Total Score: 8.55/10
Van Dieman Brewing is a new craft brewer on the already-seemingly-but-not-really-compared-to-America overcrowded Aussie craft brewer scene… let me catch a breath after saying that… where was I? Yes, Van Dieman Brewing, named for Van Dieman’s Land, a place where people drive many vans, cousins are an entirely eligible option for marriage, and the apples are plentiful, most of us here in 21st century Australia call it “Tasmania”. Tis a mystical isle to us “northerners” (aka the rest of Australia) but it has nonetheless become a hub of world-class cuisine and Whiskey – which I greatly admire it for. This Port barrel-aged RIS an obvious candidate for my first beer review from Van Dieman, BA Stouts rule.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: Black is the preferred body colour for a Russian Imperial Stout, and this has it in spades (which I believe are also black). The head is almost non-existent, however the bits and bubbles that do exist are khaki coloured. Overall it’s hard for me not to give at least an “8” to a decent RIS. 8/10.
S: Milo* maltiness immediately hits you right in the olfactory parts. Along with Bovril/Vegemite notes and a molasses centre. This is going to be a mighty no-holds-barred RIS then [insert slow clap here]. 8/10.
T: An odd but satisfying mix of the above aromas combines to create a tasty, nay lip-smacking Imp Stout. Everything is so well balanced, and big without being overbearing, hints of chocolate as well. Finish adds a simple cask-complexity smoothness from the Port barrelling, and you have to look at this and wonder “WTF?! Where did these guys come from? This is world-class stuff”. 9/10.
M: Heavy bodied, smooth as Obama singing ‘What’s Going On’ (not Marvin Gaye smooth but getting there) with an extremely dense to the point of being flat carbonation. 9/10.
D: Bravo Tasmania! This is what Australia needs more of: Huge in-your-face/smooth/heavy Imperial Stouts – this thing reminds me of the big boys (FBS & Old Rasputin) in many ways, but lacking the flavour complexity of those American stalwarts. However this is a bold Aussie step in the right direction. 8/10.
Food match: Cigars and Port cake… I just invented that for this beer.
*FYI Milo is an Aussie milk drink flavouring similar to, but greater than, Ovaltine.