Category Archives: American/Strong Ale

Black Dog Brewery & Eel River ‘Eeldog II’ Imperial Black Rye Ale

Rating:

14523059_578011675716315_7853199065087496638_n“Teaming up with Eel River once again, this has strayed to the dark side. With a good amount of rye to add complexity & spice, a mix of local HPA035 & American chinook hops. Rich, smooth, chewy, with a good hit of bitterness.”

Served in Black Dogs labelled Pint glass. She pours as black as the ace of spades and caps off with a short but extremely well retained head that works a wet and streaky lace trail down the walls of the glass. The nose is rich, hearty and viscous – perfect for those freezing nights in Taminick. There’s so much bottom end to this aroma, the solid earthy base engages with decadent scents of espresso, molasses, burned wood, tobacco, dates, fig and a subtle rye spiciness. The sheer complexity on the nose is just incredible. The mouth feel is creamy and luxurious but also somewhat sharp and bitey – the 8.2% ABV would certainly play a hand in that we’re sure. Quite a bold bitterness through it too as the weight of the beer is felt in the swallow. Very complex, much like the aroma. The flavour follows suit with an intricate fusion of earthy malts, espresso, charred wood and garnished with a peppery rye spice. Quite an aggressive bitterness surges across the mid as it leads in to a dry and roasty finish with very subtle hints of dark fruit on the back palate. We actually enjoyed one of these while chatting to James at his cellar door a few weeks ago. At the time it was great but once we got in and pulled it apart it’s even better! She’s rich, decadent and absolutely delicious. The IBA now has a new contender for the best beer in the range. Superb.

Kaiju! Beer ‘Behemoth’ Double India Black Ale

Rating:

13006535_504567603060723_7716118333066490094_n“Behold now behemoth. His immense strength hewn from legend. His bitterness drawn from the dark belly of the earth. Where he strides none may remain.”

Served in an IPA glass. The pitch black body is capped off by a mountainous four finger head that takes an age to settle to a thick, frothy overlay. It’s retained beautifully and allows thick, soapy lace trails to cling to the glass as it recedes. Kaiju are renowned for their big, pungent IPA’s and seems this India black ale is no exception. The olfactory’s are set off by a big roasted malt backbone that also imparts heavy wafts of coffee, dark chocolate, cacao, ash, charred wood and crusty bread. The hops also play a considerable role as subtle but sweet fruity notes push through the malts. We also get a fair whack of pine and warming alcohol. Very multi-layered and actually quite complex. A swish around the mouth offers full body with a dense and oily texture. Carbonation is moderate but a lip puckering 130 IBU launches an assault on the palate. The 10.5% ABV also weighs in with an evident burn that’s well discernible. The front palate is in a state trying to isolate the array of flavours. A complex fusion of alcohol, heavily roasted malts, dark chocolate and a fruity hop sweetness are all hinged on an aggressive hop bitterness that bridges the mid and ushers in a long and drawn out finish that’s as dry as the Sahara desert. Delicious roasted flavours linger on the back end and somewhat balance out the strident bitterness. Phwoar! This is one of those beers where the label has clearly lived up to its name. This is a behemoth….nothing less. It’s bold, bitter, roasted and in your face and it certainly doesn’t try to hide it either. Kaiju! We love you! :)

Black Dog Brewery ‘Hell Hound’ India Black Ale

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imageHound India Black Ale is a dark, brooding brew, melding together two of our favourite styles. The rich smoothness of a dark beer and the crazy hopping regime of an IPA. In folklore, they say if you stare into the eyes of a hell hound three or more times, it bodes a ghastly fate. Not this hell hound, its rich layers of dark malt and huge hit of lip smacking hop bitterness, and aroma, will seal your fate at first glance.rooding brew, melding together two of our favourite styles. The rich smoothness of a dark beer and the crazy hopping regime of an IPA. In folklore, they say if you stare into the eyes of a hell hound three or more times, it bodes a ghastly fate. Not this hell hound, its rich layers of dark malt and huge hit of lip smacking hop bitterness, and aroma, will seal your fate at first glance.”

This is our first entry for this brewery from North-East Victoria. James Booth (head brewer and chief wine maker) and his team are another addition to the burgeoning brewery/vineyard sect that are becoming quite popular in Australia, joining the likes of Prickly Moses (Otway Estate), Bellarine brewing (Bellarine estate) and Vale brewing (McLaren Vale estate) just to name a few. Served in a tulip glass. The mat black pour arouses a huge three finger tanned head that displays excellent retention. Five minutes after the pour and we’re still seeing a good fingers worth of foam settling in and omitting a thin sheet of lace as it ebbs. Looks good. Woah! where do we start with this aroma? Only just does the sharp citric bitterness hit the olfactory first. As wafts of grapefruit, pine and orange peel come forward, so do rich scents of chocolate, cocoa, coffee and roasted malt. Behind it all is a delicate vanilla-like creaminess/spiciness that provides an extra layer of depth and complexity to this aroma. Solid! there’s a lot to like about this already. In the mouth there’s an acute bitterness that dries up the tongue while the malts add a little weight to the creamy texture. The body is medium-full and the Co2 levels are moderate. The palate is treated to, we can somewhat say, a reversal of the aroma. Decadent chocolate malts, cocoa and coffee are at the forefront as an assertive resinous hop bitterness locks it all in. The bitterness hesitates through the mid, allowing the roasty malts to flow on to the dry, piney finish. Good length here, notes of charred malts and dank resinous hops persist well on to the back end. Wow this brewery hasn’t just hit our radar, it’s flewn right in to it at a rate of knots. What a way to kick off proceedings huh?! We’re already looking forward to the next installment from this brewery.

Southern Tier ‘Iniquity’ Imperial Black Ale

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imageWe picked up this bottle from the brilliant lill’ bottle shop in Berry NSW, where under the guidance of the knowledgable owner Justin, stated that this imperial black ale is an absolute must to try for the craft beer lover. Well..how could you not. Like waving a red flag to a bull. This beer is called ‘iniquity’ (meaning opposing goodness). Simply, it means that this beer is contrary to what you would expect from an IPA. It is an ale, as black as the night! We are a little confused though..is it an ale or an IPA? Anyway, who cares let’s roll on.

Served chilled in a tulip glass, it is indeed black as black can be, but has a beautiful dark ruby character when held up to light. There is a creamy 10 mm head with small carbonated bubbles, which fades leaving patchy bubbles and  a rim of tightly packed 5mm bubbles. The aroma is insane. Like a juicy fruit salad, intermixed with roasted malts, and some mild coffee. First mouthfeel is divine. Very smooth ale like flavour at forefront on the palate, which then slowly increases to a well contained bitterness at the backend. More roasted flavours like espresso, mild ash, very mild dark chocolate and its wrapped up in the 9% alc vol booze hit. This is not overpowering though but definately present. It’s amazing the difference between the initial sweet, juicy fruit like aroma and the more bitter, mild drying hit of the hops in the mouth. We note the use of kettled chinook and cascade hops, willamette hop back, and dry hopped cascade and centennial hops. So complex. We get that lovely citrus, grapefruit hit on the palate. More subdued pine. It is so damn floral and this must be the willamette. We love the fact that this immensely smooth drop has a medium body and is not too heavy, has mild carbonation so the ale-like qualities shine, and has this artistic like lacing down the glass like it’s been painted. It’s a lovely black ale, which could be mistaken for a black IPA due to the hop dominance. Such a balanced, smooth imperial ale. Well brewed and many thanks has to go to Justin because he is bang on. This is a superb drop and has to be consumed by anyone interested in craft beer. Good luck finding it!

Mildura Brewery ‘Mallee Bull’ Strong ale

Rating:

image“I have to admit that I have never seen a Mallee Bull and so in my imagination, such a creature only exists metaphorically as a myth to express the idea of strength. This beer certainly has strength, both of flavour and character. It is a great accompaniment for rich comfort foods of substance such as raised beef cheek. This is a beer with personality and doesn’t shy away from robust encounters.”

Served in a shaker glass. The slightly hazy amber pour knocks up a modest one finger head which slowly peels off a few millimetres before settling to a fine covering over the top. Thick, soapy lacing is left clinging to our glasses. It’s an all malt affair on the nose as we take in some lovely caramelised aromas. Toffee would have to be the dominant scent, but layers of honeycomb, stone fruits (apricot, raisin) fig and caramel fudge add a firm depth to this aroma. Solid start. The mouth feel is surprisingly light on with a silky smooth texture. Carbonation levels are quite mild also which unfairly conveys a slightly slippery feel. It’s n no way watery but it is flirting with being a bit too thin. A delicious caramelised malt sweetness promotes a soft, nutty character upfront. Rich toffee takes a hold of the taste buds as a mild hop bitterness flows through and leads on to a sweet, sugary finish with a suggestion of roast on the back end. Personally, we think this is a damn good representation of an amber ale, although we don’t quite get the “strong ale” as suggested on the label. Some may argue but we feel 5.6% ABV doesn’t really classify it as strong but rather a level at which we wished more brewers would brew this type of ale at. With exception to Mountain Goat’s ‘fancy pants’ amber ale, it’s hard to find a good amber ale with enough body and flavour at low ABV’s. Essentially, it’s not really a strong ale. More of a well brewed and highly palatable amber ale.

Liberty brewing co. ‘Yakima scarlet’ Unknown ale

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image“My original records for this beer date back to a batch of home brew in June 2007. It was a beer called IPA Massacre. It was brewed three times under this moniker with minor tweaks along the way. The most significant tweak I made to the recipe was changing to use hops grown in Washington USA. Accordingly, in January 2011 the name was changed to Yakima Scarlet. There were no less than seven iterations of this beer brewed before releasing what you hold in your hands right now. I still don’t what style of beer it is, but I can tell you that it is hoppy and it is red”.

There’s quite an interesting little history to this beer. over the years the brewer has played around and finally perfected this unknown style of ale to produce what it is right now. We’re quite intrigued. Served in an IPA glass the deep copper red pour produces a tight two finger tan head that retains. Laced well. The first major part of deconstructing this beer starts with the aroma and what we’re getting is big, caramelised helpings of toffee, dough, Jaffa, kumquat, plum and treacle. A real mixed bag but what an interesting beer we have right here. In the mouth it feels quite smooth and velvety with medium carbonation. Upfront a surprisingly hoppy bitterness dominates the subtle caramel notes on the tongue. A little warming booze in the mid-palate delivers a slightly bitter finish with grapefruit and hints of toffee. 6.9% ABV is only mildly evident but all in all well balanced among the other flavours. To sum it up, we would class this beer as either a double red ale or an India red ale, and a pretty tasty one at that. Good effort from these brewers, an interesting beer.

Feral brewing ‘Barrique Okarma’ Oaked black ale

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image“First brewed in May 2013 for the Great Australian Beer Spectapular in conjunction with Melbourne Good Beer Week. Barrique Okarma is a version of our Black IPA Karma Citra. The beer undergoes primary fermentation in new French oak wine barriques, before being returned to stainless for final processing and dry hopping with American Citra hops. Much like B.F.H Barrique has a softer mouth feel and sweet vanilla aroma.”

This is the brewpub series from an outstanding brewery in W.A. We love the subtle reference to Barrack Obama…being a black ale. First whiff is an interesting combo of pine hops and smoked malt. Pours like a stout in colour with a creamy head which fades. Minimal lacing on the glass. The first sip is amazing. Bitterness from the hops but contains that real resinous IPA aroma, and a creaminess that lingers on the palate well after gulping it down. We wonder whether lactose has been used in the brewing? It’s sitting at 6.5% and its really smooth. We reckon this beer is a must with gamey meat. All in all, brilliant beer from an award winning microbrewery. This beer will win awards too.

8 wired ‘mighty’ imperial ale

Rating:

image“My idea of a strong ale was brewed with loads of malt, hops, jaggery and a touch of manuka smoke. It was fermented with a clean ale yeast to let the ingredients speak for themselves without getting interrupted by too many esters. After all that it was aged for 5 months on American oak, then refermented in the bottle”.

This brewery just simply refuses to brew an average beer….and we love it!! This one is an immensely strong, oak aged American ale which is brewed with Manuka smoke, jaggery (raw sugar) and aged on American oak. Woah. Served in a beer tulip, the tawny brown pour struggled to construct it’s minimal tan head that swells to about a fingers height before slowly reducing to patches of foam on top. Minimal lacing. As to be expected from this world class brewery a very unique, yet brilliantly complex aroma consisting of burned wood, dark fruits, fortified wine, aniseed, palm sugar, vanilla, smoke and a touch of alcohol comes forward. The mouth feel is silky with mild-medium carbonation. Fuller bodied. Quite woody, the oak really gives the texture a thick viscosity. Upfront the palate is dominated by the warming alcohol content (11% ABV) while the mid develops unique and earthy flavours such as port, vanilla oak and caramel. The finish is long and well drawn out offering a lot of smoked and peaty notes. Wow this is a very complicated beer, insanely strong and extra points for originality and its individual style. Great beer.