Jindabyne Brewing ‘Tipsy Monk’ Belgian Blond

Rating:

“Part of our Belgian series. The Tipsy Monk is brewed in the style of a Single Trappist ale. Saaz hops give it some herbaceous hop flavour with fruity and spicy flavours coming from the yeast. Big enough to get some character but not too strong that you can’t enjoy a few in a session. Don’t forget to let it warm a little.”

Glassware: Jindy Brewing-branded tulip.

Appearance: Bold amber with 100% clarity. It forms a light and fluffy two finger head which retains well. Healthy lacing as we go.

Aroma: They’ve absolutely nailed the yeast profile. It has that super conventional fruit and spice character i.e banana, pear drop, clove, pepper, aniseed etc. The floral aromas are further reinforced by the Saaz hops which provide a beautiful array of white flowers, coriander powder and honeysuckle. A flutter of orange blossom is also coming through. A nice semi-sweet honey malt at the base. Very nice.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose with its classic set up of fruity and spicy yeast esters and herbal/floral hops. Getting a slight hint of lemon/candy plus a much more robust earthiness…especially around the mid palate for the latter. It pairs up with a delicate bitterness and gently rolls into the dry, spicy and floral finish. Good duration on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Gassy, creamy texture. Medium body with a good consistency. Slightly lifted Co2 and the 5.5% ABV, although low for a traditional Blond, is nicely positioned.

Overall: This style is right in Jindy’s wheelhouse. Clean, easy drinking, traditional European beer. Absolutely bang on target for the style.

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!

Jindabyne Brewing ‘The Reverend’ Belgian Brown Ale

Rating:

“Our Brown Ale has been popular over the years so we thought we would do it again. However, this time we would change the yeast up. This was seen as a sin by many until we asked the reverend for forgiveness. It looks dark but drinks light with rich malty flavours shining through.”

Glassware: Jindy Brewing-branded tulip.

Appearance: Deep amber with light ruby hues. Good clarity. Notches up a frothy two finger head and leaves a tonne of lace behind.

Aroma: Very interesting profile. There’s quite a strong charred malt/burnt toast character which is beautifully offset by the sweet, nutty and caramel qualities. It’s also giving off a subtle touch of coffee grounds, peppery spice, toasted marshmallow, burnt candi sugar and banana bread crusts. This is a very pleasant surprise.

Flavour: It’s a unique taste. All that roasted malt/burnt toast/toasted marshmallow has carried through and initiates it all. The hallmark Brown Ale sweetness i.e nutty, toffee/caramel malt takes the baton cleanly and powers through the mid. Soft peppery spice, candi sugar and coffee grounds develop late and draw out nicely in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Kinda dry, gassy, medium bodied. Coats the palate nicely. Slightly lifted Co2 and the 5.5% ABV slots in perfectly.

Overall: We’ve gotta admit this was so unexpected. We’ve had their standard Brown Ale many times before but even with the Belgian spin on it aside, the roasty/charred elements, the coffee, spice and the slightly burnt candi sugar make for a truly unique and delicious beer. Superb.

2 Halfs ‘Atlantico’ Mexican Lager

Rating:

“Atlantico is the breweries second dip into the Gulf of Mexico. This time round we’ve upped the amount of corn and it truly shows itself in this beer. Atlantico is light in colour but huge on el sabor (flavour in Spanish). This lager has a whopping 25% corn mix which imparts sweet flavours upfront, is extremely smooth and finishes with sweet dry notes.”

Glassware: American pint.

Appearance: Bold golden-yellow pour with a finger of white foam atop. The head slowly peels off and forms a collar. Reasonable lacing in its wake.

Aroma: Displaying strong wafts of corn and other starchy vegetables like taro and raw sweet potato. Little flutters of fresh coriander and parsley along with subtle citrus notes here and there as well. Getting the grainy and slightly biscuity cereal malt base…corn flakes and rolled oats coming through the most. Not a bad aroma at all.

Flavour: The corn/maize flavours are even more pronounced here. The beer description states that 25% of the grain bill is corn and we’re tasting every bit of it. Still, with that said, it manages to keep well balanced and offers crisp cereal malts and a subtle citrus and herbal hop profile. Just the right amount of bitterness through the middle and a clean finish to punctuate.

Mouthfeel: Light on, crisp, refreshing. Lightly sparkling Co2. Mild-moderate body and the 4.8% ABV is spot on for the style.

Overall: A really well structured Mexi Lager. It’s not really the right time of year for one but it was still highly enjoyable on this unseasonably warm Sydney winter arvo. Solid.

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.

Bottle Logic ‘Greyhound’ Grapefruit IPA

Rating:

“West Coast IPA finished with fresh grapefruit juice.” 

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: It has that deep pastel orange colour with a decent haze. It forms a thumb of loosely packed head which unsurprisingly breaks apart and settles at the rim. Laced poorly.

Aroma: Recently one of us brought up how good the old ‘Sculpin’ from Ballast Point was, and literally a couple of weeks later we see this grapefruit IPA pop up. It’s clearly a sign! First whiffs aren’t yielding a whole lot of grapefruit. It’s pretty darn juicy though…strong wafts of stone fruit i.e rockmelon, papaya, slightly less intense peach skin, ruby grapefruit, citrus rind and sappy resin. Some dusty/chalky notes. Nice.

Flavour: So this is where the grapefruit was hiding! Only a very short cameo of stone fruit before the tangy and rather tart grapefruit washes over. They used the right type of grapefruit (ruby) for this too as it displays that little bit more sweetness as opposed to the ultra tart and acidic yellow variety. The juicy stone fruit and resinous notes reunite for the citrusy, smooth and almost herbaceous finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and inoffensive. Medium bodied with a slightly higher IBU (85). Nicely carbed and the 6.5% ABV was well hidden.

Overall: Well, it’s no Sculpin but it kinda quelled the burning desire for a grapefruit IPA. We’re still holding out hope that one day an importer will start bringing them back in.

Jindabyne Brewing ‘Drunk Monk’ Belgian Dubbel

Rating:

“Our Belgian series continues. This time reaching harmonic heights brewed in the style of a Trappist Dubbel. We bring the soul of beer, AKA malt, to the forefront whilst remaining light in colour. The addition of Red Earth hops grown in Bemboka give this traditional style a local flavour.”

Glassware: Trappist chalice.

Appearance: Somewhat burnished amber with a frothy two finger crown. The head retains really well and leaves an absolute smattering of lace on the glass.

Aroma: Like a traditional Dubbel only much lighter and less intense. There’s a very healthy ester profile to it – throwing out banana runts, candi sugar, mixed spice (anise, clove, pepper) and a subtle touch of bubblegum. Delicate wafts of herbal/Noble hops hinged on the sweet biscuity and caramel malt base. Smells the goods.

Flavour: The intensity sure picks up here. Quite dry but nicely countered by the semi-rich sweet malt base. Once again the esters feature prominently with their spicy and candied banana, clove/anise, bubblegum and orchard fruits. Gentle bitterness midway paired with a very mild warmth from the booze makes a rendezvous with the estery fruits and spice in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, well rounded texture. Slightly lower than expected Co2 but it works. Medium body and the 6.7% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: Good to see Jindy Brewing back to their best here. This Dubbel really typifies their style – conventional yet with their own little twist put on it. Respectable.

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.

Brewdog X La Trappe ‘Practice What You Preach’ Quadrupel

Rating:

“This beer represents a collaboration between tradition and innovation. A place where Monks meet Punks. Brewed at La Trappe’s monastery in January 2021, our Belgian Quadruple with Scottish Heather Honey and American hops. The result is a ruby-hued liquid that boasts aromas of rich dried fruits and sweet honey. Hints of citrus fruits run subtly throughout, cutting through the sticky mouthfeel to balance out the sweetness.”

Glassware: Trappist goblet.

Appearance: Deep chestnut colour with ruby highlights . It constructs a thumb of finely beaded head which slowly retreats. Nice wavy lace sticks to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: It has been ages since we wrapped our laughing gear around a traditional Quad. In fact the last time was way back in 2020. First whiffs are pungent, rich and captivating scents of toffee, fruitcake, dark fruits like rum-soaked raisin, fig and plum jam. Honey/honeycomb, candi sugar, banana bread, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. Impressive.

Flavour: We’re picking up that citrus fusion now. There’s a mention of it on the label but we couldn’t uncover it on the nose. Here it’s in the form of Cointreau, albeit very subtly. Big and rich upfront but entertaining a delicate dryness. Earthy, toffee, fruitcake, dark fruits a-plenty. The honey, spice and residual sugars developing late and then laying down for an ultra rich and complex finish that draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Very dense and full bodied. Silky smooth with a touch of dryness. Lively Co2 and the 10% ABV is noticeable but concealed well enough for its size.

Overall: It’s certainly a very deep and complex beer. Our only criticism is it was lacking a bit of the ester character that’s synonymous with the style. Pretty darn good Quad though.

Jindabyne Brewing ‘Frothin Hoff’ Kölsch

Rating:

NO COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION

Glassware: Tumbler.

Appearance: A light honey-yellow pour is capped off by a finger of off white head. Good retention and a sheet of lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Kinda nice and subtle floral and spicy notes leading out. A rather sweet and slightly rich malt structure at its core. Definitely getting some vegetal scents from it. A touch of starchy potato and parsnip, unripened pear and a certain earthiness. Not the most conventional set of aromas for a Kölsch but we’ll come along for the ride.

Flavour: Hhmm there’s something not quite right. Maybe it’s the overly sweet malt it has going on (we also picked this up on the nose too). That component paired with the earthiness and vegetal notes are clashing a bit. Still, the spicy and floral hops do a decent job pulling it into line. A delicate bitterness also kicks up midway then rolls into a fairly clean and tidy finish.

Mouthfeel: Still has some crispness although it’s quite chewy for the style. Nicely carbed, moderate-medium body and the 4.6% ABV is on par.

Overall: Not Jindy’s finest offering that’s for sure. Usually everything they touch turns to gold. The malt bill was a bit too rich and it all struggled to come together. Pretty average for their standards.

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.

Eagle Bay X Mane X Whipper Snapper ‘Forest For The Trees’ Baltic Porter

Rating:

“A Baltic-style Porter that has been cold lagered and cold conditioned to create a clean and layered dark beer character, with notes of chocolate and espresso. A coffee addition from The Cape Effect Coffee Roasters builds on this flavour and aroma, whilst 9 months ageing in Whipper Snapper whiskey barrels has created rich whiskey flavour, structure and a beautiful oak finish.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Uber dark pour for a Baltic Porter. Mostly impenetrable black except for a skerrick of light breaking through at the base of the glass. It forms two fingers of tan head which peels off slowly. Settling to a collar with wet and wavy lacing.

Aroma: Nice and punchy roasted malts upfront. Espresso, licorice, raw cacao and molasses are also leaping out of the glass. It’s hard to believe this style of beer is brewed with a Lager yeast! Loving the addition of Whipper Snapper barrels. We know the distillery well (one of us had a bottle of their Upshot Australian Whiskey once. It’s finished now 😞) but it’s a little shy. Delicate hints of cedar and vanilla here and there but that’s about it.

Flavour: Oh wow. The progression is impressive. The front palate is all chocolate, coffee and licorice with just the mildest hint of cedar and oak creeping through. As it rolls into the mid the woody accents take shape. So does the sweet and spicy Whiskey. The finish is all about the big flavours i.e Whiskey, oak, espresso coffee, chocolate and the lingering charred malts.

Mouthfeel: Fairly moderate which is remarkable. Smooth, silky, medium bodied. A notable Co2 on it. The 8.3% ABV is very well behaved for its size.

Overall: An impressive collaboration and an equally impressive beer. WA might just need a bit more attention!

Durham Brewery ‘Alabaster’ Double IPA

Rating:

“Formerly known as White Stout. We have tweaked the recipe and increased the hop hit. The new take on this classic Durham beer deserved a new name. Alabaster – strong and pale. Large amounts of aromatic Columbus hops over a full pale malt base. Aromas of citrus and black pepper. High bitterness is balanced by the full and rich malt body.”

Glassware: English pint.Appearance: Golden amber pour with a very mild hop haze. It whips up a finger of fizzy white head which gradually recedes to a fine film. A reasonable amount of lacing in its wake.

Aroma: Heady notes of spicy orange citrus, black peppercorn, a woody earthiness and something resembling blackcurrant. As every English IPA should, this displays a robust malt base of crusty bread, toast, some nuttiness and sweet caramel/honey. Picking up some florals as it comes up to room temp. The only thing is it all seems a bit tired and once again we’re right. The BBD is up in 3 months 

Flavour: Unsurprisingly the malt is leading out. A 9 month old IPA will do that unfortunately. There are still remnants of the hops to be found – orange citrus, peppery spice, grass/herbals and earthy notes are still kinda doing their thing. A decent bitterness throughout carries the robust malt into a rather dry, crisp and bitter finish that lingers.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat gassy, dry and bitter. Medium body, medium-high Co2. The 7.2% ABV is well buried.

Overall: Buying international beer post-convid is literally lucky dip on BBD. In most cases they’re too old…as is the case here. Frustrating AF coz it’d be an absolute pearler when fresh.

Hobgoblin ‘Ruby’ ESB

Rating:

“Hobgoblin is a powerful full-bodied copper red, well-balanced brew. Strong in roasted malt with a moderate hoppy bitterness and slight fruity character that lasts through to the end.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Pours like a proper English Ale – light mahogany with notable ruby highlights. It forms a thick and creamy two finger head which holds its shape well. Tonnes of thick sudsy lace decorates the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Overflowing with candied toffee/toffee apple, sweet dark fruits like juicy raisin, dates/prunes and glazed cherries. The more subtle chocolate notes emerge as it starts to warm…although it’s not straight chocolate, it comes across as fruit & nut and carob. It has a certain Barleywine and or Quad-like character with its ultra sweet residual sugars but it’s nicely balanced by a dose of earthy and spicy English hops.

Flavour: Super rich and complex for a mere 4.5% ABV beer. Again, those Quad-like flavours present with rich toffee, raisin and dark fruits. The subtle chocolate and carob only emphasize this further. What it does really well is it incorporates a distinct bitterness which goes a long way in offsetting the rich sweetness. Nicely balanced yet complex finish which holds on nicely.

Mouthfeel: Slick, gelatinous, chewy. Medium-full body. It drinks a whole lot bigger than the ABV (4.5%) entails.

Overall: Impressive how deep and complex it is but it’s just a tad too sweet and artificially tasting for us. Maybe it needs that extra 6% ABV on top to make it a Barleywine?! It’s certainly worthy but it’s not a return beer.

Moorebeer ‘Mas Cerveza’ Mexican Lager

Rating:

NO COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION

Glassware: American pint.

Appearance: Super pale light golden pour with a thumb of snow white head. It eventually peels off and leaves wavy lace in its wake.

Aroma: Crisp maxxing. Ultra light and refreshing notes of champagne-esque lemon, zesty lime, fresh herbs like coriander and oregano and just the slightest lick of corn/maize – it comes off more like raw corn cob as opposed to the usual creamed and boiled versions. We kinda prefer it like this too, it’s not as heavy and suits the delicate nature of the beer. More subtle notes of rice crackers and semi sweet honey malt as well. Nice.

Flavour: Liking this straight off the bat. Again it’s ultra crisp, refreshing notes of zesty lemon and lime, fresh herbals and some super subtle cereal grains. The raw corn/maize qualities positioned nicely on the flank. Very mild bitterness midway, leading into an unbelievably easy finish with gentle citrus and herbals drawing out.

Mouthfeel: As we’ve said a hundred times already – it’s crisp, refreshing, light on. Light-moderate body and the 4.2% ABV is right on.

Overall: We weren’t actually expecting too much from this but it’s right up there with some of the better Mexi Lagers we had during the summer. Solid drop.

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.

Montmorillon ‘Brune’ Coffee Brown Ale

Rating:

“Intense notes of chocolate and coffee for a beer with character! A tasting beer full of greed, sweetness and surprise!”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Solid black pour with just a skerrick of light cutting through at the foot of the glass. It struggles to produce much head and then immediately disappears. Zero head. Zero lacing.

Aroma: We weren’t really sure what to expect from this. We’ve been told it’s a Brown Ale from one and a Coffee Porter from another. French beer has always been very hit and miss so this was certainly a risky purchase. First whiff is pretty decent though. Lots of chocolate, cherry, plum, creamy vanilla, toffee, red currant and sponge finger. Kinda smells a bit like a black forest cake. Subtle coffee coming through too. Not too shabby.

Flavour: The depth falls away a little bit here but it’s still fairly well structured. Like the aroma it’s mostly chocolate, cherry, jammy red fruits and subtle coffee tailing in later in the piece. Some delicate spice like cinnamon, clove and pepper here and there. A soft earthiness also develops as it sets up for a bittersweet and mildly roasty finish that lingers nicely.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily, but just a tad too thin. The lack of Co2 doesn’t help either. Medium body. The 8% ABV is pretty well hidden.

Overall: We probably changed our mind five times during this review. In the end it’s actually a half decent drop. Certainly an acquired taste though, and one we most likely won’t return to.

Fieldwork ‘Seagazer’ NZ IPA

Rating:

“It was 2005 when ships were leaving the South Island of New Zealand with Nelson hops destined for the west coast of the States and eventually into some of the greatest beers of all time. Inspired by our favorite eponymously named IPAs and the ridiculous IPAs coming out of Middle Earth, Seagazer packs in all of that stinky Nelson goodness in a package with very little malt flavor at all and a surprising and assertive bitterness that tends to be missing from IPAs with noses as rocket-fueled with tropical flavors.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Relatively clear golden-yellow pour with a big and frothy three finger head forming on top. It retains well and leaves an absolute smattering of lace on the glass.

Aroma: We’re seeing NZ IPA, we’re seeing Nelson Sauvin, we’re seeing Fieldwork on the can…and it’s just frustratingly subdued. The magnificent Nelson qualities still present its aromatic greenery and kinda tart, vinous notes still. Not even a lackluster aroma can keep this hop down! Unripened passionfruit, gooseberry, lychee, tomato vine, freshly cut pineapple and shallot come forth. Very little in the way of malt. Maybe a hint of biscuit and rice crackers?

Flavour: We’ve been leaning more towards the West Coast style since the pour but it’s pretty much confirmed now. Crisp, ultra green Nelson goodness upfront. Herbal, piney, vinous. A decent bitterness kicks off midway but it tapers off as quickly as it comes as the more tart, funky and vinous characters develop late and roll into a semi-dry, semi-bitter and herbaceous finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and well rounded initially but a wee bit bitter and dry in the swallow. Medium body, slightly flatter Co2 than expected. The 6.8% ABV gives some bite but it’s fairly well concealed.

Overall: We’ve had far better NZ IPA’s before. We like that they took the No Coast route as Nelson Sauvin really is the ultimate versatile hop. We really haven’t been all that impressed with this latest shipment from Fieldwork though. They certainly haven’t been the 9’s and 10’s we’re used to.

Fieldwork ‘Waimea Juice’ Hazy IPA

Rating:

Our southern hemisphere juice series slowly keeps growing with its latest addition of Waimea Juice. Quite possibly one of our favorite hops of the decade, we’ve found that it plays amazingly well with heavy hitters like Citra and Mosaic; but we’ve also found it makes a remarkable single-hop all on its own. This hop is fully capable of the juice but with some seriously impressive west coast-centric tendencies, piling on with complex notes of freshly squeezed tangerine juice, kumquats, white grapefruit, pomelo wedges, mango puree, pineapple flesh, and a hefty dose of pine needle oil.” 

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous light pastel orange with a thick and creamy two finger head. Good retention and lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Not what we were expecting. At first the typical NZ hop accents were missing and it was throwing out a lot of thick stone fruit sweetness i.e apricot, rockmelon, papaya. But slowly the ultra green, oily, piney and resinous characters start to bleed through. That’s kinda where it ends though. Nice bready malt bill to it – crusty, doughy, semi sweet. It’s a fine aroma, it just doesn’t strike us as much of an NZ IPA.

Flavour: Once again we both have dumbfounded looks on our faces. The initial flavour is weird. The closest thing we can come to flavour-wise is an orange zooper dooper with a twist of funky, unripened passionfruit. Throw in some candied lemon and pine needle and that about sums it up. Actually, add a fair whack of herbal citrus to that – lemongrass, lemon thyme and rosemary. Nice smooth finish with good length.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, velvety, well aerated. Medium body and finely carbed. The 6.6% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: Don’t know where we sit with this. We weren’t all that familiar with Waimea hops so maybe this was a good crash course into the characteristics of this hop. Not bad.

Steen Brugge Dubbel

Rating:

“Steenbrugge Dubbel Bruin abbey beer is a brown beer with a straightforward, malty-caramel character and a fruity, lightly smoked yeast aroma combined with the subtle Bruges “gruut” blend of herbs and spices, with an emphasis on cinnamon. Topfermentation beer with secondary fermentation in the bottle. The secret of Steenbrugge abbey beer is the unique “gruut” blend of herbs and spices, which gives the beer its delicious flavour. Every town used to have its own beer, each with its own individual character. In Bruges that character was determined by a blend of herbs and spices that brewers were obliged to purchase from the city’s herbs and spices shop, known as the “Gruuthuse”. In Steenbrugge Dubbel Bruin this medieval tradition is continued.”

Glassware: Trappist goblet.

Appearance: Deep burgundy pour with a short tan head settling in on top. Excellent retention and healthy lace work on the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Hitting those traditional Belgian Dubbel traits beautifully. Super malty, yeasty, spicy, a rich sweetness and fruitiness. We’re always in awe at how they manage to balance the intensity of the flavours so well. Deep malt-driven fruitcake, hot cross buns, candi sugar, raisin, cinnamon, clove, fermented plums, toffee, raw sugar, fig and sarsaparilla also coming through. Just to name a few!

Flavour: We must admit that after a few sips there’s no questioning its authenticity…with its deep richness and well balanced sweetness, but it seems to be lacking a little in the ester department. Not a whole lot of clove, banana or even much of the dark fruit components. Just feels like it’s lacking some depth. Still getting the dry roasty notes, nutty, toffee, doughy and sugary sweetness right through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slick, smooth, but a tad too thin for our liking. It just doesn’t grip the way other Belgian brewed Dubbels do. Medium body, low-ish Co2. The 6.5% ABV slots in nicely.

Overall: Didn’t mind it. We felt it lacked a little in a few certain departments. Enjoyable? Yes. Would we return to it? No.