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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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3 Ravens The Druid 2017

Total Score: 8.55/10 DarkFruits1Bubblegum1Wood1Tulipglass1

I don’t mind that druid guy, he’s alright, and the beer – we’re about to find out. So this Belgian Quadrupel is barrel-aged in Shiraz and Port barrels, nice! Well I’m looking forward to this one, the bottle label describes some pretty awesome flavours: “Dark malt sweetness, banana & bubblegum esters combine with raisin, fig and plum characters from the Shiraz & Port barrel aging process…” You had me at “bubblegum”, which I love and don’t find as often as I would like to in any beer. My ideal beer would be some sort of liquid Bazooka Joe [PATENT PENDING!] brew that isn’t too sweet but full of that juicy bubblegum goodness… ironically I can’t stand chewing gum – yes, I am a complex creature.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep cola, opaque body with a tasty looking tan half centimetre of head on top. Head retains rather well, better than some Belgian Quads I’ve tried. I’m not going to lie to you – this is one appetising brew sitting in front of me. 8/10.

S: “I wish I had, suuuum… BUBBLEGUM!” – Confidence Man. This aroma is all deliciously dark fruit esters, and importantly: bubblegum. Yep, that allusive flavour and I’ve finally got my nose on it. Bit of brown sugar/molasses notes as well. This is one sugar-truck of beer I’m about to dump on my tongue. Could be a bit more complex is my only negative. 8/10.

T: Dark fruits (plum, raisin, hint of fig) mingle with a touch of over-ripe fruit, brown sugar/molasses character, some woodiness from the barrel aging, less prominent bubblegum (oh well), and a dusty/medicinal herb note in finish. Touch of booziness as well, but it’s at a “grandma pouring brandy on the Christmas pudding” level of warmth – nothing to be distracted by. Not getting much in the way of Shiraz flavours though – some pepperiness and vinous characters might well to the flavours on offer… then again it could become too cluttered as well. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied with a creamy/dense carbonation. Pretty spot on texture – loving how creamy it is – it’s like the double cream granny used to dollop on her brandy boozed Christmas pudding! 9/10.

D: Much credit to 3 Ravens: this is a Quad that rubs shoulders with the Belgians, it’s got all of that “good” stuff. Plus it’s not a sugar-bomb (my pancreas thanks me) so my teeth feel moderately safe [it’s true: I cannot drink Founders Old Curmudgeon anymore due to cavities]. Pity it’s only a limited release then. 8/10.

Food match: Mounds of roasted game meats with a pile of parsnips.

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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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