75 / 100
12oz can purchased for me by Sam for Xmas 2020, after he enjoyed it so earlier in the year.
After the proper nitro-pouring technique, it looks a picture. Starts with a swift but obvious reverse-cascade, and settles out quite quickly. Fine-bubbled, persistent nitro head, with a crisp delineated line between it and the body. Colour is dark brown, certainly lighter than a full black at the thinner parts of the glass. But that head is a thing of beauty.
Nose is quite pleasant. It's very malt forward, almost with a kind of underattenuated brewday malt kind of aroma—like the smell of decocting a proportion of your grist. But it's lighter, slightly more roasty and with a hint of that lactose sweetness as well. It almost has a woody, nutty character to it as well, which works nicely. It's a good-smelling beer.
Taste is light and quite drinkable, aided by a beautiful smoothness from the nitro. The main flavours are those slightly burnt-toffee malt note—again, it tastes a lot like decoction to me—with a rather metallic, almost coppery finish. It's smooth as hell though, like a shark
Extremely smooth, extremely drinkable and for 5.5% ABV, I'd smash this all night. Lovely beer—unpretentious but very good.
Pint can purchased from Santa Clara Liquors in Santa Clara, CA. This is a milk stout with cacao nibs added.
Pours a firm deep cola brown, with a slightly coarse-bubbled head of beige foam that leaves excellent lace. Body is a tad lighter than the 8.5% ABV suggests, and the carbonation is also swift. It does look light compared to what I was expecting.
Nose is relatively pleasant, if not overly complex. There's a firm structure of malt to it, giving toasted grains, mellowed by a mild cocoa choc sweetness. There are some undertones of vanilla and lactose, and mild aromatics that suggest carob and kola nut.
Taste is decent enough. There's a firm semi-savoury dark malt presence throughout, which walks the line between goopy chocolate and overcooked toast. But it's very light in weight. There's minimal residual sugar, meaning the beer feels thin, and also meaning that the beer loses the ability to express deeper complexities if they're there.
Overall, it's fine. It's the kind of beer I'd be happy to sink a pint of at the pub while I've got other things to distract me. But it does suffer a bit when you're giving it your whole attention and waiting for to impart some deep secrets.
Bottle given to me by Jez for my birthday.
Pours a dark chocolatey colour with thin beige head that dissipates fairly quickly, giving a bit of a lacklustre crown of lacing. Fairly sparse that makes the beer look a little thin. But OK.
Smells roasty and pleasant. A good chocolatey note with very slight ashy bitterness to it that intensifies it a little bit. Fairly decent caramel character around the edges. Yeah, look it's somewhat sweet but otherwise has a good robust stout character to it. It's good.
Tastes... a little thin to be honest. Has a pretty decent chocolate note in terms of flavour but it's quite subtle and buried under an odd sort of spicy and ethanoic mid-palate that has some mild berry notes but otherwise doesn't have a lot of flavour to it. The finish feels a little adjunct-sweetened and has a surprising lack of depth to it where the nose promised a good roasty bitterness; it's just not there. It's not overall a bad beer but it's fairly dull as a stout and it's quite disappointing coming off the nose to this as a flavour profile.
Mouthfeel is somewhat thin for the most part, but the mid-to-late has a nice bittiness from the roasted malt. Not bad.
I'd say it delivers on its promise but fairly thinly. The chocolate and the stout are both fairly sub-par and it ends up like a bit of a sweet dark mild ale. It's like buying Lindt and getting Nestlé.
78 / 100
375ml can purchased from Bucket Boys.
Pours a medium dark brown colour, with a loose-bubbled head of off-white that disappointingly runs out of steam and suggests the beer is quite fizzy. Body is fairly light for 7.2%, and there's minimal carbonation in it. Overall, it looks a bit underwhelming to be honest.
Nose is pleasant though. Very pleasant, in fact. It has a very smooth blend of vanilla and mocha—like an affogato with more than the usual amount of ice cream. There's melted milk chocolate, and a little strange aroma like tennis-ball rubber—it's not actually a bad thing, but more of a quirk of the particular dark characters they're embracing.
Taste is smooth, with a couple of interesting twists. It does have a nice milk chocolate note, certainly sweeter than the espresso edge of the nose. It also has an unexpected red berry character underlying the darkness. And there's a nuttiness that gives it a savoury edge. It's a little bit like sweet toasted almonds. Nice stuff indeed.
Feel is soft, light but smooth. It could use a little more body, but it's pretty good as it stands.
Overall, I'm very happy with this. It's a very pleasant milk stout, with depth and interest to keep it interesting. I think I've only tried these guys' stuff at GABS in the past, but this suggests their regular releases are definitely worth exploring.
76 / 100
On tap at the Royal Albert.
Dark brown glint of colour. Head beige, dense and creamy with good retention. Looks good.
Smells malty and pleasant with a touch of lactose. Smells like sweet barley, touch of chocolate and roast. Mildly cocoa, mildly bitter. Predominantly sweet. Standard but nice.
Tastes similar in a good way. Big chocolate character throughout that starts as a byproduct of the particular malt roast, then gets more explicit cocoa character towards the mid with a nice lactose sweetness as well, then the cocoa takes on the mildest of bitter notes just to clip it off and make it beery and drinkable. Lingers with a nice mild sweetness that makes you want to drink more without it being suffocatingly sweet or saccharine. Good amounts of everything with a nice balance to deliver the ultimate sweet palate.
Mouthfeel is a little too bitty for the style, has a kind of dryness in the mid that is not ideal. But I feel it really should be on nitro pour anyway so it's kind of immaterial that it isn't ideal, since the ideal would be a completely different environment to how I'm drinking this and has little to do with the beer.
Drinks well; good sweet drop without turning up the maltiness to the point of it being sickening: it's not. It's very drinkable.
On tap at Old Faithful Bar & BBQ in Perth.
Pours a dark, murky reddish brown. Head is beige, nice and foamy but sinks to a thin crown. Bit of wobble and the lacing is immaculate. Looks great.
Smells pretty great too. Nice caramelised vanilla flavour with a good milky aroma to it, but a very pleasant underlying roast that just grounds it slightly without dominating. Ends up smelling like good rich dark chocolate. Bittersweet and nice.
Taste is not quite as good. Starts out alright with big rich chocolate notes but they don't really spread and fill the palate, rather they thin out a bit so the mid-palate is a little sour and somewhat weak. Finish improves a bit; gets more roasty dry notes with a touch of burnt coffee, still has a lingering lacto sweetness though so it takes any oomph out of it. In the end it's a bit too sweet to be an impressive stout but not sweet enough to be a full on dessert beer.
Mouthfeel is decently full and quite smooth; slight dry tingle as it goes down; actually really pleasant texture.
Drinkability is standard but good. Doesn't really deliver what I want but for a slightly insipid stout, it goes down quite well. Certainly nothing offensive here.
61 / 100
Cocoa, vanilla and coffee stout brewed for GABS 2017; tried there on tap.
Pours a mahogany colour, quite pale. Head is beige, foamy and lovely on the top. Great head; shame it's quite pale.
Smells sweet. Cake batter and vanilla on there with lots of dark fruit esters coming through. Nice stouty characters, with a touch of coffee as well. Yeah, pretty decent.
Taste is very, very sweet. Caramel and vanilla upfront that develops some cocoa-rich chocolate towards the mid. Good spice comes through on the back with the coffee characters; clove and black pepper notes. Cakey, and a touch grainy throughout. Good cocoa character. Yeah, it's a decent mix but a bit too sweet for my liking.
Decent body, maybe a touch of alcohol betraying a slight thinness in the malt, which I feel makes sense given how pale it is for the style.
Not bad, but a bit lacking in the main stouty characters, given what it is.
On tap at Preachers.
Dark cola colour; ochre head, quite dark really. Decent density, small bubbles around the edge that retain well. Very furious bead is feeding it from below; looks pretty decent.
Smells nutty and a bit dry with subtle chocolate. Caramel and mild woody character, perhaps some subtle herbal notes. Standard; nothing exciting.
Tastes quite nice. Good smooth chocolate note throughout that really doesn't waver, which is good. Slight fruity note early mid that's a bit odd, like fresh mango or something, just a whisper but feels a bit odd alongside the choc. Develops a slight bitterness late, again it's less rossty than it is almost hoppy. It's just mildly fruit-infused despite being sweet and a bit dark. Pretty nice. But a little odd.
Feels a little odd. Bit thick, but also fairly dry. Feels almost Irish on the finish.
Drinks fairly well though; not super sweet. But sweet enough. I'm a bit tainted by the fact I drank the nitro merlin the other night and it was phenomenal.
83 / 100
Can purchased by a friend of Chris' while travelling in the states. Kindly gifted to me.
I obeyed the instructions to invert the can and SURGEPOUR the contents, and as you can see it looks lovely. Big nitro cascade up the glass that settles into a dense, creamy pale head that ain't going anywheres. Body is dark-umber, fairly dense looking from the pour; yeah it looks like a classic Irish stout. Lovely stuff.
Smells quite nutty, with a dry husky grain character blending with roasty bitter chocolate, and some caramel sweetness. Slight burnt character similar to petrol and a mild salty character as well. Mostly just nice, chocolatey roasty notes that are very pleasant.
Tastes good. Very good, even. Big chocolatey notes throughout, with a rich vanilla and milky vein running through it as well. Has this creamy flavour early-mid that lightens and smooths up the palate but the finish allows the chocolate grain and slight roasted bitterness to take the fore even while remaining fairly sweet on the linger. It's a very palatable drop indeed, with just the right amount of bitterness to harness that lacto sweetness which is still the dominant character. Really nicely tempered; subtle sweet and bitter balance that's very moreish.
Mouthfeel is creamy-smooth, maybe a little light in the body so the bitterness cuts through slightly too strong. Minor shortcoming though, I wouldn't even call it a flaw.
It's a simple style, and it's very gratifying to see one of my highest rated breweries pulling off a simple style with this much aplomb. Firestone Walker are that highly-rated on the back of a whole bunch of huge special release flavour bombs, and this isn't one of them. It's not bombarding me with flavour, it's reassuring me with its balance and subtlety, and that makes the brewery so much more worthy of my esteem.
On tap at the brewhouse.
Pours a dark chocolatey colour with clumpy chunks of bubbles clinging to the outside. Head is beige, nitro dense with a thin crown retaining. Lacing is other-worldly good. Looks good, as I expect from nitrogenated stouts.
Smells big and lactosey, and oaky. Biscuity with a strong roasty dark malt character that takes on a slight ethanoic strength to it. Distinct sweetness blending with the oak that's largely vanilla and a hint of coconut. As expected too, but good.
Taste is very very sweet, and strangely fruity too. Starts chocolatey and develops those big vanilla and lactose characters towards the mid where it then takes on a strange berry character, with blueberry, raspberry and blackcurrant as well. Slight boozey character late gives it a slight cough medicine character but enough chocolate remains for it not to overwhelm in that regard. Complex and pleasant, with a slight oddness that helps balance the sweetness but still keeps me on guard.
Mouthfeel is smooth, and creamy. Develops a sharp edge late mid but there's plenty of body to get away with it. Decent for the size.
Probably a bit too sweet to really go for, and the booziness and odd fruitiness also keep me from embracing it completely. Decent but a bit odd.
74 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez during his son's second birthday party.
Pours a dark brown, mostly black. Head is beige, small bubbles, just a crown of bubbles really. Lacing is pretty nice; bit thin. Looks alright.
Smells yeasty, like vegemite, big spicy roasty note with slight petroleum/ethanoic character. Spicy, roasty with a touch of chocolate to it that saves it from just being boozey. Definite character but a bit sharp and just darkness.
Tastes sweet and pleasant actually. Big chocolate character with a touch of peanut. Caramel notes with some yeasty Vegemite character, touch of roast and alcohol sharpness late, with good roundness from the choccy malts. Yeah, sweet, roasty, nicely rounded. Tastes good.
Feels good too. Smooth, mildly hot, with a slight boozey kick on the front. Good body though and good texture.
Drinks well; big boozey stouty character but a pretty good rounded stout, has a good character that's well balanced for how hot it is. It feels very standard despite the hotness.
74 / 100
750ml brown bottle given to me by my mate Aaron.
Pours a pleasant deep brown colour, with a slightly foamy, minimal head of beige, that leaves some soapy lace. Body has some weight, with a kind of oiliness. Carbonation is fine but swift. Looks decent.
Nose is rather pleasant. It has an oaky, vinous quality to it, with more sharpness and acidity than you might immediately expect from an imperial stout. But there's plenty of smoothness, and a nice vanilla note from the oak. It has characters of blackcurrant and shiraz grapes.
Taste is also good. It's an interesting take on an imperial stout. There's lots of classic characters, a little bit more light and bright than usual, with some pepper and darkness on the back. Feel is lovely and smooth. It's a surprise given the intrinsic lightness.
Overall, this is an impressive beer from the Bruery, it has a complexity and coherence that is often missing. It's smooth, and light, but with a pleasant dark quality.
Bottle given to me by Jez for Christmas; had it in my fridge for a while but since this was crowned #33 beer in NZ in the Kiwi Hottest 100 today, it seemed like the time to crack it open.
Pours a dark-brown, yeah chocolate colour, with nice pale beige head that isn't quite as frothy as I'd like; I promoted a lot but it sinks to a thin film of big bubbles. Good lacing but yeah not quite as substantial as it could be for the style.
Smells quite grainy, and sweet. Good chocolate character with some lactose sweetness to it, maybe some subtle roast but yeah it's sweet, caramelly and a little bit insipid to be honest. Nice but makes me apprehensive about the flavour.
Taste is not as sweet as the nose suggested, to its credit. It just doesn't have the lactose edge that can be really insipid if not bolstered by something else. This starts quite malty, not really chocolatey but just grainy-sweet with a good belt of light roastiness without getting bitter or ascerbic. Develops some chocolate character late-mid with a touch of rich cacao and a resultant roastiness that softens by the back. The finish is quite dark mild ale-esque; just a subtle roasty bitterness but not astringent at all, quite soft and mild. Don't know if it's quite as chocolatey as I thought but it's a very nice stout with good character.
Decent body; a little bit thin maybe as some carbonation shows through where it shouldn't really. Not bad.
Drinks nicely; good chocolate character but without going overly sweet. There's an odd tannic character lingering on the very back which is a slightly duff note but the drinking experience is quite good.
84 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam for Christmas.
Pours a lovely ebon black colour, but with a slick, shininess to the body hinting at the additional sugar content. Head forms a slightly frothy mocha crest to begin with,but settles out to almost nothing—just a very fine ring that actually promotes excellent lace. It looks pretty good all up.
Nose is very nice. There's a rich sweetness from the lactose, which give it body and depth. But atop this is an undeniable toasty darkness, to add sophistication and sharpness to the brew. There's even a suggestion of berries to it—perhaps macerated strawberries, or the syrup you'd put into a milkshake. It's very good.
Taste is also great, and here's where it really fills the brief of the name. There's a really noticeable slickness and sweet milky quality to the beer. There's more of that berry suggestion, but it's connected to a kind of deep, mild coffee darkness that stops it from getting sickly. The feel is genuinely superb, with a nice balance of lactose-forward body and bristling carbonation.
Yeah, I'm impressed: this is a nicely made stout, smooth and drinkable, with a well-executed gimmick. It's also super-drinkable, but has the richness of a much stronger beer. I really like it. I only wish I were able to get it more regularly and more reliably.
81 / 100
On tap at Preachers.
Pours a dark brown colour, with darkness right up to the edge. Head is beige, nicely dense and creamy and retaining beautifully. Looks like a cracking stout.
Smells stouty. Cocoa, chocolate chips, creamy espresso character. Really smooth-smelling, roasty and sweet characters in equal measure. Very pleasant.
Taste is largely roasty too, with a great chocolate character to it. Sweet upfront but grows with a burnt, ashy character that just becomes nice and dark and warming by the late-mid. Not hugely complex, it's quite single-minded in its bitterness but it's remarkably smooth too, and doesn't need much more. It's just a coherent, well-constructed stout. Maybe just a hint of ester by-product on the back where it gets a little lighter and maybe a touch fruity? But it works well with it all and doesn't impact on that smooth palate journey.
A little bit rough and raw on the mouthfeel, some big flavours on a fairly small malt base. But not unpleasant.
Smooth = drinkable. I find the philosophy behind this beer interesting, and even more so that it's produced something so unassumingly delicious and drinkable.
Nitro-pour, strong milk stout brewed with *takes deep breath* almonds, fennel, Magaz Tari seeds, rose petal, pepper, cardamom, saffron, lactose and organic hemp oil. Brewed for GABS 2017 and tried there on tap.
Pours a coffee colour, clear body but nice cream-coloured head, a thick nitro crema-looking crown of foam. Looks awesome, just how a stout should look.
Smells like licorice. Spicy, with notes of star anise and clove, and a slight floral edge. Bit too Chinese medicine shop-esque and could use a bit more roast to balance and ground it.
Taste is similar. Vanilla sweetness upfront, with a big spice mix that builds towards the mid and back. Clove is strong, with some star anise and licorice sweetness that gets peppery and spicy on the back. Slightly off-putting and could definitely use a bit more sweetness, and roast, to balance out the spice.
Full body, nice and smooth but trails off a bit in the malt base which again allows that spice flavour to strangle the experience.
Yeah, it tastes like a spiced stout with the emphasis on spice. Little more than that. I think it's sometimes a crap shoot with Garage Project beers and this really isn't one of their most successful executions.
43 / 100
Tried on tap at GABS 2017. So this review needs to be read with the qualifier that the tasting notes talked about the use of tobacco in this beer, so I was expecting it. Turns out they couldn't field the tobacco-brewed beer due to tobacco/alcohol licensing laws or whatever...
Pours a coffee colour, pale brown at the edge. Nice dense head, beige in colour and good foamy lacing on the side. Bit pale, but certainly not bad.
Smells very sweet with loads of vanilla. Chestnut and cake batter on there as well, with a touch of cinnamon. Genuinely just smells like artificial frosting; sweet and cakey. Not great.
Tastes sweet, and buttery. Probably a touch of diacetyl but it's just big malty sweetness. Cake batter again, with a touch of vanilla, and maybe some dark fruit late-mid. Very little on the finish where it could really use that herbal tobacco character. Just lingers with the sweetness before petering out. Meh.
Thin body, flat, needs more oomph.
Very disappointing beer from these guys. Normally I love what they bring to GABS, and in previous years their sweet offerings have been some of the best. I think here they've gone with an intriguing concept that's had to be pulled at the last minute and so I'm left with an insubstantial cup of incoherent sweetness.
So as a sidenote, I don't know why Andrew Childs is insisting on calling himself Chur Brewing for the Australian market. It seems like a bad idea to my mind to split your brand identity. Anyway, I know who he really is in NZ even if he wasn't called that on the GABS program.
Raspberry milk stout, brewed for GABS 2017. Tried there on tap.
Pours a nice coffee-brown colour, quite dark. Head is beige, foamy, with a good crown retaining. Decent look; stouty.
Smells mostly chocolatey, with a fair sweetness. Cake batter and vanilla on the front as well. Touch of musk sticks and coconut as well, probably from the raspberry. Not bad.
Taste is full of raspberry for sure. Chocolate and vanilla sweetness on the front with a big tart berry note that remains sweet and actually turns sadly medicinal on the back. Touch of coconut to it as well. Not bad; certainly delivers on its promise but I think maybe it could use a bit more roastiness on the back to smooth out the sweetness more.
Decent body, maybe a hint of alcohol warmth as it goes down.
Fulfills the brief, but it could maybe amp up the darker elements of the beer - certainly the roast to give a bitterness underneath all the sweetness and possibly the chocolate to take the tart medicinal edge off. But pretty decent beer.
60 / 100
Raspberry chocolate stout, brewed for GABS festival 2017 and tried there in a sampler.
Pours a brown colour, quite pale at the edges. Head is beige, retaining alright with some lightly webbed foam. Bit pale but not bad.
Smells very sweet; cake batter and butterscotch characters with a hint of dark fruit, as well as an unexpected clove character which is quite welcome. It's unapologetically sweet-smelling and probably a bit much for me, but still pleasant.
Taste is weird. Tastes actually like it may be infected, and while it's poorer for it (if only because I expected a big load of sweetness) it's not unpleasant. Some vanilla notes on the malt upfront and then the back tastes quite gruity with a strong spice mix character - clove, cinnamon and star anise that turns a little sour towards the back. It's weird and unexpected more than anything.
Tingly carbonation on the mouthfeel, otherwise decent construction.
Tastes off, but I do find it strangely enjoyable in spite of that.
77 / 100
Tried in a taste at GABS 2017.
Pours a glossy, deep clear brown colour, with a solid weight behind it. Carbonation is mild, but fine when tilted. Head is a firm film of beige that forms lovely sheets of lace.
Nose is lovely. Rich, smooth mudcake batter give a sweet fattiness. Subtle smoke underpins it and adds complexity to the aroma. Other sweet characters of dark chocolate and marshmallow are also perceptible.
Marshmallow is noticeable on the front of the palate, backed up by fine chocolate characters that linger and turn savoury towards the mid. This has a lovely tobacco smoke note to it, which evanesces into long cacao drop. Feel is slick.
Overall, this is a lovely beer. It's rich and smooth, with a great deal of complexity to explore. These guys really have a great GABS pedigree for me.
Chocolate Sweet Stout with berries added, brewed for GABS 2017 and tried there on tap.
Pours a brown colour, fairly middling, tonic kind of brown, with nice beige head, foamy and retaining a thin crown. Looks alright.
Smells sweet, and chocolatey. Some cake battery character to the malt, slightly underfermented maybe, but a good dose of roasty character and spicy espresso to balance it. Standard, but not bad.
Taste is also decent with some good chocolate characters. Sweet upfront that develops a darker flavour but still sweet, and some dark fruit notes late that are adjuncty - in the sense that they don't taste like by-products of the fermentation - and quite nice and complementary. Could use a bit more of that fruit oomph, some actual tart fruit characters would really cleanse it and allow those chocolatey notes to pop out more. Still, not bad.
Body is full, and really quite smooth. Not bad.
Yeah, not a bad beer, and one of the better ones I've had from Willie the Boatman. Not a huge standout at the festival, but in the spirit of the event and pretty decently made.
57 / 100
'Wagon Wheel' Sweet Stout brewed for GABS festival 2017. Tried there in Melbourne on tap.
Pours a brown colour, fairly dark to the edge with nice beige foamy head. Not too bad, could use a bit more retention. Standard for the style.
Smells chocolatey with a hint of peanut. Maybe a hint of some biscuity malt or it could be completely psychosomatic. Not bad.
Taste is sweet, grainy. Some pecan character to the malt that develops into vanilla, caramel and retains an odd oatmeal cereal kind of character, with chocolate. Very little stout character and the 'sweet' aspect seems to be just a complete neutering of the finish so it starts dark and finishes empty. Very little character beyond the front. Disappointing.
Full body, decent texture as it goes down.
Very disappointing. Definitely lacks the jammy, berry notes that the tasting notes and the name would suggest. If it delivered on point it could have been a beer of the festival but it feels like a very uninspired execution of a decent idea.
77 / 100
330ml can purchased from Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. Tried alongside the White Stout version.
Pours a deep brown, with a kind of garnet clarity when held to the light. Head starts off as a fine, persistent film, settling out to a firm ring of beigh that leaves streaks of lace. Carbonation is fine and swift, but the body weirdly looks lighter in this one than in the white version.
Nose is good, with definite darker tones coming through than were in the White version. This has a firm roasty underpinning, but this accentuates some of the other rocky road characters. In particular here we get lots of coconut and less marshmallow. There's also a sweet fruit character, but it's more like glacé cherries than the raspberry jam of the White. It's very nice.
Taste is pretty good. Here, it's a firm stout, and an obvious stout. It has a pleasant restrained roast character which gives a dark semi-bitterness like you'd get with high-cacao chocolate, but it's leavened by coconut and peanut characters very pleasantly. The feel is a little bit too light in this version to my mind. There's a slight carbonic character in the finish, and also a lingering roasty bitterness. Together these feel a bit too dry, and undermine the sweetness.
Overall, though this is another good iteration on a theme, and the two beers together make a really fine, interesting pairing. If I had to pick between the two, I might go with the white stout, but they both deliver very well on what you expect from the name.
77 / 100
Coffee stout brewed for GABS 2016 and tried there on tap.
Pours a brown colour, bit pale maybe especially at the edge. Nice dense beige head.
Smells of coffee. Big, aromatic, spicy roasted coffee. Nice sweet balance as well with caramel notes and just general roasted malt character. Pleasant.
Big spicy coffee on the palate too. Chocolate notes upfront that gets drowned by big spicy roasted espresso on the mid-palate but then re-emerges late, together with a nice dark dried fruit character that seems so typical of a nice sweet stout but particularly an English-brewed one, for whatever reason. Pepper, roast, and toffee. Great characters.
Slight alcohol warmth, body holds it up well.
Very nice coffee stout, good flavour balance and complexity.
This was revisited on the last day and ended up my number 7 beer of the whole festival.
58 / 100
Sweet stout brewed with marshmallows, smoked malt, cocoa, wheat and biscuits for GABS 2016. Tried at the festival on tap.
Pours a very dark, even black, colour. Head is disappointing, beige in colour but just some light bubbling around the edge. Heavy, and very dark looking. Not bad.
Smells sweet, with big chocolate notes, slight toffee sweetness and a hint of raspberry giving a touch of tang. Some light vinous and spicy notes playing around the edges. Not bad.
Taste is quite dark and stouty. Bittersweet chocolate upfront, that doesn't really sweeten up in the way I was expecting but rather goes more roasty without the accompanying bitterness. Instead continues sweet and ends up fairly saccharine to be honest. I think the darker malts could have been better utilised just for balance. Or some more hopping done subtly could just clip the overly sweet nature while allowing the same flavours to stick around on the palate.
Body is bogged down by the adjuncts, with a big gluggy feel that has an un-beery sensation. Hint of carbonation saves it from disaster, and as a result it's kind of curious, although weird.
Yeah, I don't get the big biscuity character which I think is the missing ingredient. Chocolate, marshmallow sweetness, and some underlying beery notes but it needs a savoury or bitter character to balance.
Choc/vanilla sweet stout brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours a brown colour, dark to the edge with foamy beige head. Retains well. Not bad looking.
Smells yeah, what it promises. Chocolate, cocoa nibs, with some vanilla character as well. Kind of subdued, but sweet generally.
Taste is vanilla and chocolate all over. Mix of both upfront that carries through to the midpoint. Finish is slightly roasty but not very strongly, so the lingering character is sweet and chocolate. Sweet and pleasant, but feels a bit unbalanced and I think a bit more oomph to the stout malts underneath could really make this a winner. Still nice.
Full body, slight lick of alcohol warmth.
Not a bad sweet stout, but I feel like I've seen these flavours used better to make a more complete stout. It's a likeable beer though.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney. Amazingly, aside from GABS, this is the first new 8 Wired beer I've sampled in 2 years. It's overdue.
Pours a nice, deep black-brown colour, with an initially coarse and rocky head of pale mocha, turning into a lighter filmy ring. Lacing forms in pleasant long streaks. Body is pretty light, and the carbonation flows through it very rapidly.
Nose is nice. Good smooth milky stout characters with some chocolate and cream notes to it. Coffee is the main additional flavour of course, giving a roasted character that integrates with the sweetness, just like a nice blend of espresso and lightly frothed milk. Perfectly pleasant.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a very moderated roast to it, that gives it the suggestion of strong coffee, but it's always pulled back rather pleasantly by the mild creaminess in the flavour. This sadly doesn't translate much into the feel, which is a little light and spritzy for this type of beer. Finish, however, it pleasantly tight and toasted, with a dryness from the coffee that leaves it pretty clean.
Overall, yeah, it's a nice drop from 8 Wired, and a pleasant return to new beers from them for me. I've liked some of their others a good deal more, but this is another solid entry from a brewery that rarely does anything wrong.
73 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Spec's on Smith St, Houston, TX.
Pours a deep brown, but definitely brown, not black, fluid and light in the body, with a coarse-bubbled head of tan that leaves minimal lace. To be honest, it looks pretty overcarbonated, especially as it runs out of puff so quickly, ending up with a rather dull, flat iced-coffee appearance.
Nose is very pleasant, and with just enough interest to make it a little quirky. Mostly, it's a smooth, if slightly light stout, with some slightly savoury and smoky notes to it. But there's a prominent pressed strawberry note to it that becomes stronger the more it warms up. It means the beer develops the more you drink, and it makes it for a really interesting experience.
The taste is slightly more banal, but there are still some interesting twists. Here, that faint smoky character on the nose comes its strength. After a sweet entry, with a frothy, light body, we get a twist towards toasty grain, goaded into savouriness by that smoky note. Finish is nothing like what you'd expect from a "strawberry milk stout", tasting almost like umami chocolate. It's fascinating, really.
Feel is a little light, and overly frothy from some zealous carbonation, but it doesn't detract from the beer too much.
Overall, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here. I'm not sure it's a total success, conceptually, but it certainly made me pay attention. By the end, I was totally happy to spend time with it.
Tried on-tap at Trinity Bar in Surry Hills.
Pours a musty brown colour, with some coffee-like haze. Head is coarse and slight to start with, but persists as a weak, bubbling ring before disappearing entirely. No lace. Body is very light. It's an unimpressive start, to say the least
Nose is pleasant enough though, with some slight nutty notes, a touch of brown malt and maybe some mild savoury tones. There's a hint of something fragrant too, perhaps a little anise, a slight floral hint or some sweet berries. It's not bad.
Taste is also okay, but let down by the feel, which is very flat, with minimal carbonation. The more it goes on the deader it gets. Behind this though is some brown, rounded malt, laced with a little almond or cherry pip, maybe tending towards marzipan or slightly pithy aniseed. It's lacking structure though, and the deadness of the palate really harms it as a result.
Overall, it's okay. It does have some character, but there's enough wrong with it that this isn't allowed to come through. As a result, it feels like it lacks coherence and purpose. I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment overall.
60 / 100
On tap at the Trinity.
Pours a dark brown with big bubbly head that dissipates quickly. Has a kind of chocolate milk vibe to it, except dark and stouty. Still, I like more head retention and lace.
Smells very roasty. Dark, somewhat burnt, with touches of cocoa and coconut but mostly just spicy espresso. Not bad but expected sweeter.
Taste is stouty, roasty. Starts off like that and gets more so with some spice midway that's almost peppery. Finish gets the chocolate note I expected, but not nearly as sweet as the name implied. Actually pretty decent stout but I feel the marketing doesn't do it any favours because it's not as sweet as one would expect. OK though.
A bit thin, not a bad texture, fairly smooth as it goes down.
Not a bad drop, but not amazing; and the name implies things that really aren't there. Certainly there is no more here than in other similarly-styled beers that don't use names like this.
58 / 100
Pours a dark brown, cola-coloured at the edge. Head is creamy-beige, whispy cloud on the top. Specks of lace. Looks OK.
Smells cocoa-esque, a touch of roast coffee beans, vanilla and some resinous hop character as well. Decent balance.
Taste is roasty upfront, then gets oddly sour at the back. Yeah, some espresso - spicy, mixing with chocolate on the mid, then sharp, acidic sensation late-mid, actually not that sharp but just out of place. Then finishes chocolatey again so I have no idea what it even was, and I'm now confused.
Lot of pull on the back. Decent body, but I don't love it.
Don't quite know what I'm drinking, but I kind of know I don't like it a whole lot.
47 / 100
22oz capped and wax-sealed bottle purchased from Spec's in Austin. Brought back to Sydney, where I cracked it with Sam and Rich.
Pours a deep, opaque brown, tinged with orange at the very edges. Head is a fine, thin layer of froth that leaves some coarse bubbles at the rim. Some mild streaks of lace. Body is a tad light. Looks okay though.
Nose is toasty, but with a dark malt character that nearly tends towards black olives. Indeed, there's a slight acidic quality to it that doesn't sit quite right. Still, under that you can see where they're coming from with the name, with a mild vanilla smoothness that actually causes some of the toastier notes to seem jarring. It's okay, no better.
Taste is actually pretty similar. There's a definite metallic or chewy tinfoil character running through this, which undermines the buttery vanilla cake note I think they were going for. It attaches itself enough to the roastiness that you think it's intentional, but it still has an unnerving sense of wrongness. Back has a touch of aniseed that accentuates the metallic note as well. It's disappointing.
Feel is really quite thin, almost fizzy. This, once again, undermines a lot of the nice things in this beer.
Wow, this was a big disappointment to me. Lovely presentation, but there was just something off about this beer, and it really stuck through from start to finish. I feel like the concept was solid, but there was something sadly awry in its execution. Who knows, perhaps another bottle is significantly better.
80 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015. After numerous retries, this ended up at the top of my list of the festival, even though fared worse than others on my initial tasting—but there's some x-factor to it that really makes it stand out, quite aside from being a fine beer on its own terms.
Pours a deep brown colour, quite clear and free of hazy. Body is quite liquid and fluid. Head is beige, and although ends up quite thin it leaves very intricate lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is lovely. Sweet biscuity characters with lashings of caramel and coconut up the wazoo. It's so smooth and sweet, and the characters complement each other really nicely. I like it.
Light toasty opening on the palate, with a bit of compound chocolate that develops into a choco-coconut amalgam by the mid-palate. Back has a linger with some more biscuity sweetness and a touch of vanilla. It cleans up nicely in the finish—there's a touch of bitey bitterness in the back to stop it from getting too cloying.
Feel is very light—I think it could do with a melty sweetness to it. Overall, this was good stuff—I wrote that it would be a solid contender for People's Choice as well (where it did do well), but I was certainly happy myself to have this as one of my picks of the festival.
71 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown colour opaque with haze and with a pretty solid body. Head is beige or tan, very full and thick leaving some sheets of lacing. Carbonation is fine, especially when tilted. Looks very good.
Nose is toasty and balanced with sweet chai spices. Cinnamon, a little anise along with something milky or even slightly creamy, giving a little vanilla and nutmeg as well. It's quite nice.
Light, spicy star anise on the front of the palate, with some smoother spices as it develops. There's a nice chocolate backdrop towards the mid palate and the finish, lingering with a touch of bitter orange and a hint of nut skin. Aftertaste is long and dry, and slightly dusky with the reminiscences of spices.
Feel is good: full, smooth and slick.
Overall, this is a pretty good beer all up, and I like it a good deal. I have had a lot of beers like this though, and it doesn't necessarily really stick out from the crowd. But taken on it's own, I'm happy to say I enjoyed it.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne, where this took out the People's Choice award for the festival.
Pours a flat cold-drip brown looking gooey and flat in the glass, with almost no visible carbonation. Head is off-white and thins out quickly, not leaving me overly confident. It's not a great-looking beer.
Nose is toasty, with a big coffee hit. Some fragrance comes through though, giving it a pleasant hint of berries along with the Nothing But Coffee character. There's a hint of something sweeter though as well, giving a mild essence of chocolate. It's nice for what it is.
Taste is coffee. Did I mention coffee? Some fragrance comes through as well, and the mid-palate is smooth and sweet. Nice bite from the coffee gives it a suggestion of bitterness, while the sweetness keeps it smooth and lingers right through to a long finish. Almost tastes creamy by the end with just a touch of the roast finishing it off—lending the oft-smooth a touch of sharpness.
Overall, it's a really nice drop, and it's not hard to see why this ended up as the people's choice winner. It does what it says, and has a sweetness that is very approachable.
Pours a fairly pale brown colour, beige head of large bubbles, retaining OK. A bit pale; have seen better.
Smells of coffeeeeeeeeeeee. Pleasant. Some chocolate and sweet spice notes (mostly cinnamon) dancing around the edges. Nice.
Taste is sweet, mostly coffee. Bit of non-descript spice around the edge with some distinct caramel sweetness and a light roasty bitterness on the back. Coffee was stronger on the nose; tastes a little insipid here, smothered by lactose sweetness.
Decent body with a touch of warming alcohol. Smooth and pleasant.
Pretty decent, but have had more complex and interesting beers from Hendo. It's not too sweet but it seems to be 'sweet and not much else'.
I've really started to dislike this beer in my mind since it took out People's Choice winner. I didn't think it was anything special and the win really came out of nowhere. I should retry at some point but I was confidently sober when I reviewed this and stand by my initial underwhelmed opinion.
81 / 100
Pours a brown colour with beige head of medium foam that sticks around nicely. Looks like a decent stout, could maybe be a touch darker.
Smells biscuity. Sweet and pleasant with loads of vanilla, caramel and a touch of peanut. Just astoundingly good.
Taste is similarly biscuity upfront, with again a slight nutty edge to the opening malt base that develops rich chocolate, sweet vanilla and caramel complementing beautifully. Evolves into a somewhat bitter finish that might exclude this from being a people's choice winner (note: I actually wrote that on the night, how prescient of me), but a coherent way to finish to bring it back into the beer realm. Lovely drop.
Body is a little thin, but the texture is fine for what it's presenting.
Very, very nice sweet stout. I didn't realise going in that this was a Golden Gaytime beer but it really hits the nail on the head, while retaining an interesting and well-rounded stout palate. Right in most people's wheelhouse.
After retrying this was my #1 beer of the festival and received my vote for People's Choice award. I'm still a little confused as to why it didn't win, because it had all the talk and hype across the two weekends.
Pours a brown colour, dark right up to the edge. Head is tan-coloured, foamy, decent retention. Pretty nice-looking stout.
Smells chai-esque but predominantly clovey. Malt has notes of chocolate, sweet espresso and some dark fruit lingering at the back. It fulfills the brief but leans quite heavily on clove.
Taste is a bit more nuanced in terms of chai flavours. Notes of vanilla, clove and licorice with a touch of cardamom. Some more coffee to the malt, especially on the back. Pretty much what you'd expect from a chai stout, but a lot better than Bootleg's PB last year.
Body is a little thin, allowing some carbonation through which needn't be there.
Decent effort overall. I can't find myself leaping up and down at the prospect of chai-spiced beers because they seem so easy to do, but they certainly haven't done anything wrong here.
80 / 100
Tried on-tap at The Ginger Man in Austin, TX.
Pours a deep, mahogany-tinged black that looks dense, firm and full-bodied, although it has some clarity at the edges. Head is a fine ring of pale brown that leave streaky, persistent lace. Carbonation is very fine. Looks good, no lie.
Nose is smooth—immediately smooth, and a little bit creamy and sweet, backed with a little espresso. It's a little like an affogato. Some spice comes through as well, giving a hint of sweet liquorice. It's very pleasant.
Taste starts off smooth as well, but with a toastiness that gives it some depth, and a mild berry note that leavens it somewhat. More toast comes through on the middle and back, and here we get those suggested tones of anise, a little cherry, and something woody that reminds me of an outdoor BBQ. Back is languid and lingering, leaving some dark chocolate and a hint of something more biting in the aftertaste—it's almost like a chilli heat, or the mild astringency of slightly overextracted espresso. It works well.
Feel is very smooth indeed. Very nice on its own, but working really well with the other characters.
Overall, this is a supple and seductive beer. It's so smooth, and really well-integrated to create a fine drinking experience. I liked it a great deal.
83 / 100
On nitro at Meddlesome Moth, Dallas, TX.
Pours a deep ebony brown, and beautiful from the nitro. Body is full, head is a creamy, solid mocha-beige that leaves sheeting, fine lace. Bubbling is fine from the nitro, but rather minimal until tilted when there's a wide sweep running away from the head. Looks fantastic.
Nose is a little light on true, aroma, but there are suggestions of things. There's a little dusty chocolate initially, perhaps with a little carob overtone. Smooth, thin milk sweetness is also detectable. As you search and swirl it a bit more there are some mild characters of crushed white pepper as well, but overall, it's pretty light—this might be to do with the nitrogenation: if it were more aggressively carbonated some more of those volatile aromas might come out.
The palate, however, is a bit improvement, and here all of those hinted-at flavours on the nose are expressed fully. Smooth caramel on the front, slick and sweet, moving into a richer salted-toffee character on the mid. Along with this come some denser, darker flavours: more carob, luscious milk chocolate and a smoothness to help it go down. Back is smooth, with just a little peal of heat to remind you of the alcohol. Lingering fudge and dark caramel sauce leave their indentation in the aftertaste.
Feel is smooth to extremity. Even with the little kick of booze, everything is so supple and approachable.
Remarkably drinkable, dangerously quaffable. If it lacks the expansive complexity of some of the very best stouts, it makes up for it in pure unadulterated temptation. Gorgeous beer.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at Easy Tiger in Austin, TX.
Pours a dark brown hue with a mild clarity that gives it the appearance of iced black coffee. Without the darkness of colour, I'm convinced it would be transparent. Body is fairly light and flimsy. Head is almost non-existent, just a thin ring of mild tan bubbles. Overall, I'm not overly impressed.
It gets better though. Nose starts with a nice musty roast quality that suggests a nice dry, clean stout. Slight twang of filter coffee and a depth like toasted rye bread. It's mild overall, but very solid. I like it.
Palate is great. Clean, toasty entry with a dryness that gets spiked with a slight hint of berry. Clean, grainy mid-palate provides some complex toastiness and a smoothness that helps the flavour stay full despite the dryness. Flavours glide into the finish with some mild roast and residual bitterness, cushioned by a slight bready sweetness. Aftertaste is toasty and dry, helping the beer become moreish.
Feel is actually quite thin, but this works okay. If it were too full it might ruin the effect or the balance of the palate.
Very drinkable. There's lots of flavour in there to explore, but it's the sort of beer you could also easily session. That's the sign of a finely crafted brew.
On tap at the brewery.
Dark brown, can get a tinge, but not much colour when held up to the light. Head is beige, stagnant, dense. Would look like a skin formed on milk, except this looks pleasant. Density and lace are great.
Smells coffee, spicy. Chocolate as well, mild caramel notes. Spicy espresso with a touch of pepper, some cinnamon and capsicum. Yeah, I enjoy that.
Taste is very strong on the Campos coffee. Not coffee; just Campos coffee. That iconic spice character on the mid-palate with pepper, chocolate on the back, touch of mild caramel and white toffee late. Bit too sweet, could have kept up the Campos spice for a bit longer and then trailed off. As it is, it feels slightly meek. Bit insipid really.
Smooth body, pretty nice.
Decent milk stout, could be sweeter; could also be more full of flavour generally.
60 / 100
Tried on-tap at Euston Tap in London.
Pours a very pleasant deep brown colour, darkly hazed to make it look opaque. Body is fluid but weighty and hold minimal but solid carbonation. Head is disappointing though: fine but very filmy, with beige colouring in a sheeting ring.
Mild toast in the nose, leaving a little cacao character and a little salt/savoury undertone. Slight chocolate comes through as it warms, but it's very mild. Very mild overall. Not a bunch to it.
Flavour is extremely sweet, almost from the outset. Mild anise on the front, but otherwise almost sickening. Extremely sweet chocolate, some cherry and fake strawberry icecream. Back has stacks of milk chocolate with lingering sugar, creaminess and more sugar sweetness. Very, very sweet indeed. Feel is full and slightly sickly.
It's way too heavy and sweet. To be honest, I feel like I liked big sweet stouts, but apparently this beer has turned my head. It's too much, and there's no balance here—something to counteract it would be a great boon, maybe some oak or even a bigger booziness. As it is, it's too much by half.
Pours a dark coffee colour, letting some light through. Head is deep beige, creamy and smooth, just a thin crown but very nice-looking.
Smells quite stouty but also spicy. Dark rye notes, with a touch of toastiness, some cinnamon and licorice providing texture on the back. Not really chocolatey or sweet, but not bad.
Lots of vanilla on the palate, and plenty of other spices too. Chocolate is more prominent here, malts giving that kind of flavour with a touch of sweetness on the back. More cinnamon and licorice, and yeah plenty of vanilla late. Pretty nice but not quite what I was expecting from the style.
Full body, pretty smooth as it goes down.
Not a bad milk stout. Creamy texture, bit of spice adds interest but not quite reaching the mark for the style. I can imagine dark beer haters recoiling from this, at least a little bit.
59 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased and consumed at Archive in Brisbane.
Pours a deep brown, mostly opaque in the body but with some middling clarity at the edges. Fine, slick and fairly persistent head of beige that leaves lacing to cascade in streaks down the glass. Body is pretty thick, about right for 7.2% ABV. Looks very good.
Sweet, slick and somewhat milky nose. Molasses comes through strongly undermined by a hint of sour cheesiness. Olive brine also makes an appearance, giving it a very unusual character all up. It's not bad per se, but it sure is unexpected.
Taste is pretty clean on the front, with a slight sweetness that burgeons into a thick, clinging sticky sweetness mid-palate, laced with some slight vegetative overtones. Pleasant roast notes on the back, although more of those milk curds characters come through as well—fortunately, they're less pronounced than on the nose.
Feel is tingling with carbonation, but feels thicker overall because of the heavy molasses sugar characters.
Overall, it's not bad, but it suffers a bit from some of its more unusual characteristics. I found it hard to drink more than half a bottle.
73 / 100
This is something of a white whale among the Australian beer community, and I'd managed to go some time without trying it—I finally managed it at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during Sydney Craft Beer Week 2013. Served on nitro through a sparkler.
Pours a stupid, thick black-brown colour but with definite clarity noticeable when held to the light—I can see red right through it. Head is stupidly creamy off the nitro. Pale beige, fine and rich leaving ridiculous lace. It's a ridiculously creamy looking beer, there's no denying that.
And did someone mention ridiculous? The nose is extreme. Intense vanilla, burnt sugar crème brûlée all over. It's so creamy and thick that it's silly. Some sultanas come through as well, perhaps with a slight hint of spice like ginger. But mostly it's just about pretending to be crème brûlée, which it does exceptionally well. It's insane. You're an idiot, beer.
Once this translates into flavour though, it's too much—too sweet. So much creamy, thick vanilla ridiculousness. It curdles with the booze (which is definitely noticeable), giving an offputting character of Irish cream. Stacks of vanilla toffee without much to counter it. It's thick, smooth and creamy and too much. I loved those flavours on the nose, but here, I admit I'm struggling with it.
Feel is lovely in its way, were it not for the bombastic quagmire of flavours that it supports.
Overall, it's too sweet, without darkness or... anything, to balance it. It makes me feel bloated and a little bit nauseated drinking so much of it. It does a great job of mimicking a brûlée, but I don't think I'd want to puree such a dessert and quaff it. Such thickness and sweetness—I found it difficult to finish despite its many fine attributes.
Tried on tap at GABS 2013 in Melbourne.
Pours a middling brown hue, faint at the edges but solidly hazed. Body is decently weighted. Head forms as a firm, golden brown ring that leaves lace in sheets. Looks really good when tilted. Good start.
Nose is slightly musty, prominent grain characters, some toastiness and a hint of acid (perhaps just coming from the dark malts). There's a rounded sweetness to it as well, but it's a little dull.
Milky but light entry on the palate that moves to a smooth roast character later. It maintains this lightness and clarity that is unusual in a stout, especially a sweet stout. The only richness comes towards the back when the sweetness really kicks in, although it still finished pretty clean and smooth.
Feel is very clean and light.
It's very drinkable stuff, and the lightness is probably a bonus, even if I'd prefer something a little heavier. As it is, it didn't blow me away personally, but I feel as though I can still appreciate it for what it is.
61 / 100
Tried at Kumo Izakaya during GBW2013, during the Herkimer/Kumo beer and sake dinner.
Pours a deep, dark brown thick in the body, but still fluid. Head is gorgeous: silky and full, and leaving fine speckled lace as it goes down. Pretty much, it does everything you want from a milk stout.
Nose is a little bit subdued: smooth but light. Very light, in fact. Some berry characters, a suggestion of cherry, along with a dusty, earthy character and some faint, dry desiccated cocoa.
There's definitely cherry characters on the palate as well. Clean and smooth through the front to mid palate with a touch of bite on the back. Some ephemeral characters of grape juice come through as well. It's tasty enough, but still very light.
The feel is probably the aspect which suffers most from the lightness. While it's smooth, it's also quite thin: more body would really help.
Overall, it's decent enough but it didn't win me over completely. It's a shame, because it looked so good and had plenty of promise.
77 / 100
340ml dark green bottle purchased from Slowbeer. This is my fourth South African beer: incidentally, one of the other was called "Slow Beer". Cosmic.
Pours a oily brown-black, with a fine, bubble-pocked head of yellowish mocha. Lacing is very fine, but minimal. Body looks relatively light, considering, but it holds some lovely fine carbonation when tilted. There's something a bit cartoonish about the big bubbles pocking the and the spots of lace. But really, it looks pretty good.
Nose initially has a savoury, salty, pickled twang to it: kalamata olives and anchovies. Once swirled, the coffee comes through more strongly, along with a deep, oily roast character. There's a sharpness from the coffee, but it's kept grounded by a pretty decent roasty sweetness as well. It's not mind-blowing, but it's pretty decent.
Taste is smooth and dark, with a pleasant dark chocolate richness at the base, layered with coffee-bean roastiness and a silky but ephemeral top coat. Some faint metallic or mineral characters come through on the back, along with some marzipan and sunflower seed. There's almost a slight red-fruit character to it as well: dark cherries or bruised raspberries. It's very pleasant.
Feel is smooth but light: it's the flavours which make it stick around for as long as it does.
Overall, I'm impressed. This is smooth, rich and drinkable stuff, with lots of flavour and complexity balanced and structured together well. It has a smoothness and a benignity that makes it cozy and approachable. Easily the best South African beer I've had to date.
45 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. The label is more colourful than most Moon Dog beers, and has a certain flair about it which I quite like. And no by "flair" I don't mean "boobs".
Pours a deep dark brown, with a solidly dark head of mocha. It forms a decent filmy persistence, although it started off being quite foamy and frothy. Lacing forms in sea-foam streaks, but doesn't stick around a great deal. Body is surprisingly, and perhaps disappointingly light. Otherwise, it looks pretty good.
Nose is roasty and dark, with some sweetness, and a faint hint of funk or acidity. I want to think that the sourness is imagined, but I'm not sure it is. Milk chocolate comes through though to fulfill its name, but that faint lacto acidity perhaps takes the milk in directions it wasn't meant to go.
Taste is better, but here it's harmed by the lightness perceived in the appearance. Mild roast and sweet chocolate seems at the mercy of a faintness and a slight carbonic thinness. Certainly a suggestion of acidity on the back of the palate, if not a direct puckering bite. For a 7.4% ABV beer, it's certainly very light in the feel as well, perhaps another suggestion of sourness.
So yeah, I'm guessing this wasn't meant to be sour. And while it's not immediately, intensely, puckeringly sour, it has this sourness overlain on everything which makes it hard to appreciate the sweetness the lactose supposedly adds. And if it was meant to be sour, then the additional sweetness just undermines everything the sourness is meant to be doing. No, I'm afraid it doesn't work for me.
44 / 100
Pours a quite pale imitation of dark brown. Clear body with cream head, just a thin rim with no lacing. Looks portery, first of all, also thin, watery and pale. Not impressed.
Nutty/malty nose, some mild touches of roast on there. Quite sweet and chocolatey around the middle. Not too bad, but simple, and again more on the portery than the stouty side.
Taste is mildly roasty throughout, but a touch on the sour side with that under-roasted coffee kind of character. Touch of spice, with peppery hints on the back. A bit weak, and really not sweet enough for the style.
Thin body, little bit dry at the back. Fairly meh.
Drinkable, but not chocolatey enough, and very much more portery characteristics than stout. Needs more oomph and more sweetness.
57 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney as part of their Italian Spectapular festival.
Pours a clear, deep brown colour that looks very light and a touch insipid. Beige head that forms a bubbly ring like someone spat in my glass and swirled it a little bit. No lace. Looks very average.
Mild roast on the nose, with a dull character of drip coffee. Some light cocoa sweetness, but nothing really approaching "chocolate". It's pretty dull, but not too bad.
Light cocoa on the front, roastiness on the back. That's about it, to be honest; otherwise it feels pretty flat, thin, weak and dull. There's more of that brewed coffee character, but it has nothing to latch on to. Feel is woefully thin and weak.
Overall? So bland. So thin. It has some promising characters, but it just ends up so boring. Inoffensive faff.
70 / 100
Pours a very dark colour, mostly black with mahogany tinge when held up to the light. Head is dark ochre, dissipates to a thin film of small bubbles. Lace is OK. Nice.
Smell is stouty, but sweet. Plenty of espresso, coffee and cocoa, but a nice vanilla sweetness to it as well. Touch of nutmeg towards the back. Yeah, quite nice. Could be sweeter actually, for a vanilla milk stout, but it's still pretty simple.
Taste is nicely sweet, yeah. Nice roasty espresso notes underneath that never rise to the surface, in full bitter mood anyway. Lots of sweet desserty characters vie for supremacy, with vanilla, creme anglaise and some bitter chocolate behind. Not insanely sweet though, actually quite dry on the back. Well-rounded palate overall.
Yeah, dry feel, but a little bit sticky midway through. Actually don't love it, but it's stylistically appropriate.
Nice, sweet beer, but still dark and stouty. Good beer.
46 / 100
Pours a very fine light brown colour, opaque in the middle but otherwise a bit lacklustre. Head is fine and mild-bubbled. Some patchy lacing. Otherwise, not that great.
Nose is sweet, but slightly organic, with a rotting character that really doesn't bear repeating. Some roasted notes, but the sweetness is a little sickening, giving the impression of vomit and chewed grains. Not impressed.
Taste is similar, although the sweetness is more subdued, giving a pleasant grain character instead. It's still very light-bodied and rather easily drinkable. Not much to it at all, but it's not unpleasant. Body is extremely thin, however.
It's not bad, but it's very, very unexciting. A stout? Questionable. It has the lightness and easy drinking of any generic beer you choose to name. Pretty boring.
86 / 100
Had on nitro-tap at the hotel.
Pours a very dark colour, maybe a glimmer of brown up to the light but otherwise a glob of dark matter. Nice ochre head, sinks to a dense film but leaves some gorgeous lace around the glass. Looks like an espresso shot, great stout look.
Nose is fairly dark, with a good roasted aroma. Hints of dark cherry blend with coffee, dark chocolate and some pecan and hazelnut notes. Slightly sour, mostly roasty and slightly bitter. Not overpowering though, excellent stout nose, they've really trimmed the stout roastiness well.
Taste is very creamy, lots of residual lactose sweetness. Hints of caramel throughout with a nice undertone of roasted malt, slight hints of a charred character. Almost zesty through the mid with a lime flavour coming through, and lots of lighter, glazed fruits coming through later in the palate. I feel like it might use more roastiness, but that's just me, I mean I like my demonic stouts. I can definitely see why this is such an award-winning drop - excellently constructed palate, wonderful balance struck between dark and lighter flavours.
Velvety, smooth mouthfeel, goes down like a Thai ladyboy hooker. But slick - not sticky. It's a wonderful texture, impeccable even.
A tasty, tasty milk stout. Hugely drinkable and thoroughly enjoyable. Top drop.
Pours very, very dark, almost impenetrable colour. Very little head, but nicely dense that looks like foam on a macchiato. Can't see any carbonation of course.
Smells of dark roasted coffee. Slight toffee aroma as well, not bad at all. Nicely complex with a sweet and dark fragrance. Great shit.
Very roasted coffee flavour, really quite intense to begin with. But not unpleasant, like it's not like there's only a roasted flavour, there's a slight fresh, organic, herbaciousness to it on the mid, with more complex over-roasted toffee aroma as well. Pleasant flavour, not much of a profile to it though.
Mouthfeel is nicely smooth and velvety. This is quite impressive as a stout, goes down fairly smooth, but maybe a bit too intense to be drunk all the time.
69 / 100
Nice deep black-brown, with flashes of dark orange at the very edges. Thick and solid head of crema coloured bubbles. Lacing is very good. Looks very tasty indeed.
Nice roasted earthy notes on the nose. Chocolate, leaf mould and mushrooms. Quite a pleasant sweetness there as well, almost a vanilla pod note. Very nice.
Taste is quite smooth, but with an assertive ashy blackness to coat the mouth. Not much of a hint of sweetness, unfortunately, which would have been nice, and would have matched the nose a little more. There's not much layering either;l it's a dark ash character lying on what's a rather thin malt base. Mouthfeel is chewy and shiny. Props.
It's a nice stout. Pleasant characters and a smoothness that makes it pretty drinkable. Just doesn't have the complexity of the interest to make it truly brilliant, unfortunately.
73 / 100
Pours very dark with a slight red tinge around the very edge, oh and brown as well. Slight beige head, not much of it any more, left a nice phalanx of lacing. Tilted lacing is delicious, looks pretty nice.
Smells chocolatey and nice, with a strong cocoa stench and a fairly prominent sour grape hit as well. Fairly simple for all the pleasure it gives me though, maybe just a trifle weak.
Taste is very rich and roasted with a bitter charcoal intensity to it. It almost tastes darker as it gets nearer the finish, but for the most part it is quite sweet and chocolatey. Maybe not sweet, it's got a nice very dark roasted toffee kind of aspect, like toffee that is burnt slightly beyond sweetness and slightly into bitter charcoal territory. There is a slight fruit aspect behind the main palate, almost apricot-esque. Finish is quite intensely bitter roastedness. I detect maybe a hint of alcohol here, but for the most part mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy.
A pleasant drinking stout.
43 / 100
Pours an opaque black petroloid appearance, in fact a delicious ochre head is the only reason I know I don't have a glass of petrol in my hand. Leaves thick but pocky lacing on the glass. Very decent-looking stout.
Gritty coffee nose with a slight cocoa-powder character on it. Slightly sour aspect on the back, this has an over-roasted coffee smell, a bit sweeter than that, but not great. Pretty simple dark beer smell.
It's a bit too cold at the moment, but yeah, slightly sour toasty notes, a lot of dark malt on that. Gritty and sour with a very slight cocoa touch but not much and not impressive. Beer, I can get this shit at my local Starbucks. Oh wait, I don't have a local Starbucks any more. But yeah, just because you're alcoholic doesn't give you the right to be gritty and unpleasant. This beer stands for everything I actually dislike about darks and doesn't have enough character to save it. Mouthfeel is very thin.
I can see what they're trying to do, but this beer just reminds me why I typically say in my reviews that I don't like dark beers. Frankly I'd happily pay for an airfare to Oregon to grab some Rogue Imperial Stout rather than drink this.
So obviously, no Australians seem to drink this beer. It's something of a curiosity around here - the macro brewery that relies on tasteless pale swill for the masses still churning out a stout. For whom, we might ask? And furthermore, is it any good? Let's find out...
Pours a nice thick black brown with a loosely-bubbled crest of mocha coloured foam. The head dies away after a while, but leaves an oily film on the top and some really top notch lacing. Shame about the retention, but otherwise it looks pretty fine.
Nice roasted coffee and chocolate notes on the nose, quite sweet and deep, but with an unfortunate PoR aroma wafting around. It's only there if you look for it, but it has the undeniable smell of stale beer that has been coalescing in the corners of the local Aussie pub. But it's only a subtle flaw, otherwise quite tasty.
Nice roasted characters on the palate, and a really slick mouthfeel. Combined with the cocoa characters, it gives quite the impression of melted chocolate. What a treat. Finish is very dry, however, and an ashy resonance sits at the very back palate. It's not a bad character in a stout, but this one would possibly have gained benefit from a smoother, creamier and sweeter finish.
Overall, a very reasonable stout, and one that I was no doubt unfairly harsh upon. While it doesn't quite have the overarching complexities of the best in the genre, it delivers a solid and drinkable dark experience.
I'm probably being a bit unfair to this brew by reviewing it straight after Murray's Wild Thing Imperial Stout, but then I can't think of anything Carlton & United have done to deserve a fair break, so screw them. Yes, I'm biased - piss off.
Pours a blackish brown colour which is definitely umber around the edges when held up to the light. Head is generous but not very dense and disappears very quickly leaving a flat-topped beer in the glass. Fair bit of lacing but not very sticky. Really, not much more than I'd expect from a beer calling itself a stout.
Nose is quite pleasant, with a creamy kind of character actually dominating any burnt, coffee aspect. This of course could mean that it's less potent on the palate, but I'll reserve judgement on that because really it's certainly not an unpleasant smell. It quite reminds me of the What's Brewing? stout, which I tried on the same day as buying this bottle. Yeah, it's a nose like coffee cream, with a slight treacle edge, rather sweet with not much sour or burnt character. Quite nice, but nice in the way that a scrawny kid with braces who'll do your homework for you is nice.
Eck. Ghastly mouthfeel. It's hard even to get the flavours as it just slips like a cold, floundering herring down your throat. What flavours I can get are pretty much par for the stout course - a bit of a roasted malt character and the slightest hint of vanilla or something, but seriously, it's so thin and watery that it's hard to tell. I might as well take this beer intravenously for all the pleasure my mouth is getting from it. In fact it's really quite astounding that it holds its own for so long in appearance and smell and then just sinks so catastrophically on the taste. I just don't understand how you can get as much (viz: not that much anyway) character on the nose with such a dull and insipid drinking beer.
Sure, as far as dark beers to scull in the back alleys of Footscray while wrapping your knuckles in barbed wire, this one is right up there. But it's comprehensively shit anywhere else. Congratulations, CUB, another wart on the arse of Australian macrobrewing.
81 / 100
Opaque and dark with a thin ochre head. Slight flash of brown (which isn't VERY flashy) when held up to the light. For a stout not bad, but just like a stout. Could use a bit more head.
Mmmm, delicious nose. Rich and chocolatey. Mind you, nice as it is, that's it. There's not much to it, it's just a really nice rich, sweet aroma.
Taste is more complex than the nose. It's dark and very cocoa-y. Rich and ever-so-slightly bitter on the back palate, but man that bitterness is just there to emphasise the rich potency of the brew. It's rich, wonderful, powerful, sweet and just a brilliant late-night ale. Really brilliant. Forget chocolate sauce, pour this all over icecream.
77 / 100
84 / 100
Tried at the W+P, Feb 06.
Absolutely pitch black colour, with a thick, creamy-as-hell coffee coloured head. Looks solid in the glass. Very enticing and intriguing.
Smoke coffee flavoured nose, hints of chocolate, spicy mead aromas and roasted red meats. This is an amazing aroma. So rich and complex. I'm not usually much of a stout drinker, but I want to appreciate this.
Long creamy roasted malt palate. Beautiful notes of smokiness, a really beautiful rich dark, dark chocolate mid palate, smoothing out to a creamy smooth dry finish. Mouthfeel is exceptional. This is a really tasty brew.
This is something I could enjoy a great deal of.