|Highest Rated||Matt (99 / 100)
||Average score||70 / 100 (Very Good)|
|Lowest Rated||Bjørn's Red "Øl" (27 / 100)
47 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from I don't know where any more. I do remember at some point that I had two bottles of this, and I would have thought I'd reviewed it back then, but apparently, I had not. This is a strong American brown ale, matured in rye whiskey barrels. Bottled in December 2015, so this is more than 3 years old now.
Pours a murky, rather opaque brown colour, a little bit like chilled, melted chocolate, mixed with something a little clearer and miscible. Head fizzes up with some weak, loose bubbles to begin with, but settles out to nothing, leaving the bill looking dead and still. Body has some weight, but less than you might expect from a beer of its size.
Nose is relatively pleasant, based as it is first and foremost around the oak. This gives it a smoothness, and just enough of a contrast to the deep, boozy sweetness to provide some balance. It also adds notes of tobacco and vanilla. Otherwise, it's mostly dark and sweet.
Taste is disappointing, to be honest. Here, there's very little sweetness cushioning the hit of the oak, which ends up feeling ashy and tannic in the mouth—a little bit like chewing on sawdust. Instead of accentuating the characters, it's really very hot and dry, with a bitterness on the back that shares more in common with cough mixture than a really good strong ale. It's a little better as it warms up, with a little more smoothness, although little additional sweetness.
It's a shame, really. It's drinkable enough, but the flavours are really quite aggressive, and lack balance on the palate. It really ends up being a bit of a slog, and not worthy of the ABV.
73 / 100
22oz brown wax-sealed bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney. This is a mix of a bunch of Deschutes and HotD beers, including The Abyss, Doggie Claws, The Stoic and Fred.
Pours a very deep brown, with some clarity, but also a murk of colour. Head is a firm crest of beige that leaves spotty lace. Body is surprisingly light, but the carbonation is still and static as the glass is tilted, which means that the illusion of weight is there. Looks good.
Nose is deep and rich. It's a melange of aromas, with deep chocolate notes marching side-by-side with strangely floral aromatics and heady spices. It has vanilla notes as well, and a buttery character from a lot of oak. The oak also gives it a phantom suggestion of acidity, but it's more by association. It's very nice.
Taste is pretty hot, and to be honest, it's a little bit of a mess. While the mix of characters on the nose felt a little bit like they were strange but placid bedfellows, on the palate it feels as though they've devolved into a little bit of rugged BDSM. There's spice on the front, and lots of boozy heat, but on the back instead of developing these characters, we drop into thick chocolate and oak. It makes it feel a bit unsatisfying. There's no denying the complexity, but the structure to keep it coherent isn't there.
Feel is hot on the front, but surprisingly empty on the back—it's a little bit as though the booze has evaporated the body at the end.
Yeah, look. This is good, but I'm not sure it's better than the sum of its parts, and in some senses it detracts from the individual elements. I like the idea, but I'm not sure this one manages to fully execute it.
70 / 100
2016 vintage. Purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with my Dad on a trip to Orange.
Pours a murky reddish brown colour, with a slick body that seems lighter than the 12.7% ABV would suggest. Carbonation is very fine, but it moves swiftly through the body, which has taken on an oily quality. Head is a proper firm beige that leaves sloppy waves of lace. Looks decent.
Nose is hot with booze, and it takes a couple of sniffs to desensitize myself to the strength. Under it though, there's plenty to enjoy. Dark chocolate and maple syrup are the obvious initial tones, but there's underlying layers of rosemary, bourbon and sage, with a deeper sweetness that suggests caramel. It's quite dense, and it's pummeled by the ever-present booze, but the complexity really has stuff to offer.
Smooth opening to the palate, with a little bit of chocolate char on the front, which develops into caramel and maple sweetness with a kick of bourbon. Interestingly, rather than getting the pure oak characters, it's mostly the explicit booziness that comes through. On the back, the booze kicks up again, giving a hot, peppery finish with an aftertaste of toasted sesame. It's too boozy, but again, it has complexities which almost make it worth it.
Overall, there's definitely plenty to enjoy in this beer. It's a sipper for sure; it wears its ABV proudly, and is unapologetic about it. But there's a respectability in that.
2015 vintage. 500ml brown bottle caged and corked. Purchased at the Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with my father-in-law and my brothers-in-law.
Pours a very hazy blonde amber colour, with a fine, frothy head that nonetheless requiresa bit of coercion to form. Lacing forms in nice long streaks though. Body is fine but heavy, with tiny bubbles of carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite smooth, but with noticeable kerosene-like booze tones. There's pepper as well, along with a slight peely orange rind note which gives some sharpness. It does feel a little flat overall though—probably to do with the 3 years of age on it. But I'm somewhat surprised that it keeps the booze characters so prominent.
Taste is sharp on the front, still with lots of booze and a prominent initial bitterness. There's a hint more body through the middle, but it still has to contend with lots of sharp alcohol characters, which move into the back with a somewhat metallic, medicinal finish. Honestly, I'm not much of a fan.
Feel is hot and sharp throughout, and it doesn't have enough weight to support it.
Overall, I'm underwhelmed. There's plenty of booze to it, but nothing near enough balance to it. It just blasts everything with alcohol and expects you to respect it because of that. I don't feel the need to drink it and certainly not the need to respect it.
57 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park.
Pours a deep mahogany colour, with some clarity, and a gauzy head that dissipates quickly. Body is fairly light, surprising for the ABV. Looks a bit still too. I'm a bit underwhelmed.
Nose is decent, but very boozy, with a kind of fusel character that comes through like kerosene and gasoline. Some dark carob and grape notes, but it's also a bit thin. Nice enough, I guess.
Taste is dry, with a kind of empty, biscuit malt character. But there's not a lot of sweetness. It has a vinous biting tannic dryness. Back is surprisingly bitter, but it's the bitterness that comes from booze and tannin rather than hops. Some oak dryness finishes it up.
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan. It has a darkness and a tannic quality that grounds it, but otherwise it has a fair bit of hot booze messing it up. Basically, it's another Bruery beer.
56 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez during my nephew's second birthday party.
Pours dark brown colour, the colour of dates, umber at the edges. Head is beige, thin with small bubbles around edge. Lacing is decent, slim and sinking with a nice reverse cascade. Looks big; a bit flat.
Smells nice. Big coffee characters with strong, rich toffee notes. Somme fruity character with raspberry and even lychee notes. Chocolate, maybe some oaky notes too but cherry and chocolate too is quite strong. Decent; bit odd but pleasant.
Taste is a bit unnuanced really. Big malty character with banana kinda character, develops some stale dark fruit, rye bread, date and currant notes with a big oxidation character too. Just feels a bit flat and doesn't develop much complexity beyond just thick syrupy sweetness and a touch of roast. Just heavy and slightly sweet.
Thick, slight booziness to it, but a good malt base so it's not hot, just feels very thick.
Drinks heavy and thick and sticky. Makes me feel pretty drunk in all honesty, like it's quite sweet but reasonably drinkable so the result is more drunkening than I expect.
40 / 100
Yep, an 18fuckoff% barrel-aged strong ale, brewed for GABS 2017. We aimed to finish the Saturday night session with this but it was sold out (sidenote: really belies the idea that there's one keg per session. No way this beer would sell out in one session and far more likely it was still the first keg from session one that finally ran out). Tried it as a solus beer to kick off the Sunday session instead and finish the festival.
Pours a brown, stagnant colour. Head is mighty impressive for the size; beige in colour, large bubbles but retaining a nice crown. Looks pretty generic but decent for the size.
Smells boozey. Predominantly brandy in tone with some huge dark fruit notes as well from the strong ale yeast. Vanillin oak, some cherry tones and a big cinnamon spice as well. Sweet, boozey. What I expect and not hugely complex for that.
Tastes like booze. Bourbon, rum, all sorts of dark spirits with this raw solventy edge. Some vanilla character from the barrel-ageing but gets very medicinal on the back. Just hop and sharp from the late-mid on and very little nuance to it. Just no finesse.
The body is understandably thick, without being gluggy. The alcohol though is just hot and stripping and unpleasant. No other texture except sharp booze.
Yeah, unpleasantly hot, and one-note. Not a fan. Moon Dog brought a bigger beer to this festival and it was surprisingly nuanced with a lot of complexity. This feels like a whole lot of raw fermentables have been thrown in to up the alcohol and not really add complexity.
Pours a dark dark brown, espresso at the edge. Head of beige colour, light foam at the edges. Lacing and the reverse cascade are quite impressive. Pretty good-looking albeit the head is a bit unretentive.
Smells boozey and sweet. Big coconut sweetness, with a touch of vanilla. Mild roastiness but yeah the oaking is the dominant character for sure. Pleasant but I could use more of an identity to it beyond "we oaked this".
Taste is quite boozey and strong. Nice nutty character with hazelnut and peanut. Gets roasty midway with a big espresso note and plenty of chocolate. Gets quite bitter late mid, with roastiness. Somewhat bitter that bleeds into late booziness, with bourbon whisky character, giving coconut and booze, ending quite nutty, somewhat woody too, that kind of clips off the big darkness, but going along with the booze. Pleasant, but by the numbers and not very well balanced.
Hot and boozey midway, with some nice velvety texture otherwise that's still a bit too warm.
Yeah, nutty and sweet stout that overbalances on the booze and diminishes the flavours that could be there otherwise.
73 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a deep sepia-ink black brown, with a foamy mocha head that leaves sudsy lace. Carbonation is fine but swift, belied by a rather light slick body. Surprising given the style and the weight of the beer. Looks good though.
Nose is powerful. Lots of barrel characters, softened from being black and tough by the barleywine addition, which adds deep notes of caramel and port. Otherwise there are blackened toasty notes, almost a sooty edge, turning towards dusty pepper and brandy. Oof.
Taste is a little flatter. It's more direct and straight in a vector towards the back of the palate, where it leaves treacle tart and barrel oak. Through the centre, though, it's surprisingly light, with just a hint of ashiness that's softened on the back. Booze is certainly noticeable on the back, with a thin, hot brandy character that almost gets into the sinuses.
Feel is thin and hot—it's okay, and it's exactly the sort of beer where you expect something like that.
Overall—it's a good beer. It's hot, fleshy and aggressive, and packs a punch. I would love additional complexity to account for the booze and the raw power of it. But it's good as it is.
58 / 100
On tap at GABS 2017.
Pours an amber colour with foamy cream-coloured crown of head on top, doesn't stick around too much. Looks pretty standard.
Smells sweet upfront, with caramel and a touch of honey to the malt. Hops on the back, with a big mandarin character - orange and grapefruit playing at the edges as well. Pretty nice.
Taste is alright, has similar characters but I don't think in the right balance. Caramel and honey on the malt that linger to the back. Develops some fruity hop character midway, with pear and mango but the citric cut-through of the hops really doesn't make an appearance and it finishes very sweet as a result. Can't say I'm a fan.
Body is full with a fairly warm alcohol hint. Pretty standard for style, maybe a bit gluggy though.
Yeah, definitely need more hop to cut through; I just don't personally like my beers to finish this sweet.
79 / 100
Tried in a taster at GABS 2017 in Melbourne.
Pours a reddish cheeto-faced shitgibbon colour, very clear in the body, very solid and very thick. Head is a fine ring of white that leaves minimal lacing. Carbonation is also minimal. Looks decent though.
Nose is pleasant, with the richness you want from a big beer, but also the bright fruitiness that comes from a lot of late hopping. I get glacé fruit, fresh and preserved orange, with a slight dustiness on the back. It's quite pleasant.
Smooth, rich entry on the palate, with a lovely developed sweetness. This is laced with the fragrant orange aromas and a sweet fruity finish that tastes a little like strawberry candy. Aftertaste has a long linger with plenty of sweetness, but a tempered, balancing bitterness. Feel is very smooth.
Yeah, all up, this is really good stuff. It's not a groundbreaking or boundary-pushing beer, which is something of a bold move at a festival like GABS—but they relied on their execution and as far as I'm concerned, they did well. This was my 20th top beer of the festival after revisiting my favourites.
49 / 100
Bottle muled back by Jez, shared on my birthday or thereabouts.
Pours a dark brown cola colour with lots of fizz, totally cola-esque. Touch of pale beige head when poured, but just a whisper of spittle left on the top. Really doesn't look very beery, but it may be just my plasticware's fault.
Smells very bourbony. Vanilla oaky, with caramel and coconut and booze. Touch of choc roast lingering at the back but that aroma is otherwise just big bourbony sweetness. Maybe a touch of cola too, but it may be psychosomatic and a side result of the sweetness. Not ideal as it's a bit unbalanced.
Taste is similar. Big chocolate, caramel sweetness that develops quickly to oaky characteristics, with boozey vanilla pods and sweet wood that gets more woody and bourbony towards the back. Touch of dark roast on the finish just adds some texture without really balancing the oaky sweetness and there's a linger of sharp ethanol on the back, again with maybe a bourbony character but its mostly just sharp vapours that makes me want to breathe out on an open flame and see what happens.
Decent viscosity, gets a bit hot later and maybe a touch untextured, could use something other than booze to cut through.
A bit overblown and I feel the base beer could and should be a lot bigger and ballsier to counteract the boozey oak. It could handle something bigger with a lot more malt character and some additional hopping too.
58 / 100
750ml tall dark bottle purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a deep cola brown, with a fizzy coarse head of beige that leaves minimal lace. Body is slick and fine, with some definite weight behind it. Carbonation is fine bit swift. Looks decent, but less depth and richness than you'd expect.
Nose is very boozy. Notes of sherry and brandy mark it as very strong. Sharper notes come through with pepper and kerosene. Lots of oaky wood, but it's very full on and straight—it dumps its one note then sits doing very little else.
Taste is also very hot. Lots of oak, more port and brandy characters. Something fortified, with lots of vanillin. Front has some nuttiness as it warms, but it swoops into strong wine characters again. It's very potent, and a little too much to be honest.
Feel is quite light, thinned by the hot potency of the booze.
Overall, it's a little bit of a mess. It's very hot, but like it's been fed too much sugar, or it's been fortified against its will. It's too big for what it is.
79 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a pleasant, bourbon-y amber colour, quite light in the body, but with fine, languid carbonation nonetheless. Head is a fine film of beige, coupled with some broader scum of larger bubbles. Lace forms in fine, long streaks. Looks decent.
Nose is great, and absolutely delivers on what it says on the label. Sweet, toffee tones, but coupled with an unmistakeable toasted pecan character, which is both earthy and sweet. There are faint, pleasant spice notes as well that work really well—just enough to adjust it to exactly the aroma you'd expect from a nicely warmed slice of pie. Execution is on point.
Taste is pretty similar, actually. And the decision to up this to almost 10% alcohol is vindicated at this point. Because here it has the body, weight and sweetness to carry the pecan pie character, and the extra hint of booziness is easily attributable to the bourbon. It makes it feel luxurious and rich, and allows the flavours to work their way slowly across the palate. Feel is also good. It's slick and rich, but has a bit from the booze that stops it from feeling cloying.
I mean, I know it's kind of a stupid beer. But if you're going to have a beer styling itself as a Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie Beer, this is absolutely the beer you want. You cannot at all fault this for failing to deliver on what it promises. And honestly, I'm not opposed to it as a concept either. I'm a fan.
70 / 100
Bottle purchased in Portland by Chris and Julz, muled back and shared with me (and others - it's a 14.3% bomber) on 14th Jan, 2017.
Pours a dark vinous character, muscaty. Flat, heavy and sticky looking. No head, no lace. Looks very heavy; nice colour though.
Smells oaky, sweet and vinous. Fortified with dark fruit, raisins and fig notes. Largely just sweet and sticky. Pretty pleasant yet doesn't really smell like beer.
Taste is impressive. Sweet, sticky and fruity with big oaky notes. Develops some booze midway with big sweet dessert wine notes, fig and cherry and raisin and prune. Slight brandy notes, then finish is surprisingly roasty, with a slight spicy edge. Nice sweet complexities with a good dry spice along with it. Pleasantly big, without going overboard.
A bit hot upfront and then nice and sticky midway. Dry on the back.
Nice dessert beer. Pretty full-on, big and long palate. Really rather muscaty. Impressive to create this in a beer but without it being excessively sweet or rather unbalanced. It's a well-made beer, as you'd expect from the parties involved.
57 / 100
"Wood-Aged Beer" of no specific description, aged on bourbon barrels for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours a perfect amber colour, with a lovely beige head of dense foam, sticks around in a thick crown. Looks excellent.
Smells slightly earthy. Mild chocolate roasty malt character, with a slight grassy herbal note at the back. Not getting a lot of wood, or the associated sweetness from Kentucky bourbon.
Taste has more of that sweet oak character I expected. Sweet vanilla notes, with a touch of booziness which due to sweetness leans into rum territory, and some charry oak notes that seem a little vinous, or at least the sort of oak associated with red wine. Fairly non-descript base beer though, so yeah it tastes nicely of oak but it's not going anywhere with that.
Big smooth oak feel. Full body and a hint of warming alcohol. Not bad.
Looks great, but doesn't really deliver much beyond ticking the box associated with "wood-ageing". With that oak character they could have taken this in really interesting complex directions.
72 / 100
So disclaimer if you've come to this review in isolation: I did try this and part 2 individually before blending them together to form the cocktail, as the brewer intended. My notes on the latter will be part of my review for part 2.
Bottle given to me as the full twin-pack by Jez; shared with Andrew.
Pours a dark brown colour, red-tinged. Head is beige, foamy. Nice density and nice uneven retention. Lacing is pretty nice too. Generally looks pretty great.
Smells boozey. More brandy rather than bourbon, but a sweet vanilla then as well. Big bitter citrus twang to it as well. Touch of chocolate. Rich and boozey, with an acid twang. Pretty nice.
Taste is sweet and boozey as well, with big orange flavour through midway, then a sharp booziness. Still doesn't have a huge bourbon flavour; touch of sweetness and maybe some oak but more of a hot alcohol lick. Slight bitterness, hints of sourness and loads of booze. Alright, but not really balanced, and a touch incoherent. Let's see how it works in its blend.
Not too much heat on the body; nice foamy texture. Fairly smooth really and the booze is warming.
Quite like it but for its unbalance. I look forward to the cocktail now.
61 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a hazy golden orange colour, with a moderate head of off-white that sits as a firm ring around the glass. Minimal lacing, and minimal carbonation. Indeed, it looks a little still and dead in the glass. Hmm.
Nose is pleasant enough, but certainly a little pedestrian for a special-release beer from Stone. Mild, musty hops sit above a rather grainy, generic malt character. Sweeter notes of musk and rosewater come through, but not enough to provide any genuine interest. I'm underwhelmed.
Taste is okay. And here there is some structure to the malt that makes it feel balanced and fairly drinkable. Mild savoury characters give it some basis, while there's a pleasant hoppy note that gives it some sharper metallic notes and a touch of bite. It's not bad.
Feel is clean and light—it's actually pretty impressive that it feels so minimal given it weight in at well over 8% alcohol.
Overall, it's decent. But it's certainly a bit of a non-entity for Stone, especially in their left-field Stochasticity series. I guess though when you're going for experimental entities, you're going to hit a few dud notes. It's not bad, it's just... kinda nothing.
77 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. A "Pale Oat Ale" according to the label, weighing in at 8% ABV.
Pours a pleasant orange-tinged golden colour with good clarity. Head is sticky and fairly full leaving excellent sheeting lace as it goes down. Body is fairly rich, which you expect for an 8% beer with plenty of oats in it, and the carbonation is fine. Overall, it looks really good.
Nose is also very good. Big orange-scented hop fragrance, which gives it a pleasant citric consistency. Under this is a slick, candy-like sweetness—partially from a fairly neutral malt character mingling with that toffeed orange note. It's pleasant all up.
The taste is also pretty good, but suffers just slightly from being too sweet. I guess I'm expecting more bitterness when the nose is so redolent with citric hops though, so if I try to tone down those expectations, this actually works pretty well. Pleasant orange notes run through it from start to finish, giving a little marmalade tartness to valiantly assail the overt sweetness. Even the sweetness now is pretty nicely built—it's a firm, smooth character that provides body, but never gets too sickly. And once I stopped expecting a big build up of hop bitterness on the back, I enjoyed it a good deal.
Feel is very slick and full. It works well. Go oats!
Overall, I thought I had some reservations, but looking back over everything, this was actually a genuinely very good beer. The aroma's great, the flavour works if you're not expecting an overt aggressive IPA-style palate, and the overall package provides good structure and something interesting. By the end—yeah, I really liked it.
48 / 100
650ml brown bomber purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. This is a collaboration between Garage Project and Nøgne Ø, brewed with rye and Pohutakawa honey.
Pours a deep, rather dark golden colour, with a thin, fine, but ultimately collapsing head of white that survives just as a slick ring around the outside of the glass. Some fine patterned lacing forms, however. Body is weighty, and the carbonation is very fine. Looks decent.
Nose is incredibly heavy and sweet: the honey is still extremely pronounced and it doesn't seem as though the sugars have really fully fermented out. There's a slightly herbal overtone to it, but with the sweetness this gives it a suggestion of the aroma of Sprite. And then with everything else, it has a savoury tone to it like tomato ketchup. "Interesting" is generous—but it is that at least.
Taste is quite similar. At least the sweetness is a little less pronounced here than it might be otherwise. There's still a rather persistent ketchup flavour on the middle and the back, but it's a bit lighter overall. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel balanced even here, with nothing coming up to meet the challenge of those honey notes. Feel is thick and slick, which probably doesn't help the perception of all of this.
To be honest, I had a hard time drinking my glass of this. This feels really quite unbalanced and certainly not very drinkable. I'll admit I'm very much not a fan of honey beers, but I thought if anyone could turn my head it would be these guys—from two such fine breweries, this is bitterly disappointing.
22oz bomber purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.
Pours an extremely clear deep golden colour, bright and fairly thickly bodied. Head forms a pocked mesh of white bubbles that only really stay around through perturbation. Lacing is minimal. Carbonation forms in fine streams when tilted. Looks pretty heavy and very decent.
Nose is rather muted. There's perhaps a slight woody tone to it, but there's also a pretty pronounced sugar-fermentation character that gives a little cider or vodka. Perhaps a touch of smoke lacing to the booze too. The malt gives a rather flat cardboard note, a bit like grain husk. I'm not going to lie, I'm deeply unimpressed.
Taste is certainly a lot better. Here, while the booze character is still present, there's also a pleasant buoyant peach note that comes through, and a lightness towards the back that allows some of the woody notes to have a bit of range. Finish has fragrant fruit and some sharp boozy sugar characters. Smooth feel throughout: despite the suggestion of thinness on the nose, this is quite thick and gelatinous.
Overall, though, it's a rather disappointing beer from Great Divide, who have to be one of my favourite American breweries. That's not to say it's bad, just that it's genuinely below the standard I expect from them.
22oz bomber purchased from (where else) Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Brought back to Sydney Australia, where I cracked it open with Sam.
Pours a dark, slightly murky brown colour, but surprisingly fluid in the glass for its 12% ABV. Head is a very fine and quite full crest of beige, that sits fairly firmly on top of the glass, leaving small specks and streaks of lace as it goes down. Carbonation is fine but fairly vivacious. Looks good.
Nose is solid stuff. Pleasing bourbon barrel characters give it some vanilla and wood, but there's a rather pronounced grassy tone as well that leavens it somewhat, making it seem a little bit sharper than it is. Booze is also noticeable, but it mingles with the roasted, darker characters to provide an almost coffee sharpness. It's certainly interesting at least.
Taste is pretty light on the front, with the feeling of heat that leavens it with a weird alcohol character. This mellows a lot by the back, when some smoother bourbon oak, vanilla and chocolate characters come through. Towards the finish we get a light aerated port-like character—slightly oxidised, and with the first hint of those grassy tones from the nose.
Feel is extremely light throughout—I'm not sure I've ever had a beer of this strength which quite feels as airy and fluid as this does.
Overall, this is a flavoursome beer. But I'm not sure all of the flavours work. There's plenty going on, but there's a slight lack of integration—with something slightly more coherent this would be a phenomenal beer. And really, this should be a phenomenal beer rather than just a good one.
76 / 100
375ml caged and corked brown bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam in Sydney.
Pours a turbid, murky mahogany brown, with a very fine head that doesn't really form with any verve. Body is incredibly thick, leaving a powdery mess of static carbonation when tilted. It looks really quite interesting, if a little confusing.
Nose is extremely strange, but with stacks of complexity and interest. Noticeable plasticky funk, a hint of smoke, and a syrupy tequila character from the agave. It's spicy, peppery and very unusual—I'm not sure I've ever had a beer quite like this before.
Taste is actually not what I expected from the nose. It does indeed continue some of the weird aromatic characters: especially the pepper and the spice, but there's a pronounced malt backbone giving it a true sweetness to support a lot of complexity. Again there's tequila notes, along with a rather interesting woody oak note that smoothes over the back palate. Feel is very clean and smooth, but with a prickly spice from all of the agave notes.
Overall, this is a really good, and a very unusual beer. It has a lot of really strange twists to it, but manages to pull together something reasonably coherent from the anarchy. I'm genuinely a fan.
43 / 100
22oz brown bottle purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA.
Pours a faintly hazy golden colour, with a fine but filmy head of white that persists only as an oily film. Body is very heavy, holding lots of static carbonation when tilted. Some mild, slightly sudsy lace. Looks decent enough.
Nose is slightly disappointing. Boiled-orange heavy, with stacks of rather neutral malt giving a sugary consistency to the aroma. Slight oxidation comes through as well, perhaps slightly clovey or peppery. There's even a slight fug of tobacco smoke to it. I can't say I'm all that impressed, even though by some measure it's what you expect from a strong hoppy American brew like this.
Taste is similar. There's definitely a flat, sherry-like oxidation to it, giving a papery overtone and a slight medicinal quality. Some definite hoppy bitterness towards the back, roiling around in that heavy, slightly unclean malt morass. Towards the back is a more metallic harshness. Yeah, it's not great. There's certainly unpleasant elements to it.
Feel is thick. In isolation it would be pretty good, but the palate doesn't give it much to work with.
I'm not a fan. This has plenty of unpleasant characters to it, leaving the beer feeling like a fairly harsh and unpalatable strong without a lot of finesse. I can imagine that this is just bad because it's old, or because it wasn't stored well, but I also can't necessarily envisage how this beer would be good when it was fresh.
62 / 100
On tap at the Quarrymans Hotel.
Pours a dark brown with reddish tinge. Clear. Head is beige, dense but just a thin rim. Good retention though and nice lace.
Smells big and hoppy. Lime citrus with pine and strong caramel maltiness. Quite pleasant.
Taste is big and boozey. Notes of hop acid with citrus, passion and some mango but yeah a big sweet boozey heat which really detracts, as the other flavours aren't quite big enough to complement, especially the malt. So big, bits of tang but the big flavours feel like they're battling in your mouth rather than melding together.
A bit dry, slightly boozey and hot on the back.
Too big, but the flavours are right. They don't quite meld well though. Id like to try the 7-8% version of this, I think it would be bang on the money.
76 / 100
This is an "Imperial American Red Ale" weighing in somewhere between 10-12%. The picture I have of the Quarrymans beer list, where I had it, listed it as 12%. It may change from batch to batch. Tried at the Quarrymans during Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Pours a deep, vivid dark red colour with perfect clarity. Weight is heavy but slick in the body. Head forms a pale yellow solid thickness that leaves bug sheets of lace. Lots of fine carbonation working its way through the thick body. Looks really impressive.
Nose is big. Big booziness, some spice and a rounded, fleshy sweetness—some fruit perhaps, more like apple brandy with salted caramel. It's powerful and heavy. I love it.
Taste is sharp on the entry with peppery booze notes, and a hint of chemical bitterness. This is well and truly wiped out in the mid-palate, as the sweetness well up. Figs, dates, heavy toffee and orange hard candy. Booziness on the back, with a hint of menthol and tobacco, but still with huge lingering sweetness. It's impressive if bombastic.
Smooth and boozy in the feel, with a tingle, partially from carbonation, but I feel mostly from the alcohol.
This is rich and full of flavour—it demands respect, and manages to stay fairly balanced even so. I guess it's about as reasonable as you can ever get from a beer weighing in at 12%.
49 / 100
Pours a rich red colour. Head is cream-coloured, some large bubbles in there, pretty average retention. Looks OK.
Smell is very sweet. Bready malt notes with a touch of pecan and vanilla, plus caramel and toffee on the back. Seems like a more complex sweetness so I don't hate it as much as I generally hate sweet smells.
Lots of vanilla on the palate. Toffee and caramel malt notes with a bit of body to it, but no texture. Finishes quite short, and could really use some beefing up for the back palate. Not terrible but definitely disappointing.
Alcohol is well-hidden, but flavour could definitely be amped up, a lot.
78 / 100
22oz boxed bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR, approximately 18 months ago, when it was already a little on the agèd side. Brought back to Sydney, where I sat on it for a while and then shared it with Rich and Sam.
Pours a pleasant deep umber brown colour, with a pale beige head that seemed to form swiftly, but in the end turned only into a mass of large bubbles around the edge of the glass. Body is thick, and it holds what minor straggling carbonation it has very firmly. Looks thick and old. That's good.
Nose is oaky and a little flat, perhaps with a tad of oxidation coming through, giving a slightly buttery note. Stacks of sweetness, but more oak. Slight vinous notes, a little roast and a hint of balsamic. I do think that it has a fair amount of oxidation and age on it, but there's still plenty to enjoy here.
Taste is very smooth and very pleasant. Here, the oxidation has been kinder, leaving a pleasant smoothness to complement the intrinsic oak notes. There's some roast and a richness on the back of the palate, suggesting sultanas and baked rye bread. Some estery notes still come through, more of those raisin notes and a touch of sweet overripe banana. It's very pleasant.
Feel is good, but has lost a bit of carbonation: just a fine tingling would help it a lot, but I fear that's something that has come and gone.
Overall, this is still great stuff, but I feel as though it's showing its age. As much as I feel as though you should be able to cellar these beers, the ones I've had in the past have been much superior to this one, and I had them sooner after their release. The next time, I'll choose to drink my FW anniversary ale earlier.
85 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Beer Cartel in Sydney.
Pours a deep black, oily with a blood-red edging to it. Head forms a solid crust of mocha chocolate that coalesces into larger bubbles and rings the top of the glass. Lacing forms in lovely tiny little patches. Carbonation is very fine and forms in tiny vertical streams. It looks very good.
Nose is wonderful. Deep, brown, sweet and nutty, with a chewy, dark caramel character and a bright sharp roast character to pierce it. It's extremely mellow, and sweet without being heavy or sickly. It's based around wholesome grain sweetness and rich unprocessed sugar. It's really, really lovely stuff.
Taste is also excellent, although it has a lightness that surprised me at first. Mild nutty entry develops into a big, broad burnt caramel sweetness that keeps going for some time. On the back, it develops into a sweet coffee-vanilla character like an affogato. Vanilla and a touch of very dark chocolate linger in the aftertaste. Wonderful stuff.
Feel is surprisingly light for everything else that's going on—in some sense it works, because the palate survives so well on its own anyway, but I wonder what a bigger, fuller version of this would be like.
Overall, though, this is exceptional stuff. I pretty much picked this up on a whim: I've very much enjoyed some of the other Dark Horse beers, but there was nothing particularly attracting me to this one. I'm very glad I did select it though: this is truly a very, very good beer.
330ml brown bottle purchased from Beer Cartel in Sydney. Shared with my good mate @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very clear, but very deep red colour, perhaps like a heavily oxidised rosé, or an extremely light pinot noir. Head is a very fine ochre colour, witting flat and smooth across the glass. Lacing forms in specks and hebrew characters. Body is exceptionally thick, and hold plenty of powdery carbonation. Looks very good.
Nose is... surprisingly dead. Slight oxidised waste water, a bit of flat extract, perhaps a hint of raisins, and certainly booze—but booze in a lackadaisical, uncaring way. It certainly doesn't arrive with purpose. There's a slight fudgey caramel character, but it's disappointing in the extreme. As is the nose in general.
Taste is better, certainly—perhaps because the booze was always going to be prominent and forthright here. And forthright it is: big, slightly crass heat burns through the centre and the back, while the caramel characters do what they can to cushion the blow, giving some breadth the the palate. Otherwise, it's quite sharp—better than the nose, but still hot without purpose.
Feel is ostensibly thick, but with a thin roaring piercing character that bites it all the way back.
Overall? Well, what the hell happened, 8 Wired? In general, Søren and his guys do wonderful, exciting things. But this is hot and messy, thin where it should be rich. It doesn't have much complexity at all, and ends up more akin to a heavy malt liquor than to a big rich, chewy Imperial Anything. Extremely unimpressed.
Pours an amber colour, pretty much dead in the middle of 'amber' on the spectrum. Head is off-white, sinking but leaving awesome trails of lacing behind. Lovely lace, nice colour. I like.
Smells very hoppy, but also very strong. There's a spiritous aroma to that, but lots of citrus - grapefruit, mostly, a touch of dessert wine, brandy, some cinnamon and raisin notes as well. Bit strong, but intriguing.
Taste is sweet and syrupy. Loads of malt, with a complex undercurrent of sticky buns, dried fruit and sherry. Again, spiritous edge on the back with a slightly smoky and buttery brandy flavour. Some resinous hop notes as well, but not very strong. The back is largely boozey-bitter. Decent, but yeah, very big.
Full; not as thick or syrupy as the flavour would suggest. Pleasant enough I guess.
Big, booze-flavoured, but not as overblown as it could have been. Retains a pleasant, and complex sweetness.
74 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney, Australia.
Pours a clear burnished amber colour with a loose but frothy head of pale, yellowish froth. Lots of fine pointed lace. Carbonation is tight and languid, despite the body being relatively light. Looks very good.
Nose is pleasant and green, with a strong hop profile that actually suggests German hops to me, with a noble, herbal character to go with some of the more expected West Coast citrus notes. Slight twang of booze, almost like very old balsamic vinegar, and a firm but fairly neutral malt basis. Very pleasant.
Taste is very nice. Rich, smooth entry, with plenty of malt, followed by a pleasant mingling of different counterpoints. There's the booze which sings with heat through to the back of the palate. There's the hops, which provide a sharp but clean vector down the centre and a slight zesty finish. But there's also an unusual note which suggests roasted malt or even coffee. It drifts in and out, so it may just be the conflagration of the booze and the hops, but it's an interesting twist.
Mouthfeel is light, but rounded with just enough weight to keep the flavours progressing.
Overall, this is a very good beer. It's big and full-flavoured, while maintaining a sanity to it that keeps it drinkable. I enjoyed it a great deal.
This is termed in the tasting notes a "Danish Imperial Red Stout"—I've tried to keep the style here consistent with Nøgne Ø's Red Horizon (classified as an American Strong), but this is somewhat arbitrary. Can't be flaking off new styles for every beer, though =) Tried on-tap at Melbourne's 2013 GABS festival.
Pours a clear amber hue (perhaps red in the right light), with some heft in the body and very fine carbonation. Head is yellowish and forms a solid ring around the glass. Lace forms in streaks. Looks pretty good.
On the nose, though, there's almost nothing but diacetyl (my notes read "diacetyl to fuck"). It's buttery, ropey and sickly without much else to it—if you do search beyond, there's perhaps a suggestion of boozy whisky characters and a hint of roast, but it's really hard to get past it.
Light entry on the palate with more of that buttery character to spoil the game. Middle is very sweet, malt with a chewy booziness to it that continues towards the back, leaving it very dry, phenolic and medicinal. Clinging booze and some bitter phenols stick around in the aftertaste. Feel is smooth, at least.
Overall, though, this was pretty unpleasant. It feels like something's gone wrong to me. It's either sickly with buttery sweetness or stingingly boozy without much point to it otherwise. Very poor indeed.
86 / 100
I was very fortunate to have my brewing lecturer share a bottle of this and the Sam Adams Triple Bock recently on our residential week. This bottle was the 2009 edition, which weighs in at 27% ABV.
Pours a rather light reddish brown colour, thick, spiritous and volatile in the glass. The head is, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be seen, leaving the beer looking rather dormant or dead. Huge legs from the thickness in the body, however, leaving sticky syrup trails when the beer is swirled. Colour changes to a slightly translucent yellow at the edges when tilted. It looks very exciting.
The aroma is all based around the booze, which, again, is not surprising. Big heady aromas of port and spirits surround everything. The aroma is rather sharp, however, and actually doesn't subside into a strong sweetness. There are some chocolate and coconut notes, possibly more from the oaking than any intrinsic sweetness. But otherwise, it's boozy, redolent, heady and just full of ethanol. It's an intense experience.
The sharp booze continues on the palate. Spicy heat on the front, mellowing to let stacks of oak character come through towards the back. The spicy alcohol releases other sharp characters: orange peel, a little lemon and ground allspice, along with a feeling like burning sinuses. The wood holds it together and stops it from being too violent. It's big and unapologetic, but maintains a sense of civility despite this.
Feel, unsurprisingly, is also hot and spicy, with a burn and stab approach to negotiation.
This is hot and difficult, but very powerful as a result. It's certainly an exciting and unique beer: one which is worthy of all the respect you can manage to muster for it.
97 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Small blue bottle of the 1994 vintage, shared very kindly by our brewing lecturer with his class after a long brew day. My guess is that this was a particularly well-stored bottle, because this was still a very excellent beer when I drank it.
Pours dark and viscous, but, unsurprisingly given it was 19 years old, completely dead, with no head, no bubbling, no retention. Yeah. Pretty much nothing going on here. The colour is in fact a slight reddish brown hue, as seen when the glass is tilted. It looks thick and dangerous, but certainly dead.
Nose is gorgeous, despite of, or perhaps because of its age. Sweet/savoury combinations of kecap manis, smoked fish, dusty, oxidised chocolate mingle with the true characters of dusky oak and maple syrup, which still smells sweet after all this time. It all blends into a magnificent wholeness, a huge fragrant intensity still coiled up and dormant. It's insane.
Flavour is amazing. Big characters of cherry chocolate, stacks of booze, and a rich, juicy sweetness that tastes almost exactly like chocolate mudcake. More booze, sultana booze, kirsch soaked soft doughy cookies, booze, sweetness, booze. Holy moly. What an intense and insane experience. This is so complex and lovely. So rich and full even after 19 years sitting in its little blue bottle. Wow.
Feel is smooth and thick. This doesn't need any damn carbonation—this is perfectly happy as it is.
Overall, this is insane. It's big, boozy and rich, but with structure that stands the test of time. This was truly phenomenal stuff, and I'm not ashamed to say that this was one of the best beers I've ever had the pleasure to taste.
76 / 100
250ml bottle wrapped in red tissue paper and presented in a red tin. Like the 1st edition, this is fermented with sake yeast: this one weighs in at only 13.5% compared to the 17% of the first edition.
Pours a vaguely reddish tinted amber, with a lattice of large bubbles that form a very pocked, open white head. Very thick, quite gelatinous body that holds some minimal, but extremely fine and powdery carbonation. Some lacing forms in tiny specks. Looks pretty good.
Nose initially gives off some organic smoke and resin characters. Once it's swirled, there are deeper, earthier tones to it: soil, dead yeast, some dried lemon skin, shoe polish, all backed with a substantial volatile booziness. There's a faintly flat port tone as well, perhaps a little oxidised, or a little muted. It's very interesting.
Taste is very strangely sharp, and very full. Big burnt toffee tones dominate, with a significant length to the palate: the burnt character lingers for a long time, while the sweetness and fullness in the body ensure that it sticks around. Other characters come forward too: some smoke, berries, flat inorganic lemon, and booziness like a real spirit drained of its actual flavour. It's very strange.
Feel is full and sharp. It's matches everything nicely.
Yes, it's very nice. It's also very unique. I think I like this more than the first edition because it's less hot and less messy: this allows the sake yeast to provide some character and uniqueness to the brew without killing it with booze. This is a more balanced and more interesting outing in this very strange realm.
Very, very dark colour. Almost black, with a hint of red the only colour to be seen. Head is darkish beige, large bubbles. Looks nice.
Bit of funk to the nose, but also dark roast and chocolatey sweetness. Burnt caramel, bit of organic barnyardy funk, and underripe plum as well. Touch of coconut. Very nice.
Taste is a little too sweet. Slight tart notes, giving apricot, fig jam and plum; touch of cocoa, and then finish is all fruity with slight funk - some mango, caramel and molasses. A bit sweet, but mostly just not enough roast. I think with more bitter roast, you'd have a really interesting beer here, whereas now it's just a bit off balance.
A bit thin, but quite fluid on the body. Not bad.
A bit too much light. Needs more dark. It's a little incoherent. Dark - seriously. I need you here. Why have you forsaken me?
79 / 100
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Collaboration between To Øl and Mikkeller. Shared with my bro Sam.
Pours a cloudy golden hue with flecks of orange. Head is pretty fluffy, but relatively minor. Some speckled lace forms when the beer is swirled, as does a decent amount of carbonation. Body is indeed quite light, but it has a residual weight to it which cause the carbonation to be very languid. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is pleasantly sharp with hops, and some booze, but really only a suggestion. Lots of orange peel, marmalade, a hint of tonic water and a little hay like grassiness. It's actually rather pleasant, and remarkably subdued.
Taste is also similar. Sweet marmalade character mingled with some fruity, citric hops, a little tea, some white pepper and some sweet sugar characters. There's some booze, but it's quite muted: indeed, it's more of a feeling than an actual flavour. In many other respects it seems extremely approachable and really quite easy drinking.
Feel is smooth and light, but with that tingle of booze.
Drinkability-wise this is quite extraordinary. I think it's a really nice, supple and drinkable brew. And yet it's 14% alcohol? That's insane. I could believe maybe 8%, but this is really shockingly light and refreshing for how big it is. And that's some masterful work.
89 / 100
I purchased this bottle from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley CA, and brought it back to Australia where I shared it with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a deep, thick, black, with a gorgeously dark head of chunky mocha-brown. Lacing is speckled but forms as the persistent chunky head moves around the glass. Body is thick and heavy, and leaves streaking streams of fine carbonation. All up, it's a pretty damn fine looking beer.
Nose is rich, sweet and deep, split by a pealing bright funk that lends acidity to the mix. Plenty of roast sweetness and a rounded barrel character to carry it through this, however, and it ends up more boozy, rich and sweet than funky or tart. Slight mineral characters round it off, always giving the suggestion that you're not fully aware of its full complexity. Lovely stuff.
Taste is deep and sweet, but again dogged by that persistent mild acidity that weaves its way amongst the barrel-aging, the mild roast astringency and the booziness, so you never really seem to see it out in the open. It leaves a smooth lemon-custard character: probably citric and biting, but also caught up with the sweetness and richness that surrounds it. It's an impressive beer.
Feel is pretty much perfect: smooth, clear and rich, providing just the right amount of weight for the flavours.
Overall, this is superb stuff. It blends all the oddities into a gorgeous, complex but coherent and balance whole. I think this is a step up even from the regular Jewbelations. Love it.
72 / 100
Purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR, in an attempt to get more local Portland brews to bring hom to Sydney. This one, I shared with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a hazed amber-red hue, with a frothy, bubbly head of off-white tending to orange if I had to pick a coloured direction. Body is pretty light and a bit dull. Lacing is spotty and patchy. Not bad overall.
Nose is mildly fruity, and hit with a pleasant, moderated roasted note, or something else grainy at least. It has a solid citrus bite to it, and a hint of something green and vegetative. Not inspired, but solid enough.
Taste is oddly sweet, with a firm malty base coming through and giving a caramel and carob character to the brew. Cutting this is a slight earthy bitterness, that does lift it slightly. It's nicely balanced, but it feels as though it's missing some complexity, or some breadth on the palate. Again, it's solid stuff, but it's firmly within the lines.
Feel is solid and smooth: it very much suits what this beer ends up being.
Overall, it's a good beer. It's even perhaps a very good beer. But it's just a bit dull. I mean, c'mon, we've seen this before from any number of other places. I'm on the lookout for standout beers now, for beers that recast a style or make me think about the whole concept of beer. This beer doesn't do it, but if you're after solid and pedestrian, go right ahead.
71 / 100
Blonde imperial stout? Since hearing about this brew, I was on board. Let's see how they execute it.
Pours far from blonde, but then again, far from imperial stout: a solid amber hue, with a fine, but very filmy head of white. Some spotty lacing forms. Body is heavy and solid. Carbonation is minimal when the beer is static, but forms in fine rivulets as it's tilted. Overall, decent: and excitingly different if it's really an imperial stout.
Imagine I have my eyes closed. Then, I can almost believe it's an impy stout from the aroma. It has a deep coffee-like overtone, that tends more towards chilli when you can actually see it. It's something of a stretch to imagine it really as a stout.
Taste: well, there's some trickery going on here. I can genuinely see the genesis as an imperial stout, but again, it's almost purely a coffee overtone to the beer, which lends a roasty sweetness to the brew. Otherwise, it has a slightly sickly vanilla character, which does carry the character, but again, it feels a little like a cheap trick.
Feel is solid and smooth: it matches up with whatever else is going on.
Overall? Well, you know what, this delivers wholeheartedly what it promises. This was billed as a Blonde Imperial Stout, and that's what we get (maybe besides the genuinely blonde colour). But I can't imagine this was easy to accomplish, and I'm impressed at BrewDog even having the balls to try such a concept. If I were blindfolded, I genuinely believe I would have guessed this was a big imperial stout.
Where it fails, it fails, but as a concept brew, as a piece of artwork: I'm on board.
99 / 100
(Best of the Best)
2010 bottle (2 years old), tried at the Tasting Room in Portland, OR.
Pours an oily black colour, with a noticeably deep hazy that prevents the insertion of light. Insanely deep and thick body forms the most static carbonation I've ever seen. The only drawback is the head, which is a tiny ring of white bubbles around the edge. To be honest, it's understandable for the age of the beer.
Nose is insane. Big booziness comes through strongly, but everything is coupled with complex intense characters. Oak and bourbon provides the basis of the intensity, but smoother vanilla sweetness provides a basis. And it's gorgeous. Characters of red wine and applewood incense pop through as well, layering flavours atop flavours. Unbelievable stuff.
Palate is no less incredible: front betrays pepper and leather notes, before sweet port and oaken vanilla notes come through. The mid-palate shows a smooth complexity: more vanilla, darker notes and a hint more spice, before the finish comes rounding out. Here we get notes of sweet pepper, capsicum, red wine, pepper, berries and dust. Feel is rich, sweet and boozy. Incredible.
The aftertaste lingers for so long, so rich, and complex. I'm sure I'll still be tasting this on my grave.
This is an absolutely insanely good beer. The level of complexity is mind-boggling. It's almost overwhelming. Smooth, delectable and incredibly complexâgenuinely one of the best beers I've ever had.
Pours a very dark brown colour, just coloured around the edges. Head is beige, nice and foamy but a bit loosely connected, without a huge amount of retention. Lace is OK.
Smells malty and sweet. Plenty of spicy roast with hints of nougat, wood smoke, chestnut and buttermilk. Could use more of the peppery spice that comes through at the back, as it's slightly sweet for me.
Taste is quite similar. Similar roast, in that it's there but subdued. Similar sweetness, with a touch of treacle and chestnut on there. Some buttery notes and a disappointingly heavy, sinking burntness on the back, giving over-roasted coffee and actually a grassy note which seems to come from nowhere. Bit sweet and a bit unbalanced, in that the flavours don't really mesh. Also slightly heavy overall, really. Can't say I love it.
Bit thin, but decently smooth. Slightly granular at the back and ultimately dry. Not bad.
A bit of a hodgepodge of dark beer flavours that can't quite find a full synthesis. Not bad, but underwhelming.
76 / 100
Purchased from Whole Foods Union Square in NYC. Brought back to Sydney Australia and shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a really deep brown-black colour, with a filmy but fine head of smoky white. Patchy lace forms above the oily body. When swirled, it has legs. Remarkably fine carbonation. Overall, looks really great.
Nose is softly sweet at its basis, but roaringly layered with big American oak characters, giving boozy hints and vanilla up the wazoo. Hints of roasted malts give some depth and complexity. Overall, it's exceptionally aromatic, it perhaps not as byzantine and heady as some others in a similar style.
Taste is also layered with oak, but with a slight oxidised character to it, giving a hint of old red wine and paper bags. There's still a smooth roasted character, but it's lightened and leavened by the oak and the age on it. Some dryness on the finish gives it a slight mouth-smacking quality that works against the smooth vanilla and chocolate roasted overtones.
Overall, this is a nice beer, and a beer of this type with this pedigree in this style is always going to be good. But it feels inferior to many of the other similar brews, especially the Firestone Walker anniversary beers, and in its genre it's nearer the bottom than the top.
57 / 100
Pours a lovely shiny ruby colour, rich and clear. Head is beige, nice and dense and retaining thin crown. Lace is good and sticky. Looks wonderful.
Smells a little bit... weizeny? Plenty of apple notes to it with a hint of banana, caramel and corella pear. Not much else, really, mostly a weak fruit aroma. Definitely lacking in character and complexity.
Taste has malts that the nose just doesn't have. Still has that mild, weak cidery ester on mid-palate but starts with nice, toffeed malt, developing rich peanut and salted caramel but doesn't quite cover the bland appley notes midway which do turn into enjoyable enough hop flavours but not really big or bold enough for my taste. Yeah, not bad, good characters for red ale, just not enough, feels a bit lacking.
A bit watery in the mouth, but feels fuller as it goes down. Not bad; not great.
Yeah, can see what they're going for and at times it seems they've hit it, and at others it feels like a big miss. Decent, though. Certainly drinkable.
Called an "Imperial Red Ale" on the label. This one was purchased from Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley, CA. Brought back in my luggage to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Lovely colour, a bright ruby red hue, genuinely red almost like a light pinot noir or a deep rosÃ©. Head is pocked with large bubbled, forming an off-white mesh on the top of the glass. Regular persistent lacing however, forming a pleasant frieze over the top of the beer. Looks very nice.
Nose is a bit disappointing to be honest. Clear hop fragrance comes through, but it is overridden by a rather strong apple sweetness, giving green appleskin tartness to the mix. This is also matched with a rather potent alcohol sharpness, and a hint of something spicy, almost like cinnamon. It's an odd aroma, and doesn't really match nicely with the style.
Taste is similarly lacklustre. Thin reedy palate, without much body, depth, or hop character. Instead, there's the sharp bite of the booze, and a mild sweet apple note. Some bitterness comes through on the back, but without the body or substance, it doesn't have much to offset.
Feel is incredibly weak. Actually rather impressive for a beer of this ABV, but it slips through the palate without giving any weight or substance.
This was a pretty big disappointment for me. I can't believe how lacking in flavour this was. It's like a pale shadow of a good American Red Ale. To call it "Imperial"? Bah, humbug.
78 / 100
Pours a dark Hellish red, but no real black despite its darkness, all just curranty red. Head is ochre, nice and dense with bubbly foam atop. Lace is nice and thick; could be thicker. Damn nice.
Smell is sweet and delicious. Plenty of chocolate with carob, walnuts, cinnamon and fresh coconut flesh on there. Hint of tang to it with kiwi and brown sugar backing up. Sweet, fresh, yet dark and brooding. Quite a delicious nose.
Taste is a lot more organic than I'd thought it would be. Starts fairly dark and gets a big nutty, woody flavour pervading from early on that continues until the back. Lots of carob, vanilla and brandied currants on there giving boozey sweetness. Touch of pecan midway with slight meatiness and a decent belt of soy sauce without the saltiness - just a quite sweet fermented flavour, with a booziness complementing a fairly dry, woody residual palate. Nice oaked body, nice beer, feels like it dries itself up early.
Not as full as it might have been, but still a prominent body. Goes down quite well.
I'm doing a lot of post-mortem dissecting of this beer, but as far as beer goes it's clearly in that upper echelon. It's lovely, sweet/roasty with a nice boozey edge providing companionship. Could also be used as a very fine converter beer to wine snobs.
77 / 100
Once A Decade Ale. That's enough to get you excited, and if there's a brewery I trust to give me a good beer once every ten years, it's Deschutes. You heard me. Purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley CA, and brough tback to Sydney to crack open with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very deep red-brown mahogany colour, almost opaque in the centre, with a frothy and lovely head of yellowish brown. It's the same shade you get from a really heavy American Red, or an extremely hoppy oil-filled IPA. Lacing doesn't stick around, but the body leaves legs when it's swirled. Looks pretty damn good.
Nose is big and smooth and slightly woody, with smooth oak coming through coupled with a slightly tart astringency. A touch of dark grain to it, and an incredible welling of smooth rich sweetness. The lightly herbal, slightly tart character is the only thing I can fault, and to be honest, I don't really want to fault it at all.
Taste is smooth and clinging, with a hint of dark wood, but mostly sticking to the tried and true story of molasses, heavy malt, and toffee, with just a clear vibrant oak echo hanging around the edges. This lends some vanilla, some fragrance and a touch of class. To be fair, it's not astoundingly complexâas in, it doesn't have nuanced and competing flavours vying for your attentionâbut it's very smooth and very rich.
Lovely feel; very heavy. It's a big and smooth sipper of a beer that makes you feel warm as you drink it. It's a special occasion beer, no doubt, but it has a lovely gloss to it and a sense of classiness that really sets it apart as special release beers should.
86 / 100
Pours a very dark colour, just brown at the edges with pleasant ochre head, small bubbles but sparse around the edges. Lace is thin; could be better. Nice colour though.
Smell is sweet, chocolatey, rich and nutty. Lots of peanut brittle, almond and a kind of sweet battery malt to it that gives it a savoury but sweet edge. Oaky, nutty and pleasant. Man it's good.
Taste is sweet, with all the same characters of the nose - sweet, nutty, almost salty at times. Starts sweet with a barleywine complexity to it, burnt sugar and toffee that then develops dark malty roastiness with peanut butter, batter and coffee, some red wine notes as well with oak, cedar and that lovely bourbon vanilla sweetness at the back. A lovely blossoming palate full of delicious flavours; just drink it.
Full, smooth, with a hint of booziness at the back that adds a slight sharpness. Otherwise beautiful.
Delicious beer, with a perfectly drawn balance between those rich, dark beer flavours and the sweeter flavours from the booze and oak.
93 / 100
Always a pleasure to try another of these releases. I hold high hopes for this one. This one was purchased in California and brought back to Sydney to share with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a deep, heavy, viscous black-brown, with a mottled but reasonably solid head of mocha foam. Very fine static carbonation in the exceptionally heavy body. Lacing is almost non-existent, but that's not unusual in a beer this heavy.
Nose is just gorgeous. That perfectly balanced and sweet vanilla oak character, with dark chocolate and slightly astringent boozy notes. Even some dark toasted coconutâthe barrel gives it such a redolent and mellow character, and the blending just gets the proportions right. Wonderful.
Taste is smooth and creamy, and genuinely darker than the previous release. Here we have big chocolate and coconut characters, like a toasted Bounty bar. It's so sweet and luscious, complementary and balanced. Still, it's smooth and leavenedâit certainly doesn't have any roasted astringency. So smooth, and so drinkable youngâand yet, it makes me want to squirrel away a bottle and see what it's like in ten or twenty years time. I think it would stand the test.
Such a gorgeous beer, and such a valid and perfect addition to the series. Genuinely one of the most well thought-out and well-balanced beers I've ever had. They put such a concerted and nuanced approach into these beersâI can't wait for number fifteen.
62 / 100
Pours a burnished copper colour, quite bright red but orange-tinged. Head is off-white, not much left of it but a swirl revives the whispy foam. Lace is clingy and the body has a slight cloud to it. Pretty nice.
Smell is very hot and boozey. Malty, with a slight wood note (cedar), and a strong brandy aroma. Hint of bready-ness, with yeast and wet dough aromas. Hint of cherry. It's big and complex enough for flaws to be indistinct. But I'm still noticing them, sadly.
Taste is sweet, and pretty hot. A big bread whiff hits you upfront. Develops rich, syrupy malts with caramel, toffee and brandy snap. Gets quite hot post-mid, plenty of hop to it as well - citric and piney with a flourish of brandy booze, touch of courvoisier even, and some white pepper. A big beer, nice and palatable flavour-wise but just a bit on the hot side for me.
Yeah, mouthfeel is way hot. There's just no discernible body or texture before it just gets into massive hot territory.
Not bad overall but I just find it overcooked, and the booze just needs to be toned down to let those flavours speak for themselves. Same issue I had with the Dark Horizon, too.
86 / 100
Pours a dark currant colour, with a head that seems listless but doesn't take a lot of cajoling to breathe lots of life back into it. Nice sticky ring of lace. Nice.
Thick, sticky red wine nose. Thick, sweet and boozey, I mean it smells like port. Brown sugar on there, raisins, blackcurrants and golden syrup. And yeah, just that rich, ripe, late-harvest red grape sugar as well. Une tasty beer, indeed.
Taste is very sweet, rich, syrupy. A rich complex brown sugar front with golden syrup and roasted almonds on there as well. Mid-to-late is all red wine with huge port wine notes, cherry and a good claret booziness. The back is all sweet again, with an effect almost like the sugars are crystallising in my mouth out of solution. You only really get that with a really artisanal dessert wine, or some amazing beer. Delicious.
Syrupy, rich , a little bit hot on the back but otherwise pretty awesome.
Yeah, a big feisty bitch with a sweet, beguiling outer facade. Dangerous, bewitching demon-woman beer.
91 / 100
Pours a bright, colourful red colour with pleasant beige head, bubbly and sparse with decent, non-sticky lace. Bubbles around, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact it's great.
Ecstasy. On the nose. Holy shit. Hops, loads of them - floral, tangy with sherbet, lemon, orange, tangerine. Spicy - with hot pepper, chilli, coriander, carraway, aniseed, and floral, with some lavender, seeds of paradise, thyme, fuck. It's ecstasy. This is the best-smelling beer in the world. Pure sex, in aroma form. I'm leaving my wife and marrying this smell.
Taste is pretty damn beautiful as well. Lots of spice to it but a nice tangy citric hop character and lots of toffeed malt providing rich, enjoyable sweetness. But yeah, that's that big, rich spice as well with carraway, star anise, coriander and licorice. Touch of lemongrass, pine and even dill, just a big, in-your-face freshness that screams out to be loved and fondled. I, for one, am only too happy to oblige. This is Heaven.
Smooth feel, a bit dry. Maybe not as full as it could have been but still pretty damn fine.
This is one of the best beers I've ever drunk. It's everything I could hope for from a beer and more.
90 / 100
Purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA, and muled back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours empty and flat, a deep brown-black. No lace, no head-retention, obviously, because there's no head whatsoever. Despite this, there are tiny bubbles of carbonation trapped in the beer, which become apparent when it's tilted. I prefer a bit of head (don't we all), but it's not a bad look all up.
Nose is pungent and sweet and incredibly boozy, with huge port-like characters dominant. Big barrel characters: marshmallow, toasted coconut, boozy vanilla essence, with sharper notes of resin and glace cherries. Hoo-ey, what a nose. Almost too much to take in; about as complex and intense as any I've had. A winner.
Taste is wonderfully restrained, with a gorgeous vinous acidity tempering big sweet boozy notes of port, vanilla oak, and burnt toffee. Dark notes sit around the edges, giving a wisp of smoke here, a taint of charcoal there. It's a gorgeously malevolent and sneaking edge to a very sweet palate.
Feel is very smooth and supple, and the heat and booze gives it a sharpness that stops it from being too heavy.
Wow, wow, wow. From inauspicious beginnings (and much undercarbonation), this managed to blow me away. It's gorgeous, supple and incredibly complex. What a brew.
73 / 100
Purchased in the United States, where Norwegian beer is so cheap compared to in Australia. Brought back to Sydney to drink with @LaitueGonflable. Sampled alongside the Sweet Horizon, a very different beer indeed.
Pours a bright orange-amber colour, not much of a hint of red to it, except in the deepest depths. Head is almost non-existent, but that's rather unsurprising for a beer of this ABV. Looks pleasantly languid and heavy, but with a livelinessâthe tiny carbonation that forms when it's swirled bubbles merrily to the surface.
Nose is strong and pungent, with a boozy note dominant, but blended with a very dry yeasty character. Certainly, there's not a lot of sweetness, depth or complexity to match the strength. Comes across as strong and hot.
Taste is a lot better, with a sharp crispness and a surprising brandy-like complexity. Heat is still omnipresent, but that's what this beer is about. Otherwise, there's sharp vinous characters, a touch of refined wood and even a hint of smokiness. Backpalate lingers for ages with a boozy astringency.
It's an unapologetic beer, this one, and I have to respect it. While it has a certain rampant belligerence, it also has a good deal of subtle complexity. I do very much appreciate what you do, NÃ¸gne Ã.
81 / 100
Damn, seems I missed out by one on being the 1000th review of this beer. Purchased in San Francisco, and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a lovely burnished copper-red hue, surprisingly bright and clear, with a full and solid head of beige foam. Looks gorgeous. Lacing is a little reticent to appear, but otherwise, it looks gorgeous.
Nose is also very special, with a pungent citric crispness blended beautifully on top of a pineapple sweetness. Lashings of pepper and spice add exclamation points. Very nice.
Taste is also extremely good, giving a lovely crisp fruit entry that quickly descends into the "sweet release" promised on the label. Loads of sticky toffee, barley sugar and caramel, that is allways just leavened and supported by enough hops to ensure it doesn't get sickly. It's quite exceptional, and exceptionally good. The lingering, slightly fruity, but toffee-sweet aftertaste is delectable. Mmm, I want more.
Feel is a little light, but this also probably assists in keeping it from heavy, brutish sweetness.
A lovely brew from Lagunitas, and a truly American-styled oneâthe hops, the body, the sweetness all blending together into a raucous, opinionated and brash whole. Hell yeah.
90 / 100
Pours a very dark colour, can't find much colour in that at all, just dark. Touch of brown on the outer fringe but it may just be a glass refraction effect. Head is lacklustre, just bubbles on the top, small specks of lace around. Looks too heavy, really, to bother about the niceties.
Smell resembles gorgeousness. Oaky to the max with masses of vanilla, caramel, and a touch of funk; loads of woody aroma. It's really quite dominantly wood with only underlying hints of roasty chocolate, and coconut as well. Seriously though, oak-age your beers, people. It just works.
Taste, to put it mildly, and not to put too fine a point on it, is a motherfucking crackhouse of pimping ecstasy. Dark base, with chocolatey edge takes on huge oak notes with all the wonderful associated flavours - coconut, vanilla, a slight mouldy funk, cinnamon and dark, dark wood. Bit of boozey heat on the back with a touch of caramel, mint and butterscotch - not diacetyl though, a proper, rich butterscotch. What a fantastic mélange of deliciousness; sweet, complex, magnificent.
Actually the body is surprisingly thin, but with a hot booze sensation late. Oddly enough I'm not hugely enamoured of that given the flavour.
Overall it does seem a bit hot and overcooked at times. It's a big beast of a beer, and while the aroma and flavour are fantastic, it's definitely a 'share with friends' beer and would knock you out if you tried this on your own.
90 / 100
Purchased, I have to say, somewhat arbitrarily in the US on my last trip, saved up and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeeroronottobe.
Pours dark, very dark indeedâa deep black colour, just browning at the edges, with a frothy and bubbly head of ochre. Head doesn't stick around for long, but that's somewhat to be expected in a beer of this weight. Body looks thick, and it leaves some very good static carbonation when tilted. Looks good.
Nose is beautifully rich and redolent with big oaky characters, giving vanilla and coconut whiffs with a good bourbon booziness. Not as dark as it might be, indeed, it's leavened with a sweetish almost strawberry like fragrance, but it's so pleasantly balanced. Lovely, just gorgeous nose. So complex, but so wonderfully even handed.
Taste is similar, and the oaky characters come out in full here, giving a mellow vanilla-pod tweaking to rich full flavours of creamy sweet caramel and gooey chocolate cake. Smooth but light on the palate, which leavens the sweet and heavy flavours enough to make is surprisingly and welcomingly drinkable.
Holy goddamn what an excellent beer. Smooth and complex, but leavened and really perfectly balanced. Such lovely rich flavours but never too much in any direction. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.
93 / 100
Pours a very, very dark brown - only really a dagger of dark brown piercing the body when held up to the light. Head is ochre, quite listless but leaving some nice trails behind. A swirl is quite effective in reviving it. Small bubbles, not too dense. Yeah, good colour, pretty good everything else.
Smells quite dark, yet not roasty. Lots of chocolate, dark and cocoa-esque with a Tia Maria edge. Yeah, very sweet, dark and liqueury, a touch of milk coffee and Irish cream almost and a big dollop of coconut lingering at the back. A really very fascinating smell, and very enticing.
Taste is quite sweet as well. Lots of chocolate, dark and sweet with some nectar notes on the front, and a touch of orange peel with more of that Tia Maria liqueuriness. Sweet, though, and nicely weighted with an obvious alcohol that only asserts itself through the fullness of the body and never gets hot. Pleasant touches of marshmallow with more Irish cream, caramel, some touches of cinnamon, milk coffee, and some hop notes towards the back giving apple characteristics. Some shiraz wine notes as well, berries and pepper, oh it's just intoxicatingly good. Wow. This is a cracker of a beer.
If a beer is this nice, I will drink it. It's a heavy drop and one for sharing, but it's amazing, so smooth, so tasty.
77 / 100
Still on the epic New Zealand beer trawl. This one seems a suitable addition.
Pours a very clear and quite light orange-golden colour. Head is firm, but large-bubbled, forming a little sudsy lacing, but not maintaining a particularly solid retention. Carbonation is fine and streaming. Body looks pleasantly heavy.
Nose is (and I can't help but describe it this way) classically Kiwi--those lovely hoppy but fresh and sharp aromas. This one perhaps owes a little more to the west coast of the USA, with some fruity citrus characters of Cascade and Chinook, but the freshness is delicious. A little sweaty grain grounds it, but it's all about the hops. Big props for that.
Nose is weirdly smooth and drinkable. It certainly doesn't have the robust hoppy bitterness I was expecting. Here, we get a smooth sweet and fresh fruit character, with a good dashing of toffeed sugar. Just enough bitterness comes through to balance it and stop it from being sickly. As a result, it ends up clean, light and supremely drinkable.
Great work on this one. A very nice late-hopped brew that gives plenty of hop flavour and a balanced palate that does not assault the senses. A clever and well thought-out brew from Epic, who are genuinely doing some exceptional things.
On-tap at the Local Taphouse's Great Australian Beer SpecTapular in February.
Pours a bright and bold cloudy reddish orange colour. Fine head of very slightly off-white. Good body and lacing. Looks very decent indeed.
On the nose? I don't want to say ass, but it's there. Some grape juice as well, and a sharp astringency. Slightly organic rotting grains character. Weird. Immediately I think they've screwed up their barrel aging.
Taste is spicy with a big metallic astringency. Odd weizen notes of banana bubblegum come through, along with a hint of porty oak characters. Certainly some wild-like funk to it as well. Feel is biting with slight cidery acidity, and the booze is heavy.
No, I don't think this was quite right. This tastes like what happens when you throw a beer at oak without a lot of thought. I think it's picked up some weird unexpected innoculations from the barrels, and has veered off course. Still an interesting beer, and an interesting experiment. I just think it's not one that they pulled off successfully.
70 / 100
Pours a dirty red colour with muddy haze through the body. Head is nice, tight and dense with a thin crown retaining. Lace is not that sticky but otherwise it's good.
Smells nice and sweet. A good malty beer with lots of complex sugars on it. Brown sugar with touches of cherry, sweet port and a nice vanilla and coconut touch possibly from the oak. Beautiful, sweet and rich. I love it.
Tastes quite sweet on the assault, malty with caramel and brown sugar notes. Develops richer sweet notes towards the mid and also quite a lot of booziness at times with brandied cherries and a mild touch of cleaning solvent strength. Coconut notes on the back and develops a mild and unfortunate bubblegum flavour as well. But it's the only duff note from an otherwise pleasantly heavy and sweet beer.
Sticky, fairly thick mouthfeel with a nice slick touch as it goes down. Boozey heat though, as well. Good.
A pleasant drop, but a bit hot at times so couldn't down too many of these. Good job.
86 / 100
Very excited to find this at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley. Brought back to Australia with me, and shared with @LaitueGonflable.
I shouldn't have been surprised at the colour, but I was, a deep dark brown, opaque, only turning slightly lighter at the edges. Head is fine, and crispy, a roasted brown tinged ochre. Lacing is minimal, but the body is heavy, which may explain it somewhat. Looks very nice.
Nose is a fabulous melange of different flavours. Big chocolate characters, and lots of sweet vanilla, giving a rich, smooth basis. Some roastiness, and a lightly sulphurous egg character, which oddly deepens the other notes. Certainly hints of astringent booze, but they blend so perfectly with the vanilla, giving up characters of coconut and white rum. Ooh, so much devilish deliciousness. It's an astonishingly good nose.
Taste matches, although there is a lightening from the blending, giving a more pleasant hop character. This provides a counterpoint (and perhaps an excuse) for the strong boozy note which is present here. It blends very nicely with the roasted characters, which combine to form a chocolate liqueur complexity. Feel is smooth and robust.
Ooh, it's a lovely beer. Roasty, complex, boozy, chocolate, sweet and rich. Really fantastically good, and such an inspired blend of two other good beers. But where other blendings seem to just provide the average of their component parts, this one has synergy which propels it to true excellence.
73 / 100
Pours a deep red colour, slightly orange around the edges. Head is nice and dense, but webbed out here and there with an orange-tinged beige colour. Lace is quite nice and clingy, and body is clear. Nice colour; nice everything.
Smells very fruity and fresh with a good whiff of funk as well. Lots of citrus with malty undertones, slight soapy note and some distinct lucerne with dampness. Touch of acidity as well and maybe some cinnamon spice. Intriguing definitely; enticing definitely. Yeah, this is a definite beer.
Melony character on the assault, just the front. Gets very rich and malty and surprisingly dark on the mid-palate with barley sugar, burnt toast and a rich chocolatey flavour. Yeah, really oddly dark and bitter even on the mid. Slight freshness comes through though on the back, slight fruitiness from some heavy hopping. Underlying it all is a nice woodiness that goes equally well with that odd dark richness and the fresh flavour hopping. Not heavy-handed, just nice and complementary. A really quite intriguing palate, good beer.
Not bad texture, feels oddly thin at times but has a noticeable body on the mid. Thinness comes largely at the back but it just allows it to go down very easily.
Very tasty beer; slightly odd and slightly rich at times. That makes it a beer not for every day, but still a tasty one.
70 / 100
Pours a dark amber colour, slightly hazy with decent head; sinks to a firm wobbly crown but leaves specks of nice clingy lace around. Light bead; overall looks pretty heavy, but nice.
Smell is quite malty with a nice scotchy edge. Slight watery underlying character with some mild golden syrup and touch of fruity hops, slight apple and pear on there with some floral notes as well. But yeah, malty overall with a touch of spice; decent but no wow factor.
Taste is also quite golden, with that syrup character coming through pretty clearly. Lots of rich scotch boozines and a very pleasant light and airy hop character, quite fruity with hints of lemon zest, followed by a good earthy bitterness, slight nutty edge and bread on the mid. Nice, sweet and grainy palate followed by nice balancing hops; not too strong but a pleasant long bitterness. Don't absolutely love this, but it's pleasing.
Slight heat on the back of the mouth and mostly a nice full, thick palate and nice foamy texture. Good.
Yeah a bit hot and the long bitterness is noticeable, but overall this is a pleasant brew indeed.
Pours a pretty dark black-brown colour, head is ochre, fairly humble with a bit of sinkage, but leaving some pretty spectacular lace behind, pretty sticky and thick. Yeah, looks pretty good.
Smell is fairly strong, but a really nice dark roasty malt all over it. Slightly meaty on there and a slight floral hint to it as well. Yeah, quite dark, with chocolate and mild coffee. Nice, and interesting.
Taste is fairly dark as well with mild espresso notes and a slight meaty flavour. Yeah, nice alcohol warmth as well on the back, but overall it's a nice just slightly toasty flavour, with licorice spice, a hint of pepper and some burnt sugar as well. Yeah, nice sweetness that is still nicely dark overall, with a hint of boozey bite on the back.
A little bit thinner than I would want on the front, but the warmth at the back gives it a kick.
Yeah, a pleasant beer, nicely mellow blend for the most part. A little odd but enjoyable.
Ah, what a nostalgic beer. I remember driving along El Camino Real myself. Unfortunately, I've never made it as far as Stone, but I've still managed to pick up this brew, and drag it back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @ToBeerOrNotToBe.
Very black and very heavy body; opaque, and forming fantastic reverse cascading throughout. Nice foamy head of light chocolate foam that dissipates to a half-centimetre. Minimal lacing. Looks pretty good though.
Slightly sweaty on the nose, with sweet overtones, a little herbal influence and peppery bite. The funky, slightly sweaty character is dominant though. It's odd. I can't say I'm a huge fan.
Taste is quite light, but exceptionally long. Long and languid black malt notes reign, and the pepper hints linger to the very back giving a slight prickling on the finish. Bit of heat to be felt as well. Feel is slick and the languidity and length really aids it (as, probably, does the Thievery Corporation playing in the background). An interesting brew, no doubt.
It's an unusual beer, but the Stone collaborations I've had in the past have been better. This one falls a little short for me -- it doesn't have the dimensionality of the others, although it's still a very interesting and robust brew.
78 / 100
Pours a bronzey-brown colour. Head is beige, looked good at first, but settles out to form a thin crown. Lace is good, sticky, body is clear. Yeah, nice colour, all looks pretty good but not great.
Nose is an intriguing one. At first I thought hoppy but on second sniff there's actually quite a roasty character behind it. Quite woody, but with pungent floral hops and hints of lavender and spice, like carraway maybe? Good balance, actually extremely appealing.
Taste is very nutty indeed. Lots of brown ale characters really, with chestnuts and hazelnuts on there especially on the mid. Lots of chocolate underlying, with a touch of pine bark and some nice citric hop character coming through at the back, with a decent fruit peel character showing through. Hint of musk as well, and a slight licorice spice on the finish. Good, subtle roast cleansed by nice, mild hop additions.
A little bit thin, but noticeable body as it goes down. Leaves slightly dry. Not bad.
Very nice drinking beer overall. Good flavours, good balance.
81 / 100
Cracked open with @LaitueGonflable after it travelled back to Australia from San Francisco in my luggage.
Pours a deep dark, coppery colour with twinges of red to it. Head is initially frothy, but coarse bubbled, and made up of slightly yellowish foam. Lacing is good however, even if the head doesn't stick around. Not a lot of thickness in the body, which is a bit of a surprise. Looks pretty decent though.
Very West Coast nose - I think there's Chinook there, but with deeper and sweeter roasted malt notes coming through as well. Definitely some roasty notes, and a fragrant but muted hop character, almost like "aged" hop, whatever that means. Pretty nice.
Taste is very nicely done. Again, there's a lot of malt to it, and the hop character, while so classically American, is muted to allow the malt dominance. Big roasted, heavy brown bread characters on the back, with a decent amount of sweetness throughout. Hops provide a clean, cleansing note through the centre -- something to anchor the rest of the body. Lovely
It's really nice; if it were slightly hoppier I'd say it was a classic example of a really well-made black IPA, but as it is, it's just a strong, lightly roasted American ale: one that's hard to categorise beyond that.
75 / 100
Pours a clear amber colour, strong flowing bead feeding a head that just don't need feeding. Head is freaking enormous, more than half the glass worth. Beautifully dense in appearance though with a lovely marshmallowy vibe to the top. Lace is something else, too. Too much head is always unfortunate, but when it looks this good... I mean, you wouldn't kick two Scarlett Johanssons out of bed because you were only expecting one, right?
Nose is very malty and grainy. Quite sweet with caramel notes and a slight seedy character like sesame. Bit of a rye note as well produces slight sourness. Nice throughout though, sweet and grainy, just a bit plain and flat. Not enough aroma. When it's as nice as this I want more.
Taste is also malty, lots of grain with pearl barley, caramel notes and a nice crisp flavour that borders on sour without being so. Fair hoppiness I think is what balances it out, but it's all floral, lots of lavender and rose without ever really hitting the bitter button. Tangy with a noticeable alcohol warmth, beautifully integrated with the sweetness, which lasts to the end but in a bitey, beery kind of way. Really nicely malted and fermented, sweet beer notes all over that. I like it a lot.
Good mouthfeel, a bit heavy but not too thick. Lot of body, lots of texture, nectar-like really but without coating your mouth as it goes down.
Nice, drinkable bigger beer. Not too sweet, not too heavy.
Pours a pale golden colour with off-white colour head, nice and dense but lowers steadily... not a lot left after a minute. Trails of lace around the glass but not a lot. Hint of haze in the glass, modest body. Not bad but quite blah.
Having trouble getting much from the smell. Slightly hoppy, but yeah, a bit bland. Fair amount of caramel malt when I get any, hops are slightly piney, maybe a bit of a grassy character. Mild citric character. Really nothing there, just over-subtle, or under-aromatic.
Taste is quite malty, a lot of grain character throughout. Lots of caramelised notes on the front with cereal notes heading towards the back, pearl barley and some grain husk bitterness. Hint of vanilla and lemon on the mid and a fair hoppy bitterness, drawn out and rich with a little bite, just sort of a laid-back bitterness, particularly on the aftertaste with a mild phenolic character. A bit of a bland beer, some flavour but deficient on the front and lacking in nuance, just doesn't interest me a lot.
A bit sizzly on the feel but not very. Decent body, not a bad texture. Good enough to carry the disappointing palate.
Could I drink it? Yes. Would I choose to? Depending on the alternatives, probably not.
Pours a clear, quite light golden colour, with a thick and frothy head of white foam that leaves some messy lacing down the edges of the glass. Quite anarchic looking. Body looks pretty thick and static. Looks pretty tasty overall.
Not a huge amount on the nose, which is very surprising. A light hint of new world hops, with characters of citrus coming through when swirled rather vigorously, and a light carbonic acidity and an unusual dusty grain note. Not what I expected, and pretty weak all up.
Taste is also a little disappointing. Flat front palate that doesn't really show a lot of flavour, hoppy (as expected) or otherwise, and the dip onto the back is dominated by a slight melted confectioners sugar sweetness. Finish is a mishmash of grain husk acridity and cloying saccharine. Mouthfeel is nice at least, but it doesn't have much to work with. Full-bodied, riddled with tiny points of carbonation that lift it - but the flavours on the palate really miss the mark.
It finishes far too sweet to my mind - although there's a dip of hop character pleading to get through, the rich sugary elements on the finish are too prominent. Not one of my favourite American Strongs.
76 / 100
Pours a dusky bronze colour, nice cream head, leaves some beautiful thick lace. Head sinks slowly but surely. Slow bead up the glass, clea appearance. Pretty nice.
Lots of pleasant west coast hop character on the nose, notes of fresh pineapple and citrus zest. Slight resiny character, with a rich malty backbone indicating a touch of strength to it. But mostly fruity and sweet, smells very refreshing.
Taste is quite bitter and zesty. Starts with a tangy citrus character mingling with slight tartaric notes, then a distinct caramelised malt backbone that underlies the whole palate comes through. A bit of alcohol warmth emerges late but never bites, just adds a slight warmth and reminds me maybe that the bittering hops are not there in force - but then it's not an IPA so they shouldn't be. And there is a bitterness on the finish, slightly phenolic and comes through more as an afterthought than a distinct hoppy note. Nice clean finish makes this pleasant and refreshing.
Mostly smooth and pleasant texture, but a little bit sharp on the back. Not enough to put me off though, really.
Pretty much a cracker of a beer, not quite hoppy enough to be an IPA and not heavy enough for barleywine status, it's just nicely nestled in the middle of malty and hoppy. A good drinker, anyway.
83 / 100
Pours a deep and delicious red-brown colour, with a massive head of yellow-beige foaming bubbles that leave extraordinary lacing. Extremely thick and viscous coming out of the bottle, and it even looks heavy and languid sitting in the glass. A really, really good looking beer.
Big hop fragrance on the nose, which mingles charismatically with the even bigger oak character to give a freshly pungent melange which is not unlike woodsmoke and gunpowder. Oak is huge on this thing, giving wood and resin characters, and depth like crazy. Yeah, when Stone do something, they do it to the logical extreme.
Taste has robust depth - lots of hop bitterness and a dark, almost roasty character come through, with a woody oak hint floating around the corners. The oak is certainly more prominent on the nose, but it's here as well, just mingled with, and subdued by, the other, stronger and more dominant characteristics, leaving a slight woody sweetness that reminds me of pecan pie. Mouthfeel is initially smooth, but tingled with carbonation through the back.
An excellent beer, and one which is surprisingly drinkable for its strength, depth and aggression. It has actually been some time since I sampled the plain Arrogant Bastard (if you can ever really use that description of it), so it's hard to compare it to the original, but this has such depth, such fullness of character, and such robust arrogance, that it stands by itself as a stellar and wonderful example of the American brewer's craft.
A deep dark brown colour with a speckled head of crispy brown head. Some lacing, but pretty thin. Body is quite thin as well. It doesn't look particularly good overall. The colour's not bad, but otherwise, it leaves something to be desired.
Nose is slightly smoky, very odd and rather not what I expected. Certainly some darkness, minimal hop character - very little like what I was expecting in fact. Dark, and smoky. That's pretty much it.
Again, quite dark on the nose, with minimal hop character, and very little Belgian style. It's as though the bottle has lied to me. As a dark beer, it's rather thin, leaving only a slight black residue on the tongue, and falling away pretty quickly. There's a slight lingering bitterness, but again, I wonder how much this owes to the dark malt, and how little to hop characters.
Overall, I'm particularly disappointed with this brew. It promised far more than it could deliver, and while it's a moderately drinkable dark ale, it rarely if ever rises above that mantle.
76 / 100
Pours a nice cloudy appearance with dirty orange colour. Slow but steady bead in the body and a very tasty dense beige head, retaining well and pockmarked in spots. Lacing is a bit disappointing, not much. Otherwise looks good but would really like more lace.
Nose is quite sweet and fresh. A lot of nutmeg on it with hints of banana and caramel. Some floral notes like pot pourri or air freshener. A pleasant sweet-spice nose, with light sugaryness but a good tang lurking behind. I like it.
Taste is a very syrupy affair, with lots of malt, giving off brown sugar and sweet caramel. A fair note of cinnamon on the mid with some banana esters and maybe a little orange zest as well. Finish has a more earthy flavour, with some phenolic spice and a nice kiss of alcohol providing a good warmth to an otherwise fairly easy drinking beer. A hint of herbs complements it, almost like benedictine in character, and yeah, overall a sweet, pleasantly potent beer. Very nice.
Mouthfeel is fairly thick with a good amount of syrupy fullness without overdoing it, goes down fairly slick and smooth. A good texture for sure.
I'd call this a dangerous beer. Too easy to drink for how alcoholic I suspect it is, doesn't have the brute force of the Stone Bastards - which are my only other ASAs - although the detectable alcohol acts as a bit of a warning sign.
76 / 100
Pours a lovely deep slightly burnished copper colour, with a thin but fine head of yellowish foam. some lacing, but some lovely static lacing in the body when swirled. Looks really full-bodied and quite heavy. A good look for the style. Very nice.
Lots of banana and toffee on the nose, slight metallic characters and a slight whiff of alcohol. Really big, sweet, heavy and rich. It smells like banana bread soaked in treacle. Really heavy, sweet and delicious.
Thick and heavy in the mouth. Big notes of toffee, more banana bread, with some light boozy phenols coming forward too. Very little harshness though, which is a blessing - the thick silky palate is saved from being too intimidating. It comes across as rich, full and flavoursome, but also approachable and drinkable.
A very nice brew. It's not bombed with hops, nor raw with alcohol like some American Strongs, but it comes across as a rich, complex, smooth and drinkable brew. Very nice.
Pours a very syrupy deep red-brown colour, with some languid yellow-tan bubbles effervescing on the surface to produce a fine but filmy head. Some lacing. Better is the static bubbling released through the body when the beer is swirled. It looks damn tasty.
Some dark sweet fruits on the nose, with big malt characters to back it up. Notes of dates, prunes with woody notes present as well. Not particularly syrupy, but with nice dark, slightly resinous characters that pull it through.
Immediately sparkling with tiny bubbles on the palate, which would be unpleasant except for the fact that the body is very thick to cushion the blow. Flavour is compressed somewhere between bitter dark malts, heavy alcohol and phenolic hop characters - there's certainly a harshness on the palate that could be any or all of these things. Minimal sweetness besides the character on the nose, and the illusion of body from the thick feel. The alcohol is very present with big whiffs of banana scented booze notes dominant on the back.
I found this a tough beer to drink, especially with the strong boozy character. Even without that the notes are strikingly challenging. It's certainly got flavour, and if you sip it and share the bottle, you can get through it, but it didn't impress me terribly.
75 / 100
Pours deliciously thick and heavy, a deep red and brown colour, with a filmy, but fine head of off-white bubbles. Some large bubbled, languid carbonation pushes its way through to the top, and the swirl looks supine, only glugging around like jelly. Yes, an impressive looking beer. Shame about the lack of head.
Quite sweet on the nose, with big notes of sweet malt and rich Belgian yeast characters. The dates no doubt account for some part of the sweetness as well, with a dried fruit character that probably actually comes from dried fruit. Some wispy tendrils of booziness are noticeable, but only just. Overall, it's like a heavy sticky dubbel (certainly, it seems more a dubbel to me than a doppelbock, which is the other "half-style" they mention); perhaps without the complexity of its better Belgian counterparts, but still very tasty.
Unfortunately, the first thing I notice on the palate is the extremely aggressive carbonation, which overwhelms what would otherwise be quite a smooth feel, rich from the heavy body. The flavours are good, big and sweet with dried fruit and demarcated with roasted characters. Possibly not as rich and full as the nose prepared me for, and the overdone carbonation doesn't help this either.
Something lightly bitter and astringent on the back which I can't quite place, although it reminds me of some dessert or pastry I had in the Middle East - most likely, it's some spice that I can't quite identify. Booze is almost unnoticeable, surprising considering there was a hint of it on the nose.
Overall, this is another tasty and extremely interesting beer from He'Brew. As much as I'd often like to dismiss their attempts as gimmicks, they always find a way to give me something original, and I really appreciate it. This is a good one, just a slight twist on a pretty solid dubbel.
85 / 100
Pours an absolutely lovely burnished red-brown-gold colour with a thick head of yellowish white bubbles, which cascade up and then down in the glass. Very pleasant indeed. Lacing is great, and it looks as thick as a elephant sandwich. Very nice indeed.
Oh yeah, masses of hops. Extremely pungent, but they veer to the side of sweetness. Lots of pineapple, pear, musk and passionfruit, and not nearly as much pine resin or citrus. Very rich and mellow for a high hoppy beer. Very nice again.
Thick and full on the palate, initially sweet, crescendoing with hop bitterness mid palate, and then declining to a very mellow rich toffee sweetness on the back. Perhaps just a light hint of heat on the back, but it's very subtle. The lovely toffee note on the back is what makes this for me. It makes it more than a highly hopped ale - it gives it gravitas and complexity. Very nice. Mouthfeel very smooth and delicious.
A classic American craft brew. Peppered with the wonderful American hops lusciousness, but with a deep complexity underlying this. This is not simply a beer brewed to the extreme for the sake of it. There is a clarity of purpose and a wonderful structure to all of the big flavours. Once again Stone has given me an extreme, but philosophical American beer experience.
80 / 100
Pours a red-brown colour with enormous ochre head, also almost red in colour, very hazy look. Lacing is thick and delicious, but a bit slippery. Otherwise, well not otherwise, it just is excellent.
Nose is extremely sweet with a pongy tropical smell, hints of spice but a large amount of caramelised pineapple, banana and maybe currants as well. That sweet spice aroma is to die for, while the rest of it (some floral hoppiness as well) is pretty gosh damn nice as well.
Taste is very malty but with a long, slightly phenolic hop character. Has a barleywine-esque richness with spicy notes of cinnamon and cumin, raisiny hints as well, and a bit of alcohol warmth, as well as a boozy sourness, before the hops hit. Slight astringency at the back, hops are not as tropical as the nose suggested and are definitely medicinal in character.
Mouthfeel is deliciously velvety with an amazing creaminess that somehow overrides the prominent alcohol. There is a lot to like in this; sourness makes me a bit meh, but it is very well constructed with pleasant flavours and an amazing mouthfeel. Almost can't detect alcohol, but it certainly isn't harsh. Maybe just lowers drinkability, but I'd definitely want another one of these.
56 / 100
Pours a cloudy, pinkish-orange colour, with a few pockets of large-bubbled carbonation. Really hard to induce a head, even with a pretty vigorous pour. Nice colour, but it looks insipid with no head. A shame.
Nice fruity hint on the nose - a bit thin, but pleasant. Unusually, it's more of an American hop aroma than the scent of pomegranate. Bit of peach and pineapple, not a huge nose, but nice. There's probably a little input from the pomegranate as well, but I genuinely think it's a hop aroma first.
Hmm. It's quite strongly hopped on the palate. More bitter than I was expecting. Starts off tasting like a standard APA, with a sharp piquancy, but then slides off into a lightly woody, herby sweetness, which, because I've never encountered anything quite like it before, I'll have to put down to the pomegranate. There's also an underlying alcohol character at the very end, which isn't unpleasant - in fact, it gives a kick to what is otherwise a reasonably bland beer.
Mouthfeel is thin to moderate, pretty standard for a lower gravity brew, I might have expected a little more from something they describe as "Imperial".
It's not bad. Very drinkable, but unfortunately, not very exciting. Still, I'd pick it up again, and it's definitely worth a try.
77 / 100
Pours a deep ruby red colour with a thin but sticky head. A little bit of lacing which looks sticky and great. Very mild carbonation. Looks robust and impressive.
The brew has a sweet, brown-sugar kind of character on the nose, but brimming with potential. It's a strong and complex nose with essence of sultanas peeping through as well.
Wow, doesn't that taste knock your balls off. It's a bit of everything; sour and gritty in parts and a little bit sweet on the finish. The taste just hangs around with a powerful depth like really dark coffee. There's so much to it and it's good, really good. The flavours I can pick are hints of burnt toffee, espresso and a slight plummy character. Very gritty finish, but gritty as in a strong coffee. Mouthfeel is astonishingly smooth and creamy for such a rich, complex ale.
Overall, very impressive and venerable. Not drinkable all the time but I definitely dig this.
81 / 100
Thanks very much to my GF for bringing this back from the States for me.
Pours with a ruby-flecked dark amber body. Shiny and clear, capped with a yellow-white head of filmy bubbles. Fantastic lacing, but minimal carbonation. Love the colour, looks like a great, strong, ale.
Amazing nose, huge hits of American hops, tropical fruits, aniseed, pineapple, passionfruit, capsicum, resin, berries. Delicious, luscious, rich. Hint of something deeper and darker as well, perhaps bourbon or strong vanilla. One hell of a rich smelling beer.
Initial vegetative hint of crushed lime leaves on the palate; that fresh, natural character, followed by quite a strong resiny hop bitterness. Peppery, astringent and robust. Quite delicious and fragrant. Pine, lime zest and lots more of the pointy end of the taste spectrum. Alcohol hidden behind the hop character. Quite delicious. Mouthfeel is quite syrupy, thick and smooth.
This is, truly, an aggressive beer. But it's a well brewed one, and it has a measure of balance to its madness. Full-flavoured, rich, robust and unforgettable.
I'm very glad I got to try it.