Van Steenberge ‘Gulden Draak’ Belgian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Dark mahogany colour. Aromas of fruitcake, bubblegum, rum-raisin, nutmeg, and spiced pumpkin with a satiny, bright, effervescent, very sweet medium-to-full body and a medium-length egg custard, nut shells, and parchment finish. A very sweet beer that might be a nice holiday desert pairing.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours quite light for an Impy Stout. Looks more like a Quad or a Brown Ale with deep burgundy hues. It caps off with two fingers of finely beaded head which retains. Healthy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Intriguing to say the least. We can’t get past this pronounced burned plastic scent which also hints at band aids and a touch of chlorine. Definitely an undesirable and points to poor rinsing of cleaning products in the tank. Luckily it fades out and the classic Quad-like yeast-driven esters, dark fruits i.e raisin, prunes/dates and plum, carob, burnt brown sugar, all spice and toasted pumpernickel come through.

Flavour: Far better than the nose. That gross burnt plastic note has completely vanished and the rich Quad-like flavours dominate; sweet and sugary dates/prunes, raisin and fig, yeast esters, spice, carob, rich toffee, molasses, pumpernickel and mild roasted malts on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Super smooth and creamy, full bodied. Very finely carbed. The astonishing thing is the totally hidden 12% ABV…that is dangerous!

Overall: We thought we had a spoilt beer initially but it came back from the brink. Big time! We’d say it’s more Quad than Imperial Stout though. Still, a bloody decent drop in the end.

Zierholz ‘Hopmeister’ English Pale Ale

Rating:

“Crafted from prized British Maris Otter, Crystal and premium German Munich malts, this English Style Pale Ale combines fresh, fruity and zesty New Zealand hops and a biscuity malt with caramel sweetness followed by an appetizingly dry finish. The generous hopping will leave your tastebuds lingering and wanting one more. A great aperitif or as an accompaniment to grills, sausages and Mexican style dishes.”

Glassware: Shaker.

Appearance: Bold amber with a very mild haze. It forms a thumb of off white head which slowly retracts but still manages a wet and wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Extremely well balanced. Getting the heady notes of nutty and toasty malt initially then the slightly sweet and fruity hops in support. We’re also picking up more nuanced hints of orange citrus, caramel, light musky florals and earthy apricot. We love the fact it isn’t trying to be fancy, it’s just a really well structured aroma.

Flavour: The hop bitterness certainly shows some vigour. Instantly the dry bitterness and fruity/citrusy flavours compliment the toasty and earthy/nutty malts. That real pithy bitterness carries through the mid and lands on a toasty finish with mostly citrus and rind drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Fairly dry and bitter… intensifying in the swallow. Light-moderate body and Co2. We like the 5.1% ABV, it’s just slightly higher than average but not enough to notice.

Overall: A very respectable interpretation of an English Pale Ale. The base malt profile is spot on and the combination of Aussie and NZ hops adds a touch of new world flair. But without going over the top. Diggin it.

Alesmith ‘Speedway Stout – Espresso & Vanilla’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Creamy espresso and lush Madagascar Vanilla add to the robust chocolate and coffee flavors Speedway fans already know and love and that classic 12% Imperial Stout punch will have you feeling juuuust right.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a thumb of dark brown head emerging on top. It gradually recedes and leaves a cascading lace down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: The overall balance is exceptional. The olfactories are inundated with everything from rich molasses and licorice to fresh vanilla and cinnamon-esque spices. Then it’s layered with heady dark and jammy fruits, sweet espresso, cocoa, dark chocolate, treacle/toffee and even a touch of grassy/herbal hops. We can pick up a slight hit of booze but it’s excusable considering its weight (12%).

Flavour: Doing all the right things early in the piece. Although it comes on with a rather fierce booze burn it’s backed up by a swathe of dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla, rich dark fruits, earthy hops and heavily charred malt. The chocolate and cocoa side of it really intensifies midway…hitting a rich saucy note that softens the espresso. Nice roasty and bittersweet finish which goes the distance.

Mouthfeel: Thick and muscly. Slightly lifted Co2 for an Impy Stout. Big and somewhat abrasive 12% ABV. Again, acceptable considering its size.

Overall: We know this is gonna sound super critical but it just didn’t land the knockout blow for us. It’s a superb drop nonetheless, we’ve probably got our expectations set too high from just coming off that Hot Buttered Rum by Oskar Blues recently. Solid but not overly memorable.

Cavalier White Choc & Macadamia Brown Ale

Rating:

“Celebrating a 10 Year Anniversary, this Cavalier Ale is full of nutty, white chocolate notes and nitro adds to its creamy head.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Dark brown almost black with a big and creamy three finger head that holds together nicely. Not a whole lot of lace but there’s consistent rings marking each sip as we go.

Aroma: We could smell the white chocolate as we were pouring it into the glass. Loving how they’ve integrated the white chocolate in with the natural chocolate aromas of the roasted malts…the result smells like a freshly opened block of Top Deck! Also plenty of creamy macadamia, vanilla, cocoa and this strange herbal hop accent which quite honestly is plain old weird and could do without. Other than that it’s a fantastic aroma.

Flavour: It would be an absolutely delicious Brown Ale if it weren’t for this undesirable herbal hop note that has carried through from the nose. It tastes a little like mint choc chip but it has a slight chemical-like note which is a damn shame otherwise it really would have worked in well…even though it has nothing at all to do with the 2 feature flavours!

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Could have been a bit more considering it’s on nitro. Nice and rounded though, medium body. 5% ABV is well positioned.

Overall: This is a strange one. Honestly if they had called this a white chocolate and mint choc chip Brown Ale we’d be talking it up. The macadamia gets a bit lost in the whole herbal hop/mint kerfuffle though, which sucks. Look, not a bad drop it’s just confusing.

Smog City ‘Snugglebug’ Sour Blond w Raspberry & Boysenberry

Rating:

“Snugglebug’s elegant pale pink color and crackling carbonation prepares you for potent, ripe raspberry and blackberry coupled with a clean, moderate acidity that resembles a tart sparkling berry lemonade.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous maroon with a very faint purple highlight. It forms a finger of fizzy light pink head which slowly peels off. Kind of a wet lace is dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Wow, it smells like a super sour pink lemonade with added sour apple, mixed red berries, freshly cut lemon and blueberry jam in support. There’s certainly a strong lacto quality to it, bordering on that funky yoghurt-like scent, alongside strong musty and bretty characters. Loving the subtle touch of vanillin oak that constantly comes through too. Damn fine aroma.

Flavour: It comes on with an almighty sourness which is accentuated further by the tart mixed berries and sour lemon. A touch of red wine vinegar is balanced by the subtle oak midway. It all surges forward into this candy-esque finish where we get a tonne of red berry sherbet, candied lemon and chalky vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and dry. The acidity almost has a burn to it. Super vibrant Co2, light-moderate body. Only 4.8% ABV which is surprisingly low for U.S standards!

Overall: That’s a damn fine sour. It’s really cool to see their sour range hitting our shores. We remember visiting this brewery in LA and being very impressed. Solid beer from a solid brewery.

Oskar Blues ‘Ten Fidy – Hot Buttered Rum’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon & Rum Barrels with Natural Flavors.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Thick, muddy black complexion with a rapidly vanishing head. All that’s left is a bubbling island in the middle with no lace to speak of.

Aroma: There’s that much going on we don’t know where to start. The effect the double barrel ageing provides is huge. This marriage between the rum and bourbon is crazy, we’ve never encountered the two blending together as well as they have here before. Then there’s the crucial support role from molasses, licorice, toffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, toasted coconut, cinnamon-esque spice, dank musty oak and earthy charred malts. Ooofft!

Flavour: It’s a good thing we ate lunch before this. One – now we won’t pass out sitting up and two – we’re not gonna be able to taste anything else for hours! Like the aroma we’re getting a blast of rum and bourbon boosted by an ascending booze burn. Super rich toffee, molasses, licorice, dark chocolate, coffee, mixed spice, toasted coconut, burnt vanilla and a finish so hot and meaty it could have just come straight off the barby!

Mouthfeel: Unbelievably dense and heavy yet the perfect carb makes it feel lighter than it actually is. Full bodied and who could ignore that piss weak 16.5% ABV right?!

Overall: Just wow. And we thought we were getting elephants trunk from the fumes alone…once this thing is in your belly you know all about it. God damn impy stout heaven though. We can only dream that one day an Aussie brewery can produce BA Imperial Stouts on this level.

IronBark Hill Hazelnut Brown Ale

Rating:

“A smooth and medium bodied classic English style Ale. A very malt forward beer with biscuit, toffee and nutty flavours which dominate the palate. 5.2% ABV.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Displaying a deep amber with a candy red tint. Our vigorous pour yields an almost flat beer with little head and very little lacing.

Aroma: The hazelnut component is front and centre as expected. There’s a lovely earthy/toasty sweetness that this particular nut brings that works so well with not only Brown Ales but other medium darks like Ambers and Dark Ales. The hazelnuts are embraced by a hearty malt profile which offers robust notes of toast, buttery biscuits, toffee, tobacco and mild coffee. Getting a hint of something fruity too which is a nice touch.

Flavour: Quite flat and watery. This was our worry from the outset when it poured with almost no Co2. Then again, English ales are traditionally flat so we’ll cut them some slack there. The hazelnut doesn’t stand out as much, it’s kinda fallen back into line with everything else and what we’re getting now is a wider scope of the nutty malts, toast, caramel/toffee, doughy bread and subtle orange/marmalade.

Mouthfeel: Flat, a little lean and slippery but smooth as silk. Low Co2, moderately bodied. The 5.2% ABV is well placed.

Overall: Look it’s not going to blow the roofs off any houses but at its core it’s a fairly well executed Brown Ale. In saying that one of our biggest gripes with any dark ale is a thin body and unfortunately it’s guilty of that. Not bad but not great either.

Van Steenberge ‘Augustijn’ Tripel

Rating:

“The Augustijn label came into the Van Steenberge portfolio in 1978, when the brewery acquired the recipe of the beer the Augustijn Friars brewed in their monastery in Ghent.  To this day, it is the top selling beer label for the brewery. Brewed in the style of a Belgian tripel, this beer is a typical golden straw yellow with a rocky white head.   Lots of Belgian yeast notes, fruit sweetness and a little spice appear in the aroma.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Reasonably clear golden amber pour with a fluffy two finger head capping it off. Good retention and lacing as it subsides.

Aroma: Smells amazing. It’s honestly coming at us from all angles. At first we get a nose full of the semi sweet malts and honey then the fruity esters rock up with their freshly sliced pear/apple notes. Fresh coriander and hints of lemongrass then clove, star anise, black pepper etc. Definitely a barnyard funk to it, wheat grains and florals as well. Brilliant depth. Diggin it…big time!

Flavour: It’s a lot drier than what we’d anticipated. But we’re liking it here as we’ve seen so many decent Tripels fall short from an overly cloying sweetness. This one thankfully doesn’t have that. Pretty much a mirror image of the aroma – kicks off with semi sweet honey, fresh herbs and green apple/pear then it shifts into a dry, almost tangy and citrusy middle which sets up for the dry, yeasty and fruity finish.

Mouthfeel: Frothy, dry, highly carbed. Light and aerated body. A bit of warmth from the 9% ABV. So dangerously drinkable for near 10%!

Overall: World class. This and the Dubbel we reviewed last week were both absolutely sensational. Belgian brewing at its best.

Moon Dog ‘Breaker Of Chains’ Chilli & Vanilla Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Breaker of Chains Chilli and Vanilla Imperial Stout is a big, rich but extremely drinkable stout. Chipotle chilli is the star of the show, with a slow burning heat coming through. We’ve balanced the heat with subtle hints of vanilla and a deep, dark chocolate finish. Best enjoyed on the Iron Throne!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with two fingers of brown head on top. It gradually reduces and forms a halo with little lace as we go.

Aroma: Definitely getting that line of creamy vanilla cutting through the reasonably thick chocolate malts. The chilli is a bit more reserved though…don’t get us wrong there’s still enough there to give the nose hairs a tickle! We must admit the base stout is weak as piss. We can get sweet coffee, chocolate, dark fruits and a touch of molasses but it could easily pass as a hearty Dark Ale or Porter. Not big enough!

Flavour: Thankfully there’s a bit more fire (pun intended) here. Not really in the sense of heat from the chilli, just more overall vigour. Slightly bigger and more rounded chocolate, coffee and roasted malt…now there’s enough for the vanilla sweetness to counteract. The chilli turns it up a notch or two midway and rolls into a warming finish with mild char, coffee and dark chocolate on the back end.

Mouthfeel: A little too carbed for our liking but then again that could just be the lack of body showing through. Pretty smooth we’ll give it that. Hides the 7.7% ABV well too.

Overall: Not what we were hoping for lets put it that way. Too light on and nowhere the amount of oomph we come to expect from a near 8% Stout…even the chilli could have been dialled up a bit. A tad disappointing to be honest.

Van Steenberge ‘Augustijn’ Dubbel

Rating:

“Augustijn Donker is the logical addition to the existing beers Augustijn Blonde and Augustijn Grand Cru and is a true beer of 8% alc. that appeals both the occasional as the seasoned beer lover! With the grand balance between aroma, taste and after taste, the Augustijn Donker is added value in this segment and ensures that the range of Augustijn beers reflects a delicious spectrum of tastes within the rich Belgian beer culture. The beer is not distinctly sweet, as many would expect from a dark specialty beer. It tastes rather lightly smoked with a touch of nuts and caramel.”

Glassware: Trappist Goblet.

Appearance: Somewhat deep mahogany pour with a thumb of tanned foam atop. The head slowly peels off but leaves a magnificent lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: First impressions are excellent…super rich and complex. Chock-full of dark fruit sweetness and burnt brown/Candi sugars but there’s a big toasty malt profile that comes right over the top. Decadent caramel and toffee, sourdough, yeasty spice i.e clove, nutmeg etc, milk chocolate and raw mixed nuts fill it out even further. Almost getting a touch of honeycomb as well. Next level stuff.

Flavour: Holy moly it’s got everything…rich, roasty, sweet, earthy, nutty, fruity. There isn’t really one stand out flavour it’s just a huge blend of sweet Candi sugars, roasted malt, dark fruits, caramel and toffee, earthy spice, apple/pear, crusty sourdough, chocolate and subtle hints of banana. The evolution of flavour is off the charts…even after a minute or so after the last sip it’s still morphing.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and a little sticky. Well carbed as a good Dubbel should be. Medium-full body. The 8% ABV is very well concealed.

Overall: An extremely well executed Dubbel. Wouldn’t expect anything less from an OG like Van Steenberge. We honestly can’t believe we hadn’t reviewed this beer before. Sensational drop!

7th Day Brewery Pilsner

Rating:

“New World take on a European classic. Light, easy drinking lager with New World hops.”

Glassware: Flute.

Appearance: Clear straw golden complexion with two fingers of well retained head perched on top. It weaves a fine line down the glass.

Aroma: A little reserved but its main features would have to the candied lemon/lemonade, fresh herbs, pine needle and mandarin. A hint of grapefruit and passionfruit coming through as subtle support. There’s a grainy/crackery malt structure along with fleeting hints of earth, light florals and detergent. Not bad, certainly in the new world style.

Flavour: Much fuller and more rounded as opposed to the aroma. There’s a really delicate tropical fruit note that’s decided to grace us with its presence. Mixed orange citrus, biscuit malts, a touch of semi sweet honey, pine resin and fruity herbs like lemon thyme, verbena and sage. Kind of a light and herbaceous finish which offers decent length.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, fairly clean and light on. Mild-moderate body and Co2. 4.9% ABV is well positioned in the beer.

Overall: This is our first crack at 7th Day and while it didn’t blow us away it was still quite a good Pilsner. Lots of new world hop character but still light and crushable. Not bad.

Stockade 2021 vintage ‘Old Money’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Aged in Whisky barrel this massive beer has thick, velvety chocolate tones, coupled with rich raisin and currant notes.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a thumb of brown foam which gradually retracts. It settles at the rim and leaves a beautiful cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: The intensity of the whiskey is next level…it’s almost a bloody boilermaker! Surely there was a bit of leftover whiskey left in the barrels before the beer went in. We’d love to know what whiskey the barrels held beforehand as it has a certain Lowland-esque saltiness, peat and wood based vanilla. The base Stout also offers a rich and complex mix of molasses, licorice, dark chocolate and ash.

Flavour: The whiskey component is ridiculous…it’s almost straight out of the bottle except for the booze burn. Massive amounts of salted dark chocolate, peat, old oak, musty sauna room, vanilla and molasses. Some mild smoky notes and ash, licorice, dark fruits and treacle just for extra measure. The finish is so dank, musty and whiskey-driven it’s not funny. Exceptional length too.

Mouthfeel: Beer soup…thick and viscous, low Co2 and full body. 13.5% ABV is tasted and felt! This is a proper onslaught.

Overall: As much as we LOVE the intensity we feel it needs some extra balance. Something sweet or spicy like maple, vanilla or cinnamon. This is the biggest difference between the best BA Stouts from the USA and ours…balance. It’s not often we’re overwhelmed but we are on this one. Wow!

Moon Dog ‘Watchers On The Wall’ White Choc Imperial White Ale

Rating:

“Venture beyond the wall with this Imperial White Ale! Creamy white chocolate dominates the palate with a gentle warming finish and an almost icy looking pour. Best enjoyed North of the Wall! Brewed to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Game of Thrones.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Kinda burnished orange with a finger of off white head. It slowly deconstructs and forms a halo which struggles to produce any lace.

Aroma: Very rich and moreish. Obviously the white chocolate is front and centre with its irresistibly sweet and creamy notes but we’re also picking a jammy raspberry quality which works in beautifully. Anything else we’re getting is slightly nuanced…ripe orange, vanilla, fresh herbs and white petalled flowers like orchids or daisies. Very nice!

Flavour: Follows on from the nose with a tonne of creamy vanilla-laden white chocolate, raspberry coulis, subtle orange and sweet malts entering the fray as well – caramel/toffee and a hint of cookie dough. From here it turns a little syrupy and cloying though, finishing with a slightly acrid booze and artificial white chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Super creamy and smooth. A little sharp and astringent late in the piece. Low-ish Co2 and medium body. As we mentioned the 9% ABV is a little overzealous.

Overall: Although we’re not fans of Game Of Thrones we were instantly keen to try this (and it’s darker pairing – the chilli Stout). The fundamental idea, the artwork and edgy beer styles are all very clever. The actual beer itself is good too, some faults here and there but essentially it’s pretty impressive.

Brouwerij Henricus ‘Paljas’ Saison

Rating:

“Paljas Saison is an unfiltered and high fermented Ale with refermentation in the bottle. The use of a certain percentage of wheat and the little use of dry-hopping gives the beer a very nice flavor and fresh aroma. Specific yeast makes sure almost all sugars are fermented which makes it a dry and fluent drinkable beer for nice summer days.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Slightly hazy straw golden pour with a short fizzy head which fades quickly. It still manages an excellent wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: It’s not really lifting out of the glass a whole lot. A vigorous swirl opens up the estery yeast characters; apple/pear, rosewater and subtle spicy notes alongside delicate candied lemon, Angostura bitters and herbal honey. Again very mild but evident wheat grains and straw/hay mixed in with some fruit sweetness…mostly stonefruits like peach, melon and apricot. Lovely nose, just wish it had more oomph!

Flavour: Pretty conventional which comes as no surprise as they hail from the holy land – Flanders. It’s a fair bit drier than your DuPont’s and Fantôme’s and seems to be lacking the acetic citrus and bretty funk that’s so synonymous with the style. All we really get is a musty dryness, some fruity hops and a slightly dry and grainy finish. Not a lot of depth to it at all.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat dry, mineraly, a tad soapy. Sparkling Co2. Mild-moderate body. 6% ABV is on point.

Overall: Not sold. It comes up short in a lot of departments and just seems really tired too. The bottle already has 8 months on it so age could be a factor. Although Saison’s are known to have a better shelf life than most so…….yeah, a big fat meh.

The Bruery ‘Back To Basics’ Spiced Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Who said innovation can’t take you back to the basics? A wise Bruer once said, “spice is life,” and this imperial stout certainly takes that to heart. Brewed with pumpkin, dulce de leche, coffee, milk sugar, and vanilla, this seasonably fashionable imperial stout was inspired by the familiarly decadent flavors of a pumpkin spiced latte.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short dark brown head which quickly fades. It struggles to produce much lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: There’s certainly a big impression of mixed spice i.e clove, nutmeg, aniseed, star anise and cinnamon but they’re finely balanced by strong and nutty coffee, creamy vanilla and milk sugars, treacle and red peppers. It’s funny we were expecting to get a big hit of pumpkin but it’s surprisingly timid.. we can pick up a very faint earthy/vegetal quality but it’s very subdued. Alas, it’s still a lovely aroma.

Flavour: Holy testicle Tuesday this is packing some serious punch. The slightly dominant spice on the nose has fallen into line and the pumpkin has been given a boost. Then there’s everything else…coffee, vanilla, licorice, treacle, toffee, lactose/milk sugars, molasses, leather, charred malts and gentle smoky notes. Oopht!

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and slick. Really coats the whole palate. Full bodied, low Co2. 11.2% ABV is fairly well behaved for its size.

Overall: Jeez it’s good to have them back! We keep harping on about how average Churriosity was (seriously it was) so it really is good to have them back to their brilliant best. Keep em comin lads!

Bad Shepherd ‘Aries’ ESB

Rating:

“The long-awaited return of our ESB is finally here with a new name and fresh look. Originally launched in 2016 as part of our Brew Crew Series, our take on the traditional British style Extra Special Bitter pours a beautiful rusty hue with subtle hints of caramel and biscuit malt, and a delightfully creamy mouthfeel. The name is a nod to the mighty Ram; a symbol synonymous with change and as we leave 2020 in our dust, we are all looking forward to that.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Bold amber with full clarity. It whips up a two finger head which holds for a little while but eventually peels off. Nice webbed lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: It’s noticeably sweet but with a soft touch of toasty malt which takes some of the edge off the heady caramels, toffee and honeysuckle. Quite musky and floral with a distinct Noble hop-like quality which provides earthy and herbal accents. Slightly syrupy/cloying which is a shame though. It ain’t bad just seems a little off the pace.

Flavour: Delivered with a lot more balance. We’re getting more of a robust earthy-ness which counters the malt sweetness nicely. Mild orange citrus, musk/florals, honey and toasty malts through the mid then rolling into a nice toasty finish with delicate caramel sweetness and earthy herbals drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Slick but still somewhat crisp and clean. Moderately bodied, finely carbonated. 4.9% ABV is about on par for the style.

Overall: It’s a fairly decent crack at an ESB but it doesn’t really cut the mustard unfortunately. Maybe it’s all these Fuller’s Vintage Ales we’ve been treating ourselves to lately that’s set the bar too high! Not bad but not great either.

Aether ‘Deep Space Haze’ Hazy Pale Ale

Rating:

“Deep Space Haze Hazy Pale ale was created amidst the 2020 Australian Hop Harvest. We set to work creating a wet hop, hazy pale . We fell so in love with the beer, that we decided that we wanted it as part of our core range… and while we couldn’t keep the wet hop component we could adjust the hop bill to add even more amazing Australian hops. Please welcome, Deep Space Haze to our already stellar core range.”

Glassware: Shaker.

Appearance: Uber hazy apricot coloured pour with a thumb of sturdy white head resting atop. Slow reduction and healthy lace on the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: One of the things we notice instantly is the nectar-filled fruits; passionfruit, peach, mango, guava and orange. Subtle herbals and florals, soft piney notes, frosty fruits and paw paw. The malt bill is definitely dry and doughy, a little crusty at times as well. Fleeting chalky notes too. Pretty damn good if we must say!

Flavour: Wasn’t expecting such a huge explosion of flavour but it comes on with a massive wave of of stonefruit – peach, apricot and melon alongside tart passionfruit and orange, subtle brekky juice and pine. Slightly pithy in the middle with an assertive bitterness that carries it through to the bone dry and citric finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly creamy initially then quite dry and bitter post swallow. Medium body with a vibrant carb. 5.2% ABV is neither here nor there.

Overall: Very flavoursome that’s for sure but maybe a tad too bitter for a hazy in our opinion. We’re looking for that super creamy, juicy and fluffy quality in a hazy. Big ups on the artwork though…very eye-catching.

The Bruery ‘Oatmeal Cookie’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Sink your teeth into this boldy decadent, freshly-baked imperial stout. This barrel-aged treat was brewed with old-fashioned oats and packed full of cinnamon, raisins, and granola for the perfect balance of sweetness, spice, and chocolatey richness, reminiscent of oatmeal cookies hot off the pan.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Glossy black with two fingers of finely beaded tan foam perched on top. Good retention and a gorgeous cascading lace is left on the glass.

Aroma: One of the first things to hit the olfactories is the cinnamon…and we looovvveee cinnamon! It’s cool the way it evolves too coz the cinnamon kinda folds into the dark fruit sweetness which in turn makes way for the sweet and spicy bourbon and subtle musty oak. Then add on top the maple-esque sweetness, cinnamon Cheerio’s and soft creamy oats. We haven’t even mentioned the chocolate and licorice from the base stout yet either! Solid.

Flavour: Again it’s all about the cinnamon and the balance from the dark fruit sweetness and the delicate bite from the bourbon/barrels. Tasting the oatmeal more than what was perceived on the nose. Coconut/vanilla, maple, oats, brown sugar…even a touch of apple pie. And even with all of this pastry goodness it still manages a hearty stout base of milk chocolate, roasted malt, licorice and fig.

Mouthfeel: Unbelievably smooth and velvety. Mild-moderate Co2. Full body. 10.2% ABV is completely hidden.

Overall: The Bruery are back to their best for this one. We were pretty disappointed by Churriosity but we had a gut feeling it was just a rare one off. It’s great to see them right back on the money. It’s sweet, savoury, spicy, roasty and even grainy. Delish!

De Molen ‘Bommen & Granaten’ BA Barleywine

Rating:

“Barley wine aged for a year on whisky & wine barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours a deep burgundy hue with a short head which snaps back to the rim. Minimal lace as we go.

Aroma: We’re getting a tonne of the classic rich malty sweetness but it’s the flamboyant fusion of whiskey and wine that has piqued our interest. It’s so well integrated we can’t tell where the whiskey starts and where the wine ends….then right in the centre is this decadent concoction of dark fruits, rich caramel/toffee, Rosé Port, burnt orange, caramelised sugars, soy sauce, vanilla, mixed spice and botanicals.

Flavour: Pretty much the same reaction we gave the aroma…wow! Bourbon, wine barrel, warming booze, rich sweet malts and dark fruits rush the front palate. A slightly bitter burnt orange note mixes with hints of Brandy and Rosé Port midway then leads into an intense finish of burnt sugars, toffee, orange rind, caramelised pear and red wine.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy and gelatinous. Low-ish Co2 but full body. The 13.1% ABV is ridiculously well concealed.

Overall: Even though it only comes in 330ml bottles our advice is to share it. Not only for the sheer weight of it but the extremely rich flavour profile. Very very complex but very very nice!

Hargreaves Hill ‘Pursuit Of Hoppiness #9’ Single Hop IPA

Rating:

“Number #9 is an Oat Cream IPA featuring one of our favourite hops Mosaic; used generously throughout the brewing process from the kettle to the tank. It creates a wonderfully complex beer with a rich, smooth and creamy mouthfeel to compliment a truly unique hop.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Light pastel yellow with a fairly mild haze. It forms a finger of fizzy head which gradually peels off and drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: If there was ever a perfect hop for a single hop IPA it would be Mosaic…the amount of character that can be drawn out of this wonder-hop is incredible. We’re picking up oodles of tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple, passionfruit, candied lemon, unripened peach and guava. Lots of pine and citrus, fresh herbs and vanilla/lactose. Creamy oats and bread crusts filling it all out.

Flavour: Not as creamy and sweet as most other Oat Cream IPA’s we’ve had but the Mosaic hops offer a wonderful array of tropical fruit, pine and mixed herbs. Struggling to find anything that points to the “Oat Cream” side of things. Ok there’s a very subtle hint of vanilla and oats but that’s about it. Quite crisp and citrusy midway then finishes fruity and a touch dry.

Mouthfeel: Nicely aerated, a little dry and chalky. Mild-medium body. Nice vibrant Co2.

Overall: After #8 (Imperial Red IPA) we were quietly hoping they’d keep with that trajectory and go for a black IPA or something a little different for the 9th instalment. This Single Hop Oat Cream IPA was a bit of a let down to be honest…we want to see more variety in this series!