Oskar Blues ‘Jefes Horchata’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Jefe’s Horchata Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout is a 12.8% ABV imperial stout with spicy cinnamon and creamy vanilla flavour.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Ominous pitch black pour with two fingers of finely beaded brown foam perched on top. Good retention and healthy lace sticking to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: One word…stunning. Straight off the bat we’re getting almighty wafts of cinnamon, vanilla, Bourbon/barrels, red peppers and sticky toffee. can’t help but think we’re getting fresh coriander and lime from it too. Setting the formwork is that world class Ten Fiddy base which exudes not only style but truck loads of chocolate/cocoa, licorice and subtle hints of coffee. Jeez we’re inhaling it so much we’re getting headspins!

Flavour: Pretty much a mirror image of the aroma. Intense cinnamon, vanilla, warming booze, mild bourbon/barrels and red peppers get the party started. Again that delicious Ten Fiddy base is right in there in support and carries it all through the mid like a seasoned pro. It all seems like its tapering off until it once again intensifies and finishes with as much depth and vigour as it did at the beginning.

Mouthfeel: Dense and muscly. Full bodied, perfectly carbed. The 12.8% ABV is definitely perceptible but we can forgive.

Overall: We are being spoilt with brilliant Stouts lately; ’21 Ramjet, To Build A Fire, this and we’ve also got Cremejet in the fridge as well. Seriously, we’d bathe in this (not together of course 😅). Absolutely phenomenal stuff.

Phantom Carriage ‘They Thirst’ BA Saison w Apricot & Mosaic Hops

Rating:

“Barrel-Aged Saison Blend with Apricots and Mosaic Hops.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Nice bright golden complexion with next to no head. It quickly forms a thin collar which doesn’t produce any lace as it subsides.

Aroma: Well what it lacks in head is surely made up here! There’s so many aspects but they all come together to create this unique Saison/Gueuze amalgamation. Initially we get a semi sharp lacto sourness but right behind it are the sweet yet savoury apricots, delicate tropical fruits and herbal spice from the Mosaic hops, lemon sherbet, straw, hay and wheat grains. Just a hint of damp oak too. Delightful!

Flavour: It’s almost overwhelming we don’t know where to start. There’s a little switcheroo to begin with…first we taste the apricots, peach, mild tropical fruits and lemon then the lacto sourness spikes. It’s only short-lived though and as it tapers off it’s replaced by damp oak, wheat grains, hay/straw and a bit of funk. It then draws out on a lengthy finish of apricot, tropical fruit and oak.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light, crisp and refreshing with a mineraly texture. Nice vibrant Co2, mild-moderate body. The 6% ABV fits in neatly.

Overall: We wish PC’s sours were more readily available here in Oz. We seriously love the how they blend Wild Ales, Saisons and Gueuze together like this. Brilliant offering.

Deeds ‘To Build A Fire’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now that you are out in the fray, the true test of survival begins. As the cold creeps in, don’t rest your eyes, don’t close them, and absolutely do not fall asleep. You need to find something to warm you up. This Imperial Stout has been aging in Bourbon Barrels for 12 months and might be exactly what you need. Generous additions of cacao and hazelnut have shaped a flavour in this dark, viscous liquid that is both deep and rich, with intense notes of everything delectable including that sweet, sweet bourbon. Drink Fresh or maybe just hold onto it for when you wake up…”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: She’s an ominous-looking beast. Like engine oil with a short dark brown head which quickly collapsed. Nice wavy lace despite the lack of head retention.

Aroma: Oh my Lord is that is good! We once saw someone say that Once More Into The Fray was akin to BCBS…we think this one could very easily stack up against it. That deep seated Bourbon along with the damp oak, toffee and spice marries together with the base Stout in truly perfect matrimony. Also, where is the burn?! Where is any flicker of the almost 15% ABV? That is outrageous!

Flavour: Ok we found the burn. But honestly it’s so well integrated into the rest of the beer that it’s quickly forgotten about. And much like the aroma the Bourbon/barrels, toffee and spice merge with the ultra rich molasses, espresso, dark chocolate and leather to create this absolute flavour sensation. It finishes like it starts – with style. And a slight sting in the tail 🤪

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and warming. There’s a slight fizz on the tongue which we’re liking. Full bodied. As mentioned already the 14.9% ABV can be found…quite easily.

Overall: Very much like BCBS just without the finishing polish and finesse. The mere fact we’re comparing it to a beer of that calibre speaks volumes anyway. Top shelf stuff.

Zierholz Porter

Rating:

“Similar to the Hopmeister this beer represents foray across the channel beer style wise and it recreates a beer similar to the robust Porters of London. Many who have come in declaring a loathing for dark beers have been converted to not fear the dark. Coffee connoisseurs especially seem to delight, and in that vein, this beer makes for a great accompaniment to desserts. Christoph’s brother Hannes uses it to make a sauce that goes great with cheese or chocolate cakes.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: It pours an attractive mahogany hue with a finger of loosely packed tan foam on top. It gradually comes apart and settled at the rim. Scarce lacing as it ebbs.

Aroma: Our first thoughts are lots of dark fruits and buttery biscuits but the more time its given to settle the more the mild coffee, chocolate/cocoa, toffee and nutty malts push to the front. Just a super mild roast and shy vanilla accents right down deep. We can say with certainty that it’s a peeled back traditional London-style Porter and we’re diggin it.

Flavour: Wow ok it’s got a lot more grunt here. Right off the bat a hearty roast, coffee and bitter chocolate is tasted. There’s a flutter of dark fruit and toffee sweetness laced through which then becomes more discernible around the mid palate. And as we say that the roasted malts kick back in again and roll into the somewhat dry, nutty and toasty finish which draws our rather well.

Mouthfeel: Pretty slick with a slight chewy-ness to it. Lively carbonation, medium body. The 5.6% ABV is very well concealed.

Overall: A really approachable and surprisingly sessional London Porter… especially considering its ABV. We reckon Zierholz is an immensely underrated brewery and this beer is a perfect example as to why.

Wildflower ‘St.Henry’ Australian Wild Ale w Apricot

Rating:

“St Henry is an Australian Wild Ale refermented with apricots. While the beer is named for Chris and his wife Emily’s second son, Saint Henry II was a Holy Roman Emperor during the 11th century. In 2020, this beer was made from golden mixed fermentation, barrel aged beer and 380kg of fresh, (partially) tree ripened, whole Trevatt apricots hand picked from Thornbrook Orchard in Orange, NSW.

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Slightly cloudy straw golden pour with little head formation. It immediately retreats to the rim with very minimal lace work as we go.

Aroma: Very light and fruity. We certainly detect the fresh apricots. What’s more is that it gives off hints of other stonefruits like peach, nectarine and mango. Distinct notes of wheat grains, hay and straw and then more delicate white wine qualities; lemon, sour apple, pear and green grapes. A really soft floral bouquet to it as well. Super light and summery but still well structured.

Flavour: It’s actually a fair bit sweeter than we expected. A short cameo of moderate sourness kicks it off but the apricot and mixed stonefruits that come along puts a juicy, nectar-filled twist on it. There’s a touch of passionfruit along with wheat, hay and cereal grains. Kumquat and orange citrus developing late then laying down for a fruity finish with soft creamy and funky yoghurt-esque accents on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and light with a refreshing effervescence. Kinda mineraly texture, mild-moderate body. The 5.4% ABV is nicely slotted in.

Overall: We thought we’d made our way through this whole series so this apricot expression almost got away from us! Glad it didn’t too as it’s a lovely drop. Would go perfectly on a hot summer day…instead of this wet and gloomy old Spring arvo!

Oskar Blues ‘Death By Coconut’ Rum BA Imperial Irish Porter

Rating:

“Rum Barrel-Aged Death By Coconut is aged in barrels for nine months until it has the right amount of rum-soaked oak, molasses, vanilla, coconut, and chocolate goodness derived from the wood.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Muddy dark brown pour with a thumb of fizzy tan head which slowly reduced. It forms a collar with little lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: There’s little wonder why it’s called “death by coconut” it really lifts out of the glass with vigour. We’re getting coconut in almost every aspect as well; fresh and natural water, syrups, oil, shaved and toasted. Even the Le Tan sunscreen. Very very alluring. As is the Carribbean-style Rum barrels that enhances the coconut further and adds a splash of dark sugary sweetness, vanilla, dark fruits and spice. Yummo!

Flavour: As we had anticipated the coconut is reigned in a little and the hearty Porter notes join in. It’s amazing just how intense the coconut still is though. The Rum barrels are again providing the sugary sweetness, all spice and dark fruits while the base Porter brings up the bottom end with robust cocoa, milk chocolate, mocha, caramel/toffee and cola.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth and slick. Some warmth but that’s gotta be expected at 11.5% ABV. Moderately carbed, medium-full body.

Overall: A bloody ripper of a beer from an equally brilliant brewery. A lot of other breweries could have easily ruined the beer with this amount of coconut but these masters have found a way to completely overdo it but still keep it balanced and delicious AF! Incredible.

Boatrocker ‘Ramjet 2021’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Our 2021 vintage of Ramjet is a mix of barrels from the always incredible Starward whisky. Some American oak, some French, however all ex-red wine before being filled with whisky. These barrels were freshly emptied before arriving at Boatrocker.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short brown head which peels off rather quickly. It forms a collar with scarce lacing as we go.

Aroma: We can honestly say that we’re salivating from this aroma. Big whiskey components, decadent chocolate and espresso, oats, vanilla and just an all-round chunky malty-ness. As she warms the barrels which housed red wine (before the whiskey) begin to show through with delicate Port-like sweetness, red berries and earthy tannins. It only keeps getting thicker and richer as it sits too. Ooopht!

Flavour: The progression is next level. It’s actually hard to say whether the whiskey or the wine is more dominant upfront but either way it tastes amazing. What follows is a copious amount of heavily roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate and molasses which then takes on a bit of the whiskey again. It then shifts into a roasty/toasty, nutty and warming finish which goes for days.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, oily and pronounced. Carbonation is low and the body is medium-full. 11.4% ABV is rather discernible…as one could expect.

Overall: Another respectable addition to this series. Although no one will ever change our minds that the ’15 and ’16 vintages were the best and will probably never be beaten. Alas, take nothing away from this fiery beast…it was magnificent.

Brouwerij De Ranke ‘Mirakel’ Lambic

Rating:

“As big fans of geuze-style beers, we wanted to give our own spontaneous fermentation beer a go. To our own surprise, with success. Aside from our own Spierelambiek – our spontaneously fermented beer named after a tiny river that runs near the brewery – we use two traditional lambieks from the valley of the Senne (close to Brussels) to make a blend. One, two and three year old lambieks are used in Mirakel, our own miracle.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Slightly hazy deep golden yellow complexion. Pours with almost no head and ultra flat carbonation. Pretty standard for the style though.

Aroma: It’s got all the hallmarks of a classic Gueuze; oodles of dry musty oak, acetic lemon and lime, raw apricot, wheat grains, white wine/ vinegar and sour green apple. It’s a blend of one, two and three year old Lambic so it has that brilliant depth and complexity in spades. As it settles a delicate sweetness opens up and brings hints of honey and unripened rockmelon. Superb aroma. Up there with the best.

Flavour: Really flat, we’re used to a bit more Co2 than this. Musty oak, tart lemon and gooseberry greet the taste buds initially. Fairly funky, catty and dry/peppery, lots of white wine qualities; sour apple, unripened pear, green grapes, subtle tannins and grapefruit also getting amongst it. Definitely picking up a raw almond flavour late in the piece as it finishes rather dull and inconspicuously.

Mouthfeel: As we’ve mentioned already it’s a bit too flat for our liking. Still, it has a nice light, crisp and mineraly texture. Mild-medium body. 5.5% ABV is spot on.

Overall: It probably didn’t finish off the way we’d hoped. Couldn’t fault the aroma but the flavour profile (although good) and the texture/Co2 wasn’t enough to propel it up amongst the likes of Cantillon, 3F etc. Not a bad crack though.

Slow Lane ‘Liquid Bread’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“Doppelbocks are a strong, rich and malty lager originally brewed by Bavarian monks in the 17th century. Designed to sustain the monks while they abstain from solid foods during the 40 day Lent period, doppelbocks earned the nickname ‘Liquid Bread’. Disclaimer: We do not condone 40 day beer-only diets.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Chestnut/cola pour with a thumb of tan foam perched on top. Decent retention and a fine wavy lace in its wake.

Aroma: One whiff and the name Liquid Bread makes a whole lot more sense. Not only because Doppelbocks were brewed as a replacement meal during Lent in the 17th century but because it literally does smell like liquid bread! Pumpernickel, sourdough, wholemeal and rye to be exact. Also plenty of dark fruits, carob/cooking chocolate, licorice, jam on toast, subtle fruity esters, spice and rich caramel. Get in my belly!

Flavour: It still holds a lot of the bready character from the nose but this savoury and almost umami-like note comes through. Picking up nutty carob, chocolate chip, meaty licorice, toast and pumpernickel. As it progresses it slowly picks up slightly sweeter hints of dark fruit, jam, fruity esters and toffee then punctuates on a rich, lightly roasted and bready note which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Pretty slick and inoffensive which is impressive considering its weight (8.5% ABV). Slightly lifted Co2, medium body. Very well balanced.

Overall: These guys are notching further and further up each time we try one of their beers. If you’re a fan of old world/German beers then wrap you laughing gear around this seriously classy Doppelbock.

Bridge Road ‘NEeD #6’ Dip Hopped TDH DIPA

Rating:

“This imperial IPA pours a luminous copper colour in the glass, giving it some classic West Coast leanings. We get massive aromas of fresh orange juice, the body is BIG and there’s some nice, burnt orange bitterness before a long, warming finish. It definitely presents a more levelled flavour profile than you’d expect in a beer hopped this much. In fact, it’s dangerously quaffable at 8.5%.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Gorgeous colour – pours a bold amber with a sturdy two finger head that retains well. Healthy lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: A really robust malt backbone to it – which is no surprise once you lay eyes on this beauty – but the overarching hops are front and centre. The hop bill reads like a who’s who; Centennial, Cascade, Citra, Mosaic & Vic Secret and they all combine to bring tonnes of pine/resin, oily grapefruit, rind, tropical fruits like passionfruit, mango and pineapple, mixed stonefruits, light florals and slightly dank herbs.

Flavour: So on point. Really similar to the nose where the sweet malts provide the framework for the amazing hop bill to do its thing. We’re getting sharp pine needle, dank resins, herbals, grapefruit/rind and unripened tropical fruits. Gets really weedy and a little pithy midway then finishes with strong bitter citrus, rind and dank herbs.

Mouthfeel: Sharp, prickly and a little dry. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV is noticeable but fairly well behaved. Would love to the know the IBU.

Overall: Don’t think it’s a secret that Bridge Road are a lot better at brewing West Coast IPA’s than Hazy’s. This one reminds us a bit of Need #2 (which is also our favourite of this series thus far). Proper old school style WC IPA here folks. Boom.

10 Toes X Criminal Coffee Co. ‘Caffeine Collusion’ Imperial Coffee Stout

Rating:

“Our collab with the legends at Criminal Coffee Company. A rich and robust stout loaded with the freshest cold brew coffee and toasted cacao nibs. Dangerously smooth!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Mat black with a short tan head forming on top. Steady reduction and eventually settling to a collar. A beautiful cascading lace is strewn down the glass.

Aroma: Slightly pedestrian for an 8% Coffee Stout to be honest. The coffee comes from more of a raw bean angle with South American roots. It certainly has nutty overtones with mild acidity and distinct caramel and cocoa qualities but for us the aroma as a whole is lacking depth and oomph. There isn’t much backing up other than kinda watered down chocolate, dark fruits, lightly roasted malts and cedar.

Flavour: Same issue as the aroma – a little weak and lackluster. We’d expect this amount of depth from a Dark Ale but considering it’s an 8% Stout it’s a little disappointing. The coffee is weak, the intensity, the base flavours, body and even the booze is also weak. Although we’re not going to complain so much about the latter. Even the finish just peters out to nothing. Good Lord!

Mouthfeel: Nope. Watery, thin, no grip and hardly any weight on it. Mild-moderate body and Co2. The one saving grace is that the 8% ABV is well buried.

Overall: Even if they called this a Coffee Brown Ale we’d still be critical of it. It’s almost an Imperial Stout for God’s sake…where’s the body at? It’s just so lame and tiresome. It’s hard to believe it’s the same mob that brews their brilliant Vanilla Porter.

Maisel & Friends ‘Marc’s Chocolate Bock’ Doppelbock

Rating:

“Marc Goebel’s interpretation of an Irish Stout, but bottom fermented as a Bock. Ingredients: water, malt, hops, yeast.”

Glassware: Stein.

Appearance: Gorgeous chestnut/mahogany pour with a sturdy two finger cap. Excellent retention and healthy lace trailing it down.

Aroma: The brewers describe it as their take on an Irish Stout but they still call it a Bock and from the first few whiffs it definitely smells more like a Bock. It has that classic cooking chocolate/carob in spades alongside pumpernickel/sourdough, macadamia nuts, raisin, prunes/dates, toffee, mixed spice, cookie dough and delicate coffee notes.

Flavour: The dryness we find from Irish Stouts is noticed instantly… especially considering how rich and saturated Bocks/Doppelbocks typically are. This straddles the line between Co2 and nitro and at the same time comes on pretty hard with milk chocolate, dark fruits, mixed dark berries, lots of bread i.e pumpernickel, toast and sourdough. Nice and roasty finish which is well balanced by a caramelised malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and creamy but ultimately smooth. Finely carbed, medium body. The 7.5% ABV blends in beautifully.

Overall: The Reinheitsgebot puts strict rules on German breweries so it’s cool to see a somewhat “German craft” beer. The chocolate certainly adds extra depth but we must say we’re still perplexed as to how they call this an Irish Stout. Either way it’s an impressive beer.

Jervis Bay ‘Bright Idea’ XPA

“In the 60s, Murray’s Beach came within a whisker of getting Australia’s first nuclear reactor. Seriously. Thanks to dedicated locals, this bright idea never saw the light of day. So you’re free to enjoy this citrusy, refreshing XPA in the Jervis Bay sun – free from any fallout.”

Glassware: Shaker.

Appearance: Honey golden complexion with a light haze. It produces a short yet finely beaded bone-coloured head which slowly peels off. Wavy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Quite a malt-forward XPA this one. We’ve tried it at the brewery once before and don’t recall it being so. We decided to check the best before date and we’ve been stung once again. It’s canning date was 10/2/21 so it’s almost 9 months old which makes it very long in the tooth. Safe to say we’re now pretty pissed off with this bottle shop.

Flavour: If there’s one upside then it’s the fact that it’s still a fairly well balanced beer which drinks quite nicely. It’s a credit to the brewers to have a 9 month old Pale Ale offering this amount of vibrancy still. The malt profile is nice and sweet, honey-esque and grainy while what hop characters are left provide subtle fruits, pine and florals. Kinda dry yet well tempered finish.

Mouthfeel: Holds up well, good body, some chewiness to it. Perfectly carbed. Liking the slightly lifted ABV on it too (5%).

Overall: Obviously we’ll leave a rating off it as that would be unfair. It’s a shame coz we know they’re a great little brewery and we even know first hand how good this beer is when drunk fresh on tap. Looks like we’ll have to revisit with a fresher can. From a different bloody bottle shop!

Wander Beyond ‘Scoop’ Imperial Black Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream IPA

Rating:

“Scoop is an Imperial Black Icecream IPA. Based on the theme of mint choc chip ice creams, we added cacao nibs and vanilla to a dark Milkshake IPA base before dry hopping with Fuggles, Polaris and Citra hops and steeping peppermint tea from our friends at Atkinsons of Lancaster.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Pitch black with a light gradient on the edges. It notches up a thumb of creamy and finely beaded foam which holds together pretty well. Wavy cascading lace clings as we go.

Aroma: OK… literally smells like a boozy after dinner mint. In liquid black IPA form! This could actually pass as a scented candle it is that God damn good. Mint and chocolate obviously dominate to the tune of about 90% of the aroma but the mint kinda switches between spearmint and peppermint and the chocolate is dark, bold and slightly roasty. Maybe a hint of vanilla, pine and citrus rind as well but that’s it.

Flavour: Doesn’t have the finesse that the aroma did but we’ll concede that it would be very hard to back up an aroma like that! The mint turns more creme-like and the chocolate more like raw cacao. A hint of menthol creeps in but it does get lost in this hypnotic rapture of mint choc chip. Some really delicate pine needle and herbals down deep but it’s all rich chocolate and creamy mint to finish. With excellent length too.

Mouthfeel: Nicely weighted, creamy and smooth but with a bit of grip. Medium body, mild carbonation. 11% ABV! Unbelievably well hidden.

Overall: It may only be a one trick pony but the trick it does is pretty damn impressive. From the moment we took in the aroma we were hooked. Solid drop.

Sierra Nevada Pale Bock

Rating:

“At long last, the flowers bloom, sunsets linger, and bock pours sweet like springtime itself. This golden lager, an elusive fan favorite, is back to mark the season with rich, complex malt and easy drinkability.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Honey golden complexion with a billowing three finger head. It gradually recedes but not a lot of it clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Literally smells like a brewery that has just mashed in and we’re pretty sure everyone here knows how freakin amazing that smell is. Extremely bready/doughy as well. Lots of honey coming off, spicy and kinda old-school Lager hops, earthy tobacco, old cedar, cereal grains and floral pot pourri. We’re getting a caramel sweetness from it but it’s much drier and fudge-like. Nice depth and complexity.

Flavour: First thing we notice is that somewhat cloying syrupy sweetness that is overly strong retronasally. Although initially it comes on with a lovely blend of sweet honey malts, cereal grains and old world hops (herbals, spice and florals). It holds this line until it develops a semi-rich bready sweetness which really rams home all of the doughy adjuncts like bread crusts, buckwheat and raw grains in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty chewy. A little creamy but it still holds a typically crisp Lager texture. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 6.8% ABV is slotted in nicely.

Overall: We went through patches of like and dislike throughout the whole beer so it’s a little difficult to summarise. Essentially it’s a well structured Bock but the slightly cloying and syrupy features get a bit much by the end. Not bad though.

Rare Barrel ‘Stone Age Love’ BA Sour Blond with Cherries

Rating:

“Cherries paired with golden sour beers stand the test of time, which is one reason why we wanted to blend Stone Age Love, our golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with tart cherries. With 84 pounds of tart cherries per oak barrel, Stone Age Love radiates with flavours found in summer stone fruits. This sour showcases notes of fresh-picked cherries, juicy peaches, and tart plums with hints of melon.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Looks like freshly squeezed watermelon juice! It forms a short foamy head which settles to a collar. A real fine lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Woooowwww! It’s been so long since we’ve had a Rare Barrel sour we forgot how God damn good they are. Sweet yet somewhat tart cherries hit the olfactories first followed by a gorgeous musty oak, a sweaty and super funky sourness, unripened peach, apricot, mixed citrus and that certain sherbet-esque/rock candy sweetness. Just a pinch of fennel, raw almond and melon for extra measure!

Flavour: Absolutely delicious. Getting more of a candied cherry note as opposed to the sweet and tart characters on the nose. The almond comes through with a distinct earthy-ness but it’s well countered by a mix of tart citrus, stonefruits and subtle pepper. While all of this is embraced by the gorgeous oak it hits a soft sherbet note late in the piece which then finishes rather sweet and nutty. Good endurance on the back end too.

Mouthfeel: Refreshing, light and crisp with a vibrant Co2. Mild-medium body. The 7.2% ABV was incredibly well concealed.

Overall: Honestly how good is Rare Barrel?! If only their beers were a bit more friendly to our wallets 😆 nah, this was a cracking sour. It went down like water on this hot Sydney arvo. Brilliant!

Devils Hollow ‘Black Horn’ Dark Ale

“We believe that Dark Ale is another unrated beer type in Oz. We tend to be a little wary of dark beer, but dark beers can be just as drinkable and thirst quenching as the amber ales you are used to. So why the Black Horn? Dubbo is home to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo and a world renowned black rhino breeding program, and one that we support.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Light mahogany with two fingers of creamy tan foam that settles to a collar. Good retention and healthy lace sticks to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Not getting a whole lot off it initially. All the classic roasty and rich sweet malts are replaced by a skunky and sulfuric scent which is quite off-putting. We can’t quite out our finger on it but it lands somewhere between boiled egg and sulphites. This is usually a by-product of Lager yeast so we’re totally baffled at this stage. There are slight wafts of roasted malt down deep but unfortunately it’s drowned out by the sulfur.

Flavour: Thankfully the sulphur qualities have disappeared but it’s replaced by…. absolutely nothing. We thought at this stage it was time to check the best before date and voila, we have the answer. The beer literally has 2 weeks until it’s out of date so we’ve been sold a beer that is almost a year old.

Overall: We thought we’d end the review here as it would be unfair to the brewery to keep going. We’re pretty pissed off with the bottle shop actually and they’ll certainly be copping an email from us. We’ll leave this unrated for now and edit when we can get one fresh.

Valhalla ‘Ziggy’ Red IPA

Rating:

Ziggy is a Red IPA with light red malts with apricot, caramel, and oak. Generous hops and raspberries provide tangy raspberry character. Created in tribute to the greatest rock star of all; Ziggy Stardust.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Bold amber pour with a very faint kiss of candy red. A two finger cap emerges and then gradually peels off. Thick blotchy lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: The marriage of fruity hops and sweet caramelised malts has us simply taking in the pleasures and forgetting we’re here to actually review it. We’ve also only just realised they’ve added raspberries to the brew so that would explain the strong hints of raspberry jellies. Getting wafts as rich as cocoa and toffee and as light as passionfruit and fresh herbals and in between is a mix of caramel, rose petals, blood orange, earthy and peppery rye, pink lemonade, paw paw and candy. Ooft!

Flavour: Wow the raspberries really rush the front palate. They bring a mix of fresh and artificial sweetness while the spicy rye and herbal hops combine to create this unique earthy aspect. It’s around now that the hallmark red IPA qualities kick into gear – caramel/toffee, mixed fruits, pithy rind and herbals which carry all the way into the well drawn out finish.

Mouthfeel: Slick, a tad chewy and dry in the swallow. Co2 is kept pretty low, body sits around the medium mark. The 6% ABV slots in nicely.

Overall: Interesting interpretation. The addition of raspberries and rye certainly hands it a unique edge. The base Red IPA was ok.. very pithy and bitter on the palate but essentially well enough balanced to handle it. Not bad.

Burnley Brewing Kolsch

Rating:

“Kölsch is a German beer style that originated in Cologne (Köln). It is fermented at warm temperatures with top-fermenting yeast, then conditioned at cold temperatures. It is the same brewing process used by Düsseldorf’s altbier.”

Glassware: Tumbler.

Appearance: Lively and bright golden complexion with full transparency. It forms a loosely packed head which swells to about 1cm before it quickly dispersed. Scarce lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: All the Cold IPA lovers out there should get on to the humble old Kölsch. This bad boy is the OG when it comes to cold fermented ales. Smells nice and clean, crisp and refreshing yet still possesses that slightly chewy quality we get from the ale yeast. Also picking up delicate hints of earthy hay/straw, grass, pear/apple, florals and pot pourri, really subtle citrus, bready malts and crackers. Getting a mild vegetal note out of it too.

Flavour: The earthy-ness is really dominant on the palate. Tonnes of hay, straw and dried grass which fan out on to more farmyard grains, wheat and orchard fruits. It’s quite floral…rose petals and or rosewater come to mind. A little malty sweet which counters the earthy characters well. It really thins out as it rolls into a relatively crisp and easy finish with lingering malt sweetness and light grains.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, somewhat clean and thirst quenching. Body is on the leaner side, nice vibrant Co2. 4.4% ABV is on par for the style.

Overall: This cracking Kölsch rounds out this fabulous little series for us. In summary we’ve really liked all of them. We’ve definitely found ourselves another go-to brewery for classic Euro styles. Kudos Burnley 👏

Boatrocker ‘Big Shot’ Imperial Coffee Brown Ale

Rating:

“We’ve taken our classic brown ale, increased the recipe to make it Imperial, and then added enough Columbian Heavy Roast coffee to really make it count! Big coffee, balanced by a delicate toasty malt base. Delicious!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Very attractive chestnut pour. Hardly any gradient either it’s wall to wall. Only a short tan head which holds surprisingly well. A brilliant cascading lace is strewn down the glass.

Aroma: As anticipated the coffee is nice and direct, super nutty and toasty but with a distinct fruitiness to it. It’s also quite spicy with a very faint hint of cocoa. The base Brown Ale is pretty good too… accentuating the nutty qualities and filling it out with chocolate, toffee, coconut/vanilla, marzipan and soft metals.

Flavour: The coffee dominates here too…as anticipated. But again it’s well tempered as it provides nutty, toasty, chocolate and more delicate fruits and allows the classic Brown Ale flavours of chocolate, vanilla, toffee/caramel and tobacco to mould in. Can’t help thinking a tiramisu-like accent knocks about until it finishes with a roasty/toasty, nutty and chocolatey finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and creamy. Well balanced. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV though…wow…very well behaved.

Overall: It always irritates us when we buy these amped up versions without first trying the base beer – in this case their standard ‘Coffee Brown’. That aside we really enjoyed this version. It’s big on coffee but well tempered and nicely executed. Solid offering.