Sierra Nevada ‘BA Narwhal’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Deep in our barrel room, out of light’s reach, our legendary Narwhal Imperial Stout rests in bourbon barrels for nearly a year. After aging, it emerges anew: rich with notes of oak, vanilla and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso. Enjoy this beast of a beer.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of brown head perched on top. Decent retention and lacing as it subsides.

Aroma: Bourbon barrels eat your heart out! It has similar characteristics to the Buffalo Trace barrel aged Ramjet we reviewed recently – big, beefy and menacing but with gorgeous shades of burnt toffee, vanilla, toasted coconut and spice with a very dank old oak character. It’s pure impy stout too – rich, roasty/charred, dark chocolate, espresso, licorice etc etc. All the usual suspects. Superb!

Flavour: Old Narwhal is fitting for this beer as it’s as big as a whale! Intense Bourbon barrel hits the taste buds and hints at vanilla, caramel/toffee, spice and subtle Sherry. The impy stout base plays a good support role with its char, chocolate and licorice notes. Traces of molasses, leather and ash work their way in to a big and warming finish that goes for days.

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and muscly. Plenty of warmth from the 11.9% ABV but at the same time it’s tempered. Mild-moderate Co2. Full bodied.

Overall: Almost on par with the likes of Bourbon County and the like…in your face bourbon, aged oak and rich stout characters. Yes please!

All Inn Brewing ‘Blind Axeman’ Amber Ale

Rating:

“A sturdy but sprightly malt base provides a firm foundation for fresh fruit and spice notes to show off a little.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: deep amber with two fingers of fluffy foam atop. Good retention and healthy lace clinging to the glass as we go.

Aroma: Tantalisingly sweet and caramelised…yet well balanced we must add. Tonnes of nutty malt, caramel, toffee, butterscotch and honey with hints of lemon, pine needle, dark fruits i.e raisin, fig, dates and earthy spice. Some mild herbaceous notes coming through as well. All Inn all (pun intended) a very pleasant aroma.

Flavour: Very similar to the nose but with a slightly more lifted hop profile and bitterness. Delicious waves of caramelised malt suggests toffee, caramel and butterscotch which meet with a slightly piney and citrusy middle. Delightfully nutty and toasty malts pick up and move in to well balanced finish of caramelised malt, piney hops and moderate dryness.

Mouthfeel: So well balanced…like a beer on a barrel. Mild stickiness, medium body and Co2. 4.7% ABV. Absolutely in session territory here.

Overall: We haven’t graced our palates with an All Inn beer since we visited the brewery all those years ago. This is quite a good amber ale – sweet, nutty, well balanced. Definitely doing all the right things. Solid drop.

Mountain Culture X Wildflower ‘Family Fuelled’ Saison

Rating:

“Mountain Culture x Wildflower Family Fuelled is a beer made with our mates at Mountain Culture Beer Co. We brewed this old school can-conditioned saison together in late Feb at their place with pale Schooner grains from Voyager Craft Malt. Mashing in real cool and slowly ramping the temp over a couple of hours, it was boiled with fresh & aged spicy, noble hops, knocked out warm and open fermented w/o temp control in a flat bottom tank with our favourite pure culture saison strain. Amongst both of our favourite styles to make and drink designed to be enjoyed as it was made… with friends who feel like family (well maybe on zoom at the moment). We’re pretty proud of that and wanted to celebrate it in this beer.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Pale golden yellow with a soft haze. A thumb of fluffy white foam rests atop and works a fine lace down the glass.

Aroma: Wow this is about as traditional as you can get. The yeast esters dominate – banana runts, clove, pear and a touch of bubblegum. Nice and dry, floral, a little musty with plenty of barnyard funk/horse blanket, citrus rind, pepper, Angostura bitters and herbs. Kind of has traits of a top shelf Belgian Tripel. One of the better Saison aroma’s we’ve enjoyed lately.

Flavour: Dead set spot on for the style. There’s a rush of funky, yeasty and bretty flavours to the fore. Backed up by peppery spice, orange citrus and rind, stonefruit and Angostura bitters. Some floral honey, wheat grains/hay, herbals and a dry musty barnyard funk which leads to a spicy and yeasty finish with good duration.

Mouthfeel: Light on, crisp, mineraly. Mild-medium body. The 4.5% ABV is surprising considering the amount of flavour happening.

Overall: A really impressive Saison but we shouldn’t expect anything less from two breweries who are at the top of their game. Mountain Culture though…they can do no wrong!

Ocean Reach Brewing Oatmeal Stout

Rating:

“Winter needs a warm, hearty stout, which is why we brewed a limited edition, 7.9% monster with enough oats to fill two local supermarkets. It’s so chocolatey and silly smooth that you’ll want it to be winter all year long.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Glossy black with two fingers of tan foam which stays the course. Slow reduction which allows for good lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Interesting. Initially we thought it was super hoppy but that has quickly changed to a kind of rich, dark and ink-like scent. We’ve just put our finger on it…it reminds us of those Artline permanent markers. Picking up hints of chocolate and floral hops but man we really can’t get past this sharp and almost menthol-like chemical aroma. Unfortunately it’s spoiling it.

Flavour: We were sincerely hoping to get around the same issues we were having on the nose. Although it’s not as prominent we can still pick up that chemical driven note that hints at ink or phenols. Roasted malt and chocolate peek through but the finish is simply sharp and boozy.

Mouthfeel: Tinny, prickly and slightly watery. The 7.9% ABV is quite evident. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. Not ideal.

Overall: Have we got a bad can? All we’ve seen and heard about Ocean Reach has been positive but honestly this is pretty lousy. Smells and tastes a bit, well we won’t say infected, but it definitely seems phenolic. Very mediocre stuff.

Bentspoke ‘Flemm’ Barrel Aged Flemish Red Ale

Rating:

“First brewed by Richard over 15 years ago, Flemm is one of the original barrel aged sour recipes in Australia. Co-founders of BentSpoke Richard and Tracy first fell in love with barrel aged beers on a trip to Belgium, which included a guided tour of the famous Rodenbach brewery. A local farmer sitting at the bar of a brasserie close by, guided their beer choices and made sure they felt welcome. And, you guessed it; the farmers name was Flemm!”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Extremely dark brown, almost black, with a very faint mahogany hue. Just a short head emerges but it quickly forms a halo with minimal lace as we go.

Aroma: Smells the goods! Quite a hefty malt bill which brings a gorgeous fusion of sweet and earthy notes to balance the slightly tart cherry and blackberry. There’s a lovely albeit subtle hint of aged oak which really gives the nose its depth and complexity. Undertones of cigar skins, farmyard funk, rum & raisin and sweaty sourness. Diggin it!

Flavour: Similar to the nose in the sense that there’s very mild sourness but lots of chocolate and lightly roasted malt. There’s subtle cherry and dark fruit tartness upfront with a kind of rich and toasty oak through the middle. It finishes with a hint of smoke and funky dark fruit sweetness which holds on nicely.

Mouthfeel: Musty, somewhat thin and slippery. Mild-medium body with low Co2. 5% ABV. It’s surprising how it offers good length considering the light texture.

Overall: We thought we’d give this a run purely off the back of their Lambic (which from memory was their ’19 GABS beer). It was sensational. Although this was good it didn’t have the finesse that the Lambic did. Still, a very difficult style which they’ve executed pretty well.

Clown Shoes ‘Zen Garden’ NEIPA

Rating:

“Stack up enough work frustration, and even the Grim Reaper needs a peaceful retreat. Or even to quit his job and go on a craft beer journey! Grim’s Zen Garden is a much-needed escape from the grind. It’s time he overcame his existential crisis and achieved a long-sought state of Zen! We suggest that you seek your own inner peace in with this Double Dry Hopped New England India Pale Ale, flush with full-bodied, hazy flavor from a wheat and oat in the malt bill and a steady stream of hop additions.”

Glassware: IPA

Appearance: Golden amber with medium haze. It forms a thumb of finely beaded foam which maintains its shape and works a healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Not quite the juice bomb we were anticipating but still jam packed with soft fleshy stonefruits and orange citrus. Fairly piney/resinous, sappy and tropical with a hint of grapefruit and or rind. Picking up some candied notes which seem to work in to the sweet malt profile. Not your conventional American NEIPA but it’s nice and well rounded.

Flavour: Good transition from the nose. Catching all the stonefruit and orange citrus overtones with the more subtle pine resin, grapefruit and unripened tropical fruit in the background. A bit of pithy rind through the mid leading to a sweet-ish finish full of acetic orange citrus, semi sweet malt and pine resin.

Mouthfeel: Super smooth, creamy, finely carbonated, medium body. Hardly any bitterness and the 6.7% ABV is unbelievably well hidden.

Overall: So good to see Clown Shoes back on Aussie shelves. Smart move shifting in to 500ml cans too. As for the beer itself it’s not an amazing NEIPA but it definitely holds its own. Not bad.

The Bruery ‘Cherry Pie’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Slice into this bold barrel-aged imperial stout and experience the nostalgia-inducing aroma of a warm cherry pie. Full-bodied and smacking of freshly-picked tart cherries, rich artisan vanilla, cinnamon and hints of brown sugar. This bakery is open for business.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a healthy two finger head. Excellent retention and lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: There’s only a few times when we can say that an aroma smells exactly like the food its imitating but this smells exactly like a cherry pie! Bursting with sweet and tart cherries, cinnamon, buttery pastry, vanilla, strawberry jam, plum jam, melted chocolate, caramelised pear and apple. We keep picking up hints of candied lemon which is strange yet it kind of works. Not much in the way of bourbon barrels but it doesn’t matter as there’s already enough happening.

Flavour: Holy moly, so much to unpack! Macerated cherry, cinnamon, vanilla, jammy red berries, cocoa, lightly roasted malts and caramel/toffee. The bourbon barrels show up a little bit more here with very faint woody oak and dark fruits. Pretty clever usage of bourbon barrels because they emphasize the same flavors already present (toffee, vanilla, spice and caramelised pear/apple).

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, medium bodied. It’s remarkable how well they’ve hidden the 10.2% ABV. Co2 is perfect.

Overall: These guys just keep getting better and better. We’ve mentioned it before but the shift in to 500ml cans was a masterstroke. And this Bakery series has us totally hooked! Loving it.

Nomad X Rogue ‘1 Brew Nation’ Wattleseed Brown Ale

Rating:

“Rogue is famous for their Hazelnut Brown Nectar and one of Nomad’s favourite native ingredients is wattleseed for its nutty taste. So bring these brewers together and it had to be a wattleseed brown ale. With a mix of Australian and NZ malts the result is a medium bodied brown ale with gentle sweetness from the malts and a nuttiness from the wattleseed.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep chestnut with faint ruby red hues. It forms a loosely packed head, a finger and a half in height, which collapsed pretty quickly. Scarce lace as we go.

Aroma: Not really picking much up other than uber conventional Brown Ale qualities – nutty malt, toast, milk chocolate and dark fruits. A bit metallic…gives off that blood-like note. Hints of cherry begin to open up as it settles. The wattleseed comes through somewhat earthy with very subtle coffee and tree bark. Pretty timid but it ain’t bad.

Flavour: Similar to the aroma…lacking oomph. Pretty much just a stripped back Brown Ale with its four to the floor nutty malt, toast, lightly roasted malt and subtle coffee. The wattleseed is practically MIA, there’s delicate malt sweetness and a very faint touch of vanilla but the finish pretty much falls off a cliff.

Mouthfeel: Slippery, a little thin and watery. Mild-medium body. Co2 and ABV (5%) neither here nor there. The exact opposite of how we like Brown Ales to be.

Overall: Pretty disappointed. Especially when considering Rogue had a hand in this. It’s bereft of any real character. We’re sure a few die hard Poms would dig it but that’s about it.

White Bay ‘Embrace The Space’ IPA

Rating:

“In a world where we are constantly redefining the term “normal” and reality seems to exist on a plane of shifting sands; Embrace the Space is an IPA brewed for enjoyment in these socially distant times. Tune in, tune out, disconnect, reconnect, stockpile, deplete. Embrace the Space.”

Glassware: IPA

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden amber complexion with a fluffy two finger crown. Good retention and healthy lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Fairly straight up and down – pine resin, grapefruit, orange peel, mandarin, candied lemon. Undertones of grass/vines, herbals, soft tropical fruits and a rather biscuity and nutty malt profile. It’s probably not going to win any awards but it’s clean and offers enough to chew on.

Flavour: More of the same basic Aussie IPA characters – inoffensive, mildly bodied and flavored. The standouts are toned down pine and grapefruit with muddled citrus and grassy hops in support. Biscuity type malts with a smooth fruity finish. Could do with a bit more length to be honest.

Mouthfeel: Probably its biggest strength – super smooth, a little creamy and medium bodied. Co2 is spot on. 6.5% ABV is very well concealed.

Overall: It won’t receive much hype but it’s still a well executed IPA. Very clean, sessional and moderate. It is slightly pedestrian though but then again the upside is it will appeal to the entry level IPA drinker. Not bad.

Boatrocker 2020 ‘Roger Ramjet’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Roger Ramjet is our bourbon barrel aged version of the classic Ramjet. This years release has been aged in ever so delicious Buffalo Trace barrels for a little over 10 months. The result is pronounced bourbon character, balanced by the barrel notes of vanilla, coconut and oak. Full bodied, rich, and decadent, with all the complexity of the Ramjet base (chocolate, roast, malty)”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Black and totally impenetrable. It forms a short brown head which gradually recedes and settles at the rim. Some spotty lace as we go.

Aroma: The Buffalo Trace barrels are really prominent. Straight bourbon gives way to classic notes of vanilla, brown sugar, all spice and toasty oak. Subtle impy stout characters here and there – rich molasses, charred malt, dark chocolate and espresso. Intense! It should be marketed as a can of Buffalo Trace bourbon with a splash of imperial stout!

Flavour: Holy moly…the impy stout characters have come to the table. Aggressive and charred…lots of dark chocolate and molasses, licorice, espresso and burnt toast. Enter the Buffalo Trace barrels again bringing that signature toasty oak, vanilla, spice and brown sugar/toffee with it. The finish is big and menacing and chock-full of bourbon-y goodness.

Mouthfeel: Oily, slick and full bodied. Plenty of warmth from the booze (10.9% ABV) and more than likely boosted by the bourbon.

Overall: 10 months in first use barrels…now it all makes sense! Interesting that they’ve opted for the bottle/can split…Boatrocker say they want to see what the effect of bottling and canning would do to the flavour profile over time. We shall see as we got a bunch of both cans and bottles ourselves! Solid drop.

Mr Banks ‘Straight To The Fudge Room’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“A big, decadent and sweet Imperial Pastry Stout loaded with toasted organic pecans, cocoa nibs, Tahitian vanilla beans and lactose. This big luscious Imperial Stout is one to be slowly savored and enjoyed. Packing a serious flavour punch but still very drinkable for the big ABV. Its the perfect companion to sip on next to a crackling fire or as an alternative to Chocolate Eggs this Easter Sunday.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Opaque black with a thumb of brown foam holding its shape on top. The head is retained well enough to weave a fine lace down the glass.

Aroma: Quite muted considering what we have here. We were expecting to be slapped in the face with a big roast and tonnes of good pastry stout sweetness. Ok, it is there…mild toasted nutty-ness, fresh vanilla bean, cocoa, caramelised chocolate malts, marshmallow and toffee. Just nowhere near the intensity we’re after for the style.

Flavour: A little bit better. Certainly emphasized by a bit of warming booze (which come to think of it, was well disguised on the nose). We can get the toasted pecans – which is a lovely touch. Roasted malt, vanilla, cocoa, milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow offering some support. Incredibly smooth finish with a mild lingering roast and vanilla sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Very slick, creamy and ultra smooth. 11% ABV as stated before; evident yet well behaved. Medium body. Mild-moderate Co2.

Overall: Halfway through we realised that the smoke in the air (from back burning) could have affected the aroma. Then again the flavour profile wasn’t as intense as we’d hoped either. We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were a little disappointed.

3 Fonteinen ‘Zwet.Be’ BA Porter

Rating:

“A dark porter-like beer from 3 fonteinen, brewed with Lambic yeast.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Glossy black with a finger of brown head emerging on top. It holds up well and works a webbed lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Here we are thinking 3F, one of the best Lambic breweries in the world, this will be sour AF…nope! It’s nice and meaty with good helpings of roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruits and toasty/woody elements. Undertones of coffee, vanilla, toasted almonds, cola lollies and a hint of farmyard funk. There’s a very minimal trace of tart acidity in this albeit very delicate. Phenomenal!

Flavour: The Lambic comes through just a little bit more. Tart fruits like cherry and blueberry, subtle lemon and vinegar are quickly encapsulated by chocolate, coffee, toast, woody oak, earthy licorice and cocoa. Nice little roasty-ness through the mid leading in to more chocolate, coffee and toast in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Quite light on. A little thin but it’s saved by the massive flavour profile. Mild-moderate body and Co2. 7%?! Where the hell have they hidden that?

Overall: Totally out of the left field for 3F, we had no idea they had a beer like this in their repertoire. Just goes to the show the expertise of the brewers. Solid drop.

Mountain Culture ‘Be Kind Rewind’ NEIPA

Rating:

“Our brewery is housed in what was one of the last Civic Video stores left in the country before it shut its doors in 2017. Its message was always Be Kind Rewind and never has that simple ode been more relevant than now. As for the beer, we brewed this to be big and juicy in the hope that it will take you on a tropical excursion without you having to leave your home.”

Glassware: IPA

Appearance: Turbid mustard yellow with a thumb of tightly packed foam perched on top. Good retention and healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: We think Aussie breweries are finally starting to grasp the concept of NEIPAs. This aroma is almost perfect…tonnes of stonefruit and creamy orange citrus, frosty fruits, substantial amount of white bready dryness, tropical fruits, mild grapefruit/rind, herbal spice and white pepper. There’s gotta be rolled oats in the grain bill coz the overall smoothness and porridge-like notes coming through are strong. Excellent.

Flavour: This is where it’s at! Kind of musty apricot and peach, frosty fruits, brekky juice concentrate, grapefruit, orange peel, herbal spice oats, white bread crust and a hint of tropical fruit i.e unripened pineapple and mango. It’s pretty much this smooth carriage of flavour through to the well balanced finish. Pretty good legs as well.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth AF! Some chalkiness to it but we like that in NEIPAs. Medium body, finely carbonated. 7.3% ABV is incredibly well hidden.

Overall: MC have been killing it lately (well they’ve been killing it ever since they opened really). This is the feather in the hat though… absolutely superb interpretation. We’re catching up to the Yanks quick smart!

Mountain Culture ‘Moon Dust’ Stout

“A sessionable stout we made for misty mountain days and long nights by the fire. Rich cocoa and coffee notes rise above its smooth, creamy caramel body leaving space for only a hint of residual bitterness.  It’s a taproom favourite, but we have decided to can it so it can reach you in your home.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impassable black body with a wispy brown overlay. The head retreats to the rim with little lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Fairly nice and easy. A hint of vanilla sweetness with chocolate, coffee, caramel and marshmallow overtones. There’s a very gentle roast with a bit of burnt brown sugar and after dinner mint coming through as it warms. Very tame for a stout but then it has been labelled as a “session stout” so we can’t be too harsh.

Flavour: As expected…quite docile and really only showing the four to the floor – chocolate, coffee, caramel and lightly roasted malts. It’s nice and earthy which does a lot to bring up the bottom end while it finishes with a well drawn out roasty bitterness, coffee and chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Good weight to it…for only 5.6% ABV it holds up nicely. Well balanced, medium body, mild-moderate Co2. What you’d expect from a good session stout.

Overall: Look it’s not going to blow your pants off but it would be a good option if you’re looking for a steady night. We say steady because a 4 pack will still put you away! It’s all about moderation here.

Brouwerij Kazematten ‘Sante’ Brown Ale

Rating:

“The Grottenbier was created by one of the greatest Belgian brewers, Pierre Celis. The aim of Grottenbier is to see what the influence of a constant low temperature, such as in a cave, does to the evolution of a beer taste. In 2002, Pierre sold the beer (name and recipe) to Brouwerij St. Bernardus, where it has been commercialised for the last ten years. When De Kazematten became a possibility, St. Bernardus immediately saw a new home for the Grottenbier. The dream of Pierre became reality. The cooperation with the marl caves of Valkenburg and Kanne will continue in the future as well. In these marl caves you can experience what the low temperature do with the maturisation process of the Grotten Santé. Like the Grottenbier has matured there for the past 10 years, we will do the same with the Grotten Santé.”

Glassware: Chalice.

Appearance: Brown with chestnut hues. It builds a big but loosely held three finger head which collapsed. Little lacing as we go.

Aroma: We knew we were in for something a little unconventional but this is truly unique. It smells almost a little sour with oodles of funk/farmyard qualities – esters, banana split, raisin and toffee apple. Picking up strong wafts of cola and aniseed, tobacco, flat apple cider, plum, caramel/toffee, cinnamon and wheat grains. Holy moly, a real mixed bag…but bloody impressive!

Flavour: The best way to describe it is if a Hefeweizen and a brown ale had a lovechild then this would be it. Banana, spice, esters and candi sugars on one hand and on the other are nutty malts, caramel, toast and mild herbal hops. Then throw in the wheat grains, cola, dark fruits and plum and you’ve got a seriously edgy beer in your hands.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light, mildly bodied. Close to being watery but there’s just enough Co2 and booze to offer some grip.

Overall: Certainly not short on character (with the whole fermenting in caves caper). The novelty factor is also a strong point but one bottle is more than enough…gets a little hairy by the end. Not a bad drop but.

Alvarado Street Brewery ‘Amigo’s’ IPA

Rating:

“Delorean, Lamborghini….and now Isuzu. Amigo that is, 1992 to be exact. The next in our unofficial “car” series is dedicated to brewer Kevin Brown’s insanely radical ride. Elegant fermentation character, dank hops, heirloom floor malted British barley for body and balance.”

Glassware: IPA

Appearance: Murky pastel yellow with a billowing four finger head which takes an age to reduce. The lacing is thick and blotchy as it recedes.

Aroma: Bursting with a gorgeous fusion of creamy orange citrus, juicy tropical fruit, peach, apricot, rockmelon, papaya, some delicate florals and herbs, sappy pine resin and lemongrass. Quite a yeasty little number too…accentuating the fruity characters and handing it a bit of extra personality. A fairly noticeable dry bready malt profile to fill it out. Nice.

Flavour: As smooth as a baby’s backside yet we’d have to admit the intensity that was there in aroma seems to have dropped off a little. Still, we’re picking up lots of orange citrus and stonefruit, subtle tropical fruit sweetness, florals and mild herbals. This dryness (either from the yeast or the malts) is here pretty much from start to the slightly pithy and citric finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy but too over carbonated. Quite light on with mild-moderate body. The 7% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: A rare strike out for ASB. Usually they can do no wrong but the lack of flavour and over carbonation is not doing it any favours. Pretty average stuff from a usually outstanding brewery.

Hargreaves Hill 2018 Vintage Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“A Black, velvety Imperial Stout with characters of liquorice, coffee and molasses. Roasted malts and a rich alcohol presence drive the palate with a lingering bitter finish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a finger of brown foam atop. It actually holds up quite well and weaves a fine lace down the glass.

Aroma: Big, aggressive, roasty and boozy. We wouldn’t want a RIS any other way! Loving the subtle touches of vanilla and marshmallow as they really soften the robust notes of mild acetone, molasses, coffee, dark chocolate, ash, licorice and lightly burnt wood. Some burning of the nostrils too but that can be expected when it weighs in at a hefty 11.2% ABV.

Flavour: Similar to the aroma – it opens up with a short cameo of sugary sweetness before the palate is engulfed by a wave of charred malts, espresso, ash, dark chocolate, molasses, campfire, licorice and burnt toast. This combination of copious contentment carries in to a cantankerous conclusion which drags out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy, yet surprisingly light and airy….certainly due to a slightly lifted Co2 (which works very well mind you).

Overall: Another absolute corker from Hargreaves Hill. We love how these guys have owned the traditional beer space (along with Red Hill) so well. Keep em comin!

Cinema Brewers ‘I’ll Be Bock’ Caramel Bock

Rating:

“It’s the year 2120, your brain has been transferred to a T1000 looking like Robert Patrick and there’s a blistering (nuclear) storm going on outside. But you don’t want to get your metal wet. So what better way to spend the afternoon than to pour yourself an ‘I’ll be bock’, lay down the rocket launcher for a moment and sink into the couch while enjoying the subtle flavours of toasted caramel and good ol’ fashioned German hops. Don’t worry, you’ll be bock.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Chestnut brown with mahogany hues. It only manages a short head which collapsed and struggled to produce any lacing.

Aroma: We can smell it as it sits stationary on the table. Absolute sweetness overload with caramel, toffee and butterscotch leading out. Plenty of support from a swathe of dark fruits like raisin, dates/prunes, blood plum, cherry and blackberry. A bit of a fruitcake accent that opens up more as it settles. Brown sugar, honey, cookie dough and brioche for extra measure. Damn fine aroma.

Flavour: A little bit more yeast coming through on the palate…subtle spice, fruitcake and brioche. Obviously the big and sweet overtones (caramel, raisin, butterscotch) dominate but it’s balanced with a hint of black tea, toast and roasted grains which carry in to the nicely drawn out finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty well balanced. Smooth, creamy, some warmth from the 6.5% ABV. Mild-moderate Co2. Medium body.

Overall: We had no idea what we were in for with this very little known Dutch brewery but the risk has certainly paid off! Very traditional German style Bock executed with pin point precision. Brilliant.

Counter Culture’G3′ Double Hazy IPA

Rating:

“First there was the Original Pacific Ale, then The Prequel hazy IPA …

Now we’re shifting into third gear with G3, a hazy DIPA (7.6% alc/vol) brewed with the freshest Galaxy hops from Tasmania, pale malts and New England ale yeast, showcasing revved up tropical flavours with a dominant 72 IBU finish. In celebration of tradition and history that started with the Original Pacific Ale, G3 is a beer for looking back – and then at the road ahead.”

Glassware: IPA

Appearance: Turbid pastel yellow with a soft orange tint. It forms a fairly sturdy head which retains and laced well.

Aroma: Holy moly the intensity was grossly unexpected! Proper juice bomb. Tropical fruits in abundance, sappy pine resin, herbal spice and pepper, apricot, tinned peach, frosty fruits and a dry white bready malt profile. We know the term “brekky juice” gets thrown around a lot but this is literally just boozy brekky juice. Phenomenal.

Flavour: Wow it’s much drier and chalky as opposed to the aroma. Still picking up lots of stewy stonefruit, apricot and peach skins with more accentuated peppery spice and hop bitterness. Damn it only improves too as the herbal spice, crusty malts frosty fruits and stonefruit all converge in the finish. Length for days too.

Mouthfeel: As stated before – dry, chalky and well rounded with discernible bitterness in the swallow. Medium body and Co2.

Overall: This is bloody impressive! We bang on about Bubble and Trubble being far out in front in terms of Aussie hazy’s but this would have to be on par. Good to see CC have bounced back after that last release.

Kasteel Brouwerij ‘Filou’ Tripel

Rating:

“Filou is a strong blonde beer that is re-fermented in the bottle. Filou is brewed with Belgian and Czech aromatic hops. Therefore this blonde beer offers mild fruitiness and subtle hop bitterness. Filou can be a real rascal, but always without any bad intentions. A friendly beer for everyone!”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Fully transparent bright golden body with two and a bit fingers of finely beaded foam on top. It holds together and works a healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Gorgeous wafts of sweet candi sugars meet the olfactory’s. With it comes hints of fairy floss, bubblegum and candied fruits while the yeast throws up its classic trio of banana runts, clove and caramelised pear/apple. There’s a mild floral hop note alongside undertones of fresh vanilla bean, orange citrus and a crusty/bready malt structure. We like!

Flavour: Quite floral upfront. Getting earthy pot pourri notes which feeds back in to the floral accents. Syrupy honey, orange citrus and toffee apple also getting amongst it. Some dry hop bitterness through the mid and a bit of warmth from the booze adding to the sharpness there. Classic Tripel finish – full of esters, artificial sweetness and spice.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and zingy. Medium body and perfectly carbonated. 8.5% ABV shows a little but it’s hidden well enough.

Overall: Fairly decent. Not one of the more memorable ones but it certainly holds its own.