Author Archives: 2hopheads

Bentspoke Brewing ‘Descent 19’ Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Introducing Bentspoke Brewing’s 5th Birthday Beer! The roasty, bitter black malt and leather-like esters from the stout integrated with the bourbon barrel ageing complete this complex and rewarding Russian Imperial Stout.”

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of dark brown foam emerging on top. Sturdy head retention with slightly streaky lace dragging its way down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: Wow. This is surprising. Very hop driven and it has caught us off guard. Almost a juicy fruit chewing gum like flavour which finishes just as fast as it comes. We’re absolutely baffled as to where this almost tropical fruity notes are coming from…and what the hell they’re doing in a Russian Imperial Stout. Still, there is a nice roasty backdrop to it…charred, smoky and oaky with a hint of cherry.

Flavour: Again this emphasis on tropical fruit is extremely weird in a Russian Imperial Stout. Subtle cherry and other mixed berries like raspberry getting amongst it. Black forest cake, some oaky accents, alongside chocolate and then the back palate we get that charred, ashy, wood like presence like a good ol RIS. Its very uncommon and it’s throwing us off. It’s non traditional that’s for sure.

Mouthfeel: Its a whopping 10% but you don’t really get any booze burn. Its fairly nice and smooth…very texturally drinkable. Length is decent and it carries well. Full body, no doubt about that.

Overall: Look, this is a tad confusing for us. We are sitting on the fence as we are a tad traditional here in terms of that big, dominant, punch in the face like RIS. The inclusion of dominant fruits has thrown us a tad, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s a hybrid style of RIS. Craft brewing at its core methodologically speaking. Try it for yourself and judge basically.

Bridge Road Brewers ‘B2 Bomber Mach 9.0’ Imperial Belgian Black IPA

Rating:

“Bridge Road Brewers reached the 15th year of brewing in 2019. To celebrate we have continued the tradition of brewing a new yet bigger incarnation of the B2. This year we have stepped things up to reach Mach 9.0.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Pitch black with a dark brown fusion. It conjures up a loosely held  layer of foam which doesn’t hang around. Miniscule spotty lace sticking to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Wow…complex! Our first thought are those new dark chocolate and caramel Tim Tams. Followed on with molasses, old leather, toffee, cotton candy, espresso coffee, prunes/dates/stewed fruits, black forest cake, cherry jam, earthy spices and fresh vanilla bean. There’s some really subtle piney notes but they sink in to the rich complexities.

Flavour: Smooth as silk! Lots of vanilla, espresso coffee, creamy lactose, semi-sweet dark chocolate, fruity yeast driven esters and dark fruits like raisin and dates. Belgian candi sugars moving in to a subtle line of hop bitterness mid way. Reverting back to creamy vanilla sweetness and lactose, piney hops and eventually subtle espresso bitterness, roast and ash adding to the dryness in the long finish.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly lean but we may be getting that confused with its ultra smooth texture. Medium-full body. 12% AbV – pretty well concealed for its size. Co2 is perfectly positioned.

Overall: It’s tough to find any faults in this. We’ll say this, it’s far better than last years vintage but that is on no way a criticism of it…it’s just that this is a superior drop. Probably one of then best in the series. Brilliant!

3 Ravens ‘Choc Mint’ Milkshake IPA

Rating:

“For our fourth “Shake” release (brewed for Winter 2019) we decided to answer the cries of the fans out there and revisit our 2018 GABS beer – Moussey Juicy – albeit with a few tweaks and a new hop bill. Choc Mint Shake features a creamy base of oats, wheat and Munich malt, with dark crystal malts and lightly roasted malts intertwined with dutch cocoa.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Surprisingly dark and muddy brown body with a foamy tan head. Decent enough head retention with blotchy lace clinging to the glass.

Aroma: There’s something herbaceous in there that we just can’t put our finger on…yes we’re playing silly buggers…this thing is emanating that much mint it’s ridiculous! Pretty safe to say it’s mint syrup as it comes across like mint sorbet. Getting the vanilla sweetness, chocolate and cocoa, and after dinner mints.

Flavour: Lactose and creamy milkiness upfront that works great with the chocolate. Some hop bitterness but it’s subdued. The mint is like the flavour in a chocolate mint confectionary treat. Tad artificial but not overly sweet. It’s basically the dominant flavour, with the lactose, oats and chocolate giving it that desert like characteristic…just in a liquid form. We are struggling to detect apple (it states it in the ingredients list). If it’s there, it must be green apple but we’re unsure.

Mouthfeel: Moderately bodied, a little slippery over the tongue but pretty well rounded. Minimal bitterness with mild carbonation. Only 6% AbV so it’s pretty approachable.

Overall: The aroma on this bad boy is amazing. The flavour though…hhmm not as vigorous. The coffee and blueberry milkshake IPA is still the benchmark of this series. Look it ain’t bad it just isn’t all that memorable as some of the others.

Watts River Brewing Quadrupel

Rating:

“Big. Rich. Complex. Warming. Comforting. A showcase of our own malted barley devoured by bold Belgian yeast. Inspired the Trappist “Quadrupel” style to be big, but above all else balanced and drinkable. Best served to share.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Fully transparent deep amber with soft red hues fused through. It forms a short head which quickly dissipates. Pretty minimal lace…spotty and streaky as it ebbs.

Aroma: Super sweet! Almost cloying. We pick up a bit of acetone initially but it fades in to those Belgian yeasty phenols and spice, pear, candied sugars, toffee, caramel and dark fruits. There’s a really overpowering artificial sweetness going on – it brings on those banana runts and hints of boiled lollies and blackcurrant juice. Not too bad once it settles actually.

Flavour: Unfortunately we get that harsh boozy acetone character upfront moving into artificially sweet candied sugars and toffee apple, caramel, yeasty phenols/spice and brandy. We detect a bit of tang which reminds us of red currants and banana runts to finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin, watery texture. Has a touch of stickiness on the lips. Its 11% AbV and it certainly is discernible. We lose the flavour and carbonation as we near the end..like a liqueur. This is the point where it almost becomes a chore to finish it off, which is a real shame.

Overall: Slightly disappointing to be honest. We’ll concede that it’s a tough style to brew but we wanted more body, more depth of flavour and less artificial sweetness. We’ve had better.

Feral Brewing ‘Imperial Biggie’ Double NEIPA

Rating:

“We’ve taken everything you love about Biggie Juice and turned it up to 11! More malt, more hops and more alcohol make this juiced up brew bigger, juicier and hoppier than ever before. Rolling out in cans nationwide later this month, get your hands on some before they disappear…”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Turbid apricot hue with a finger of tightly beaded foam which gradually reduces to a wispy overlay. Healthy lace clinging to the glass as we hook in.

Aroma: Full on fruit salad juice bomb! Tonnes of sweet tropical fruits, citrus and stonefruit…namely mango, apricot, rockmelon, pineapple, green grapes and orange blossom. We’re picking up plenty of creamy oats and hints of lactose, some peppery spice, herbals and piney/sappy resins. That is bloody unreal!!

Flavour: It has a fair bit of bite upfront. Tangy and slightly bitter citrus, tropical fruits and some grapefruit acidity. It’s a tad pithy – orange peel and rind, a bit of pine resin. Dominant fruit juice sweetness and a mixture of bitterness and warming booze for days.

Mouthfeel: Quite a sticky texture to it, sappy and resinous with medium body. Co2 is spot on but that 8% AbV has a bit of a sting to it. Some creaminess from the rolled oats too.

Overall: For Australian standards it’s a pretty damn good Double NEIPA. To be honest we’d love to see the bitterness dialled back a bit…unfortunately we always find ourselves comparing all NEIPA’s to the American versions i.e Treehouse, Trillium, Monkish etc. Really good but falls short of being outstanding.

Urban Alley Ruby Red Rye IPA

Rating:

66241508_1125219334328877_323331747997548544_n“Bringing you craft beer right from the heart of Docklands. Much like the city itself, Urban Alley is made up of people from all walks of life that have been joined together by a love of beer. We are committed to bringing you the best and freshest product possible, utilising both classic and innovative ingredient combinations. Urban Alley – making beer sustainable right from the city’s doorstep.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Tis a beautiful colour…clear, deep ruby red donning a two finger head which persists. Cascading lace sticks to the glass as we go.

Aroma: Moreish wafts of caramel and toffee with a sturdy hop presence to balance. Toasty/bready overtones also coming through quite nicely. A touch of peppery spice from the rye and hints of tropical fruit and pine needles fill it out. Pretty much everything stated on the can translates in to aroma. We love that!

Flavour: It starts soft almost like an ESB with its sweet caramel and bready malt profile. Then those super bitter hops come to the party! Imparting a big and aggressive dose of pithy grapefruit, orange peel and a kind of black tea spiciness. The bitter citrus really ramps up as it finishes dry, citric and bitter AF! A hint of malt sweetness works in to quell it a little bit.

Mouthfeel: Well weighted with an astringent bitterness. 6.3% AbV showing through just a tad but it’s mostly well behaved. Moderate co2.

Overall: To be honest we’d never heard of this brewery til a mate loaded up his boot full of lesser known Victorian beers and hauled them back up to Sydney! We’re glad he did it was a very nice way to kick off proceedings. Solid drop.

Firestone Walker ’17 ‘Velvet Merkin’ BA Oatmeal Stout

Rating:

66174459_1121749588009185_6528339423652741120_n“Velvet Merkin is the beer that almost wasn’t…Indeed, this vintage oatmeal stout’s comical  (or is it scandalous?) name went off the grid for several years, but now it’s back due to popular demand. Velvet Merkin is aged for a full year in retired spirits barrels from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve and others, yet manages to offer mind-­boggling balance and restraint.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dark brown with a wispy tan head which retreats to the rim. The wet foam drags the lacing down the glass as it subsides. Quite a light pour for a barrel aged stout!

Aroma: What it lacks in EBC is instantly made up by huge wafts of bourbon barrels, vanilla spice, coffee, toasted coconut, dark fruits, milk chocolate, brown sugar, an undertone of honey and subtle nutty malts. The oatmeal is very faint but it provides a smooth and somewhat dry creaminess that works well alongside the rest of the rich and decadent aromas. Classy stuff.

Flavour: Incredibly smooth and effortless notes of coffee, mildly charred malts, vanilla, chocolate and bourbon barrels to the fore. Some underlying sweetness pulling it all in to line…we want to say caramel and honey but it’s thicker like molasses or toffee. Some cocoa and earthy spice forming late and rolling in to a kind of milky finish with mild roast and coffee lingering on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: So smooth, silky and creamy. Lighter in body than we had anticipated with the 8.5% AbV also very well hidden. It literally drinks like a sub 6%er. Wow!

Overall: Look it’s not the most mind-blowing barrel aged stout FW have released but it’s insanely sessional. How they mask the AbV like they do is seriously impressive. Dangerous! But impressive.

Wicked Weed ‘Persistence’ BA Cherry Sour

Rating:

65459612_1121135984737212_6854072973196787712_n“Persistence is a sour red ale aged in our foeder. One pound per gallon of Montmorency Cherries contributes a leathery accent to this Flanders-inspired ale. Once this beer reaches its peak, we blend the batch to attain the perfect balance of our house sour culture and North American cherries.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Kind of a light brown to chestnut affair with a loosely held cap on top. Minimal retention and scarce lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: The olfactory’s are met with a blast of tart cherry, sherbet, vinous red fruits, woody oak, plum, candied peach, sweaty horse blanket and a real manky old funk. Some nicely integrated earthy tones and a hint of red wine tannin making its way through as well. Superb aroma…everything marries up in perfect harmony.

Flavour: As your standard WW sour goes it comes on with a serious amount of lacto sourness. This one is supported by a delicious fusion of sour cherries, raspberry, plum, red berry sherbet, mild oak tannins, candied lemon/lime and a hint of those somewhat earthy vinous characters. Excellent duration on offer as well.

Mouthfeel: Nice and tight with a slightly lifted co2. Quite sour initially but it mellows out so we’d give it a pucker rating of 3.5/5. Well concealed AbV of 7.6%.

Overall: An absolute corker right here! It’s got everything we want in a sour – tart and vinous fruits, a good display of oak and the most important…that slightly candied sherbet sweetness. We love that! Dead set this is the best WW sour we’ve had to date.

Garage Project X Three Weavers ‘Zeppelin Bend’ Double IPA

Rating:

65485424_1120498128134331_5402009788152283136_n“LA upstarts Three Weavers join us in the garage to create Zeppelin Bend – a bright & clean ‘new wave’ West Coast IPA, bursting with a combination of us experimental, and harvest fresh New Zealand Rakau & Nelson Sauvin from Freestyle Hop farm.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Bright golden amber with 100% transparency. It forms a two finger head which holds up and leaves a smattering of lace strewn about the glass.

Aroma: Certainly in the West Coast style that’s for sure. Smells of sweet orange citrus, papaya, mango, passion fruit, grapefruit, white grapes and gooseberry. The malt bill is semi sweet lending subtle hints of honey and caramel fudge. It has this overall crisp and ultra clean quality to it…really nice.

Flavour: Getting quite an aggressive grapefruit bitterness on entry…bolstered further by a bit of warming booze. It follows on with more bitter notes of orange peel and unripened white grapes. Tasting a flutter of malt sweetness late in the piece as it finishes with some astringent booze and hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Sharp, punchy but also rather crisp and clean. Mild-moderate body with healthy co2. 8% AbV – quite prominent.

Overall: Really don’t know what to make of this one…not entirely sure if the hop profile (Rakau and Nelson Sauvin) fits the style. Other than that it’s a well structured IPA with bitey hops and belly-warming booze. Not a bad way to round out this brilliant Hapi Sessions collaboration.

New Belgium ‘Abbey’ Dubbel

Rating:

65172365_1118621551655322_6265461500714942464_n“The story of New Belgium begins with an abbey: Not only were Belgium’s monastic beers the inspiration behind our Colorado brewery, but Abbey, a Belgian-style dubbel, was one of the first beers we released way back in 1991. Since then, it’s become our most award-winning offering. Sip Abbey, and sip New Belgium’s tradition.”

Glassware: Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Mahogany with ruby red hues. We get a full gaze through the beer when held to the light. Minimal head settling to a halo with some patchy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Picking up a lot of the Belgian yeasty qualities such as banana runts, clove, pear/apple and peppery phenols. Moreish wafts of milk chocolate, caramel and dark fruits also getting amongst it. Maybe just a flutter of nutty malt, coffee and bubblegum as well. Love it…very conventional.

Flavour: It comes on with a fusion of Belgian yeasty notes and caramel/toffee sweetness. Dark fruits like raisin, plums, fig etc through the middle picking up a kind of banana split-like flavour as it rolls on. A little cameo of spice, chocolate and cocoa before a yeasty finish is dressed up with hints of toasty malt and coffee.

Mouthfeel: Pretty well rounded. Rather smooth and silky with medium body. Just the right amount of co2 to give it a lift. 7% AbV nicely tucked away.

Overall: That’s a pretty damn fine interpretation of the style. Lots of Belgian yeast character, caramel and dark fruit sweetness but also a nice roasty component as well. Solid offering.

Basement Brewhouse Kolsch

Rating:

65133785_1118499611667516_2020060502427697152_n“This German-style ale is a light gold in colour with a smooth, crisp mouthfeel. The addition of Noble and American hop varieties post-fermentation lends to subtle citrus aromas, which makes this brew a perfect session beer.”

Glassware: Tumbler.

Appearance: Bright gold with 100% clarity. Really healthy co2 streams up to the surface but it fails to retain any head. Wet streaky lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Clean yet discreet scents of floral hops, peppery spice, some wet cardboard and light estery notes like freshly cut pear and green apple. Subtle Noble hop characteristics and crisp and somewhat crackery malt also coming through. Don’t know why but we keep getting this hint of synthetic material…kind of like nappies or polystyrene. Weird. Very weird.

Flavour: Ultra muted…we’re struggling to get any flavour out of it to be honest. What little malt that does come through hints at mild sweetness with an undertone of grain and crackers. Hardly a hop quality in cooee…there’s an inkling of bitterness but it’s gone in seconds while the finish is a little sweet but again falling way too short.

Mouthfeel: Soft, inoffensive and a little watery. Mild co2. Like the rest of the beer…MIA!

Overall: We really hate panning beers but this is just sub-standard. The aroma at least had something to tangle with but the rest seems watered down and lacked any stand out flavours, character and texture. Very disappointing.

Modern Times ‘Blazing World’ Amber IPA

Rating:

65303018_1117813648402779_6039606062724677632_n“This beer is the stickiest of the icky. It’s a luxuriously hoppy amber loaded up with intemperate quantities of Nelson, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, which are some of the fruitiest, dankest hops sweet, sweet money can buy. Despite its amber hue, Blazing World is pleasingly dry, sporting a lightly bready malt backbone that serves as platform for the huge & complex hop profile.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Bold amber with excellent clarity. The pour arouses a two finger head which persists and sheds an intricate lace on its way down.

Aroma: Super dank! Quite a sturdy malt structure here – it’s sweet and chewy but the dank and fruity hops have enough to counteract it. So much caramel and toffee…almost a hint of cedarwood while the hops throw some weedy, piney, resinous and at times spicy characters at us. As we delve deeper we pick up slightly stewed fruits and some bready accents. Some real good depth on it.

Flavour: As anticipated there’s a hefty sweet malt base. It’s not cloying but they’re certainly flirting with it….they can thank the dank and fruity hop profile for that! Getting a fair bit of orange citrus i.e tangerine, ruby grapefruit and tangelo as it opens up. It forms a nice citric bitterness late in the piece but it’s always balanced by the chewy and sweet caramel malts.

Mouthfeel: There’s a steady weight to it, not too light not too heavy. Mild-ish co2 and a well concealed IBU (60) and AbV (6.8%).

Overall: Despite the bang on balance and all round perfect nature of the beer there’s just something we’re not totally fond of. It’s not a nauseous feeling but something isn’t sitting right. Weird! Can’t pan it though coz it’s quite a decent drop.

Garage Project X Firestone Walker ‘Riwaka Express’ NZ Pilsner

Rating:

65229874_1116475791869898_564405586557403136_n“California’s famous Firestone Walker come to town to create Riwaka Express – a hoppy Kiwi take on the classic pilsner style; crisp, clean, and zesty, brewed with German malts and showcasing harvest fresh Riwaka from Freestyle Hop farm. Brewed to celebrate the 2019 Hāpi Festival and the New Zealand Hop Harvest.”

Glassware: Footed Flute.

Appearance: Bright golden pour with 100% transparency. It forms a nice frothy head which retains and weaves a thick blotchy lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Quite an interesting hop profile here. This is the first time we’ve come across Riwaka on its own and it offers a distinct sweet citrus…similar to mandarin. We also pick up hints of orange peel, unripened pineapple, passionfruit and kumquat. The malt is lean and clean, grainy and somewhat grassy if anything. Very unique!

Flavour: It portrays a lot more of the traditional Czech pilsner characters. Lots of hay and straw coming through underneath slightly spicy and citrusy hop notes. Getting a fair whack of grapefruit bitterness midway before it finishes slightly dry and fruity with lingering pithy orange peel drawing out.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean with mild-medium body. Perfect carbonation. The ever so slightly lifted AbV (5.3%) is perceptible but mostly well obscured.

Overall: We were surprised when we realised GP chose a pilsner to collaborate with Firestone Walker on. Personally FW brew some of the best barrel aged stouts and barleywines in the world so it’s kinda bizarre that they went for the polar opposite! Still, can’t fault the beer it’s a cracker!

Garage Project X Other Half ‘Hapi Sessions’ Oat Cream IPA

Rating:

65202775_1116136908570453_1842056270039744512_n“New York city’s inimitable Other Half fly in to create No Dreams Til Brooklyn – a hazy ‘oat cream’ IPA balancing lactose sweetness with a massive burst of US Citra, and harvest fresh Nelson Sauvin from Freestyle Hop farm. Brewed to celebrate the 2019 Hāpi Festival and the New Zealand Hop Harvest.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Muddy deep orange body with a fluffy two finger head perched on top. Excellent retention and healthy lace work down the glass.

Aroma: Crammed full of fleshy tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, papaya, guava and lychee. Strong stonefruit presence here too with tonnes of rockmelon, apricot and peach. There’s a lovely oat creaminess which lends hints of vanilla and lactose, some zesty orange citrus, white pepper and a soft dank earthiness. That’s an absolute ripper of an aroma.

Flavour: Wow it’s incredibly smooth! Kind of get a bit of that frosty fruit character initially before it turns to stonefruit pulp i.e rockmelon, papaya, apricot and mango. More grapefruit, citrus and rind through the mid leading in to a somewhat pithy finish with creamy oats and mild citric bitterness on a length.

Mouthfeel: Can’t believe how smooth and creamy it is. Upfront it’s almost like a beer smoothie with a touch of booze (8.5%) and hop bitterness forming in the swallow. Medium-full body and moderate co2.

Overall: A very true-to-style NEIPA. Loving the trajectory of the Hapi Sessions release so far…this is actually better than the Trillium collab in our opinion. Much smoother and hides the AbV extremely well. Kudos GP and Other Half that’s one of the best NEIPA’s we’ve had in a while! Brilliant.

Wicked Weed ‘Myrtille’ BA American Sour w Blueberries

Rating:

65182681_1113081892209288_4977116305715888128_n“Myrtille is a golden sour ale aged in neutral wine barrels. Two pounds per gallon of fresh, whole blueberries contribute an earthy and tannic backbone to this uniquely southern sour. When the time is right, the barrels are blended to achieve ther perfect balance of blueberries and house brett culture.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Candy apple red with 100% clarity. The head literally disappears in front of our eyes leaving nothing but a few foamy islands floating about.

Aroma: Smells unbelievable! The blueberries really lift out with their earthy and mildly tart characteristics. There’s a certain sweetness in here…almost like golden raisins but also akin to a well aged port. Apparently this sour was aged in “neutral” wine barrels but we can detect a fair amount of vanilla which really pulls some of those tannic scents back in to line. Superb aroma!

Flavour: As standard WW sours go this one also purses the lips! But not as much as others before it which is a plus. Lots of lactic acidity on entry but a well integrated fruit profile balances it out. Funk and barnyard through the middle and then oak, vinous fruits, blueberry and earthy spices rounding it out. Maybe just a flutter of jasmine or hibiscus on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Still somewhat prickly but the acidity is well restrained so the pucker rating sits at a healthy 4/5. Spritzy co2 and medium body makes for pleasant drinking.

Overall: Quite impressed with this one we must say. Out of all the WW sours we’ve had this probably tops the lot. The peeled back sourness allows the balanced sweetness, soft tannins and oak to really shine through. We dig it!

 

Garage Project X Trillium ‘Hapi Sessions’ NEIPA

Rating:

64416730_1112988788885265_1718207383366270976_n“Hāpi Sessions Vol. 1 Trillium X Garage Project The Hāpi Sessions – four collaborations, four breweries at the top of their game, four beers – each showcasing a different hop forward style in a playful ‘freestyle’ interpretation of one of each brewery’s flagship beers. Boston heavy hitters Trillium join us to create Aro Street – a big, juicy, hazy East Coast classic with a kiwi twist, creating a tropical fruit burst with specially selected US Mosaic, and harvest fresh Motueka from Freestyle Hop farm.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Turbid mango juice affair with a short white cap over the top. Steady reduction, settling to a wispy film with healthy lace clinging to the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Hot dam! It almost has this concentrated fruit juice character to it. Plenty of those botanicals, orange peel and spicy notes we get from all of the top American NEIPA’s. Hints of rotting leaves, dank pine resins, pithy grapefruit, apricot, rockmelon and pineapple. The malt offers doughy white bread and crusts. Trillium really showing their colours here.

Flavour: The progression of flavour is next level. It kicks off with fleshy stonefruits then the citrus jumps on board. It takes on more of a fruit juice angle through the mid. Some dankness there but the grapefruit and orange peel cuts through then moves in to an ultra dry, bitter, grassy and fruity finish. The length on this baby is incredible!

Mouthfeel: Dense and viscous yet really smooth with the assertive bitterness forming late in the swallow. Medium-full body and moderate co2.

Overall: We see this (and the other three releases under Hapi Sessions) as GP really flexing their muscles. A collab with the likes of Trillium further cements their position at the top of list of NZ breweries. Heck this could even be the best NEIPA in the southern hemisphere! Just watch them fight off the acquisitions now!

Modern Times ‘Fortunate Islands’ Hoppy Wheat Ale

Rating:

64407186_1113052415545569_3175144733521477632_n“Fortunate Islands combines the bangin’ hop aroma of an über-tropical IPA with the crisp, deeply quenching drinkability of a killer pale ale. We achieve this magical result by starting with a mild, nutty malt backbone, then dry-hopping the bejesus out of it with Citra and Amarillo hops. Restrained bitterness and vibrant notes of mango, tangerine, and passionfruit combine to form a sessionable crusher of mind-bending proportions. It tastes like wizards.”

Glassware: Shaker

Appearance: Nice and bright golden amber with a very mild haze. It holds a thumb of tightly beaded foam which retains and works a healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Super tropical. Tonnes of mango, lychee, pineapple, orange citrus, stonefruits, passion fruit and a touch of boiled candy. The malt profile actually plays a big role in the aroma…hinting at grain husks and raw almonds. Maybe even a slight bready note, no doubt due to the base wheat malts?? Very tidy.

Flavour: Those wheat malts we just mentioned in the aroma play an even bigger role on the palate. It’s got that dry and grainy aspect but with a certain zing that we find so synonymous with wheat beers. There’s also an accentuation on grapefruit and orange citrus…especially through the to the dry finish. Again dry and husky as it draws out.

Mouthfeel: Light on, creamy, not going to say chewy but it’s certainly got a gelatinous texture happening. Moderate IBU (40) and AbV (5%).

Overall: It’s an interesting one because we’re not really fans of wheat beer but as it’s only 60% wheat and spruced up with Citra and Amarillo hops it’s actually not a bad drop. They’ve struck a nice balance here.

Hargreaves Hill ‘AD’ Abbey Dubbel

Rating:

64225058_1108521519331992_7902258556374614016_n“Drawing inspiration from the Abbey brewing tradition, we use Belgian Special B malt and a funky Belgian yeast, to create notes of raisins and sarsaparilla.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown revealing mahogany hues when held to the light. The head is loose and rocky, eventually retreating to the rim. Healthy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: The first thing that hits the olfactory’s are these intense caramel and toffee overtones. Butterscotch and cocoa then morphing in to more yeast-driven notes of candied banana, honey, nutmeg, caramelized pears, raisin and prunes/dates. Getting an uber rich maple and or treacle sweetness from it once it settles…borderline cloying.

Flavour: That super rich sweetness transitions to the palate. There’s a hint of bitterness but it does little to stem the wave of caramel, toffee, honey and maple sweetness that follows. Very fine hints of toasty malt, cocoa and apple pie forming late as it finishes dry, fruity and spicy. Some good length on it though.

Mouthfeel: This is where it goes down hill a bit…it’s too thin for the style. It also feels kind of saturated from the low co2 and minimal balance.

Overall: Definitely not convinced but in saying that it’s still not a bad attempt. The big difference between this and something like a Westmalle or even our very own Mad Abbot is the balance. Even though it’s not really there it still isn’t a too bad a drop.

Brasserie Cantillon ‘Fou Foune’ BA Lambic w Apricots

Rating:

64403007_1108095409374603_7241212731028668416_n“Blend of lambics aged 18 to 20 months and of Bergeron apricots. Very fragrant gourmet beer which perfectly brings across the flavours of Bergeron apricots.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Golden amber with a mild haze. It whips up a frothy white head which swells to a cm before it settles to a wispy overlay. Excellent lace as we go.

Aroma: One word pops in to our head…exquisite! The apricots stand out but it’s nicely balanced by a strong musty oak and light floral perfumes. The sourness has been really well disguised – softened by the subtle earthy notes, candied lemon and tart white grapes which give it a champagne-like character. Hints of brown leather, peach and aniseed deep down in there too. Absolutely superb!

Flavour: It kicks off with quite a dry lactic sourness…displaying lots of barrel character along with the hallmark white wine and sour apple. The somewhat sweet yet tart apricots constantly there in the background. Peach and other unripened stonefruits then carry a lovely barnyard funk in to the dry, spicy and oaky finish.

Mouthfeel: Sparkling texture…boosted by a vibrant co2 and a relatively lean body. Nicely balanced acidity so the pucker rating sits at a doable 3/5. It’s a rather approachable number!

Overall: Well Fou certainly carries on the Cantillon tradition of faultless sours. Once again displaying feature fruits with pin point precision. Top shelf stuff.

8 Wired Brewing ‘iStout’ Affogato Imperial Stout

Rating:

62216818_1105067969677347_3053648324990074880_n“The “i” might be in lower case, but beware – this is a capital beer. Brimming with luscious roasted coffee and chocolate malt flavours drizzled over a scoop of velvety ice cream. iStout Affogato is balanced by a brisk bitterness and bold, hoppy freshness, remixed by the addition of lactose, coffee, and vanilla in the brew.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a finger of brown foam which quickly deconstructs. Still seeing a healthy lace as it ebbs though.

Aroma: Smells of deep roasted coffee, vanilla, licorice, molasses, ash, chocolate, treacle, burnt toast, earthy truffle and booze as it comes up to room temperature. For one of us this is our all time favorite desert and as much as it is brilliant we can’t really get the actual true Affogato character. It kind of gets a bit diluted in this dark forest of aromas. Still a bloody top notch aroma though.

Flavour: It kicks off with an assertive espresso bitterness paired with a bit of warming booze, raw cacao, dark chocolate and a subtle line of vanilla sweetness. The coffee enjoys a 2nd wind through the mid and as it surges toward the finish it picks up burnt toast and slight smoky notes then lands on bittersweet chocolate, coffee and charred earth.

Mouthfeel: Dense and muscly…yet rather silky. Pretty well carbonated for the style with the 10% AbV poking through at times.

Overall: It’s a superb stout but we can’t help thinking why they didn’t just keep it simple? An Affogato only require three things: coffee, vanilla ice cream and Frangelico (my preference anyway). Not going to complain it is a really solid offering.