Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout

Total Score: 8.25/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

Getting close to #850 I found this Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout that had been sitting at the back of the fridge since last year! I had been meaning to review it for so long however new beers kept popping up and it consequentially got pushed to the back. I’ve heard good things about this Dutch brewery, named after a village in one of the low-lying areas of the Netherlands that got flooded and disappeared off the maps, this Russian Imperial Stout being one of the most vaunted of their brews. I must admit the weather is primed for this 11% ABV RIS – being a chilly (for Brisbane at least) 16 degrees Celsius atm… so time to sit back, pop open a nice RIS and sip it slowly from my Duvel tulip, ahhh, life is good!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep and rich mahogany body, hmmm, not bad, with a centimetre of dense khaki head. It’s a surprise that a beer this strong can even maintain a head, let alone one as luscious as this, excellent work. Lots of yeast clumps at the bottle of the glass, normal for a beer that has been in the fridge for about a year. 9/10.

S: Smells a treat too! Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, dark chocolate and an almost floral perfume round out the aroma. Hint of earthiness in there as well, this brew has definitely benefited from a short cellaring in the back of my fridge – when an RIS aroma is this good you just want to tuck straight in. 9/10.

T: The above characters: Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, and dark chocolate come through well. Then it takes a decidedly dark fruit slant and throws dates and raisins at you. Touch on the sweeter side – though nothing out of the ordinary given the style. Finish is has a sharp espresso bitter note, a slight detraction from an overall splendid flavour profile. The 11% ABV is hardly noticeable as well, though I suspect this would not be the case with a fresher bottle. 8/10.

M: Decent but not perfect, mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation – the only real room for improvement with this brew (oh and the bitterness in the finish). 8/10.

D: Top shelf stuff this! That bitter note, and the thin carbonation were the only things that let Emelisse down. As far as I’m concerned (aware) this is the best RIS I’ve ever had from the Netherlands – a country not well known for Stout styles, however one that I will revisit in future when I spot another Stout from there. Lol, some American reviewer noted that there wasn’t enough bitterness with this brew… maybe I need to get my tongue checked? 8/10.

Food match: Roasted red meats, also chargrilled, with veggies to match, and cigars.

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Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series: 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale

Total Score: 8.95/10 Coriander1Peppercorns1Pear1Tulipglass1

As far as “beers at the top of my list to drink right now” go this is #1 – however keep watching this space [not this one: this one:      ] as my #850 review coming up in 3 reviews is a beer I’ve been hunting ever since I heard the name that begins with a “C” and ends in an “N” (easy one for beer nerds). However back to here and now: The label on this talks about how with the original they only brewed 300 cases, and bomber-sized bottles sold on eBay for $1,200 USD! … yep this was an instabuy for me. So far the Stone 20th Anniversary stuff has been a blast, I really enjoyed Citracado – I hope they brew that again, and you know what they say about hope: it springs eternal (but you can get a plumber for that).

Poured from a 650ml bomber-sized bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed goldenrod body, big fluffy white head that likes to hang around for a while before slowly compacting in to awesomeness… I may be somewhat giddy and full of hyperbole for this brew, what of it? 9/10.

S: Belgian yeast may have been utilised in this brew: Coriander, clove hints, pepper, pear ester, orange peel and light banana phenol all over the nose. Aroma is reminiscent of La Chouffe (though La Chouffe isn’t $1,200 USD a bottle – slight overpricing on that original Stone brew much?). Still that’s a good bedfellow to have with La Chouffe, #10 on my all-time list, and a cute Gnome on the bottle to boot! 8/10.

T: Wow, again the La Chouffe similarities continue – though this is more dry (ergo bitter) in the finish. Flavours are: Coriander, clove hints, pepper, pear ester, orange peel and light banana phenol. Finish has a long dry followed by a herbal bitterness. Par for par on flavour with La Chouffe, it’s a dead heat IMO. Really depends on what you’re looking for in a flavour profile, oh yeah and the fact that La Chouffe is year-round and this is a one off… for God’s sake don’t spend $1,200 USD on a bottle of this whale-hunters! Exit the hype train, you have reached your destination. 10/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a medium carbonation… could be creamier. 8/10.

D: It’s rare for anyone anywhere else to be on par with a Belgian brewer, but this Stone is. The original was made back in 2002 too, that was a life-time ago in the craft beer industry, which is a testament to the forward thinking of the brewers at Stone – they had the nous to go head to head with Belgian brewers when others were still figuring out what a Pale Ale was, kudos Stone! 8/10.

Food match: Game on (as in roasted game meats, parsnips, some sort of flan…).

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Gage Roads Little Dove New World Pale Ale

Total Score: 6.45/10 Caramel1HopFlower1Flowers1Nonicpint1

Now the second bottle that was donated to me by a Gage Roads rep for the purposes of being reviewed and science – yes science dammit! It was also Champion Australian Beer at the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards… quite a pedigree for this Little Dove. At 6.2% ABV it’s no slouch for an American Pale Ale (APA). Here’s hoping it will bring home the bacon (and fry it in the pan) in a way that Summer Fin (Pacific Ale) didn’t. One thing the rep mentioned about Gage Roads is that they actually bought themselves out of part-ownership by Woolies (i.e. Dan Murphy’s) so they could refocus on their craft… here’s me missing the days of Abstinence and The Convict (both of which I didn’t mind when Dan’s were selling it off cheap), hmmm.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed deep caramel amber with a beige head that leaves some nice lace scrawl on the glass sides. Not bad at all… though pretty dark colour for an APA, interesting (that was my: “expecting a malty APA” interesting). 7/10.

S: Floral/citrus hops mingle with a caramel/toffee malt base, bit on the malty side for an APA aroma, but nonetheless pleasant. I suspect this bottle isn’t as fresh as can be already – the rep wasn’t sure on the brew date – so it might have a touch of hop fade, which is a shame because this obviously earned a gold medal at the AIBA for epitomising an Aussie APA… unless I am mistaken [it’s been known to happen at least twice before]. 7/10.

T: Yep, more on the malt side than expected: my hop fade alarm is ringing (which is a green light marked up by a Sharpie to look like a hop. Caramel/toffee malt base front, centre and towards the back, floral/light tangerine and piney hops in the finish. There is a menthol-like note in there as well, not sure what that’s about. Aftertaste leaning towards caramel/toffee. 6/10.

M: Body is alright though – almost medium with a light but dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: Is for “Disappointing”, maybe if I see this on tap I’ll give it a go – bottles are far too susceptible to light-strike/hop fade, and this one might have been sitting in the back seat of the reps car for a while. That said it wasn’t terrible, just far too malty for any sane beer reviewer to consider it an APA, or an AIBA medal winner for that matter. Being older/wiser I know the warning signs of hop fade and tasted it in beers I’ve had multiple times – all brewers need to switch to cans already! 6/10.

Food match: Doves, preferably small and fried with a nice fennel salad. No joke – doves are tasty, I try to consume at least 3 a week, it’s an expensive habit.

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Gage Roads Single Fin Summer Ale

Total Score: 6.4/10 Caramel1Peach1PapayaMango1Nonicpint1

This and a bottle of Little Dove were kindly donated to me by the Gage Roads rep for the purpose of reviewing it – thanks! I’ll give it a good home (in my belly). So I did caution the Gage Roads rep: I’m not a fan of Summer Ales, Session Ales, or in general anything south of 5% ABV, that said I don’t mind the occasional Gose or Gueuze and they’re generally south of 5% – those are the exceptions that prove my rule though. He said to give it a shot anyway, OK free beer – I’ll bite [even though I got stung before when a Matilda Bay rep gave me a free sample of Minimum Chips which tasted so much like soda water that it felt almost healthy drinking it – yuck!]. Well here goes Single Fin – if you taste even remotely healthy I will be disappointed.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: First test passed: It looks like beer and not soda water. Hazed tan-tinged amber body with a splotchy blanket of white on top… head could be a little bit better at 4.5% ABV, but oh well, looks OK otherwise. 6/10.

S: A balanced malt/hop affair with caramel notes, slight stone fruit character and… oh I get it – this is another Stone & Wood Pacific Ale knock off (others include: Fortitude Drifter, GB 3 Bolt, Balter XPA, Burleigh Twisted Palm… this list goes on…). Well the question will invariably be: How does it compare to S&W PA? This reiteration is a little bit more malty than the original product. 7/10.

T: Flavour was a bit subdued, but it is officially winter in Brisbane and I actually had to wait for it to warm up a little (I know – crazy!). It leans more towards the caramel malt than anything, some stone fruit/tropical hop notes linger in the background struggling to match the malt base. Finish has a touch of bitterness with a surprising dry character (this isn’t a Lager so dryness is a surprise here). It’s meh here… not terrible, but meh. 6/10.

M: Best part of this brew is the mouthfeel – it’s fairly creamy, mid to light bodied, has a bit of heft for a 4.5% ABV beer, it’s alright. 8/10.

D: As expected a bit too flavourless for my liking… and it’s another S&W PA knock off – look I get that S&W PA is killing it in the market, but if you’re going to go up against them you at least need a product as good as them. My respect for S&W Pacific Ale grows more and more every time another brewer tries to emulate their tasty brew and fail. Overall I wouldn’t knock this back on a hot day, but that’s not enough of a reason to give Summer Fin a free pass. 6/10.

Food match: Pizza I guess… or a hamburger… something.

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Bacchus Brewing Balt Action Porter (Oak Edition)

Total Score: 8.05/10 DarkFruits1Wood1Vanilla1Tulipglass1

It’s time for us to go Marty! “Where?” Back to the Bacchus! – Doc Hops. So this one came as recommended from Ross Kenrick himself – a Baltic Porter, which is brewed with Lager yeast, so you learn something new every day… problem is that I forgot 2 things I knew every day… at this rate I’ll have early-onset dementia in a less than a decade (I shouldn’t jest – dementia is a pretty serious health issue hey). So Bacchus makes a Balt Action Porter and an oak edition of the Balt Action, now everyone knows that oak is better right? No? Well it is – now you know. Flavours expected in this 9.8% ABV behemoth are dark fruits, maybe a touch of acidic sourness (as Baltic Porters are known for), brown sugar, and vanilla from the oak… this should be one tasty brew!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep cola-coloured body, difficult to tell if it’s cloudy or not, 2 centimetre tan head that fizzles down gradually like a soft drink (the fizzing is fairly audible). Stops at about 3mm, impressive that there even was a head at 9.8% ABV. 8/10.

S: Red coffee cherries and dark fruit forward aroma, notes of a slight Greek yoghurt sourness as well, oak character? Hard to tell through that predominant coffee cherries/dark fruit aroma. The lack of oak on the nose and much else apart from that which is noted means this brew falls a little short in the aroma for me. 6/10.

T: Flavour is pretty damn good though – this is deceptively easy drinking! Not too sweet either – which can be a problem with any brew north of 8%. Coffee hints, dark fruits pirouetting on the taste buds, that subtle yoghurt acidic kiss, wood character, vanilla, yes it’s got oak as vaunted on the label, all lead towards a dry/woody finish. It’s got a drying aftertaste as well. Tasty, and an excellent representation of the style – another reason for me to drink more Baltic Porters right here. 9/10.

M: Body though… needs more body at this ABV… medium bodied with a thin and crisp carbonation. Oats or lactose in the next batch perhaps Mr. Kenrick? 6/10.

D: Overall a rather tasty, nay excellent, Baltic Porter. The thin body and two-note aroma were the only things holding this back, it’s tough when you’re brewing with Lager yeast though – it’s prone to a thinner mouthfeel and crispness in general. The oak came through in the flavour though, excellent. Also the drinkability of this brew is surprisingly dangerous: 3.9 standard drinks, time for bed now methinks! 9/10.

Food match: Chargrilled steak and roast veggies… throw in a Yorkie and Diane too.

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Blackman’s Brewery Reginald IPA

Total Score: 8.15/10 HopFlower1Flowers1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Reg!!! What an Aussie name for a beer, could you get any more Aussie than Reg? According to Monty Python: Yes, Bruce is the most Aussie a name can ever be. Still Reg is pretty damn Aussie, if you cut Reg he would bleed meat pie gravy. Analogy aside, I come into this review correcting an injustice: I thought that I had already reviewed Blackman’s Reginald IPA. Turns out I had not. Things can get hazy once get past 800 beer reviews – stuff begins to slip through the cracks into the “have I/haven’t I reviewed this?” ether. In any case I have remedied the situation and now I have a lovely 330ml can of Reg sitting in front of me ready to be pierced by my hipster male gaze *stares at can for an entire hour*.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Visually pleasing hazed caramel-hinted amber body with an Ecru 1 centimetre head that sticks around rather well. Lace patterns on the side of the glass, good protein content in that head, tasty looking stuff so far. 9/10.

S: Diacetyl hits the nose, an acceptable level of butterscotch in the aroma – move on, piney/citrus hop notes bring to mind a West Coast IPA that may be (Diacetyl considered) a touch on the malty side. Caramel malts in the nose as well. Apart from Diacetyl the aroma is pretty clean/moreish. 8/10.

T: Even-keeled IPA right here – none of this showy Pirate Life/Green Beacon/et al biz here – just a nice West Coast IPA. The Diacetyl level in this can is dangerously close to over the edge though. Flavours of piney/citrus/floral hops upfront on palate with a broad caramel malt base to carry it through to the finish, which is mildly bitter. TBH this tastes a bit different to the first time I tried it on tap (no notes from that unfortunately) it’s definitely not as fresh with the hops and I don’t remember any Diacetyl in the batch from the tap. Still pretty drinkable regardless. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light creamy carbonation – excellent body, especially for an Aussie brewed IPA (let’s face it: some Australian brewers are lacking in this department). 9/10.

D: Despite the Diacetyl, and the hops not being fresh, this is still a fairly solid Australian IPA that I will buy again in future (paying special attention to the brewed on/best before date). One thing I appreciated with this brew is how approachable it was – my favourite Aussie IPA is still Pirate Life – but you can’t drink Pirate Life (or live it) every day, so it’s good to have options like Reg. 8/10.

Food match: BBQ ribs, oh yeah!

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Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Golden IPA 2017

Total Score: 7.15/10 Lemon1Biscuit1Flowers1Nonicpint1

Sierra Nevada at back at it again: Beer Camp! For 2017 it’s a Golden IPA (whatever that is). Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Golden IPA 2017 – which I will, in my usual tradition, henceforth brand as: SNBCGIPA’17. I love SN… wait, love is a bit powerful a word, I like SN… hmmm, still too powerful, SN is alright. Yeah, better. Last year’s Beer Camp was a high water mark IMO: Tropical IPA. It will be interesting to see how this wheat loaded brew will compare… I don’t suspect favourably, but let’s keep an open mind Doc, after all: it’s just beer! *gets pummelled with shaker pint glasses thrown by various craft beer hipsters* OK, beer is awesome! Can someone drive me to the hospital now?

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Easily mistaken for a wheat beer in a dark Munich alleyway with its hazed golden/straw body and rather fluffy white head. It’s golden – it fits the brief, the fact that it’s got a slight naturtrüb haze is a bonus. 8/10.

S: Aroma like a glass of Sierra Nevada’s own Pale Ale, let me copy/paste my description from that review in case you forgot what SNPA smells like: Floral hops lead my nose to an ale paradise with a hint of caramel malts in the background. I would add that there’s a definite citrus vibe with SNBCGIPA’17 as well. I gave SNPA a 10/10, but that was a long time ago (2011, fuck!)… now it’s more like a: 7/10.

T: Lemon, biscuit and caramel malts, and floral hop notes all packaged in an easy-drinking mildly bitter finish. This is one easy-drinking-lemon-mofo for better/worse. Another reminder that not every beer needs to be balls-to-the-wall intense, however in this instance a little more intensity wouldn’t go astray… just saying SN. 7/10.

M: Decent medium bodied with a reasonably creamy carbonation – it’s not Weihenstephan territory, but it’s getting up there – wheat usually helps. 8/10.

D: What else is there to say – another decent SN brew, not the best in their oeuvre, however it’s a tasty enough IPA to knock back… actually it’s more of an APA TBH. I could drink this with a Pirate Life Pale and not end up with palate fatigue, so really the IPA label is a bit of a misapplication… though it is 6.5% ABV, so I guess in that sense it’s really an IPA… but flavour-wise it’s a touch light for an IPA… umm, what day is it today??? 7/10.

Food match: The largest German sausage you can find… Boerewors doesn’t count: that’s South African… in a bun. Add mustard. Onions? Why not.

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