Boatrocker ‘Plum Lord’ BA Plum Sour

Rating:

“A vivid purple colour from the fruit, with a rich tart plum flavour, complemented wonderfully by the complex barrel aged wild ale that is Time Lord (a blend of 3 different vintages, the oldest being 5 years).”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Very eye-catching pour. Unfiltered pink-ish/purple hue and a thumb of light pink head forming on top. Decent retention and wavy lace being left on the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Smells sharp and acidic. Almost Lambic-like. The plum lifts off with vigour and provides tartness, acidity and also a touch of sweetness. The musty and woody oak comes through beautifully and the prickly lacto/bretty sourness adds the red wine vinegar, sweat/salty qualities, yoghurt and cheese cave. We can’t wait any longer we’ve gotta dive into this.

Flavour: Holy moly. It’s giving off some next level sourness. And we love it! It really kicks off with a sharp acidic sourness, tart blood plums, musty and woody oak. At times we pick up a blueberry note as well. Short bursts of vinegar, all sorts of funky shit, horse blanket, yoghurt, earthy spice and hay/straw before an extremely bretty finish.

Mouthfeel: Sharp, acidic and saliva-inducing sourness. Light-moderate body, spritzy Co2. The 6.7% ABV is hard to pick… don’t know if it’s the booze burn or heart burn!

Overall: Impressive stuff here. They’ve long been one of our go-to’s for anything barrel aged and this is a perfect example why. We dig it.

White Bay ‘Gantry Crane’ Czech Pilsner

Rating:

We brewed this beer as an ode to one of our brew team’s favourite styles. Comprised of 100% imported Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Gantry Crane underwent a lengthy and arduous multi step mash and was generously hopped with Sladek and Saaz hops. Gantry Crane was cold fermented under pressure, naturally carbonated and had 10 weeks of cold conditioning in tank prior to packaging. This baby is absolutely purring! A beer we have been looking forward to making and drinking for a very long time.

Na
 Zdravi!”

Glassware: Flute.

Appearance: Slightly pale straw gold with a fizzy three finger crown nestled comfortably on top. The head holds its shape and leaves a mess on the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: It was hard to ignore the rumblings around the quality of this beer so here we are…jumping on the hype train again. On first meet it’s very impressive though. Very similar to Pilsner Urquell (on the can and inside it 😉). It has that classic savoury character in spades – umami rice crackers, delicate florals and herbals, crusty white bread. A subtle skunky note, Noble hops, tinned corn and other starchy veg all providing good support.

Flavour: Quite dry, bitter and floral on the front palate. Some of that skunky-ness creeps through but the savoury rice crackers and wheat grains do also. Getting a flutter of farmyard funk developing late – hay/straw, grassy and herbal hops then somewhat of a pithy citric finish which draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, fairly clean and light on. Very palate-friendly as to be expected. Co2 is about spot on and so is the 5% ABV.

Overall: We always have a bit of a giggle when brands are allowed to package up products that look so similar to the original. A mate once told us that it only needs to be 30-odd % different from the original for it to pass. Anywho, it’s a quality Pilsner. Doesn’t knock Rattenhund off the No.1 spot but it definitely deserves a spot in the top 5 best Aussie Pilsners.

Boatrocker X De Molen ‘Windmills & Weathervanes’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Back in 2020, a long distance collaboration between two masters of dark beers, De Molen & Boatrocker, saw the release of a beer that won people’s hearts. Fast forward to 2022, the original idea has been realised…A bourbon barrel aged version of Windmills & Weathervanes…To the mash, we added freshly toasted and charred old bourbon barrel staves, then over 10kg of Ancho, Pasilla, and Morita chillies were added to the beer, along with 10kg of cacao nibs, 40 vanilla beans and 45 cinnamon quills…and then more than 12 months in 1st use bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace…the result is a balanced molé-ish imperial stout-ish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a dense and creamy brown head. It very gradually recedes but not a lot of it sticks as we go.

Aroma: We’ve been eagerly awaiting this ever since we bought them and there’s really no surprises that it smells terrific. Initially it’s all about the big and rich Imperial Stout base along with the sweet and spicy bourbon/barrels which counteracts it. The molé component is a tad more obscure but there to be found with its subtle cocoa, chilli peppers and spice. It all comes together incredibly well.

Flavour: There’s a lot going on from the moment it hits the taste buds. The most notable is the rich Stout base of dark chocolate, licorice and molasses but the sweet spice, cocoa and bourbon add so much depth and complexity. It’s like the taste buds are being pulled in every direction. As it progresses it all gradually peels off and we’re left with the delicious bourbon and charred malts to finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense and muscly. Slightly oily, low-ish Co2 and medium-full body. The 9.5% ABV is fairly well behaved.

Overall: We’ve gotta commend Boatrocker on such a high profile collab. De Molen are one of the biggest and best players in the dark beer market so big ups on making that one happen. Big ups on the beer too – rich, well balanced, complex. Deeds still hold the title for best BA Imperial Stout though!

Pure Project ‘Pure West’ West Coast IPA

Rating:

“We are celebrating our first year of sourcing hand selected hops by releasing our first core Unfiltered West Coast IPA. Hand selection allows us to focus on what we think are the finest hops from each years’ harvest, and we will continue to evolve the hop varieties in Pure West with the freshest and most flavorful hops we can find. This inaugural brew showcases hand-selected Mosaic, Simcoe, and Nelson hops to provide an intense aroma of pineapple with a subtle dankness. Sweet floral notes soften on the palate while leading to a solid bitter finish.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Straw golden complexion and a fluffy three finger head forming on top. It holds well and weaves a magnificent lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Exceptionally fresh, clean and piney. Dead set we don’t think they could have chosen a better hop combination; Mosaic, Simcoe and Nelson. All three not only feature but shine…displaying their best qualities i.e pineapple, mango, herbal spice, zesty citrus, pine/resin, unripened stonefruits, gooseberry, white grapes and evergreen. Can’t wait to taste this.

Flavour: OK it’s not really what we had anticipated. It’s a lot lighter with less malt sweetness than we come to expect from WC IPA’s. It explains the light colour too. Anywho, take nothing away from the beautifully executed hop bill which, like the aroma, exhibits all the best attributes of each hop. Understandably the light cracker malt profile is off in the distance but it does fit in to the overall laid back nature of the beer.

Mouthfeel: Light, clean and crisp. Mild-moderate body, softly carbonated. The 6.5% ABV is nicely positioned.

Overall: A very pleasant WC IPA. Very fresh, green and remarkably light while still offering the typical bitterness and playful aggression that comes with the style.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge ‘Bornem’ Tripel

Rating:

“Bornem Tripel is a powerful beer to be enjoyed as an aperitif or dessert. Often taken with mussels and other seafood. This abbey beer is also an excellent accompaniment to a hearty cheese platter.”

Glassware: Trappist tulip.

Appearance: Slightly hazy burnished orange with a thumb of finely beaded head perched on top. Excellent retention and healthy lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Very traditional but also quite complex. The classic sweet honey malt leads out with the Belgian yeast esters following close behind. Lots of banana, mixed spice, ground coriander, tangy orange citrus etc. It exudes a certain dry musty-ness akin to Saison. A hint of orchard fruits, honeysuckle and bubblegum to fill it out. Smells the foods thus far.

Flavour: It definitely carries the complexity over from the nose. Showing its hop profile with a lot more energy too – grassy, herbal and spicy notes upfront which blend nicely in to the ensuing sweet and grainy malts. Not until later in the piece does the yeast and fruity aspects come in to play but when they do they bring pear/apple, banana, yeasty spice and wheat grains.

Mouthfeel: Fairly light and well aerated. Pretty smooth, mild-medium body with a light sparkle. The 9% ABV was a surprise…very well concealed.

Overall: In our opinion it’s less appealing than other releases such as Augustijn or Gulden Draak but it does hold its own. Expect a fairly conventional Tripel but don’t expect to be blown away.

Cigar City ‘The Darkwoods’ Imperial Brown Ale

Rating:

Rich aromas of molasses, bread crust and toffee are complimented by more subtle notes of vanilla and coconut. A formidable maltiness hints at bitter chocolate and and black licorice while woodiness and tannins contributed by two different types of wood bring this silky-smooth Brown Ale into balance.” 

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Muddy light brown to Auburn hue with a short tan head which slowly peels off. Laced reasonably well considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Interesting. We’ve been sat here for about 5 minutes trying to work out what it is that has us so intrigued. After reading the very entertaining description on the bottle we realised what it is…pine/pine cones, woody/forest floor and decaying leaves. Behind all of that are the more traditional Brown Ale characters of lightly roasted malts, chocolate, toast, licorice, nutty malts and cola. The only part missing (unfortunately) is the maple wood.

Flavour: Same deal as the aroma: the front palate has us intrigued but this time around we’re not really digging it. The combination of earthy pine cones and forest floor with the lightly charred and toasty malts should work but they’re clashing. Funnily enough though, it all clears midway and robust dark chocolate, licorice, coffee and a complex woody dryness surges into a nice long roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty chewy, medium-full body, low-moderate carbonation. The 7.5% ABV is nicely positioned.

Overall: Can’t say we’re too pleased with it. We respect the quirky and experimental side to it but alas, it just didn’t come together they we wanted it to. Disappointing.

Bottle Logic ‘Fuzzy Logic’ Peach Hazy IPA

Rating:

“Originally brewed as a feature beer for Smokejumpers Grill at Disney California Adventure, this beer captures California’s juicy agricultural history. This Hazy IPA was built on a base of Pure Idaho, White Wheat, Dextra Pils, Unmalted Wheat, and Flaked Oat malts. It was hopped with Mosaic and El Dorado hops, and fermented with white and yellow peaches!”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Kinda light straw golden complexion with a soft orange tint. They can barely call this a Hazy coz there really isn’t much haze happening. Nice and fluffy two finger head which retained and laced well.

Aroma: We knew the peach component was going to be huge as we were copping wafts as the glass sat idle on the table. Seriously you’d need your head read if you don’t like peach…the unique floral, nectar-filled sweetness emanating off this is unbelievably alluring. Just a flutter of tartness, apricot delight, nectarine and ripe mango to round it all out.

Flavour: The danger in brewing with such flavoursome fruits is there’s very little forgiveness so there’s a very fine line between good and bad.. and obviously with BL being the maestro’s they are they have nailed it. Again that little lick of tartness plus a very subtle bitterness counters the sugary, nectary sweetness perfectly. Although it’s completely one dimensional it’s still absolutely satisfying.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, medium bodied. Co2 is tight and fine. The 7.1% ABV is very well hidden.

Overall: If this were any closer to a peach flavoured soft drink it would be skull-able. So on point for a fruited IPA. Magnificent stuff.

Bottle Logic ‘Phosphorescence’ BA Tiki Strong Ale

Rating:

“Phosphorescence sparkles with the magic of the tropics. Aromatic waves of sugar cane, pineapple, coconut, and almond guide the senses through a liquid expression of a well-earned vacation in the fleeting final days of summer. Brûléed pineapple crests on the palate, lifted by a swell of coconut, almond, and lactose that combine as a rich, custard-toned body to beautifully support the gentle flash of acidity and sweet bitterness of burnt sugar. Medium-bodied with a long, lingering finish.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Stunning. Pours this gorgeous light mahogany hue with deep ruby red highlights. It doesn’t garner much head and there’s minimal lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: One can always count on BL’s Stasis Project beers for optimal quality. At first it has all the hallmarks of a top shelf BBA Barleywine – residual sugars, caramelised malts, dark fruits and toffee with the moreish bourbon/barrels front and centre. The longer it sits in the glass the more vanilla/lactose opens up too. Coconut, yeah…almond, maybe but pineapple not so much.

Flavour: Oh wow it’s almost like a complete reversal. It’s now pineapple, yes… almond, yes and coconut and vanilla, maybe. Some sweet spice like cinnamon and nutmeg appearing as well. Still absolutely chock-full of residual sugars and caramelised malts, toffee and dark fruits and then the big show (bourbon barrels/oak) ram it home with good duration.

Mouthfeel: Ridiculously slick and unassuming for its 13% ABV. Chewy, gelatinous, medium-full bodied. The Co2 is kept pretty low which works perfectly.

Overall: 2021 release Stasis Project, cold winters evening, belly warming Strong Ale….the only thing missing is a roaring wood fire. Thank you Bottle Logic and thank you Carwyn Cellars!

Finback ‘Randomly Assembled’ Hazy IPA

Rating:

“IPA dry hopped with Idaho 7, Simcoe, Zappa and Cascade.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Super murky pastel yellow body with a thick and creamy two finger head. Good retention and healthy lace left in its wake.

Aroma: Pretty classic NEIPA features here; dominated by the sweet and slightly pithy orange citrus, pink grapefruit and peach. Some resinous qualities which work nicely in to the juicy Frosty Fruits and subtle peppery spice. As it settles more of the stonefruits come through as well. Nice and creamy malt base…oats, cereal grains and rice, that sorta thing. Solid.

Flavour: The first thing we notice is the impeccable balance. And the overall smoothness on it as well. Wow. Distinct orange citrus again on the palate. A touch more pithy-ness as opposed to the aroma…spurred on by the hop bitterness we’re sure. A flutter of stonefruits and piney resin, pepper and light florals/herbals lead into a creamy finish with a hint of dryness developing on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as silk, creamy and super palate-friendly. Medium body, tight Co2 and the 7.5% ABV is incredibly well hidden.

Overall: This was our first crack at this Queens brewery. We must admit we bought this purely out of hype around the brewery and the good news is it has lived up to it. It’s a quality NEIPA which does all the right things.

Deeds ‘Darker Motives’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This beer was brewed specially to celebrate the launch of our Denver & Liely x Carwyn Cellars Beer Glass

Vanilla, bourbon and oak dominate the nose with a mild hint of banana’s foster in the background. Soft coconut gives way to a dessert like chocolate and cocoa amplifying an embodied sweetness. The back half lends to a balanced finish with a lovely smooth profile highlighted by that sweet, sweet bourbon.

Glassware: Snifter (unfortunately not the one they brewed this for)

Appearance: Pours as black as midnight with a finely beaded two finger head perched nicely on top. Good retention and wavy lace sticking to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Once again it appears that Deeds have nailed another impressive BBA Imperial Stout. Yes, the bourbon offers excellent uplift but we think it’s fair to say that this time around the robust and decadent Stout base has matched it. Huge wafts of molasses, licorice, charred malts, ash, espresso and oak over much sweeter and more subtle notes of spicy bourbon, vanilla/toasted coconut and treacle. Yum!

Flavour: Pow! Definitely a lot more aggressive and bitter than previous BBA releases. A fair bit of warmth upfront…emphasised by bittersweet dark chocolate and espresso coffee, ash, charred malts and oak. The bourbon gets a little lost in it all in our opinion, which is very unlike them. Nice warm finish with lots of coffee, chocolate and booze.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily, warming. A little acrid at times though. Co2 is up a little, medium-full body. The 14.1% ABV is certainly detectable.

Overall: Not our favourite BBA Impy Stout from Deeds that’s for sure. It’s still a fairly respectable drop but.

Pure Project ‘Force Of Nature’ Hazy IPA

Rating:

“To kick off this year’s first Quarterly Core IPA – the third in our series – we celebrate the return of a beer that we rightfully named Force of Nature. This Murky IPA sports a murky yellow-gold color, a fluffy white head, and features a hop trio including Nelson Sauvin from Freestyle Hops in New Zealand, hand-selected Citra, and Amarillo. Citrusy, tropical, and pine notes flow from the glass to your senses, finishing with just a touch of bitterness.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Pours a super hazy off yellow hue with a big and frothy three finger head. Excellent retention and oodles of lace clinging to the glass as we hook in.

Aroma: Super fruity and super resinous. Those classic luscious evergreen qualities so synonymous with Nelson Sauvin also shine through with vigour. Fairly big juicy notes on it too…lots of nectar-filled fruits like peach, nectarine and mango and also some pithy citrus i.e grapefruit, orange/rind. Super smooth and creamy oat-filled malt bill. Oohh baby.

Flavour: A nice tight bitterness kicks off then the pithy orange rind and grapefruit follows on. Definitely tasting the subtle green and vinous notes from the NS. Juicy stonefruits and a faint touch of Frosty Fruits/juice concentrate developing late then rounding off on a slightly resinous and bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Really smooth and creamy even though there’s a discernible bitterness. Finely carbed, mild-medium body. 6.5% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: We’ve been big fans of this brewery ever since we visited them in San Diego a few years back. It’s awesome to see their beers on Aussie shelves too. Solid drop.

Shapeshifter ‘Dream Team’ Hazy IPA

Rating:

“Team work makes the dream work! This hazy IPA is pale straw in colour with ultra smooth coconut pine-lime vibes. The aroma is heavy with stonefruit and vanilla notes An ode to our dynamic duo of brewers, Carla & Jez.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Light straw golden pour with a decent haze. It forms a fat thumb of rocky white head which maintains its shape. Good lacing as it ebbs.

Aroma: Smells mostly fruity (shock horror we know!). Mixed citrus and tropicals i.e juicy mandarin, sweet orange, zesty rind, tangerine, unripened pineapple, green mango and a hint of pink grapefruit. Lots of nuanced hop characters like dried herbs, pine needles, coconut, mild resins and pepper which are nicely countered by the kinda creamy and grainy malts. It’s setting up nicely.

Flavour: Pretty much follows on from the nose with its distinct orange citrus sweetness (tangerine, orange, mandarin, rind). Just a subtle touch of the tropical and stonefruits. Same with the herbals, pine and resins which make way for dry and grainy oats, peppery spice and a lick of toasted coconut in the smooth and relatively dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, soft and effortless over the tongue. Finely carbed, mild-moderate body. The 6.5% ABV is neatly tucked away.

Overall: We’ve been trying to track down these guys’ beers for months now and we’re glad to say that we’ve been rewarded for our efforts. It’s a respectable hazy. Certainly a good way to kick off proceedings.

Bottle Logic ‘Double Actuator’ Double IPA

Rating:

“In this experiment, we pushed the boundaries of a well-balanced, high gravity, highly hopped IPA, while increasing drink-ability. This Double IPA is brewed and generously dry-hopped with Mosiac hops. You’ll find this ale to have a super floral nose, smooth bitterness, with hints of blueberries, mango, and papaya.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Very attractive golden orange pour with a thick-set and lasting two finger crown. The lacing it leaves behind is incredibly intricate.

Aroma: Wow, everything about this so far screams old school West Coast IPA. From the immensely sweet and tropical hop profile to the chewy and biscuity malt bill and everything in between. By everything in between we mean the big helpings of pine and zesty citrus/rind, candied lemon, pineapple, guava, melon, florals, sappy resins, peppery spice and weedy herbals. Diggin it big time.

Flavour: Really sticking to this old school vibe it has going on. The only marked difference between the aroma and flavour is a slightly more prominent malt sweetness here. Other than that it’s a straight up mirror image of the nose with its in-your-face fruity hop profile, pine/resins, zest and pith, spice, ganja and a nice big finish with a bit of sting in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Kinda creamy upfront then the bitterness and ABV (8.5% ABV) kicks off post swallow. Moderate body and the Co2 has been reined in a little.

Overall: A seriously good old school West Coast IPA. The only criticism we have is the slight syrupy character it gathers as it warms up. Although it’s pretty standard for the style so no points lost on this occasion. Solid drop.

Omnipollo ‘Barrel Aged Mammut’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Bourbon Barrel Aged Coconut Vanilla Hazelnut Imperial Stout aged in a blend of Willet Bourbon and Rye and Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Rye barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Holy moly this thing pours like engine oil – dense and black AF! Next to no head generated. Even the single stream of Co2 is struggling to break the surface. Oopht!

Aroma: As we anticipated its extremely rich, dense, nutty and woody yet the creamy vanilla and coconut still presents fairly well. The bourbon barrels play a huge role in the overall sweet and spiciness that offsets the decadent dark chocolate, molasses and raw coffee beans. The actual oak from the barrels can be detected too…which is rare as the bourbon typically drowns it out. Wow.

Flavour: Ok so we don’t like to exaggerate things very often but this beer is actually akin to drinking thick syrup. The density is like nothing we’ve ever drunk before. Flavour-wise it’s amazing….the hazelnut distinctly stands out with the coconut, vanilla, molasses and subtle bourbon/oak hitting up and driving all the way through to the nutty and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: As we touched on before it is mind-blowingly dense and syrupy. Practically no carbonation to it and the 12% ABV is very well buried.

Overall: So we don’t really know what to think. Is this a boozy thick shake Stout? We’re all for thick, dense and aggressive Stouts but we think we may have just found our ceiling.

Hop Nation ‘Ratto Cane’ Italian Pilsner

Rating:

“An homage to classic Italian Pilsner, traditionally brewed with Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt, then saturated with European hops: Perle, Spalt, Saphir and Tettnang. Balanced, refreshing with citrus characters and subtle herbal aromatics.”

Glassware: Flute.

Appearance: Slightly hazy, pale straw golden pour and a frothy two finger head resting atop. Excellent retention and lacing as it subsides.

Aroma: At first glance it’s very impressive. A lot like Rattenhund but that should come as no surprise as this was modelled off it. Exceptional balance between the biscuity and semi sweet Pilsner malts and the earthy, floral and herbal hops. A veeeeery faint lick of peppery spice, tangerine and wood shavings for that added complexity.

Flavour: Right off the bat the floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt shows off it’s deliciously earthy yet subtly sweet honey and savoury rice cracker qualities. Fused through are the somewhat spicy, herbal and floral notes. Love how the hops impart a particularly disparate earthy tone as it finishes with a soft crisp bitterness and lingering herbal/grassy accents.

Mouthfeel: Very clean, crisp and refreshing. The Co2, mild-moderate body and 5.1% ABV are all dead set spot on.

Overall: An absolute cracker of a Pilsner. We’re still unsure which part of it makes it an “Italian Pilsner” though. Just slapping the Italian translation of Rattenhund on there and calling it Italian doesn’t really cut the mustard 😆. Still a very splendid offering.

Bottle Logic ‘Golden Ratio’ Golden Milk Stout

Rating:

“Our Golden Ratio series features a rotating coffee highlight on a silky Golden Milk Stout base. This second entry showcases Stereoscope Coffee’s El Paraiso beans from Finca El Paraiso in Colombia. The lactic fermentation this coffee undergoes fosters a dense layering of aromas and flavors of blueberry preserves, sweet mint, and bittersweet cocoa. Medium-full body with a subtly sweet finish, brewed with lactose.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours like a classic pale ale – deep golden hue and a thumb of off white head which is retained reasonably well. Decent lace trailing it down as we go.

Aroma: Mostly sweet and chewy caramels, creamy vanilla, lactose, cookie dough, light tangy notes and cocoa powder. The coffee is very subtle…too subtle actually. In our opinion they need to dial it up a lot more considering its labelled as a Golden Stout with coffee. There’s some very interesting back notes to it; the main ones being the mint tea and the fresh blueberry notes. Not bad so far.

Flavour: Not getting as much of the caramel sweetness here. Still picking up plenty of the sweet vanilla and lactose, macerated blueberries, cookie dough and white sugar. Again, the coffee is extremely delicate and truncated for a beer featuring coffee. A very faint hint of those candied mint/tea-like herbals before a sweet and sugary finish rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and silky. A very mild bitterness comes into play with a nice and effervescent Co2. The 9% ABV is really well concealed.

Overall: We really like the edgy-ness of Golden Stouts and we thought BL being the world class masters they are would have smashed this outta the park. Not to be. It’s missing the coffee big time and just lacking a bit in other areas. Good but not great.

Anderson Valley ‘Huge Arker’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“True to its Boontling moniker, “Huge Arker” is a massive force of nature that detonates on your tongue. After primary fermentation, the beer is aged in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels until it fully matures.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a thumb of creamy tan foam resting atop. The head lasts and draws a fine lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: It’s weird right now coz it seems like all we can smell is the bourbon. Fortunately the longer it sits in the glass the more it pans out…allowing the oak and what we feel could be a slightly feeble Stout base to come forward. We may end up eating our words here because it has finally come together and it’s smelling like a fine BBA Imperial Stout now.

Flavour: One step forward two steps back. Upfront it’s very big and abrasive. The booze is sharp (hell we only just realised this is a 15.5% monster) and we feel it needs something to smooth it all out. The bourbon/barrels are actually nicely positioned in the beer plus the sturdy malt base offers a lot of good roasty support. The finish is as rough as guys and slightly bitter too…just to add to the woes.

Mouthfeel: Prickly, astringent and overrepresented by the booze. Medium-full body, Co2 is kept low. We actually fear every sip haha.

Overall: Yeah, nah. Seriously why do they land on 15.5% ABV when it clearly can’t carry it? There’s no doubt that they need to shave off at least 5 to 6% for this to be enjoyable. If they’re going to keep it at that level they need to look to Goose Island for some tips.

Akasha ‘Triple Fire’ Triple Amber Ale

Rating:

“We’ve blown open the Akashic vaults and dusted off a much loved classic for this limited release anniversary remix, the Triple Fire. Caramel and biscuit licks meet hoppy citrus riffs for a ripping beer that takes thing (almost) all the way to eleven. Hells yeah.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep bold amber pour with a thumb of lightly tanned foam perched on top. The head gradually peels off and leaves healthy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Definitely brewed in the American style, in true Akasha fashion. Those sweet and nutty caramel malts fill up the nostrils initially and the citrus and pine-driven hops pull it all back into line nicely. The usual suspects dominate: caramel, toffee, butterscotch and honeysuckle with more delicate hints of toffee apple, blood orange, buttery biscuits and toasted brioche also coming through.

Flavour: It’s actually quite sharp and punchy for the style. Then again it’s probably more American than most American amber ales! Personally the booze burn is too overpowering and the bitterness could have been dialled back a little bit. Slightly syrupy caramel, toffee and honeysuckle with the sharp citrus and pine not really effective enough at cutting through it. A bit of a harsh finish on it too.

Mouthfeel: Big, boozy, astringent, slightly chewy. Medium body, flat-ish Co2. The 10.5 % ABV is too much in our opinion.

Overall: It’s a shame coz it started off really strong. The second it hit the palate it went downhill – too boozy, too bitter and unbalanced. Iron those issues out and they could be on to something.

Dangerous Ales ‘Fightin With Lightnin’ IPA

Rating:

“If you like Pina Colada’s, then skip the rain and go straight for the Lightning. Rich pineapple, coconut and papaya aromas welcome you as your mouth is filled with a tropical fruit hurricane, the big body and low bitterness lets this fruity fantasy ride on like a Caribbean cruise that never ends.”

Glassware: IPA.

Appearance: Slightly hazy pale golden hue with an enormous four finger head setting up on top. It takes an age to recede and leaves an absolute mess on the glass.

Aroma: The head is taking that long to reduce that we’re forced to take a few whiffs from the can! First impressions are good…seems to be more of a “no coast” IPA i.e displaying hints of East Coast juicy-ness and but also some West Coast citrus and pine. Heady notes of candied lemon, unripened pineapple, melon, coconut, tangerine and grassy herbals. Kinda dry malt bill; oats, wheat, that sort of thing. Decent.

Flavour: Massive fruit salad characters like lemon, orange, tangerine, paw paw/papaya, pineapple, guava and subtle blueberry. Much more nuanced spice and herbal accents, wheat grains, coconut, rolled oats and semi sweet honey finishing with a light hop bitterness, citrus fruits and herbals. Good duration on the back end too.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and creamy. Just a little bit of grip on the way down…we dig it though. Lively Co2, mild-medium body. The 6.9% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: We’ve had eyes on this mob for a while but it’s taken us until now to have a crack. It’s got plenty of spunk, a good balance and some depth. We likey.

Clown Shoes ‘Luchador At Sunrise’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Master Clown Shoes began to feel despair. What was he doing? What’s the point and what’s the purpose of it all? Where, how, could he find a way to fix himself? While lost in these dark thoughts, shockingly, the brewery came under attack! A giant four armed Luchador was tearing the building apart, batting aside or crushing workers in his path. Master Clown Shoes moved to defend his new home, taking a defensive stance as he peered into the face of the monster and he saw his nemesis.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours dense black and forms a two finger brown head which maintains its shape pretty well. Kinda wet but webbed lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The bourbon/barrels are displayed brilliantly…nice and direct but integrated well enough that the other magnificent aromatics have their say – vanilla/French oak, vinous fruits, cinnamon, black pepper, chipotle, licorice, red wine tannins and coffee. As it settles in we’re getting richer notes of molasses, charred malts and dark chocolate filling it out. Solid.

Flavour: Upfront it’s big and muscly, chock full of molasses, dark chocolate, bitter espresso and a light hint of chipotle. The oak (plus the hallmark vanilla accents) present nicely but the bourbon characters seem to have dropped off which is a shame. A gentle booze burn then charred malts set up for a long, bitter and roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth, medium-full bodied, mild-moderate Co2. The 10.5% ABV comes through intermittently.

Overall: It somewhat reminds us of a cheaper, much younger and unrefined Hunahpu at times. The spice/chilli components could’ve done with a boost as could’ve the bourbon. There’s a few minor blemishes but it’s a fairly decent offering.