Modus Operandi Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.4/10 HopFlower1Earth1PapayaMango1Nonicpint1

Modus Operandi Pale Ale? I can’t Adam and beli(Eve)* I’ve not reviewed this yet! I really must say this has probably been my most overlooked beer these past few years due to my love of The Former Tenant. But you know what? I just plain never got around to it, and after reviewing 73 American Pale Ales, I think it’s about time to correct the error of the past and give this one a crack. This is a Pale with pedigree too: taking out the 2015 Champion Australian Pale Ale at the Craft Beer Awards – that’s a pretty decent feather to have in your hat. My prediction: This will be grand.

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy amber/apricot-tinged body with a cream-coloured sea foam head that slowly disintegrates leaving spots of lace inside the glass. I’ve seen better, but I do also admire a good bottle-conditioned brew so points added there. 8/10.

S: Fruity, earthy and piney hops mix with a touch of the tropical (paw paw) and a solid caramel base – classic APA territory that I’ve traversed many times in my Pale Ale explorations. The main thing here is how solid the aroma is for a 5.2% ABV brew – this is more heady than other APAs, top stuff Modus! 8/10.

T: Hops are a bit restrained, and can confirms what I feared most – a brew date of: 16/12/16… that’s a good 8 months old, less than ideal for a hop-driven beer. Hop flavours as above: fruity, earthy and piney with a hint of paw paw. Malt is caramel based. Touch of dry cracker in the finish, and a herbal bitterness as well… this would have been a real tasty beer fresh – what a shame. 6/10.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty decent though – Medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation – they really nailed it here! 9/10.

D: This is definitely one I’ll have to try again in future fresh – there’s a great deal going on that the middling 5.2% ABV belies, I reckon that 6/10 for flavour would be more of an 8 or 9 fresh, however there is a bitterness lingering in the aftertaste (I think that’s a hop fade characteristic in my experience). Overall my take home message, my TL DR; if you will, is give this beer a shot – it is decent APA despite my negative score which was due to the age on my can. It would be interesting to do a blind taste test of this, Pirate Life, and Kaiju Krush to see which one will win over my heart for best Aussie Pale… Little Creatures? Oh yeah, them too. 9/10.

Food match: Malaysian cuisine if a fresh one tastes as good as I reckon it might.

*Cheeky IT Crowd reference for you there – but which episode does Moss say it in?

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Newstead Brewing Out & a Bout Pale Ale

Total Score: 6/10 Flowers1Orange1Peach1Nonicpint1

I’ve sort of avoided this American Pale Ale from Newstead Brewing previously because, well, it just ain’t all that. But now it’s in a can, a free can gifted to me by Newstead reps. Plus they say the recipe has changed – it’s been beefed up to 5.2% ABV, and the can is as fresh as… about 2 weeks ago – not bad at all. Hopefully the recipe change has done wonders because I remember trying this on tap at Newstead ages ago and it was nothing worth remembering then (well it was OK, but OK doesn’t cut mustard in the sea of Pale Ales out there). I must say the new can marketing reminds me somewhat of a certain other brewer in Teneriffe that does cans *cough*GreenBeacon*cough*, I guess “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” was the design committee motto that day [my snark levels are off the chart today!].

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Slight hazed golden body with a rather excitable sea foam white head that compacts slowly leaving a touch of lace on the side of the glass. If there was an award for looking like a standard (i.e. a 7/10) APA – this would win it. 7/10.

S: A nice light confected stone fruit character mingles with a touch of floral hops, a muted biscuit malt base, and a hint of orange blossom. Overall aroma could do with a dial up, but otherwise this is an OK aroma. Still a bit bland though. 7/10.

T: Flavours a bit average… again wasn’t expecting much, but it’s better than how I remember it (before I wouldn’t have bought another schooner of this, but now I might be persuaded if there isn’t anything better on tap). Less stone fruit – more citrus and floral hops than in the aroma. Malt base needs to be amped a little as the hops get ever so slightly sharp towards the finish/aftertaste. Still it’s never OTT in any regard, which is in fact part of the problem. 5/10.

M: Mid to light, slightly thin bodied, with a light/crisp carbonation. Texture is left wanting of more body – but I can level this argument at many APAs. 6/10.

D: Well it’s better than I remember it – which is good because I really wasn’t a fan of the original Out & a Bout. Has it improved enough to bring it up to the level of Modus/Pirate Life? No. It’s not even as tasty as Slipstream’s Magic Mile Pale Ale – and they’re a small-time brewer. Towards the end of this can my mouth ended up with a real potpourri flavour lingering on – which I actually don’t mind, so that’s a positive note to end this review on. I’ve still got a free can of the IPA to go – fingers crossed with that one. 7/10.

Food match: Chicken dishes, salads, zesty stuff… seafood? Maybe yes.

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Blackman’s Brewery Mervyn Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.2/10 PapayaMango1Caramel1Barley1Nonicpint1

Mervyn……. Merv… Mervyn…..? I like it, oddly enough, it’s got a ring to it that name. Ahem. Yes. Mervyn is the latest semi-probably-limited-but-they’ll-no-doubt-add-it-to-their-core-range-because-hell-who-doesn’t-have-a-pale-ale-in-their-core-range-these-days-plus-it-plugs-a-gap for Blackman’s Brewery, who really have nailed it with Reginald IPA and Angry Reg DIPA – West Coast styled brews as good as almost anything I’ve tried from the States. Can Blackman’s continue this A-game chicanery with this modest 4.6% ABV American Pale Ale? I certainly hope so, if only because I like the sound of Mervyn, and perhaps the cut of his jib too – which is a nautical term FYI: it refers to a triangular sail set between the foretopmast head and the jib boom. There: you learnt something new today. Thank me later.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Crisp golden body with possible flecks of hop… hop stuff… floating around. It’s not yeast is what I’m saying. 1 centimetre off-white sea foam head that leaves lace that presents itself as a world map (Mercator projection, of course). 7/10.

S: Pineapple, mango and jackfruit – the major players in the tropical fruit flavours realm – come together for a corroboree within in Mervyn, lovely chap that he is. Not much in the way of malt… or anything else, this is a tropical Pale Ale FTW here. 8/10.

T: T’salright this one – slanted towards those tropical fruits in the aroma (just to recap: pineapple, mango and jackfruit) but the flavour gives a bit of slack to a buttery/toffee malt character and a touch of grain, finishes with a very restrained bitterness. This to me is more sessionable than a “Session ___” like Stone’s Go To IPA – and it has an even lower ABV! The only thing is that I feel this could use a bit more of my favourite adjective: OMPFH. Yeah, bit of that. Solid otherwise. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation – works for the style, perhaps a bit more body and a touch more carbonation would lift it to the next level. 7/10.

D: Nice tropical burps from this one too – glad the gf isn’t here to hear them though 😉 Overall Mervyn is one laid-back SOB, he doesn’t demand anything, but you don’t want to mess with him – he’ll muddle you up if he has to. Yet again Blackman’s has bought out a solid brew, though by default of being on the lower end of the ABV spectrum this brew does “wow” me less than all the others – I guess the older I get in this beer review game the more I need flavour: bags of it. Sad but true – a sign that my tastebuds are on the way out perhaps? 7/10.

Food match: Green papaya salad or anything else that has a tropical fruit slant.

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Slipstream Magic Mile Ale

Total Score: 7.2/10 Peach1HopFlower1Biscuit1Nonicpint1

Slipstream Brewing: yet another craft brewery that has opened its doors in Brisbane, which is still seeing growth in the craft beer sector (despite it peaking a couple years ago IMO). This brew Magic Mile Ale I believe takes its name from the stretch of Ipswich Road in Moorooka that has all the car dealerships on it and is called “Magic Mile”… I know: It’s a leap of imagination there on my part. Yeerongpilly, and I don’t apologise for all the indigenously long suburb names (get used to it if you ever visit Brisbane!), is located not far from the Magic Mile, so again – short leap there. As to why they named their beer after a notoriously nefarious mile in Moorooka is anyone’s guess… perhaps they liked a car they bought there?

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed golden amber body with a white cappuccino foam 1 centimetre head that ever slowly drops down to a thin lace blanket. Big tick for the haziness in the glass (personal preference there), small X for the boring head and lack of lacing on the side of the glass. 7/10.

S: Peachy/stone fruit upfront, hints of floral/lychee hops, and biscuit malts. Overall aroma is one of a laidback American Pale Ale with the spirit of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale in there as well, i.e. it’s not a S&W PA knock-off (great!) but it’s not hell for leather American Pale either, in other words it’s wishy without the washy. 7/10.

T: Hop character comes out more on the palate with a touch of green herbal hops mingling in with that peachy/stone fruit character, floral and lychee notes. Not bad at all… not blowing me out of the water either – simply going down quite well. Biscuit malt base is a little thin, and TBH more malt wouldn’t have gone astray – I’ve always felt that IPAs can get away with little to no malt flavour but APAs need that malt/hop balance even more. Again this is probably a personal preference on my part. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a reasonably dense and light carbonation that is style appropriate. A touch more body at this ABV (5.5%) would be nice. 7/10.

D: Better than I was expecting from an inner suburbs Brisbane brewery – this craft beer biz is hard graft right? [rhetorical question: it bloody well is and you know it] So I’m always impressed when a little brewer pops up and has a stab at a style that has been done to death and in this case the beer vaguely tastes like Pirate Life – which is an achievement in of itself, cheers Slipstream! 8/10.

Food match: Wood fired pizza, I would go a nice mushroom/truffle pizza with this.

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Wild Beer Pogo

Total Score: 7.9/10 Passionfruit1Orange1PapayaMango1Nonicpint1

So I was a bit apprehensive about reviewing another Wild Beer after I put Breakfast of Champignons into the “too weird for its own good” box. That was one crazy mother funker of a brew [I said “funker” calm down ppl!]. However I had a test can of this (i.e. drinking without reviewing it) and it was goo-OOO-od. So it’s take 2 for Wild Beer, perhaps I misjudged them? [well Breakfast of Champignons was weird – so no, I didn’t misjudge anything]. Anyhow, Pogo is one of those fruit-infused beers, which IMO is always a gamble that doesn’t necessarily pay off, but if you want a TLDR; This brew has passionfruit, orange & guava and is almost as good as BrewDog Elvis (lawsuit) Juice… just a bit lighter at 4% ABV though.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed goldy-orangey body with a half centimetre bone-white cappuccino foam head that wafts lazily on top like a passing cloud of goodness. Looks properly like a beer hey? Beers sometimes do look like beers. This pleases me. 8/10.

S: Aroma is more like a literal glass of passionfruit/guava juice than a beer. Like, seriously: juice. I kid you not. It makes me get all philosophical about the nature of beer – when is a beer no longer a beer? Is it the alcohol that maketh the beer? Or is it fermentation? And perhaps the most important question of all in this arena: why am I asking what beer is instead of drinking said beer? Haven’t the foggiest. 7/10.

T: Tasting very juice-like, with: passionfruit/guava/orange, and the added presence of malt, which brings in a caramel angle to this intriguing glass of juice. Balance is well done this time by Wild Beer, there’s a touch of sourness mingling with sweet and a light citric bitterness in the finish. Overall this is an easy brew to drink, almost to its own detriment – would love to see a 5% ABV version of this – that extra 1% would kick the flavour up a notch from mild mannered and unassuming to assertive and confident. 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel is rather well done thanks to the addition of Lactose: mid to light, almost medium bodied, with a soft but dense carbonation. Impressive body. 9/10.

D: Easy-drinking, juicy, tasty, if these are adjectives that you identify with when drinking beer, well, this is your brew! Personally I like this beer, however… [there’s always a caveat!]: it’s borderline too much like an alcoholic glass of juice – I can see that turning off people: Aussie “blokes” might call it “a girls drink” whilst ironically chugging down a flavourless Lager in the same sentence. 8/10.

Food match: Couldn’t get fruit salad out of my head… sorry.

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4 Pines Keller Door Hop Hash XPA

Total Score: 5.75/10 HopFlower1Barley1Coriander1Nonicpint1

I’m pretty sure I swore that I wouldn’t review another 4 Pines beer (I was pretty disappointed with their Keller Door Cherry Coconut Brown Ale which tasted nothing like a Cherry Ripe™… an understandable expectation – I’m not crazy). Then they got me again with cool label artwork and the label description “As dangerously aromatic as it is addictive, you’d sell the house with nan in it just to get your hands on a beer with hash in it”. FYI: My nan is dead. Sniff. Maybe this beer will bring back good memories of nan? It is implied after all. Just don’t f**k this one up 4 Pines, this is your last chance to win back my favour and if this beer isn’t glorious with hop goodness I’m afraid our relationship is over (unless you send me free beer).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Clear golden body… wait, is this a Lager?! Nope, says XPA (which isn’t really a style anyway, but… shut up). 1 centimetre white cappuccino foam head that leaves some funky lace scrawl on the side of the glass. Apart from style confusion this looks average. 6/10.

S: Aroma reminds me of Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA, it has that dirty/earthy/resinous hop character to it. Let me get this clear though: it’s quite a bit more muted than Hop Hunter. Don’t want this to be unfairly compared to the excellent Hop Hunter. Not getting any stone fruit as the label describes, this is more on the piney side of the hop spectrum. Also not picking up any malt aroma… hopefully this isn’t as thin as 4 Pines In Season IPA in the flavour. 7/10.

T: Rubbery/earthy hop resin character upfront, a slight “green” hop character in the centre, following this is a dreaded grainy character. Finish is a medium herbal bitterness. Damn that grainy note – I just ranted about it in my last review – it has no place in any Pale Ale. Other than that though it’s really quite mundane, bit like the In Season IPA was. 4 Pines have lost their touch, especially with the Keller Door brews… that said I have never been hugely impressed by them as a brewer. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, some hop oil slickness, and a carbonation that is a tad aggressive – this accentuates sharpness in the bitter finish. 6/10.

D: Not nearly as interesting as the label would suggest, again I’m slightly disappointed by 4 Pines… Hop Hash XPA isn’t terrible, but it’s no competition to several great Aussie Pale Ale brewers: Pirate Life, Green Beacon, Blackmans, Bacchus to name a few. Try their brews before this one. 6/10.

Food match: BBQ ribs n’ shit.

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Black Hops Brewery Pale Ale

Total Score: 6.6/10 Peach1Passionfruit1Barley1Nonicpint1

Yet another American Pale Ale has entered the already over bloated Aussie craft beer market. So what do I care? I love a good APA… actually I’m more an IPA/DIPA man these days (NEIPAs to be precise)… who are these Black Hops peeps anyway? And what have they done with this Black Hops Pale Ale to differentialize it from the [hyperbole alert!] gazillion other APAs out there? Well I guess we’re about to find out. I will say one thing the marketing is spot on for drawing in the hipster market – the black can, the nice flat logo and cursive writing: Pure hipster bait, not unlike Balter’s marketing in that respect. I see this is also from the Gold Coast, when did GC get so hipster?! I’ll have to pay it a visit sometime… FOR I AM THE HIPSTER KING!

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Nice and hazy Gamboge body with a wispy white head that drops back leaving a thin lace blanket on top… this looks a bit like a NEIPA – quite a pale body… I think I’ve got NEIPAs on the brain atm. A solid 8/10.

S: Prominent passionfruit hop character – you’ve shown your hand early Mr. Galaxy Hops! Touch of grain and dry cracker from the malt. Hint of stone fruit as well. Not bad, a bit of a commonplace aroma these days though. 7/10.

T: Stone fruit up front (think peaches), then follows through with some grassy passionfruit character, an unwanted grainy presence, and finishes with cracker dryness and a fairly innocuous bitter note. Hmmm, flavour is a letdown because of that grainy character. I have a personal disdain for Pale Ales where the malt gets in the way, and the only reason this is the case here is due to a lack of hops. Needs more hops (dry hopped hops that is). Bring us more Mr. Galaxy Hops please! 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, a touch more watery than it needs to be though, with a medium (slightly burpy) carbonation. 7/10.

D: So it’s another Aussie Pale Ale ala S&W Pacific Ale then. I’ll add it to the list: S&W PA, Balter XPA, Fortitude Drifter, Burleigh Twisted Palm, Gage Roads Single Fin, Green Beacon 3 Bolt, and now Black Hops PA… that list keeps growing, and interestingly most of them come from the same SE Queensland/northern NSW region… what is with that region and S&W PA knock-offs? I’m going to group them into a new category and call them “Surfy Pale Ales” or “SPAs”, sound good? Good. S&W PA is still the best SPA around (unless S&W has changed the recipe those rapscallions). 7/10.

Food match: What do these surfy types eat? Seafood? Sounds like a plan.

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