Pirate Life Mosaic IPA

Total Score: 9.2/10 HopFlower1CutGrass1Coriander1Nonicpint1

“Pirate Life, f**k yeah! Coming again to save the motherf**king day yeah!” – is, in lyric form, how I feel about cracking open this sexy 500ml can of goodness right now. You see dear reader – I had a complete dud for my last review (Sample ¾ IPA) which tasted like a big glass of grain-flavoured soda water. So it’s great to have a brewer like Pirate Life to lean on, as I know that despite their lacklustre Throwback (mid-strength) IPA there’s a talented crew on board that big old galleon singing sea shanties and searching for booty [no comment]. Not only is this an IPA brewed by my favourite Aussie IPA brewer, but it’s a single hop IPA showcasing my favourite hop: Mosaic. My taste buds are palpable with excitement.

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed golden-yellow body with a rather boisterous (though I did hard pour it) one inch white head that leaves fancy lace scrawl as it recedes – top notch looking brew. My preference for cloudy IPAs is well known, but this is one handsome beer right here. 8/10.

S: Dirty and full of fresh Mosaic hops, as any brewer will tell you: this truly is a wonder hop that can take on so many different characters depending on how it is utilised (my own brewing experience always led to mango flavours/aromas). In this case the hops have an almost aggressive slant with: Spicy/herbal and cannabis characters upfront, hints of orange and pine notes in the background, with not much on the malt side, but it’s in there somewhere. 8/10.

T: This is a real winner of an Aussie IPA: Bold grassy/spicy/herbal and cannabis hops throughout, hints of pineapple, with a solid but yielding biscuit malt base that allows the hops to really shine. The remarkable thing is how they’ve managed to hop the absolute s**t out of this without having an assertive bitterness in the finish. This is smooth, drinkable hop slamming goodness. Bit like a New England IPA in that regard. I’m loving this Pirate Life! 10/10.

M: Medium bodied with extra viscosity from abundant hop oils – tasty s**t, carbonation is light but dense. 9/10.

D: There was a slight apprehension approaching this that Pirate Life might actually balls it up, but no – this is dead set my new favourite IPA [until it runs out]. Mosaic all the way motherF**KAS!!! I’m really impressed with the finish too – bitterness this mild is remarkable in a full Aussie IPA, great stuff! 9/10.

Food match: SE Asia is a dead cert, other cuisines like BBQ or German will work too.

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Sample 3/4 IPA

Total Score: 3.75/10 Barley1Honeycomb1Lemon1Nonicpint1

I’m back from my self-imposed liver break (though it wasn’t really as I drank a beer or two here and there… guess it was more of a review break). Today’s brew is an interesting one to categorise: Sample (whom I’ve never even heard of) ¾ IPA – so ¾ as in, not a mid-strength IPA, but still in the Session IPA range. But who cares what is in the can as long as it delivers amirite? I’m not going to hold my breath for a few reasons though – the label on the can is bland and looks pseudo Pirate Life-ish, which works fine for Pirate Life because what’s inside the can is lip-smackingly great – also I’ve never heard nor seen anything about this “Sample” brewer before, and they don’t rate well on that app whose name escapes me… something-tapped… bad omens indeed.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Clear AF, not a great sign in an IPA, maybe in a ¾ IPA that’s fine though. Golden body with some crazy carbonation action going on inside the glass. Sea foam white head that drops back to a half centimetre. Sample certainly isn’t winning any IPA beauty pageants anytime soon. 4/10.

S: On the malty side for an IPA, even a session one, aroma comes off more like a Lager with hints of grain, honey and a twist of lemon… looks like a Lager, smells like a Lager – Sample are you trying to pass off a Lager as an IPA??? That’s one ballsy move right there! 5/10.

T: If this is ¾ an IPA I can’t imagine the full IPA being any good at all – watery grain husks, dash of honey, hint of lemon, but mostly it tastes like plain old tap water. That this is so devoid of flavour makes me wonder how it even measured up as 4.2% ABV, I’ve never in all my years of drinking encountered a brew with this ABV tasting so piss weak, that must have been a challenge on its own. 3/10.

M: Non-existent mouthfeel, watery, light AF, with an excitable carbonation – even the mouthfeel is a fail. 4/10.

D: What a brew to come back to after Cantillon – which managed to pack in so much flavour in 5% ABV… I’m glad I got this Sample ¾ IPA as a free… what’s the word I’m looking for? [sample?] As this brew was an absolute underweight… makes me wish I had a can of 3.5% Pirate Life Throwback IPA to completely drown out this non-event of a brew. Damn I’ve got a free Sample Lager as well 😦 4/10.

Food match: Unflavoured rice cakes with cottage cheese – be careful not to add salt! You might overpower this beer.

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Kona Brewing Hanalei Island IPA

Total Score: 7.3/10 Passionfruit1PapayaMango1CutGrass1Nonicpint1

Hmmm, an American IPA that’s 4.5% ABV?! Bit suss about this, shouldn’t an IPA be between 5.5%-7.5% ABV? [consults BJCP 2015 Guidelines]… yep: 5.5%-7.5% ABV… bit of a misnomer there Kona. Apart from that I’m slightly excited by the addition of passionfruit, orange and guava (mostly about the guava – don’t think I’ve had a beer with guava in it before). Ironically this Hawaiian brewer actually has their beers brewed on the continental US in Portland, OR, and Portsmouth, NH, two states which have a totally different climate to Hawaii… I wonder why Kona do that? Seems a bit odd to me… that said Sapporo is brewed in Australia under licence by Coopers so I guess it’s no different in that sense.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: It’s got a Tequila Sunrise look to it – cloudy orange with a splash of pink in the body and a light foamy white head that settles to a lace ring… interesting, wonder if the pink from guava is giving off that hue? Alright regardless. 7/10.

S: Upfront passionfruit and guava characters give it the impression that it is heavily hopped – well played sir. There’s a grassy note in there as well. Not really picking up any orange, though I’m not fussed and frankly I’m getting over orange flavours in APAs/IPAs. Not really detecting any malts, but that’s no biggie in an IPA – the “hop” flavours are there, that is what’s important. 8/10.

T: Guava comes through with a surprising tartness that works well with the grassy/passionfruit characters. Malt isn’t really there, apart from a hint of dry cracker. Finish has an almost Lager crispness with light bitterness. It’s light on flavour for an IPA, which both makes it quite sessionable and not really an IPA at all – kind of the antithesis of an American IPA really [IPAs should be in yo face]. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is expectedly light bodied and needs a little bit more weight IMO, carbonation is slightly gassy as well. 6/10.

D: This would be an excellent hot weather beer – it’s the middle of winter in Brisbane atm (not that it ever gets too cold here) but you can tell this would be a cracker of a brew on a hot day – I’m picturing a Hawaiian summer luau right now and I could probably scull a litre of this in that circumstance… as it stands now: I need something big, dark and malty. However I liked this better than I expected to – there’s always a bit of trepidation with fruit-addition beers but this one did it well and subtly enough not to overcompensate for a crappy brew. 8/10.

Food match: I did mention luau above – go the luau, no poi!

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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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Balter IPA

Total Score: 7.35/10 Peach1Flowers1Earth1Nonicpint1

Balter’s IPA has finally landed, and immediately it eschews the craft marketing tradition associating green with hops by its exclusion from the label (with purple instead)… not sure who is in charge of marketing/design at Balter but I would love to borrow one of their yachts. In a twist of fate this Balter is pairing off against the 4 Pines IPA I just reviewed – they both arrived in my local at the same time, it was as if the Gods themselves wanted me to compare the merits of each and delineate on their (probable) faults. Well I’ve done that already with 4 Pines, and although it was tasty in its own way it was certainly lacking as an Aussie IPA, seems like this is an easy victory of my taste buds for Balter… … [extra ellipsis added for effect].

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed amber body (hazed: Balter knows how an IPA should go) with a thick, fluffy 2 centimetre off-white head that slowly compacts to a nice half centimetre, decent lace scrawl on the side of the glass – textbook American IPA. 8/10.

S: Floral and stone fruit notes upfront, bit of an earthy/caramel malt note going on in there as well… actually liked the 4 Pines aroma more. A slight tinge of plum funk too, maybe that’s why they went with purple on the label – the brewer noticed plum funk and wanted to emphasise that? [long shot Doc!]. 7/10.

T: A meaty stone fruit character mingles with floral/earthy/dry cracker notes, hints of citrus, that weird aforementioned plum funk character. Not what I was expecting. It’s an American IPA yes, however it’s got a restrained tea character as well. Bit of a hybrid IPA then – like halfway between a US and UK IPA. There is a sense as well that Balter have simply amped up and used their XPA hops in this (Galaxy I believe). Finish is mildly bitter and a fruity… still trying to decide if I like this – it’s a bit of an odd IPA, I don’t hate it, however it’s no Pirate Life or Green Beacon IPA. Very stone fruit driven as IPAs go. 7/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied, with an almost flat carbonation… easy to drink that’s for sure. 8/10.

D: Didn’t see this coming from Balter… well they do have a propensity for easy-drinking brews – I expected that, but this IPA is something new – it’s a bit of West Coast meets East Coast, US meets UK, in a flavour package that could be mistaken for a regular Pale Ale (were it not for the alcohol content of 6.8%). I actually want to get another 4-pack of this, so it must be good right? 8/10.

Food match: A single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat.

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4 Pines In Season IPA

Total Score: 6.15/10 CutGrass1Barley1HopFlower1Nonicpint1

The latest core range beer to grace 4 Pines is a pragmatic drop indeed: In Season IPA. You will find no description of hop varieties because, well, they change each season (bi-annually between Northern and Southern Hemisphere hops). The batch on my can (#4) says on their website that it contains “Northern Hemisphere hops Colombus, Chinook, Idaho #7 and Crystal come together in a tropical palate pleaser, showcasing strong notes of tangerine, mango and peach.” I will, as always, be the judge of that – though I do feel overall that 4 Pines core range has been holding back in flavour terms, I’m willing to give the brewer of so many delicious (and at times odd) Keller Door brews another chance.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Clear golden mandarin-tinged body with a thin white lace ring. Not a big fan of clear IPAs, there’s something not dirty enough about them, oh well, looks aren’t everything people tell me (I’m either ugly or handsome, you speculate). 6/10.

S: Smells like a ripper of an American IPA: grassy/cannabis notes upfront, note of rubbery resin as well (a good sign believe it or not), dry cracker malt base with a hint of pepper. It’s a little bit lacking in diversity, but hey – so are TV ads lately, shouldn’t hold that against 4 Pines now should we? 8/10.

T: Then the flavour bomb drops… and fizzles out. It’s a bit ordinary in the flavour department hey? I was expecting a BIG tasty IPA with a good sweet/bitter balance, instead I get a rather dry and a little bland IPA. Flavour profile is thin grassy hops, dry cracker comes in mid palate and rides out to the end with a touch of grain. Finish adds a bit of a herbal hop bitterness, but it’s pretty mild by comparison to other Aussie IPAs (let alone the US ones). At 6.3% ABV I’m surprised the flavour is so muted – crack open a can of 5.4% Pirate Life Pale Ale and that will easily drown out the flavour of this 4 Pines TBH. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, tad watery, some hop resins floating around “oh hi doggie” (to quote The Room) and a light carbonation. 6/10.

D: Despite the negative adjectives used in my review 4 Pines In Season IPA isn’t all that bad, just a bit entry-level (which is 4 Pines to a tee: so why am I shocked this isn’t better IDK). If I could use another brew to compare this is like a watered-down Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter – that’s still a pretty decent effort, next time brew it at around 7% and you might be on to something 4 Pines. 7/10.

Food match: Not bold enough to warrant Thai, maybe Japanese – this is a crisp IPA.

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