Moon Dog ‘Black Lung X’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Black Lung is back for the 10th time and to celebrate this milestone we sourced some of the smokiest barrels we could find all the way from the home of smoky whisky, Islay, Scotland! To do these amazing barrels justice we brewed the biggest, booziest, Black Lungiest, Black Lung ever to be put into barrels, clocking in at 12%. We then aged the beer for longer than any previous Black Lung and the result speaks for itself!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a thumb of brown foam atop. The head slowly peels off and settled at the rim. It posts neat sets of rings as we indulge.

Aroma: For one of us hop heads it has both favourite whiskies in one glass – Lagavulin and Laphroaig. It’s literally like an Islay-infused peat bomb with a rich and hearty stout base consisting of molasses, Vegemite, salted dark chocolate, peated whiskey barrels, licorice, ash, burnt wood and charred malts. This is beasty AF. We can’t help but feel a little splash of vanilla sweetness or coconut would go a long way in balancing it all out.

Flavour: Well it doesn’t have any vanilla or coconut but they have found a crucial balance on the palate. It’s still peaty as hell but the heady notes of sweet-ish molasses, licorice, dark chocolate and rich toffee really pull it all in to line. Maybe a hint of sugary espresso as well. The finish reverts right back to those beautifully peated whiskey notes which last a life time on the back.

Mouthfeel: Oily and dense. There’s quite a noticeable Co2 for the style, it’s not overdone though, which is good. The 12% ABV is well enough concealed as well.

Overall: This series is one we haven’t really chose to seek out but we must admit it’s growing on us. Throw a bit of vanilla and or coconut in there and we’re sold! Decent drop but.

Dollar Bill ‘Candy Paint’ BA Cherry Sour

Rating:

“Two year barrel-aged pseudo lambic rested on sour cherries. Hints of brettanomyces and deep lactic acidity intertwined with malic acid and fresh cherry flavours.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Pours an amazing bright maroon with minimal head. It settles at the rim and weaves a wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Instantly the olfactories are treated to a surge of sour cherry, lemon/lime and musty oak. Definitely getting the sharp lacto sourness with its funky and almost yoghurt-esque characters. Hints of vinous red fruits, lactic acid, strawberry hearts, tart green apple and hay also coming through. Quite a complex nose come to think of it. Sensational stuff.

Flavour: Nowhere near as sour as we were expecting. It displays this slightly creamy cherry yoghurt-like aspect upfront which is blended with a sugary/candy sweetness. There’s a nice barnyard funk happening, some fleeting hints of straw/hay, lees, warming booze and a nice tart yet earthy cherry finish which draws out nicely on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat creamy and aerated with a soft yet vibrant carb. Mild-moderate body. The 8.4% ABV is evident at times but it’s generally well behaved.

Overall: The second we laid eyes on this we knew we had to have it and although it’s no Learning To Breathe it’s still a corker of a beer. Could have done with a bit more sourness but the profile is still bloody good. Solid.

The Bruery ‘Churriosity’ Spiced Imperial Stout

“A chocolatey twist to our collaboration with Horus Aged Ales— this imperial stout was inspired by a chocolate-dipped, cinnamon laden Spanish treat. This pastry-inspired imperial stout was brewed with dulce de leche, milk sugar, cacao nibs, and cinnamon. Have we piqued your Churriosity?”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Light black with a thin fizzy head which instantly fizzes out. All that’s left is a foaming island in the centre.

Aroma: Wow, what a way to take the wind out of the sails. We had massive expectations for this…and for good reason as The Bruery very rarely disappoint when it comes to pastry stouts. It’s not just the lack of Churros character, the cinnamon donut side is lacking, the sweet caramel notes of the Dulce De Leche are subtle AF but the biggest let down is the lack of oomph from the base stout…very shy and withdrawn. Booo!

Flavour: There’s a slight improvement here but it’s still so pedestrian for The Bruery. The one major upside is that the 10.7% ABV is incredibly well hidden but other than that it just comes across as a hearty Milk Stout with hints of creamy caramel and spice. Far from the intense flavours we’ve come to expect from these guys.

Mouthfeel: Nice and dense, velvety, full bodied. Mild-moderate Co2. Can’t fault the texture one bit.

Overall: Very uncharacteristic for The Bruery to have such a great idea and miss the mark in delivery. But they really have in our opinion. Not a bad drop by any means but far from what we were anticipating.

Hargreaves Hill ‘Pursuit Of Hoppiness #8’ Imperial Red IPA

“POH Number 8 is an 8% Imperial Red Ale with a malt bill of Cara-Amber, Melanoidin, Crystal and Chocolate malts which lays a biscuity foundation for the dry hopping with old and new varieties including; – Centennial, Amarillo, Mosaic & Azacca.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Deep bold reddish amber with copper hues. It forms a tightly held thumb of head which retains well. Healthy lace clings as we imbibe.

Aroma: She’s throwing out some serious complexity. It’s definitely centred around this mixture of red and caramel malts which provide notes of toffee, honeysuckle, caramel, sourdough, biscuits and subtle cocoa. Then there’s the brilliant hop bill that counter punches with zesty orange citrus, tropical fruits i.e mango and melon, lemongrass and a super faint floral bouquet. Excellent.

Flavour: Really malt-driven for the most part. Just a hint of citrusy hops cutting through but it’s all about those rich and chewy caramels, toffee, honeysuckle and biscuits initially. Then midway it turns on a dime and tropical fruits, pine and slightly herbaceous characters develop. It all kind of reconvenes in the malty sweet and fruity finish which endures nicely.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, gelatinous and chewy. There’s a bit of warmth from the 8% ABV but it’s rather well behaved. Flat-ish Co2. Medium body.

Overall: Digging the unexpected turn they’ve taken in this series. Up until now they hadn’t gone any darker than a NEIPA so it’s exciting to see them mixing it up. Look, it’s no MC double red IPA but it carries itself well. Solid drop.

Fuller’s India Pale Ale

“This historic style of ale was originally created to refresh the troops at the height of the British Empire in India. This brew has faithfully recreated these traditional characteristics, creating a superbly refreshing beer. India Pale Ale is brewed to 5.3% and is a bottle conditioned beer. Bottle conditioning is a process whereby a small amount of yeast is allowed to ferment gently in the bottle, giving this beer the fresh, natural flavour of real ale.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden orange with a short off white head. Decent retention with patches of spotted lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: It’s got a stronger malt profile than first predicted. Super bready, toasty and sweet with caramel and toffee. That Fuller’s house yeast provides a heady amount of estery apple/pear and aniseed while the hops do their thing by adding the classic earthy, floral and grassy characters. Getting a hint of zesty citrus tang as well. Diggin it!

Flavour: Fairly similar to the nose…picking up the toasty malts, bread crusts and subtle honey and caramel sweetness on the flank. The house yeast getting right in amongst it as well – kinda spicy/herbal with a touch of orchard fruits. Earthy, floral and fruity hops are a little timid but they’re there to be found. Slightly dry and grassy finish with hints of toast and cereal grains.

Mouthfeel: Pretty crisp and snappy. Mild-moderate body, dry-ish texture. The 5.3% ABV is pretty low for today’s standards but it works as this is as traditional English IPA as you’ll get.

Overall: Look, it’s a cracking drop and English to a tee but we much rather the London Pride or the ESB. We can respect it but, it does do all the right things.

Tiny Rebel ‘Stay Puft’ Mint Choc Marshmallow Porter

Rating:

“Imperial Stay Puft and a load of after-dinner chocolates.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight. It produces a small brown head which quickly fades. It still manages a decent set of rings as it ebbs.Aroma: Holy moly…the mint chocolate side of things is lifting off. It literally smells like a glass of liquefied after dinner mints. Dark chocolate and mint, dark chocolate and mint, dark chocolate and mint, dark chocolate and mint and….oh dark chocolate and mint! Seriously though, it may only be a two trick pony but those two tricks are freaking amazing!

Flavour: Getting a bit more depth here which is excellent. Obviously the mint and dark chocolate rush to the front but it’s those subtle hints of vanilla, marshmallow, peppermint and biscuits that hand it the much needed body it possesses. It doesn’t really vary a whole lot…the only other useful correlation we can make is that it tastes like a liquid mint slice….with a bit of booze!

Mouthfeel: Creamy, aerated, medium body. Mild-moderate Co2. Tell ya what the 9% ABV is incredibly well concealed.

Overall: It’s been a long time between drinks for us and Tiny Rebel. This crafty variation of “Stay Puft” has us very interested too. Honestly the resemblance between this and a mint slice is freakish. Love it!

Fuller’s 2017 Vintage Ale

Rating:

“As the new Head Brewer, this 2017 edition of Vintage Ale champions a new American hop variety Denali, used to give the beer a citrusy, pine-like flavour and a new British malt variety Laureate. Combined with trusty British hops Target and Goldings, our 21st Vintage Ale is a well-rounded and balanced beer with Fuller’s yeast adding the orange, marmalade characters to it.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Slightly muddy copper pour with a short fizzy head which quickly disappears. Next to no lace as we go.

Aroma: The classic sweet malts come to the forefront bringing toffee, caramel fudge and rich butterscotch. Not as much toast and nutty malts as your typical English ale though, they’re replaced by residual sugars, port, raisin, dates/prunes and jaffa. Even after all these years it still holds on to some hop character too – a touch of sweet orange and candied lemon, herbs and spice. Impressive.

Flavour: It’s like this thick, earthy and malty presence that masquerades as a Barleywine but is light enough to pass as an ESB. All the while offering your classic English particulars like toffee apple, caramel, marmalade, orange citrus, biscuits, fruit cake and ginger-like spice. It’s amazing…it keeps this intensity of flavour all the way through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense and meaty. Quite surprised by the Co2…it’s fairly active for the style. 8.5% ABV is so well concealed.

Overall: Well well, what a beer. We only just tried the 2019 vintage a week ago and now we’re on a mission to try them all. This 2017 vintage is immaculate. Who’d have thought we’d be giving brewery of the month to Fuller’s! Completely deserved though.

Garage Project X Trillium ‘Galaxy Valley’ Double Hazy IPA

“We’re off to Australia’s Derwent River and Buffalo River Valleys for our third hop harvest collaboration with East Coast brewing legends Trillium. A hop free boil and massive dry hop addition of Galaxy and Vic Secret create a giant juicy hazy homage to the exciting new wave of Australian aroma hops.”

Appearance: Proper turbid pastel yellow to orange with a fluffy two finger head resting atop. Good retention and healthy lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Smells the goods already! Still to this day we can’t nail down this vital difference between the likes of MC and GP/Trillium and the rest. The insane level of juicy-ness is here i.e frosty fruits, pure nectar, juice concentrate etc but it’s this certain peppery spice and somewhat dry and creamy oat quality that separates them. Can not fault it!

Flavour: Like the aroma… faultless. Uber juicy and creamy but astonishingly smooth and aerated. It’s an absolute juice bomb but the creamy oats and overall fluffy-ness makes it feel like we’re drinking juice flavoured clouds. Also this line of chalky dryness runs through it from the start to the warm and sweet nectar-filled finish.

Mouthfeel: As we’ve already mentioned numerous times the fluffy and aerated texture is next level. There’s still a bit of weight to it with a nice coating on the palate too. The 8% ABV though…where is it?!

Overall: We feel this release would have to be the best of the 3. The intensity of flavour, complexity and texture is simply world class. The fact they’ve brewed it with an Aussie hop is just icing on the

50/50 Brewing ‘BAK’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 12th vintage, 2019 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. Baker’s (code BAK) is aged in select bourbon barrels.”

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of brown foam resting atop. Fairly decent retention considering the lack of head. Healthy lace sticks as we go.

Aroma: Straight away we get Vegemite, molasses and a mix between Worcestershire and soy sauce. They quickly fade and the gorgeous bourbon oak comes to the party with its usual bag of tricks; vanilla, spice, toffee, coconut and caramel. Underneath is that marvellous impy stout base of dark chocolate, charred malts, coffee and campfire/burned wood. Holy moly, that is world class stuff.

Flavour: She comes on with all the aggression and indulgence one would expect from the style. Kinda warming upfront but it’s backed by the sharp bourbon and delicious woody oak, vanilla, spice and treacle. We love the way it progresses through…the dark chocolate, charred malts and coffee are passed the baton and take off running into the heavily roasted, bourbon-infused finish which lingers for a life time.

Mouthfeel: Thick beer soup…but with an added oily-ness and warmth from the 11.5% ABV. Low-ish Co2.

Overall: It’s enough to put hairs on your chest that’s for sure. She’s big and fiery but at the same time it’s totally moreish. It’s actually hard to decide which of the 2 is better – BKR or BAK?! They’re both magnificent beers. Decided.

Fuller’s London Pride

Rating:

“London Pride is a smooth and astonishingly complex beer, which has a distinctive malty base complemented by a rich balance of well developed hop flavours from the Target, Challenger and Northdown varieties in the brew.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber hue with full transparency. It forms a thumb of off white head which gradually peels off. It drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: The first thing that strikes us is the impeccable balance. She’s obviously malt-driven…dominated by the sweet caramel and toffee, bready and nutty malts but the citrusy, earthy and kinda spicy hops cut through it like butter. Certainly picking up the fruity/estery yeast as it’s offering up hints of banana, apple/pear and rosewater. There’s even a flutter of umami! Incredible.

Flavour: It follows on from the nose with that exquisite balance. Just as the sweet, bready and nutty malts start to tip the scales the hops counteract with notes of orange citrus, marmalade and more of an earthy spice late in the piece. And keeping with the flow of the beer those sweet malts return to deliver a beautifully balanced finish with excellent duration.

Mouthfeel: Slick, gelatinous, medium bodied. Co2 is perfectly weighted. 4.7% ABV. Everything just screams balance with this beer.

Overall: This is the epitome of English ale. Well structured malt bill with just enough hops to keep it in check. Full flavoured yet somehow sessional. No wonder they call it “London Pride”…plenty to be proud of with this. Top shelf.

Cervecera Peninsula ‘Passion Tropikal’ Fruit Sour

Rating:

“Kettle sour with lactose, vanilla, passion fruit and mango for a tropical bombshell. Special for those who love sour beers.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Proper hazy pastel orange affair. Literally looks exactly like a NEIPA until the head completely disappeared. No lace as we go.

Aroma: Mango and passionfruit eat your heart out! It’s amazing how intense they are…and it smells like they’ve used real fruit. Certainly getting the lactose and vanilla too. It practically smells like a tropical fruit salad with ice cream. Fleeting hints of mixed stone fruits i.e melon, papaya and peach, pineapple, shaved coconut, pure nectar and soft florals. Who’d a thunk it was a sour?!

Flavour: Enter the sourness! Even then it’s still quite approachable. Similar to the nose in the sense of it being a tropical fruit salad with a hint of creamy vanilla and coconut. The nectar side of it is unbelievable too…we feel like we should be getting high off the fruit sugars. There’s a nice subtle touch of sherbet before the sweet and fruity finish goes the distance on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Light, juicy and mildly sparkling. 6% ABV is completely hidden. It’s pretty much like drinking sparkling fruit juice.

Overall: The sole reason we got this was because of Bloo Pie. Even with all the positives here it still doesn’t stack up to it. Bloo Pie was just in a field of its own. That’s said, we love the fact they used real fruit, it makes all the difference.

50/50 Brewing 2019 ‘Eclipse BKR’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Now in its 12th vintage, 2019 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. Booker’s (code BKR) is aged in select bourbon barrels. Dipped in yellow wax.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with the usual diminishing head which settles at the rim. It posts a good set of rings with some cascading lace in between.

Aroma: It’s been a while since our olfactorie’s have been graced with an Eclipse Stout and can we just say that it’s like welcoming an old friend. Huge bourbon component i.e vanilla, spice, toffee and oak alongside a roll call of impy stout characters – charred malts, coffee, dark chocolate, licorice, molasses, raw cacao, tobacco, shredded wheatmeal, a hint of acetone and rich fudge. Hell to the yes!!

Flavour: Ok it’s obvious that the Eclipse Stout range is getting better and better. Although totally peeled back it still displays an enormous array of bourbon oak (spicy vanilla and rich toffee), heavily roasted malts, espresso, dark chocolate, ash, molasses, licorice, cocoa powder, glazed cherries, stewed prunes and a slightly smoky accent to finish. The duration on this bad boy is remarkable too.

Mouthfeel: As anticipated it’s big, chewy and viscous. Low-ish Co2. That 12.2% ABV is noticeable but we wouldn’t have an impy stout any other way.

Overall: Very impressed. Somehow we totally skipped the 2018 range which is super disappointing. What’s not disappointing is this 2019 release…it is freaking incredible. Classic 50/50 Eclipse…the stuff of wet dreams.

Fuller’s 2019 Vintage Ale

Rating:

“For the Vintage Ale 2019, we have traveled 12,000 miles for inspiration, as West London meets South Island New Zealand. Wai-Iti hop brings mandarin, lemon, and lime to the fore, whilst Crystal malt – grown on the New Zealand’s Canterbury Plains – adds notes of toasted bread and honey. Looking a little closer to home, our famous Fuller’s yeast gives the beer its familiar orange marmalade backbone.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: An attractive burnished chestnut with a short khaki head. It quickly retreats to the rim with minimal lace in its wake.

Aroma: A dead set malt bomb but we dig it! Initially it’s all about the super sweet toffee, raisin, dates/prunes, butterscotch and floral honey but as it settles it takes on more of a dry-aged character with hints of old oak, licorice, tobacco and banana bread…although the latter is probably representative of the old world English yeast. Mild spicy and citrusy hop qualities in the background. Superb!

Flavour: It’s a mirror image of the aroma but we must admit there’s a lot more earthy-ness and hop bitterness setting it apart. Alas, tonnes of dark fruit sweetness, honey, caramel, toffee and buttery biscuits alongside the floral and citrusy hops and somewhat fruity yeast profile. There’s a long drawn out finish of toast, orange blossom and dried wood which punctuates beautifully.

Mouthfeel: Fairly chewy, dense and silky. Medium-full body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV is perceptible but mostly well contained.

Overall: Believe it or not this is our first crack at the Fuller’s vintage range. Damn we wish we jumped on sooner as this is amazing! It’s rich, warming, sweet yet a little bitter and earthy. Brilliant.

Brouwerij Roman ‘Adriaen’ Tripel

Rating:

“With ingredients such as coriander, Curacao and organic Belgian hops, the Adriaen Brouwer Tripel results in a spicy premium organic tripel with 9 percent alcohol by volume. Organic beers: This means that all ingredients used to brew the beer are grown organically… and that’s a first for the brewery that has existed since 1545!”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber hue with a thumb of fizzy white head over the top. It gradually recedes but manages a nice wavy lace down the glass.

Aroma: Bursting with lemon citrus, fresh herbs and a strong floral bouquet. There’s a lovely Belgian yeast profile throwing out oodles of Angostura bitters, banana runts and tinned pear. Also some estery spice, stone fruits like apricot and rockmelon and a touch of caramel and honey. Exceptional. Very traditional Belgian Tripel.

Flavour: Wooowwww! About as good as any Trappist Tripel you could find. It has a touch of champagne to it with its bright lemon, apple/pear, subtle vanilla and lifted carbonation. There’s a nice line of caramel sweetness which gives it a good base and structure. Kinda creamy and warming to finish. Good length on it too.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, gassy, medium bodied. Really coats the whole palate. Medium-high Co2. The 9% ABV is well behaved.

Overall: A fantastic Tripel from a largely unknown brewery when it comes to this style. It could easily stack up against the likes of St. Bernardus or Straffe Hendrik if need be. Top notch stuff.

Alesmith ‘Philosophy & Velocity’ Imperial Stout/Quadrupel

Rating:

“Philosophy and Velocity combines two iconic imperial beers from East and West: Brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers, and Alesmith Brewing’s Speedway Stout. For this project, each brewery crafted a singular blend to release through their own channels. From the East Coast, Ommegang brewed a Belgian-inspired version of Speedway Stout to blend with their Three Philosophers Quadruple Ale. From the West, Alesmith brewed an American ale variant on Three Philosophers to blend with their robust, coffee-infused Speedway Stout. The result? Two incredible imperial ales, released simultaneously for side-by-side comparison.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of finely beaded brown head. Good retention and wavy lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: There’s so much happening we don’t know where to start. The bittersweet coffee and charred malts are so well integrated with the sweet and fruity Belgian yeast profile that it’s hard to tell where the impy stout starts and Belgian Quad finishes. Everything from fruitcake, rum & raisin, cherry, blood plum, toffee, banana bread, allspice, tobacco, carob, raw cacao, subtle booze and tar. Amazing!

Flavour: At first it’s a little harsh, a tad phenolic and boozy but it morphs in to this big, roasty and bittersweet mid palate full of coffee, charred malts, dark chocolate, tobacco and raw cacao. Just hanging back a tad are the yeasty components…playing an excellent albeit subtle support role as it finishes quite brash and dry with mild smoke and mildly burnt wood on the back.

Mouthfeel: Dense and slick yet it still feels somewhat light on. Finely carbonated, full bodied. 11.5% ABV does reveal itself a fair bit.

Overall: Put simply…it’s a bloody ripper of a beer. We weren’t aware that there’s an East Coast (Ommegang) version where they flip the blend around and focus more on the Quad as opposed to the Stout. Now we want it! Bad! Impressive stuff.

Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout

Rating:

“In March 2011, Wagga got hammered by crickets. The brewpub was covered in millions of hopping black insects. We needed a brew so dark, so original, and so delicious, that if a little bugger hopped into a customer’s glass they wouldn’t even notice and/or care. So was born Vanilla Milk Stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black complexion with a frothy two finger head. It quickly peels off and forms a bubbling island in the middle. Minimal lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: We remember drinking this fresh from the Brewhouse taps many years ago and being blown away. All these years later as well as pouring from a can and it’s still as good as we remember it. The gorgeous vanilla and lactose sweetness offsets the robust stout base of chocolate, coffee, treacle and burnt toast. Also getting a subtle hint of white marshmallow which is very alluring! Superb.

Flavour: Follows through nicely. Again, perfectly balanced between the roasty chocolate malts, coffee, toast and sweet vanilla, lactose and marshmallow-like candy. Just a slight lick of bitterness midway before it lands on a sweet yet roasty finish which endures nicely.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, velvet smooth, medium-full body which is commendable considering its low ABV (5.2%). Finely carbonated. Exactly how we like our stouts.

Overall: It’s great to see nothing has changed with this beer. It’s such a well structured and ultimately delicious milk stout. Top notch stuff.

Coniston Brewing ‘Bluebird’ Bitter

Rating:

“It is, quite simply, a wonderful beer. It is exceedingly pale (21-22 units colour), with just a hint of colour in its cheeks from the dash of crystal malt. It has a massive orange fruit aroma from the challengers, balanced by biscuity malt. Juicy malt and tart hops vie for attention in the mouth while the finish is tart and hoppy but well balanced by creamy malt. The bitterness rating is a substantial 36-38. The tangy fruit lingers on the back of the tongue until it develops a hint of orange liqueur.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Clear bold amber with a short white head which quickly retracts. Not a lot of lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Slightly muted notes of semi sweet honey malts, light musky florals, peppery spice, somewhat earthy hops and cereal grains. It all started off a little shy but as we go it starts to come out of its shell. How ironic that we’re talking about a beer in that fashion!

Flavour: Very much like the aroma…soft and almost watered down notes of caramel and honey mix with earthy and floral hops. A flutter of herbal spice here and there as well. Some toast and cereal grains coming through as it finishes rather vague and bland. Not a great deal of length to it either.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky, maybe just a tad lean but it is only 4.2% ABV. Flat-ish Co2, moderately bodied. A bit meh.

Overall: It’s all a bit meh to be honest. It’s very weak and insipid at times. The upside is that it does hit the traditional English ale features but it’s just too shy for our liking. Won’t be wasting our time on this one again.

Brasserie DuPont ‘Cuvee Dry Hopping – Styrian Wolf’ Saison

Rating:

“A special dry-hopped version of the brewery’s world famous Saison Dupont. This version features Styrian Wolf hops – a Slovakian variety known for its exceptional tropical fruit notes – to complement the Saison’s iconic peppery flavour.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Hazy pastel orange with two fingers of fizzy white head. Looks a lot like a NEIPA! Not a great deal of lace as we indulge.

Aroma: 100% classic Saison! We guess when you’re talking about the best in the business it makes sense! It’s just a beautiful fusion of Belgian yeasty notes (peppery spice, banana runts and a touch of bubblegum), farmhouse grains which provide hay, straw and freshly cut grass and this interesting hop variety called “Styrian Wolf”. Apparently it’s a Slovenian hop which provides tropical fruits and strong florals…of which we get both!

Flavour: We certainly pick up more of the hop profile here. The conventional Saison qualities (spicy yeast, wheat grains, Angostura bitters etc) are slightly superceded by a heady floral accent, milder tropical fruits like melon and tart passionfruit, lemon and light herbals. It has a nice bitter finish with lingering hay and peppery spice on the back.

Mouthfeel: Kinda light and fluffy, mild-medium body. Dry-ish texture. Quite an effervescent Co2. The 6.5% ABV is well behaved too.

Overall: Nice drop. Old world base with a bit of a new world twist…the Styrian Wolf hops do a good job of bringing those new world flavours in to it. Decent.

Hop Nation 2020 ‘The Kalash’ Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a sturdy thumb of tanned foam resting on top. It gradually reduced and leaves a smattering of lace on the glass.

Aroma: Nicely charred, lots of burnt toast, dark chocolate, ash, licorice and a very faint hint of acetone which we find synonymous with the style. The downside is that it seems a little too reserved… we’ve come to expect olfactory-invading scents where this one is lacking that intensity. Hopefully the flavour profile is where it’s at.

Flavour: Yeah see, it’s the same issue… nothing wrong with the flavours as we’re getting dark chocolate, licorice, burnt toast, coffee and ash but it’s this lack of intensity and bottom end that’s MIA. It’s still OK though, getting that touch of silky sweetness and the roasted and charred finish. Good length to it too, really draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Oily and a little thin. A little too slippery for a barrel aged RIS. Medium body and Co2. 10.7% ABV is fairly well behaved.

Overall: Yeah it never really had us from the get go. There’s not enough bottom end and overall grunt. It’s not a bad beer by any means it just doesn’t cut the mustard when we’re talking big barrel aged Russian Imperials.

50/50 Brewing ‘Annularity’ BA Barleywine

Rating:

“The FiftyFifty Brewing Company has done it again by releasing another delicious brew unto us, the craft beer loving masses. The Annularity is a rich Blond Barleywine with hints of brown sugar, citrus, carmel, and honey that can be tasted through each and every satisfying sip. The beer ages gracefully in oak barrels, which lend a slightly bitter quality to the overall taste, keeping the sweetness of the sugars in check.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Muddy bronze to light brown with a rapidly vanishing head. It leaves nothing but a very fine halo which struggles to lace.

Aroma: Oh wow, when barleywines are done right they’re such a beautiful thing. The intense sweetness is only rivalled by the bold and rustic barrel characters which provide old, musty and woody oak notes. Plenty of toffee/toffee apple, candy cane, fruit cake, rich honey and maple, subtle spicy whiskey, dark fruits and a lovely earthy-ness which lends it overall balance and bottom end. Brilliant aroma.

Flavour: Like an explosion has been set off on the palate. Big, rich and hedonistic caramel, musty oak, toffee, rye whiskey, honey and earthy spice. Just a gentle warmth from the booze in the background. Hints of dark fruits like cherry, plum and raisin before another good dose of rye whiskey leads in to this perfectly balanced finish.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous. Medium-full body with low Co2. The 12.5 % ABV is ridiculously well concealed.

Overall: Can you expect anything less than perfection from these guys? They’ve cemented a spot in our top 5 all time breweries without a doubt. Remarkable beer from a remarkable brewery.