58 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep, Vegemite-coloured brown with some solid hazing to it. Body has a bit of heft to it and holds very fine carbonation. Head is beige-to-tan in colour, and is fairly firm, full and thick, leaving solid sheets of lace. Looks good all up.
Nose has some coffee notes, but it's bright and thin where it should be mild and smooth. There's almost a touch of acid through the thinness here, perhaps with some faint sweetness or barrel character. Hmm.
Smooth entry on the palate at least with a touch of toastiness. There's something like slightly astringent berry on the mid-palate, and a weird suggestion of chilli spice towards the back. Aftertaste has a bit of a prickle like this as well.
Feel is genuinely quite wrong: it's overcarbed, and very light, where it should be smooth, soft and rich.
OK: first up, I don't get how a mild ale should ever hit 6% ABV. But worse is the fact that the 6% doesn't do anything to help this beer at all. It doesn't add smoothness or richness, and if anything, this feels thinner and weaker than it should do normally. So in many ways I'm quite unimpressed.
Hmmm, so they call this a dark mild ale but I'm not sure 6% really fits in with that... anyway...
Looks awesome in the cup. Brown colour, fair amount of cloud. Head is beige, creamy and thick and leaving some amazing lacing around the edges. Wonderful.
Smells nice and oaky as per the description. Bourbon character with coconut and plenty of chocolate malt as well. Touch of licorice spice on there as well. Nice sweet oaky notes; pleasant.
Taste is a bit too mild, after what the nose promised. Less oak character but still leaning towards bourbon notes. Chocolate malt is light and insubstantial. This is sort of what I expected from the description, but then the nose got my hopes up and I thought maybe it could be a light-bodied drop but with loads of complexity as well. Not to be.
Decent body, texture feels pretty nice as it goes down, not too heavy.
Definitely a decent mild ale, but it could have emphasised the oak on the palate more and let it sort of muscle through the beer. Still, nice.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at the brewery in Bermondsey on the Beer Mile.
Pours an amber-red colour, deep and quite clear in the glass. Body is light, but pleasant enough. Head is a yellow-beige/taupe colour, coarse but persistent, leaving sudsy, complex lace. Carbonation is fine but minimal. Looks pretty good all up.
Weird spice characters come through on the nose—smells like a Thai restaurant. Sweet caramel, malty roast and some pepper. There's also a honey sweetness that sticks around and an odd creaminess. Interesting at least.
Taste is clean and mild for the most part, but things come and go at least. There's a mild toasty sweetness on the front, and a frothy spicy character that builds up on the mid-palate. Some roast marks the back, but by then the palate has dropped out a lot leaving it clean but empty.
Feel is pretty weak—which is disappointing.
Easy enough to drink. Carbonation is coarse though, which makes it a bit much. It's not bad, but I had at least one better beer from Partizan on this visit.
75 / 100
Tried on cask at The Porcupine on Charing Cross Rd in London.
Pours a creamy deep ruby brown, with a wonderful reverse cascade in the pour. Head forms very fine, almost creamy in colour and consistency. Lacing is bitsy. Carbonation is very fine when tilted. Looks very good indeed.
Nose is nice without being particularly robust. Mild toast, slight nuttiness and a hint of cherry pip or almond skin. A fragrance like crushed celery is also noticeable. Mild overall, but quite pleasant.
Taste is smooth and light, but with a very creamy basis, feel and underpinning. Some apple characters come through on the front, toasty, buttered crumble with depth like brown bread or slightly overdone toast. Back is creamy and smooth—more a feel than a flavour. A slight character of carob in the aftertaste, with some vegetative linger. Feel is very, very smooth indeed. Lovely.
It's a lovely, easy-drinking mild, which is a great, overlooked style as far as I'm concerned. At sub-4%, it's a brilliant, tasty package, definitely worth drinking.
Saw the two bottles at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA, and brought them back to Sydney, Australia to share side-by-side with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a clear deep coppery colour, with a mild, filmy head of white that stays in pock-bubbled islands on the surface of the glass. Body is pretty solid and holds carbonation nicely. Looks decent enough.
Nose is rather pleasant. Firm grainy, slightly roasted and sweet malt characters, with a twist of biscuity nuance and even perhaps some vanilla. Not bad.
Taste is clear and clean, with more crisp grain notes giving an aromatic, sweet cookie fragrance to the brew as a whole. Despite the very thin body, the grain flavours manage to pull it through to the finish, leaving no weak or empty spots on the palate. It ends up pretty tasty.
Feel is weak and light, which is not unexpected.
Overall, this is decent stuff, and (surprisingly, given the back story) easily the better of the two. Perhaps I'm just a child of my century, but I much preferred this grainier, more flavoursome 1945 version than the insipid (although markedly stronger) 19th century version.
Pours a deep red colour with good clarity. Unfortunately there's very little head whatsoever. No lace, no retention in the head. Surprisingly deep body, however. It even sustains some static carbonation when swirled. It's weird, but true. Otherwise, it's a very average looking beer, however.
Minimal toasted malt on the nose. There's very little else, perhaps a sweaty hint of salt and a slight soda water acidity. It's not that great, but it's not unpleasant.
Taste is indeed very weak. Some dark grainy notes on the front, backed by a slight sweetness of malt or honey. There's some hint of roast bitterness on the back, but it's very thin. Mouthfeel is extremely thin, but it matches up with everything else we've learned about this beer.
It's not great overall, but it is drinkable. But it ends up just being a thin veneer of roasted malt over a very mediocre base beer. It's not bad, but it's far from exciting.
Pours a deep chocolatey brown with very frothy beige head, sinking with a soft sizzling noise. Bubbles are small but visible and it leaves a few clumps of nice sticky lace as it goes down. Actually quite a good looking beer. I'm relieved more than anything.
Nose is quite nice, although an overly roasted character is prominent. A nice bitter cocoa character though gives off a slight sweetness, while a burnt grain character is there too. Slightly bitter aroma, slightly sweet. Yeah, it's slightly nice.
Taste definitely has a lot of that roasted grain character, with a substantial hint of burnt toast, but it's not overwhelmed by this. Front palate is slightly sweet and also with a tart edge, with a burgeoning blood plum character, while mid is taken up by a mocha flavour which is quite subtle and nicely handled. Lots of cocoa, slight smokey character, hint of golden syrup as well. Finish is slightly bitter and ashy, definitely a brimful of ash on this '45. It doesn't really spoil this, although the hang is a disappointing residual of an otherwise nicely flavoured and subtle dark ale.
Mouthfeel a bit thin, slightly puckering from the tart and bitter expansion, but it does hold the flavour up pretty well.
This is a decent beer from Outback, at least considering the company it keeps. While I count myself a (and I think the ONLY) fan of their chilli beer, I think this is the one they should market more, it's quite a decent drop.
Looks black out of the light, but a murky brown really. Very thin lack of head, and a bit of lacing. A bit meh.
Nose has mild roasty characters, not too burnt, just soft aromas. A bit of burnt toffee though, which is sweet, and a hint of dates. Nice.
Subdued burnt flavour, like the nose is roasty without having the acrid quality of charcoal lingering around. Finish is long and pleasant with a lack of hops but quite appropriate for the style. Quite sweet with a good dark ale character. Decent effort, really. Mouthfeel is enough but not very full.
Nice and drinkable.
Dark, cloudy, almost opaque brown, with a coarse bubbled foam of beige bubbles. Very viscous - the floating sediment just stay where they are in suspension. Looks good.
Chocolatey sweetness on the nose. Light vinous characters, quite sweet, very rich and flavoursome. Nice.
Quite pleasant dark malt characters on the palate too. It's quite short though, riding through the smooth roasted character to a drop, leaving little on the aftertaste. It's rather disappointing really, there was a sweetness promised on the nose, which the palate didn't deliver. Mouthfeel nice and round.
It's a very drinkable beer, but ultimately a little disappointing. It's frustrating just how short this falls of something great.
45 / 100
Pours a dark, very opaque brown colour with a slight flash of red (very slight) when held up to the light (very held up). Thin cream-coloured head but made up of very densely-packed bubbles.
Sour fruit dominates on the nose with the slightest touch of dark coffee. Unusual for a dark beer, normally all I can sense is that burned, roasted scent so this has character. Unfortunately, it's also quite simple for all that.
Taste doesn't have much of a sour character, mostly burnt and a bit gritty on the palate. Slightly watery aftertaste. There are good dark ale characters on the front palate but they don't endure for the whole thing and overall it's quite watery and simple. Mouthfeel is quite smooth but with a slightly rough texture.
Inoffensive, of course, and quite drinkable, but certainly nothing to streak naked around a bar over. Unless that's your thing.
46 / 100
Extremely dark brown body with reddish hues exposed when held to light. Head is a light caramel colour, with loose bubbles that expand too quickly and remove any retention there may have been.
Sweet toasted malts on the nose, dark honeyed fruits and an unpleasant whack of Vegemite. Some medicinal chemical hints are detected when you take a reall deep breath. All in all, there's a lot to take in, but it's not all pleasant.
Starts quite watery, with a little sourness. As the flavour continues, there are resonances of toasted malt, charcoal and a mouth-drying character like unprocessed bran or crusty bread. I must stress these are only hints, though. Overall, the flavour is quite bland. Mouthfeel is unremarkable, almost like water.
Overall, this is not a particularly impressive beer. I expected better from my old home town =).
Drinkable, but utterly forgettable.
Note: On the bottle, this is simply called the HMB Ale.