Altbier
56th highest rated style (of 102)
Highest RatedSour in the Rye (85 / 100) Average score64 / 100 (Solid)
Lowest RatedAlaskan Amber (38 / 100) Number Tried51
Balter Alt Brown
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 13.12.17 from a can
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Day 7 of my 2017 #fletchmas Advent Calendar, reviewed blind.

Pours a shiny red vinous colour, like a nice pinot noir. Head was decent when poured, off-white, but no real retention. Just a ring of lacing that's nice and sticky. Bit of haze; pretty good.

Smells quite malty. An altbiery German kind of aroma, with rich earthy, slightly toasty grain malt, some light fruity characters bouncing around the edges; insubstantial wafts of fragrance, really. Hint of coconut on there as well. Pretty nice; maybe a touch sweet but lots of complex promise.

Taste is a little disappointing. Just doesn't have the richness or the depth that I'd hoped. Malt-driven, with some earthy grain, slightly burnt toffee, touch of toastiness towards the back. Some subtle hopping is largely there to clean up, maybe with some mild phenolic and woody character late. Ultimately has the same character as the nose but just the simplest form of it. Nice but not exciting.

Decent body upfront but it thins out a bit in the middle and allows a bit of fizz through and that feels a bit rough. Yeah a bit thin for the body.

Drinks fine, but it's a bit full-flavoured for a nice quaffer, and otherwise a bit thin and short-palated to be interesting as a sipper, so in the end it's just middling.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.11.17 in bottle
Overall:
53 / 100
(OK)
Bottle bought for me by my boss during his Israel pilgrimage and muled back. Shared with Jez.

Pours an orange amber colour, slight non-sedimenty haze. Head is decent when poured; fine film of small off-white bubbles that dissipates. Some thin lacing, not very sticky. Looks alright; maybe a touch flat.

Smells earthy, slightly spicy, with a nice sweet toffeed malt aroma at the back and a slight hint of fruity hops; maybe citric but a fair stonefruit character as well. Actually the earthiness disappears a bit when it warms up and it was keeping it grounded. Touch sweet, maybe.

Taste is alright; fairly standard English malt character upfront, with toffee and a touch of caramel. Maybe a mild vegetative character. Slightly minerally midway, then the hops take over mildly, with fruity and herbal character in equal measure. Decent balance with a slight soil character late and a touch of carbolic acid.

Decent texture; solid malt base but the carbonation fizz bleeds through a bit on the back.

Drinkable, but a little sweet for my taste and could use some more early hopping just to round off the palate a bit.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.25 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.25 | drinkability: 3.25
Amber Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 02.09.17 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
330ml brown bottle purchased in Israel somewhere and carried back to Australia by Sam's boss. Shared with Sam.

Pours a hazy deep golden colour, almost towards amber. Head is a very thin ring that leaves very little lace. Carbonation is fine-bubbled.

Nose is slightly herbal, with overtones of lavender and detergent. Malt is also quite prominent, with a firm structure of sweet and slightly caramel malt around the edges of the aroma. It smells quite English.

Taste is rather flat. This partially comes because it's really balanced towards the malt, which makes it feel really rather sweet. Some herbal hops come through at the back, with a woody, organic character. Finish has just a punctuation of bitterness, but its a whimper where it needs a bark. This leads to a long, lingering sweet aftertaste.

Feel is undercarbonated. It's smooth and slick, but lacks any kind of life.

Overall, I'm unimpressed, mostly because it's bland. There's just not a lot to it, and it's not made with enough skill to create the inherent balance that could make something like this really work.
appearance: 3.25 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.0
Big Bad Baptist
Reviewed by Jez on 12.08.17 in bottle
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
22oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.

Pours a sepia ink black, with a fine ring of mocha that leaves tiny specks of lace. Body is slick and heavy, oily with booze and gravity. Carbonation is extremely fine and very powdery, moving slowly through the body when tilted.

Nose is based immensely around chocolate, with a dusty, dry cacao character the dominant element. It almost turns grassy and green with characters of celery and fennel. It's also well-rounded, with the barrel characters smoothing out the edges and providing some vanilla and whiskey.

Taste is also very good, but again it's based around cocoa and has some green organic characters. Here there's a lot of sharpness, more fennel and hay-like grass, and a direct note of hot whiskey. Finish is quite dark, with a pronounced bitter roast.

Mouthfeel is direct, sharp and a little hot.

Overall, I like it a lot. It's robust and pleasant, even when it plumbs the boozy, hot depths of spirits. As far as imperial stouts go—it's only about what you expect for the style, but that's still nothing to sniff at.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Savant IPA
Reviewed by Jez on 31.03.17 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos. Packaged date of 1/30/17, so it's about two months old.

Pours a dark golden colour, almost amber in hue, with heavy haze in the body. Head is excellent, forming in puffy peaks of off-white that leaves fine, intricate patterns of lace. Body is fine, with a bit of weight to it.

Nose is really bizarre, and I keep smelling it to try to work out what it is I'm actually smelling. Because I swear the main aroma I get from it is milk chocolate. It's not quite that, but there's a malt sweetness that provides the same body, and some weird estery aromatics give perhaps a hint of vanilla. Enough that the illusion is complete. In any case, there's not a strong hop presence, and certainly not the distinctive bite of Nelson Sauvin, despite what they claim.

Taste is more traditional. It is quite sweet and malt-forward in the front, but there's a clean, mid-palate bitterness that pulls it back a bit. It's still not anything like the best example of Nelson Sauvin use. It doesn't work in such a broad, sweet base beer. Overall, it's only so good.

Yeah, I'm not a big fan, but it's not bad either. Mostly, I'm just a little miffed at it for disrespecting a truly great hop. This beer does it no favours, and the weirdnesses skew it in an odd direction that would make me even more dubious were I unfamiliar with the hop.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Malt Assault
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 20.03.17 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
I'm going to categorise this as an Altbier because it means I don't have to click anything on the drop-down style menu to change it. But for the record this is an altbier/dunkel hybrid. Bottle given to me by Chris, enjoyed by myself one Friday night.

Pours a dark red amber colour, nice German ale colour, very malty. Head is pale beige, small and thin crown that retains well but slim. Lacing is also thin but clingy and indicates a good malt base. Pretty good.

Smells malty, pleasant. Rich, earthy toffee - burnt sugar really, with molasses and a good chocolatey bitter edge to it. Hint of pepper and some mild stonefruit from fermentation on there as well. Yeah good malt bomb aroma, hope the palate has enough complexity to back it up.

Taste is malty too, but a little thin midway. Front is all dark caramel, that gets more burnt and slightly bitter toffee midway, nice and earthy towards the back. Finish is somewhat sweet, again it's all malt. There's maybe a touch of noble hop bitterness that cleans up the sweetness but has a very neutral flavour so it leaves you with malty sweetness without the cloying character that could otherwise have ruined it. Pretty nice, could use more complexity on the middle. I assume it's deliberately simple but it's also a little empty.

Decent body, as you'd expect. Bit of a grating dry texture at the back, possibly carbonation.

Good, traditional German malt bomb that has some shortcomings, but well constructed and balanced.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Sour in the Rye
Reviewed by Jez on 16.07.16 in bottle
Overall:
85 / 100
(Exceptional)
Pours a very thickly hazed amber colour, like light-coloured wood, with a frothy head of taupe that persists as a minimal ring. No lacing. Body looks fairly light. Carbonation is very fine, and drifts very slowly towards the top. Looks pretty good.

Nose is very tart, with a pronounced vinous character and plenty of fruit. I get dried apricots, chardonnay and slight pungent notes of verjuice and basil. It's really complex, and there's plenty of things to explore in it. Very nicely done.

Taste is also very good. There's a tart dried apricot note that actually makes the body quite rich and juicy. Slight peppery notes on the back, but the tartness persists, with a bright, sharp bite. Lots of fruit in the finish as well, more dried apricots, peach skin and white wine grapes. It's really very nice indeed.

Finish is driven by the pleasant tartness, with a very fine carbonation giving it some lift.

Overall, this is a really cracking, very coherent and complex beer. The Bruery can be a bit hit and miss for me, but they've nailed it with this one. This is a beautiful beer, and beautiful crafted.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.25
Dökkur Bjór
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.11.15 in bottle
Overall:
52 / 100
(OK)
Pours a deep copper amber colour, nice body look. Head is also healthy, off-white colour, large bubbles appearing but otherwise fairly dense and very sticky. Looks like a good German beer.

Smells malty, slightly metallic. Unfermented creamed corn character and sickly sweet treacly aroma as well. Yeah smells like esters and by-products and could use more hopping to balance. Plus it seems a little flawed.

Taste is a little better, at least balance comes across better. Slight coppery malt front, before midway of burnt sugar and some of that treacly by-product flavour. Finish has some earthy and slightly peppery hop notes for bitterness and a slight chemical aftertaste that lingers slightly too much, lacking cleanliness. OK but flawed.

Smooth, fair bit of texture in the mouth. Leaves a nice coating behind which I enjoy.

Iron out the obvious flaws and you have a pretty nice to-style German drop here.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.25
Mumme
Reviewed by Jez on 12.07.15 on tap
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.

Pours a golden amber colour, with solid hazing and a decent weight behind it. Head forms a yellowish off-white of pocked loose bubbles that leaves fairly full lace. Carbonation is very fine.

Nose is slightly nutty, but also slightly dull. It makes the beer feel cold and icy, even though it's no colder than any other one. Some faint rounded grain comes through as it genuinely warms. It's not terribly exciting though.

Grainy and slightly nutty on the front with a decent malt character to it that suggests is German origins. Middle is weirdly smoky with a hint of faint yeast-induced acid. It's only a suggestion though, and on the back it's smoothed out, just leaving a kick of soda in the finish.

Feel is clean, and perhaps just slightly too light.

Overall, it's pretty decent. It's not a great alt by the gold standard, but it's a decent stab and interestingly different beer to have at GABS.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Mumme
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 11.06.15 on tap
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Pours an amber colour, fairly dark with off-white head that sinks to just a rim of tightly-packed bubbles. Not bad.

Smells malty upfront, with notes of spice and some Belgian phenols lingering at the back. Touch of roast as well. Could use more of those esters, it's quite plain.

Tastes malty; biscuity upfront. Caramel notes that descend into fairly clean and mild and inoffensive mid-to-late, with some herbal noble hop characters and a slight medicinal edge. Pleasant and inoffensive.

Body is full but the carbonation shows through; not a bad cut-through though.

Quite a decent altbier. To style, and inoffensive. Actually pretty nice, even though it's unlikely to stand out at a festival like this.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 3.75
Altered States
Reviewed by Jez on 26.05.15 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Tried on-tap at the brewery in New Braunfels, TX.

Pours a firm maroon colour, reddish brown in the body, with a minimal, slightly filmy off-white head. Lacing is pretty great, and standing up to its stylistic origins. Body is light, but fluid in a pleasant way. Carbonation is quite fine. Looks good.

Nose is toasty, with a slightly astringent character that perhaps comes from the grain more than anything. Slight peanut character is noticeable as well, although it's saved from being too thick by being mixed with a leavening carbonation character. Slight pleasant spice comes through as well. There's lots going on, even though it's slightly mild—the characters are very pleasant however.

Taste is also quite firm. There's a very nice maltiness through the centre, cut again by those slightly astringent tones, although on the palate it seems these come from the yeast—it's slightly bitter on the back, but not hoppy in flavour. The build up on the back is slightly medicinal. All up, it's a solid alt, with some good characters to it.

Feel is full and firm, actually really good, especially since it's relatively low in ABV.

Overall, I like it a good deal. It's a pretty solid stylistic example, but also pleasant and easy to drink. Good stuff all up.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.0
Alt-eration
Reviewed by Jez on 14.04.15 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Tried on-tap at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden in Austin, TX.

Pours a pleasant deep red-brown colour, quite clear in the body, and with a light, fluid weight behind it. Head is beige, forming a firm film across the top of the glass that nevertheless leaves little in the way of lacing. Carbonation is fine, but minimal. Looks decent enough.

Nose is grain-forward, and slightly metallic. There's a cleanness to it for the most part, and some toastiness that comes through as it warms, almost tending towards a sweetness like ketchup. The grain is predominant though, and it's structured around a pleasant savoury malt character, and accentuated by a fairly clean yeast ferment. It's nice for an alt.

Light, easy-drinking opening on the palate too with some very mild toast, that develops into something slightly spicier on the mid-palate—perhaps a little clove or cinnamon. Towards the back it's rather dry, with the roasted qualities almost suggesting acidity. Still, it's fairly light and easy to drink still, especially the feel which works well.

Overall, it's pretty nice. It's certainly easy to drink. It's perhaps not the best alt in the world, but it's a beer that shows that an altbier can and should be sessionable. So there's certainly something to be said for that.
appearance: 3.75 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Von Duck
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
68 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a murky but vibrant red colour. Head is beige, gorgeous pour but fizzles out disappointingly. Not much lace. Head is still nice; guess it goes with the style and looks stunning on first pour.

Smells metallic but oddly clean. Sweet darkish malts blend with copper, grass and dusty rye character. Pleasant maltiness with a touch of char; not bad.

Taste is malty with a fair whack of slightly toasty character throughout. Hops come through midway, subtle lemon hint with grass and a touch of soap. Finishes somewhat bitter: again a touch of copper, but otherwise decently clean. Slight astringent aftertaste which mars it somewhat. Otherwise nice caramel malty notes that finishes nice and clean.

Smooth with a touch of fuzz (yes, I meant fuzz, I didn't slip while writing fizz) as it goes through. Holds up pretty nicely.

I like a good altbier, but I haven't met an altbier, even a good one, that I love. And this is a good altbier.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.75
Camden Versus Alsace Altbier
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 05.12.13 on tap
Overall:
62 / 100
(Decent)
Brewed for GABS Festival in Melbourne, May 2013. Tried there on tap.

Pours a rich amber colour with cream-coloured head, large visible bubbling around the edge but sticks around like a good altbier head should. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Smells intriguing. Quite grainy malt characters with puffed rice and a touch of pearl barley and then herbal on the back - thyme, rosemary. Interesting use of French hops in there for aroma, definitely.

Malt presence is more classic on the palate, quite sweet with notes of caramel, then some lemon character towards the back from the hops but mostly grassy and slightly herbal. More of that thyme character and reasonably bitter. Not bad.

Tingle of carbonation shows through the fairly light body. Wouldn't mind a bit more presence from an altbier.

Decent enough drop. Stylistically accurate but nothing too exciting.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Mission Amber
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 19.05.13 in bottle
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a rich red colour, not as vibrant as an American red maybe. Head is beiege, OK when poured but dissipated to a thin ring of lace. Looks alright.

Smells sweet, malty. Touch of roast but lots of caramel, toffee, touch of pumpkin even. Notes of citric hop floating over the top gives it an American edge. Quite nice, not sure if it's true to the mission statement though (no pun intended).

Taste is more what I expect from an altbier. Roasty, but lightly. Malt-driven with some grain soup characters, a touch of earthiness, sour clove spice and some noble hop bitterness at the back. Earthy, kind of woody notes finish up. Nicely balance, pretty to-style and well-made alt.

Nice body, but there's a fair bit of fizz to it that shouldn't really be there.

Nice altbier. Drinks like a hearty mid-season brew.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Hill Sticke Alt (Secret Alt)
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 22.12.12 on tap
Overall:
74 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a nice, rich red colour, slightly on the dark-brown side. Beige head consists of large bubbles, sticks around OK. Looks nice.

Lots of nice malty notes on the nose. Nutty edge with a slight dry edge and a hint of roastiness towards the back. Toffee, figs and caramelised nuts. Pleasant.

Nice palate, again pretty malty and sweet with some nice cinnamon and pepper characters. A bit sweet with residual toffee towards the back, but there's enough spice to balance it out well. Good beer.

Bit on the thin side, a bit of carbonation showing through that dries it up a bit too much.

Nice malty beer with good spice and a hint of alcohol to cleanse it all. Not bad at all, and another decent offering from Red Hill.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Young Henry's / Two Birds Otaku
Reviewed by Jez on 01.11.12 on tap
Overall:
58 / 100
(Decent)
Tried on-tap at the launch at the Royal Albert Hotel during Sydney Craft Beer Week. This beer was designed for maximum "umami" character: an altbier brewed with green tea and seaweed.

Pours a burnished golden colour, with a fine off-white head. Body is solid and holds its carbonation well. The head slips a little, but leaves solid, very complex lace. Looks really good.

Nose is slightly muted, much more than I expected: some slightly sweet maltiness, a touch of tea, tannins and a touch of pepper. There are some savoury, umami notes, along with an odd freshness, probably from the seaweed. It doesn't quite hit its stride, but it's not bad.

Taste is light and crisp, again with some of that savoury character, but this is secondary to the tea and the mild bitterness that comes out of this. If anything, the nose promised a little bit more complexity, and certainly a bit more true flavour: it seems a little thin on the palate.

It's interesting, but it falls somewhat in the middle of the road. Were it more extreme, it would be more interesting, and probably fall into the theme better. Were it more tasty, it could do more with less uniqueness. As it is it feels a little bland and uninteresting: and when a green-tea and seaweed beer is "uninteresting", that's a disappointment.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Red Hill Sticke Alt (Secret Alt)
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.12 on tap
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
Had on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.

Pours a deep maroon colour with great clarity. Head is a firm but soft beige colour which leaves wispy lace behind. Minimal carbonation through the soft but fluid body. Looks great.

Grainy bite on the nose, with some slight phenolic, slightly medicinal characters and a hint of berry. It's interesting, if not all that deep or complex.

Soft spice comes forward on the palate, before a bold, crisp cherry wood character comes through, along with a hint of German grain. Finish brings on bitterness and some more of that slightly spicy medicinal character in the aftertaste.

Feel is light. I feel like it could be heavier, but perhaps that would then overwhelm the palate and remove some of the subtler complexities.

Overall, a very decent brew from Red Hill, who have a habit of making very decent brews. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Flagship Red Alt Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.07.12 on nitro tap
Overall:
79 / 100
(Excellent)
Had on nitro-tap at the brewery's tasting room in Seattle. It's a nice little spot that's definitely worth checking out.

Pours a deep golden amber hue, perhaps not as dark as some, but with character. Firm body supports a smooth, creamy white head that sits solid and compact, not streaming and leaving lace. Carbonation is tiny and firmly created on tilting. Looks fantastic.

Aroma is smooth and creamy, with solid sweetness. Apple pie and custard comes through, with a touch of savoury grain and sweeter roasted toffee characters. Mmm.

Light grain on the front, before a bit of pepper lightens and pricks the palate. Despite this, there's plenty more smoothness to go around, with apple and custard again on the menu. Finish has some classic German phenolic notes which allow the beer to feel fresh and bright despite the ridiculously smooth feel.

Overall, this is a really nice altbier. It has some interesting characters above a very solid base. The nitro-pour is a nice addition too, accentuating all the languid smoothness of the brew.

I don't know if "flagship" is just a name, or if this is their flagship brew, but it should be the latter: this is a beer I'd be happy to fly my brewery's colours from.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Phil's Existential Alt (Brewer's Share)
Reviewed by Jez on 22.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.

Pours a really solid, slightly hazed bronze-brown colour, with a fine, if somewhat filmy head of white. The light-coloured head works well off the moderately dark body, highlighting it somewhat. Very little lace, but a solid enough weight to the body. Looks decent.

Nose is, yep, solidly in style: some light Munich malt characters coming through above a solid basis, with a touch of copper or dark herbs lingering over the top creating some structure. There's the hint of some estery by-products as well, with a little bubblegum, vanilla and banana notes. Interesting. And solid.

Taste is similar, although what was only a suggestion of copper on the nose is stronger here on the palate, giving a drying, slightly cloying character. Otherwise, it's still good: there's solid malt, a tingle of roast just on the back of the palate and more lashes of smooth vanilla and banana. Pleasant enough.

Feel is smooth and long, and relatively clear, with some heft to express the flavours.

Pretty decent brew. Stylistically competent, without being overwhelming or virtuosic.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Kaiser Saute
Reviewed by Jez on 26.05.12 on tap
Overall:
44 / 100
(Not Great)
On-tap at Mrs. Parma's during Good Beer Week. This was a one-off smoked altbier designed to match with the venue's one-off bratwurst parma for the week.

Cloudy, but not opaque deep russety brown. Head is an inconsistent off-white. Some up-and-down lacing. Solid body that feels heavy but actually swirls quickly at the edges.

Nose is crisp and grainy, overlaid with some estery banana characters, not much smoke, but the hint of it once you've tasted it. Pretty light really, but with some potential altbier characteristics.

Taste is lightly smoky on the front, with an increasing acrid bitterness that eventually melds into a sharp phenolic and boozy astringency towards the back. Light feel leaves this brutally open and unbalanced on the palate, leaving a truly sharp unpleasantness on the back.

Harsh, too heavy in some respects and really uneasantly unbalanced. It hits you after a while—the astringency on the back really kills it and moved it towards being undrinkable.

Another experiment from Moon Dog. Hey, that's what they do, right?

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2.5
Sleigh'r Dark Doüble Alt Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a copper colour, quite clear with tan head, minimal but a decent fizz to it. Lace is nice and sticky. Looks rich, but maybe a bit thin.

Smells rich and Christmassy, with lots of dried fruit - raisins and sultanas with some dried apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of ginger. Treacle and molasses as well make it a bit too sweet, but it's a yummy Christmas beer.

Taste is far more sour, with the fruit esters dominating for the most part. Pear and fig with sultanas, raisins and a slight banana phenol joining in on the mid-palate. Spice comes in on the back with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove and an underlying boozey heat. Could actually use a bit more of that sweetness that put me off a bit on the nose, it feels a bit detached and needs more of a backbone on which to float that complex spice.

A bit drying and spicey at the edges, yet the body is decent.

A good Christmas beer, but some more sweetness on the palate would go a long way to balance it out.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Sleigh'r Dark Doüble Alt Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 27.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Bottle purchased earlier in the year in California, brought back to Sydney, and shared with @LaitueGonflable on Christmas Eve.

Pours a lovely clear amber hue, with a fine, if slightly filmy head of pure white. It's a nice Altbier colour. Lightish body, with a touch of the gelatinous thickness to it, but less than I expected from a 7.2% ABV beer. Looks decent enough.

Nose is grainy and malt forward, with the sweetness being very forward. Rather mild all up; I enjoy a bit of sharpness in a good Alt, and while this has a singing slight funk to it, it doesn't quite capture it. Not bad.

Taste is clear and pleasant. A touch of greenness and some metallic resonances. Again, the malt sweetness is tempered and pleasant, but the grains could be upped a little more to give that classic heavy German malt character. The lack of this is disappointing, as it doesn't really have much other interest, or a twist on the style, to compensate. Feel is light, but not bad.

Not bad all up, but a little average. The problem is that it's not that interesting, and it's not even that classically "Altbier". Solid enough on its own terms, but Ninkasi can do better.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Organic Münster Alt
Reviewed by Jez on 22.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
48 / 100
(Not Great)
Incredibly cloudy golden colour, with a rocky head of pure white, extremely fine carbonation. Bubbles are obscenely fine, almost like powder as it forms. Body is light and fine. Looks decent.

Nose is bright, but slightly yeasty, with honeyed organic characters, giving a fresh but sweetly underfermented oomph the the aroma. Smells either slightly too sweet or slightly too strong. Either makes me feel uncomfortable.

Taste is crisper and lighter, and it drags it back to the realms of sensibility. There's still certainly a big robust sweetness that gives it an unpleasant malt character, but there's at least a crispness to it that lends it sharp maltiness. Still, there's very little balance, and it's too sweet, but it's at least better than I expected.

Too sweet. To be honest I'm far from a fan, and I don't believe it's a particularly good alt. It's smooth and somewhat drinkable, but depressing in it's expressibility.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 2.5
Alaskan Amber
Reviewed by Jez on 14.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
38 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours a lovely, brightly burnished copper colour, almost tinged with deep flashes of red ruby. Head is pretty firm, and very fine. A clean white sheen across the top of the glass. Nice languid carbonation and excellent lacing. Really, it's a great looking beer.

I fear, however, that there may not be any more vociferous praise for this beer in the review. Nose, is very faint and very mild, giving a slight honeyed grain character and very little else—I'd say the smell of water, but given that's almost nothing I'll say it smells like a wet tissue. At least that gives some description to the type of bland nothingness I'm trying to get across here.

Taste is similar, although there's a pleasant slightly metallic, slightly nutty bitterness through the centre of the void which is the flavour of this beer. That's about all there is, however, leaving it very weak, rather empty and very unexciting. Feel is so flat and empty as to make it feel like you're not actually putting liquid in your mouth.

Overall, a very poor effort. I appreciate the need for light, sessionable beers in your lineup, but this is a perfunctory effort at that, with little inspiration and minimal character. It's a slap in the face to some of the great Altbiers I've had.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 2.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 1.5 | drinkability: 2.0
3 Ravens Über Blond Sticke Altbier
Reviewed by Jez on 22.09.11 in bottle
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)
Gorgeously coloured, a bright, mahogany-tinged bronze. Great clarity in the body. Carbonation looks excessive however, shooting up in anarchic streams and feeding an overly frothy off-white head. Minimal body to the brew, and again, it looks ridiculously overcarbed, but the colour and clarity are excellent.

Nose is sharp with metallic hop characters, giving a herbal, almost medicinal brightness, that mingles with the exploding carbonation to give a hint of acidity. A little sweetness sitting behind it, but minimal. Not bad.

Taste is better. Really restrained and refined malt on the palate, giving touches of subtle grain balanced with a leafy noble hop character on the back and a touch of that metal again. Hint of smoke on the finish gives it a more rustic tone. Feel is light and sparkling, but not as bloating or gassy as the carbonation suggested.

Not a bad brew, if a pretty mild and unadventurous one. Captures some of the characteristics of the style pretty well, and it's pretty sippable.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Duckstein Altbier
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 02.09.11 on tap
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours a bronzey colour with steady bead heading up towards white head, cloudy with small tight bubbles and non-sticky lace. Pretty good alt.

Smells very pleasant. Brown sugary malt with a touch of molasses and chocolate is lifted by enjoyable German hops giving lemongrass and peppermint, for a nice sweet, tangy and herbal aroma. Great stuff.

Taste is sweeter more than anything, quite malty with barley notes and some brown sugar around the edge. Slight toasty note giving just a flash of milk coffee midway, then finish is dry with a touch of metallic hops just turning the palate to mild, drinkable phenolic bitterness. Great balance and pleasant flavours.

Bit thin body but mostly smooth, touch of carbonation is not overwhelming but still a bit unnecessary.

Great German hybrid styling here. Good balance, sweetness and tangy and bitter all together.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Mad Scientist #3
8.5% Altbier from Sixpoint
Reviewed by Jez on 05.08.11 on tap
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Called their "doppelsticke". Had on tap at The Pony Bar in New York.

Pours a burnt amber colour with a fine white head. Concentric lacing around the glass with a fine bead of carbonation that slowly flows to the top. Nice body, pretty nice look all up.

Nose is mild and slightly woody, with some rustic, earthy tones and hints of oak, or even more surprisingly, cedar. Mild and a little bit whiffy, but interesting enough.

Taste is also quite mild, but the wood character here is a little too dominant, and lasts for too long. Slight vanilla sweetness and a touch of spice, but there's not enough of anything to balance the prominent and rather biting wood characters. A touch too astringent on the finish.

Eh, I've had better from Sixpoint. Yes, this might be mad, but it just comes across as not that well thought out.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
3 Ravens Über Blond Sticke Altbier
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 25.03.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Cheers to chrism86 for the sample of this one.

Pours a dull, brownish-amber colour with lotso fizz. Head is off-white, bubbly and sinks to a thin whispy ring of foam. Lace is sticky and decent. Kind of looks like ginger ale with lacing; a bit meh.

Smells quite grainy with an underlying phenolic note. Kind of tart with a fruit tinge and some mild gingerbread spice. Overall a bit of a generic aroma, but enjoyable enough.

Taste fills the mouth. Lots of caramelised malt on the front with tinges of toffee and some red delicious apple that gets more phenolic midway, then finishes with light dry grain notes. Decent overall but feels a bit unbalanced midway, where the slight phenolic yeast notes get stronger and drain away some of the grainy flavour.

Mouthfeel is quite full with a nice tingle. Good German texture; frothy but not overblown.

Overall a decent drop, but it strikes me as having sacrificed the smooth balance of the blond without adding a whole heap of rich complexities. Worth a drink though.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Série Signature Sticke Alt
Reviewed by Jez on 25.09.10 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)

Pours a cloudy but very pleasant red brown colour, with a full and thick head of creamy white foam. Looks very pleasant and refined. I particularly like the colour.

Really nice nose. Some peach character, with a refined slightly musty phenolic character. Light grain notes add a little sweetness. Almost a light baked beans note to it. It's very subtle, but very pleasant.

Lovely nutty characters on the palate, with some nice sharp phenolic characters on the front. Some sharpness on the very back, which really clears out the palate very nicely. It's very well done and nicely balanced. Very refined and pleasant.

I do like altbiers, and this is a pretty good one. I love the refined, slightly subtle characters on it, and the nutty palate. It's quite pleasant.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Mountain Goat Alt Spice
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 30.10.09 on tap
Overall:
71 / 100
(Very Good)
Tried as "Spiced Ducks Nuts" at the Local Taphouse.

Pours a nice red-brown colour, with a tinge of pink when held up to the light. Modest but nicely retentive head of beige bubbles. Lacing is pretty awesome and sticky. Looks a nice interesting one.

Nose is pretty sweet with a slight sour edge of funk. Elements of Christmas pudding, orange peel, burnt toffee on there. Nice earthy edge of spice as well. Smell is very pleasant.

Taste is quite interesting and unusual. Flavour is sour and organic at the beginning with elements of cooked veggies and an earthy funk kind of flavour. Slight dried fruit characters with a mild spicy edge to it. A very sweet syrup kind of flavour at first, far more interesting than if it were just sweet though, with a nice sour edge and vegetative bitter side to it as well. Very pleasant.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin and a bit fizzy, not as smooth as I would like it, actually a bit lacking in body. Not terrible but disappointing for the rest of it.

Overall a very pleasant drop, nice organic flavours and good drinking.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 2.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Mountain Goat Alt Spice
Reviewed by Jez on 28.10.09 on tap
Overall:
69 / 100
(Very Good)

On tap at the Local. Pours a reddish hued brown, a little cloudy w ruby flashes. Head is small but solid off-white. Good lacing. Looks very nice.

Lots of aniseed on the nose, a little biscuit malt and a cut grass freshness. The licorice aniseed character is most dominant for me, and having it blind as I am, I can't pick the character (obviously, it's purely the star anise). Still it's pretty refreshing and tasty, and unusual for the style.

Anise again on the palate, but this time it's a slightly more phenolic note, with a hint of spiritous burn. Some dark malt, but it's pretty subdued in favour of the sharp characters and the crispness on the mouth.

An unusual beer this one, but quite refreshing and confusingly drinkable. Surprisingly easy to session.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Zierholz Amber Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.07.09 on tap
Overall:
67 / 100
(Solid)
Good-looking sarsparilla colour, looks like it should be cloudy but isn't, slight carbonation through the beer, head is disappointingly thin and sinky.

Very nice nose, creamy and a little bit spicy. Smells like icecream with cinnamon mixed in, very pleasant. Not all that beer-y, but good.

Taste is also quite nice, with a smooth, creamy character and feel. A bit of a dusty bitterness permeates gradually through the palate, but there's a nice understated spice to it. Maybe could use a bit more of a dominant flavour, at the moment it's more of a maelstrom of subtle, understated flavours.

Nice, but could be brilliant.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
3 Ravens Blond
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.06.09 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours an amber-brown colour, doesn't produce a lot of head, in fact none is left after about 20 seconds, although some frenetic fizz appears on first pour. Bead is moderately paced but soft and weak, like Chuck Norris if he were made of marshmallow. Produces some very nice lacing though, white and thick, saves this from otherwise looking very plain and watery indeed.

Quite hoppy on the nose with a strong and lingering fruit smell, hints of passionfruit, currants and banana. Has a hint of some darker molasses or something, but not strong, so doesn't overpower. Ultimately quite a good smell; smells sweet and clean with a very nice balance between floral hop loveliness and sticky barley sweetness.

Taste is quite malty, with a rich, syrupy sweetness and a nutty edge. Hints of walnut, treacle and pine wood. Finish has an earthy spice to it, certainly not overpowering, just like a whisper of nutmeg on the back. Finish is sadly not as flavoursome as the front, where all the malty goodness lies. It arrives early and tapers off the palate with a slightly grassy hop tinge. Quite earthy and organic throughout, with real wild bush notes being prominent, from the malt to the nutty edge and the hops.

Certainly not a nuclear bomb of a beer, but this is really, notably, inoffensive. Very clean drinking, leaves you with a pleasant taste in your mouth, a pleasant feeling from its noticeably full but not-too-heavy body, and yes, let's go there, a song in your heart. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is pretty much a perfect session beer. If only it had more of a finish.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Long Trail Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 31.03.09 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
A nice coppery tinged yellow-orange with a thin, non-existent film of head. Not like that film of head I watched last night. Terrible. Slow, crawling and very light carbs. That ring of lacing, slightly sticky. Not bad, could use more though.

There's an almost coppery character on the nose. Slightly sour with hints of fermented fruit, like a wine character, almost. It's quite well done but a bit subdued for my liking.

Nice and refreshing palate. Maybe a bit simple. At the same time, not really watery. Subtle hoppy characters flourish throughout the palate with an earthy flavour underpinning it. It's quite mild, really, with a bitter, clean finish. Palate though isn't all that complex, and apart from the noticeable bitterness, the cleanliness and subtlety remind me of an English ale. Very drinkable though.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
3 Ravens Blond
Reviewed by Jez on 28.03.09 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)

I generally don't know why Australian breweries have a marketing obsession with the word "blonde". To me, nowadays, it always fills me with a type of uninterested lassitude. Why not call this an Altbier, like they do on the sixpacks? That's more appealing to me.

I guess I'll stop ranting and review the beer...

Pours a golden orange colour, not really blonde at all, with a tight, but small head of white foam riddled with large pancake bubbles. Lacing is pretty good. Looks very decent.

Light organic grain notes, with a hint of candied citrus and a pleasant noble hop fragrance, a hint of oak barrels or grape must. Quite rustic and pleasant, and spot on in terms of style.

Light organic notes on the palate, the dark hint of tobacco or tea leaves, with a very clean and clear backing, just hinting of grass or grain sweetness. Quite refined and well structured. Mouthfeel is slick, but light, and the carbonation is perfect, just a little levity around the edges, but otherwise clean and smooth.

This is a well made and very well balanced beer. It has some lovely notes to it. While it's not extreme in flavour, it's quite true to style. A very pleasurable experience.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Long Trail Ale
Reviewed by Jez on 26.05.08 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)

Cheers to my brother's mate Charlie for bringing this back from Vermont.

Pours a beautiful burnished copper colour with a thin ring of white foam around the edges. Really nice colour. Carbonation is in thin steady streams around the edge of the glass. A little bit of lacing. Shame about the lack of head, but otherwise a really nice looking beer.

Light toasted caramel notes on the nose, with a slight hint of piney hop character. Yeah, there's that nice resiny character I associate with a decent English Pale Ale. There's not a lot to it on the nose, but it's quite pleasant.

Pleasant on the palate too, with a nice flavour of resiny hops first up, and later a dry, earthy grain husk character. Unfortunately, it's a little thin throughout, and you never get a bit burst of flavour. Mouthfeel is nice, with a subtle effervescence that lightens tha palate. Very pleasant.

It's a pretty enjoyable beer. Solid, easy to drink, quite flavoursome and light enough on the palate to drink a few. It doesn't rock my entire world, but I could see it rocking a small part of it on occasion.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Original Oettinger Alt
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 04.03.08 in bottle
Overall:
43 / 100
(Not Great)
Pours an arid-looking cloudy, ginger colour with lots of fluffy head. Fairly stubborn lacing but sparsely distributed. Fairly nice-looking, promising something maybe spicy and sour.

Nose is very pungent, lots of aromatic fruit with intense peppery spice and soil characters. Smells quite dry and dusty. Interesting, but not sure I like it.

Taste is interesting again - but it nullifies a lot of the nose's intensity. Or pacifies, at least. Dry sultanas on the front palate with a long dry dusty consistency. Long palate without much complexity is how I would describe it, and that's definitely a shame. The nose promised a very intense flavour and although I'm not sure I'd like the flavours promised, this is a bit weak and disappointing. Could be better, and really isn't all that tasty.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth; but this just adds to its blandness. Certainly not unpleasant, but it's just a bit blah.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0