Akasha Fire Within Amber Ale

Total Score: 7.75/10 Earth1HopFlower1Nut1Nonicpint1

Back again with Akasha, this time it’s their Fire Within Amber Ale, which was kindly gifted to me by the local Akasha rep (see doing reviews sometimes has its perks). That said I’m never one to give a beer an easy ride simply because it’s a freebie. Nope, the inner critic in me never dies, like a little Jay Sherman inside of me it doesn’t hesitate to cry out “It stinks!” if a beer is bad or amiss, fear not dear reader. Nevertheless I am a fan of Akasha’s brews and their “take no prisoners” approach to dry hopping all their beers, there’s something to be said about a classic West Coast IPA that is packed to the rim with Yakima Valley’s finest – it’s really quite breathtaking.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Pours a hazed deep copper/caramel body with a nice 1.5 centimetre Ecru-coloured cappuccino foam head that leaves lace scrawl-work on the side of the glass as it goes down. She’s a beaut, there’s no doubt about it. 8/10.

S: Piney/earthy hops mingle with a dusty/roasted and nutty malt profile that really encapsulates the American Amber Ale style rather eloquently. If one needed to find an example of a typical American Amber, this beer would prove an excellent representation of the style so far. 9/10.

T: Flavour leans heavy on that dusty/roasted/nutty malt profile with a dry cracker base in there as well, those piney/earthy hops take a bit of a back seat and we end up with an almost mild piney bitterness in the finish tempered by a long cracker dryness. Fire Within is pretty spot-on and this is a good American Amber profile, but it’s missing a bit of hop punch I’ve come to expect from Akasha now in the flavour department. 7/10.

M: Almost medium bodied with a nice creamy medium carbonation, pretty good here too, not much to fault. 8/10.

D: Overall this was a decent American Amber, it definitely had that real earthy/dirty/malt character you would come to expect given the style, yet I was found wanting purely because of Akasha’s own oeuvre of excellent hopped beers that I’ve had previously. Compared to them I was missing that big hop kick, and whilst this was no shrinking violet – a bit more hops wouldn’t have gone amiss. Still I do enjoy a good earthy Ale on a cold winters day, so time and place is the key here with Akasha Fire Within Amber Ale. 8/10.

Food match: Earthy stuff: Stews, sage and mushrooms would be my picks.


Bacchus Brewing Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!

Total Score: 7.95/10 Nut1Raspberry1Bread1Tulipglass1

If this beer doesn’t conjure up the crazy image of Brian the dog (of Family Guy) dancing with maracas in a banana outfit I don’t know what will. It’s “Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!”, and another Bacchus brew for me to review – yes I’ve taken a shine to the mad science of Mr. Ross Kenrick and Co. Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!! (or PBJT!!! for brevity) is an American Amber Ale brewed with: Peanuts, raspberry, oats, lactose, and the usual suspects. I’m envisioning a cross between a PB&J sandwich and a jelly (jam in Oz) donut… oh yeah, and beer of course. Will it be as great as Snickers (and Barosski) my Bacchus favourites? Or will it be one of those Island of Dr. Moreau types that they sometimes release? My money is on the former.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed caramel-tinged amber body with a thin beige head that retains OK. Looks right for an amber ale, the body colour is rather appealing, so without much ado I’m going to tuck in now. 7/10.

S: Raspberry jelly (jam) straight up makes it come across as the stuff you spread on toast if you’re into that sort of thing (aint no toast in my life anymore). Nutty peanut hints remind me of Bacchus’s own Peanut Brittle Gose, it’s got that toffee note as well. Bit of bread in there as well. Aroma sits on the sweeter side of the fence and I wonder how Bacchus is going to balance it all out. 8/10.

T: First let’s get it out of the way: This is a sweet dessert beer. Now that we’ve addressed the sugar-coated elephant candy in the room, this beer is almost exactly as you would expect – it’s got: Peanuts, raspberry jam, baked bread, toffee, and a slight herbal bitterness in the finish to balance it all with that classic sweet/bitter dichotomy. On that point – it really is the bitterness that feels out of place, whilst at the same time being fairly essential to the balance overall. I mean it is a beer after all, we expect bitterness, but there’s something about the way it stands out here… a little too harsh methinks. But what a tasty (sweet!) brew otherwise. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied, with a light but dense carbonation – one of the better mouthfeels in a Bacchus brew here. 8/10.

D: I liked PBJT!!! quite a bit, and if they get the hops sorted out – maybe use a different hop entirely(?) I think Bacchus will be on to a winner [winner, chicken dinner] here. Case in point: I managed to finish this beer (and the review itself) much quicker than normal – the sign of a great beer to me. 8/10.

Food match: Apart from PB&J sandys I would suggest tarts or caked goods.


Killer Sprocket Amber Ale

Total Score: 7.35/10 Caramel1Earth1Nut1Nonicpint1

I’m rather looking forward to this one – Killer Sprocket have so far been a rather decent brewer and this Amber Ale, which I’ve [disclaimer] had before on tap, was one of those brews that I wish I had taken notes on: Yes, I sometimes just drink a new beer without reviewing it, I know: Shock/horror! In any case I don’t know if it’s the impending requirement of light winter clothing here in Queensland (aka the place that still reaches 20 Celsius even in the middle of winter) but I’m really gravitating towards the darker amber fluids like there’s no tomorrow (spoiler: there is). Only problem is I’ve already covered off all the major Aussie Amber Ales, so I’ll likely run out by July.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed mahogany body with a 1.5 cm an almost tan head that leaves some decent lace on the side of the glass. Quite a looker this Amber Ale, sort of thing you want to tuck straight in to. 8/10.

S: This is a toasty/roasted/caramel/nut feast for the nose! As far as Aussie Amber Ales go this is up there FTW. Earthy overtones as well… simply a winner in these stakes. Hints of citrus hops linger on in the background. This is one mighty fine Amber! 9/10.

T: Flavour takes on a more subdued note with the above noted aromas coming out with the notable difference being a bitter slant towards the hops – not good in a style that should favour sweet malts over hops, but forgivable purely because it’s a nice tasting brew – it’s clean from front to back, malts are complex enough (though lacking) and the hops have a nice earthy/herbal character in the finish. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a crisp/tight carbonation – works well enough without distracting – though more body would be good [I think Sir Mixalot wrote a song about that]. 6/10.

D: This isn’t the Killer Sprocket Amber Ale I remember from when it was first released – and the ABV has changed from 5.2% to 4.8% which might go some way to explaining why I liked it better last time. Here’s my [free!] advice to Mr. Killer: Change the hop profile – you’re killing this brew with disproportionate hop bitterness and amp up the malting – and then you’ll be on to a killer, rather than a slightly killed, brew. 7/10.

Food match: Yankee pot roast.


Red Duck Tiger Chino

Total Score: 7/10 Coffee1Barley1Earth1Tulipglass1

On to yet another coffee beer – this time (well actually last one was too) an intriguing proposition with a “creamy coffee & chocolate amber ale” as the label points out: “All coffee beers are dark, right? Not this one.” with that I was sold – whilst I indeed love coffee I generally have it Flat White (aka pretty much a Latte) and oooh this has maltodextrin and lactose added to give it some ‘creaminess’ yes! Open. Bottle. Now.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy with suspended yeast particles amber body with a hint of brown, though that could be the yeast causing that, and rich cream coloured dense packed head which drops from 1 to half a centimetre. I do have a soft spot for yeast particles – I would sprinkle them on ice cream if I could (joking!) [not really!]. 9/10.

S: Aroma is odd and hard to place with a central floral note, possibly from hops, bizarrely for a coffee beer this doesn’t have an overarching coffee note – instead it’s a background scent. Other noted aromas are dusty/musty yeast and a slight caramel malt. The yeast and floral characters stand out quite well here. 7/10.

T: Hmmm, it unexpectedly begins with a Flat White and 2 sugars flavour: Mission accomplished Red Duck. Then it tapers off towards the end with a cereal barley flake after taste. Finish is light tobacco hops with a dry touch. It works as advertised… sort of… not really… no wait it does… I’m not sure what I’m drinking anymore, is this beer? Yes it is, score it now! 7/10.

M: Medium bodied (all that yeast hey?) with a light, dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This really is one of the most peculiar beers I’ve had this year – a) for the fact that it is a pale coloured beer with coffee flavours, and b) because of course that was never going to work but Red Duck went ahead with it anyway – bravo! I appreciate this pioneering experience even if the result is less than the sum of the parts, or something along those lines. Hey and the burps are delicious single origin coffee, bonus! This is one beer I would love to see improved because it has potential to one day knock my socks off – keep it up Red Duck. 6/10.

Food match: I feel like duck now, thanks Red Duck!


Wig & Pen Sequoia American Amber Ale

Total Score: 7.9/10 HopFlower1 Grapefruit1 Nut1 Nonicpint1

Holy S##t!* It’s been a while since I reviewed a beer, and not for lacking of drinking but more for a lack of interest in trying new beers, though never fear dear reader – I’m back with a bang! First up is a Wig & Pen brew, which I had recently at their relocated micro-brewery, and damn did it remind me how excellent their beers/brewing techniques are. This fine American Amber Ale is done in the West Coast style and promises from the name to be a piney brew. Alright!

Poured from tap into a nonic pint.

A: A delicious, for the style, hazy red/copper body with a thin white lace on top… as you well know by now I’m not too fussed about head- on my beers, jeez let me finish my sentence before jumping to conclusions. 8/10.

S: Pine needles, as expected and very fresh, I have a Norfolk pine in my backyard and the aroma is spot on fresh picked Norfolk pine tips, nice. There are the characteristic West Coast grapefruit hop notes as well, followed by roasted chestnut and a caramel malt base, très bien! 8/10.

T: Spot on the aroma. No surprises (in a good way). It does exhibit that classic Wig & Pen trait of being big without being too big – Wig & Pen brews for me are almost always right on the money, though there is a part of me that feels this could be a little bigger given what they set out to do, but I’m still enjoying the tasty end result. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, borderline medium bodied, with a light pub carbonation, no complaints here. 7/10.

D: Piney, earthy, nutty, citrusy, what is there not to like about this brew? It sets out to be a West Coast (i.e. IPA hoppy) American Amber Ale and it nails the style almost perfectly. I could quite easily knock back a session of these. Negatives? It could be a touch bolder, but that is really a minor quibble for an otherwise excellent drop, cheers! 8/10.

Food match: Rib eye fillet (rare of course) with a porcini mushroom cream roux and grilled asparagus.

*Don’t assume I’m swearing here, I could be saying “Holy Seat!”… but yeah, “Shit” is more likely… and happens.