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.