Author Archives: 2hopheads

50/50 Brewing 2019 ‘Eclipse BKR’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 12th vintage, 2019 Eclipse is our rich Imperial Stout aged to perfection in whiskey and spirit barrels. All Eclipse starts with the same base beer bringing hints of dark chocolate, espresso, and a smooth complexity, with each barrel treatment delivering its own unique character after a minimum of 180 days of aging. Booker’s (code BKR) is aged in select bourbon barrels. Dipped in yellow wax.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with the usual diminishing head which settles at the rim. It posts a good set of rings with some cascading lace in between.

Aroma: It’s been a while since our olfactorie’s have been graced with an Eclipse Stout and can we just say that it’s like welcoming an old friend. Huge bourbon component i.e vanilla, spice, toffee and oak alongside a roll call of impy stout characters – charred malts, coffee, dark chocolate, licorice, molasses, raw cacao, tobacco, shredded wheatmeal, a hint of acetone and rich fudge. Hell to the yes!!

Flavour: Ok it’s obvious that the Eclipse Stout range is getting better and better. Although totally peeled back it still displays an enormous array of bourbon oak (spicy vanilla and rich toffee), heavily roasted malts, espresso, dark chocolate, ash, molasses, licorice, cocoa powder, glazed cherries, stewed prunes and a slightly smoky accent to finish. The duration on this bad boy is remarkable too.

Mouthfeel: As anticipated it’s big, chewy and viscous. Low-ish Co2. That 12.2% ABV is noticeable but we wouldn’t have an impy stout any other way.

Overall: Very impressed. Somehow we totally skipped the 2018 range which is super disappointing. What’s not disappointing is this 2019 release…it is freaking incredible. Classic 50/50 Eclipse…the stuff of wet dreams.

Fuller’s 2019 Vintage Ale

Rating:

“For the Vintage Ale 2019, we have traveled 12,000 miles for inspiration, as West London meets South Island New Zealand. Wai-Iti hop brings mandarin, lemon, and lime to the fore, whilst Crystal malt – grown on the New Zealand’s Canterbury Plains – adds notes of toasted bread and honey. Looking a little closer to home, our famous Fuller’s yeast gives the beer its familiar orange marmalade backbone.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: An attractive burnished chestnut with a short khaki head. It quickly retreats to the rim with minimal lace in its wake.

Aroma: A dead set malt bomb but we dig it! Initially it’s all about the super sweet toffee, raisin, dates/prunes, butterscotch and floral honey but as it settles it takes on more of a dry-aged character with hints of old oak, licorice, tobacco and banana bread…although the latter is probably representative of the old world English yeast. Mild spicy and citrusy hop qualities in the background. Superb!

Flavour: It’s a mirror image of the aroma but we must admit there’s a lot more earthy-ness and hop bitterness setting it apart. Alas, tonnes of dark fruit sweetness, honey, caramel, toffee and buttery biscuits alongside the floral and citrusy hops and somewhat fruity yeast profile. There’s a long drawn out finish of toast, orange blossom and dried wood which punctuates beautifully.

Mouthfeel: Fairly chewy, dense and silky. Medium-full body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV is perceptible but mostly well contained.

Overall: Believe it or not this is our first crack at the Fuller’s vintage range. Damn we wish we jumped on sooner as this is amazing! It’s rich, warming, sweet yet a little bitter and earthy. Brilliant.

Brouwerij Roman ‘Adriaen’ Tripel

Rating:

“With ingredients such as coriander, Curacao and organic Belgian hops, the Adriaen Brouwer Tripel results in a spicy premium organic tripel with 9 percent alcohol by volume. Organic beers: This means that all ingredients used to brew the beer are grown organically… and that’s a first for the brewery that has existed since 1545!”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber hue with a thumb of fizzy white head over the top. It gradually recedes but manages a nice wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Bursting with lemon citrus, fresh herbs and a strong floral bouquet. There’s a lovely Belgian yeast profile throwing out oodles of Angostura bitters, banana runts and tinned pear. Also some estery spice, stone fruits like apricot and rockmelon and a touch of caramel and honey. Exceptional. Very traditional Belgian Tripel.

Flavour: Wooowwww! About as good as any Trappist Tripel you could find. It has a touch of champagne to it with its bright lemon, apple/pear, subtle vanilla and lifted carbonation. There’s a nice line of caramel sweetness which gives it a good base and structure. Kinda creamy and warming to finish. Good length on it too.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, gassy, medium bodied. Really coats the whole palate. Medium-high Co2. The 9% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: A fantastic Tripel from a largely unknown brewery when it comes to this style. It could easily stack up against the likes of St. Bernardus or Straffe Hendrik if need be. Top notch stuff.

Alesmith ‘Philosophy & Velocity’ Imperial Stout/Quadrupel

Rating:

“Philosophy and Velocity combines two iconic imperial beers from East and West: Brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers, and Alesmith Brewing’s Speedway Stout. For this project, each brewery crafted a singular blend to release through their own channels. From the East Coast, Ommegang brewed a Belgian-inspired version of Speedway Stout to blend with their Three Philosophers Quadruple Ale. From the West, Alesmith brewed an American ale variant on Three Philosophers to blend with their robust, coffee-infused Speedway Stout. The result? Two incredible imperial ales, released simultaneously for side-by-side comparison.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of finely beaded brown head. Good retention and wavy lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: There’s so much happening we don’t know where to start. The bittersweet coffee and charred malts are so well integrated with the sweet and fruity Belgian yeast profile that it’s hard to tell where the impy stout starts and Belgian Quad finishes. Everything from fruitcake, rum & raisin, cherry, blood plum, toffee, banana bread, allspice, tobacco, carob, raw cacao, subtle booze and tar. Amazing!

Flavour: At first it’s a little harsh, a tad phenolic and boozy but it morphs in to this big, roasty and bittersweet mid palate full of coffee, charred malts, dark chocolate, tobacco and raw cacao. Just hanging back a tad are the yeasty components…playing an excellent albeit subtle support role as it finishes quite brash and dry with mild smoke and mildly burnt wood on the back.

Mouthfeel: Dense and slick yet it still feels somewhat light on. Finely carbonated, full bodied. 11.5% ABV does reveal itself a fair bit.

Overall: Put simply…it’s a bloody ripper of a beer. We weren’t aware that there’s an East Coast (Ommegang) version where they flip the blend around and focus more on the Quad as opposed to the Stout. Now we want it! Bad! Impressive stuff.

Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout

Rating:

“In March 2011, Wagga got hammered by crickets. The brewpub was covered in millions of hopping black insects. We needed a brew so dark, so original, and so delicious, that if a little bugger hopped into a customer’s glass they wouldn’t even notice and/or care. So was born Vanilla Milk Stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black complexion with a frothy two finger head. It quickly peels off and forms a bubbling island in the middle. Minimal lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: We remember drinking this fresh from the Brewhouse taps many years ago and being blown away. All these years later as well as pouring from a can and it’s still as good as we remember it. The gorgeous vanilla and lactose sweetness offsets the robust stout base of chocolate, coffee, treacle and burnt toast. Also getting a subtle hint of white marshmallow which is very alluring! Superb.

Flavour: Follows through nicely. Again, perfectly balanced between the roasty chocolate malts, coffee, toast and sweet vanilla, lactose and marshmallow-like candy. Just a slight lick of bitterness midway before it lands on a sweet yet roasty finish which endures nicely.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, velvet smooth, medium-full body which is commendable considering its low ABV (5.2%). Finely carbonated. Exactly how we like our stouts.

Overall: It’s great to see nothing has changed with this beer. It’s such a well structured and ultimately delicious milk stout. Top notch stuff.

Coniston Brewing ‘Bluebird’ Bitter

Rating:

“It is, quite simply, a wonderful beer. It is exceedingly pale (21-22 units colour), with just a hint of colour in its cheeks from the dash of crystal malt. It has a massive orange fruit aroma from the challengers, balanced by biscuity malt. Juicy malt and tart hops vie for attention in the mouth while the finish is tart and hoppy but well balanced by creamy malt. The bitterness rating is a substantial 36-38. The tangy fruit lingers on the back of the tongue until it develops a hint of orange liqueur.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Clear bold amber with a short white head which quickly retracts. Not a lot of lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Slightly muted notes of semi sweet honey malts, light musky florals, peppery spice, somewhat earthy hops and cereal grains. It all started off a little shy but as we go it starts to come out of its shell. How ironic that we’re talking about a beer in that fashion!

Flavour: Very much like the aroma…soft and almost watered down notes of caramel and honey mix with earthy and floral hops. A flutter of herbal spice here and there as well. Some toast and cereal grains coming through as it finishes rather vague and bland. Not a great deal of length to it either.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky, maybe just a tad lean but it is only 4.2% ABV. Flat-ish Co2, moderately bodied. A bit meh.

Overall: It’s all a bit meh to be honest. It’s very weak and insipid at times. The upside is that it does hit the traditional English ale features but it’s just too shy for our liking. Won’t be wasting our time on this one again.

Brasserie DuPont ‘Cuvee Dry Hopping – Styrian Wolf’ Saison

Rating:

“A special dry-hopped version of the brewery’s world famous Saison Dupont. This version features Styrian Wolf hops – a Slovakian variety known for its exceptional tropical fruit notes – to complement the Saison’s iconic peppery flavour.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Hazy pastel orange with two fingers of fizzy white head. Looks a lot like a NEIPA! Not a great deal of lace as we indulge.

Aroma: 100% classic Saison! We guess when you’re talking about the best in the business it makes sense! It’s just a beautiful fusion of Belgian yeasty notes (peppery spice, banana runts and a touch of bubblegum), farmhouse grains which provide hay, straw and freshly cut grass and this interesting hop variety called “Styrian Wolf”. Apparently it’s a Slovenian hop which provides tropical fruits and strong florals…of which we get both!

Flavour: We certainly pick up more of the hop profile here. The conventional Saison qualities (spicy yeast, wheat grains, Angostura bitters etc) are slightly superceded by a heady floral accent, milder tropical fruits like melon and tart passionfruit, lemon and light herbals. It has a nice bitter finish with lingering hay and peppery spice on the back.

Mouthfeel: Kinda light and fluffy, mild-medium body. Dry-ish texture. Quite an effervescent Co2. The 6.5% ABV is well behaved too.

Overall: Nice drop. Old world base with a bit of a new world twist…the Styrian Wolf hops do a good job of bringing those new world flavours in to it. Decent.

Hop Nation 2020 ‘The Kalash’ Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a sturdy thumb of tanned foam resting on top. It gradually reduced and leaves a smattering of lace on the glass.

Aroma: Nicely charred, lots of burnt toast, dark chocolate, ash, licorice and a very faint hint of acetone which we find synonymous with the style. The downside is that it seems a little too reserved… we’ve come to expect olfactory-invading scents where this one is lacking that intensity. Hopefully the flavour profile is where it’s at.

Flavour: Yeah see, it’s the same issue… nothing wrong with the flavours as we’re getting dark chocolate, licorice, burnt toast, coffee and ash but it’s this lack of intensity and bottom end that’s MIA. It’s still OK though, getting that touch of silky sweetness and the roasted and charred finish. Good length to it too, really draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Oily and a little thin. A little too slippery for a barrel aged RIS. Medium body and Co2. 10.7% ABV is fairly well behaved.

Overall: Yeah it never really had us from the get go. There’s not enough bottom end and overall grunt. It’s not a bad beer by any means it just doesn’t cut the mustard when we’re talking big barrel aged Russian Imperials.

50/50 Brewing ‘Annularity’ BA Barleywine

Rating:

“The FiftyFifty Brewing Company has done it again by releasing another delicious brew unto us, the craft beer loving masses. The Annularity is a rich Blond Barleywine with hints of brown sugar, citrus, carmel, and honey that can be tasted through each and every satisfying sip. The beer ages gracefully in oak barrels, which lend a slightly bitter quality to the overall taste, keeping the sweetness of the sugars in check.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Muddy bronze to light brown with a rapidly vanishing head. It leaves nothing but a very fine halo which struggles to lace.

Aroma: Oh wow, when barleywines are done right they’re such a beautiful thing. The intense sweetness is only rivalled by the bold and rustic barrel characters which provide old, musty and woody oak notes. Plenty of toffee/toffee apple, candy cane, fruit cake, rich honey and maple, subtle spicy whiskey, dark fruits and a lovely earthy-ness which lends it overall balance and bottom end. Brilliant aroma.

Flavour: Like an explosion has been set off on the palate. Big, rich and hedonistic caramel, musty oak, toffee, rye whiskey, honey and earthy spice. Just a gentle warmth from the booze in the background. Hints of dark fruits like cherry, plum and raisin before another good dose of rye whiskey leads in to this perfectly balanced finish.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous. Medium-full body with low Co2. The 12.5 % ABV is ridiculously well concealed.

Overall: Can you expect anything less than perfection from these guys? They’ve cemented a spot in our top 5 all time breweries without a doubt. Remarkable beer from a remarkable brewery.

Ringwood Brewery ‘Forty Niner’ Golden Ale

Rating:

“Ringwood’s Golden Ale was first brewed in 1978 and takes its name from the beers strength at 4.9%. A full-bodied malty beer, Fortyniner has a strong hop character and a deep bitter-sweet finish.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Slightly burnished orange to amber with a thumb of finely beaded foam atop. The head slowly recedes and leaves a cascading lace in its wake.

Aroma: Fairly sweet and malty initially then the jammy and citrusy hops gradually peek through. Lots of caramel and artificially sweet overtones, nutty malt, bread/dough, dark fruits, marmalade, apricot, floral perfumes and subtle yeast esters; mostly pear and rosewater. Quite a fascinating aroma… unbelievably rich and sweet for a golden ale.

Flavour: It grapples with the same issue as the aroma in our opinion…which is lots of sweet and sticky malts and little hop character to balance. To be fair there is a slight bitterness that kicks up around the mid and offers grassy and herbal-spicy notes late in the piece. A few more sips and we are getting a bit more citrus and pithy rind, especially in the finish.

Mouthfeel: A little sticky upfront then a developing dryness ensues. Medium body, flat-ish Co2. Only 4.9% ABV so big ups for filling it out as well as they have.

Overall: This is our 2nd entry for Ringwood and we must admit we haven’t been overly impressed. Points for complexity but there’s something about it we’re not digging. The yeast profile maybe? Anywho, there’s far better English ales out there.

Brasserie Le Fort Belgian Brown Ale

Rating:

“LeFort is a complex, dark beer of 9% ABV with a sweet and fruity touch. The pale and roasted, dark barley malts give the beer a perfect balance. The beer is lightly flavored with chocolate and caramel and the high fermentation gives a slight fruitiness. This results in a dark beer with a completely unique taste.”

Glassware: Trappist Goblet.

Appearance: Slightly dark rubescent red with shades of maroon and light mahogany. A short and fizzy tan head emerges and hangs around long enough to decorate the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow…initially it’s all about those malts – nutty and chocolatey at first then a little more toffee and fudge-driven as it settles in. Lots of yeasty banana bread, clove/mixed spice, a hint of bubblegum. Also picking up a lot of dark fruits like raisin, blood plum, toffee apple, cherry and red vinous berries. Belgian Candi sugars also creeping in late. Diggin it!

Flavour: Like the aroma there’s 1000 different flavours happening and trying to isolate them all is tough! A bit more spiciness upfront.. clove, nutmeg, all spice etc but it’s quickly enveloped by a wave of rich and sweet malt, dark fruits and endless yeasty goodness. Lots of toasty/doughy malt mid way, esters, Candi sugars and banana leading in to a dry, fruity, yeasty and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Like thick beer soup! Dense and chewy yet foamy and highly carbonated. Medium-full body. The 9% ABV is incredibly well concealed.

Overall: It’s like nothing we’ve ever had before. It falls somewhere between a malty Brown Ale, a yeasty Dubbel and a hedonistic Quad. Bloody impressive though. Rich, luxurious, complex. Top drop.

Ringwood Brewery ‘Circadian’ Session IPA

Rating:

“Circadian means a pattern recurring naturally on a twenty-four-hour cycle. At Ringwood we felt that it would be the perfect name for our new ‘Every day IPA’. To give circadian the full flavour of an IPA while keeping the ABV to a sessionable 4.5% we used a total of 5 exotic hops! We recommend Circadian is best enjoyed with a spicy curry and good company.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Bright amber and as clear as day! It forms two fingers of sturdy white head which holds up well. It posts thick and sudsy rings down the glass.

Aroma: To be honest it doesn’t smell at all English. If we were to guess our first thoughts would be an Australian IPA as we reckon our IPA’s fall somewhere between the malt-forward English version and the hop-charged American ones. It’s obviously crammed full of American hops as we’re copping a tonne of pine and candied citrus, mild tropical fruit and spice. As it warms the rich and sweet malts really come in to play. A little unorthodox but we like it.

Flavour: A little lackluster unfortunately. The hop bitterness is here but the actual hop flavour is rather muted. The BB date is 30/6/21 so it is quite old but then again English IPA’s age better than all their other counterparts. After a few more swigs we do pick up subtle pine, citrus, a bit of resin and evergreen along with a somewhat dry and earthy malt profile but that’s about it.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, slightly dry and well rounded. Nice vibrant Co2, medium body. Only 4.5% ABV so they’ve done well to cram all that in.

Overall: Well this is about as American as an English IPA can get. We’ll admit it was a pleasant surprise but it’s a shame it tastes a little tired. We’d love to try it again fresh.

De Brabandere ‘Bavik’ Super Pils

Rating:

“1894 was a very special year: it was the year when the one true Bavik Super Pils was born. And the Bavik Super Pils has made its own way to quality and taste ever since.”

Glassware: Footed flute.

Appearance: Light golden yellow with a gigantic four finger head perched on top. Takes ages to recede but when it does it leaves an absolute mess on the glass.

Aroma: Quite a robust nose for a Pilsner…we were getting wafts as we were writing the appearance. So nicely poised as well. Subtle Noble hop characters (spicy, herbal, grassy) just sitting on the semi sweet crackery malts. Light florals, a touch of earthy-ness, a hint of buttered corn (DMS) but we think it works with the style. Classic Euro-style Pils.

Flavour: Nice follow through. Again, super clean Noble hop qualities – herbals, florals, spice, a touch of earthy mildew. The semi sweet malt profile offers up rice crackers, grains and a touch of honey. There’s a lick of bitterness as it finishes dry and grassy with good duration.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, clean and tidy. Light on with medium carbonation. 5.2% ABV is only slightly higher than the average but nowhere near enough to make any waves.

Overall: So damn crushable it’s not even funny. We couldn’t have chosen a better to kick off with on this warm and lazy Sunday arvo session.

Ballistic X Craft Cartel Affogato Brown Ale

Rating:

“Aroma of espresso coffee and milk chocolate, with a hint of ice-cream. The taste is of subdued chocolate, malt sweetness and creamy vanilla. The lactose gives the beer a luscious rounded mouthfeel which coats the inside of your mouth.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Gorgeous dark cola to mahogany with a frothy three finger head. It slowly deconstructs and drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: Nice, dark and roasty. Loving the amount of bottom end…plenty of heavily roasted malts, espresso and light campfire/ash. As she settles the vanilla and lactose open up and start revealing the sweet ice cream-like notes. Chocolate and cacao, burnt toast, earthy spice and a touch of licorice also getting a look in. Good depth… hopefully this all carries in to the palate!

Flavour: Well it holds up pretty nicely. More of a blended profile as opposed to the aroma; roasted malts, chocolate and coffee fused with the sweet and spicy vanilla, lactose and nuts. Picking up the ashy flavours late in the piece as it delivers a roasty and toasty finish with lingering coffee and dark chocolate on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and oily. A slightly lifted CO2 hands it a bit of extra life but it still sits a little on the lean side. Mild-medium body. 5.5% ABV is nicely placed.

Overall: It’s a good beer but it just falls short of the mark for us. The Affogato side was portrayed well but for one of us Affogato is a favourite dessert and without the addition of either Frangelico or Kahlua it just isn’t complete! Either way it’s not a bad drop.

Bridge Road “NEeD #2′ West Coast IPA

Rating:

“The second beer in our new bi-monthly IPA series is a nod to the old school, with a Bridge Road twist. A luminous copper colour in the glass, the aromas are of pineapple, citrus + pine. Some grapefruit earthiness on the palate, makes way for a firm lingering bitterness and a hint of malt sweetness on the finish. It’s lean, mean, dank and ready to be drank.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Bold amber with practically 100% clarity. It forms a sturdy two finger head that maintains its shape nicely. Healthy lace as we go.

Aroma: Jeez this has top shelf old skool west coast IPA written all over it. The first whiff yields dank piney resins and weed, mixed tropical fruits like pineapple, lychee, passionfruit and melon, earthy orange citrus and ruby grapefruit, florals/blossom herbals and a kinda spicy and stewy note which reminds us of the IPA’s of yesteryear. Tight AF!

Flavour: Dead set spot on. Aggressive yet well tempered. It comes on with all of that dank, resiny goodness, pine and weedy herbals then in to the pithy citrus and rind. We noticed this on the nose and were too caught up in the hop profile but it has an excellent caramel malt base which fills it out nicely. Tropical fruits tailing in late before a sharp, piney and herbaceous finish.

Mouthfeel: Chewy initially then it completely dries out post swallow. Medium body, IBU would have to sit around the 60 mark. Low-moderate CO2. 6.9% ABV reveals itself here and there.

Overall: This would have to be the best beer to come out of Bridge Road for years! It’s pin point for the style…big and aggressive yet well balanced and palatable. Kudos to the brewing team for this one. Superb.

Resin ‘Raspberry Fields’ Raspberry Berliner Weiss

Rating:

“Say g’day to the pink-drink of your dreams: our iconic Raspberry Fields Sour. You can expect the sourness of the Berliner Weisse to hit your palate first, followed by slightly bready notes, and finally finishing with a kick of raspberry sweetness!”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Pours an attractive deep pink with peachy hues. A short fizzy head emerges but it quickly dissolves until there’s nothing left.

Aroma: Nice and tart, light and ultra refreshing. The raspberries play a dominant role as to he expected. Behind it are very subtle hints of wheat grains, pink lemonade, pomegranate and a stray flutter of lime. Maybe the slightest hint of peppery spice coming through too. Basic but very alluring.

Flavour: Like the aroma it’s super light and almost revitalizing. Tart raspberry, wheat grains, mild salinity, slight earthy-ness and pink peppercorn mostly. Nice pulpy finish with a touch more salinity rounding it out.

Mouthfeel: Delicate, tart, refreshing. Light and effervescent Co2. Pucker rating only reaches an approachable 2/5. 3.5% ABV so it’s well within marathon territory.

Overall: Lovely drop. We can envisage ourselves pounding copious amounts of this on a stinking hot day. Don’t think it’s got the finesse to beat Wayward’s version but it certainly comes close! Kudos.

Marston’s ‘Old Empire’ IPA

Rating:

“A memorable and deceptively easy drinking IPA. This is an authentic recreation of the beer style created for, and enjoyed throughout the Empire. Goldings, Fuggles and American Cascade hops combine to give a crisp, citrus hops aroma with a balanced bittersweet finish,”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Amber with a mild haze. It constructs a rocky two finger head which gradually peels off and leaves an absolute mess on the glass.

Aroma: Straight up English IPA. There’s a solid base of semi sweet and lightly roasted malts for the orange citrus-driven and grassy/herbal hops to work off. Definitely some floral and spicy aspects along with that somewhat earthy, cedar-like character that’s synonymous with English ale. Just a hint of funky English yeast cutting through as well.

Flavour: We’re seeing the age old battle between malt and hops play out here. Earthy, citrusy and herbal/grassy hops seem to take control but the toasty and semi sweet malts immediately pull them back into line. Also getting a dry, spicy and grainy flavour which forms a big chunk of the finish…which really goes the distance.

Mouthfeel: Very well rounded. Slightly chewy yet crisp and a little dry. Perfectly carbonated. The 5.7% ABV is right on the money as well.

Overall: This style has to resurface again at some point. There’s too much to like about it for it not to. The precise balance, the light and crushable yet kinda complex nature of it. We want to see more new world English IPA!

Horal ‘Megablend ’19’ Oude Geuze

Rating:

“For this bottling of the old geuze mega blend 2019, 8 different breweries and studs have mixed lambic together. This mega blend was specially made for the 12th edition of Tour de Geuze and will have matured in the bottle for more than 6 months on the day of the Tour de Geuze 2019. The mixture contains Lambic that was 1, 2 and 3 years old when filling the bottles. Featuring a mix of lambics from 8 producers: 3 Fonteinen, Boon, De Oude Cam, De Troch, Hanssens, Lindemans, Oud Beersel, Tilquin and Timmermans. HORAL is the High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers a non-profit organisation that represents gueuze producers in the Payottenland and the Valley of the Senne in Belgium.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Just a forewarning…open slowly! The caging was literally the only thing keeping the cork in the bottle! It pours a bold amber hue with a fizzy thumb of head. Steady reduction and minimal lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: As classic as traditional Lambic could be…ultra funked up, sour apple/cider, lemon juice, white vinegar, stanky cheese cave, unripened peach, white grapes and what we can only describe as pure lactic acid. Some floral perfumes also getting amongst it. Getting that crystalized sugary sweetness which reminds us of lemon sherbet. Big love!

Flavour: Oh wow the sourness is much more restrained than we anticipated…it’s actually more funky than it is sour. We get horse blanket, cheese cave, yeast esters, crisp sour apple and or cider front and center. Unripened stonefruit i.e nectarine, peach skins along with lemon sherbet as a customary late arrival to finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, frothy, light on. It’s very highly carbonated, akin to champagne at times. The 7% ABV goes largely unnoticed. Pucker rating…hhmm…a 3/5 we reckon.

Overall: The idea that 8 of the worlds best Lambic producers would get together to brew one amazing beer is enough to wet out pants. The fact that it (expectedly) comes through is even better. We have one question though…where the hell is Cantillon?!

Resin ‘Flame Tree’ Amber Ale

Rating:

Glassware: American pint.

Appearance: Kinda muddy rusted amber with a rapidly vanishing head. Looks like there could be Co2 issues here. We sincerely hope not.

Aroma: Smells like it has life so that’s a good sign. Lovely wafts of sweet malts encapsulating toffee, caramel and nutty grains. Fleeting hints of Asian herbs like lemongrass and coriander, a touch of peppercorn, fleshy stonefruit like paw paw and rock melon, apricot, kumquat and marmalade are all tied up in a neat little package. Quite a nice aroma in the end.

Flavour: Ok the Co2 worries we had at the beginning are all but gone…it just simply didn’t retain its head. It opens with a fruity kick and a solid support from semi sweet toffee and caramelised malts. Subtle jabs of citrus, peppery spice and herbs are thrown the whole way through until it punctuates on a dry yet malty sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: A little sticky, gelatinous and well rounded. There’s a nice line of hop bitterness, a slightly flat-ish Co2 and the 6% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: That’s 3/3 for this respectable, new-ish brewery. We wouldn’t go as far as saying this is an American style Amber Ale but there’s definitely a lifted hop presence and a higher ABV to boot. We likey!

Counter Culture ‘Holy Grain’ Honey Toasted Hazy IPA

Rating:

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Bright golden complexion with little haze. It forms two fingers of fluffy and well retained head which goes the distance. A nice smattering of lace decorates the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: For a rather light aroma there’s surprisingly good depth. It kicks off with a hint of hop oil and pine needle then it’s quickly chased by a mix of stonefruit and passionfruit, dried coconut, creamy oats, vanilla, wholemeal toast and semi sweet honey. Buried a little deeper are the hallmark hazy characters i.e frosty fruits, brekky juice/concentrate, paw paw, papaya etc. We haven’t been digging Sabro lately but we dig it here.

Flavour: Sweet and creamy upfront with the Sabro front and center. Coconut, vanilla, oat cream, sweet orange citrus and stonefruit. Toasted grains and subtle honey sweetness add an interesting, albeit subtle, element. Even more so when it meets the juicy and citrusy notes late in the piece. She really dries out in the finish and carries piney, citrusy and creamy notes for days.

Mouthfeel: Fluffy, creamy and aerated. Quite light on actually. Mild-medium body. 6.2% ABV is well positioned.

Overall: We can say with certainty that this new release blows Earl Of Swirl out of the water. It’s fun and well structured. Good beer.