Counter Culture ‘Dark Unicorn’ Salted Choc Scotch Ale

Rating:

“According to age-old accounts, at the drawing of each winter, the Dark Unicorn makes its way down from the cliffs and into the towns to deliver strength to the Scottish people to carry on through the final dark days of the long, cold season. Taking inspiration from this tale of power and majesty, Counter Culture presents Dark Unicorn: a malt driven scotch ale, aged in Starward Whiskey barrels with lashings of Chocolate a touch of salt and an ABV of 7.6%. The perfect companion for winter’s last cold days, capture the magic of Dark Unicorn while you can, for it may not be seen this way again.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Deep amber with an evident candy red tint. A tan head swells to about a thumb in height before gradually peeling off. It weaves a nice wavy lace down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: At first it’s a proper malt bomb…oodles of toffee and salted caramel, cocoa powder, doughy bread, golden raisins and honeysuckle but as it settles the slightly peaty and ashy Scotch begins to creep through – albeit conservatively. A very muted hop character provides hints of dank and earthy herbs, orchard fruits and woody notes. Not bad, could do with a stronger Scotch profile though.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose. A blend of sweet, toasty and chocolate malts which display burnt toffee, salted caramel, cooking chocolate, burnt toast, dark fruits and tobacco. The Scotch eventually enters the fray with soft ash and peat and the old world hops bring a certain ESB/English strong ale quality of old woody notes and musky florals. Nice roasty/toasty finish with a lingering hop dryness.

Mouthfeel: Pretty slick and chewy. A definite dryness developing in the swallow. Medium body, mild-medium Co2. The 7.6% ABV is pretty well concealed.

Overall: Not a whole lot of Scotch in this Scotch Ale. Lucky the adjuncts work in really well! At its core it’s a good beer though…comes off like an English strong ale with the Scotch qualities a little restrained. Not bad.

Sunday Road ‘Skinny Dip’ West Coast IPA

Rating:

“Skinny dipping = freedom. We’ve taken inspiration from this most basic of pleasures and jumped right into a different technique to fill you up with hoppy goodness. We’ve used a new technique in this West Coast IPA called DIP-hopping that adds an additional stage between the whirlpool and the conventional dry-hop addition. We’ve done this to keep myrcene levels low and let the best parts of hops shine through.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber with full transparency. It forms a finger of off white head which retains well. Brilliant cascading lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Quite a hefty malt backbone to it…not surprised considering the depth of colour. Mostly sweet and a little toasty with dominant caramel, dark honey, buttery biscuits and toast. The hops cut through the malts beautifully too – sharp pine needle, mildly dank resins, tree sap, old herbs/vines, ruby grapefruit, orange peel and mixed tropical fruits. Getting a subtle candied accent to it as well. Keep it coming!

Flavour: It transitions well and the balance is spot on too. From the start to the finish there’s a constant tussle between the sweet and toasty malts (burnt caramel, toffee, honey on toast, biscuits) and the Pacific Northwest hops (pine, shallot, ruby grapefruit, citrus rind, slightly dank herbals and resins). Nice aggressive bitterness, some warmth and citric acidity to finish.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and smooth then dry and a little soapy in the swallow. Assertive bitterness, medium body, mild-moderate Co2. 7.2% ABV is bang on where it should be.

Overall: Sunday Road are fast becoming one of our go-to breweries for West Coast IPA’s. Blackwoods APA, 6 Foot & Offshore and now this. All of them are perfectly balanced and big on aroma and flavour. Really digging these guys at the moment.

Stillwater X Casita ‘Flat Earth’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Imperial stout with burnt caramel, black truffle & lava salt.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short dark brown cap which disappears as quickly as it emerged. It retains a thin halo which manages a consistent set of rings as we sip.

Aroma: This is packing some serious heat. Honestly if we were blindfolded and had to guess what we had we’d be saying it was a BCBS variant as the sheer size and decadence of this is next level. And it’s not even barrel aged! Massive wafts of rich toffee and treacle, molasses, Ribena, salted dark chocolate, sweet espresso and cigar box enjoy support from hints of earthy truffle, raw vanilla and syrupy dark fruits. Oopht!

Flavour: Literally has the texture of sump oil. It initiates with a cameo of warming booze but it quickly lays down for the uber rich and hedonistic molasses, treacle, sweet espresso and toffee. Intense vanilla, dates/prunes, earthy truffle and cigar skins continue with a real faint smoky/ashy note forming late. It rounds off on a burnt yet sweet, fruity yet earthy and salty finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick beer soup…it’s so dense we could almost eat it with a spoon. Low Co2, full-bodied. The 13% ABV does come in and out but it’s very well behaved for its size.

Overall: Holy bejeezus that’s a big beer. We remember being big fans of Stillwater when they first burst on to the Aussie scene – before Aussie craft hit its straps all those years ago. This reminds us exactly why were such big fans. Word of advice though…share this bad boy!

Five barrel ‘Wildside’ American Brown Ale

Rating:

“Brown Ales originated in the UK where dark beers started to vary more and more as Pale Ales started to grown in popularity. The influence of traditional Porters are evident as you usually see darker malt take center stage, providing a rich and bitter malt character, as well as colour. Our American Brown Ale uses the classic UK Brown Ale profile with a fuller body and bigger hop profile. We’ve incorporated UK and American hops to add a layer of familiarity and a nod to the heritage of the style. It is an amazingly drinkable beer, and one that we’d like to see more of!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Muddy light brown with mahogany highlights. A thumb of tan foam is assembled and holds its shape well. Patchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Pretty basic four to the floor fragrance. A solid base of toasty and nutty malts, burnt cocoa, delicate coffee, earthy/woody notes and soft dark fruits. The hops do create that crucial Black IPA-like quality but it ends there…it’s really hard to call out any particular scent. Maybe just the slightest hint of pine creeping through but it’s way too gentle. Citrus rind…hhmm…again, maybe? Here’s hoping the flavour kicks off.

Flavour: Nope, unfortunately it’s more of the same restrained hops and typical malt characters. As we push on we’re finding that the restrained hops are more dominant than the malt. And thats saying something. At times we’re reminded of that meme of the stickman prodding the lifeless being on the ground saying “do something”. It barely offers anything but a light toasty-ness, a wee hint of nutty malt and coffee in the finish.

Mouthfeel: It holds up alright actually. A slightly lifted Co2 definitely helps. A tad watery, mild-medium body. 5.8% ABV is tucked away quite well.

Overall: Well that was an unpleasant surprise, we must admit. It’s very rare to see such an average beer from 5 Barrel but that’s exactly what it is. Just lacking in almost every department. Except for the mouthfeel! Disappointing.

Resin Brewing ‘Mavericks’ West Coast IPA

Rating:

“Our Mavericks West Coast IPA was named after California’s big bad break itself. This one is for the pros, and if you can’t surf it, at least you’ll be able to drink it. It’s an old-school dry West Coast IPA with a malty backbone and firm bitterness. Featuring Chinook, Columbus & Centennial hops to give notes of resin, pine and lemon rind.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Bright golden pour with almost 100% clarity. It forms a sturdy two finger head which persists. Healthy lace clinging to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: We were expecting a big smack in the face from the hops but we’re getting a lovely caramel malt sweetness instead. It’s proper old school in its hop profile which we love…lots of pine resin, candied lemon, orange peel, tangerine, subtle ruby grapefruit, light florals and herbals. The caramel sweetness not only balances out the hops but it plays a rather big role in the make up of the aroma.

Flavour: It’s been flipped nicely. That caramel malt sweetness takes a step back and let’s the hops take charge. It’s interesting though as the flavour profile of the hops is different to the aroma – we’re getting a lot more herbals and pithy rind alongside hints of boiled candy and pine resin. It really dries up late in the piece and finishes with an extremely bitter and acidic citrus which hangs on.

Mouthfeel: A little prickly, bitter and dry. Mild-medium body and carbonation. 6.5% ABV provides a bit of warmth.

Overall: Come to think of it we may have confused the “malt sweetness” character with a touch of diacetyl. It’s quite subtle though and doesn’t detract from the rest of the beer. The flavour profile lacks a bit of polish as well but in the end it’s not a bad drop.

Evil Twin ‘Imperial Biscotti Break’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“The Roman Empire had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ – festive food culture, extravagant architecture and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen – that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient – keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a thumb of finely beaded foam resting atop. Reasonable retention and a cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow is this a pastry Stout or a creamy iced coffee with almond powder and vanilla?! And where the hell is that ominous-looking 11.5% ABV hiding? This gunna be dangerous 😬 First thing off is the coffee – sweet yet nutty and a little fruity. The Stout base, although reserved, still hits with a one-two of roasted malt, chocolate, beef jerky and molasses. Creamy vanilla/lactose and subtle almond/hazelnut to round it off. Supoib.

Flavour: Exact mirror image of the aroma. First up are the sweet and creamy aspects i.e vanilla, muscovado sugar and cocoa powder which passes the baton to the nutty, fruity and slightly acidic coffee. An inkling of warmth creeps in as it hits a gentle roasty note midway which then carries it all into an unbelievably smooth, creamy, slightly roasty and nutty finish that really draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and dense yet so well aerated. The 11.5% ABV…oopht… incredibly well concealed. Medium-full body, super tight carbonation.

Overall: You know what this is…this is The Bruery style pastry Stout without the price tag. It’s been a long time between drinks for us and Evil Twin and this corker of a beer is a reminder to keep in touch! Brilliant.

Tallboy & Moose X Beerfarm ‘Green Muse’ Wormwood Dubbel

Rating:

“Green Muse 6.3% ABV Belgian Dubbel w/ Wormwood collab. with Beerfarm (WA) – Business in the front, party in the back…this brew takes a classic Belgian style offroad (with monster-truck tyres on the Ute). The fruity esters and sweet malts greet you as expected and then this beer throws a curveball. Wormwood, often used in absinth and other aperitifs sweeps through with a bold cleansing bitterness. All up the Green Muse presents on the drier side, and rewards many sips with complex flavourful refreshment.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Pours an attractive deep ruby red with light mahogany hues. Just a short off white head comes together but dispersed just as quickly. Nice wavy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: We wanted to review this literally coz we were fascinated at how the wormwood would be presented. We love Dubbels as well so we guess it wasn’t the sole reason! Classic semi rich malts meet the olfactories instantly followed by the rather savoury and sage-like herbals, peppery spice, earthy notes, subtle toffee and honeysuckle. It does have a kinda green tea character to it as well. Smells good.

Flavour: It comes on with a well tempered malt sweetness but it’s very short lived as the hallmark bitterness of the wormwood kicks into gear. First the peppery and earthy herbal flavours then the abrasive bitterness takes hold. Burnt toffee and toasty malts counteract a little but not enough as it surges into an extremely bitter finish with a delicate malt sweetness on the flank.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and sticky initially then dry and a little coarse in the swallow. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 6.3% ABV is nicely poised.

Overall: Our only other experience with wormwood until today was with good old Absinthe so it’s safe to say the memories are fun (and a little hazy) but the palate wouldn’t say the same. In this case the sweet malts save it from a similar fate. The positive is we can say we’ve tried it.

Molly Rose ‘Peach!’ BA Peach Sour

Rating:

“Two barrels of beer were sitting quietly alone together for many, many months. Until one day their silence was excited by buckets of peaches! Over time the quiet old beer and buckets of peaches joined forces and they formed a single entity…Peach! was born.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Slightly hazy straw golden complexion with a rapidly vanishing head. Absolutely zilch in the way of retention and lacing.

Aroma: Smells fantastic. The alluring scent of fresh peach fills the nose with sweet yet slightly savoury and acidic notes. It also gives off suggestions of watered down pine-lime cordial, light florals and peach skins. Well integrated wafts of sherbet, green grapes, almond, freshly sliced pear and rock candy as well. The description mentions barrels were used to age the beer in but we aren’t really detecting much there. Alas, it’s still an excellent aroma.

Flavour: We won’t lie we were hoping for a bit more punch from the sourness. Especially as the quality of the aroma was up there. Still getting a lovely exhibition of peach with its delicious sweetness and mild acidity. Like the aroma we’re getting watered down pine-lime cordial, florals, peach skins and green grapes which lay down for a sweet, slightly tart and tangy finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Light on, crisp and zesty. Really nice and refreshing effervescence to it. 5.4% ABV is neither here nor there. Pucker rating an approachable 2/5.

Overall: Solid little sour this one. We haven’t really been blown away with anything from MR just yet but they definitely show promise. Would have loved to see a bit more sharpness from the lacto here but essentially it’s a decent entry level fruited sour.

8 Wired ‘Gorky Park’ BBA Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

A big, heavy Russian imperial stout aged for two years in American bourbon barrels. A regal brew fit for evil empires of all shapes and forms, inspired by poetry and raised to the sounds of industrial heavy metal.

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with a fizzy short brown cap which slowly recedes. It eventually settles at the rim with a wet lace dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Ok well we weren’t expecting this slightly sour quality. We’ve let it settle now and it still displays a rather strong cherry-infused sourness which is far from what we’re after in a BBA Imperial Stout. It’s strange though coz the Bourbon/barrels do come through and it works in to the cherry quite nicely but it still begs the question.. why the hell is a BBA Russian Imperial Stout sour? Especially when there’s no mention of it anywhere in its description.

Flavour: We really don’t understand what angle they’re coming from here. If it were a BBA Imperial Stout with some sort of souring yeast or fruit then it would be shaping up to be a decent beer but there aren’t so it only leads us to believe the beer is infected. But to add more confusion it seems as if they meant for it to be slightly sour coz in a strange way it comes together. The downside again is that we didn’t buy a sour stout, we bought a BBA Imperial Stout!

Mouthfeel: Slick, relatively smooth and oily but with a discernible pursing of the lips. Mild-moderate Co2, medium-full body. 12.6% ABV.

Overall: One big old WTF?! It’s hard to know if they meant it or not. We know 8 Wired really ate up the sour movement years ago so it would kinda make sense that they did. We’re traditionalists…don’t mess with a BBA Russian Imperial Stout unless you’re sure it’s gonna come off. Unfortunately this one hasn’t.

Schorschbrau ‘Schorschbock’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“Schorschbräu is known worldwide for its strong beers. This SchorschBock 13 is a perfect example of it. This German beer has a nice orange robe topped by a fine white head. On the nose, you will find notes of spices, mildly roasted malt and a fruity aroma. In the mouth, the alcohol is dominant but well balanced with flavours of caramel, peach and a smoky note.”

Glassware: Stein.

Appearance: Deep mahogany pour with a short tan head which rapidly fizzes out. There’s almost zero head remaining and zero lace as a result.

Aroma: Oh my Lord what have we here?! First thoughts are apple and blackcurrant juice spiked with pure alcohol. Then the heavily caramelised malts take over; treacle, toffee and rich caramel fudge. Fist fulls of sweet dark fruits i.e raisins, prunes, dates, fig, blood plum and red grape juice. Christmas cake and spices, gingerbread, caramelised pear/apple and subtle toasty notes. Wow!

Flavour: Lands somewhere between an Eisbock, a Barleywine and a Quadrupel. It is so jam packed upfront it’s impossible to know where to start. This residual sugary sweetness dominates…dark fruits, Christmas cake, Port, sweet earthy spice, toffee, treacle and a soft roasty-ness. It progresses into a more yeast-driven middle: banana split, thick honey and apple pie then on to a somewhat roasty, uber rich and sweet caramelised finish for days.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy, sticky and syrupy. Full bodied, low carbonation. 13% ABV is perceptible as anticipated.

Overall: Apart from the sudden rush of alcohol to the brain this Doppelbock/Barleywine/Quad/whatever you want to call it is literally face-numbing, enamel-stripping, hangover-inducing Jesus juice. Bring the noise!

Mr Banks ‘Sweet Axe Skills’ DDH Double IPA

Rating:

“This is an ultimate juice bomb & we think one of the very best DIPA’s we have brewed to date. With some of the Finest Air freighted hops – Nelson Sauvin, Rakau & Motueka straight outta Freestyle Hop Farms in NZ, this has all the juicy tropical vibes & a mouthfeel you could replace your Memory foam pillow with..”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Turbid pastel orange with soft sandy highlights. A thumb of finely beaded white foam emerges and holds together nicely. Healthy lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: This trio of Kiwi hops (Nelson Sauvin, Rakau and Motueka) provides a really green and resinous backdrop with tonnes of mixed fresh herbs, juicy tropical fruits like guava, pineapple, lychee and mango, green fruits like honeydew and kiwifruit, peach skins, tomato vines, orange juice and nectar/passionfruit. Somewhat hard to detect the malt profile but it appears pretty dry, oaty and cereal-driven.

Flavour: Incredibly smooth and juicy. Still getting the super green, piney and resinous overtones but the sweet and sticky tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, orange and passionfruit) have been given a bit of a boost. Definitely tasting more of the creamy oats here. A hint of peppery spice and a cheeky little addition of dried apricot setting up for the sweet, tropical and herbaceous finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth AF! It almost has a nitro feel to it. Really coats the whole palate. Medium body. The 8.3% ABV… almost totally hidden.

Overall: Mr Banks, in our opinion, would most likely be the brewery to take on MC for the title. This is a very solid hazy, probably the best crack at the style they’ve ever released. Still a ways to go to take the number 1 spot though!

Amager Bryghus X Modern Times ‘Black Nordic Skies’ Coffee Imperial Stout

Rating:

“The Lone Horseman is a ghostly phantom found in tales throughout the Nordic countries. According to legend, he will appear only on the darkest of nights and only when the polar lights ignite the skies. A knight in shining armor on a majestic bright white horse it is said, but no one really knows. Because no one has lived to tell. At Amager you risk meeting The Lone Horseman on the desolate and windswept Kalvebod Commons, if for some godforsaken reason you should wander this wilderness area on a deep, dark night. If you do, you’ll most likely be hopelessly lost, because even the bright lights of nearby Copenhagen will be dimmed to black out there. And if you then hear the distant snorting of a horse and hooves slowly approaching, you may soon spy a gentle, gallant and soft-spoken knight who will offer you a ride out of the darkness and back into civilization. And as tempting as it may seem to accept his kind offer, you must now instead flee. Flee as fast as you can. But it will most likely already be too late, as that kind and mesmerizing voice will lure you in. But no one who actually climbed the The Lone Horseman’s horse under that black Nordic sky, has ever been seen again alive. Who he is, nobody knows; but that he’s still out there, everybody knows.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a short brown head which quickly dissolves. It settles at the rim and leaves a cascading lace as we go.

Aroma: We’re all about this as it’s not focussing so hard on the coffee. We LOVE coffee but any old part time brewer can add coffee to a Stout and immediately make it better. Here, the base Stout has just as much of a say and it talks big; heavily roasted malts, licorice, molasses, dark chocolate, ash, marzipan, burnt brown sugar and oatmeal. The beautiful coffee accents just compliment the already magnificent aroma.

Flavour: This just oozes class. Upfront we’re getting a delicious sweetness that wasn’t presenting itself on the nose. It’s kinda sugary, vanilla-esque and it cuts through the big and meaty roasted malts like a knife through soft butter. The coffee, as delicious as it is, only plays a support role for the rich molasses, licorice, ash, chocolate and roasted nutty characters that march through the mid and continue through to the indulgent finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense, luscious and oily. Medium-full body, low-ish Co2. 10.7% ABV is fairly noticeable but adds to the sheer size of it.

Overall: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… we’re proper fanboys of Amager. Love their beers, love the artwork and love the clever descriptions. Just an all round world class brewery

Brasserie Du Bocq ‘Tete De Mort’ Amber Tripel

Rating:

“A strong beer with complex flavors, the Tête de Mort makes a nice breeze wind throughout the body.”

Glassware: Trappist Goblet.

Appearance: Deep amber with shades of bronze. It forms a thumb of cappuccino head which slowly recedes. Nice wavy lace being left in its wake.

Aroma: Interesting. It’s like a hybrid between an Amber Ale and a Tripel. Now we feel like twats coz we just remembered it’s called an Amber Tripel 🙄. The fusion is really nice though…sweet honey malts and caramel – which certainly are not foreign in a traditional Tripel – are magnified and enjoy solid support from the classic Belgian yeast esters, candi sugars, peppery spice, toffee apple, butterscotch and herbals.

Flavour: Wow it’s incredibly sweet but not at all cloying. Sugary caramel, toffee and butterscotch enjoy a very mild nutty and toasty accent to balance it out. Almost a hint of maple coming through too. It shifts into fruity yeast esters, bubblegum and spice midway then leads to a really long and drawn out finish of candi sugars, caramelised apple/pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and creamy, chewy and kinda sticky. Very fine carbonation, medium body. The 8.1% ABV is really well buried.

Overall: We dig it. Liking the crossover between the two styles. The rich malty sweetness of Amber Ale probably outweighs the Tripel though…would have liked to see more of the classic Belgian yeast pushing through more. Essentially a tasty beverage.

Alvarado Street ‘Vengeful Barbarian’ Hazy IPA

Rating:

“A staple hazy IPA brewed with the “holy trinity” of hops – Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic. Double Dry Hopped for maximum juice, heaps of oats & wheat for a soft, pillowy texture on the palate. Fermented with an expressive yeast strain that pumps out stone fruit flavors which complement the tropical hop oil contribution.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Turbid pastel yellow with a fluffy white head which swells to about two fingers and maintains its shape. Thick, soapy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Real fruit salad happening here. The citrus is popping and there’s also heady notes of soft fleshy stonefruit i.e paw paw, rockmelon and mango. Some piney and resinous notes poking through here and there, sweet and sugary pineapple and mixed tropical fruits are nicely integrated. Subtle notes of herbal spice, mixed berries, light florals and a dry, creamy oat profile.

Flavour: Follows the nose with a huge display of fruits ranging from slightly pithy grapefruit, lime and tangerine to ripe stonefruits, tropical fruit and mixed berries. Well defined notes of pine/resins and herbal spice also getting amongst it. Picking up the dry malt midway…mostly oats and wheat grains which make way for a sweet fruity finish with a lingering dry bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Quite a green and prickly bitterness but the oats certainly help taper it off. Dry chalky texture, finely carbed, medium body. The 7.2% ABV is reasonably well behaved.

Overall: From memory our last crack at ASB was the “Amigos” IPA which had a few blemishes and although this Hazy shows a touch of West Coast aggression it’s a very well structured IPA. Tonnes of hop character, nice dry oat-driven malts and most importantly it’s got pizzazz. Solid drop.

Moon Dog ‘Jumping The Shark 2021’ BA Cherry, Chocolate & Coconut Imperial Stout

Rating:

“One of our most ridiculous, most anticipated, (mostly) annual releases is back! This Imperial Stout has all the ridiculousness you’d expect from a Jumping The Shark Release and then some. We’ve brewed a huge 12.6% Imperial Stout, popped it in some delicious rum barrels for a nice long beauty sleep and finished it with the cherry on top, amphora conditioned cherry, coconut and chocolate!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a fizzy brown head which dissipates rather quickly. It settles at the rim but leaves a magnificent lace down the glass.

Aroma: Oopht! That gets right up in the olfactories immediately. The dominant scent would be the cherry and at this stage it’s hard to tell whether it’s real fruit or syrup. Who cares! It smells nice! The creamy vanilla also comes off pretty strong as does the coconut, spicy dark rum, licorice and fudge. As we continue to take it in we can’t help but keep thinking boozy Cherry Ripe in a glass. Yum!

Flavour: Similar to the nose where the indecisive but prominent cherry kicks it all off. Coconut, vanilla, sugary dark rum and sweet spice shifts into an almost medicinal cherry flavour early in the mid. The big and aggressive stout base then steps in and carries licorice, molasses, cherry fudge, rum/barrels and coconut through to the rich, sweet and warming finish which draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light for the style. Medium-full body, oily texture, low-ish Co2. The 12.6% ABV is fairly well buried for its size.

Overall: Along with Bridge Road’s B2 bomber this is one of a very limited number of seasonal Aussie releases we hold out for. And again it has delivered. Not as well as some of the earlier releases but it’s still bloody good. The “amphora conditioned” side of it is a bit wanky though..no wonder non craft beer drinkers have a laugh at our expense sometimes! 😂

Klosterbraurei Weissenoher ‘Bonator’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“Legend has it that Doppel Bock was first made by monks as a hearty, full-bodied drink to be consumed in the tough fasting period. This ‘Bonator’ is brewed at the monastery at Weissenohe in the most traditional, painstaking way, using the best ingredients. It is named for Bonifatius, a missionary who came to the monastery long after brewing began in 1050 A.D.”

Glassware: Stein.

Appearance: Pours an attractive deep amber with a really soft ruby tint. It forms a big and frothy three finger head which slowly reduces. Thick blotchy lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Instantly reminds us of a traditional English ESB with its sweet and chewy malt profile and old world hops. Once it settles the Bock qualities become more prevalent; toffee, caramel, carob, dark fruits such as prunes/dates, blood plum, figs and red grapes. Certainly a hint of toastiness in there alongside nuanced wheat grains, freshly sliced apple/pear, coconut oil and dried leaves.

Flavour: Upfront it’s toasty and uber sweet…we feel it needs a bit of a counterbalance already…like a more perceptible hop bitterness or roast to take the edge off the syrupy sweetness. Some earthiness peeking through but it’s futile. It only doubles down further as the rich syrupy caramel, toffee, dark fruits and Christmas cake surges into a toasty, sweet and sugary finish.

Mouthfeel: Super smooth, gelatinous and chewy. Medium-full body. The 8% ABV is extremely well concealed.

Overall: Even though this hails from a highly respected and ancient brewery it missed the mark. It’s just too syrupy and unbalanced for our liking. It’s rare for us not to like a traditional beer like this but yeah, not doing it for us.

Highwater ‘Felice’ BA Saison

Rating:

“This is the second in our series of Barrel Aged Specialty Ales. Felice was fermented and aged four months with Brettanomyces and Saison yeast in freshly emptied wine barrels. As a twist, Indian Long Peppers were added after barrel aging. A mix of tropical fruit flavors up front are complimented by an earthy and spicy finish on the palate. This complex beer reveals nuances and exotic whispers of clove, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper that the ancient Long Pepper introduces.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Hazy burnished orange with a short and creamy off white cap. Fairly decent head retention with a wet and wavy lace being strewn down the glass.

Aroma: There’s certainly a lot going on here. Quite musty and earthy, ripe fleshy stonefruit, peppery spice, farmyard and horse blanket, candied lemon, banana runts, bubblegum, fennel and clove. Woah! Not to mention the more subtle notes of sherbet, floral perfumes, vinous oak and Angostura bitters. Well that is one incredibly complex and busy aroma. We’re loving it.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose with its sheer depth and hive of activity. Only the slightest sourness on the tongue as a wave of citrus, biscuit malt, fruity yeast esters and herbal spice washes over. Picking up the oaky and delicate vinous notes along with funky/bretty farmyard which leads to a somewhat tangy, earthy and spicy finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Nicely rounded, smooth and somewhat creamy texture. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 4.5% ABV is interesting…they’ve managed an excellent weight and texture whilst keeping it so low.

Overall: A very edgy and clever take on a Saison. Lots of adjuncts i.e brettanomyces, Indian long peppers (which we couldn’t really uncover) and then aged in wine barrels. Despite all of that it still keeps a strong sense of classicism which we like. Solid offering.

Mr Banks ‘Roasted’ Imperial Coffee Stout

Rating:

“A Big, roasty, coffee & chocolate laden imperial stout. Forget about your morning mug of joe, this is packed full of some of the finest Peru Chirinos Beans from Prodigal Coffee Roasters.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Glossy black with a thumb of fizzy yet finely beaded brown foam which quickly dissolves. It forms a halo and works a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: Yup, loving this already. If you’ve been following us for long enough you’d know that coffee comes a comfortable 2nd to beer as our favourite beverage. So when these two magical worlds meet it’s usually just that…magical! The balance between the nutty, slightly burnt and chocolate-driven coffee and the roasty, licorice and ashy Stout base is literally divine. Honestly there’s no other way of describing it.

Flavour: We had to double check the ABV to reassure ourselves and yes, it’s 9.2% ABV. Dead set, where is it?! So dangerously drinkable! It opens up with a mild coffee roast, toasted walnuts, cocoa and ash – which develops a bit later. Picking up nuanced notes of vanilla and toasted coconut, light florals and burnt milk for days on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: So thick and creamy but unbelievably smooth. Mild-moderate Co2. Full body. As we touched on earlier the 9.2% ABV is incredibly well concealed.

Overall: Not often are we this impressed by Banksy but this offering deserves some adulation. It’s excquisitely balanced, rich and full flavoured and the coffee is beautifully integrated. That’s a definite two thumbs up from us.

Resin Brewing ‘Space Cowboy’ Double Oat Cream DIPA

Rating:

“Double Oat Dream IPA 500ml.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Pretty turbid pastel orange with a finger of loosely packed foam atop. It slowly deconstructs and leaves a patchy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Wow this smells the real deal. Kinda dank and displaying a tonne of fleshy stonefruit sweetness and peppery spice. It also has that dry chalky aroma which we love in NEIPA’s. Fairly tangy and super juicy citrus notes, a very subtle smokiness, toasted coconut and sappy pine resins also getting amongst it. Big creamy and chewy malt profile. Hot damn! This is really shaping up.

Flavour: Not as well polished as the aroma but it’s still very respectable. Slight bitterness upfront making way for the overripe stonefruits, dank herbals and peppery spice. Hints of frosty fruits and brekky juice through the mid with a soft boozy warmth kicking up. Pine resins and pithy citrus/rind developing late and setting up the dry, acidic and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Kinda creamy, dry and chalky. Rather muscly for a NEIPA we must admit. Finely carbed. The 7% ABV could have been hidden a bit better but we ain’t complaining.

Overall: Very impressive stuff from our somewhat local mob here. Good enough to mix it with the likes of Deeds, Banks, Hop Nation etc but still light years away from the top dog…MC. Solid drop though they should be chuffed with this.

Surly Brewing Co ‘Coffee Bender’ Coffee Brown Ale

Rating:

“REFRESHING LIKE AN ICED COFFEE, AROMATIC LIKE A BAG OF FRESHLY ROASTED BEANS, AND SATISFYING LIKE YOUR FAVORITE BEER. Guatemalan coffee, roasted locally, is added to our house oatmeal brown ale. Cold press coffee aromatics and intense coffee flavors are balanced by the oats in the malt bill, resulting in a cappuccino-like creaminess.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep chestnut pour with a finger and a half of lightly tanned foam. Good retention with a wet lace being dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Huge wafts of coffee emanating off. If we had to guess we would have said Bolivian coffee as it offers strong dark chocolate with hints of vanilla and herbal spice but after a quick check on their website it reveals Guatemalan coffee was used (we were close!). The base is excellent too; plenty of nutty, toasty and creamy notes that marry up with the coffee brilliantly.

Flavour: The intensity of the coffee is scaled back a bit and is replaced with super smooth and creamy chocolate, nutty malts, earthy/woody cocoa, burnt milk and vanilla. But let’s be honest the coffee is still the name of the game here and it reenters with its bittersweet chocolate, mild florals, toffee and delicate smokiness. Lovely sweet and roasty finish rounding it all off.

Mouthfeel: So dense and creamy…and so incredibly smooth! Minimal bitterness, medium-full body. The 5.5% ABV is perfectly positioned.

Overall: Proper stoked to see some of Surly’s beers on our shores as we’ve been keen to try their wares for ages! And as anticipated this American brewery doesn’t disappoint…strong yet well balanced coffee, creamy, well layered, full bodied and delicious! Top notch stuff.