3 Ravens ‘Peak Hype’ Sour NEIPA


72573498_1198104450373698_3220433548750094336_n“Is this it? Is this the logical progression? Should we, just because we can? Does the end justify the means? Is the end justified? 3 Ravens and Mr West contemplated these moral quandaries while brewing this “IPA” (Triple Cryo Dry Hopped Wine Grape Skin Contact Barrel Blended Milkshake Oat Cream Sour New England India Pale Ale) to celebrate Mr West’s second birthday – and answered yes to all of them. Happy birthday Mr West!”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Turbid AF! It has this kind of deep pastel orange hue which resembles apricot juice. Not much in the way of head…a small collar forms at the rim and struggles to produce much lacing.

Aroma: Straight up juice. Definitely dialling in on that frosty fruit scent along with concentrated brekky juice, papaya, pineapple, guava, apricot, peach and slightly tart lemon citrus, subtle creamy citrus, creamy oats and lactose, grain husks, piney/evergreen characters, we’re even picking up a super mild bubblegum accent. Jeez there’s a lot going on here but it all comes together quite nicely.

Flavour: Very unique… when there’s as many adjuncts as this beer offers it’s bound to be a little complex! Lovely fusion of fruit juice and pine with that subtle line of tart citrus cutting through. Hints of herbal spice and dry hop bitterness leads in to a reasonably smooth finish with a flutter of citric acidity and piney hops in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and moderately weighted with some gentle bitterness in the swallow. 6.5% ABV well enough hidden not to notice.

Overall: We love that these guys are having a dig at today’s tendency to abbreviate everything. But not only that they’ve backed it in with a really solid beer. The one thing we’d have liked to see more of is the sourness but hey the overall fun factor outweighs it. Decent!

To Ol ’19 Edition ‘Mr Blue’ Imperial Blackcurrant Stout


71834800_1188235128027297_5586087125771616256_n“This year’s Mr. Blue has truly turned to the dark side. Dark, roasted malts merged with tart black-currants to create a rich and decadent Imperial Blackcurrant Stout with the body of a Greek warrior and the tone of a siren. To be drank on the beaches of Troy, whilst building a wooden horse and fighting the Trojans. Super full and complex delight.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Looks awfully menacing! Super dark and muddy brown with a purple-tinged brown head. Excellent head retention and a smattering of lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: My goodness what have we got here?! The first thing we pick up is a heady scent of crushed red grapes but a few more whiffs and that turns to blackcurrant pulp with a touch of rich molasses around the edges. it’s actually quite tart but this really deep earthiness to the fruit more than counters it. Nice and subtle charred notes underneath…letting all of those quirky aromas do the talking. Very eccentric but we love!

Flavour: Holy moly the second it hits the tongue it detonates with an unbelievable amount of flavour. It’s almost sour initially then ultra tart, bitter then on to a charred and roasty finish. All the way through is this delicious and at times tannic blackberry pulp which ventures off in to earthy, sweet and tangy territory. But the best thing is that it all works in together.

Mouthfeel: Sharp and acetic yet rather silky. The 10.1% ABV is ridiculously well buried. Medium body with mild-moderate CO2.

Overall: Weird, wacky and wonderful! There is no other beer like it this is in a category of its own. Pretty impressive stuff we must say.

Counter Culture ‘So Long Darkness?’ Invisible Stout


71402995_1187517794765697_8533003894253420544_n“Not all is what it seems with So Long Darkness..?, our ‘invisible’ stout. Eyes closed, the generous hints of roasted coffee, chocolate and creaminess found in So Long Darkness..? might have you think it were a regular stout. But upon pouring, the way the light shines through this pale liquid might surprise you like an optical illusion. This is, in fact, not a dark beer at all.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Golden amber pour with a mild haze and flat CO2…somewhat explains the lack of head retention. It settles to a collar with surprisingly good lacing.

Aroma: We can definitely get the coffee straight off the bat. There’s also a distinct chilli pepper scent that we’re detecting as well. Plenty of milk chocolate, vanilla/lactose, fairy floss, white marshmallow and glazed cherry. It really feels strange listing those scents then looking at what would most likely be called a pale ale if one didn’t know any better. Very interesting…and fun!

Flavour: Like the aroma it kicks off with a robust hit of raw coffee bean with the vanilla and lactose sweetness in support. Delicious milk chocolate flows through and brings with it this almost Rocky Road-like flavour. From there it seems to drop off a cliff before a hint of lactose and marshmallow returns on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and aerated with some bitterness forming in the swallow. Medium body. CO2 a bit flat but it kinda works.

Overall: The fourth installment in what has become, in our opinion, the most exciting range of beers to come out of Stone & Wood. This release (although fun) doesn’t really stack up against the likes of sticky nectar. Still! It’s unconventional and they’ve pulled it off pretty well.

Vocation ‘Perfect Storm’ New England Pale Ale


71701284_1186809348169875_5785431216702357504_n“Packed full of citrus aromas and a boatload of hops, this New England Pale is dank and juicy with full on flavours and low bitterness. Simcoe, Galaxy and Mosaic hops pile on the tropical, fruity, flavours with a touch of dank hop aroma from the Columbus.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Light amber with a fair haze. It doesn’t manage much head but what’s there does retain well and leaves a healthy lace trail on the glass.

Aroma: Absolutely LOVE the hop combination (Galaxy, Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe). A proper nose-full of tropical fruity goodness with ripe grapefruit, pine, stonefruits and mild orange citrus and rind. The malt bill offers that classic semi-sweet honey and biscuity character. All in all its very similar to the IPA’s we brew here in Oz.

Flavour: Pretty much follows the nose – Passionfruit, mango, peach, mixed citrus, pine, herbal spice and something rather earthy. It develops more of a pithy and acidic grapefruit flavour late in the piece before it rolls in to a piney, grassy and slightly dry bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Dry with a rather assertive bitterness. The 6.6% ABV provides a bit of warmth as well. Medium body and CO2.

Overall: This is our first crack at Vocation and look, while it’s a fairly decent drop it’s nothing to shout from the rooftops about. It just does what it says without going over and above. Not bad.

Bridge Road Brewers ‘Two Thousand’ BA Imperial Stout


71086626_1184486888402121_3383049896863989760_n“To celebrate our 2000th brew we have created a beer that uses something old and something new. Blending whiskey and bourbon barrel-aged B2 Bomber Mach 7.0 ( aged 24 months on Brettanomyces) with a freshly brewed imperial stout. This challenging beer combines much of what we have learned from brewing the previous 1999 beers, whilst also trying something completely new for us.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Thing pours like sump oil – thick black and impenetrable with a thin collar. It posts little rings as we imbibe.

Aroma: Complex! Loving the subtle bretty character. Beneath that is a glimpse of Mach 7.0 with its pseudo black IPA fruitiness and charred malts. Enter the barrels…which provide spicy caramels and even a touch of tannic red wine. Delve even deeper and we pick up those young and aggressive imperial stout notes of licorice, molasses, dark chocolate and peat. Holy moly what an aroma.

Flavour: And we thought the aroma was complex! Deciphering this is gonna be like cracking the DaVinci code….roasty, funky, dank, oaky, somewhat savoury and spicy. Again we get a glimpse of Mach 7.0 with a bit of piney hop and citrus around the edges. Everything then seems to just pile in on each other to the point where it’s almost too hard to isolate anything. One thing we do know… it’s menacing!

Mouthfeel: Oily and dense…really coats the whole palate. Full bodied, low CO2. 10% ABV – not hard to isolate that one!

Overall: Look it’s an awesome beast but we’re undecided on whether it’s just TOO complicated. Loving the creativity though so here’s cheers to a milestone for Bridge Road. Brew #2000!

Goose Island ‘Bourbon County’ ’18 BA Coffee Barleywine


71509204_1183449631839180_8071866205008297984_n“Working with our friends at Intelligentsia, we flew down to Guatemala to source some of the world’s best coffee to use as we release the first-ever Coffee Barleywine. The beer is an English-style Barleywine, meaning malt forward, and aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels before adding La Soledad coffee beans right before packaging to retain a bold coffee aroma and flavour.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: A real muddy brown kind of affair. It forms a wispy head which vanishes instantly. No lacing whatsoever…as expected.

Aroma: Seriously rich malt-driven number with the coffee and bourbon barrels taking centre stage. Nicely supported by the barrel adjuncts – vanilla, toasted coconut, spice. Lots of chewy caramel, molasses, toffee and butterscotch…even picking up distinct port and cognac traits which are driven in further by a heady presence of dark fruits i.e prunes/dates/fig. Exceptional.

Flavour: Like dropping a sweet malt bomb on the palate it explodes with rich and syrupy caramel and toffee fudge, burnt chocolate, brown sugar and molasses. The coffee gets involved nicely as does the bourbon barrels with its damp musty oak. She warms up nicely on the back end…showing a bit of that 15% ABV but also displaying toasted coconut, raisin/dates, burnt brown sugar and peated whisky.

Mouthfeel: Vigorous but no where near as full on as we were expecting (especially considering its size). Chewy as hell but at the same time smooth and luxurious.

Overall: We shouldn’t be surprised by the quality these guys have mastered the art of barrel aging extremely strong beers since way back when. We have to give special mention to the addition of coffee too…just enough to know it’s there without overdoing it. Absolutely flawless

Tallboy & Moose ‘Pillow Fight’ Oat Cream IPA


72038510_1182077805309696_8881071690348494848_n“Like getting hit in the face with fluffy pillows of hoppy fruity goodness. A hazy IPA base with a double dry-hop treatment using El Dorado, Galaxy and Amarillo. From there we layer in lactose to build further body and sweetness, and grapefruit to lift the fruit character to another dimension!”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Super hazy dark pastel yellow with a short and impatient head atop. What little bubble is left settles at the rim with little lace to show.

Aroma: Soft creamy citrus, pink grapefruit and nectar are hitting the olfactory’s initially. The latter playing in to that frosty fruit character nicely. Sweet and sticky tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, further lactose and or vanilla sweetness along with very delicate hints of aniseed and tea. Quite unconventional and we’re digging it.

Flavour: Pretty similar to the nose but with a bit more emphasis on the tangy citrus and nectar with a line of grapefruit acidity underpinning it. If there were such a thing as grapefruit flavoured frosty fruits that’s what the mid palate would be all about as it finishes on a rather smooth, creamy and citrusy note.

Mouthfeel: Sleek and pretty damn creamy. There’s a really gentle bitterness while the 6% ABV is nicely tucked away.

Overall: This is our first entry for Tallboy & Moose and we must say we’re pretty impressed. The creamy texture and juiced up aroma and flavour is dialled in. The depth and overall balance also deserves a mention. Solid drop.

Bottle Logic ’18 ‘Fundamental Observation’ BA Imperial Stout


71171203_1179507455566731_8832097144639848448_n“Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Vanilla Stout: Our chart-topping ”liquid brownie batter” was aged in a medley of Buffalo Trace, WL Weller, Heaven Hill, and Four Roses bourbon barrels with multiple additions of Madagascar vanilla beans.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a wispy brown overlay. It quickly retreats to the rim and provides reasonable lace as it subsides.

Aroma: It never ceases to amaze us how unbelievably satisfying aromas of this calibre can be. When they’re this good words just don’t do it justice. This heavenly concoction of mild bourbon barrels, vanilla bean, licorice, espresso coffee, blackstap molasses, prunes/dates, melted brown sugar and spice is that good we’d happily spend every last cent on it just so we could have an endless supply! It’s outrageous.

Flavour: As expected…not one backward step is taken. It’s a mirror image of the aroma – chock full of bourbon barrel goodness, sweet vanilla, licorice, dark chocolate and or raw cacao, molasses, dark fruits i.e prunes/dates/raisins and espresso coffee. Don’t know how they manage such a smooth finish also. Wtf?!

Mouthfeel: Dense, rich and full bodied…but so god damn smooth! How can they hide the 13.2% ABV like this?? This shit shouldn’t be legal.

Overall: We don’t want to nitpick but…oh who are we kidding it was a 10 from the second we copped a nose-full of this infectious liquid. This is what it’s all about right here. Phenomenal drop.

Quiet Deeds ‘Hummingbird’ Hazy Double IPA


71713853_1178778182306325_7492607633698848768_n“Some beers are truly a labor of love. I think I can say with confidence that Hummingbird falls into that category. To quote Ned from the brewery, “Most of the low hanging fruit in the pastry stout game has been picked long ago.” And with that in mind, we put on our thinking caps and started spitballing ideas for our winter pastry offering. We went back and forth and the conversation had just started to lean towards making a pastry IPA instead of a stout when the Hummingbird cake suggestion (also Ned) popped up.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Super hazy pastel orange sporting a loosely packed thumb of white foam atop. It quickly dissipates and settles to the rim with little lace tracking it down.

Aroma: Strange but in a good way. Straight away we’re getting freshly cut lime. Come to think of it we’re getting that smell one gets when they pop their lime in to a freshly cracked bottle of corona. Strong wafts of zesty white wine like Riesling and Sauv blanc, marzipan, spearmint, tropical fruit, mixed spice and musk in support. Somewhat nutty as well. As we said before…strange but kind of appealing.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose. May we say that we don’t mind the smell of fresh lime and corona but the taste of fresh lime and corona is the pits. It almost has traits of a mojito at times. Unripened pineapple, acidic apple cider and white wine come together late and lead in to a dry and zesty finish which really lingers.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and relatively approachable for its size (9% ABV). Good weight and CO2. Low bitterness.

Overall: Honestly…not sure about this one. Yeah it’s nice and summery and we’ll give it points for being unique and somewhat fun but really it’s one of those beers we’d rather forget.

Dollar Bill Brewing ‘Learning To Breathe’ BA Golden Sour


70184517_1178404635677013_5060759324926672896_n“Learning to Breathe is brewed with Pilsner (65%), Wheat (25%), and Crystal Rye (10%) malts prior to fermentation and ageing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay barrels. This golden sour has a round mouthfeel with a hint of brettanomyces and a deep lactic acidity that intertwines beautifully with the vinous notes from ageing in wine barrels. Complex, sour, delicious!”

Glassware: Stemmed Tulip.

Appearance: Deep orange to amber with a finger of off white head. It slowly peels off and leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Smells the real deal…it has that punchy and tart lacto sourness, subtle white vinegar and a brett/sweaty funk. There’s also a gorgeous fruity sweetness – mostly papaya, apricot and peach. Just that perfect amount of barrel complexity imparting oak and damp cedar which adds crucial depth that many Aussie sours are lacking. Brilliant.

Flavour: It’s got it all really…intense lambic-style sourness, stonefruits, musty barrel character, manky funk. It’s even got that sherbet-esque artificial sweetness that we LOVE in sours. Undertones of subtle earthy spice and green melon laying down for a rather dry and tart finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and zippy. Light on but enough body to hold it up though. She’s pretty sour so a 4/5 pucker rating sounds about right.

Overall: We’ve always believed these guys had something of this calibre in them. The Parlay series are great sours but this is on another level. We’re not going to say 3F or Cantillon level but it could certainly stack up. This would have to be in contention for Australia’s best barrel aged sour. Top notch stuff.

Black Hops ‘ABC Bomb’ Black IPA


71835697_1178045479046262_2998842119931559936_n“This hoppy Black Ale is balanced by a strong citrus and pine hop aroma and a distinct roasty dark malt character. The use of American hops gives this beer a genuine IPA backbone with a unique spice flavour through the addition of rye. An American Black C-hopped bomb. One of our original 4 IPAs that comes in perfect time for winter.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Black with just the faintest amount of light cutting through. A thick and finely beaded crown slowly reduced and settled at the rim. Healthy lace clings as we go.

Aroma: Smells mighty fine…they’ve struck a lovely balance between the roasted malts and piney herbal hops. Sugar-sweetened coffee, nutty chocolate, treacle and damp earthy forest floor interweave with the piney and almost snow gum-like herbals. Definitely some grapefruit and orange peel alongside delicate savoury spice. Liking it!

Flavour: Follows on from the nose – charred malts provide those robust notes of coffee, dark chocolate and ash but the citrus and piney hops provide that crucial balance and bitterness. This harmonious marriage of flavour reaches well in to the finish and goes for days on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Dry and bitter…really coats the whole palate. Medium body and CO2. 6.5% ABV is well placed.

Overall: With all these new (but awesome) hops around these days it’s easy to forget the original ‘C’ hops which started the whole IPA craze. Citra, Chinook, Centennial, Cascade…these hops are to the IPA world what Elvis Presley was to rock n roll! They started the movement!

North Brewing X Other Half Double IPA


71545955_1177342469116563_2769423555597697024_n“We are in awe of this beer! Super chuffed, humbled and proud! This is what it’s about, people coming together to create something great. During the madness of Hop City Leeds, Antony from Other Half Brewing Company squeezed us in his busy schedule to weigh in on how we should brew this beer together.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Pastel orange with a heavy haze. It manages a thumb of finely beaded white head which slowly recedes. Seeing blotchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Pretty conventional hazy IPA notes – bright citrus, stonefruits and pineapple supported by peppery spice, dank weedy herbs, pine and frosty fruits. There’s a really interesting scent which is hard to isolate…reminds us of kumquat and or mangosteen. A bit of warming booze giving the nostrils a tickle too!

Flavour: Remarkably smooth. It’s a total fruit salad upfront – everything from citrus and stonefruit to tropical fruit and melon. Nice hit of frosty fruits giving it that sugary artificial sweetness. Pine and herbal spice come through before a spike in warming booze tapers off in to a smooth and fruity finish.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth and somehow approachable for an 8.3% Double IPA. Medium body. CO2 is spot on.

Overall: This is our first crack at North Brewing however this is not our first crack at Other Half! We don’t have to cast our minds back too far to recall the masterstroke they collab-brewed with Garage Project…it’s obvious these guys can brew an epic NEIPA. And yes we think the one with GP was better!

Modern Times ‘Black House’ Coffee Stout


“It’s so great that you like coffee. I just love that about you. Speaking of which, you’re holding an oatmeal coffee stout positively redolent with coffee aroma and flavor. It kind of tastes like a chocolate-covered espresso bean, only drier and more like beer. Nifty fact: we’re one of the only breweries in the world to roast our own coffee, which allows us to be extremely persnickety about which beans we buy and how we roast them. Taste the persnicketiness!”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Glossy black with a finger of light brown foam assembling on top. Reduction is swift and eventually it retreats to the rim. Healthy lace despite the lack of retention.

Aroma: We probably sound like a broken record but we LOVE COFFEE! So when we see a coffee stout brewed by one of San Diego’s finest we don’t hesitate! A twirl of the glass awakens that glorious coffee aroma along with cocoa, bakers chocolate, porridge, toast, lightly roasted barley and lactose. Maybe a flutter of molasses and nutty malt as well. Damn fine aroma.

Flavour: In short? MIA! It’s almost a completely different beer! All of that gorgeous coffee, chocolate and porridge has been watered down and is nothing but a shadow of the aroma. In its defence all of the flavours are here but they’re just weak as water. And it’s like this from start to finish. Gaahh!

Mouthfeel: Thin and slippery…no grip whatsoever. Only 5.8% ABV so it is in session territory. Far too lean for a stout though.

Overall: Such a shame. To inhale that dreamy aroma and then get let down so bad by the flavour makes us want to cry. That’s a rare strike out for MT.

Quiet Deeds ‘Long Days & Pleasant Nights’ Hazy IPA


71472456_1175019932682150_6742894124082397184_n“Not long after I moved to Australia, I started using the phrase “Long Days & Pleasant Nights” to describe my new life to my parents. The phrase originally comes from the Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books, which I read at university. Of all the adventures in those books, I always kept the phrase “Long Days & Pleasant Nights,” as they use it as a greeting in the series. We thought we could use the phrase as a greeting to the wonderful people out there that are enjoying our beers. And frankly if you want to say, “Hello, I’m an IPA,” you need to put a strong effort in that can.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Cloudy light orange to pastel gold…depending on which angle we look at it! A short white head doesn’t hang around long but manages a reasonable lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Smells nice and fresh. Driven by juicy notes of pineapple, grapefruit, passionfruit, peach, melon and gooseberry. There’s also a hint of dankness to it – evergreen, pine and forest floor with that slight weedy-ness also happening. The grain bill offers a dry, spicy bread crust character alongside a pinch of oats. A well structured aroma.

Flavour: Seems to have a stronger focus on citrus…pithy grapefruit and orange peel with the sweeter tropical fruits i.e pineapple and passionfruit taking the back seat. Tasting the kinda sharp pine cutting through then the warming booze and assertive bitterness rolling in to a dry and slightly astringent finish.

Mouthfeel: Rather smooth initially then it turns harsh in the swallow. Medium body. The 7.2% ABV certainly adds a bit of sting.

Overall: We’re on a mission to find an Aussie NEIPA that can stack up against the likes of Treehouse, Monkish, Other Half etc. NEIPA’s like this are getting closer but we’re still so far off. The quest continues…

Mr Banks Brewing Co West Coast IPA


70730364_1173945812789562_1692220202705485824_n“Our Take on a West Coast IPA. A little less Bitterness than traditional with a Lean body for the Hops to really shine through. Tropical Fruit, Citrus, Orange, Grapefruit, passionfruit with a touch of pine.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden orange. It forms a frothy two finger head which breaks down to a sudsy collar. Pretty decent lacing as we go.

Aroma: Packed with tropical fruity hops like pineapple, passionfruit, green mango and stonefruits. Layers of pine (and some resins), mixed citrus, soft juicy notes and a biscuity malt in support. Kind of confusing because there’s more NEIPA qualities than West Coast. Can’t say we’re totally sold on the nose.

Flavour: Our main gripe is that’s it’s lacking that crisp and sharp cut-through so synonymous with good West Coast IPA’s. Yes there’s fruity hops but they’re sweet and a tad juicy. The mid is smooth with delicate bitterness…some peach and mango coming through and leading in to the relatively mild finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly well rounded, smooth and approachable. The 6.2% ABV is well concealed and the 55 IBU neither nor there.

Overall: Were kind of struggling to get where they’re coming from. It’s called a West Coast IPA with descriptors of “fruity, piney and dank” but we see a hazy appearance with sweet juicy fruits and low bitterness. It’s not a bad beer by any means it’s just not really a West coast IPA.

Toppling Goliath ‘Scorpius Morchella’ Double IPA


70102102_1173524992831644_7190176377679642624_n“Brewed each spring to celebrate our brewery’s annual day off to go morel mushroom hunting, this excitingly hazy double IPA is a tribute to our love of great hops and morels. Created with a combination of Pacific Northwest and Southern Hemisphere hops, Scorpius Morchella is meant to be shared with friends on a warm spring afternoon.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Extremely turbid mustard yellow complexion. It forms a fluffy two finger head which holds together well. Kind of a wavy lace pattern as it ebbs.

Aroma: One word…amazing! It’s bursting out with fruity hop character – we can’t find the hop profile but it’s a mix of Pacific Northwest (Citra and Ekuanot is our guess) and Southern hemisphere (Galaxy & Nelson Sauvin..again another guess). The list of scents in support is mind blowing: frosty fruits, Thai basil/aniseed, concentrated breakfast juice, ripe yellow grapefruit, gooseberry, pine needle and apricot/peach. Next level.

Flavour: So damn smooth it’s criminal! Fruit juice bomb on entry picking up some spicy accents, dank herbals, frosty fruits and pithy citrus (grapefruit, lemon, rind) as it approaches the mid. More cocktail fruits late in the piece (mango, pineapple, peach) and finishes with a little peppery spice and some warmth in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Unbelievably smooth and creamy. It feels really light and airy while still maintaining a decent body.

Overall: These guys are freakin masters. Nevermind the New England brewers the boys from the Midwest are taking over! This has to be one of the best NEIPA’s we’ve had to date. Brilliant.

Mr Banks brewing Co Oatmeal Stout


70154272_1173017859549024_1044518196503117824_n“With Layers & layers of dark malt, American Hops & Smooth Oats. This Chocolate, Roasty & Slick Stout is a pleasure for all the sense’s.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Solid black with a short brown head on top. Reduction is Swift and eventually settles at the rim. Thin rings stick to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Roasty, savoury and even a touch sweet but it’s all a bit mild and a little shy. As we delve in we pick up further wafts of coffee, dark chocolate, lactose and rolled oats but we’re finding the same problem…it’s all just a bit lackluster. It’s a shame it couldn’t find that 2nd gear because at its core it’s a decent aroma.

Flavour: It’s slow off the mark but as it progresses we pick up gentle roast, coffee, dark chocolate, lactose, rolled oats and delicate licorice. There’s a very faint citrusy hop bitterness making its way through as well. The finish is again mild and lightly toasty with hop character and bittersweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Way too thin for a stout. We’ll concede a low-ish ABV (5.5%) could have something to do with it. CO2 is spot on though.

Overall: If anything we’d be calling this a borderline session black IPA. Nowhere near the body one would expect from a stout. It’s a big old meh from us.


Range Brewing India Brown Ale


70460026_1172806389570171_2133216629931114496_n“For this hoppy dark delight we’ve dry hopped an india brown ale with a whack of Lemondrop hops. With a hint of roast from the darker malts and a pleasant citrus hop hit, this is a spring delight. A smooth balance and low back end bitterness make this one a real treat. Dark, but also hoppy.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Deep chestnut brown with a looseley held thumb of tan foam perched on top. The head retains well and sticks a thick sudsy lace to the glass.

Aroma: Very interesting. We haven’t tried many India brown ales before so this is somewhat exciting. In simple terms it’s just like a black IPA but with less roast and more nuttiness. The brewers have used “Lemon drop” hops here which is also very new to us…imparting obvious notes of candied lemon, herbal tea, mixed citrus and fresh rockmelon. Something kind of floral in here too. We dig it.

Flavour: Again, very similar to a black IPA just a lot less aggression with a smooth nutty malt character. There’s a very faint roasted note which hints at coffee and chocolate but it’s countered by the slightly fruity and herbal hops. It tapers off in to a mild finish which stops a bit short.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but bordering on watery…we’d have loved to see a bit more density there. CO2 is spot on and the 6.2% ABV is cleverly hidden.

Overall: Definitely has the fun factor but there’s questions over whether they nailed it. The aroma is great but it all seemed to go downhill (slowly, mind you) from there. Probably our least favoured out of the 4 SKU’s we’ve now tried from Range.

Black Hops ‘#100’ Continuously Hopped IPA


70385558_1172419739608836_2028305585505566720_n“Our latest release is a big milestone for us, being our 100th unique beer we’ve brewed since Black Hops existed. To celebrate, our latest limited release, #100 is a continuously hopped American IPA crafted in the tradition of Dogfish Head’s famous 90 minute IPA. 100 minutes of continual hopping in the boil by the whole Black Hops crew, delivers a classic IPA with all American hop complexity.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Bold amber with excellent clarity. It builds a healthy two finger head which holds up pretty well and makes a total mess of the glass.

Aroma: Not getting a great deal off it to be quite honest. We’re picking up indistinct berries and dark fruits with a more obvious prominence on caramelised sweetness, toffee, malts, subtle toast and honeysuckle. We can see where they’re going with this…the beer is based on the Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA and it’s not a bad overall attempt.

Flavour: Almost sweet enough to call it a red or amber IPA. Then again they would need a huge malt bill to counteract 100 minutes of continual hopping. Caramel, toffee, honey and mild roast balance a deep and pithy hop bitterness, pine and sappy resins. Maybe some burnt orange developing late. Raw and bitter finish really endures.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat sticky and gelatinous. The hefty 100 IBU flexes it’s muscles while the 7.7% ABV adds a certain warmth to it. Medium body and CO2.

Overall: Well, it’s no 90 minute but it’s a fairly unique IPA and we must say we like it. It’s well balanced yet punchy and full flavoured. It took us a bit to come round but we did in the end!

Cloudwater Brew Co ‘Soft & Juicy’ IPA


70362532_1172051459645664_2521268651701567488_n“Juicy, soft, and full of ripe tropical fruit flavours from a blend of hops and aromatic yeast, this IPA is our modern take on a classic style. Showcasing hop flavours and yeast esters against a big body from high protein malts, to replicate the mouthfeel of tropical fruit, this beer finishes with a low bitterness to let the hop aromas and flavours linger on your palate.”

Glassware: IPA glass.

Appearance: Turbid mustard yellow with a sturdy two finger head which maintains its shape. Lovely lace work clings to the glass as we go.

Aroma: There’s a strong floral note cutting through the thick, syrupy and fruity breakfast juice (paw paw, orange, melon, apricot, mango, pineapple). Soft peppery rye, dried oats, botanicals, straw/hay and subtle grapefruit pith filling it out. Outstanding aroma…on par with some of the best NEIPA’s in the world.

Flavour: Proper juice bomb upfront – paw paw, mango, melon, orange, apricot, peach…you name it. Nice little addition of botanicals/herbals fused through with a late hit of peppery spice forming mid-palate. Quite pithy (grapefruit, rind etc) and a bit dank as it rounds off. Grassy hop, citrus and peppery rye drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, mineraly. Gassy vibrant CO2. Really well rounded. The 6.5% ABV is inconspicuous. Flawless really.

Overall: As we touched on before this surely has to stack up against the likes of Treehouse, Trillium, Other Half. It’s got everything one could ask of a world class NEIPA…in spades. Superb drop.