Category Archives: American/Strong Ale

Bottle Logic ‘Phosphorescence’ BA Tiki Strong Ale


“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!

Innate ‘Private Idaho’ American Strong Ale


“A Powerful promise of golden malt and tropical pine thunders roll over the horizon like gun fire. Your tastebuds are under attack, and only one man can save you. Can you handle this much power in a can?”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Pours a deep rusted amber with a big three finger head which reduces rather slowly. Healthy lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Getting absolutely zilch off it initially. Once the remaining head disappears we give it another good swirl which thankfully reveals somewhat sheepish wafts of sticky sweet caramel malts, toffee apple, dank pine resins and stewed tropical fruits. As it settles we’re picking up some treacle, dark earthy fruits, honeysuckle and floral herbs like sage, thyme and oregano. Interesting. Not sure if we’re sold on it yet but we’re intrigued.

Flavour: Jeez what it lacks in intensity on the nose is more than made up for here. Super sweet and sticky caramel, toffee and treacle are nicely offset by the dank resinous hops and belly-warming booze which all reaches well in to the finish. Along the way it hits a kind of bitter earthy note then picks up a pithy quality which sits on the back palate for days.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, warming, a little sharp and bitter in the swallow. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.3% ABV doesn’t shy away.

Overall: A little undecided. It certainly has its positives.. the most notable being that it reminds us of a cheap version of Dogfish Head’s 90 minute IPA. The negative is it’s still a little rough around the edges. All in all not a bad drop from this WA brewery.

Sierra Nevada X Dogfish Head ‘Life & Limb’ American Strong Ale


“Our third Life and Limb collaboration is a strong, dark beer that’s rich, full-bodied and always evolving thanks to brewer’s yeast at work in each can. Life and Limb, alive with yeast, also features syrup from birch and maple trees, including those on the Calagione family farm in Massachusetts. While Life and Limb celebrates a special kinship between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish head, our two branches weave into thousands of others to make up the craft beer family tree. sip slowly with friends and loved ones, savor long—because one could do better than be a swigger of birches.”

Glassware: American Pint.

Appearance: Hits the glass with a deep mahogany hue and a big and sturdy three finger head which ain’t budging. It leaves a beautiful mess as we go.

Aroma: We had zero ideas of what to expect from this but initially we’re getting a kinda rich, sweet and toasty number with the feature maple and birch syrup somewhat restrained and the dark fruits, carob and gentle roasty-ness out in front. Heady notes of caramel and toffee, earthy tree bark, dull piney hops, musk/floral accents, residual sugars and ever so slightly cloying syrups. Super weird!

Flavour: And the weirdness continues. Upfront there’s a unique fusion of earthy wood and subtle maple and for a short while we were fearing that’s how it was gonna stay but out of nowhere this rich, roasty, coffee-like flavour takes it in a completely unexpected direction. It garners more roasty support from chocolate, burnt brown sugar, toffee and licorice then finishes sweet, spicy and a little earthy.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick and chewy but with a discernible bitterness. Medium-full body, mild-moderate Co2. The 10.2% ABV though…wow! Extremely well contained.

Overall: A very edgy yet strangely fun beer. We’d say it lands somewhere between an American Barleywine and a Brown Ale with maple and birch syrups for added complexity. Solid drop from these 2 gargantuan breweries.

Wicked Weed ‘Dark & Stormy’ BA American Strong Ale


61261887_1096550957195715_3048479842950447104_n“Dark and Stormy emerges from the confluence point of two brewing seas. One beer surges from the south with smooth molasses and exotic spices in Caribbean rum barrels, while the other blows in from the north with bright ginger and Turbinado sugar. These two brews crash together to form the perfect balance of dark and stormy.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Kind of a light chestnut brown affair. It caps off with a loosely held finger of tan foam which settles at the rim. Thick and foamy lace sticks to the glass as we hook in.

Aroma: The trusty dark & stormy was an old favourite of one of ours back in our hey day. The best thing about it was that all you needed was a bottle of rum and a couple of bottles of ginger beer! So naturally this takes me back with its distinct ginger and subtle spicy rum characters. Certainly picking up the rich and sweet molasses along with more delicate notes of coconut, palm sugar and angostura bitters.

Flavour: Wow it’s very close to an actual dark & stormy. The ginger and rum are obviously front and center with intermittent angostura bitters, zesty lime and subtle vanilla and coconut. All underpinned by this rich and chewy molasses. The finish is tangy, spicy and unsurprisingly dominated by ginger and bitters.

Mouthfeel: Dry and almost tart at times. The body is a little too thin and seems to slide off the tongue too easily. The upside is the 10.5% AbV is well hidden.

Overall: What started so well somehow slipped away. The aroma is excellent but the flavour became a little too much by the end. It’s a really fun beer but it’s better as a cocktail in our opinion.

Cooper’s Brewery 2018 Vintage Ale

48053019_998626710321474_5901788121338478592_n“One of Australia’s truly remarkable beers, Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale is made using carefully selected hops, barley malt, crystal malt and malted wheat. With nice levels of bitterness and fruity flavours, this fine ale will mature beautifully over the next two years.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Rusty/bronze kind of affair. It forms two fingers of well retained head and laces well as it subsides.

Aroma: Very malty, nutty and sweet…oh so English! Truck loads of caramel and toffee, white bread, earthy hops, dark fruits, raw almond, honeysuckle and brioche. There’s also something that we just can’t put our finger on…it smells a bit like buttery fairy bread. A classic Aussie delicacy!

Flavour: Follows the nose – it’s malt forward with a lick of earthy hop character. Quite toasty as well, hitting notes of brown bread along with toffee, dried fig and slightly burnt caramel. Estery yeast flavours in there which drag out in to the dry and mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with a somewhat frothy and well rounded texture. A hint of the 7.5% AbV shows through but ultimately it’s well disguised.

Overall: Like all bottled Coopers beers there’s a little clump of settled yeast at the bottom of the glass, so watch your pour. We like this beer as it ages well so drinking it this early will have some pitfalls. Straight to the cellar the other 5 go!

Cigar City ‘Capricho Oscuro’ Barrel Aged American Strong Ale

44130513_967179000132912_6599935188447264768_n“When Cigar City’s dark whim, or “capricho oscuro”, gets the best of us, we select our favorite barrel-aged beers to blend into a Gordian knot of liquid complexity.  Capricho Oscuro #6 is a blend of a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, a bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-style dark ale, a brandy barrel-aged double nut brown ale and a bourbon barrel-aged Baltic porter.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a thumb of tan foam emerging on top. The head peels off to a film and sheds some patchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Phwoar! Saying it’s pungent would be a massive understatement. The layering and overall complexity is just insane. Big impressions of woody oak, vanilla essence, molasses and licorice battle it out with roasted hazelnuts, chocolate mud cake, bourbon and charred malts. Raisin-like dark fruits, earthy tobacco and a nose-tingling alcohol warmth underpins it all. Super rich but still incredibly well balanced.

Flavour: The transition from the nose is excellent…pretty much a mirror image with the big woody barrel notes, rich molasses, bourbon, licorice and vanilla upfront. There’s no lack of intensity as it surges on through a slightly smoky, nutty and roasty middle then on to a boozy, decadent and earthy finish with a dark fruit sweetness remaining on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, oily and somewhat silky texture. Mild co2 with an unbelievably well disguised AbV (12.2%).

Overall: From the beginning through to the end it constantly reminded us of The Bruery’s big dessert stouts. Then add the intensity of a Hunahpu and the balance of a 50/50 Eclipse. With names like that being thrown around we’re sure you get where we’re going. Outstanding drop.

Highwater Brewing ‘Sugaree’ Maple Pecan Strong Ale

36379775_885695511614595_2756698916119379968_n“Ale brewed with Vermont maple sugar, Bourbon barrel oak chips and pecan. Sugaree offers a big slice of flavors that you wish Grandma had put in her famous Thanksgiving pie. Sit back, relax and enjoy a wonderful bottle of liquid love. You will be transported back to times of holiday joy and family get togethers from the past. This is a special treat from us to you, to help relive some of those special memories or maybe help create some new ones.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: A bold burgundy with candy red highlights. The head is loosely packed, swelling to a thumb in height before it breaks up and retreats to the rim. It still manages to coat the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Holy moly we’re getting a sugar high just from smelling it. That is super impressive though it literally smells like a glass of maple syrup. Once it settles the pecans start to come through with its somewhat earthy and savoury sweetness. Not a lot else can get past that maple syrup, maybe hints of brown sugar, vanilla extract and a hint of oak but that’s about it.

Flavour: Less maple syrup and more pecan that’s for sure. The booze (9.8% ABV) reveals itself and the oak chips and bitter roast adds depth and a crucial counter balance to all of the sweetness. We’re only just starting to pick up the bourbon notes now although they’re still pretty delicate. It shows mild vanilla, caramel and spice which pairs back up with the maple syrup to finish on a length.

Mouthfeel: Not at all heavy but it still holds a good weight throughout. Some heat from the booze but also a nice and sticky texture going on.

Overall: It’s amazing how far they took the maple syrup without overdoing it. We could only imagine how well this beer would go with an actual slice of maple covered pecan pie….or any dessert for that matter. Sensational.

Black Dog Brewery & Eel River ‘Eeldog II’ Imperial Black Rye Ale

14523059_578011675716315_7853199065087496638_n“Teaming up with Eel River once again, this has strayed to the dark side. With a good amount of rye to add complexity & spice, a mix of local HPA035 & American chinook hops. Rich, smooth, chewy, with a good hit of bitterness.”

Served in Black Dogs labelled Pint glass. She pours as black as the ace of spades and caps off with a short but extremely well retained head that works a wet and streaky lace trail down the walls of the glass. The nose is rich, hearty and viscous – perfect for those freezing nights in Taminick. There’s so much bottom end to this aroma, the solid earthy base engages with decadent scents of espresso, molasses, burned wood, tobacco, dates, fig and a subtle rye spiciness. The sheer complexity on the nose is just incredible. The mouth feel is creamy and luxurious but also somewhat sharp and bitey – the 8.2% ABV would certainly play a hand in that we’re sure. Quite a bold bitterness through it too as the weight of the beer is felt in the swallow. Very complex, much like the aroma. The flavour follows suit with an intricate fusion of earthy malts, espresso, charred wood and garnished with a peppery rye spice. Quite an aggressive bitterness surges across the mid as it leads in to a dry and roasty finish with very subtle hints of dark fruit on the back palate. We actually enjoyed one of these while chatting to James at his cellar door a few weeks ago. At the time it was great but once we got in and pulled it apart it’s even better! She’s rich, decadent and absolutely delicious. The IBA now has a new contender for the best beer in the range. Superb.

Kaiju! Beer ‘Behemoth’ Double India Black Ale

13006535_504567603060723_7716118333066490094_n“Behold now behemoth. His immense strength hewn from legend. His bitterness drawn from the dark belly of the earth. Where he strides none may remain.”

Served in an IPA glass. The pitch black body is capped off by a mountainous four finger head that takes an age to settle to a thick, frothy overlay. It’s retained beautifully and allows thick, soapy lace trails to cling to the glass as it recedes. Kaiju are renowned for their big, pungent IPA’s and seems this India black ale is no exception. The olfactory’s are set off by a big roasted malt backbone that also imparts heavy wafts of coffee, dark chocolate, cacao, ash, charred wood and crusty bread. The hops also play a considerable role as subtle but sweet fruity notes push through the malts. We also get a fair whack of pine and warming alcohol. Very multi-layered and actually quite complex. A swish around the mouth offers full body with a dense and oily texture. Carbonation is moderate but a lip puckering 130 IBU launches an assault on the palate. The 10.5% ABV also weighs in with an evident burn that’s well discernible. The front palate is in a state trying to isolate the array of flavours. A complex fusion of alcohol, heavily roasted malts, dark chocolate and a fruity hop sweetness are all hinged on an aggressive hop bitterness that bridges the mid and ushers in a long and drawn out finish that’s as dry as the Sahara desert. Delicious roasted flavours linger on the back end and somewhat balance out the strident bitterness. Phwoar! This is one of those beers where the label has clearly lived up to its name. This is a behemoth….nothing less. It’s bold, bitter, roasted and in your face and it certainly doesn’t try to hide it either. Kaiju! We love you! 🙂

Black Dog Brewery ‘Hell Hound’ India Black Ale

imageHound India Black Ale is a dark, brooding brew, melding together two of our favourite styles. The rich smoothness of a dark beer and the crazy hopping regime of an IPA. In folklore, they say if you stare into the eyes of a hell hound three or more times, it bodes a ghastly fate. Not this hell hound, its rich layers of dark malt and huge hit of lip smacking hop bitterness, and aroma, will seal your fate at first glance.rooding brew, melding together two of our favourite styles. The rich smoothness of a dark beer and the crazy hopping regime of an IPA. In folklore, they say if you stare into the eyes of a hell hound three or more times, it bodes a ghastly fate. Not this hell hound, its rich layers of dark malt and huge hit of lip smacking hop bitterness, and aroma, will seal your fate at first glance.”

This is our first entry for this brewery from North-East Victoria. James Booth (head brewer and chief wine maker) and his team are another addition to the burgeoning brewery/vineyard sect that are becoming quite popular in Australia, joining the likes of Prickly Moses (Otway Estate), Bellarine brewing (Bellarine estate) and Vale brewing (McLaren Vale estate) just to name a few. Served in a tulip glass. The mat black pour arouses a huge three finger tanned head that displays excellent retention. Five minutes after the pour and we’re still seeing a good fingers worth of foam settling in and omitting a thin sheet of lace as it ebbs. Looks good. Woah! where do we start with this aroma? Only just does the sharp citric bitterness hit the olfactory first. As wafts of grapefruit, pine and orange peel come forward, so do rich scents of chocolate, cocoa, coffee and roasted malt. Behind it all is a delicate vanilla-like creaminess/spiciness that provides an extra layer of depth and complexity to this aroma. Solid! there’s a lot to like about this already. In the mouth there’s an acute bitterness that dries up the tongue while the malts add a little weight to the creamy texture. The body is medium-full and the Co2 levels are moderate. The palate is treated to, we can somewhat say, a reversal of the aroma. Decadent chocolate malts, cocoa and coffee are at the forefront as an assertive resinous hop bitterness locks it all in. The bitterness hesitates through the mid, allowing the roasty malts to flow on to the dry, piney finish. Good length here, notes of charred malts and dank resinous hops persist well on to the back end. Wow this brewery hasn’t just hit our radar, it’s flewn right in to it at a rate of knots. What a way to kick off proceedings huh?! We’re already looking forward to the next installment from this brewery.

Southern Tier ‘Iniquity’ Imperial Black Ale

imageWe picked up this bottle from the brilliant lill’ bottle shop in Berry NSW, where under the guidance of the knowledgable owner Justin, stated that this imperial black ale is an absolute must to try for the craft beer lover. could you not. Like waving a red flag to a bull. This beer is called ‘iniquity’ (meaning opposing goodness). Simply, it means that this beer is contrary to what you would expect from an IPA. It is an ale, as black as the night! We are a little confused it an ale or an IPA? Anyway, who cares let’s roll on.

Served chilled in a tulip glass, it is indeed black as black can be, but has a beautiful dark ruby character when held up to light. There is a creamy 10 mm head with small carbonated bubbles, which fades leaving patchy bubbles and  a rim of tightly packed 5mm bubbles. The aroma is insane. Like a juicy fruit salad, intermixed with roasted malts, and some mild coffee. First mouthfeel is divine. Very smooth ale like flavour at forefront on the palate, which then slowly increases to a well contained bitterness at the backend. More roasted flavours like espresso, mild ash, very mild dark chocolate and its wrapped up in the 9% alc vol booze hit. This is not overpowering though but definately present. It’s amazing the difference between the initial sweet, juicy fruit like aroma and the more bitter, mild drying hit of the hops in the mouth. We note the use of kettled chinook and cascade hops, willamette hop back, and dry hopped cascade and centennial hops. So complex. We get that lovely citrus, grapefruit hit on the palate. More subdued pine. It is so damn floral and this must be the willamette. We love the fact that this immensely smooth drop has a medium body and is not too heavy, has mild carbonation so the ale-like qualities shine, and has this artistic like lacing down the glass like it’s been painted. It’s a lovely black ale, which could be mistaken for a black IPA due to the hop dominance. Such a balanced, smooth imperial ale. Well brewed and many thanks has to go to Justin because he is bang on. This is a superb drop and has to be consumed by anyone interested in craft beer. Good luck finding it!

Mildura Brewery ‘Mallee Bull’ Strong ale

image“I have to admit that I have never seen a Mallee Bull and so in my imagination, such a creature only exists metaphorically as a myth to express the idea of strength. This beer certainly has strength, both of flavour and character. It is a great accompaniment for rich comfort foods of substance such as raised beef cheek. This is a beer with personality and doesn’t shy away from robust encounters.”

Served in a shaker glass. The slightly hazy amber pour knocks up a modest one finger head which slowly peels off a few millimetres before settling to a fine covering over the top. Thick, soapy lacing is left clinging to our glasses. It’s an all malt affair on the nose as we take in some lovely caramelised aromas. Toffee would have to be the dominant scent, but layers of honeycomb, stone fruits (apricot, raisin) fig and caramel fudge add a firm depth to this aroma. Solid start. The mouth feel is surprisingly light on with a silky smooth texture. Carbonation levels are quite mild also which unfairly conveys a slightly slippery feel. It’s n no way watery but it is flirting with being a bit too thin. A delicious caramelised malt sweetness promotes a soft, nutty character upfront. Rich toffee takes a hold of the taste buds as a mild hop bitterness flows through and leads on to a sweet, sugary finish with a suggestion of roast on the back end. Personally, we think this is a damn good representation of an amber ale, although we don’t quite get the “strong ale” as suggested on the label. Some may argue but we feel 5.6% ABV doesn’t really classify it as strong but rather a level at which we wished more brewers would brew this type of ale at. With exception to Mountain Goat’s ‘fancy pants’ amber ale, it’s hard to find a good amber ale with enough body and flavour at low ABV’s. Essentially, it’s not really a strong ale. More of a well brewed and highly palatable amber ale.

Liberty brewing co. ‘Yakima scarlet’ Unknown ale

image“My original records for this beer date back to a batch of home brew in June 2007. It was a beer called IPA Massacre. It was brewed three times under this moniker with minor tweaks along the way. The most significant tweak I made to the recipe was changing to use hops grown in Washington USA. Accordingly, in January 2011 the name was changed to Yakima Scarlet. There were no less than seven iterations of this beer brewed before releasing what you hold in your hands right now. I still don’t what style of beer it is, but I can tell you that it is hoppy and it is red”.

There’s quite an interesting little history to this beer. over the years the brewer has played around and finally perfected this unknown style of ale to produce what it is right now. We’re quite intrigued. Served in an IPA glass the deep copper red pour produces a tight two finger tan head that retains. Laced well. The first major part of deconstructing this beer starts with the aroma and what we’re getting is big, caramelised helpings of toffee, dough, Jaffa, kumquat, plum and treacle. A real mixed bag but what an interesting beer we have right here. In the mouth it feels quite smooth and velvety with medium carbonation. Upfront a surprisingly hoppy bitterness dominates the subtle caramel notes on the tongue. A little warming booze in the mid-palate delivers a slightly bitter finish with grapefruit and hints of toffee. 6.9% ABV is only mildly evident but all in all well balanced among the other flavours. To sum it up, we would class this beer as either a double red ale or an India red ale, and a pretty tasty one at that. Good effort from these brewers, an interesting beer.

Feral brewing ‘Barrique Okarma’ Oaked black ale

image“First brewed in May 2013 for the Great Australian Beer Spectapular in conjunction with Melbourne Good Beer Week. Barrique Okarma is a version of our Black IPA Karma Citra. The beer undergoes primary fermentation in new French oak wine barriques, before being returned to stainless for final processing and dry hopping with American Citra hops. Much like B.F.H Barrique has a softer mouth feel and sweet vanilla aroma.”

This is the brewpub series from an outstanding brewery in W.A. We love the subtle reference to Barrack Obama…being a black ale. First whiff is an interesting combo of pine hops and smoked malt. Pours like a stout in colour with a creamy head which fades. Minimal lacing on the glass. The first sip is amazing. Bitterness from the hops but contains that real resinous IPA aroma, and a creaminess that lingers on the palate well after gulping it down. We wonder whether lactose has been used in the brewing? It’s sitting at 6.5% and its really smooth. We reckon this beer is a must with gamey meat. All in all, brilliant beer from an award winning microbrewery. This beer will win awards too.

8 wired ‘mighty’ imperial ale

image“My idea of a strong ale was brewed with loads of malt, hops, jaggery and a touch of manuka smoke. It was fermented with a clean ale yeast to let the ingredients speak for themselves without getting interrupted by too many esters. After all that it was aged for 5 months on American oak, then refermented in the bottle”.

This brewery just simply refuses to brew an average beer….and we love it!! This one is an immensely strong, oak aged American ale which is brewed with Manuka smoke, jaggery (raw sugar) and aged on American oak. Woah. Served in a beer tulip, the tawny brown pour struggled to construct it’s minimal tan head that swells to about a fingers height before slowly reducing to patches of foam on top. Minimal lacing. As to be expected from this world class brewery a very unique, yet brilliantly complex aroma consisting of burned wood, dark fruits, fortified wine, aniseed, palm sugar, vanilla, smoke and a touch of alcohol comes forward. The mouth feel is silky with mild-medium carbonation. Fuller bodied. Quite woody, the oak really gives the texture a thick viscosity. Upfront the palate is dominated by the warming alcohol content (11% ABV) while the mid develops unique and earthy flavours such as port, vanilla oak and caramel. The finish is long and well drawn out offering a lot of smoked and peaty notes. Wow this is a very complicated beer, insanely strong and extra points for originality and its individual style. Great beer.