Category Archives: Stout

Parish X Great Notion ‘BA Swamp Stacks’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Swamp Stacks is a mashup of our Shades and Great Notion’s Stacks series. This Imperial stout is brewed with brown sugar and an array of specialty roasted malts, creating a warm, decadent final product. With post-fermentation additions of maple, marshmallows, graham crackers, and toasted coconut flakes, Swamp Stacks exudes waves of maple coconut chocolate squares and boozy brown butter blondies.⁣”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Sheesh! Pours like engine oil with next to zero head formation. We gave it a rigorous swirl and that only managed a fine collar which disappears instantly. Looks ominous.

Aroma: We can smell it as it sits idle on the table. Without even picking up the glass we get strong wafts of coconut, vanilla, white marshmallow and maple. Under the nostrils those heavenly scents are amplified and further reinforced with sweet Bourbon/oak, cold pressed coffee, Malibu rum, milk chocolate, brown sugar and caramel milkshake. We haven’t been rocked by an Impy Stout like this for ages.

Flavour: Pow! We feel the sugar rush hit us immediately. Or maybe it’s the 13% ABV but either way, the sweetness is off the charts! What makes this so incredible is that even though this could give a diabetic their daily sugar intake, it’s perfectly balanced by the rich malt base, Bourbon, oak, coffee and maple wood. The other incredible thing is that the intensity of it all carries through from the start all the way to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Proper beer soup. Literally, you could ladle this into your mouth with a spoon. Almost flat and the 13% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: Haven’t had anything like this for a while. It’s just straight up thick, palate-wrecking Impy Stout with truck loads of sugar. Sensory overload but we love it. In small doses of course!

Mountain Culture X Bottle Logic ‘Imperial Logic Vol.2’ Imperial Pastry Stout

Rating:

“When we released our first collaboration with Bottle Logic in 2023, we exclaimed that it was our thickest, creamiest and sweetest stout to date. That was true. Until now. Once again, we called on Wes and Stephen and together we worked on a recipe that would raise the bar. For Version Two, we’ve added a whole pallet of pistachios (hand roasted by the brewers!), fresh vanilla bean and creme brulee to a rich, dark malt stout base for a luxuriously big, warming stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours dark and menacing. Just what the doctor ordered for this cold and miserably wet Sydney arvo. It notches up a big and frothy three finger head which retains really well. Excellent lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Something that has always irked us about MC is their lack of Stout game. For a brewery that pumps out the best NEIPA’s in the country (plus, arguably, some of the best Lagers) they simply can’t produce a decent Stout. Even the first volume of this – with the help of pastry Stout maestro’s Bottle Logic – they still couldn’t get it right. And to be honest, going off the first few whiffs it seems their struggle continues.

Flavour: We think we know these two breweries well enough to distinguish between the good and the bad traits. Initially the booze burn along with a fairly sharp astringency hits the palate. This is unfortunately a negative MC trait. Then the sweet, sugary and nutty aspects roll over…clearly representing the BL persuasion, but more importantly, injecting that balancing sweetness before a kinda bitter and dry roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily, warming. Full bodied with low Co2. The 10.2% ABV showed through a little but keeps quiet enough for its size.

Overall: Another edition and another let down in our opinion. It seems like BL have just given instructions from afar as this, just like the first edition, seems disjointed and lacking harmony. Not fans.

Montmorillon ‘Fût d’Armagnac BIO’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“The strength and character of a stout combined with the complexity and tannins provided by aging for 3 months in Armagnac barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a short brown head which retreats immediately. It forms a collar with minimal lacing as we go.

Aroma: Trust a French brewery to age an Imperial Stout in Armagnac barrels. We love the fact they’re doing it though! It’s not very often you see these barrels being used. Armagnac is one of those spirits we’re fond of but know little about. Research shows that it typically offers sweet, nutty, fruity and chocolate qualities and the use of French oak for barrels reinforce this. All of which we more or less pick up here.

Flavour: Yeah this is different to any other barrel aged Stout we’ve ever had. It has this certain dryness which is interesting. It envelops the palate but it still allows the distinct flavours of Armagnac to shine through….nutty, oaky, slightly tart fruits and spice. It’s a little astringent though – somewhat feels like a boilermaker rather than a BA Stout. This continues into the slightly acrid finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: A tad too thin and slippery for a beer this size (10% ABV). Low-ish Co2, medium body. The booze burn was quite noticeable too.

Overall: We started off as fans but it eventually went pear shaped unfortunately. The Armagnac was a nice touch but it was just a little overcooked and the base Stout couldn’t support it. Very meh.

50/50 ’23 Eclipse – Honeycomb’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 16th vintage, 2023 Eclipse is our rich Imperial Stout aged to perfection in whiskey and spirit barrels. All Eclipse starts with the same base beer bringing hints of dark chocolate, espresso, and a smooth complexity, with each barrel treatment delivering its own unique character after a minimum of 180 days of aging.
Honeycomb is infused with local Plumas County honey from Lost Sierra Honey Co. Aged in bourbon barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a thumb of tan foam perched neatly on top. Head retention is good and lacing is spectacular.

Aroma: So, we get to the end of 2023’s Eclipse range. If you’ve been following then you’ll know we haven’t really been all that impressed with any of them. We recall the 2017 vintage that we’re almost certain this expression is borne out of and it was unbelievable. It had layers of maple, vanilla, honey, caramel and coffee whereas this ’23 vintage, while offering a good dose of honeycomb, is anything but.

Flavour: The issues flow on. Maybe we have it wrong and the ’17 vintage with honey is totally different to this but this vintage seems muddled and lacking any clear direction. We can pick up a hint of honey/honeycomb initially but it’s quickly lost in a mess of astringency, booze burn, obfuscated chocolate notes and then some Bourbon and oak to at least steady the ship. The finish is astringent and a bit unpleasant.

Mouthfeel: It improves a bit here though – slick, oily, a tad bitter in the swallow. Medium-full body. The 11.2% ABV was clearly evident throughout.

Overall: We’re literally questioning whether we return for the ’24 vintages. The price tags maybe cheaper than BL or The Bruery but at least those two are knocking out 9’s and 10’s consistently. Disappointing.

50/50 ’23 Eclipse – EC-12′ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 16th vintage, 2023 Eclipse is our rich Imperial Stout aged to perfection in whiskey and spirit barrels. All Eclipse starts with the same base beer bringing hints of dark chocolate, espresso, and a smooth complexity, with each barrel treatment delivering its own unique character after a minimum of 180 days aging. EC-12 is aged in Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrels [Elijah Craig 12yr].”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a finger of brown foam perched on top. Reasonably well retained with lace rings marking each sip as we go.

Aroma: EC-12… interesting name for a distillery. Then we realised it’s just an abbreviation for Elijah Craig (Heaven Hill) – one of our favourite American Bourbon distilleries. The ’12’ obviously denotes its amount of years in barrel. Again, this is a Bourbon we’ve never tried so we’re keen to get stuck in. Gorgeous oak-drenched toffee/caramel, dark fruits, vanilla, Oriental spice i.e cinnamon, clove, nutmeg. The rich Stout base definitely propping up the cocoa in the Bourbon too.

Flavour: As usual the delicious base Stout offers the four-to-the-floor goodness of coffee, chocolate, roasted grains and molasses. And as per usual (for the Eclipse Stout range) the selected Bourbon infuses beautifully with its charred oak, toffee, vanilla and spice. Quite a distinct booze burn though, at times a little astringent as it finishes roasty yet sweet, spicy and oaky. Good length on it too.

Mouthfeel: Similar to all the others in that it’s surprisingly slick and oily with a medium-full body. The 12.9% ABV is discernible as expected.

Overall: We’re not totally blown away by it. Yes it’s a solid BA Imperial Stout but the whole range seems to be lacking the finesse of previous vintages.

50/50 ’23 Eclipse – Garrison Brothers’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Eclipse: a world-wide phenomenon straight from our brewery in small town Truckee. It starts with our award winning Totality Imperial Stout, and then spends 6 months in a variety of barrels specially curated  by our talented brew team, often finished with some specialty flare that will knock your socks off. Imperial Stout aged in Garrison Brothers Texas straight small batch bourbon barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As anticipated, it pours a menacingly dark black with a short brown head emerging on top. Steady reduction and fairly minimal lace clinging to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Another Eclipse addition, another American Bourbon distillery unearthed. Apparently they’re Texas’s oldest craft distillery (opened 2004) and ardent Bourbon fans seem to compare it a lot to Buffalo Trace. The rich Stout base, again, provides the perfect framework for this Bourbon to do its thing. We’re getting the typical caramel/toffee leading out. Backed up by tobacco/cigar box, toasted coconut, five spice and brown sugar.

Flavour: Oh wow there’s a notable sweetness to it. A solid roasted/smoky element and an overall spiciness that all comes together really well. Obviously (almost) all of their Eclipse series beers blend well with their respective barrels but this one in particular blends especially well. The sugary sweetness, caramel/toffee, coconut, spice and hints of earthy tobacco find their own counterpoints in the base Stout and the result is an incredibly well balanced, sweet yet roasty, smooth and silky finish which goes the distance.

Mouthfeel: Dense but surprisingly inoffensive for its size (12.5% ABV) and immaturity. Low-ish Co2, full bodied.

Overall: We really liked it but it probably still sits in between Laws and Frey Ranch in our opinion. Laws is still the best expression at this stage.

50/50 ‘2023 Eclipse – Laws Whiskey House’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Eclipse: a world-wide phenomenon straight from our brewery in small town Truckee. It starts with our award winning Totality Imperial Stout, and then spends 6 months in a variety of barrels specially curated  by our talented brew team, often finished with some specialty flare that will knock your socks off. Laws® Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrels: Eclipse aged in Laws® Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey Barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short brown cap over the top. Steady reduction and fairly minimal lace on the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Smells magnificent. This is more like the 50/50 we know. As usual, the base Stout provides that crucial structure (dark chocolate, coffee, some molasses and leather) but it’s all about the quality of the Bourbon/barrels. Once again it’s a distillery we’ve never heard of but its Bourbon speaks for itself – typical vanilla sweetness, peppery spice, tobacco and a touch of toffee.

Flavour: This is more like it. Smooth yet rich base Stout characters kicking it off. The booze is pretty hot but that can be forgiven considering its immaturity. It doesn’t take long for the world class Bourbon to take shape…coming to the party with a clear peppery spice, creamy vanilla, toffee, earthy cigar box and a hint of oak tannin to punctuate.

Mouthfeel: Dense and silky but refined and surprisingly smooth for its size (12.3% ABV). Full bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall: It appears that we’ve unintentionally started with the weakest expression of the lot and they’ve progressively gotten better. This one has to be the pick of the bunch so far. Delish!

Deeds ‘Silent Town’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Lost in the frozen woods, you stumble upon a small, silent town blanketed in snow. It is eerily silent, with no sounds except the soft crunch of snow underfoot and the occasional groan of ice-laden roofs. An unnatural hush lies over the narrow streets. No smoke rises from any chimneys, no lights in the windows. The peculiar, hollow-eyed locals you encounter peer at you with suspicion. They speak in riddles, gesturing ominously for you to depart before melting into the shadows between buildings. As daylight fades, an unnatural chill permeates the icy air, and a terrifying transformation unfolds…”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours as black as midnight with a short and fizzy dark brown head which rapidly disappears. Zero retention equals zero lacing.

Aroma: Extremely rich but still unbelievably slick and opulent. Good depth and complexity too. We’re getting the Bourbon/oak, rich Stout notes and all but it’s the feature vanilla and nutty almond scents that are just edging out in front. It has this all-encompassing creamy sweetness that acts like icing on a delicious, Bourbon-y, charred cake. Impressive.

Flavour: Brilliant transition from the nose. All of the richness, all of the intense flavours, the high ABV, all of it is so nicely trimmed and tailored into this neat package and it’s truly magnificent how they’ve managed to do it. As it all progresses we taste every little flavour that makes it up – the rich Stout base of smooth dark chocolate and coffee, the Bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted almonds. All the way through to the drawn out finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense, gelatinous and unbelievably smooth for its size (12.7% ABV). Low-ish Co2, full bodied.

Overall: It’s a perfect beer to throw in the mix as we’ve reviewed a couple of 50/50’s Eclipse Stouts recently. We’ve compared them to Deeds on both occasions and we believe that Deeds comes out on top. Which should come as a massive accolade for them. Superb.

50/50 Brewing ’23 Eclipse – Frey Ranch’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 16th vintage, 2022 Eclipse is our rich Imperial Stout aged to perfection in whiskey and spirit barrels. All Eclipse starts with the same base beer bringing hints of dark chocolate, espresso, and a smooth complexity, with each barrel treatment delivering its own unique character after a minimum of 180 days of aging. Frey Ranch Barrel is aged exclusively in Frey Ranch straight bourbon whiskey barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a short brown head which gradually peels off and forms a collar. Scarce lacing as we go.

Aroma: Smelling more like an Eclipse BA Stout. The previous expression (Old Trestle Sierra) was too much like an Australian Bourbon Whiskey and was bereft of that sweet spiciness we come to expect from a good American Bourbon. This one, thankfully, does have that sweet spiciness, a hint of vanilla and even a flutter of banana runts. Also, blending beautifully with the base Stout – dark chocolate, coffee, light charred notes. Solid!

Flavour: Showing its ABV (12.3%) a bit more than we’d like. In saying that the Bourbon flavours are also very prominent so we’ll take the good with the bad. Definitely getting nice hits of caramel and vanilla behind the rich chocolate and coffee. Eventually coming together later in the piece and then sprinkled with that old burnt vanilla and caramelised malt sweetness in the finish. Excellent length on it.

Mouthfeel: Silky with a good viscosity. Flat-ish Co2, medium-full body. The booze burn could be dialled back a smidge but we ain’t gonna complain

.Overall: Notably better than Old Trestle but we still think Deeds and Boatrocker can brew a better BA Stout. Still, a very respectable one at that.

50/50 ‘2023 Eclipse – Old Trestle’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Eclipse: a world-wide phenomenon straight from our brewery in small town Truckee. It starts with our award winning Totality Imperial Stout, and then spends 6 months in a variety of barrels specially curated  by our talented brew team, often finished with some specialty flare that will knock your socks off. Old Trestle® Sierra Bourbon Barrels: Eclipse aged in Old Trestle® Sierra bourbon barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of brown head settling in on top. Decent retention and some wet spotty lace clinging to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: We recall the last time these BA Stout masters had their amazing craft on our shores. It was 2021 and every release was either a 10/10 or near it. This time we bought all 6 that landed here and this is the first one we’re hooking into. We’ve never heard of Old Trestle Sierra Bourbon before but our first thoughts are almost Whiskey-like – rich sherry, burnt brown sugar, vanilla, toffee and peppery spice.

Flavour: Although at the beers’ core it’s smooth, the Bourbon has some heat and rough edges to it. It certainly doesn’t present as your typical American Bourbon due to this Whiskey/Sherry-based bite instead of the usual caramel, spice and vanilla. It reminds us of some Australian BA Stouts as most of our Whiskey’s are based off Sherry (Apera) and for that reason we’re nonplussed with this expression.

Mouthfeel: Rich, well rounded and surprisingly smooth for its size (12% ABV). Perfectly carbed, medium-full body.

Overall: Not overly impressed with it to be honest. We’re unsure whether it’s because Aussie breweries have upped their BA Stout game or whether we just picked the weakest of the 6 for our first crack. Either way it was good but not great.

Belhaven ‘McCallum’s’ Sweet Scottish Stout

Rating:

“Sweet malt, toffee and caramel and a touch of roasted malt. Very full bodied but easy drinking with a pleasant bitterness – smooth, rich and malty.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: How cool is a nitro beer?! We wish they were more prevalent. Poured aggressively and then witnessed the cascading foam morph into deep ruby liquid. Nowhere near as dark as we were expecting but hey, we carry on regardless.

Aroma: Getting the ‘Sweet Stout’ part of it instantly. The fruity side is pretty dominant…giving off lots of dark red fruit with notable additions of toasty and lightly roasted malt, caramel and milk chocolate. Shades of woody spice, earthiness and British hops. It definitely has that dry foreign Stout vibe, a bit like Guiness but so far from it at the same time.

Flavour: Wow, far from what we were anticipating. Initially we get a hint of farmyard (not in the sour sense) but more grainy, earthy and spicy. It gets a lot sweeter as it nears the mid with the fruit, caramel and malt sweetness meeting a mild bitterness late in the piece. The finish is pretty mild, semi sweet and kinda nutty which pulls up short.

Mouthfeel: Typical nitro texture – kinda watery and thin but creamy and smooth AF. Mild-medium body and a low ABV (4.1%).

Overall: Look, we knew what we were in for and it has stood up pretty well. To be honest it drinks more like a Brown Ale or a richer Old Speckled Hen if anything. Good but not overly memorable.

Deeds ‘Paradise Lost’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Paradise was a place where the sky was always blue, and the trees were forever green. They say it was the dark angel that led the people away. He did so with the promise of a better life, one more interesting and perfect than they had experienced. But it was all a lie. The dark angel was rebellious and convinced people to move on as revenge against its creator. Today, people strive to find what was lost and regain what they feel is their right, and return to paradise. Paradise Lost is our homage to this tale, which has been told in homes worldwide for generations. When you sit back and take in this Imperial Stout, we hope you find your version of paradise, and perhaps it will draw you back to that ideal time.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with two and a bit fingers of finely beaded brown head. Excellent retention and lots of thick blotchy lace being dragged down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Very rich and hedonistic. Dominant scents of molasses and licorice with strong support from sweet espresso, marzipan and brown leather. It actually has this Russian Imperial Stout quality to it…namely the silky vanilla, dark fruits and charred dryness. Certainly picking up more dark/red fruit characters as it comes up to room temp. Diggin’ it.

Flavour: Big, roasty and charred. There’s a super short cameo of vanilla and muscovado sugar just before the charred malts, molasses, espresso and licorice envelope the palate. Gets real hot and heavy through the mid, lots of warming booze, ash and bitter espresso which lay down for a delicious roasted component, burnt vanilla and dark chocolate in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Viscous, slightly oily and a tad sharp. Medium-full body. The 10% ABV was quite noticeable.

Overall: Not too dissimilar from previous non-barrel aged Impy Stouts they’ve released. High quality, well structured and aggressive. We likey.

Põhjala ‘French Toast Banger’ Imperial Pastry Stout

Rating:

“A bänging imperial stout brewed with maple syrup, vanilla beans and Ceylon cinnamon.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a short brown cap which rapidly retreats to the rim. Minimal lacing as we go.

Aroma: Smells sweet and syrupy but not in the way we were anticipating. It’s more fruity like strawberry and or cherry. Once it settles in the glass they do start to taper off and it takes on more vanilla, maple and spicy cinnamon. Even still, those three flavours should be front and centre but they’re not… we’re still getting the base Stout qualities (chocolate, carob, woodiness) over the feature ingredients.

Flavour: It’s notably better than the aroma which is rare. One thing that’s blowing our mind already is how well the 12% ABV is hidden. No heat whatsoever. It comes on unbelievably smooth and silky, a little combo of vanilla and cinnamon with the maple a little less defined. That robust Stout base is always there in the background though. It just continues on its little merry sweet way, picking up some added caramelised sweetness before finishing equally as smooth and sweet as the front palate.

Mouthfeel: Ridiculously light, smooth and silky. How the hell do they do that at 12% ABV?! Remarkable.

Overall: Our first crack at this Estonian craft brewery. We’ve been aware of them for years but have always been hesitant. Curiosity finally got the better of us and we’re glad it did. Pretty darn good.

Kicks ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Our first foray into barrel ageing, this decadent imperial stout aged in whisky barrels is rich and full bodied with jammy fruit and spice, and a lingering creamy sweetness.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours an impenetrable black and sports a frothy two finger head which gradually peels off. Excellent lacing in its wake.

Aroma: We’ve been hearing some good things about these new kids on the Marrickville block and judging by the first whiff we can understand why. The base Stout is superb…uber roasty (almost charred), heady espresso and dark chocolate, molasses, licorice, leather. The usual suspects really. The whiskey/barrels are subtle but well integrated – a little smoky, a little spicy and sweet. We’d love to know which distillers’ barrels were used.

Flavour: Good follow through. It’s rich, warming, very roasty but still well moderated. The front palate is all whiskey…it comes on with Apera-style notes then it entertains some spice and vanilla sweetness. The base Stout creeps in very methodically…first the charred malt then the espresso, dark chocolate and molasses. This gradual shift to sweetness makes the finish even more enjoyable as it balances out perfectly.

Mouthfeel: Well weighted but still sitting around that medium-full mark. Nicely carbed and the 11.5% ABV, although noticeable, is well within the realms of the style.

Overall: Our first crack at Kicks and apparently their first crack at barrel aging. We’re jumping on the bandwagon. We reckon these guys have what it takes. Let’s go!

Breheny Bro’s ‘Superior’ Stout

Rating:

“A smooth dry stout based on the Breheny Brothers Breweries recipe from 100 years ago This stout was originally produced at Breheny Brothers Breweries in Sale, Warrenheip, Bendigo and Toowoomba by Brothers John James, Thomas, Peter Martin, James Patrick, Edward Thomas and Michael Breheny.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Matte black pour with a dense and creamy two finger brown head perched on top. Good retention and healthy lacing on the glass.

Aroma: The first few whiffs offer super traditional vibes. Dry, foreign stout-like in character. Quite rich as well, espresso coffee, dark chocolate, hints of licorice and herbal/grassy hops. Much more subtle touches of peat, burnt toffee and raw vanilla bean. Really old-school Stout which matches the branding. Diggin’ it thus far.

Flavour: Good transition from the nose. Reminds us of the old Southwark Stout with its earthy and lightly peated roasted notes. The hop profile comes through as well – definitely earthy but some herbals and pine pair up with the bitterness midway. A flutter of dark fruit then a dry and toasty finish which goes the distance on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and kinda silky then turns dry in the swallow. Medium body. Slightly lifted Co2 and the 6.2% ABV slots in nicely.

Overall: Our first crack at this ancient (for Australia’s standards) brewery which was first established in 1891. Which makes it Australia’s 2nd oldest independent brewery…2nd only to Cooper’s of course. Solid drop.

Boatrocker X 8 Wired ‘iJet’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“With extensive barrel programs, a love of stouts, hoppy beers and sours, you could say Boatrocker and 8 Wired are kindred spirits… We wanted to collaborate on a beer that would sum both of us up, and yet give the beer a unique take on what we both love. Enter iJet… A recipe that takes the best of 8 Wired’s iStout and our very own Ramjet. We gave the beer a little love in some Starward barrels, and the end result is like the beautiful lovechild of these two beers.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Solid black pour with a thumb of brown foam resting on top. Good retention and some wet spotty lace is dragged down the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Interesting idea this. We’re ardent fans of 8 Wired and have been for over a decade but the one style of theirs we always seemed to find a bit lacklustre were their Stouts so we’re keen to see how this unfolds. First whiffs yield a rich and deep molasses-laden number with dark chocolate, licorice and gamey notes of biltong on the flank. A fruity/vinous accent here too…surely from the Starward barrels.

Flavour: The progression is next level. We actually go from being impartial all the way to digging it in the finish. This mostly because the front palate is a little tart and vinous and it all starts coming together midway. The descending vinous/fruity notes meet the ascending charred malts and as it progresses the big, roasty flavours take over and finish with espresso, ash, burnt vanilla, dark chocolate and licorice.

Mouthfeel: Pretty silky, some warmth from the 11.1% ABV but it’s nicely integrated. Medium-full body. Low-ish Co2.

Overall: It’s not a BA Stout you’ll ever find in our cellar but it does have some well polished traits to it. After all, it is half Ramjet…which in our opinion, is one of Australia’s best Imperial Stout recipes.

Bottle Logic ‘Quantum Matter ’23’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Our team of innovators has created a liquid so remarkable that it can really only be described by quantum mechanics: Quantum Matter stems from a series of probabilities and interactions at the microscopic level between our Vietnamese coffee-inspired #CondensedMatter stout base, an elite selection of bourbon barrels, and two choice finishing ingredients. The molecular diffusion from barrel to beer layers compounds of vanillin, caramel, and spirit into the stout while a finishing spin through fresh flaked coconut and Vietnamese cinnamon sends waves of silky soft sweetness and just a hint of spice across the palate.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Standard BL Stasis Project pour – as black as the ace of spades with a short dark brown head which quickly evaporates. It forms a very fine collar with zero lacing as we go.

Aroma: Hits the nostrils with a gorgeous array of raw and toasted coconut, cinnamon powder, molasses, sweet espresso, Bourbon oak and milk chocolate. We picked up on the chicory midway through and thought that it needed its own endorsement. It’s a really clever addition with its woody and nutty notes which reinforces the coffee and toasty Bourbon/oak. Spectacular, once again.

Flavour: Incredibly sweet initially. Dominated by coconut, sweet coffee, cinnamon and what must be the condensed milk aspect. Our only gripe thus far is the shy Bourbon/barrel components as they’re pretty hard to find. Tasting a nutty, toasty and woody mid-palate which sets up for the sweet, spicy and sugary finish which draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Good viscosity to it. Well rounded and chewy. Low-ish Co2 and the 11.5% ABV was dangerously well concealed.

Overall: Absolutely delicious but it certainly isn’t one of their best. We thought the sweetness was too overdone but on the upside the ABV was remarkably well buried. Still, a solid offering.

Hargreaves Hill ’22 Vintage R.I.S’ Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“A black, velvety Russian imperial stout with characters of liquorice, coffee and molasses. Roasted malts and a rich alcohol presence drive the palate, with a lingering bitter finish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a short tan head which holds together well. We’re always a little skeptical of Russian Imperial’s that don’t have a dark brown head but we’re not going to write it off this early. Excellent cascading lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Big, deep and roasty. The aromas aren’t jumping out of the glass by any means but dig the nose in far enough and you’ll get a plethora of dark, malty essence that should warm the bones. The booze burn is there but it isn’t prominent which is a plus. Rich dark chocolate, molasses, ash, sweet espresso, coffee, Galliano/licorice, woody spice, burnt vanilla and sponge finger make up the bulk of it.

Flavour: Sooo rich and indulgent. Again, like the nose, the booze burn is noticeable but not overcooked. If anything it adds more heat and bottom end to the base flavours of dark chocolate, molasses, espresso and licorice. Hits a bit of an astringent note midway but it’s short lived and the quartet of richness surges into the lavish and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Velvety and full bodied but we can’t ignore that slightly sharp booze burn (11.2% ABV). Low Co2.

Overall: We haven’t reviewed one of these since their ’19 vintage. Re-reading that review and then reflecting on this one, it appears nothing much has changed. It’s still a decent R.I.S.

Belching Beaver ‘Viva La Beaver’ Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout

Rating:

“Viva La Beaver is loaded with notes of creamy peanut butter, cinnamon, and coffee. This decadent milk stout is the perfect dessert beer to finish off your meal, and is our highest rated beer, receiving numerous Gold and Silver medals. Sink your teeth into this liquid chocolate treat.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a fizzy two finger brown head which slowly reduces to a bubbling island. It drags a wet lace down the glass as we go.

Aroma: We thought the OG peanut butter Milk Stout was epic but we think this is gonna give it a run for its money. The aromas are pulling us in every direction…it’s super sweet, nutty and savoury, then it’s a tad roasty, chocolatey, getting sweet spicy notes coming through as well. Milky coffee down deep. It literally covers the whole spectrum yet it all comes together so harmoniously.

Flavour: Brilliant transfer on to the palate. All those complex, spectrum-covering qualities on the nose are here as well – peanut butter, cinnamon sugar, milk chocolate, toasty malts and even a hint of cola. The coffee is pretty distant but it does add a smidge more roasty and nutty flavours to the mix. Nice smooth finish with pretty much everything putting their own stamp on it.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth and unbelievably crushable for 7.5% ABV. Medium-full body. Low-ish Co2.

Overall: Wow this is extremely impressive. The prime example of an intensely flavoured, well balanced Pastry Stout at a decent price ($13 a can for 440ml). We’re off to load up big on this one. Superb.

Left Handed Giant ‘The Holy Trinity’ Imperial Chilli Chocolate Stout

Rating:

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short brown head which quickly retreats to the rim. Next to no lace as we go.

Aroma: Right now, one of us hopheads is going through a chilli phase (for about the 3rd time in his life) so anything with chilli in it is practically a sure thing at the moment. The ultimate is when you can pair it in food and beer but in this case we’ll settle for it in beer form only. Straight up smells like a chilli and dark chocolate block straight out of the wrapper. Other notes of ash, raw cacao, cherry, goji berry, mulled wine, vanilla and herbal tea. Wow. Very unique.

Flavour: It mirrors the aroma quite well. Tastes like a boozy chilli and chocolate block with added flavours of smoke/ash, goji berry and vanilla. We must admit the first couple of sips were lacking intensity but each sip afterwards seems to build and build…much like a fiery chilli dish. Nice chilli flavours too come to think of it… chocolatey, fruity, smoky and earthy, conveying their natural flavours and heat in the finish and then well past it.

Mouthfeel: A tad too thin and oily for our liking but the warmth from the chillies, the Co2 and the well hidden 9% ABV makes up for it.

Overall: Our first entry for this English craft brewery. We’re kinda fence-sitting on it. It’s good but nothing spectacular. The chilli components were integrated well but the lack of body really holds it back.