Stone & Wood Stone Beer 2018

Total Score: 7.75/10 Bacon1Earth1Coffee1Tulipglass1

It’s another year and it’s time for another of Stone & Wood’s signature beer, their wood-fired stone beer, in which they take a stone that’s been sitting in a fire for a while and chuck it in the wort to give it a nice earthy/smoky flavour. I’ve tried 2013, 2016 and 2017, and they keep getting better so here’s an image of me rubbing my hands together in anticipation: [image not found]. Interestingly every year up until now has been an Altbier, a type of German Brown Ale, but this year they’ve up’d the ABV to 7.5% and made it a Porter. Hmmmm… my theory is the earthy/smoky flavours will come through even more and make it EVEN TASTIER, but you never know until you try. *cracks open bottle*

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep and opaque, almost black, dark chocolate-coloured body with a chunky tan head that drops back quickly (as it is want to do at 7.5% ABV) leaving a sea of bubbles. Looks luxurious and sexy like a film noir femme fatale. 9/10.

S: Bacon smokiness and earthy stone character mingle in this sultry brew. As I expected the change in style has amplified the effect of dropping a red-hot volcanic stone into a wort… it’s hopefully been wort-while [sorry, couldn’t help myself]. The only negatives are also positives IMO: the smoky/earthy/stoney character overrides the rest of the beer, who cares – I say “bring on the bacon!”. 8/10.

T: Yep, it’s essentially a Smoked Porter (think Feral/Blackman’s). Flavour profile is good: smoky bacon, earthy stone character, brown sugar/malt sweetness, firm coffee bitterness in the finish. It’s good, but I feel that the stone flavours have been amped up a bit too much from the previous Altbier styles, and there is less sweetness than previous offerings and more bitterness. The balance is more out-of-whack compared to the previous Stone Beers. It’s still a tasty drop though, there’s no denying that fact. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied, thinner than expected, with a flat but dense carbonation. Clearly not as nice as previous Stone Beers (needs more body) here. 7/10.

D: A good Stone Beer, nonetheless the balance is out: skewed too far towards a smoky/bitter flavour, I mean it’s not exactly Schlenkerla Urbock smoky, but then that beer has a great deal of sweetness to underpin that smoke onslaught. QED: smoky/bitter flavours magnify each other and make for a not great beer drinking experience. Bring back their years perfected Altbier I say. 7/10.

Food match: Ardbeg or Lagavulin chaser? Otherwise a rich beef stew is the ticket.


Barossa Valley Brewing Cherry Ripe Porter

Total Score: 7.1/10 Chocolate1Cherry1Coffee1Nonicpint1

Cherry Ripe Porter? I’m in! I grew up sneaking Mum’s Cherry Ripes out of the back of the fridge where she used to hide them from the rest of the family. Even though I didn’t like them much – I never was one for coconut in anything – in some sick Pavlovian way I grew to enjoy them as one of the few chocolate treats I could get my grubby little kid hands on. Fast forward to today and I now enjoy coconut in things, I even sometimes drink coconut water (that’s natures Gatorade BTW), and cherry beers I am a big fan of. So the biggest question is – will Cherry Ripe Porter be like a Bacchus/Omnipollo dessert beer… or will it desert me in my hour of dessert needs? [wow there’s some interesting etymology going on there!] I remain, as ever, hopeful of impending sweetness.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Deep dark opaque chocolate brown with a fluffy 3 centimetre tan head that dissolves leaving some sticky lace behind. Looks aiight, but then again most Stouts/Porters (those age old interchangeable styles) do look aiight. Head could be a bit denser – which doesn’t bode well for mouthfeel. 7/10.

S: It’s got a bit of a Black Forest cake vibe going on with dark and milk chocolate and sweet cherries in the aroma… hmmm, it’s got a good scent this brew – very inviting. It’s a touch on the sweeter side for balance, and I suspect the finish might be slightly dry with a roasted coffee bitterness. Not much in the way of coconut detected here, though I’ve found with previous coconut beers that it oft comes through more in the flavour… speaking of which. 8/10.

T: Confirmed: No coconut detected. Frankly needs more cherry too. Primary flavours are the classic Stout/Porter flavours: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, with a touch of earthy/nutty character. Finish is dry. Aftertaste has a cherry brandy note, but apart from that you could remove the words “cherry” and “ripe” from the label and people would be none the wiser. That said calling a beer simply “Porter” is a pretty unimaginative name. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied but reasonably dense carbonation makes it seem fuller, bit average here – more texture (perhaps from oats) is needed. 6/10.

D: Doesn’t exactly disappoint, however it also doesn’t live up to that much dreaded *spooky voice* “LABEL PROMISE”. Still this is a half decent Porter with some nice chocolatey sweetness (and a hint of booze) so not a total loss. 7/10.

Food match: You knew I was going to say it: Black Forest gâteau!!!


Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series: 6th Anniversary Porter

Total Score: 7.8/10 Wood1Vanilla1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

This rerelease is based on a beer based on an anniversary for Stone, it’s a veritable Inception of beers – like a beer within a beer within a beer… it’s BEERCEPTION! Anyhow I really quite enjoyed Stone’s actual 20th Anniversary beer: Citracado, so I figured this rerelease of their 6th Anniversary Porter would go down a treat, plus in 2002 (the year the original was released) I was drinking mostly Guinness and there was no way in hell a craft beer from the states would even have gotten to Australia, so I guess my only chance to try 6th Anniversary Porter is right now in 2017, yay the future!

Poured from a 650ml “bomber” bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep chocolate brown almost jet black body with a nice thin tan head that quickly fades to leave a thin lace ring and bubbles on top. At 8% ABV seeing a head disappear like this is not uncommon, and I do like the look of a dark beer… so: 8/10.

S: Beechwood upfront provides a nice bacon(y) foil to the dark chocolate/coffee grinds aroma of this Porter. Can’t really go past that Beechwood smoke though – it’s reminiscent of the best (Schlenkerla comes to mind), hint of nuttiness in there as well. This aroma has plenty of character, as Stone are known to provide in most of their brews. Really looking forward to the next bit. 8/10.

T: F**ken tasty this! Bold dark chocolate/coffee front palate, mid hits with bacon and Beechwood smoke, vanilla sweetness enters (and quickly departs) as this delightful brew finishes with what I would call an overly assertive astringent bitterness in the finish. That bitterness wrecks the palate a little bit and holds it back from being a truly great brew, but the journey is still good. Aftertaste lingers with some sharp bitterness. Did I mention woody? Yes, woody too. 8/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a dense/creamy carbonation, great stuff! 8/10.

D: Apart from that sharp lingering bitterness in the finish and aftertaste this is one decent Porter from those fine chaps (and chapettes) at Stone. The simple fact is: This is a real assertively bitter American Porter. If you’re a Russian Imperial Stout drinker… or nearly any Stout drinker, chances are this will be too OTT bitter. However if your favourite beer tipple begins with ‘I’ and ends ‘A’ you’ll probably get right into this. Me, I feel I straddle both worlds – I love a Stout and an IPA, and this Stone was edging a little too much for me with bitterness. 7/10.

Food match: The smokinest Cuban cigar you can conjure up for less than $50.


Wolf Of The Willows Tiramibru GABS 2016

Total Score: 7.85/10 Coffee1RedWine1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

If you ask me what my favourite dessert is the answer will be a clear and concise: Tiramisu… or lemon meringue pie… or profiteroles… or banoffee pie… or gelato… or banana pancakes… anyway the point is: Tiramisu is the first thing I think of when I want my mouth to salivate, and those clever peeps at Wind in the Willows have made a Porter with Muscat port and cold-drip coffee – theoretically this should be the beer of the year for me, but let’s not be too hasty and let the hype train derail itself Doc [as I am want to do].

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents with a deep opaque brown body and a decent 1 cm almost tan coloured head that slowly drops back to a lace blanket on top. Looks s’right as far Porters go. Nothing “wow” about the look, just a nice normal Porter. 7/10.

S: At first the aroma is full-on espresso, like damn there’s a lot of coffee in this, but a second whiff reveals slight hints of that Muscat port, although personally I like my Tiramisu with more of a port than a coffee slant. Apart from that it’s hard to detect much else, the coffee notes reminded me of Burleigh’s Black Giraffe for some reason – the quality of the coffee and the method employed smells similar. 7/10.

T: They’ve done well here, aside from light burnt espresso notes that linger on in the aftertaste, this is one cake-like brew. The Muscat port comes through with a nice cloying sweetness – it is a dessert after all – cold-drip coffee throughout the palate with hints of cocoa that come through too. The combination of port and coffee is well defined and as tasty as a Tiramisu. 8/10.

M: Perhaps the best part about this brew is the medium bodied and creamy mouthfeel – cream (or mascarpone cheese) is an ingredient in Tiramisu, and whether or not they intended it Wind in the Willows have brought an element of creaminess to this Tiramibru that makes you think of Tiramisu – well done! 9/10.

D: Lush and decadent coffee and port: Check! This is one beer to savour and enjoy whilst chipmunks sing you Christmas carols in front of a fire roasting chestnuts… or the other way round [who doesn’t love singing chestnuts?]. Anyway if you want a nice Porter that is moreish, slightly cloying (but in a good way), brewed by Wolf of the Willows and also a one-off occurrence for the GABS festival of 2016 – you’ve definitely found your beer! [one might say the only beer to fit these criteria] 8/10.

Food match: Do you even have to ask? Really?! Really?!?! Fine: Tiramisu.


Newstead Brewing 21 Feet 7 Inches Porter

Total Score: 7.1/10 Coffee1Smoke1Chocolate1Nonicpint1

So I’ve got to admit I’m a bit of a serial beer cherry-picker, i.e. I taste a few beers from a brewer and pick the one I liked most to review. In the case of Newstead – who opened while I was living interstate and are still going strong (even though they live around the corner from the much better Green Beacon) – their best brew I deemed was their 21 Feet 7 Inches Porter. I kinda felt a hankering for a Stout, and here we are Mr. 21 Feet 7 Inches Porter… what does the name even mean? I’ll have to read the label… aha, it’s a reference to the 1974 Brisbane floods – 21’ 7” was the high tide, huh, I just learnt something dammit.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: A fairly tasty obsidian black/deep brown body with a thin mocha coloured head – this is right up my alley for a stout… but wait a sec: The head isn’t leaving behind any lacing – which is the difference between an average and a brilliant stout/porter – needs more lace proteins then. 7/10.

S: At least the aroma is bang on with rich dark/milk chocolate, light coffee bean notes and a hint of brandy, mmmmm. The balance between sweet/bitter is excellent here – let’s see about the taste, because some stouts can be misleading here. 8/10.

T: Flavour is more on the bitter than sweet side and apart from the above noted aromas (dark/milk chocolate, coffee bean, brandy) there is a touch of roasted smokiness at play. Finish is a mix of coffee grind bitterness and soy sauce, not bad, not great. Aftertaste leaves a roasted coffee taste that lingers on for a long time. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light but dense carbonation… wasn’t really expecting much here – Aussie brewers seem to be lost compared to Americans when it comes to body in a stout, tis a shame. 6/10.

D: This seemed much better on tap, but all beers taste better on tap – so that’s neither here nor there. Overall I wanted the balance to be less on the bitter side and more chocolatey – but that is a personal porter preference of mine. Am I disappointed? A little, however it’s not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, just lacking a little, it’s the little things that would make this beer better. 7/10.

Food match: I had a coq au vin with this Porter last time I was there and it was a damn good match.


Heretic Shallow Grave Porter

Total Score: 7.9/10 Chocolate1Coffee1Smoke1Tulipglass1

Review #666: So I decided to give the devil his due and review a hellish themed brew. The only beer I could find on short notice (I really should have thought ahead hey) is this Heretic Shallow Grave Porter… amazingly fresh as it was brewed on 08.03.16! Wait, that’s a “15” at the end… oh yeah and Americans use some weird dating system that goes month/day/year – WTF is with that anyway?! So 3rd August 2015… oh well, it’ll be fine… and I must add that my evil twin/editor: Melvin will be editing this review so we can all bask in the joy of his [evil] comments.

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: A rich deep [as the chasm we all face without our glorious master] dark chocolate body with a nice 1 cm tan head that slowly dissolves to a thin lace ring, that is quite tasty looking. 8/10.

S: Hmmm, quite chocolatey upfront and all over with milk and dark chocolate notes, some dark fruits as well, dark shoes? Nope, none of them… but a dark something else gives this dark Porter an overall foreboding sense of delight and dread – the two D’s of dark beer brewing [you will obey the dark lord]. Hints of smoke [like a smouldering village destroyed by the dark one for those who would disobey him] add an extra tasty dimension. 7/10.

T: Chocolate upfront, milk and dark, with a red coffee cherry note providing some hint of bitterness and a smoky character as well. Overall it hits all the right Stout/Porter flavour buttons [like the buttons on the jacket of our supreme deity], and at 7% this is an impressively bold ale right on the cusp of the flavours you would get in a Russian Imperial Stout. Another sip reveals a hint of booze but it’s the sort of thing grandma would hide in the Christmas pudding and tasty, it’s like a big soft boozy chocolate brownie. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a tight creamy [like our master’s fettuccine carbonara – he likes creamy Italian dishes] carbonation, top points here this is about as good a mouthfeel as you will get in any Porter. 9/10.

D: Honestly this one is getting off easy being called a “Porter” as it is more like a Russian [like Rasputin, one of the dark lord’s minions] Imperial Stout, and of all the Porters I’ve come across this is definitely one of the best – compare it to a RIS however and it’s average, so there you go. What’s in a name? Would a Porter by any other name taste as sweet; perhaps? Who knows. 8/10.

Food match: Anything rich and beefy [and evil… hail the dark one!].