal lacing. Body looks very thick, a deep reddish brown colour. Looks pretty tasty though.
Nose is musty and a little sweaty. Leather comes forward on the front, with some sweet grain flavours and a slightly metallic, boozy hit. It's pretty raw and rugged, but that's what you want from the style.
Taste is quite sweet, with big grain notes crescendoing through the centre of the palate leaving a burgeoning symphony of dark sugar and molasses. A hint of metallic bitterness tries to add a zing, but it's like tiny flashes of lightning through an enormous cloud of volcanic ash. Finish is incredibly long and very sweet, the absolute opposite of what I would call dry. Feel is extremely chewy and thick. Pretty good.
Pretty tasty beer all up, rich and heavy and with some robust, manly flavours that will put hairs on your chest. Good effort.
80 / 100
Pours a very dark, murky black with a red tinge around the edge. Head is OK when poured, but sinks to a thin mocha film on the top. Lacing is nice and thick, but could be stickier. Looks like a fine stout, not sure how a Scottish Ale looks though.
Nose is a fine, sweet array of roasty stout characters. Lots of coffee on that, with nice chocolate characters, very sweet with lots of cocoa. A milk chocolate character mostly, very pleasant and sweet but with a nice burnt character behind it. Some pecan notes, oak and almost some chilli as well. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste is quite intensely dark and toasty. Very sour, bitter, ashy even, as a spike on the very front, but then becomes more roasty and sweet on the mid, with charcoal-broiled meat and lots of chocolatey notes coming through, and a big ripe burgundy flavour up to the mid-point. Lots of bitter, earthy characters on the back, soil, coffee and oak among them, and the finish is gorgeously balanced, with a nice woody ashiness but not "burnt" and not overly bitter. Very pleasant indeed.
Mouthfeel is very smooth, slick and textured. If anything it's a bit thin, but I don't have an issue with it. Just searching for a criticism. Doesn't wow me, but it's certainly good.
Not spectacular but a very pleasant drinking beer. Lots of nice balance between sweet and roasty.
77 / 100
Pours a deep black-brown, looking extremely heavy in the glass, with a filmy but creamy head of chocolate brown foam. Lacing is minimal, but there's some nice static carbonation as it's swirled. Looks very good indeed.
Big roasted notes on the nose, with nice booze characteristics coming through as well. Chocolate and toastiness, with leavened smoky notes of churrasco barbecue. Some wonderful deep coconut and oak notes are noticeable as well. A really, truly phenomenally delicious nose. Quite complex and very, very pleasant.
Taste is a little lighter, although that's not hard. Big roasted characters on the fore, before some mature oak characters and light tannic bitterness come forward. Slight astringency mid palate, although this merely descends to a long ashy afterpalate. Mouthfeel is clear and silky, adding texture but not too much body to the palate. Minimal sweetness, and the tannic notes are probably the most prominent. Very big palate. Quite enjoyable.
A very good brew all up - lots of character and extremely full-flavoured. While it lacks something a little in complexity, it surely makes it up with big ballsy roasted stoutness. Stays surprisingly smooth and drinkable throughout. I'm a fan.
On tap at the brewery, December 09.
Deep, dark but clear copper colour. Head is a filmy white, which looks oddly light for the rest of the body. Some lace around the edges from the collar of film. Some static bubbling when swirled. Looks nice.
Meaty characters. Some fragrance, surprising notes of cumin. Spicy and pleasant. Even a hint of vanilla. Unusual, but quite pleasant, and the characters work well together.
Bit too bland on the palate. Some spice and a bit of acidic seltzer character. Light copper again which seems prevalent in their beers. Finish has some metallic bitterness and is very dry with an extremely sparkling mouthfeel.
Pretty nice and drinkable, but a little bland and disappointing considering the promise of the nose. Nice enough though.