Van Dieman Hedgerow 2016 Barrel Aged Sour

Total Score: 6.3/10 Wood1RedWine1Earth1Tulipglass1

Next in my sights from Van Dieman is their Hedgerow 2016 Barrel Aged Sour. The label speaks for itself: “Brewed with sloe berries, hawthorn berries and rose hips from hedgerows on the brewery farm, then aged for 1 year in French oak barrels, and blended with 2 & 3 year versions”. Yep, pretty much an instabuy with those ingredients and barrel-ageing, I do enjoy sloe berries in gin, so I suspect this will be a dry and moreish brew. Thus far the beers that I’ve had from Van Dieman have been pretty decent, both have rated around the 8.5/10 mark for me (which is what I would consider to be excellent, 7/10 is good, and 9/10 is world class – I’m still yet to give anything a 10/10, who knows – maybe something amazing is still yet to come).

Poured from a 375ml corked & caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Man that cork was a tough bastard to get out! Not the best first impressions in the glass either – seems almost inert with carbonation. Body is a deep dark amber/brown, with no head. None. Right from the start it’s not looking good. 4/10.

S: Luckily it gets better from there! Aroma is right up there with Rodenbach Classic, full red wine, grapey character from start to finish, tart sloe/hawthorn and forest berries also adding a distinct forest floor earthy/woody character. This is an aroma that evokes the best of American Wild Ales, with a Flanders Red Ale spin. 8/10.

T: Mouthfeel is the biggest shocker (see below). The flavour is alright, sloe/hawthorn comes through with a tannic dryness, earthy, woody and hints of grape character. Finish is dry and a touch tart. Missing a bit of flavour profile complexity, there’s little sweetness, and no bitterness, just that sour hint. I’m beginning to suspect that this is corked actually – I’ve had this same thing happen with wines where the cork is totally dry and the flavours have oxidised. 6/10.

M: Yep, completely inert on the carbonation – this is as flat as a tack and missing out on coming across as a beer at all (it’s more like a berry liquor in that regard). Body is mid to light, yeah it’s no good here. 4/10.

D: What a mixed bag – look and mouthfeel were a complete disappointment, however aroma and flavour were excellent and alright respectively. I’m definitely thinking that I had a corked bottle, which is a shame because apart from the problems I’ve listed there’s an interesting brew in there somewhere – one that would reward a bit of aging. Plus this now puts a blip in my ratings for Van Dieman, they were riding high before now. 7/10.

Food match: Cuisine that goes with red wine, gourmet pizza is my pick.


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.


Prairie Vape Tricks

Total Score: 7.05/10 Cherry1Barley1RedWine1Tulipglass1

Another new American brewer has crossed my lovely path (it has a nice shrubbery), this time it’s a Mid-West brewer from Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain… or so I’ve heard. Prairie Vape Tricks sounds like an interesting brew – an American Wild Ale aged on cherries. And tonight I’ve sorta got a theme with the beers I’m reviewing – next up is a cherry Porter, then it’s a whey Stout. Anyway, who are these Prairie guys? They seem pretty highly regarded by the beer reviewing community in the US, at least their brews rate highly. Checked out their website, love the label designs – very cool line drawings. Also their Bomb! Sounds like the eponymous (i.e. the Bomb!) Will have to track that one down.

Poured from a 355ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Great colour! Hazy ruby red body with a billowy 2 centimetre pink-coloured head that drops back to almost nothing. Carbonation looks pretty fizzy too. This could be a handful of a brew. Still, love the colour. 8/10.

S: Brett yeast funk with sour Morello cherries and a hint of grain character. Bit thin on the aroma side – needs a bit more oomph here. A second whiff reveals a vinous red wine grape touch. Not bad Prairie, not great either, it’s a classic 7/10 here. 7/10.

T: Tart, not crazy tart but it’s got a slight bit of mouth puckering going on, with sour cherry character that is a touch medicinal and a bit too muted IMO. Grain character is prominent throughout and a real distraction – for some reason I’m sensitive to grainy flavours in beer and find them off-putting. Other than that – yeah Brett yeast funk and musty flavours that linger all over the palate. It’s tasty enough not to be boring, but it never really goes far – and as I’m coming up to 1000 reviews brewers really need to work hard for that score. 7/10.

M: Medium(ish) body, a touch thin and watery, with a rather active carbonation that is the hallmark of many a Wild Ale – they tend to go with unpredictable yeasts, ergo the rustic nature of the style. 7/10.

D: Not off to a great start for Prairie, although Vape Tricks isn’t bad it’s just a bit lacking in various places. I’m sure Bomb! A 13% ABV brew with coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and ancho chilli peppers will no doubt be a glorious beer, this American Wild Ale aged on cherries is a bit hit and miss for me, sorry Prairie. 7/10.

Food match: Palate-cleansing beers like this generally do well with cheese platters.


To Øl Mr. Blue

Total Score: 7.9/10 WhiteWine1Earth1Coriander1Tulipglass1

My latest in a fruitful [get it – this beer has blueberries in it… what? You don’t like puns – GTFOOH!] relationship with those Danish brewers whose name I refuse to pronounce properly and call “tool” (it is after all one of the greatest bands of all time) is a nice homage to Reservoir Dogs: Mr. Blue. Personally I’m more of a Pulp Fiction fan, Tarantino is better with a budget. So “this 7% [ABV] Saison has a malt base of Rye, Wheat and Oats to deliver a spicy, fuller mouthfeel, hopped with Galaxy and Belma and then 500 kg blueberries per 1000 litre.” – Sounds like one tasty mother**ker, can’t wait to crack open this 500ml can, cheers Tool!

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Well, well Mr. Blue is actually quite red, deep ruby red body in fact, with a rather enormous pink head. This is one of the more interesting brews I’ve had in front of me. The fact is that the skin on blueberries are actually purple or deep red, so the colour of this brew is reflective of that fact… plus purpleberries is a silly name. 8/10.

S: Interesting aroma, there’s slight barn yard Saison funk to it, but overall the aroma is a complex mix of blueberry, vinous notes, dry juniper, earthy/peppery rye character and a hint of boysenberry sweetness. Though from the aroma I guessing this is a dry beer flavour-wise. Very intriguing stuff, it’s got a lot going on! 8/10.

T: Hmmm, touch of sweet leads to an overly dry and slightly tart brew. Aftertaste brings in herbal bitterness. Characters of blueberry (though less than expected), heavy earthy/dry juniper and sea buckthorne (see my review of HaandBryggeriet Tindved), earthy and slight peppery rye notes, dry white wine and a herbal note in the finish. Sophisticated flavour profile here. Though with a touch more sweetness it would have a perfect balance between sweet/dry/sour/bitter, still good though. 8/10.

M: Medium-ish bodied with a carbonation that started out sharp but softened rather quickly ending up a bit flat. 7/10.

D: This is one of those beers that is fun for something different but I could see it being a bit too… not lacking anything… and not over the top in any direction… it’s just got flavours that are complex but a bit boring at the same time, there’s a heap going on but it simply needs a bit of a ____ kick to it. And ____ could be anything: cinnamon, bacon, chocolate, papaya, whatever… in fact that gives me an idea for a cinnamon-bacon-chocolate papaya stout [patent pending!]. 8/10.

Food match: Seems pretty obvious: cinnamon, bacon, chocolate and papaya salad.


8 Wired Wireless 100% Brettanomyces IPA

Total Score: 9.1/10 WhiteWine1Peach1Kiwi1Tulipglass1

An American India Pale Ale brewed with 100% Brettanomyces yeast you say? Indeed this was a hard one to categorise – is it classed as an American IPA or an American Wild Ale, it qualifies for both but as most beer sites only let you select one style when you add a beer I placed it under “American IPA”. Doubtless I’m expecting it to actually taste like a proper Wild Ale with that ever funky Brett yeast strain. Oh well, bloggers can’t be choosers*. I’m expecting it to be good, because 8 Wired haven’t faulted yet for me as a brewery, cheers Kiwis – too bad about the cricket team 😛

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: An intriguing bright, but hazed, almost banana yellow body with a punchy white foam head which quickly drops back to a nice lace ring. Certainly one of the more interesting beers I’ve ever seen with that wholly yellow body. 8/10.

S: Aroma hits right out of the park with a prominent funky yeast character, stone fruit hops, a herbal/floral note and a touch of candi sugar sweetness trying to break free from the funk. The overall fragrance of this brew has everything a craft connoisseur could ask for. 9/10.

T: Extraordinary beer this! The taste is big and touches all gustatory perceptions – bitter, sweet, sour, dry (standing in for umami)… ok maybe not salty – but who wants salty in a beer [amiright?!]… Gose drinkers, probably. Apart from the aforementioned flavours the stone fruit character has a bit of gooseberry in it for good measure, probably Nelson Sauvin hops, tastes like a top shelf NZ brew from one of the best Kiwi brewers – and it is. Can’t think of any negatives here so: 10/10.

M: Near medium bodied with a light carbonation and a hint of hop oils. 8/10.

D: This brew is the almost perfect culmination of IPA and Brett in a glass. I must admit I was sceptical when I saw “Brettanomyces” and “IPA” on the label but this beer is a genuine “wow!” beer. Other than that my only wish is that this brew was a tad cheaper ($15 for a 500ml bottle) and not a limited release, however I’m sure if it gets enough positive press in beer circles Brett IPAs could be the next Black/White IPAs [or any other quirky style trend] with other brewers releasing them, viva Brett! 8/10.

Food match: Comparing this beer to a complex white wine style, say a Viognier, I would pair this with grilled seafood and a mild curry (think a Korma).

*When it comes to adding more than one style on beer sites.


HopDog Alluvial Peach

Total Score: 7.5/10 Peach1 Vanilla1 Wood1 Tulipglass1

“Another day, another HopDog review” as they say [no they don’t… who’s “they” anyway?]. I’m not a huge peach fan, I’m a nectarine fan, which you can argue is simply a smooth skinned peach – they are from the same species, to wit I counter: Shut up, they taste different, QED and on we go. The take home point of this whole mini-saga is that I don’t like peaches but I like HopDog that much that I will suck it up to review their Alluvial Peach, and I may even enjoy it [you know you will, you fake peach hater Doc].NB: This is the 2015 vintage.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pale golden body with some yeast particles floating around along with a dog hair* (I kid you not!) perhaps it is a hair from the mythical HopDog? Regardless I plucked the hair out of the glass and like the mighty beer explorer that I am I continued the review with a shrug. The head BTW is thin white lace. 7/10.

S: WOW, this is one Tart brew (with a captial ‘T’). Peaches give a bold Umeboshi character which dominates any other aromas. Hints of a sherbet sweetness cower in the background along with oaky overtones. 9/10.

T: Gueuze sourness is present throughout the flavour profile. Following this is the eponymous peach, almost ume, character, some sherbet (without the accompanied sweetness) and some oak barrel vanilla. The overall palate is a bit one sided, slanted towards sour, and you’ve got to expect that with an intentionally soured brew, but it’s missing something else, some je ne suis pas certain some extra element of sweetness that would cut through the tartness and give it more character. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a fizzy, sharp carbonation that works well with the tartness of this brew. 8/10.

D: This is one beer which proves that Australian brewers can brew Belgian-style sour beers. Compared to a real Belgian sour it comes close to stacking up against the big boys but ultimately falls short of the complexity and finesse of a true Belgian brew. That said I did enjoy how the tartness of this brew wasn’t heavy-handed or overbearing, it was in that sour-sweet-spot (to coin a contradictory term) and reasonably moreish. Not one of HopDog’s best brews, but their best brews are damn fantastic so they’ve set the bar high there. 7/10.

Food match: This palate cleansing brew will cut any cheese platter in twain.

*This brew gives new meaning to phrase “hair of the dog”.


Rogue Beard Beer

Total Score: 5.6/10 GreenApple1 Honeycomb1 Clove1 Tulipglass1

From Baird Beer we go to Beard Beer [There. See. Did. I. What?]. Yes, I hear your collective groans at yet another review of another Rogue brew… What?! That groan was about my terrible Baird/Beard pun? I thought it was rather clever and dashing, like James Bond’s underpants – the Sean Connery James Bond of course… anyway I’ve got this and another Rogue beer to review as they were the only examples of styles I’ve never tried that I could get my hands on – in Beard Beers case ‘American Wild Ale’ – though I have [spoiler alert] read reviews saying it was a lacklustre example of the style, I don’t care – I want to review one of every style *evil chanting* “one of every style, one of every style”.

Poured from a ye olde weird American-sized 650ml tallie into a Duvel tulip.

A: Oh yeah, before you drink this beer do yourself a favour and DO NOT READ where it gets its name. This fine brew presents itself with a hazy orange body and an immense 1 and a half inch white head that soon whittles down to a less-immense 1 cm, because I love throwing metric and imperial in the same sentence. 7/10.

S: Stewed vegetable alert: This brew smells like stewed vegetables. That is all. I hope this isn’t going to be a Delirium Tremens [I’m talking about my review of DT not actual DT which would also suck] introduction to the American Wild Ale style. Hints of sweet caramel malt and some spiciness struggle to overcome the stewed veggies but they have a real fight on their hands with this funk. 2/10.

T: Flavour is a huge step up (though I still suspect this is an infected bottle) with a Belgian Tripel-esque profile: Sweet candi sugar/honey base, coriander spice, cider apple and cloves. The stew vegetables still comes through if you breath in whilst sipping – it’s a bizarre and distracting note that kind of ruins this beer a little. It has a hint of tartness and is dry in the finish. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a prickly but light carbonation. 7/10.

D: The story behind the beer didn’t get me retching – yeast is yeast no matter where/how it was raised so really there’s little difference between beard yeast and the cellar yeast where Lambics are brewed. What did make me retch, and really struggle to finish this brew, was the stewed veggie aroma that I’ve only encountered before in Delirium Tremens – I did a re-review of that brew and found that it must have been an infected bottle – I don’t have that luxury with this being a one-off limited release, however it served its box-ticking purpose, NEXT! 5/10.

Food match: Vegetable stew anyone???