Total Score: 8.75/10
Murray’s – it’s been too long! Now that we’ve got that out of the way: “Hell of the North”? Really?! What does that even mean? [It was at this point Doc realised that he was not actually speaking with a person, or even a brewery named Murray’s, but that he was simply strolling further down the cobbled steps of his own sanity, or lack thereof… pity Doc dear reader]. Apparently this “Strong Dark Belgio Ale” is brewed with not one but three different Trappist yeasts – and considering there’s like 6 Trappist brewers out there [Err, more like 11 Doc] that seems like a bit of excessive yeast pitching there.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip (because I left my Chimay chalice back in Canberra… *sniff*).
A: Cloudy seal brown body with (surprisingly for an 11.5% ABV brew) a sandy-coloured half centimetre head that sticks around for a while. Pretty decent effort here from Hell of the North. 8/10.
S: Plenty of stuff going on with my olfactory senses here – plum, raisin, date, banana, candi sugar, clove and mace give the sense that this is going to be one BIG beer… too BIG? Time, in this case 20 seconds from now, will tell. I will also add a touch of bready notes trying to struggle against the tide of sheer sugar-bombery. 8/10.
T: Wow, this is pretty f#*king well-balanced… I suspect the three Trappist yeasts have something to do with that. You’ve got all the above flavours (plum, raisin, date, banana, candi sugar, clove and mace) coming together in all their complexity and grandeur, but without it being an out-and-out sugar-bomb (which frankly I was expecting). Hints of a metallic/burnt caramel flavour in the aftertaste detract ever so slightly from a Belgium-matching “Strong Dark Belgio Ale”. Oh yeah, and you don’t get to 11.5% ABV without a hint of alcohol – this has that hint. 9/10.
M: Medium bodied with a light but dense carbonation… pretty bang on here. 9/10.
D: This is definitely a beer I could get more acquainted with on those mild Brisbane winter nights… as a stalwart Belgian Strong Dark Ale devotee (just look at my top 10 beers of all-time list and you’ll find 6 of those beers Belgian brews) my only disappointment with Hell of the North is the fact that I’ll never get my hands on it again – unless Murray’s re-release it… please Murray’s make this beer again! I will buy an entire slab if you do! 9/10.
Food match: Murray’s says cheese platter and I tend to agree as long as you live close to a major metropolitan hospital.