Category Archives: Flavour of the Month

Deschutes Brewery 2014 Reserve ‘Mirror Mirror’ BA Barleywine

Rating:

21463193_748795898637891_1743194503447251062_n“The Reserve Series romance all began with our first release of this limited-edition brew. Mirror Mirror, born of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, is an inspired barley wine ale layered with intriguing nuances. Explore this latest incarnation and enjoy its delicious complexity in every sip. (Released March 2014)”

Served in a snifter. Pours a bit like muddy swamp water with a two finger head forming on top. Retention is good with a wavy lave pattern following it down.
Phwoar! That aroma. The complexity, the intense sweetness, the brilliance of a well brewed and well aged barleywine is not only 2nd to none but would easily challenge a dessert wine as an indulgent after dinner aperitif or night cap. With all that toffee, port, raisin, apricot, gingerbread, fig, residual sugar, fudge, brandy and sticky vanilla this is the epitome of opulence! Outstanding stuff.
It doesn’t shy away in flavor either. Big and extravagant notes of port, caramel, fig, brandy, brown sugar and raisin are given an almighty boost by the 11.2% ABV which injects prickly layers of belly warming goodness. It’s only subtle but we can detect a vinous accent from the hefty aging process it undergoes in American red wine barrels.
The texture is dense and syrupy with enough lift from the booze to save it from being edible. The co2 is mild but effective…also very important in the overall balance of the beer.
Oh jeebus! What an amazing beverage we have laid before us. Holier than thou. We’re not worthy! What we’re trying to say is this is down right incredible. Top 5 material without a doubt.

Garage Project 2016 Chateau Aro Spiced/Fruit Beer

Rating:

20525376_730988893751925_6872446744638731313_n‘Never mix grape and grain’ – we’re breaking the cardinal rule again for the second vintage of our grape harvest beer. Chateau Aro, a dark rubescent ale, conditioned on the freshly crushed juice and skins of pinot noir grapes, then aged in French Oak barrels, all from the award winning Escarpment Winery. And the result of this unholy union? Rich, complex and surprising. Remember, beer then wine, you’ll be fine.”

Served in a stemmed tulip. This elegant beauty hits the glass with a deep chestnut hue and tops off with a short wispy cap which peels back to a ring. It laces quite well considering the diminishing head.
This aroma is unreal. The back story here is we bought this bottle from the brewery after we sampled it in a paddle at the taproom in Wellington a couple of months back. It is simply erupting with sweet notes of port, raisins, fig jam, mixed berries, vanilla bean and ripe cherries. Absolutely love the subtle oak and red wine tannin that cuts through a bit of the sweetness. It’s like nothing we’ve ever smelt before. Just divine.
The mouth feel is WAY too accommodating for a beer weighing in at 10.9% ABV. It’s smooth, velvety and flows over the tongue just like an expensive pinot noir would. Unbelievable.
The characteristics of the aroma transition incredibly well on to the palate. The light sparkle gives it a gentle lift as the cherries provide a subtle tartness through the mid. A mild bitterness is then introduced before it rounds off on a sweet, tannic and slightly dry finish with the cherry fusing with the port notes on the rear.
Simply put..perfect. There is literally nothing that could have been done better here, it is dead set spot on. We reckon it’s a beer that can be thoroughly enjoyed now but would improve with a few years on it. Wow, what a brilliant drop.

 

 

 

Garage Project ‘Dark Arts’ Coffee Bock

Rating:

image“What kind of Faustian pact is this? A dark tryst combining the rich, clean malt character of a strong bock beer with a cold extract of specially roasted beans, creating a brew of milk coffee smoothness with notes of caramel and chocolate. Your favourite beverages together in one bottle – now there’s no need to choose. An award winning brew born of our collaboration with Wellington based fair trade roasting icons Peoples Coffee.”

Served in a Stein. It hits the glass with a chestnut hue that reveals crimson edges when held to the light. The two finger head almost completely dissipates leaving a thin ring that leaves minimal lace.
My goodness, if you’re coffee lovers like us then this aroma will have you on cloud nine. Pungent wafts of raw coffee beans fill the olfactory’s. The malt profile is equally as tantalizing with big roasty notes, burned toast, singed wood, chilli-infused dark chocolate, cacao and molasses in support. An absolute feast for the senses!
Thick and full bodied on the palate. The heavy malt profile ensures a silky/velvety texture as the low Co2 and extremely well masked 7.8% ABV makes this one dangerously drinkable beer.
We were hoping for the flavour to follow the aroma and it has done exactly that. Brilliant presentation of the coffee – strong but tempered. The rich, roasty malts and bittersweet chocolate only build on the magnificent flavour base created by the coffee. The taste just keeps improving until it finishes on a dry, bitter and lightly burned note that goes the distance on the back end.
Simply put…superb. One of the best bocks we’ve ever drunk. This was another one we muled back from NZ so we’re not sure what the availability is like in Australia. But! If you see this…bag it. Absolutely magnificent beer.

Bcchus Brewing Co. ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’

Rating:

16807520_648906535293495_8039335137728791205_n“This beer was originally created for the Bacchus B20 beer fest. 20 “one off” unique beers, each brewed to represent a country/leader at the G20. USA – peanut butter jelly time popularized by the Family Guy. This is a peanut butter and jelly Amber Ale.”

Served in an English pint. She pours an attractive amber hue with excellent clarity. The short head slowly reduces to a film that struggles to leave a foot print on the glass as it ebbs.
Once again the willy wonka of the beer world has produced an absolutely stunning aroma that oozes decadent and moreish sweetness. This is the most impressive part though, of all the dessert beers we’ve reviewed from Bacchus (and there’s been quite a few) not one has been cloying or unbalanced. They all hit their mark perfectly as this one does with jelly, peanut butter, coconut flakes, raspberries, milk chocolate and vanilla. God, take us now!
The mouth feel is spot on. Just enough weight from the body with a smooth and sleek texture. Nice vibrant Co2 provides that vital uplift in the mouth. Brilliant.
We’ve never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but if this is what they taste like then damn! We can see why they’re so popular. Big hit of sugary jelly upfront followed by a soft peanut butter creaminess. What could best be described as a very subtle salinity gets washed over by super sweet malts, crystallized sugars and marshmallow in the finish.
Phenomenal stuff. It’s that kind of beer you wish would never end. The aromas and flavors are so delicious that words almost don’t do it justice. You’ve just got to try it to understa

Bacchus Brewing Co ‘Bo Jingles V’ Imperial Cherry Chocolate Stout

Rating:

16174455_636771723173643_1467916320009663673_n“Bo Jingles is an imperial cherry chocolate stout brewed each Christmas for the iconic scratch bar in Milton. We change the recipe every year, creating new taste experiences around the central theme. For 2015 we’ve gone bigger & ballsier. We retained some of last year’s Bo & blended with this year’s vintage to produce a beer of intense flavour and depth.”

Served in a beer tulip. The pour is as black as the ace of spades with a healthy two finger head shaping up on top. As it reduced it weaves a streaky lace as it ebbs.
Ooph! Complexity is the name of the game here. This is bloody incredible! At the moment we can pick out cherry ripe, musty oak, molasses, Turkish delight, a hint of cough syrup and even traces of port. This aroma is simply brilliant.
Once again Bacchus thrills the palate with an invigorated Co2. An otherwise dense texture is nicely lifted. Oily in texture and it’s emphasized by a whopping yet quite well hidden 11% ABV.
What can best be described as an explosion of cherry sweetness is lit up by the 11% ABV upfront. Hints of oak follow but retreat a little quicker and in effect lays a platform for the juicy cherries, chocolate and molasses to extend in to a fairly dry finish that imparts a complex musty and slightly tart length on the back palate.
Stop it! Once again Bacchus displays their immense brewing capabilities with this absolutely incredible stout. We’re literally lost for words…this is something else. We’ll say this, if you see this beer on the shelf….buy it! Oh my God.

Bacchus Brewing Company ‘Ferrari Rocher’ Amber Ale

Rating:

15541121_616150058569143_9186274643250555795_n“Brewed initially to represent Italy at our B20 beer fest this racy little amber beer is a luxurious flavour mix of milk chocolate and hazelnuts.”

Served in a beer tulip. This addition to Bacchus’s stellar range pours a light burgundy hue with a short, frothy cap forming on top. It eventually collapses to a collar with minimal lace left in its wake.
We once saw a reviewer sum Bacchus up as the “willy wonka of the craft beer world”. We thought this was absolutely spot on because if you, like us, have tried many of their beers you’d know that they have turned the most delicious sweets into beer….with delicious perfection! This one is no different, with its subtle similarity to the peanut brittle gose this moreish and devilishly sweet concoction of milk chocolate, nuts, nougat, caramel, nutella and kit kats is enough to send our sweet tooth in to overdrive! Amazing.
She offers a vibrant texture with an active Co2 level along with a silky smooth mouth feel. The 7% ABV is extremely well buried. Roughly medium in body. A real pleasure to drink.
The palate is treated to a big impression of melted caramel, nutella, milk chocolate and chocolate wafers. Not so much the flavour of a Ferrero Rocher (although it is here) more the blissful, eye-closing indulgence this beer is providing is enough to make us want to buy 12 more!
Man that is dangerously addictive. What’s even better is that for all of its decadence it’s not at all cloying. The extreme sweetness is so brilliantly balanced that we just want to eat it. Forget dessert, from now on just buy one of these. Outstanding stuff.

Russian River Brewing Co. ‘Pliny The Elder’ Double IPA

Rating:

15085482_597417257109090_1769872724847455443_n“Where did we come up with this name? Back in the year 2000, our friend, Vic Kralj, who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California, decided to have his first ever Double IPA festival. Vic invited 10 breweries, 6 of whom (including us) had to brew something special for him since we had nothing that would fall under this style category. Vinnie had made a Double IPA at Blind Pig in 1994, but was not brewing one at Russian River Brewing at the time. He had an idea for the recipe, but not a name. After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”. Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews!”

Served in an IPA glass. Pliny pours a bright golden amber with a foamy two finger head forming on top. The head retains incredibly well and weaves a healthy lace as it ebbs. The first whiff of this coveted IPA has everything we’ve waited years to experience – its big, bold and bitter with grapefruit, orange peel, pine resins, hop oils, subtle peppery spice and a faint suggestion of bubblegum. Although it comes on hard with its West Coast hallmarks there is a lovely biscuity malt sweetness that takes the edge off the bitter hops. It may be big and bitter but there is an excellent balance on the nose as well. So far it is certainly living up to its cult-like status. In the mouth it is remarkably smooth and accommodating. The texture is light and oily and the 8% ABV is so well disguised you’d be excused for thinking it was around 6%. Co2 is spot on, adding a nice overall vibrancy to the feel of the beer. The flavour literally follows on from the nose. Upfront we get grapefruit, pine resins and juicy citrus notes. The 100 IBU gets introduced through the mid as flavours of hop oils and sweet malts lead in to a long resinous finish with hints of grassy hops on the back end. Brilliant. Well worth the two and a bit year wait. It’s clean, refreshing, silky smooth, superbly balanced and down right delicious! It was bottled on 12/10/16 so it’s fresh as f#*k as well. The only downside is that we don’t have any more  ah well at least that’s one we can tick off the bucket list. Big shout out to our good mate JD for muling it back from the States for us! Amazing stuff.

Bacchus Brewing Co. Peanut Brittle Gose

Rating:

14568223_579330132251136_4321783244005863186_n“Peanut Brittle Gose – 500ml (Alc 4.9%). Gose is an ancient style of soured German Wheat Beer typically brewed with Coriander & Sea Salt. We’ve stayed true to the original recipe but then added our own Peanut Brittle twist. A heady aroma of sweet buttery toffee & roasted peanuts follows through into the taste, where the lactic saltiness of the Gose cuts through & balances the sweetness beautifully. Peoples Choice winner GABS 2016”

Served in an English pint. The appearance offers an attractive crimson hue with a short fizzy head that disappears almost instantly. Needless to say there isn’t a great deal of lace being shed. On the nose we get the expected saltiness initially, kind of hints at sea water at times. It’s not until the beer starts to warm that the super sweet and simply divine aromas of the caramelized peanut brittle begin to take shape. Such an odd mix but the salty notes blend exceptionally well with the moreish and syrupy peanut brittle. The combination of the two result in this indulgent salted caramel ice cream character that is just heaven for the olfactory’s. The texture of the beer is silky smooth but with an interesting salinity that provides a tingling sensation on the tongue and lips while the Co2 gives it a nice lift and adds a crucial effervescence to the overall feel. The front palate sees all the action as this marriage of saltiness and super sweet peanut brittle is brought alive with a spritzy carbonation. The salinity coerces the saliva glands to fill the mouth through the mid as the delicious flavours of peanut brittle and salted caramel endure through the finish and well in to the back end. It’s exactly how we remember it! After revisiting this beer it only serves as a confirmation that it earned the GABS 2016 people’s choice award by right. It’s so damn tasty, crafty and incredibly addictive. Top shelf stuff.

Murray’s Craft Bewing Co. ‘Thunderbolt’ IPA

Rating:

14463228_573152939535522_42143174831914203_n“Murray’s Thunderbolt IPA is our hoppiest IPA yet! Packed full of Columbus, Mosaic and Equinox hops throughout the brewing process, then significantly dry hopped in the fermenter, Thunderbolt has an intense aroma and flavour of citrus, pine and tropical fruit. The firm bitterness is rounded out by the sweetness of caramalts and alcohol. A beer to be enjoyed with care.”

Served in an IPA glass. Thunderbolt pours to an attractive rose complexion with a finger of fluffy khaki foam topping it off. Retention is pretty good as it stubbornly recedes to a fine film and weaves a streaky lace pattern down the walls of the glass. Pow! The intensity of this aroma almost knocked us off our bar stools. It’s seriously dank with wave after wave of these resinous, piney punches that invade the olfactorys. A solid presence of booze (7% ABV) helps it along as juicy tropical notes of mango, pineapple and lychee pair up with the bitterness of grapefruit and the sweetness of passionfruit. Quite sticky too – those candy-like toffee/caramel tones balance out the big and dank fruity hops brilliantly. Wow! Absolutely superb aroma. The mouth feel is dry and a little sharp but that is quickly eased as it transitions in to a nice and smooth swallow. Can’t find an IBU but it is very well disguised. Medium body, good Co2. The front palate showcases an incredible balance between dank, resinous and fruity hops against the backdrop of sweet caramalts. This marriage it creates on the palate is delicious and simply mind blowing. As it progresses the assertive bitterness intensifies, setting off a crescendo of fruity flavours as it all graciously rounds out on to a dry, hoppy and dank finish with excellent duration. Let us finish by saying wow! We can now understand exactly why this IPA took out Australian champion IPA at the 2016 CBIA awards. Kudos, Murray’s your best beer yet!

Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Rating:

13962482_554288751421941_7952086833282044183_n“Our Peanut Butter Milk Stout is simply irresistible. It’s like dark chocolate Reese’s in a glass! Rolled oats and Lactose add to the creamy body of this beer while heavenly aromas of roasted buttery peanuts and chocolate greet you with every sip. Try this out with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a real treat!”

Served in a snifter glass. Pouring predominantly black with edges of dark brown being revealed when held to the light. A fizzy tan head sitting about a fat finger in height rapidly reduces to a ring with a scarce amount of lace being left behind. There’s one word for this aroma….wow!! She’s unbelievably sweet but the robust presence of roasted malts, chocolate, cocoa and coffee pull it back extremely well. Peanut butter definitely comes through albeit conservatively as wafts of lactose, vanilla, milk sugars, toffee fudge and peanut butter ice cream only just scratch the surface. This is one of those really fun beers that can easily evoke memories of everything from chocolate bars to desserts. There’s no boundaries to this superb aroma. The mouth feel is surprisingly light on and approachable with a super smooth texture. So incredibly drinkable considering the style and rich flavours going on. What we really like is the fact that the flavour has been somewhat reversed as opposed to the nose. Chocolate, roasted malts and toffee bed down on the tongue as peanut butter, vanilla and lactose work off of it. Again, not only balancing but providing that moreish and insanely delicious sweetness that begs for another sip. As it progresses the roasty notes make a return before it’s punctuated by all of the above along with a lingering creamy sweetness that’s dangerously addictive. Amazing. Simply brilliant milk stout here. In a climate where dessert stouts are popular this is a truly memorable offering that will no doubt stand out in our minds. Phenomenal!

Founders Brewing Co. ‘KBS’ BBA Imperial Stout

Rating:

13697299_540860426098107_3917183194027532825_n“What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight.”

Served in to a wide rimmed tulip glass. As anyone would expect, this monster pours pitch black with a finger of brown foam forming on top. The short head retains really well and leaves a nice trail of thick, blotchy lace on the glass as we imbibe. The moment you put the beer to your nostrils it’s instant excitement. Rich, voluptuous wafts of dark chocolate, espresso, oak, bourbon, charred malts, chocolate bullets, spice, alcohol and Christmas cake just billow out of the glass. A lovely vanilla sweetness ties in beautifully along with a kind of creamy lactose undertone that takes the edge off the huge roasted notes. Oh…it’s simply indulgence in a glass. So good. The mouth feel is slick, oily and sharp with a developing warmth from the 12.4% ABV. Bitterness is kept low and the body is medium-full. Quite a pronounced bourbon bite on the front palate. Hints of oak work their way through indistinctly as an espresso bitterness begins to open up early midway. As this baby warms she becomes more viscous and complex, really taking on the bourbon and oak firmly as burnt chocolate and a touch of molasses joins the party. A delicious dark fruitiness imparts flavours of alcohol soaked raisin and or prunes before an extremely lengthy finish offers everything from bourbon, oak, chocolate, coffee, licorice and a lingering alcohol warmth on the rear. How does one sum up a beer like this? Well, for starters it’s quite rare so if you’re agile enough to get your hands on one (don’t just buy one) then cherish it, lay one down for a year, as we plan to do, and see how the flavours mature. Remember to leave it out of the fridge for about 20 mins before opening, she gets better as it comes up to room temperature. Character-wise it’s flawless. The only downside is seeing the bottom of the glass as we take our last sip. Just world class stuff.

Knee Deep Brewing Co. ‘Lupulin River’ Imperial IPA

Rating:

13495104_533793403471476_8724553752501201776_n“This Double IPA includes Mosaic and Simcoe hops, South American specialty malt, and tons of tastiness. Looks like liquid gold, smells like a bright tropical fruit pine forest, and tastes like all that and more.”

Served in an IPA glass. Our eyes gaze over a gorgeous Amber body that’s topped off with a healthy two and a half finger crown. The head stubbornly holds up only peeling off a cm or so and retaining a thick blanket that sheds a wall of lace down the glass. As far as looks go this would have to be up there with the best. The aroma is just as exciting – it reminds us of Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter with its super clean hop oil aroma. Fresh scents of ruby grapefruit, passion fruit and pine needle are enhanced by tropical lychee, grape and kumquat notes. There’s a lovely floral accent too, a bit like lavender and or sage. Keeping with the character of the aroma the clean malt backing imparts a delicate honey sweetness which leads us to believe pilsner malts were used. Superb. You don’t get much better IPA aromas than this. The mouth feel is smooth as silk with an oily texture. A crisp bitterness and a medium body is further complimented by the perfect amount of carbonation. Just a brilliant progression on the palate. The flavour follows on from the aroma really well, initially we get a marriage of crisp pine needle, citrus and floral hops. A bold grapefruit note underlines it all and continues in to the mid. The snappy bitterness annexes to the grapefruit as tropical fruits and herbal notes lead in to a dry, crisp and ultra clean finish with excellent length on the back. Hot damn! This is one seriously tasty IPA. Everything from the appearance to the back palate is dead set spot on. We literally can’t find a thing wrong with this. It’s flawless.

Epic & Hop Federation ‘House of Nicholas’ ESB

Rating:

13165954_517356888448461_4208350002436230774_n“This amazing tasting Epic/Hop Federation collaboration is a going to be a very popular beer. At a recent tasting 30% of attendees voted Heritage their beer of the night. Heritage has a malty nutty aroma and is golden copper in colour with a rich flavour of nutty, biscuity malt character from the Amber malt. The English grown hops are twined tightly around the malt in a flavour that is subtly herbal and Earthly. Hop flavour comes in very late in the after taste. Keen followers of Epic will love this great beer.”

Served in an English pint. The incredibly clear amber pour is topped off by a short one finger head that collapses to a fine overlay with wavy lace patterns left in its wake. Looks fantastic. Probably one of the most attractive ESB’s we’ve seen. The aroma is nice and rich – chock full of caramel sweetness, toast and nutty malts. There’s a lovely floral hop note that works beautifully in to the sugary honey/maple accents. Maybe some subtle stone fruits too, apricot or peach? Just a hint of earth and/or peat creeping in as well. Wow, gorgeous aroma, so multi layered with every aspect working in harmony. Brilliant. In the mouth it’s smooth and really well rounded, it gives the palate a good old coating. Co2 is moderate and the bitterness mild. It just rolls over the tongue with a super easy swallow – a real pleasure to drink. The combination of sweet and earthy malts initiate the flavour profile. The impeccable balance between sweet, earthy and caramelized is further complimented by a subtle floral hop character flowing through. The mid displays a gentle hop dryness as the earthy malts again drive forward in to a smooth, toasty and slightly nutty finish. Good length. There’s only one thing better than a traditional ESB and that is a new world ESB brewed to perfection. That’s what this beer is. All of the traditional flavours are here but they’re bigger, sweeter and well balanced too. These Kiwi brewers have nailed it. Solid offering.

Moon Dog ‘Jumping the Shark 2015’ BA Imperial Rye Stout

Rating:

12990850_504567809727369_4085741524347524817_n“An 18.4% ABV Rye Imperial Stout that spent four months in rye whisky barrels from Tasmania’s Belgrove Distillery. A stupidly tasty melange of rich dark chocolate, molasses, hazelnuts and boozy rumminess.”

Served in a beer tulip. The pitch black pour generates a finger of tanned foam that gradually retreats and establishes a thin film over the top. Some scarce spots of lacing are left behind as we imbibe. From the first whiff you just know this is going to be an enormous beer. Liqueur-ish scents of port and rum are further intensified by moreish prunes/raisins, fig, molasses and damp wood. Alcohol comes gushing out in abundance as a kind of earthy and or soil-like character comes through. A plethora of undertones including leather, espresso, whiskey, spice, licorice and charred malts only add top this insanely potent stouts complexity. It’s ridiculous! Absolutely brilliant, but ridiculous! Wow, if we didn’t already know the ABV we would not have picked it, that’s for sure. She drinks surprisingly smoothly with an oily texture and a mild Co2 level. Sure, there is a slight burn from the whopping 18.4% alcohol volume but it’s contained and very well buried among the dense and viscous feel. An explosion of flavours are detonated on the palate. Everything from alcohol, charred malt, port, raisin, spice and whiskey come forth. A rich but not overly sweet molasses-like flavour develops as a spicy rye-like dryness creeps in across the mid. A short but intense alcohol burn is introduced as it lands on a rich, malty finish leaving us with that piquant and elegant rear palate that is simply decadent. We’re lost for words right now. This would have to be Moon Dog’s best Jumping the Shark beer. We can not fault it, it’s absolutely divine. If you see this bad boy on the shelves, bag it! You won’t regret it one bit.

Stone Brewing ‘Xocoveza’ Imperial Spiced Stout

Rating:

10400730_489611734556310_4513277488344758539_n“Our chocolaty, winter-spiced mocha stout is back. This insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate is crafted with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. First brewed in 2014 with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker after his recipe was named the winner of our annual homebrew competition, it quickly became a cross-country sensation as craft beer media and fans cheered for Stone Xocoveza…and clamored for more. We too loved this beer, so of course we caroled ¡Claro que sí! Now gifted with a new name, Stone Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year has joined our eminent lineup of special releases. We’re releasing it just in time for that time of the year when the joyous spirit of giving is in the air and good behavior is generously rewarded.”

Served in a snifter glass. The appearance is mat black with absolutely no transparency. A modest two finger head props up before it recedes and establishes a thin overlay that leaves reasonable lacing as it ebbs. Where do we start with this aroma?! The olfactory’s are abuzz trying to isolate the long list of spices against the rich, heavy malts and chocolate. What is detectable are hefty notes of clove, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, aniseed, cocoa, coffee, chocolate, peppers and a slightly left field scent of burnt rubber. Woah! There’s probably half a dozen others in here but we don’t have the nose or the space in this review for them. Incredible. What’s surprising is the mouth feel – it isn’t as heavy as we were expecting. It’s about medium in body with a nice progression down the throat. The 8.1% ABV is also masked very well and this kind of spicy numbness on the tongue has us intrigued. Not just your average imperial stout here, that’s for sure. Similar to the aroma the palate is lit up by a plethora of spice, malts and roasted notes. The heavy spices crescendo early on and as they soften a delicious creamy chocolate maltiness overtakes. The warming booze develops late and leads in to a dry, roasted and ultimately spicy finish with excellent length. We’d almost describe this as a spiced up version of the Founder’s brekky stout but we just can’t bring ourselves to say it. Our only gripe is that the spice does become a little overpowering by the end. That’s it! Everything else is absolutely bang on. Kudos, Stone.

Westveleteren Abdij St. Sixtus 12 (XII) Quadrupel

Rating:

12643001_474641189386698_6566564029964240075_nHere it is ladies and gentlemen! A beer that requires no introduction as the rest of the world has already spoken. For those who don’t understand the hype, this Belgian Quadrupel informally comes with the tag of best beer in the world. These tags don’t come willy nilly either, what with a list of beer blogging sites including Beer Advocate and Ratebeer scoring it a collective 100/100, it should say something. Speaking of tags if price is a problem for you then it may be best to go halves…or even quarters with someone as this Quad comes with a hefty price tag of $65 per bottle! They certainly don’t miss you. Let’s see if the price tag matches the quality shall we?

Served in a snifter glass. Pouring an elegant chestnut hue with a three finger cappuccino crown forming on top. The head peels back slowly but maintains a thick blanket as it ebbs. Laced well. So much happening on the nose. Hallmark aromas of toffee, caramel, fig and banana bread lead out as moreish notes of fruit cake, port, clove and or nutmeg, plum and raisins add extra dimension. We love the subtle crusty bread scent too, almost has that doughy 6am fresh bakery smell to it. Gorgeous! Absolutely divine aroma. In the mouth it’s thick, creamy and silky smooth. Co2 is low and the body is medium-full. A good viscosity here and it still finds a way to effortlessly breeze down the throat. So, so complex on the palate. There’s so many flavours our taste buds have to try and isolate. The broad description includes port, fruit cake and banana bread. The intricate description contains toffee, caramelized pear, prunes, nutmeg/clove/cinnamon, plum, figs, alcohol and candi sugars. All of this on a rich, nutty malt base. Phenomenal. Let’s finish by saying that coming in to this we were of the belief that this will be as good as any other Trappist Quad. Yes, but also a resounding no. Call it the hype factor if you like but this Quad has it all plus the pin point accuracy of every aroma and flavour along the way. Although it’s hard to say which beer is the best in the world, this Quad right here deserves every accolade that’s handed to it. Worth every cent of the $65 price tag. Excellent drop.

Pirate Life Brewing Co Pale Ale

Rating:

12400928_465713300279487_1675828477056791449_n“The ubiquitous Pale Ale. The workhorse of pretty much any modern brewery.
The brief we gave ourselves for our flagship beer was that it should be able to be sent to any bar in San Diego and to stand proudly alongside the many great Pales produced in, and around, the west coast of the US.
The schematic for a West Coast Pale Ale is bucket loads of big US hops, full malty backbone and a characterful yeast. That is what this Pale Ale is all about. Enjoy as fresh as possible.”

Served in a shaker glass. The attractive amber hue is capped off by a short beige head that rapidly peels off to a collar with minimal lace trailing it down. What this American-style pale ale lacks in head retention has certainly been made up in aroma as a burst of tropical fruits and citrus jumps out of the glass and smacks us in the face. Only a small hop bill (Cascade and Mosaic) but the two are high alpha hops and produce immense character. Fruits like grapefruit, passion fruit, pineapple and mango are in abundance but it’s the gorgeous infusion with the sweet caramalt and crystal malts that marry up beautifully to create this superb aroma. Quite spicy too with a touch of that IPA-like woody hop resin creeping through. Brilliant. It only gets better as a full-ish mouth feel enjoys a dry but very well rounded texture. Carbonation levels are spot on and the 5.4% ABV along with the 50 IBU is well contained. Shaping up for an absolute cracker here! Just as we thought….bloody delicious! Upfront the taste buds are treated to a divine synthesis of fruity hops, caramelized malts and spicy/resinous pine. There isn’t any succession of flavour but who needs it when the flavour profile is this solid. It finishes how it begins, with a tonne of fruits, malts and resinous pine along with a lingering bitterness for some duration. Excellent. One of the best pale ales we’ve ever had. Full flavoured, aggressive, hoppy, well balanced and super sessional. It’s got it all. Hats off to this new Australian brewery, definitely bigger things to come from these guys, we’re sure of it.

Prancing Pony Brewery India Red Ale

Rating:

12342293_458919554292195_2970936551414569051_n“This ale is based on ‘American Imperial Double Red Ale’ according to the British Ale Style Guide. With a dark red brownish colour, a firm creamy head and lots of fruity aromas on the nose, this ale has a big, malty body with late bitterness. The Red has been crafted with big dry hop aromas coming through from citrusy and tropical fruity hop varieties. With late lingering bitterness it is in perfect harmony with the fruity hop aromas. This Thoroughbred goes well with Asian and Curry dishes and presents well when matched to blue cheeses and smoked meats.”

Served in an IPA glass. The cloudy copper hue arouses an off-white two finger overlay that steadily reduces to a thin sheet over the top. Some healthy lace trails are left clinging to the glass. The aroma of this beauty is something to behold. Before you even put it to your nose you’ll get a gorgeous waft of candied and juicy tropical fruits. Lychee, pineapple, mango and passion fruit all spring to mind instantly. Adding even more depth and sweetness is the robust caramel malt backing that exudes wafts of sherbet, artificial berries and caramelized sugars. All of this held together by a brilliantly masked but traceable alcoholic scent. Excellent balance. Absolutely superb aroma. In the mouth the 7.9% ABV reveals itself with a slight warming on the tongue. The hefty malt profile smooths it straight out, leaving a really silky and velvety texture on the palate. Once again smooth and brilliantly balanced. Upfront it’s like an explosion of tropical fruits, sweet caramel malts and a gentle alcohol warmth. Almost like a fruity summer cocktail that tantalizes the taste buds. As it progresses through the mid the assertive bitterness (60 IBU) replaces the lapsing alcohol burn. Juicy lychee, pineapple and mango power on through to a heightened hoppy finish, lingering on the back palate nicely. This right here is one of the main reasons why we love craft beer. Absolutely delicious, and a world class India red ale. Simply brilliant….We loved it. If you couldn’t half tell!

Alesmith Brewing Co ‘Old Numbskull’ Barley wine

Rating:

12242994_452541438263340_6573102203122310195_n“A West Coast style barley wine. A huge malt profile and a very aggressive dose of premium domestic hops give Old Numbskull a tantalizing complexity, from the aroma to the aftertaste. Aroma starts with toasty, caramel notes and a pleasant hop character. Colour is deep amber, with tan head and impressive ‘Brussels Lace’ that clings to the sides of the glass.”

Served from a 750ml bottle in to a beer tulip. The somewhat rusty bronze appearance is capped off by a foamy three finger head that casually recedes, settling to a thin overlay with a tonne of spotty lace being shed. This here certainly has the hallmarks of an American barley wine. As our glass sits idle we get intermittent wafts of resiny, piney hops teasing the olfactory’s. Our first big whiff uncovers a plethora of caramelized malts, toffee, dates, fig, cocoa, molasses, hints of vanilla, nuts and ground nutmeg. Absolutely divine! Kind of reminds us of a rich, alcoholic, liquid sticky date pudding in a glass. Magnificent aroma we just can’t get enough of it. Once we get past the brilliant nose the next thing to indulge in is the amazingly smooth texture in the mouth. Nice and full with a developing warmth from the 11%ABV. Highly palatable for a beer of its size. The palate opens with a light toasted malt character that’s balanced by a hint of Cointreau, sweet, dark fruits and a good warming from the ABV in the background. A rich toffee sweetness binds the mid as the alcohol burn crescendos, leading on to a considerably dry, somewhat warm and slightly spicy finish. Excellent length on the rear too, very well drawn out. Well, well, well! Have we just discovered our best barley wine? Considering the complexity, the drink-ability of this brew is simply genius. It’s 11%! One could go postal on this and hey, who could blame them? Friends, if you’re interested in this style then don’t even think twice this is a magnificent drop.

Smuttynose Brewing Co. ‘Baltic Porter

Rating:

12186306_446501228867361_2155664384136521889_o“Indigenous to northern Europe, Baltic Porters historically stem from the shipping of British porters to the Russian hinterland. Unlike their British cousins, Baltic Porters are often brewed with lager yeast, which is the tradition we follow. Big & bold, with flavors of coffee, dark fruit & raisins, this black beer is smooth as a chocolate swirl.”

This is our 2nd entry for this American brewery. We have to make mention to this label, very artistic and deep. It has a very intriguing feel to it, almost Byzantine or Gothic with a somewhat Renaissance-era style. Really draws the eyes in. OK on with the review. Served in a beer tulip. The impervious black pour arouses a good finger and a half of tanned foam that gradually shrinks down to a light and filmy overlay. Laced reasonably well despite the diminishing head. The nose is packing some really rich and moreish aromas. An excellent balance is struck between the sweet and roasted as we take in robust wafts of dark chocolate, dark roasted malts, burned wood, coffee and leather against sweet notes of molasses, rum & raisin, licorice, treacle and black currants. Absolutely brilliant aroma. So much going on but it’s all so distinguishable. In the mouth it’s dense and full bodied. Quite a viscous texture with a bit of stickiness going on. The 9% ABV is extremely well hidden but intermittent with its astringency. Mild Co2. Perfect for a porter of this weight. Upfront the taste buds are reveling in the rich complexity. Dark chocolate, coffee and charred malts are met with an assertive hop bitterness that provides balance and flavour as it progresses onward between the mid and the warm, chocolatey, boozy, slightly bitter and ultimately roasted finish. Not only should the duration be praised but the entire progression of this delicious porter. Everything wee’re after in a dark beer is here in abundance – roast, chocolate, coffee, fruits, warmth and big body. This is a seriously good porter. Superb even.