Category Archives: Spiced/herbed/fruit beers

Dollar Bill Brewing 2018 ‘Autumn Parlay’ BA Wild Fruit Beer


45361696_977262619124550_571309252564484096_n (1)“Wild Fermented on Organic Cabernet Sauvignon whole bunch grapes from the Pyrenees. This slightly sour fruit ale sat on skins and stems for 6 months. This beer exhibits classic Cab Sav flavours of green pepper, tobacco and black cherries along with some tannins fro a dryer mouth feel.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Kind of dark purple affair with burgundy hues when held to the light. It forms a wispy purple coloured head which settles to a halo. Seeing a wet lace drag as we imbibe. Looks fantastic!

Aroma: Very pleasant, some vinous qualities, red grape juice and musty wine cellar at the top. Layers of mixed berries, aniseed, light earthy tones and red wine vinegar also present. Hard to go past this somewhat candied scent it’s almost like cherry lip smackers. Loving how the red wine tannins start revealing themselves as it warms. Solid!

Flavour: Quite interesting actually, hardly any sourness at all it’s mostly tart red berries, grape juice, woody oak tannin, earth, cereal malts, mixed berries and candied red fruits making up the bulk of it. Hints of funky and mild fruity sourness with just a touch of manky cheese late in the piece.

Mouthfeel: Light tannic texture. Minerals and soft bubbly froth complimenting it. Fine carbonation and a seriously well hidden AbV (8%).

Overall: We’ve had our eye on this brewery for a while so we were finally lucky enough to stumble across some at Oldfield’s in Gosford. Even though we’re not blown away we’re not disappointed, maybe we were expecting a bit more sourness. Nevertheless it’s a nice beer to suit this 30 degree Sydney arvo!

Founders Brewing Co. 2015 ‘Blushing Monk’ Belgian Style Fruit Beer


21055883_739837862867028_3388443369093954968_o“We last released Blushing Monk in July of 2011; before that, we hadn’t put it out in four years. This is the first Backstage Series beer that we’ve brought back. Blushing Monk is brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberries and with a Belgian yeast strain that keeps our head cellar operator from sleeping for a week. It pours a stunning deep berry red and, at 9.2% ABV, has a surprising kick. The perfect dessert beer, it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fresh cheeses, fruit, cakes and more.”

Served in a beer tulip. Blushing Monk hits the glass with a burgundy hue that’s sealed off by a two finger head. It recedes quite quickly, settling to a fine overlay which weaves a sudsy lace pattern down the glass.
The brewers certainly aren’t joking when they say a “ridiculous” amount of raspberries were used, the nose is bursting with real raspberry sweetness. As dominant and forthcoming as it is we can still pick up additional hints of strawberry, spicy phenols, cranberry jam and blood plums in support. Kind of reminds us of raspberry chapstick!
Much to our surprise the flavour isn’t the overwhelming raspberry bomb we were predicting, yes it’s sweet and a little tart but it’s pretty well balanced overall. The raspberry creeps in early where it crescendos midway then levels out in to an incredibly smooth and well rounded finish. Excellent length on offer here too.
The texture is plump but so smooth and gelatinous with a subtle wine tannin. Mild-moderate co2 with the 9.2% ABV being disguised magnificently.
It surely is a fascinating drop. From what we’ve gathered it was a beer that was originally released in 2007 as a part of their ‘backstage series’. It was then re-released in 2011 and then again in 2015 – which is obviously the one we have here. A very interesting beer indeed. One that would surely age well too.

Garage Project 2016 Chateau Aro Spiced/Fruit Beer


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.




Rogue Voodoo Doughnut ‘Mango Astronaut Ale’


imageWe love this range of beers, especially the pink bottle and crazy design. Very appealing. The only difference this time is that there are no ingredients stated on the bottle. All we get is the IBU of 20, and that this ale is 5.3%.

First whiff when we pop the cap is strong mango aroma. Poured into a pint, we get a decent 10mm off white head that retains fairly well, and ends with a rim of small compact bubbles. There is mild carbonation seen in the glass. The pour is a clear amber. We get a bit less mango aroma in the glass, and more ale malts, like cereal. First sip is a tad disappointing. There is very mild bitterness that lingers slightly on the palate. There is mild to moderate carbonation in the mouth. Body is medium. There is a drying effect on the palate also. We don’t get a lot of flavours, other than very mild ale hops, mild caramalts, and even less mango in the mouth. We were thinking that from the aroma of almost fresh mango, we would get some more tropical fruit flavour but the hops used are more English ale like in flavour, so the result is a standard ale, with a tinge of sweetness. The back palate is smooth, so if you really wanted to, you could have a few of these as it just washes down. It’s sessionable. We are putting this at the bottom of the pile of the voodoo doughnut range. Nothing amazing at all. Just a standard ale with the aroma of mild mango. Enough said.

Rogue ‘voodoo doughnut’ Lemon, chiffon crueller ale


imageWow..we absolutely love these pink bottles with such eye catching graphics. Almost makes the beer more attractive. Anyhow we digress. This latest brew from the masters at Rogue uses lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and marshmallows.

Pouring into a tulip glass there is a cloudy orange hue to the beer with a foamy 20mm head that slowly fades to nothing at all, and no lacing on glass. There is faint carbonation rising up. First aromas are sweet malt, vanilla, candied lollies, sugar frosting and lemonade. There are very minimal hop aromas here, and on the bottle states the use of perle and sterling hops (which are mild). Mouth feel is light to medium bodied, with little carbonation. Swishing around the mouth we get a light bitterness from the hops, but we also get flavours of sugar, lemon, vanilla, sweet malt, and subtle mint hit on the back palate. There is a 6.8% alc vol here but there is no evidence of that, and credit to the brewing process. Overall, we loved the bacon, maple edition but this is a very drinkable “dessert beer”. So many flavours going on, and you can imagine ‘eating’ this beer, and this is obviously what the brewers have tried to emulate. Time to buy a lemon cake. Good job rogue, please do more of this voodoo doughnut range.

Emersons ‘red rye’ 2014 trans Tasman challenge


imageWe loved emersons more before lion Nathan nz bought them out but they still brew nice beers and we have a fondness for Dunedin NZ, and this is a challenge between them and little creatures brewery. The story goes that each brewery challenge the other to make a style of beer that’s new to them with all new ingredients provided by the challenger (in this case by little creatures, and the main additives are topaz and ella hops, with naked oats which are hull less and have a higher nutrient value). We love it.

Poured into a shaker, there is a 1cm head which takes time to fade, and in the end leaves half that. There is a gorgeous Amber/mahogany hue with very minor carbonation. Lovely tropical fruit nose with a herby, resinous touch. Mouthfeel is full and there is a contained bitterness on the palate with mild to medium carbonation. Presence of sweet malt here and a spicy, almost breath mint finish to it. Definite grapefruit here also and maybe stewed apricot? There is patchy lacing on the glass as we imbibe. Sitting at 6.2% alc vol, it’s well blended with the sweet malt and creaminess of the rye. This is a friggen awesome drop. Very, very tasty and we are extremely interested in trying the repost from little creatures. A must try for the craft beer lover.

Matso’s chilli beer


image“With the launch of the bottled Matso’s Chilli Beer on the weekend at the Araluen Fremantle Chilli Festival, and the question on everyone’s very hot lips was “Where can I buy it!?””

This one pours a straw like, slightly mild golden colour with no head. There is mild carbonation to the pour. The nose is very lagerish..almost no real aroma other than grains. The flavour is much heat from the chilli. All you get is intense spice on the lips, and back palate. Hard to pick up the malt or hops used here. Behind the heat, is a watery body and sitting at 4.2% very little alcohol hit. Moderate carbonation in the mouth. We can’t get over the burning on the lips. So much so, that after 5 swigs we had to pour out. There is no real pleasure here from a craft perspective cause there is no other depth of flavour other than intense chilli heat. Definate points for spiciness but otherwise not for us.

Garage project ‘umami monster’ smoked ale


image“It came from the deep. Brewed for GABS 2014, using New Zealand grown Kombu (kelp), Japanese Katsuobushi (dried fermented bonito flakes), smoked malt and seawater in an attempt to capture that most elusive and enigmatic of flavours – umami. Far beyond the boundaries of the accepted and expected, these ingredients combine to create a monster of dark savoury smoke and rich umami complexity. Dear God – what have we created? Definitely not suitable for vegans – sorry”.

When someone asks what a definition of craft beer is, send them a link to this. It’s not very often anyone comes across a dark ale brewed with seaweed, fermented fish and smoked malt. Served in a beer tulip the dark brown pour produced a rocky off-white head that slowly collapsed to a thin film on top. Mild lacing. The olfactories are going wild with new scents. Mainly smoked, some coffee, salt and a hint of peat are as broad as we can get. Sticky and almost sweet undertones of oyster, seaweed, kale, soy and dank, musty earth are rare and very very courageous, but to their advantage the brewers have made it work. Mouthfeel is slightly oily with mild-medium carbonation. Medium-full body. Upfront the tongue is met with a subtle bitterness. Following this, hints of seaweed, salt water and smoked peat move forward into an earthy mid-palate which in turn delivers a salty finish with hints of smoke and game. 9% ABV is surprisingly well hidden, but we can easily put that down to the outrageous flavours happening here. Very outlandish beer, we can’t say we are huge fans of the flavours but we can definitely respect the difficulty of balancing these strange flavours together. Not bad.

Rogue ‘Voodoo doughnut’ Chocolate, peanut butter and banana


image“Rogue Ales has again collided with Voodoo Doughnut to create Chocolate, Banana & Peanut Butter Ale! This unique artisan creation contains a dozen ingredients including chocolate, banana and peanut butter to match Voodoo’s “Memphis Mafia” doughnut- a nod to Elvis’ entourage”.

The third installment to the Voodoo Doughnut series, we are still thinking the bacon/maple is on top but we are excited about this one as well. Again, similar to the other 2 in this series, it’s pouring a dark brown/black with a good two fingers of head that leaves soapy lacing on glass. That rich chocolate aroma that is underlying in all of the doughnut series is evident, with the addition of that smell from banana lollies. We do find it hard to get any of the peanut butter character though. There is a sharp, metallic hit at the back palate and we can’t work out where it would be coming from. Low carbonation like a good ale makes this brew, like all the others, very drinkable. This brew is 5.3% and has a IBU of 25. The chocolate malts still dominate here though. We feel that a bit more of the peanut flavour would have been lovely. This series is great though really showing the experimental side of dessert beers. We love the combinations but to conclude, the bacon/maple has come out on top. Well done Rogue.

Rogue ‘Voodoo Pretzel’ Raspberry and chocolate ale


image“A Collision of Crazies. Rogue Ales has again collided with Voodoo Doughnut to create Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale!”

Back with another addition to the doughnut series from Rogue brewery, this unique brew has all the characteristics of cherry ripe. The chocolate and raspberry mix brilliantly. Using 8 different malts, with the addition of pretzels thrown in, this beer is the definition of craft micro-brewing. Pouring a rich dark brown/black, and zero head or lacing on the glass, the dominant chocolate and raspberry essence persists with very little bitterness (rogue’s very own rebel hops used). This beer basically is a desert beer and I wonder if it started as an experimental at some USA beer festival and was an instant hit. Hints of doughy malt flavour behind the sweetness of chocolate malt. Nice oily mouth feel with minimal carbonation. We love this brewery because they push the boundary. This beer is so nicely balanced and would be great after a rich hearty meal as a dessert. We want more of the voodoo doughnut series. Keep em comin’ Rogue!

Three boys wild plum ale


image“Every autumn in the deep south, the Three Boys family harvest wild cherry plums from the family farm and celebrate their capture in traditional preserves. The Three Boys brewer takes these same fruit and captures those evocative flavours in the Wild Plum Ale.”

Hmmm, such an impressive brewery, yet such a strange beer. Unsure as to how this is an ‘ale’ as the first whiffs are distinctly commercial australian lager! Pours with a heap of fizz and big frothy head which does not budge. Lots of frothy lacing on the glass. Unlike a lager though, there is a coppery hue to the body. The flavour profile is basically an Asian lager with a slight sweetness from the mirabelle plums. The bottle states a distinct tartness and if you swish the brew around the mouth, you can enjoy that sense. This brew sits at a hefty 7.7%. Unable to detect many hops used here. Overall, definately a beer to try but the lager-like flavours were a little disappointing.

Founders brewing co. ‘Rubaes’ Raspberry ale


image“Not another boring summer wheat beer or lemonade shandy—Rübæus is Founders’ way to celebrate the season’s warmest months. Optimizing the flavor of fresh raspberries added at multiple stages during fermentation, this stunning berry red masterpiece is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. No question about it, this beer is 100% Founders”.

This fruit flavoured beer from the wonder brewery, Founders is a little strange. It has a mild malt/raspberry nose and pours with no head or lacing. Looks like a Lambic but it’s like drinking a snakebite. Bright red colour with a soft pink hue…as you would expect when brewing with raspberries. There is really no other flavour other than sweet raspberry, not the fresh kind though, a bit artificial but not overly sweet…kind of subtle. Maybe a little tartness. Slight malt characters initially on the palate but other than that it’s raspberries and more raspberries. The 5.7% ABV is well hidden. No depth at all. Basically this beer is a chicks drink without any real flavours of beer. Stick to the rest of the beers this brewery produces. This is horrible.

Gage roads brewing co. pumpkin ale


imageWe aren’t really huge fans of pumpkin ales but we thought we’d give this one a crack as most Gage roads beers are quite good.

Served in a shaker glass the slightly hazy golden pour produced a one and a half finger white head that swells but quickly collapses to a collar. Minimal lacing is being shown. Along with the obvious wafts of pumpkin the aroma also packs a bit of a spicy zing with hints of nutmeg, ginger, clove, cinnamon sugar and orange peel coming through. Mild-medium carbonation with a slightly thin, watery mouth feel. We were kind of hoping for a thicker, more creamy feel but it’s quite light on and slippery. The flavours pretty much mirror the aroma without much body. Pumpkin, spice, orange and some sweet malt is what we could detect. Only 5% ABV so it should be pretty sessional but it isn’t. Too one dimensional. This is why we don’t like pumpkin ales…to sum up it was a pretty average beer.

Williams brothers ‘Alba’ Scots pine ale


image“A traditional Highland recipe, popular in Northern Scotland until the end of the 19th Century. This “triple” style ale is spiced with sprigs of spruce and pine, harvested in the spring and brewed with only a small token handful of hops . Break out the goblets and pour with abandon. Rich, tawny and best enjoyed at Room temperature”.

We tried this pine ale a few years ago and absolutely loved it, we have been trying to track it down ever since. Absolutely stoked we found it. Served in a shaker glass the slightly hazy amber pour shows off charming copper red hues and a thin film of a head that maintains well. Fine lacing is being strewn down the glass. What is differing from the first time we tried this is the big sweet malt character and this certain Belgian insinuation. We’re also detecting an estery mix of toffee apple, malt sweetness, honey, raisins, sugar, pine and alcohol. In the mouth it’s quite thin but silky smooth with medium carbonation and body. From the outset the tongue is met with a rich and complex palate of candy sugars & Belgian-style yeast. The mid offers up some dark fruits and a touch of ripe cherry with a mild and shortly lived hop bitterness to finish. The 7.5% ABV is a little surprising as it’s very well hidden. A decent little quaffer. Try one just to bask in its complexity. Good, but not as good as we remember it to be.

Croce di malto ‘triplexxx’ Belgian ale


imageA beer created to excite and to offer a new pleasure in drinking beer, impossible to forget! The power of taste and of aromaticity are forged around the mixture of three different cereals used Barley (X), Avena (X) and Wheat (X), perfectly in harmony with three hops and three spices wisely sought in three continents. They say three is the perfect number, perhaps this is the perfect beer …”

Interesting looking beer this one. Seems to have a lot of wheat characteristics in it but from research it shows as a strong Belgian ale. Served in a beer tulip the hazy golden pour boasts lovely dark orange hues. Atop sits a persistent 2 finger off-white head that settles to about a 5cm cap. Good retention and laces well. Aroma offers plenty of spice including cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Subtle notes of wheat and zesty citrus peel add a refreshing element while a touch of honey adds some sweetness. Velvety in the mouth with medium carbonation. Medium body. Flavour is quite sweet malt-driven with a hint of mild hop bitterness upfront. Maybe a hint of grain and honey in the mid delivers a zesty and resinous finish. The high ABV (7.8%) is very well hidden but does not make it sessional. We are still a touch undecided on whether we liked it or not, but at the end of the day it wasn’t a bad beer from this little known Italian brewery.

Hunter beer co. ‘jingle balls’ Christmas ale


imageAlso tried this on tap at the brewery in the Hunter Valley. First in a tasting paddle then we returned for a pint. It is packed full of rich aromas and flavours, bursting with character. It pours a dark brown with dark red hues while a short off white head maintains and laced reasonably well. The aroma is certainly unique. It smells like a summer roll in our glass. There is a strong presence of creamy coconut, milk chocolate, rum balls, dark fruits and caramel malt. The flavour is equally as brilliant with the chocolate dominating much more than in the aroma. Nice and full in the mouth with a good chewy viscosity. We also picked up hints of raisin, biscuity malt, vanilla and fig with a bit of an alcohol burn in the finish. An absolute pearler of a beer, it’s a real shame that this is only a seasonal brew. It sits at 7.3% which adds body and flavour to an already complex and tasty beer. Brilliant stuff. We’re off for another.

MikKeller mexas ranger


mikkellerMexasRanger“If you can get past the ingredients list on the back of the label without getting dizzy, you deserve to kick back with this Mexican flavored porter. Made with an overwhelming amount of chilies, beans, corn, avocado leaves, chocolate and lots more, it’s like taking a sip of Mexico. Aged in Tequila barrels because we’re good like that.”

We just had to buy this beer for the sheer experimental side of it. The big question is whether this list of delicious sounding flavours are fused together well or will they be muddled? Only one way to find out. Popped and aggressively poured in to a beer tulip. The sight of an opaque black appearance with it’s brown two and a half finger head compels us to rub our hands together in excitement. After a few minutes, the ominous looking head has reduced to a firm layer over the top leaving thick, webbed lacing in its path. This is one sexy looking beer. On to the aroma where this beer refuses to take a backward step. Our first thoughts are of the brilliant depth on offer here. We’re getting complex wafts of roasted coffee bean, cacao, chilli, cooking chocolate, agave and pink peppercorn over a base of charred malts and a touch of mild smoke. Brilliant stuff, all the aromas are held together extremely well. In the mouth it’s dense with a creamy texture. Quite full in body and unexpectedly well carbonated with a tight grip as it slothfully advances down the throat. The taste buds are treated to a rich injection of sweet and charred malts and spicy peppercorns on entry. Maybe a hint of chilli as well, which is exacerbated by a slight alcohol (6.6%) warmth which carries on through the mid. A delicious suggestion of cacao develops as it pairs with an assertive hop bitterness, eventually leading to the sharp, dry finish. Good length, certainly tasting some nice roasted elements on the back palate. What an impressive beer this is. Our question was whether all these flavours could be balanced right. Well, not only are they balanced expertly, they are done so with complexity and skilful brewing. Excellent offering.

Dieu du Ciel – Route des epices


100005224624281_112734“Routes des épices (French for “Spice Route”) is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Initially, the beer reveals flavours of fresh grain and malt, which give it notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit. The pepper flavour and aroma is fully revealed in the finish, which leaves a pleasant, spicy, tingling sensation on the tongue.”

This is a world class drop, we actually first tried it at slow beer in Melbourne city and fell in love straight away.

Served in a shaker glass the deep amber/copper pour produced a 1/2 inch off-white head that settled to a thin film on top. Minimal lacing. Every world class beer should possess a brilliant aroma and that’s exactly what this ale has. The feature ingredient, being the peppercorns are showcased really well with the spice offsetting the malts harmoniously. The less significant but still quite evident rye compounds the existing spice and boosts it. Underneath all of this quietly sits undertones of honey, toffee and chocolate. Brilliant balance, brilliant aroma. In the mouth it’s silky smooth, only just slightly bordering on being too thin. Mild-medium carbonation. Medium body. Caramel malt and toffee upfront are completely dominated by a big explosion of peppery spice in the mid-palate. The heat from the pepper continues and finishes slightly sweet with the mouth alive with warmth. This heat endures long after our last sip displaying excellent duration. 5.3% ABV is spot on. Perfect winter warmer. What a beautifully put together beer, enormous respect for these Canadian brewers. Well done.

Barons ‘black wattle’ ale


Barons black wattle ale“Barons Black Wattle Ale features a unique touch of Australia by incorporating native herbs and spices into the brewing process, resulting in a beer that delivers a wealth of flavours.  This ale has a smooth malt-driven taste profile while flavoured with the distinctive touch of roasted wattle seeds native to Australia. This multi award winning beer is full bodied, full flavoursome, surprisingly smooth and ultimately satisfying”.

This is a sensational beer we have had numerous sessions on this delicious ale over the years and it’s time we finally reviewed it. Popped and served in to a shaker glass. Pours a dark amber with a flash of ruby red highlights. Capping it off is a creamy beige head at about a finger’s height with a smooth malty aroma. Subtle notes of caramel, nuts and toffee also come through. The mouth feel is slightly creamy with mild carbonation with the taste being quite similar to the aroma, very smooth ale with malty, caramel like notes that linger long after the sip. It’s 5.2% and very sessional so we definitely urge you to try one of these. Quite a rare beer but lately they have been selling in most BWS cellars around Sydney so get stuck into one before they disappear again.

Matso’s brewery mango beer


Matsos brewery mango beer“Matso’s famous Mango Beer is based on a classic Belgium Blonde recipe in the fruit variation. Using a 100% natural mango blend, the brewers have developed an easy drinking beer style with amazing fruit aromas balanced out with sweet dryness. Our Mango Beer brings you back to Broome. Time all year round”.

This is a fruit beer from the brewery in Broome. It has a perfumed mango nose as expected. Unfortunately little else comes forward. Pours a real light golden colour with minimal head and poor lacing. Flavour profile is basically mango essence with some tropical fruit but very very mild. Quite sweet on the palate, almost cloying with no real bitterness or hops that are evident. Medium carbonation. Bit thin and watery in the mouth. Little malt flavour also. All in all, if you like cider then this could easily be you. Otherwise it’s just a light fruit flavoured beer with little else going on. Not our cup of tea, but not completely terrible either. Try their smokey bishop for better and more fuller flavours.