Van Dieman Loquacious Barrel Aged Loquat Wild Ale

Total Score: 8.45/10 Flowers1WhiteWine1Orange1Tulipglass1

As we’re getting towards the pointy end of my beer reviews (I’m totally taking a long break at #1,000… maybe I’ll do 1,001 just to tick over) the beers are more and more becoming experimental numbers. I mean look at this Van Dieman Loquacious Barrel Aged Loquat Wild Ale, before today I had no idea what a Loquat was, I had to look it up on Wikipedia (for those too lazy it’s an Asian fruit with flavours that are a mix of peach, citrus and mild mango). Sounds pretty delish, the barrel aged Wild Ale bit is an added bonus then. I reviewed another brew of Van Dieman’s a couple years back, it was their Giblin Imperial Stout (which as I recall was wrapped in tissue paper), and it was one tasty Imp Stout to be sure! I reckon Loquacious will also be par excellence in a bottle.

Poured from a 375ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy yellow with a hint of amber body… hey it’s practically the same colour as a ripe loquat – I love it when beverages are the same colour as the thing they’re made from (such a rare delight!). Head is wisps of white and a big lace ring. 9/10.

S: Wow :O this thing is amazing! Aroma is very floral with a huge tart slap, yeast funk, slight tropical jackfruit hints, mandarin, tangerine and white grape must. You would be right in thinking from this scent that this is a dry/sour beer, but the way it’s been balanced – I just want to inhale this brew all day. I want a little pine tree with scent of this for my car (too bad I only own a motorcycle)… maybe we can get a cologne of this, you with me on this Calvin K? 10/10.

T: Expectations almost blown out of the water right here: yes it’s got yeast funk and slightly tart notes, however as it turns out, loquat is evidently a very sweet fruit – that sugar hit comes out of nowhere, and when it leaves there is a lingering flavour of vanilla sugar all over the palate. Other flavours noted are: floral potpourri, tangerine, gooseberry and white wine (Sauvignon Blanc to be precise). This has got to be the most intriguing beer I’ve had in the last 12 months, the flavours are so out there, it’s not of this world AFAIC. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied, good fairly creamy carbonation with the occasional big bubble providing a burp or two. 8/10.

D: Did not see this coming! What an odd, yet surprisingly satisfying beer. There’s a case to be made for these loquats in other brews – they definitely bring sugar to the table, but also there’s that flavour and a jammy quality too. 8/10.

Food match: If I would match this to any cuisine it would be Vietnamese – perfect.

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New England Brewing Co Puska Australian Sahti

Total Score: 7.05/10 Earth1Clove1Wood1Tulipglass1

First Doc bruview for a New England brew. I’ll be honest: I’ve tried most of their beers and I haven’t reviewed any of them yet because I’m just not a fan of their house style. Their yeast is all wrong, it’s not a good strain that they’re using, and consequentially all their beers are too dry and musty for me. However when I saw Puska Australian Sahti I was too intrigued not to buy n’ try it. The idea of an Aussie version of the Finnish, non-hopped style of Sahti proved impossible to resist. Credit where credit is due: this is a great idea for a beer. Utilising eucalyptus branches (instead of juniper) as the mash filter, wattle seed, pepperberry (and hops it seems), this beer from New England will hopefully not be as dry as the Simpson desert and musty as my bedroom book shelf.

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy deep amber body with a 2 centimetre cream-coloured head that dissolves leisurely leaving a sticky lace inside the glass. The amber colour of this beer, and the slight haze, is spot on for looking like something that might trap an ancient mosquito – quite mesmerising. 8/10.

S: Aroma smells dry, with a eucalyptus thumbprint all over it, but not much else. There’s some earthy dry notes with hints of pepper as well as woody/nutty tone. Sweetness is hard to detect, this is definitely following the New England pattern for brewing desert dry beers, however in this instance and given the style I’m not so bothered about it, i.e. 7/10.

T: Certainly an interesting beer to say the least! Profile comes across vinous in flavour (and mouthfeel) with the above notes of: eucalyptus, earthy, dry, hints of pepper, woody/nutty. There’s a touch of dark fruit malt sweetness, though just a touch – the other flavours bully it into submission. Hints of cardamom come into play on a third sip. The finish is of course: bone dry [saw that one coming]. At least there’s no heavy-handed yeast jumping around saying “look at me!”. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, fairly viscous, with a light carbonation giving this more of a wine mouthfeel than a beer one, works though. 7/10.

D: Apart from the eucalyptus (which actually detracts IMO) there’s note much to suggest anything uniquely Australian, but hey it works regardless. My usual complaint about NEB’s beers being too dry still applies, but overall this Australian Sahti experience has been OK. Decent even. 7/10.

Food match: Game meats, make it the Oz coat of arms and have roo/emu steaks 😉

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Bridge Road Mayday Hills Thursday

Total Score: 8.1/10 Earth1Coriander1Wood1Tulipglass1

Yes the brews I’m reviewing are getting more experimental and possibly more barrel-aged coming up to the big #1,000 (this review is #986 for those counting). So you will see a lot more stuff like this Bridge Road Mayday Hills Thursday, which is a Belgian Dark Ale brewed with native gin botanicals and fermented in foeder oak tanks with Brettanomyces yeast. Sounds remarkable for the many reasons just noted, with a reasonable 7.5% ABV heft to it as well I’m expecting a BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto] beer with an earthy/herbal/juniper slant. Last Mayday Hills brew (named simply “T”) has so far been my favourite Bridge Road beer of all time – it was noteworthy due to the flavour being quite white wine vinous and definitely leapt to mind when I bought this one. Here’s hoping for more of that good stuff.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Quite dark, almost opaque, cola brown body with a nice and creamy looking 1 centimetre khaki head that slowly drops back leaving faint wisps of lace on the side of the glass. This all looks rather impressive old chap [you can tell that when I revert to my proper English gentleman mode of speech]. 8/10.

S: The funk is strong with this one! Funkalicious… most funkalicious, owww! *that’s my Darth Bootsy impression wait-till-I-pull-out-my-bass-guitar voice* This is one of the most difficult aromas for me to describe as there is so much going on inside the glass – there’s a herbal/earthy/juniper dry slant as expected, but there’s the Brett and oak influence giving this brew some dusty/woody notes too. I think EARTHY (in capital letters) really jumps out the most. Hints of burnt caramel and brown sugar as well. A dash of smoke… I could go on. 9/10.

T: Again: Sooo much going on inside this glass: Earthy/herbal/juniper botanicals provide a big dry base, burnt caramel, brown sugar malt centre, Brett funk, woody notes, hint of smoke, hint of red wine character. Frankly it’s all getting a bit too complex – there’s so much steam-rolling over my palate that I’m playing catch up in my head “what was that? Juniper? WOOOSH! Earth… caram… no wait: long dry finish”. Yep, they brewed off more than I can chew here. Still tasty though. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a thin carbonation, bit too thin all round. 7/10.

D: Don’t get me wrong though – this was a BIG flavoursome adventure (reminded me a bit of Bacchus King Of Denmark actually), but yeah, too much going on to make this a real delight. Keep the Maydays coming though! 8/10.

Food match: Herbal and earthy dishes, mushroom, truffles, that sort of thing.

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Stone & Wood Forefathers Blair Hayden English Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.1/10 Biscuit1Lemon1Tea1Nonicpint1

Another Stone & Wood Forefathers brew [Hooray!]. As you can probably tell I enjoyed the last one of these I tried: Willie Simpson Doppelbock Lager. I love how Stone & Wood felt that they needed to call it a “Doppelbock Lager” because most people who drink Stone & Wood probably don’t even know that a Doppelbock is a Lager (it’s entry-level craft, Stone & Wood, but it’s done well… mostly). Getting back to Blair Hayden English Pale Ale, it’s surprising that they’ve picked a style that is: a) considered a bit mundane by some in the craft community [not me I must point out], and b) a style that is wholly dependant on good quality English hops [not sure how many Fuggles get grown in Australia, but I would imagine it’s not a lot]. More power to them if they can pull it off though [FYI had a real UK EPA last night].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed pale golden-yellow body with a nice chalk-coloured cappuccino foam head that begins at about 2 centimetres and creeps back down to 0.7 cm before halting. Liking this hazed EPA look, even though this style typically has clear filtered beers. 7/10.

S: Nice and malty, biscuit and toffee character, earthy/floral centre with a citrus twist towards the finish. Turns out this beer was infused with the addition of “bergamot tea” by which I assume they mean old Earl Grey himself. Extra points for how English this aroma is – it’s not Oxfordshire English but it could be mistaken for a London brew – it’s got some Islington chops on it. Classic EPA characters all round. 7/10.

T: Biscuity, hints of toffee and caramel, earthy/floral tones, yes bergamot too – overall flavours are well balanced leading up to a finish that is mildly bitter and slightly dry from tea tannins. Flavour-wise there’s nothing wrong with it, the balance is good, it’s just missing a bit of that English character that you only get from beers brewed in the UK. 7/10.

M: Good mouthfeel though! Medium bodied with a nice dense carbonation that goes creamy when you sip it, nice stuff S&W! 8/10.

D: This is the sort of brew I could imagine drinking on a lunch break in Edinburgh, like I used to in the g__d o_d d_ys [I don’t like to spell it out, it makes me feel old]. There’s nothing technically missing from this beer, it’s actually better than some English made beers I’ve had. It’s just not (UK) cricket though. 7/10.

Food match: Coronation chicken sanger with chips, oi!

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Temple Brewing Okinawa Sour

Total Score: 6.2/10 Lemon1Lime1Orange1Tulipglass1

Ere’s a new one for me: Temple Brewing. Never tried any of their beers yet. Normally I would go with my “Biggest Beer Litmus Test” (BBLiT) to determine if I like Temple Brewing or not, but this 4% ABV Okinawa Sour beer with Shikuwasa fruit from Okinawa is hardly going to be the biggest beer on offer at Temple. Rather this time I’ve undoubtedly been suckered in by a Fruit Beer brewed with an exotic fruit I’ve never heard of, which I’m guessing was Temple’s idea from the start [clever bastards!]. So what are we to expect from this Shikuwasa fruit I’ve never heard of before? “citrus rind and grippy fruit tartness” the label replies. My interest has in fact been piqued.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Intriguing colour, sort of a cloudy OJ mixed with pineapple juice, let’s say a yellowy-orange body with a slightly off-white head that slowly fizzles back to a thin blanket on top. This already has my imagination blazed. 6/10.

S: It gets even more interesting in the aroma department with a pervading lemon sherbet character throughout. Hints of a barnyard/peppery Brett yeast, and some lime soda notes as well. This is about as crisp and citrusy as a beer can get IMO, looking forward to the big “T”. 8/10.

T: Quite dry… think I might need a glass of water. Overall not what you would expect a beer to taste like: lemon sherbet, lime soda and a touch of orange soft drink cut through the palate, making this brew taste more like a soft drink than a beer. Finishes crisp and dry. I did mention the word “dry”? Oh yes, it’s dry. Not really that tart either, more like a hint of lemon juice tartness, hardly qualifies as a “sour beer”. Hmmm, the more I taste it the more I dislike it – it’s really thin overall, it could have used more sweet/sour (and bitter even) to give it a bit more life. 6/10.

M: Lightish bodied, watery, with a light carbonation. All of which furthers the illusion that this is a soft drink not a beer (apart from the carbonation). 6/10.

D: Swing n’ miss for Temple! That said I applaud their use of a fruit I’ve never heard of before – I like it when brewers add interesting new adjuncts. In this case though the execution was lacking, it was missing some key beer elements like: sweet/sour balance, flavour complexity, mouthfeel, and some sort of indicator that it did in fact contain alcohol – I’m not a big stickler for this last one but God we’re making beers too easy to drink now, it’s all getting to be like lolly water. 5/10.

Food match: Made for a sashimi platter with ponzu sauce.

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Mountain Goat Cross Breed Back To The Brewer Double Steam Ale

Total Score: 7.45/10 Bread1Biscuit1Orange1Nonicpint1

Another Mountain Goat Cross Breed and another mouthful of a name (and perhaps a beer too) in this Back To The Brewer Double Steam Ale. FYI I love the Back to the Future nostalgia in the bottle label, remember it was only just 2 years ago in 2015 that we invented flying cars, predictable weather, hover boards and power up laces thanks to the vision of Robert Zemeckis. What a genius that guy. This Cross Breed is a celebration of Mountain Goats 20th birthday (had no idea they began in the late 90’s, damn I feel old now). The idea for this brew involved a collaboration of all four past head brewers, it’s a riff on their biggest selling beer – their Steam Ale, also it uses HPA Experimental Variety 035, Galaxy and Cascade hops, hmmm, intriguing.

Poured from a 640ml (US Bomber sized) bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Looks like a classic Californian Steam Beer in colour – pale straw yellow, bit cloudy in the body though, with a decadent wispy white head starting at 1 inch and dropping back leaving lace patterns inside the glass. 7/10.

S: Floral and savory (???) hop notes. That savory note is odd, a bit like bacon, never noticed that in a Steam Ale, or even a Pale Ale for that matter. Could be yeast related – there’s a doughy yeast character in there as well. Light citrus and hints of passionfruit in the background (that’s Galaxy for sure!). That soupy savory bacon character is quite unsettling though, hoping the flavour is alright. 5/10.

T: It is a bit gamey, though not as bad as the aroma would suggest. First and foremost is the malt character, which as this beer has aged several months, has taken over the palate somewhat – with notes of: biscuits (white sugar cookies and creamy Scotch fingers), big doughy/bready almost pastry-like yeast, a firm but yielding orange citric bite, hint of pepper, and a finish that is smooth and dry with a slight bitter orange tweak at the end. Flavour is fulsome and oddly compelling. It’s got that Steam Ale angle of being refreshing and meaty at the same time. Actually was expecting something fruitier and lighter from the hop bill, but it just goes to show what a difference California Common yeast makes.8/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a creamy and luxuriant mouthfeel – this is where IT is AT, bring on more Double Steam Ales I say! 9/10.

D: What a curious beer from the get go! It’s not a Steam Beer as we know it – it’s definitely got more face-punch in it, but at the same time it goes down too easy, + it’s weird. Hopefully they bring this one back again. 8/10.

Food match: Bratwurst and other fancy sausages, with a giant pretzel, and mustard!

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Yeastie Boys Inari Biru

Total Score: 6.7/10 Nut1Earth1CutGrass1Nonicpint1

Big fan of Yeastie Boys work (I mean come on who isn’t?), it’s a shame they don’t have a great distribution network in Australia because all the beers I’ve tried of theirs have been ace. This Japanese Rice Beer named “Inari Biru” (literally: Rice Beer in Japanese) is a Golden Ale style brew that I’m guessing is one of Yeastie Boys more conservative beers – because these Yeastie Boys, they don’t muck around. It’s interesting that they’ve used koshihikari rice in this brew, which is the very same rice strand used in sushi. There is Japanese beer I enjoy that is brewed primarily with this rice strain: Koshihikari Echigo Beer – which apart from being a bit pricy in Australia, is a nice crisp Rice Lager with green apple and Sake notes. Let’s find out if this Yeastie Boys brew is anything like that.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed pale straw coloured body with a generous 2 centimetre white sea foam head that settles down leaving splotches of lace inside the glass. Quite a pale take on a Golden Ale, but looks tasty nonetheless. 7/10.

S: Hints of Sake, dry and crisp cracker, a slight nutty (chestnut) overtone, and a touch of cut grass. Very summer-like and Japanese characters in this brew, comes a bit too much like a straight Rice Lager, hopefully more Ale characteristics come through in the flavour. 6/10.

T: Clean and crisp with a malt-driven centre that lends flavours of chestnut, Sake, dry cracker, earthy tones and finishes with a slight cut grass edge punctuating a loooong dry finish. A bit too dry for its own good, needs more malt sweetness to balance it out, it’s a touch one dimensional, though it’s also quite refreshing and would go down a treat with some sushi. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a medium carbonation, bit on the lighter side body-wise, again this helps with this beers RQ [Refreshing Ouotient], which is decent-not-amazing. 6/10.

D: Definitely not Yeastie Boys best [that would be their Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA for me], however this unassuming and crisp little Japanese number was never going to turn heads. It is as it is – a tasty and crisp Japanese Rice Beer that would pair well with… read below… and quench an afternoons worth of toil in the sun over a hot monkey brain [Futurama reference]. Next time though I’ll seek out more of the madder Yeastie Boys brews, I dig mad beers. 7/10.

Food match: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sushi, think Salmon aburi.

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