Stillwater Artisanal Ales The Cloud

Total Score: 8.5/10 GreenMelon1Orange1Biscuit1Nonicpint1

Anyone guessed the theme for tonight’s double-header yet? It’s pretty obvious, if you missed it I can’t help you. You need to see a professional. I know I’m called Doc, however this is a moniker – I’m not a real doctor. With that out of the way I’m looking forward to this Stillwater brew, who coincidentally have collaborated with tonight’s other brewer: Collective Arts [this is not the theme, nice try!]. What we have here is another New England IPA. This time with Manderina Bavaria & Huell Melon hops (OK this is going to be an interesting beer) along with Mosaic & Centennial, oats and lactose for body. Quite an intriguing hop bill, though I suspect the Mosaic/Centennial hops will overpower the German ones, let’s see then.

Poured from a 473ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Ok, well, not a NEIPA here then – slight hazed golden body with a billowy white head that descends leaving sticky lace on the side of the glass. When I say “not a NEIPA” I mean in the sense that the body is almost clear, it’s missing that haze, but who cares if the golden liquid inside tastes great? Not I. 7/10.

S: Floral with honeydew melon accents, glad the Huell Melon made it past the gate-keeping Mosaic/Centennial then… hints of mandarin and orange blossom, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, it’s surprising how muted that Mosaic/Centennial combo is, TBH I was not expecting the Manderina Bavaria & Huell Melon to shine this much, especially that honeydew melon character – noice! 9/10.

T: Not a NEIPA, cool, let’s quickly get past it because this is one moreish American IPA. Flavour is upfront with that honeydew melon and orange blossom honey sweetness followed by hints of mandarin, lemon, Juicy Fruit chewing gum leading in to a biscuit malt base, hint of pineapple, and light citric bitterness in the finish. Aftertaste lingers with the above fruity combo – top-notch stuff here. 9/10.

M: Medium, almost heavy-bodied, with a full/dense carbonation. Weird, didn’t see evidence of secondary but this was just as gassy as Life in the Clouds. 7/10.

D: This is one tasty IPA, balanced superbly by Stillwater – the fact that they were able to give those German hops a chance to shine is a testament to their skill as a brewer, armchair brewers like myself will note: Manderina Bavaria & Huell Melon hops have a lower alpha acid content than Mosaic & Centennial, so the fact they were able to balance this so well is admirable (brewing is more art than science IMO). Mouthfeel could have used less carbonation though. 8/10.

Food match: A smart beer like this deserves a smart gourmet pizza: Okonomiyaki.

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Collective Arts Life in the Clouds Hazy IPA

Total Score: 8.35/10 PapayaMango1Orange1CutGrass1Nonicpint1

I’ve got a theme for tonight’s double-header, let’s see if you can guess it (it’s in the ____). First up from Collective Arts, of whose liquid refreshment BOYOBOY I reviewed last night. This time I’ll be looking at (and tasting) Life in the Clouds – an IPA in the vein of that New England style that I believe is all the rage these days [I won’t lie: I’m actually a NEIPA fanboi]. Simcoe and Mosaic are on the hop bill for Life in the Clouds, so it’s going to be a tasty roller-coaster of love with a slant towards mango fandango from the Mosaic, and piney/orange goodness-gracious-me from the Simcoe. As far as a hop bill goes the only other hops I can think of to swap out the Simcoe would be: Amarillo or Citra – that’s a solid bill IMO. Also love the label artworks, très bien Collective Arts!

Poured from a 473ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Murky AF mango-coloured body with a big 3 centimetre white head that slowly drops back leaving splotchy lace patterns inside the glass. Yep, she definitely looks like a NEIPA – I think calling it “hazy” is underselling it: light will not shine through this dense fog of a body. 9/10.

S: Mango puree, fresh-squeezed OJ, that’s Mosaic/Simcoe at work right there, doing what they do best. Hints of grapefruit and passionfruit round out a fantastic hop-driven NEIPA aroma, no malt, no worries – can’t wait to get stuck in, so without further ado let’s move on already. 9/10.

T: Taste follows the aroma: sweet mango puree, fresh-squeezed OJ, hints of grapefruit, passionfruit. Then it adds in a dry earthy cracker malt base. Finish is long dry with a medium grassy hop bitterness. Balance is pretty good, I mean it’s a bit more bitter than the last few NEIPAs I’ve had, but I don’t mind a touch more bitterness in my NEIPAs, actually reminds me of Hop Nation Jedi Juice – and that’s a tasty East meets West NEIPA right there. 8/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a dense and a reasonably gassy carbonation – it was 7 burp beer, nothing inherently wrong with that, though it does detract slightly. 7/10.

D: Apart from the overly gassy carbonation (looks like there was plenty of secondary going on in the can – there was a heap of yeast chunks in the pour) this is indeed a stellar brew from the Canadian brewer Collective Arts, who are wowing me with their label art and the beers inside. Now if they’re ever thinking of doing a collaboration with an Aussie brewer: Hop Nation, yes! 9/10.

Food match: Vietnamese Bún Bò Xào with fresh chilli for that extra zing.

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Little Creatures The Fuggle is Real

Total Score: 7.35/10 Chocolate1DarkFruits1Flowers1Nonicpint1

I’ve had a bit of history with Little Creatures – their Pale Ale was the first beer that made me truly fall in love with craft beer (I dabbled with CAMRA ales in Scotland in 2001 before this). That was a long time ago (nearly a decade now) my go-to when I was working in a bottle-shop back then was 2 pints of Little Creatures Pale Ale. When they released their Single Batch beers they had some real crackers (The Quiet American was my favourite) and my respect for them went up again. Then Lion-Nathan bought them out and they spent a few years in the wilderness. A corner was turned recently when they bought back Single Batch with a tasty Altbier called Reinhold. Now The Fuggle is Real is their latest seasonal, and it’s pretty decent IMO (I had a can of it recently). Is Little Creatures back? I think so.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Deep black/cola brown murky body with a mocha coloured head that settles at about 1 centimetre – as a good Stout should. The head leaves patchy lace inside the glass as it descends. A solid looking Stout right here. 8/10.

S: Roasted chocolate malt, bit of espresso coffee and floral/earthy notes from the Loral and Fuggle hops. There’s a nice bit of dichotomy here that is the hallmark of the American Stout style – it’s that mix of hops and roasted malts that makes the style interesting, very similar to a Black IPA (which is more slanted towards hops with less roasted barley). 8/10.

T: Roasted chocolate malt upfront, a light whisper of smoke, espresso coffee, hints of dark fruits (plum/prune) and yes: floral/earthy hops. The hops are a bit less prominent in the flavour than the aroma, however they’re present. Finish is mid to light herbal bitterness with a touch of dry. Aftertaste is roasted chocolate/plum. It could be a tad more exciting, but this is a solid Stout from Little Creatures. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is lacking (given the 5.8% ABV) with a mid to light body and a light/dense carbonation, this is an area for improvement. 6/10.

D: I’m glad to say it: Little Creatures is back! That’s two good beers that they’ve released recently, and even though I won’t touch their Dog Days Summer Beer with a ten foot barge-pole (for obvious reasons) I’m confident that their next beer release will be decent now… unless it’s a sub-5% ABV brew – then I ain’t touching that with a ten foot barge-pole. Give this a go though: Little Creatures have brewed a solid American Stout here. 8/10.

Food match: Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding with dripping, roast potatoes, etc.

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Collective Arts BOYOBOY Boysenberry Breakfast Sour

Total Score: 7.95/10 Raspberry1Cherry1Raspberry1Tulipglass1

Collective Arts BOYOBOY Boysenberry Breakfast Sour: I was recommended this one by a craft drinking buddy, yes I’m not a fan of sours, but my mate told me this is a light sour with a decent amount of sweetness. Plus I’ve heard the colour of this brew is bitchen, also I look for any opportunity I can to use the word “bitchen” so it’s a win-win. I should mention that this brew is a collaboration between Collective Arts and Stillwater Artisanal. It contains flaked oats as well as lactose (the breakfast in the name)… oh yeah, and boysenberry puree. The label art is pretty interesting as well, it’s like a pink/purple liquid oozing out of itself, weird. Label art is something that Collective Arts are known for AFAIK.

Poured from a 473ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Huh, looks almost exactly the same as my last beer review: To Øl Mr. Pink 2018 Edition – deep opaque purple body with a creamy pink head, maybe slightly darker than Mr. Pink in the body. How bizarre is that? Two beers in a row with this unique a colour, well played sirs! 9/10.

S: Very boysenberry-driven aroma, tart and slightly sweet, with very little else standing out – this is a boysenberry fiesta. Hints of cherry and forest berries present in further whiffs. If you like anything mixed berry then this is a beery good berry to drink… err, something along those lines. The only complaint I can level with BOYOBOY is a lack of aroma diversity: it’s all about the berries here. 8/10.

T: Yep, boysenberries all over this – if you’re a fan of boysenberries you’ll be in boysenberrydise with BOYOBOY. Hints of morello cherry, raspberry and forest berries round out a berry berry experience. Mid-palate has sweetness that’s followed by a nice level of tartness in the finish. The balance is well done and this beer overall reminds me of a bowl of Greek yoghurt with boysenberries – a healthy breakfast. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a dense/sorta-flat carbonation. The body is good, carbonation: could do with a touch more though. 7/10.

D: This is a solid sweet and sour breakfast beer. It’s not exciting, however it was enjoyable, and for me: not too sour at all. I can imagine fans of really sour beers might find this a bit middling and sweet – you know who you are really sour fans, this might not be the beer for you. A decent first beer from Collective Arts (and Stillwater Artisanal), cheers CA/SA! 8/10.

Food match: This would make a great palate-cleansing dessert beer: cheesecake it!

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To Øl Mr. Pink 2018 Edition

Total Score: 7.8/10 Earth1RedApple1Peppercorns1Nonicpint1

Yep, another of the To Øl Reservoir Dogs series, this time it’s Mr. Pink 2018 Edition. I’ve really enjoyed the innovation Mr. To Øl has put into these brews, so far they’ve been intriguing and tasty drops, with Mr. White being a beer I would love to get again – that’s the biggest shame with limited release beers like this: sometimes you never see/taste them ever again. So what’s Mr. Pink all about? Well it’s an IPA brewed beetroot. Bit of an East Coast meets Eastern Europe vibe going on. I’m not a massive fan of beetroot (I find the combination of root vegetable and overbearing sweetness a bit unsettling), though I am interested to see what shade of pink Mr. Pink will be. Plus it’s a beer from To Øl, it’ll be good (if not great).

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Holy shit! This thing looks exactly like beetroot juice (opaque-purple) only with a massive 1.5 inch pink head that slowly falls back. It’s not often I’m flabbergasted by the look of a beer but To Øl got me here, well played sir! 9/10.

S: The usual NEIPA suspects: tropical-accented (pineapple) citrus hop notes, mingle with beetroot (of course), earthy/spicy/peppery tones, and a floral finish. The aroma character is sweet, delicate, earthy and spicy – it’s quite a fragrant aroma, I could get this in a cologne if Calvin Klein would just return my calls already. 10/10.

T: Well… it’s definitely a vegetable beer, no compunctions about that. Flavour profile is beetroot all over: earthy/spicy and sweet. NEIPA notes come in with a touch of pineapple, hints of grapefruit, and apple – yep, that’s right: apple. I suspect the interaction between the beetroot flavours and the NEIPA flavours is giving off a touch of apple, it’s not something I normally find in IPAs or Pale Ales, so there you go. Finishes earthy dry with a mild herbal bitterness. Look flavour-wise this is going to be a polarising beer, I’m not a fan but I can see how others might dig this. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is decent: Medium bodied with a medium/dense carbonation… slightly gassy, but not OTT. 8/10.

D: Like I said this beer is a polarising one. I’m not a huge fan. The aroma was fantastic though. Just the flavour of beetroot – that earthy/sweet mix that plays tricks with my tongue – also it doesn’t blend well with NEIPA flavours IMO. Maybe if it was a straight beetroot beer it might have been less disharmonious, who knows. Still I wasn’t disappointed I tried it – I’m always happy to experiment when it comes to beers, and this was an interesting experiment to say the least. 7/10.

Food match: Earthy dishes with mushrooms and beetroot will pair well with this.

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3 Ravens Moussey Juicy Chocolate Milkshake NEBIPA

Total Score: 7.8/10 Chocolate1Nut1Orange1Nonicpint1

Wow this one sounds like a Frankenstein’s monster of a brew: 3 Ravens Moussey Juicy Chocolate Milkshake NEBIPA (New England Black India Pale Ale). Yep, it’s exactly what you were thinking: regular Juicy (which is a NEIPA) mixed with chocolate, vanilla, lactose (for body) and pectin (also for body???)… don’t forget triticale (hybrid wheat/rye) and oats. This is going to be a chewy beer then. So I guess 3 Ravens haven’t run dry on ways to milk their Juicy series, they’ve already released: Juicy, Extra Juicy, Lemon Juicy, Citra Juicy, Yuzu Juicy, etc… all they need to do now is add: Cherry Juicy, Lime Juicy, Atomic Juicy… well they really could go on forever, although I’m not a fan of the idea of Durian Juicy, it is indeed possible.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Almost spot-on chocolate brown with a firm-packed mocha head that leaves some patchy lace on the side of the glass as it goes down. Looks as chunky as I imagined from the ingredients list – this should be good if the flavours work. 8/10.

S: Roasted cacao and dark chocolate notes mingle with an orange hint and a sweet sugary caramel malt base. They could probably have named it “Jaffa Juicy” if that orange comes through like I’m expecting it to. Now I remember what pectin is – it’s used as a gelling agent in jellies – this has a very dessert jelly-like aroma to it (for better or worse). 7/10.

T: Roasted cacao and powered chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate leads the palate, mid hop orange citrus character has a look in but the chocolate is the master of this domain. Nutty and slight caramel malts bring in a bit of sweetness. Finishes more dry than anything else. Aftertaste is powdered chocolate and dry. Overall this isn’t as crazy a flavour profile as expected and reasonably well-balanced too – I would buy this again. 8/10.

M: As expected Moussey Juicy has a nice creamy mouthfeel, medium bodied with a dense carbonation. Considering the ingredients though I feel like they worked hard for a texture that is thinner than it should be. Still good though. 8/10.

D: Weirdly, even though I originally thought this beer might crash and burn it hasn’t, in fact I could drink this as a decent, chocolate-driven Black IPA in winter. It fits the bill as something not-quite-but-almost-a-stout and a good halfway between the usually citrus-driven IPAs and chocolate/roasted coffee Stouts. Not sure what they pulled off but 3 Ravens did pull off something here. 8/10.

Food match: Banquet roasted meats and medieval style cuisine springs to mind.

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To Øl Mr. White 2018 Edition

Total Score: 8.25/10 Clove1Grapefruit1Coriander1Tulipglass1

Grisettes – never tried them before, but they’re basically a Saison by any other name right? “Sorta” is the answer my quick Google research uncovered: aside from being brewed with malted wheat, hopped more, and brewed at a lower ABV than Saisons, they are indeed a similar beast to Saisons which survived into the modern era. In the case of the Grisette it appears to have been not as popular a style, and as a result died off. All this said To Øl are clearly blurring the lines with Mr. White 2018 Edition by calling it a “New England style grisette ale brewed with white grapefruit” where they find their line to draw a distinction between Saison/Grisette is anyone’s best guess, needless to say I do enjoy ticking another beer style off my bucket list.

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip (my go-to Saison glass).

A: Hazy golden/pale-yellow body with a rather excitable 3 centimetre foamy white head that dies down slowly. Carbonation action inside the glass looks busy – this could be a 5-burp brew. Lace-work inside the glass is formidable too. 8/10.

S: Spicy clove/cardamom punch upfront, big grapefruit centre, musty yeast tones and dry cracker malt. This should be an absolute cracker, aroma is like the “Best Saison hits 2018”. Hint of herbal character in the finish as well, really looking forward to this now. 8/10.

T: Strangely flat carbonation, but we’ll get to that next. Flavour profile is all of the above: spicy clove/cardamom, grapefruit, musty yeast, dry cracker, with a long dry finish that’s punctuated at the end by a mild bitter herbal note. It’s light but well balanced, the bitter/sour twang from the grapefruit really works with this style, making for a moreish, thirst-quenching drop (which FYI is exactly what Grisettes were intended to be for the Belgian miners). 9/10.

M: Surprisingly the body is bigger: medium-bodied, and the carbonation is flatter than expected, to the point that there is barely any carbonation registering with me (and I’m sensitive to carbonated beverages). I quite enjoy it, but I know it’s got to be off style so I’m only marking it down for that. 6/10.

D: I might be a bit biased because I love Saisons and New England IPAs, but this is one beer I would buy a steady supply of if it were a core range beer. To Øl really have hit the nail on the head once again with a beer very reminiscent of their previous brews Campale and Snowball Saison, only this packs a flavour punch for 5% ABV. Top bloody work again To Øl! 8/10.

Food match: I could chow down on a steak frites any day with this brew.

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