Rogue Dead ‘N’ Dead

Total Score: 8.15/10 Honeycomb1Bread1Wood1Tulipglass1

I don’t know if I love Rogue Ales, but dammit I respect them! Their beers have ranged from the tasty (Chocolate Stout and Dead Guy Ale), to the bizarre (Voodoo Doughnut anything), to the outright stupid (Beard Beer – which of course was going to taste like a Saison because: wild yeast – duh!). Dead Guy Ale is my 3rd favourite Rogue Beer, and to date the only Maibock I’ve reviewed [even though I’ve been to Germany twice… I think I need to go again, in the interests of beer]. When I saw Dead ‘N’ Dead at my local I wondered “how can this be good? A whiskey barrel-aged Dead Guy Ale – why mess with something already quite tasty?”. Of course I bought it, curious cat that I am.

Poured from a 650ml US bomber sized bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Tequila sunrise coloured cloudy body with a nice firm 1 centimetre beige coloured head that leaves some crazy lattice-work lace on the side of the glass. Well, sir, I must say this looks… mighty appealing, one could say it’s ‘mightpealing’. 9/10. [oh yeah, BJCP says a Maibock should be clearer, lighter coloured, with a whiter head… sorry Rogue – I docked Dead Guy for this too] 7/10.

S: Aroma is a bit of a tapestry strewn with caramel malt, dark fruit (mostly fig, hint of date), woody & vanilla tones (thanks oak!), bready centre, and intriguingly: almond. Yep, an odd hint of almond. Hopefully no one is trying to assassinate someone else with cyanide and I happened to purchase the very bottle that was the poisoned chalice. I don’t think that’s a realistic scenario… still almonds aren’t a common aroma in beer [hmmm, indeed Watson…] smells like a tasty death regardless. 8/10.

T: Huh. Tastes almost identical to Dead Guy Ale [strange that]. Flavour comes across more bready, honeyed sweet, caramel and butterscotch (just like Dead Guy) with a richer/more velvety mouthfeel [that’s next Doc!]. Hints of wood, vanilla and a slight burnt caramel note are the only flavours that set it apart from Dead Guy. More of an evolution than a revolution then. Finish is drying. Still tasty. 8/10.

M: Mid, almost heavy-but-not-quite bodied with a thin but velvety and dense carbonation… mmmm, Dead ‘N’ Dead. 8/10.

D: It’s going to be close, real close… I love DGA, but D’N’D [there’s a D&D reference in there somewhere] is also good. Too many good things to drink, too little time to taste everything. Still DGA is a tad cheaper… so close… 9/10.

Food match: Gotta go German – Schweinebraten mit Knödeln again methinks.


Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Sherry Cask

Total Score: 6.8/10 Smoke1Bacon1Wood1Tulipglass1

I’ve been a fan of Harviestoun since 2001 when I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked in a bar that sold Old Engine Oil on those awesome bicep-building pull taps (I could have sworn that beer used to be 9% ABV). Fast forward to 2018 and sitting in front of me is a lot of memories packaged neatly in a 330ml bottle. This is Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Sherry Cask. A Black Ale aged in Highland Park sherry casks. The bottle no. is 25937, and the date on it is April 2015, so it’s had over 3 years in the bottle (including 6 months in the cask). I’m also a big fan of Highland Park whiskey too – though I’m a bit wary about the aging in sherry casks: Highland Park is already soft and sweet enough, hopefully the aging in the bottle will have mellowed out my preconceived sweetness somewhat.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite black, more like a “she sips a Coca Cola, she can’t tell the difference yet” coloured body, with thin tan soap bubbles where a head would normally reside [at least this one is carbed bro!]. Looks alright though, a classic 7/10.

S: Woah. More smoky bacon hickory goodness than an American BBQ Association get together. Actually just Googled if such a thing does exist – American BBQ Association – and thank the internet it does. Really hard to get past those smoky, charry, bacon and hickory notes – at this stage I’m predicting the little info-gram pics above to be: Smoke, Bacon, Wood. Pretty singular stuff. 7/10.

T: Flavour takes the above: smoky, charry, bacon and hickory – and then it dumps peat all over it… and I mean ALL OVER IT. Profile is peat from start to finish, he’s a nice guy but jeez Peat get over yourself! Look if I had to guess I would say the original, non-peated, version of this has a delightful dark fruit and brown sugar character and finishes sweet with a slight medicinal herb bitterness [which is my go-to description of many a Dark Ale]. However there’s very little room for anything else in this peat bog of a brew. Smoky = this. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is also a bit of a letdown coming from Harviestoun [who I know can produce great textured beers] with a mid to light, thin bodied and thin carbed feel. You can do better Harviestoun! 5/10.

D: With a BB date of 11/18 maybe I’m cutting it fine? All I know is this is one smoky brew, and peaty AF, plus it’s one-dimensional. It’s hard to have any dimension when peat is involved, which is why I respect + love Ardbeg so much. 7/10.

Food match: Sipping this with cigars, maybe throw in some dark chocolate too.


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.


Stone Saison Du BUFF Red & White Wine Barrel Aged

Total Score: 8.8/10 Coriander1Flowers1WhiteWine1Tulipglass1

Stone, I love Stone [not getting stoned – not into that, sorry!]. Damn their beers can be expensive though – this corked and caged 500ml bottle cost me around $36, that’s halfway to the most expensive beer I’ve ever bought ($60 for a 330ml bottle of Westvleteren XII), anyway you get what you paid for, and Barrel-Aged beers are expensive in general. The main drawcard for me with this brew was this: rosemary. I’ve been wanting to try a beer brewed with rosemary for ages. Also parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme “remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine” – who doesn’t love Simon and Garfunkel? Probably people born this century, but really what do they know? Yeah!

Poured from a 500ml corked and caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Fairly hazed pale orange body with a rather active white head that fizzles out pretty quickly leaving a thin lace ring. It’s no contender for best looking beer, but it looks drinkable nonetheless. 7/10.

S: Dry and musty Brettanomyces yeast upfront provides a decent barnyard funky hay-bale Saison credentials – this is definitely a farmhouse ale, there’s no disputing that. The rest of the aroma is dedicated to herbal and floral notes, with a bit of bubble-gum thrown into the mix. Yep, this is one of those beers I could sit in the corner and sniff for ages [as long as no one sees me acting like some sort of beer-sniffing lunatic]. “Sensational aroma!” is what I could have said more aptly. 10/10.

T: Flavour is a complex mix of the above: dry/musty and spicy Brett yeast, dry herbal centre with hints of sage and thyme, white wine grapes, hints of floral notes and bubble-gum, capped off with a looooong dry herbal finish. Flavours overall of a crazy complex and exceptional brew that is a little too yeast-driven and missing the rosemary, parsley and red wine barrel characters, however this was going to be a hectic brew and those flavours have no doubt been drowned out in the sheer cacophony of ingredients. 9/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a dense and prickly carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew more than anything reminds me of Trappist brews like Orval – herbal rich, dry and spicy – and apart from the above noted flavours being pushed out by other flavours it is bang on what I was expecting. Oh yeah, and 9.3% ABV – doesn’t taste anything near that! Another admirable effort from Stone, though a bit too many Brett strains, go easy on the yeast next time Stone. 8/10.

Food match: Roast chicken with a herb salad and roasted veggies.


Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Total Score: 9.05/10 Chocolate1Vanilla1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Milestone review #950! Oskar Blues Ten Fidy! Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout! More words followed by exclamation points!!! Been looking forward to this one for so long that it’s actually got some age on it now from sitting in my beer cupboard (my favouritest of all cupboards): canned date is Nov 6 2016. It also has a humorous cultural reference to the upcoming US election on the underside of the can with a message “MAKE MORDOR GREAT AGAIN” – little could we imagine the events in the last year as they’ve happened with old King Hair Plugs in charge… I guess he hasn’t plunged the world into nuclear catastrophe… yet. Well 1 year old Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy, this should be pretty damn good, so glad I “cellared” this can.

Poured from a 568ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: The most portentous beer I’ve ever laid my eyes on, picture: inky depths of the deepest ocean where the largest dark leviathan lurks – this is a cannonball across the ships bow, a warning sign to those who may consider imbibing this rich and heady brew. It’s tits basically. Jet black with a thin chocolate head. 10/10.

S: Dark chocolate ganache, hint of vanilla and bourbon, more chocolate mudcake character – this is the most chocolaty brew I’ve whiffed that doesn’t proclaim chocolate as an ingredient. Hints of espresso and molasses round out the aroma. It’s not dump truck sweet, actually the balance is quite well played, I suspect the barrel-aging and cellaring for a year has helped considerably. 9/10.

T: Wow, yeah it’s sweet, but not OTT, bit like Founders Curmudgeon in this regard: sitting right on the border to OTT sweet-land. Flavour follows the nose – Dark chocolate ganache, mudcake, vanilla, bourbon, espresso and molasses. I was expecting a huge alcohol hit in this 12.8% ABV Goliath, especially after someone told me that this brew was “basically a boiler-maker”, it is there but I’ve had much worse – again I suspect cellaring this has paid dividends. Tasty drop this. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied but surprisingly not cloying, with a dense carbonation that would make the Germans jealous… doesn’t often happen that. 9/10.

D: This is an A+ brew from Oskar Blues (first one I’ve had of theirs, lucky me!) the year has been good for this black stallion, and I reckon it will only get better with age. Price-wise it’s as Xy as any other BA brew, so it’s difficult to begrudge it for that. This is a RIS to slowly sip in enjoyment with very few negatives… except it being bloody hard to get a hold of, cheers Oskar Blues! 9/10.

Food match: Cigars, the most smelly Cuban ones you can find.



Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout 2015

Total Score: 8.7/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Wood1Tulipglass1

Review #900! Only 100 more reviews till I get a free sub and perhaps a captains hat (Seinfeld reference). So what better way to go out than with this barrel aged version of one of my favourite Russian Imperial Stouts: Sierra Nevada Narwhal. I review a lot of Sierra Nevada brews, and they rarely disappoint (except for Otra Vez of course), so I really wanted to save something special for #900 and it had to be something BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto], and dark, and barrel aged – well looks like we’ve found ourselves a tasty… and no I’m not going to attempt to drink the entire bottle tonight… 750mls of obsidian nectar of the Gods in our good friend Narwhal – really, really looking forward to this – is perhaps an understatement.

Poured from a 750ml corked & caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black like the inkiest depths of the vacuum of space with a thin tan ring that does little to offset the terror to be found in this dark murky soup. Less impressive beers abound freely in comparison to this Goliath. 9/10.

S: The aroma: Inescapable – a rich melange of sweet bourbon whiskey, dark fruits, molasses, a woody/oaky note, chicory, licorice, and cacao nibs. “Get down on your knees and pay me respect now” – Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout 2015. This aroma is scary assertive. 9/10.

T: Maybe it’s the 2 yrs age on it but this is nothing near as powerful as I expected from the aroma. First sip is a bit of a bourbon nip with a slight burn, dark fruits (raisin, plum) and the molasses/oaky note. Second sip comes in and dumps chicory, licorice and a raw espresso character. Aftertaste comes in with a touch of medicinal herb and espresso bitterness. 9/10.

M: Feels less viscous and heavy than regular Narwhal – which is a surprise I wasn’t even expecting! Mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation. 8/10.

D: It’s overall civilized, but at 12.9% ABV one gets the feeling that maybe “it’s a little too much”. Too much ABV, too much flavour going on – it’s not as good as regular Narwhal in that respect, regular Narwhal had more balance. So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that I would actually take a regular Narwhal over this, and that feels a bit of an odd statement from me – shouldn’t barrel aging make a regular beer better??? In the case of Narwhal for me the answer is a slightly perplexed “no”. Oy vey I’ve got a lot of barrel aged Narwhal to drink now… I’ve never been so daunted by a 750ml bottle of beer in my life… I need beer friends. 8/10.

Food match: I had cigars on regular Narwhal and it’s even more relevant here.