Author Archives: 2hopheads

Alesmith ‘Speedway Stout – Madagascar Vanilla & Ceylon Alba Cinnamon’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“For this special edition of our Imperial Stout with coffee, we decided to offer up some comfort for the cooler winter and fall months. A generous amount of Madagascar vanilla beans along with just the right amount of Ceylon Alba cinnamon provides this beer a delicate milky sweetness, notes of cinnamon, roast, and a subtle spiciness. Cheers!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As expected it hits the glass with an impenetrable black hue and forms two fingers of finely beaded brown foam. It retains the head well and manages a healthy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Now this smells the goods. We’ve been quite critical of Alesmith’s spin off Speedway Stout series but this release actually smells magnificent. The sweet and candy-esque vanilla, fragrant cinnamon and robust coffee all combine beautifully. What’s even better is they’re supported by a sturdy base of chocolate, roasted malt, treacle and Bounty bars.

Flavour: See this is where they keep tripping up though. The transition of all those fantastic aromas simply isn’t there. What we get is a slightly astringent booze burn, rigid malt roasty-ness and overly bitter coffee. Only after that rough initiation do we start to see the sweet and spicy vanilla and cinnamon, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, licorice and ash.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full but the texture is a little abrasive. Probably too much booze burn (12% ABV) for us too. Co2 is well placed though.

Overall: This series is akin to an abusive relationship…we know in the back of our minds not to keep going back but our loyalty and hope for change supercedes every time! 😂

Hop Nation ‘Rasselbock’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“This mythological creature has the head and body of a lager and the antlers of woodfired smoke, balanced on the wings of lightly spiced aromatics. Notes of caramel and honey carry you high above the forest to soar like the Rasselbock.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Not many sights can present better than a Stein glass full of gorgeous amber fluid which has excellent Co2 activity and a billowing four finger head. That is precisely what we have in front of us.

Aroma: So only one of us Hopheads got to enjoy MC’s Rauchbier Festival. The other has been hearing about it ever since so we thought we’d (re) acquaint ourselves with Hop Nation’s entry for it. Like all good smoked beers it displays a hearty dose of smoked ham hock/bacon, burnt wood and peat. Other delectable scents of cured meats, toast, spice/esters, smoked caramel and honey also come through.

Flavour: Loving how they’ve scaled the smoky element back here. More of that classic rich malty sweetness and dark fruits we come to expect are evident. Some light toasty notes here and there, subtle chocolate/cocoa and nutty malt appearing before it rounds off on a smoky, woody and semi sweet finish. Good length too.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and slick. Medium body with mild-medium Co2. The 7.8% ABV is very well behaved.

Overall: Hop Nation have really surprised us lately. Particularly with Rattenhund but this smoked Doppelbock is a really well structured and nicely balanced beer as well. Kudos!

‘T Pakhuis ‘Den Bangelijke’ Tripel

Rating:

“Home made and home “bottled” beer from ‘Pakhuis, Antwerp, Belgium. Refermenation on bottle.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Quite dark for the style – kinda muddy rusted bronze with a firmly held thumb of creamy off white head on top. Good retention and a beautiful cascading lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Mostly of semi sweet honeyed malts, caramel, earthy hops, orchard fruits and dough. But keeping with typical Belgian beer tradition there is a multitude of refined and more nuanced notes such as tangy orange citrus, herbals/florals, spice/esters, candied toffee and banana runts. A fairly impressive aroma from this unknown Belgian brewery.

Flavour: Well it’s nice and warming on this slightly chilly spring arvo. Definitely rich and sweet, caramelised malts, dough, buttery biscuits, mildly fruity i.e apple, pear and quince. Tasting the florals, rosewater, spicy herbals, banana, tangy orange etc through the mid then it all shifts into a somewhat dry, yeasty and fruity finish which draws out well.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy and well rounded texture. Medium body, finely carbed. The 8.3% ABV is nicely tucked away.

Overall: Impressive Tripel from this largely unheard of Belgian brewery. Pretty close to conventional with just a few minor distinctions…which we liked, mind you. Solid offering.

Deep Creek ‘Mademoiselle’ Espresso Martini Stout

Rating:

“The origins of this recipe take us back to the late nights of 1980’s, where a famous model asked London bartender, Dick Bradel, to create a drink that would wake her up. Rich coffee, smooth vanilla & luxurious dark chocolate, blended together to accent the stouts dark chocolate malt flavours. CafĂ©, vanille et chocolat? Dans une biĂšre? Merci Mademoiselle!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with two fingers of well retained foam resting atop. Nice hold and healthy lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: At first meet the espresso martini element isn’t really what we’d hoped for. Yes, the coffee, dark chocolate and vanilla is there but it has this strange earthy quality which somewhat taints it all. We’re also picking up a bit of a fruity accent as well…a bit like glazed cherry. Which isn’t a bad thing of course but we wanted an espresso martini in beer form *bangs fists on table like a bratty child*

Flavour: Nope. It’s all just wrong. And why the hell is it so bitter?! Where’s the smooth, creamy and self gratifying vanilla, coffee and chocolate? For God’s sake how hard can it be to duplicate the basic flavours of this cocktail! Granted, the bitterness does start to diminish the longer it settles but the flavour profile is so far from what we were after. Very disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Garbage. The texture is rigid and watery and the bitterness is simply unwelcome. The body seems deflated but the Co2 is ok…at least they got that right.

Overall: So if our feelings aren’t already clear we didn’t like this beer. Honestly this is our 3rd or 4th espresso martini spin off we’ve tried and not one brewery has got it right yet. Why is it so damn hard? We don’t get it.

Atrium X Dok Brewing ‘Train Des RidĂ©ra’ Rum & Raisin Quadrupel

Rating:

“9.8% Rhum Raisins Quadrupel with a rich malt complexity, which leaves it thicker than the Trappist versions. For the eyes, a dark brown colour with dark red reflexes and a clear brown foam. For the smell and taste, delicious dark fruity esters and smooth balance between alcohol and malts. The label refers to the vision of rails after leaving the Train des RidĂ©ra table.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Very elegant looking beer; ultra deep mahogany with a short but finely beaded tan head which does its best to hold together. Wavy lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: If we were blindfolded it wouldn’t be the easiest of guesses what we had here as the typical Quad features are squeezed out by the rich rum and raisin. Strong spicy notes of clove, star anise and black pepper, dark fruits i.e cherry, blood plum, cranberry, dates and figs, toasted granola, ink, cooking chocolate, candi sugars and bubblegum. Wow!

Flavour: Well it’s no secret that the richness carries over from the nose. Very earthy, very complex notes of dark fruit, burnt toffee and peppery spice gets things underway. More of the sweeter dark fruits and caramelised orchard fruits huddles up around them. Then retro-nasally we get a lot of molasses, rum and raisin, candi sugars, lightly roasted malt and cooking chocolate. We could keep going but it could end up as an essay!

Mouthfeel: Rich, creamy and luxurious. Finely carbed and medium bodied. The 9.8% ABV reveals itself a little but it’s generally well behaved.

Overall: Definitely one for the die hard Belgian beer fans. Even though it’s only a 330ml bottle it was getting quite copious by the end. A very respectable offering all the same.

Durham Brewery ‘Smoking Blonde’ Smoked Golden Ale

Rating:

“At heart this is a strong mild, meaning it has a low hop content. In the 19th century milds were pale and strong with a direct historical line to original unhopped ale.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Pours a bold yet slightly pale golden hue with three fingers of rocky head forming on top. Reduction is slow and steady and spotty lacing is left in patches.

Aroma: We were sold as soon as we read that this was a smoked Golden Ale. Don’t think we’ve ever had one before. Obviously, it being an English brewery the Maris Otter malts stand out with their distinct crusty bread, toast and nuttiness but the addition of light smoky notes is a very fun and clever piece of work. Not to mention the more subtle hints of straw, light florals and herbals.

Flavour: It’s surprisingly bitter upfront. The light smoky notes, dry wheat grains and straw almost present like a Saison. The slightest touch of malt sweetness tries to counteract it…its efforts go in vain unfortunately. As it progresses a noticeable hop bitterness further emphasises the dryness and rolls into a dried finish with straw, dried herbs and light smoky notes drawing out.

Mouthfeel: Parched, overly gassy and effervescent. Light-moderate body. The 6% ABV is pretty well disguised we must say.

Overall: What a weird beer. We’re not really digging the dry Saison/Champagne-esque characters. When you’re blessed with a rich tasting malt like Maris Otter then we say use it! It needs that injection of sweetness to level it all out a bit. Very meh.

Stone ‘Xocoveza – Tres Leches’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Stone Xocoveza Tres Leches combines the inspiration of Oaxacan Hot Chocolate and Tres Leches treats in an imperial stout that’s smooth, creamy and intensely indulgent. Made from all that’s good about the holidays, Stone Xocoveza is brewed with chocolate, coffee, Pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black pour with a short and fizzy dark tan head which peels off pretty quick. It laces really well considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Wow there’s some serious uplift here. Everything they state on the can is what we’re getting; cinnamon, pasila peppers and coffee first then the chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla and oats are backing up nicely. Other scents we’re picking up include raw cacao, cracked pink peppercorns, milk sugars, freshly ground ginger and even a hint of molĂ©. Aroma country!

Flavour: All the complexity and intensity carries over from the aroma nicely. It seems like all the feature flavours rush the front palate…almost to the point where it’s a little overwhelming. Peppers, mixed sweet spices and chocolate are nicely balanced by the sweet vanilla and milk sugars. Then the roasted malts and coffee set up for a warming and lengthy finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth considering the 8.5% ABV and the ascending heat from the peppers. Medium body and mild-moderate Co2.

Overall: It’s been a seriously long time between drinks for us and Stone. A rough guess would put it at at least 4-5 years so this was a very nice way to break the ice again. Top drop too, almost on par with The Bruery. Definitely a recommendation from us.

Brouwerij Kasteel ‘Nitro Noir’ Nitro Porter

Rating:

“Kasteel Nitro Noir has a clear taste of roasted malts, complemented by subtle caramel notes. The soft bitterness is balanced by a sweet fruitiness, making this porter easy to drink.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: For once a nitro beer from a can pours like a draught! Such a cool sight to watch the tightly held foam cascade down and transform into liquid. Nice dark brown complexion with a deep ruby gradient at the foot of the glass. It holds a sturdy two finger head which laces well.

Aroma: A nice and creamy roasted malt hits the olfactories initially. Supported by caramel fudge, a carob-esque accent, figs, dates/prunes, apple pie, vanilla and Belgian yeasty notes i.e orchard fruits, clove and banana split. There’s also a noticeable hop profile to it…kinda herbal and spicy with a black tea-like character. Liking it.

Flavour: Very unique. Then again it is a Belgian Porter so a sweet candy-ish front palate isn’t too far from the norm. There’s a mild roasty note which is softened by the creamy vanilla and the natural texture of the nitro. Milk chocolate, dark fruits, caramel fudge and a mild hop bitterness fills it out and finishes it all off nicely.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth AF. Carbonation is soft and refined and the body is mild-medium. The 5.7% ABV is well buried.

Overall: An impressive nitro Porter. It’s refreshing to finally see a brewery get the nitro side of it right in a can. Oh yeah and the beer was also bloody good too! Bonus.

Hop Nation ‘Rattenhund’ Pilsner

Rating:

“Australia’s #1 Pilsner! Rattenhund is the beer that no one asked us to make, but our brewers knew we all needed. It utilises a number of techniques we don’t typically implement across our beers, so it was a fun one to bring to life! Traditionally brewed using Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt, partnered with Saaz and Spalt Select hops. Rattenhund has been fermented by Bluestone Yeast’s Pilsen strain, before an eight week extended lagering. Clear, refreshing with a fluffy, lip smothering head.”

Glassware: Flute.

Appearance: Slightly hazy straw golden pour with a fluffy two finger head forming on top. Good retention and intricate lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: With all the high alpha new world hops emerging these days it’s very easy to forget about the OG hops. The ones that pretty much grandfather a lot of the hops we enjoy today. And one of the OG’s OG hops is Saaz and it’s featured magnificently in this Pilsner. A nice light grainy malt base features as well – crusty white bread, crackers and mixed seeds.

Flavour: All the classic Saaz qualities upfront – earthy, spicy, herbaceous and floral with the light and grainy malts providing a perfect counter balance. The middle is all about the cereal grains with the earthy tones hanging on for the ride. Fresh cut grass and herbals tailing in late and then helping set up the dry, grassy finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, clean and snappy. Tight Co2, mild-moderate body. The 4.8% ABV is perfectly positioned.

Overall: This is a real surprise package. Their original Pilsner (The Damned) left a little bit to be desired but it seem the brewers have been honing their Pilsner skills. The old Ratdog comes through! Solid offering.

Atrium ‘Cassadura’ Quad Stout

Rating:

“A heavy and sticky stout to which has been added brown sugar and rapadura! A Belgian-Brazilian mix sounds familiar, doesn’t it? An extreme beer as we like it! a complex, thick and creamy 15% Imperial Stout with a magnificent brown head. Notes of baked candy, followed by delicate esters of black fruits, caramel, malty and roasted notes! Soft and warming!

It’s a pool party, sugar!

Glassware: Trappist goblet.

Appearance: Ultra dark brown with a deep mahogany gradient at the edges. It struggles to produce much head and whatever forms disappears almost instantly. Minimal lace work as we hook in.

Aroma: This blend of Imperial Stout and Belgian Quad always piques our interest. We love how the rich sweetness from the Quad integrates with the aggressive characters of the Stout…it’s like a match made in heaven. And straight off the bat that’s what we’re getting; candi sugars, musk, vanilla, coffee, nutty chocolate, molasses, lady finger biscuits and mixed dark fruits.

Flavour: It’s actually really hard to know where the Impy Stout starts and where the Quad ends…the amalgamation of the two is superb. It’s just this rich and intense fusion of Belgian yeast-driven candi sugars, chocolate/cocoa, vanilla, dark fruits, wheat grains, molasses and earthy spice. And we haven’t even touched on the 2 feature sugars used either! (cassonade and rapadura).

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily and warming. Medium-full body, low Co2. The 15% ABV got us by surprise…it’s dangerously well hidden.

Overall: This was our first crack at this Belgian brewery and we’re impressed. She’s very intricate, well layered and rich. We’re thinking we’ll have to explore a few more of their wares now! Solid.

Durham Brewery ‘Evensong’ English Bitter

Rating:

“The recipe is based upon an original beer made by Whitakers of Halifax in 1937. A smooth well balanced traditional ruby bitter. Five different malts including crystal and amber create a rich toffee/cherry flavour. Earthy Fuggles and Goldings hops combine in a smooth English character with hints of kiwifruit and toffee.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Slightly muddy light mahogany pour with a ruby/red hue. It forms a frothy three finger head which slowly deconstructs and leaves healthy lacing on the glass.

Aroma: It’s like a fruity malt bomb. At first we’re detecting sweet dark fruits like plum, raisin and blood orange but as it settles it develops more strawberry/overripe cherry notes. Truck loads of caramel and toffee apple with delicate hints of blackcurrant, freshly cut grass, earthy spice and jam on toast. A rather complex aroma and we dig it!

Flavour: It’s much more carbonated than we had anticipated. Quite a well balanced flavour profile though – sweet dark fruits and caramelised crystal malts are perfectly countered by the grassy, spicy and earthy hops. A very mild toasty-ness through the mid and it develops a slightly burnt toffee late in the piece which performs another key balancing act to the sweet, malty finish.

Mouthfeel: As we touched on before it’s overly carbonated…too much for our liking. Mild-medium body, 5% ABV. The texture is sticky and a little chewy.

Overall: Not all that fussed with this offering. Durham are one of our favourite English breweries but this seems a little off the mark. Not sure if it has a small infection or not as well. If it does and it still drinks this well then they must be commended.

Red Hill ‘Fandango’ Bohemian Pilsner

Rating:

“The Brewers’ Rhapsody, the original Bohemian Pilsner. Back from our library of hits, this Pilsner has never missed a beat, pumped up to 11 with Bohemian Pilsner malt and Lashings of Saaz hops, you too will be in rhapsody when you feel the edges of your mouth go up after just one sip. Packed in sleek black 355ml cans the Fandango Bohemian Pilsner is an annual specialty release. This version features art by Melbourne Ale cartoonist Matt Golding with an illustration of how you feel when you are drinking this beer!!!”

Glassware: Flute.

Appearance: Deep golden pour with a slight hop haze. Excellent Co2 activity and a thumb of finely beaded foam perched on top. It drops a sheet of lacing on the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: We sometimes forget just how good Red Hill are at brewing the European styles. This Bohemian style Pilsner presents brilliantly – solid malt structure i.e rice crackers, semi sweet honey and straw setting the stage for those gorgeous Saaz hops to do their work off of. Definitely floral, a tad herbaceous and spicy as well. Ultra clean yeast profile. Oh yeah this is good.

Flavour: Quite hop forward actually. It comes on with a quick cameo of grainy malts and straw/hay and then the hops/bitterness envelopes the palate. It hits an earthy note as it passes the mid and is further enhanced by a subtle peppery spice and a warming booze burn which only intensifies as it carries into the dry and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean but slightly bulkier than your typical Pilsner. Mild-medium body, Co2 is spot on. The 6.5% ABV is noticeable but not overpowering.

Overall: We don’t think they’ve strayed far from their OG Pilsner recipe here. Other than a bigger hop profile and ABV it drinks pretty similar…and that’s what we like most about this. Very traditional base but with a new world kick.

Banks X Mountain Culture ‘Where Dreams Go To Die’ NEIPA

Rating:

“Originally brewed by Banks Brewing, we have rebrewed this from our own brewery and here is the OG description. “DDH DIPA collab with our buds from Mountain Culture. When you’re brewing with an ultra celebrity like DJ you better give the people what they want. This be where dreams go to die.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Certainly looks the goods. Deep pastel orange and turbid AF! It forms an egg shaped two and a bit finger head which retains well. Tonnes of soapy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Ooohhh very nice. We can’t find any specs on the hop profile anywhere but it smells like it includes a Kiwi hop or two. It’s super resinous and green but it’s also jam packed with tropical fruits like mango, passionfruit, peach and nectarine. It also displays a dry peppery spice, slightly dank herbals/weed, creamy oats, tangy orange citrus and a flutter of frosty fruits. Very solid aroma.

Flavour: It never ceases to amaze us just how smooth a well brewed NEIPA can be. It’s literally like breakfast juice upfront with a nice soft line of resin and weedy herbals cutting through. The nectar-filled fruits i.e passionfruit, peach, nectarine etc jump on board mid-palate and then the creamy oats, peppery spice and stonefruits finish it all off in style.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and creamy. Medium bodied and finely carbonated. Wow the 8% ABV is really well concealed.

Overall: Another exemplary interpretation here. We only just said we don’t review beer by MC, Range or Banks but here we are again! 😂 Hey, when it reads MC X Banks one surely has to partake. Excellent drop.

Evil Twin ‘AĂșn MĂĄs A JesĂșs’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“On a pilgrimage for immortal craft beer we tripped on these heavenly drops of amazingly overwhelming aromas, a thick fudge-like black body, pitch black color and obviously only made in limited amounts. And the taste… even more jesus!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades and complimented by a finger of tightly held dark brown head. Steady reduction and carefully placed rings mark the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Extremely rich and strident. It’s intriguing coz at its core it has serious contempt for the olfactories but as we push through the barrier the heavily caramelized and residual sugars from the Port barrels are uncovered. Working backwards from there we get dense molasses, Galliano-like licorice/aniseed, damp oak, old leather, iodine, dark chocolate and salty/soy sauce. Oooopht!

Flavour: Ok that contempt we were mentioning before…it’s back again. Probably a bit too much for us too. In this day and age of big yet sweet pastry Stouts we feel these proper bad ass Impy Stouts have had their time. It’s just harsh, boozy, overly rich with molasses, licorice and leather and lacking any form of sweetness that the Port/barrels should’ve been bringing.

Mouthfeel: Oily, warming and slightly astringent. Low Co2, medium-full body. The 12% ABV shows through too much in our opinion.

Overall: It’s a great idea but the execution is a bit askew. It’s just too raw, rugged and aggressive and lacks cohesion. Not sold on it.

Riegele ‘Ator 20’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“The fresh taste of Ator 20 results from its cold fermentation and long, cold maturation, 20° Plato, and strong-bodied malt.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Chestnut complexion with a deep ruby red gradient at the edges. It forms two fingers of finely beaded foam and maintains its shape well. Healthy lace work as it ebbs.

Aroma: Very sweet, very bready and just the mildest touch of hops to counterbalance. Definitely picking up the classic German yeast profile – banana bread, earthy spices and apple pie. Layers of caramel and toffee, dark fruits and liqueur (Port, Cognac, Sherry etc), candied red berries, cherry cola and toasty malts. Good complexity and structure. Digging it thus far.

Flavour: Delicious but we must admit the candy/artificial fruity notes could do with a bit of dialling back. It starts brilliantly though, with sweet and chewy caramel, dark fruits and banana bread then the candied cherry and toffee apple opens up around the mid. A nice little toasty accent develops late and leads into a super sweet, tangy and fruity finish.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, well rounded and chewy. Carbonation is kept pretty low key, medium body. The 7.5% ABV is pretty well disguised.

Overall: There’s no questioning its authenticity but if compared to the likes of Aventinus, SĂŒnner or Andechser it doesn’t really stack up. This is in no way a write off as it’s actually a decent crack but there are better options out there in our opinion.

Brouwerij Boon ‘Vat 31 Monoblend’ Oude Geuze

Rating:

“The lambic in foeder no. 31 aged for four and a half years before it became this Oude Geuze. It’s typified by its fine carbonation and pleasant cognac-like nose. The fluent and mellow but strong aroma with hints of apricots and walnuts is supported by a clear oak character.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Hazy deep pastel orange with two fingers of fizzy yet well retained foam perched on top. Poor lacing considering the good retention though.

Aroma: Oh wow…that unmistakable scent of a traditional Belgian Lambic ♄ It displays a magnificent fusion of zesty lemon/lime juice, white grapes, unripened peach, green apple, candied citrus, hay/straw, a healthy barnyard funk and raw almonds. Just a flutter of funky yoghurt and cheese cave getting a look in as well. It’s doing all the right things!

Flavour: We were expecting a sharp lacto sourness to pucker up but much to our surprise it’s quite well contained. Subtle tart lemon juice and white wine vinegar blends beautifully with the musty oak, hay/straw and unripened stonefruits and apricot. It’s amazing how much it smooths out as it shifts into the kinda dry, vinous and oaky finish. Good length on it too.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat creamy, a hint of sharpness and minerality. Finely carbed, mild-moderate body. The 8.5% ABV adds some warmth but it’s nicely positioned.

Overall: We’re always entertained at how long the shelf life is on these beers…this one says 2040! We could only manage a bit over a year before we cracked this 2020 vintage. Solid Lambic. No surprises there though.

Ridgeway Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Imperial Russian Stouts historically tend to be declared in the range of 9 to 10% alcohol by volume, at 10% Ridgeway’s is at the top of that range. What differentiates the style from simply a strong stout or porter is that extended ageing and perhaps a little judicious infection before bottling which makes them considerably more vinous and sharp than an export stout so there is MUCH more of a wine character than you normally get in a strong ale. Not soured but just that little nod towards a lambic beer. Very roasty and very bitter. That bitterness mellows over time in the bottle but if you are lucky enough to get an Imperial Russian on draught it will be full on. The style is not intended to be overtly hoppy once settled but obviously with so many hops used the draught experience will have something on the hop front that won’t be there in a bottled version.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: No where near dark enough for us. It displays a Porter-esque complexion – black centre with a mahogany gradient towards the edges. Short tan head which quickly fades and some spotty lacing as we go.

Aroma: We’re always happy to concede that traditional English RIS are not like the modern American versions but this really does seem to lack the usual largesse we come to expect from the style. Thankfully as it settles the bottom end develops some robust notes of licorice, carob, cocoa powder, coffee, spice and a hearty roast so all is not lost!

Flavour: Similar to the aroma in terms of its apparent lack of intensity and bottom end. We will give it one tick of approval for avoiding those acetaldehyde-like flavours that seem to creep into a lot of English RIS. We’re picking up mainly licorice, cooking chocolate, cocoa powder, mild coffee and roast which rounds out on a nice bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Too light and slippery for our liking. The medium body does help though. Low-ish Co2. The 10% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: This is the 2020 vintage so we thought a bit of age may add to its character. Maybe it did maybe it didn’t but alls we know is this release only, and it didn’t really inspire.

De Molen X Rodenbach ‘Wieken & Krieken’ Fruited Barleywine

Rating:

“For this collaboration we have brewed a full-bodied classic barley wine to which we added many classic Rodenbach ingredients after fermentation, such as cranberry, elderberry and sour cherries. This has resulted in a beer with a unique taste dimension. At first you taste the full-bodied barley wine with its maltiness and ripe fruits, after which the nicely balanced, classic Rodenbach acidity comes up and you can clearly taste the cranberry and sour cherries.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Burnished copper pour with a wispy off white overlay. The head peels off rather quickly but still manages fine rings which mark each sip.

Aroma: We’ve been eagerly awaiting this and we’re pleased to say that on initial meeting it smells the goods. We were unsure how a sour Barleywine would present but when 2 names like De Molen and Rodenbach come together how couldn’t it be good?! An amazing array of mixed red berries and currants, roll ups, toffee apple, dates, golden raisin, glazed cherry, earthy spice and pine needle tantalise the olfactories.

Flavour: So rich, sticky, fruity and sweet. It almost behaves like a really good Quad. We were anticipating sourness but there really isn’t much at all. If anything there’s some tartness from the berries/cherry but it’s the exquisite balance between the rich and decadent malts and the tart fruits that has us in awe.

Mouthfeel: Dense, sticky and gelatinous. Co2 is kept low and the body is medium-full. The 9.2% ABV adds just the right amount of warmth.

Overall: Very impressive. It’s like a fruity Barleywine with traits of Belgian Quadrupel and English Strong Ale. This kinda stuff is our jam right now. Superb.

Mountain Culture X Range ‘Little Bit Of This, Little Bit Of That’ Oat Cream IPA

Rating:

“When it came to brewing this NEIPA with our mates at Range, you would think the recipe was months in the making but it was more like we all took a stroll down to the cool room and grabbed a little bit of this hop and a little bit of that hop… The result is a mammoth Oat Cream IPA packed full juicy tropical flavours.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Really good looking pour – turbid sandy yellow with a well maintained two finger head. Excellent lace work trails it down.

Aroma: Classic Mountain Culture vibes. Juicy AF, super sweet and tropical but with a nice line of zesty lime and resin. It also has that dry chalky character which we consider a crucial quality in top shelf NEIPA’s. Other mixed fruits like passionfruit, grapefruit and apricot. Some light herbals and the fluffy and creamy oats to round it out. Brilliant aroma.

Flavour: Pretty much follows on from the nose but with a bit more emphasis on the fleshy stonefruits. We’re getting mango initially then ripe papaya/paw paw early on in the mid. The slightest hint of peppery spice creeping through as well. The herbals, zesty citrus and resinous notes form late and that creamy and grainy oat profile is dependably there for balance and structure.

Mouthfeel: Pillowy, fluffy and smooth as silk….like beer clouds. Medium bodied, Co2 is delicate and fine. 7.4% ABV, well what can we say? It’s tucked away beautifully.

Overall: We tend to stay away from reviewing anything from MC or Range as they release about 500 beers a week but considering 2 of the benchmark Aussie NEIPA brewers collaborated we thought we’d break the mould. Just this once! Exceptional drop, as expected.

Tumut River Brewing ‘Tex Mex’ Texas BBQ Amber Ale

Rating:

“What’s with the name? Well I promised my 6 year old nephew that I would name a beer after him and he prefers Max Power to Mad Max (who am I to argue) and this beer is pretty powerful, in the flavour stakes, so it seems fitting. This beer is a collaboration with our friends at Garlicious Black Garlic, yep you heard right – garlic! Black garlic! So what goes with garlic? I reckon one of my slow smoked beef brisket rubs. This baby has Black Garlic, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper and Chilli. It’s a beef rub in an amber ale! Smells like a bbq, tastes like a brisket and has a subtle burn on the finish leaving you looking for another one.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep amber pour with a soft red tint when held to the light. It only managed a short tan head which collapsed pretty quickly. Scarce lacing as it subsides.

Aroma: Holy moly! This is literally for all of you low and slow meat smokers out there…you need to get on this. Let’s just say the next time you have your brisket ready to go forget your spice rub and use this beer! When we first read that black garlic, cayenne, cumin and chilli was used in this beer we knew we had to have it. Maybe it’s the love for southern BBQ in us but they all smell fantastic!

Flavour: It’s fair to say that the cayenne and chilli pepper adds some serious heat to this bad boy and when we say a shitload we mean a shitload of pepper, garlic, cumin, onion powder and even a touch of mustard for good measure. Loving the soft smoky notes as well…really rams home what they’re trying to do here.

Mouthfeel: Pretty nondescript – smooth, sticky, medium bodied with mild-moderate Co2. Lots of warmth from the chilli instead of the 5.9% ABV.

Overall: Not sure if this will come off as rude or not but this beer is better off being a marinade. Don’t get us wrong, it was really fun and quite tasty but my God this is the perfect marinade for a pulled pork or a brisket. Digging the creativity.