Bacchus Brewing King of Denmark

Total Score: 9.2/10 RedWine1Wood1Vegemite1Tulipglass1

Yet another Bacchus to wet my whistle (my whistle gets dry a lot and for some reason beer is the only thing that will successfully lubricate it… I sometimes drink the stuff left over once my whistle is wet too). Anyone who follows my reviews might think I have some sort of love affair with Bacchus (I’ve reviewed 17 Bacchus beers so far), but Head Brewer Ross Kenrick just seems to keep pumping out interesting brews, so who can blame me? This one is an English Old Ale brewed with a +200 yro yeast strain from Harley’s brewery in Sussex, England. The beer has been barrel-aged (as Old Ales typically are BA’d) for 12 month in oak. Some Old Ales are blended but in typical Ross fashion this is unabashedly a straight-up 9.5% beast.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Wow, almost tepid looking black goop with a khaki head that rapidly recedes. The most amazing thing is the powerful aroma wafting straight out from the second the bottle was open – even before I saw this beer it was bitch-slapping me with aroma! Ominous looking in the way that Mikkeller Black Buffalo was… I’m scared, please hold me… 8/10.

S: That aroma! It’s really grapey, like a good Flanders Red Ale, but dialled up to 11. There’s no getting around how in my face this beer is going to be. If I could articulate this pervading fragrance better I would say: Red wine grape must, woody oak character, hint of vegemite, and a touch of decomposing fruit… yes, it’s the beer equivalent of stinky cheese and I love it. 10/10.

T: All of the above: Red wine grape must, woody oak character, hint of vegemite, and a touch of decomposing dark fruits. As far as flavour types go we’ve got: Sweet, bitter, sour and umami, which would sound like a real discordant clash of flavours, however the balance here is symphonic. This isn’t just a beer – this is an experience. Wow, again for emphasis: Wow! 10/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a peculiar carbonation that is almost non-existent yet also quite prickly and gassy – I suspect this carbonation is down to the crazy-old yeast strain (though Weihenstephan have much older yeasts strains in their brews). 7/10.

D: This is a beer that, like a Flanders Oud Bruin/Flanders Red Ales, blurs the line between beer and wine whilst taking a piss on everything else and setting it all on fire. A challenging beer indeed, but one to be savoured. 8/10.

Food match: Wow, I’m savouring this beer alone, but a cheese platter if you wish.

 

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Bacchus Brewing Balt Action Porter (Oak Edition)

Total Score: 8.05/10 DarkFruits1Wood1Vanilla1Tulipglass1

It’s time for us to go Marty! “Where?” Back to the Bacchus! – Doc Hops. So this one came as recommended from Ross Kenrick himself – a Baltic Porter, which is brewed with Lager yeast, so you learn something new every day… problem is that I forgot 2 things I knew every day… at this rate I’ll have early-onset dementia in a less than a decade (I shouldn’t jest – dementia is a pretty serious health issue hey). So Bacchus makes a Balt Action Porter and an oak edition of the Balt Action, now everyone knows that oak is better right? No? Well it is – now you know. Flavours expected in this 9.8% ABV behemoth are dark fruits, maybe a touch of acidic sourness (as Baltic Porters are known for), brown sugar, and vanilla from the oak… this should be one tasty brew!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep cola-coloured body, difficult to tell if it’s cloudy or not, 2 centimetre tan head that fizzles down gradually like a soft drink (the fizzing is fairly audible). Stops at about 3mm, impressive that there even was a head at 9.8% ABV. 8/10.

S: Red coffee cherries and dark fruit forward aroma, notes of a slight Greek yoghurt sourness as well, oak character? Hard to tell through that predominant coffee cherries/dark fruit aroma. The lack of oak on the nose and much else apart from that which is noted means this brew falls a little short in the aroma for me. 6/10.

T: Flavour is pretty damn good though – this is deceptively easy drinking! Not too sweet either – which can be a problem with any brew north of 8%. Coffee hints, dark fruits pirouetting on the taste buds, that subtle yoghurt acidic kiss, wood character, vanilla, yes it’s got oak as vaunted on the label, all lead towards a dry/woody finish. It’s got a drying aftertaste as well. Tasty, and an excellent representation of the style – another reason for me to drink more Baltic Porters right here. 9/10.

M: Body though… needs more body at this ABV… medium bodied with a thin and crisp carbonation. Oats or lactose in the next batch perhaps Mr. Kenrick? 6/10.

D: Overall a rather tasty, nay excellent, Baltic Porter. The thin body and two-note aroma were the only things holding this back, it’s tough when you’re brewing with Lager yeast though – it’s prone to a thinner mouthfeel and crispness in general. The oak came through in the flavour though, excellent. Also the drinkability of this brew is surprisingly dangerous: 3.9 standard drinks, time for bed now methinks! 9/10.

Food match: Chargrilled steak and roast veggies… throw in a Yorkie and Diane too.

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Bacchus Brewing Barosski

Total Score: 8.4/10 RedWine1Coffee1DarkFruits1Tulipglass1

Gave this one a miss the first time I saw it, because you know: I can’t spend all my pennies on Bacchus beers (as much as I would like to), however I bumped into an fellow beerethren who rated this Shiraz Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout as their favourite Bacchus brew so far. Gauntlet down, red note ponied to the cashier, I left the bottle shop with bottle and change in hand, certain I would be the beer-drinking litmus test to some random and possibly spurious claims [Snickers is clearly the GOAT Bacchus]. Btw if you’re yet to get your hands on a Bacchus: Black Sheep in Brisbane stock them (i.e. get off your ass and get some Bacchus now).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Despairingly black cola body with an appropriate (given the hefty 10.2% ABV) thin mocha lace ring inside the glass. The blackness within has all the hallmarks of a beer black hole – ready to suck me in with gravity more powerful than a thousand suns… it’s breathtaking – I highly suggest you try it. 9/10.

S: Deep plum, dark fruits, and shiraz characters slap you in the face like a giant facey-slappy thing. BIG stuff here, big, bold and unyielding. Hints of 80% dark chocolate and red coffee cherries add to the omnipotence of this brew. A touch of pepper in the background too… I’ll admit I’m not a fan of Shiraz wines (I find them too tannic) however this aroma is close to a masterstroke. 9/10.

T: Thankfully the flavour takes a step and a half back from that intimidating aroma and allows you to relax somewhat – I was worried for a second this would be too much even for me to handle. As above: deep plum/dark fruits/Shiraz/80% dark chocolate and red coffee cherries make for delightful RIS, which actually reminds me of the fruitiness a Baltic Porter – perhaps Ross should name the style as a Baltic Imperial Stout – it’s certainly where the BIS is at. Almost grapey note comes through as well. Finish is a slight choco/coffee bitterness. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel is thinner and gassier than expected – medium bodied, could definitely benefit from more body – maybe oats in the next batch? 5/10.

D: A face-punch of a brew that displays Bacchus as a brewer that can rumble with the best of them. The Shiraz notes are defined and most importantly: they work well. Given that there are plenty barrel-aged beers out there now it is good to see a Australian wine barrels introduced in to the craft beer scene. Ross you are a legend, cheers to your inventive brain! 8/10.

Food match: I couldn’t imagine anything less than a chargrilled banquet here.

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Boatrocker Ramjet Starward Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Coffee 2016

Total Score: 8.9/10 DarkFruits1Coffee1Vegemite1Tulipglass1

Mouthful of a name aside I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while… it’s 2017 now, so no time like the present (aka “that time we live in now, that is the future, with flying cars and pizza drones… Google it brah!”). Now I’ve tried some Starward whiskey, the Solera cask one, and it was one tasty whiskey, fruity and sherry-forward. So we can join dots and whatnot to work out how the Barrel Aging has impacted this brew, and my money is on dark roasted coffee, dark fruits and a sherry hint… but then again I have been known to be wrong before… once… or twice even… sorry, I wasn’t keeping score there.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black body, obscene in its obsidian(ism), with a thin ring of dark mocha brown where a head would normally reside (this is a 10.6% ABV behemoth – don’t expect a head at this ABV and you won’t be disappointed folks). Impressive, most impressive [I’m sure I’ve used this Darth Vader quote before on a previous Russian Imperial Stout… still applies here though]. 9/10.

S: With rich ripe coffee berries, the aroma of raisins – crushed underfoot, sherry booze and a hint of vegemite, Boatrocker melds a mighty scent with which to clobber your olfactory senses like some gigantic odour-hammer. Sex Panther in a beer. 60% of the time – it works every time! [that doesn’t even make sense] 9/10.

T: Wow beer! This is a “wow” beer. Why am I even surprised? Barrel-aged in Starward casks – hat goes off. Flavour is long and complex, sherry, dark fruits (raisin, dark plum, date), roasted coffee mixed with ripe coffee berries, vanilla (from oak), vegemite and a solid belt of whiskey towards the finish – which has a slight coffee bitterness. Balance is decent, but it’s difficult to perfect a beer like this with so many competing flavours, overall it’s a touch on the sweet and boozy side. That said: Wow, this is good. My pancreas hurts now. 9/10.

M: Beer syrup, legit! Heavy, viscous-bodied with a thin and dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew is a titan amongst brews. A no-nonsense heavy-hitter of a Barrel-aged monster, that brings you to the brink of ecstasy (and hangover) in a single sip. The only downside? Getting up in the morning – I’ll be feeling this one tomorrow for sure. Easily Boatrocker’s best brew yet! Keep rocking that boat guys, and I’ll keep buying your Barrel-aged beers 😉 It’s been a while since I’ve thought of Black Buffalo, however this made me think back to that venerable milestone. 9/10.

Food match: Cigars and sherry methinks!

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Nøgne Ø Quadrupel (Red Wine Barrel Edition)

Total Score: 8.95/10 DarkFruits1Vegemite1RedWine1Tulipglass1

Nøgne Ø, despite being one of those brewers from Norway with that ‘Ø’ symbol in their name, how the **** do I even pronounce that??? Anyhow, they brew some good shit, you might even say “sheeeit” to emphasise the goodness of said shit. Last brew I tried of theirs was the Imperial Stout, and like Darth Vader I was “most impressed” with this Norwegian brewer (I also even thought to myself at the time that “the force is strong with this one”). So here we are – a massive 15.5% ABV red wine barrel Quad. Socks are set to their ‘soon to be blown off’ setting.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Like most brews over the 15% mark the head reduces quickly to a thin collection of tan coloured bubbles, then nothing. Body is a cloudy chocolate brown. Everything looks decent, it’s not a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park hit but it’s neither an ugly duckling. 8/10.

S: Straight away the nose is smacked sideways by bold dark plum/red wine barrel characters. Further whiffs introduce that grape hubba-bubba bubblegum note that you get from a certain Red Flanders Ale named Rodenbach Grand Cru. A touch of sourness as well, hopefully not a defining feature, and that all too familiar Vegemite note you get in high ABV dark beers. This is indeed a formidable Quad in front of me, but who are we kidding – it’s more of a Quinque than a Quad. 9/10.

T: Woah! [said in my best Keanu Reeves impression voice] Tasty, tasty drop! Upfront dessert wine sweetness gives way to rich plum, hints of Vegemite, vanilla and caramelised (slightly burnt) sugar. Finish has a light woody dryness. The overall flavour is squarely in the realm of dessert wine with fig notes coming in as well. Damn, damn tasty. Reminds me of Commandaria port (without the metallic notes I often find in Commandaria). 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied with an almost black-hole dense carbonation. 9/10.

D: If you enjoy a dessert wine, and you know you do – you’re drinking this beer right now, look in your hand… how did I do that? Magic – you will love this rich tapestry. A downside to this beer? It is sweet. Very. No really, it’s quite sweet, you think a glass of dissolved sugar is sweet well that’s peanuts to this beer*. As far as 15%+ brews go this is definitely the best I’ve had. Nøgne Ø nailed it. 9/10.

Food match: Dessert. Cheese platter. Angina. Infarction of some kind. Early death.

*Yes I may have recently read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, what of it?

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Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard

Total Score: 8.15/10 Wood1Caramel1Coriander1Tulipglass1

With another milestone review looming on the horizon (#650) I’ve got some fantastic brews awaiting patient wordsmithing from the good Doctor with number 650 being an extra special [hint: think of the most highly rated beer in the world] drop… the excitement in these quarters is palatable. Then I will be taking a sabbatical from reviews for a while (even though I am unaware of the concept of a sabbatical). Anyway let’s not diminish the significance of this review: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard, a modern classic, and perhaps my first Bourbon Barrel-Aged beer – this is going to be a treat!

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy russet/coppery body with a nice dense khaki blanket on top – dreams are made of brews that look this tasty, my dreams, yes I dream of tasty beers – what do you dream of? Piles of money on a bed with semi-naked models laying in it? Yeah that’s a pretty nice dream, I’ll trade you for it. 9/10.

S: Rich caramel malts, and dare I say Bourbon? [Yes, yes I dare say]. With hints of vanilla, woody tones and fruit cake characters… sounds like a party I can get down with, bring it on you Arrogant Bastard! 9/10.

T: Woody/char notes upfront give way to a slight alcohol touch, then vanilla/caramel/fruit cake follows obediently. Tasty drop this. Finish as a woody/herbal bitter note. There’s more wood in this brew than a lumberjacks wet dream… too much wood? No? Was the lumberjack analogy too much? OK I will dispense with the tasteless jokes from… NOW. Overall balance leans a bit towards a bitter finish, I suspect aging would bring out a bit more sweetness (the bottle date of this being 25/07/15). 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with hop oils present and a light but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Too much hop bitterness in this one, but again this beer was crafted to be cellared and hop characters tend to pare back with a good old fashioned cellaring, too bad I’m an impatient bastard… hmmm, maybe I should brew and release a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Impatient Bastard for those of us who can’t wait for a beer to age? Who’s in for that idea? Overall though BBAAB never strays far from being tasty despite the hops. 5/7: Would taste again. Seriously though D = 8/10.

Food match: Bourbon Barrel-Aged beef with smoked trout potato salad and something else smoked… ham or something – smoked meat platter – done.

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8 Wired Bumaye Pinot Noir barrel-aged Imperial Stout

Total Score: 8.45/10 Vegemite1 Wood1 Vanilla1

# 500: Well it has been a while since I’ve done a review, it feels like time for the big one, and I’ve saved this 16% ABV Pinot Noir barrel-aged Imperial Stout; Bumaye (which is “kill him” in the Bantu language known as ‘Lingala’ in Zaire). This is taken from the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Likewise this massive 8 Wired brew promises to knock us out like Ali did to Foreman during their fight… I’m looking forward to this one!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep obsidian black with a tinge of dark red (perhaps I’m imaging this due to the use of Pinot Noir barrels) and a tiny ring of tan lace around the glass. Looks gloriously rich. 8/10.

S: Vegemite (or Marmite for all my Kiwi readers) upfront with burnt caramel, stewed mushrooms (that’s a new one for me), earthy/woody characters, dark chocolate and a touch of barrel oak vanilla. Apart from the heavy Vegemite aroma there are some intriguing notes at play. I’m preparing my taste buds now for the much expected onslaught, wish me luck. 8/10.

T: Woah! And I say this with my best Keanu Reeves impression in mind. There is a great deal of everything going on in my mouth now; Vegemite, severely burnt caramel, soy sauce, earthy/woody characters, dark chocolate and oaky vanilla. Bumaye has four of the five basic flavour types with: Salty, bitter, sweet and umami. The only thing missing is sour. There is a great deal going on with Bumaye, slightly to its detriment, but it is good to have all these flavours knocking about? I would say “yes” it certainly has a great deal more complexity than any wine I’ve ever tried – proving once again beer is better. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied with an oily character and near flat carbonation, beer syrup! 8/10.

D: Reminiscent of Mikkeller’s 黑牛 – which was, almost ironically but not really in the actual sense of the word, review #250 for me. I feel this brew comes close to being as great as Black Buffalo but misses due to having a slight bit less finesse than Mikkeller’s brew. That said for 16% ABV I could go another of these, which is a bold statement in and of itself. Great work again 8 Wired, you are fast becoming my favourite kiwi brewer! 8/10. Total: 8.45/10.

Food match: I would probably have food before trying on this monster brew – line the stomach and all that.

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