Stone Ghost Hammer IPA

Total Score: 7.95/10 Flowers1Orange1Pear1Nonicpint1

Next in the cavalcade of Stone beers: Ghost Hammer IPA. What’s a “ghost hammer”? Apparently the mischievous poltergeist companion of Stone’s overnight team. What’s an “overnight team”? Apparently the Stone brewery never sleeps and there is a team dedicated to monitoring the vital signs of fermentation at night. Ahh, the ghost hammer comes from the sounds of pipes knocking at night during fermentation… it all makes sense now, thank you Mr. Google! This beer is brewed with Loral hops which has been described as a “super noble hop” with its wonderful floral and herbal notes followed by a backdrop of citrus and earthy character – sounds rather tasty actually…

Poured from a 355ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hop hazed golden body with a white cappuccino foam head that descends leaving lace scrawled on the side of the glass. Head retention is average but the lacing inside the glass looks alright. At this level, and a Stone beer, it could be better. 7/10.

S: Really floral! With candied orange and lemon providing a sugary note to the proceedings. Not much in the way of malt or other hop characters, but this nose is fairly unique so I give it props there – not everything has to be an out-and-out piney/citrus West Coast affair, the sea change is welcome here. 8/10.

T: Hello? A rather interesting turn, and I should point out the 18/05/17 brew date means this is 3 months old – right at the brink of hop fade, the flavour profile has that real underlying floral character but I’m also detecting a note of banana, along with candied orange/lemon/pear. Reminds me of those candy drops that mum kept in the glove box of the car and rewarded me with if the drive was pleasantly complaint free. Malt provides nothing more than a wafery biscuit touch towards the finish, which has a rather good balance in bitterness for an American IPA. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice light carbonation – drinks like it isn’t even a challenge, which can be dangerous in a 6.7% ABV brew. 8/10.

D: Yet another brew that I would have loved to have tried sooner – this is really becoming a theme with my reviews lately. This is a brew however that will no doubt become notable in my mind for the intriguing flavour of those Loral hops – very floral with a candy drop character – it reminds me of specialty hops like Citra (pure lemon), Nelson Sauvin (white wine qualities) and Huell Melon (you guessed it: melon). PS: I love all these new hop varieties – viva hops! 8/10.

Food match: I would be interested in pairing this with a cheese platter for contrast.

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Modus Operandi Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.4/10 HopFlower1Earth1PapayaMango1Nonicpint1

Modus Operandi Pale Ale? I can’t Adam and beli(Eve)* I’ve not reviewed this yet! I really must say this has probably been my most overlooked beer these past few years due to my love of The Former Tenant. But you know what? I just plain never got around to it, and after reviewing 73 American Pale Ales, I think it’s about time to correct the error of the past and give this one a crack. This is a Pale with pedigree too: taking out the 2015 Champion Australian Pale Ale at the Craft Beer Awards – that’s a pretty decent feather to have in your hat. My prediction: This will be grand.

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy amber/apricot-tinged body with a cream-coloured sea foam head that slowly disintegrates leaving spots of lace inside the glass. I’ve seen better, but I do also admire a good bottle-conditioned brew so points added there. 8/10.

S: Fruity, earthy and piney hops mix with a touch of the tropical (paw paw) and a solid caramel base – classic APA territory that I’ve traversed many times in my Pale Ale explorations. The main thing here is how solid the aroma is for a 5.2% ABV brew – this is more heady than other APAs, top stuff Modus! 8/10.

T: Hops are a bit restrained, and can confirms what I feared most – a brew date of: 16/12/16… that’s a good 8 months old, less than ideal for a hop-driven beer. Hop flavours as above: fruity, earthy and piney with a hint of paw paw. Malt is caramel based. Touch of dry cracker in the finish, and a herbal bitterness as well… this would have been a real tasty beer fresh – what a shame. 6/10.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty decent though – Medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation – they really nailed it here! 9/10.

D: This is definitely one I’ll have to try again in future fresh – there’s a great deal going on that the middling 5.2% ABV belies, I reckon that 6/10 for flavour would be more of an 8 or 9 fresh, however there is a bitterness lingering in the aftertaste (I think that’s a hop fade characteristic in my experience). Overall my take home message, my TL DR; if you will, is give this beer a shot – it is decent APA despite my negative score which was due to the age on my can. It would be interesting to do a blind taste test of this, Pirate Life, and Kaiju Krush to see which one will win over my heart for best Aussie Pale… Little Creatures? Oh yeah, them too. 9/10.

Food match: Malaysian cuisine if a fresh one tastes as good as I reckon it might.

*Cheeky IT Crowd reference for you there – but which episode does Moss say it in?

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Newstead Brewing Out & a Bout Pale Ale

Total Score: 6/10 Flowers1Orange1Peach1Nonicpint1

I’ve sort of avoided this American Pale Ale from Newstead Brewing previously because, well, it just ain’t all that. But now it’s in a can, a free can gifted to me by Newstead reps. Plus they say the recipe has changed – it’s been beefed up to 5.2% ABV, and the can is as fresh as… about 2 weeks ago – not bad at all. Hopefully the recipe change has done wonders because I remember trying this on tap at Newstead ages ago and it was nothing worth remembering then (well it was OK, but OK doesn’t cut mustard in the sea of Pale Ales out there). I must say the new can marketing reminds me somewhat of a certain other brewer in Teneriffe that does cans *cough*GreenBeacon*cough*, I guess “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” was the design committee motto that day [my snark levels are off the chart today!].

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Slight hazed golden body with a rather excitable sea foam white head that compacts slowly leaving a touch of lace on the side of the glass. If there was an award for looking like a standard (i.e. a 7/10) APA – this would win it. 7/10.

S: A nice light confected stone fruit character mingles with a touch of floral hops, a muted biscuit malt base, and a hint of orange blossom. Overall aroma could do with a dial up, but otherwise this is an OK aroma. Still a bit bland though. 7/10.

T: Flavours a bit average… again wasn’t expecting much, but it’s better than how I remember it (before I wouldn’t have bought another schooner of this, but now I might be persuaded if there isn’t anything better on tap). Less stone fruit – more citrus and floral hops than in the aroma. Malt base needs to be amped a little as the hops get ever so slightly sharp towards the finish/aftertaste. Still it’s never OTT in any regard, which is in fact part of the problem. 5/10.

M: Mid to light, slightly thin bodied, with a light/crisp carbonation. Texture is left wanting of more body – but I can level this argument at many APAs. 6/10.

D: Well it’s better than I remember it – which is good because I really wasn’t a fan of the original Out & a Bout. Has it improved enough to bring it up to the level of Modus/Pirate Life? No. It’s not even as tasty as Slipstream’s Magic Mile Pale Ale – and they’re a small-time brewer. Towards the end of this can my mouth ended up with a real potpourri flavour lingering on – which I actually don’t mind, so that’s a positive note to end this review on. I’ve still got a free can of the IPA to go – fingers crossed with that one. 7/10.

Food match: Chicken dishes, salads, zesty stuff… seafood? Maybe yes.

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Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake

Total Score: 8.7/10 Chocolate1Nut1Smoke1Tulipglass1

OMFG!!! I got my hands on another Omnipollo! It’s like angels kissing leprechauns and throwing them at me for good luck – that’s how excited I am right now. This is going to be the MOFO (look it up Millennials) experience of a lifetime! Well, maybe that was a touch of hyperbole there – this is going to be the MOFO experience of a beer-time! Yes, better. So what do we know about Noa Pecan Mud Cake? It’s going to be a rich pecan liquid fudge no doubt. It’s brewed with artificial and natural flavours. You know what I reckon it will be like? My beer review #700: Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake… and we all remember how well that went (TL;DR It was rather tasty). Anyway, ado’s? We don’t need ‘em.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours absolutely black – like a dying star, even light cannot escape it! No head, save for a thin tan line – like the ring of Saturn, or as Greeks knew him: Kronos – God of time – for within this murky glass of blackness no time passes. I am in awe. 10/10.

S: Rich chocolate mud cake, pecan fudge, and praline. The aroma of this brew is indeed powerful and confected – this is one sweet ride I’ve signed up to. This is one of the more heady aromas I’ve encountered in a long while, my compulsion here is to whiff it unending, but of course it is a beer – I must eventually drink it… but damn, this is outstanding. 10/10.

T: Thick as syrup, but gladly the sugar content is contained surprisingly well. In fact everything is rather contained, leading to a flavour profile that is less exciting than expected. Flavours of: chocolate mud cake, pecan fudge, and praline, mingle with a dark roasted char, a bit of smoke, and a finish adds a hint of bitterness. Compared to Beer Geek Vanilla Shake, and granted I had over a year ago, this isn’t quite as delicious. Plus there’s an odd fake marshmallow flavour in there as well. 8/10.

M: Thick, highly viscous, up there with Founders body in its viscosity, with an almost tack flat carbonation, but it works… a bit of carbonation would have given this a head and ruined the portentous view anyway. 8/10.

D: I think Selassie was my Omnipollo meal ticket. This is just a teensy bit… and I hate myself for saying it: too much syrupy goodness. HOWEVER – if you’ve ever read my reviews and thought “that Doc, he’s a bit of a wuss” this will probably be right up your alley. Me? I’m probably going lie down now… I’m feeling a bit dizzy, damn all of these Omnipollo theatrics! 9/10.

Food match: Chocolate pecan mud cake for comparisons sake.

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Stockade Hoppy Brown Ale

Total Score: 6.45/10 Caramel1DarkFruits1Chocolate1Nonicpint1

So far, so ok for Stockade, who don’t appeal to me at all with their marketing, however their Duel Hoppy Lager wasn’t bad, it was a bit of alright. This time they’ve released a Hoppy Brown Ale (I guess as an Ale-y complement to Duel?), this American Brown is no lightweight either at 6.8% ABV it sits right in that spectrum I like to call the “Mmmm zone” (because of all the yummy beers that sit in said spectrum). Now I understand that their Mountie Maple Stout was a real tasty treat, however I’m having difficulty locating that one, until then hopefully this will tide me over (if not I’ve got an Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake to fill the void!). PS: This bottle was provided to me by a Stockade rep, thank you kind lady!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep burnt umber with a touch of haze body and a thin cream-coloured head that sticks around as a light splotchy lacework. The colour is pretty spot on, and the lack of a head isn’t uncommon at 6.8% ABV – looks good. 7/10.

S: Aroma is dark fruit (raisin/prune) forward, touch of sherry as well, hops present as more of a distant floral note – hopefully that will change in the flavour… or hopefully not… I can’t decide – Brown Ales are delicious due to their malt-driven flavour profiles, but recently Stone Mocha IPA has taught me that seemingly discordant flavours can work well together. Hint of milk chocolate as well. Needs a bit more gusto, but otherwise good. 6/10.

T: Dark fruit, toffee, nutty and milk chocolate characters front to back of palate. Hops add a slight floral/citrus note before leaving an astringently bitter aftertaste – it’s not overpowering, but it’s there and enough to negate any goodwill from the addition of hops. There’s sweetness as well, but in this case it’s just a touch on the drier side for a Brown Ale and needs a bit more sugar IMO. 6/10.

M: Body is good, mid to light, borderline medium bodied with a thin but reasonably dense carbonation – Stockade did good here. 8/10.

D: Given the 6.8% ABV the aroma/flavours of this Hoppy Brown Ale were a bit lacking – there needs to be more going on at this level of alcohol content to justify it. Stockade beers (so far for me) have been a bit too muted flavour-wise and if I was to pull a few names out of my hat for examples of Aussie brewers who don’t mess around here I would say: Modus Operandi, Pirate Life, Prancing Pony, HopDog… I could actually go on, but look to these brewers Stockade. 7/10.

Food match: This brew is right in that medieval-roasted-game-zone.

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Omnipollo Selassie Imperial Stout

Total Score: 9.1/10 Coffee1Vanilla1Smoke1Tulipglass1

My first review of a beer from Swedish brewer Omnipollo – and of course I went straight for the Stouty jugular with their Selassie Imperial Stout (infused with Ethiopian coffee: Yirgacheffe is one of my top ten of coffee beans baby!). I have a history of beginning a new brewery with their Imperial Stouts (eg: Founder Breakfast Stout). If it’s a coffee-infused RIS all the better. That said I almost purchased a bottle of Omnipollo’s Anagram Blueberry Cheesecake Stout, which is now sold out at my local “were it not for the grace of God”, oh well. Selassie is my horse tonight, and I think I backed a winner: BeerAdvocate has Selassie well ahead of Anagram! This ain’t a one horse race either – I think I saw a bottle of Noa Pecan Mud Cake left at my local too, better get right on that one.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black as Satan’s sports car (a Lamborghini Diablo of course) body with a deep mocha-hued head that is surprisingly resilient for this brews 11% ABV… I’ve rarely seen a head at that ABV descend so slowly – credit to Omnipollo – this is one damn impressive and ominous drop. 10/10.

S: This reminds me of FBS so far – horribly dark, syrupy/murky appearance… and the aroma, which is one-note: vanilla and cold press coffee. This subtlety no doubt belies a tongue-smashing flavour. It’s the ones that don’t sledgehammer you with aroma that you have to watch out for. 7/10.

T: Tongue-smashing: yes. Smashing my buds like a wrecking-ball of awesomeness… and coffee… and vanilla. Is it sweet? You better believe it sister! Though it’s far from a sugar-bomb: It’s spot-on. Impossible to fault this flavour. I would love to compare this to FBS, but I’ve not seen it here in a while, and the bottle I’ve got has been sitting in my fridge a year now [too precious to waste says Gollum]. 10/10.

M: The question on everyone(who is reading this review and knows my work)’s lips: “is it Founder’s body good?”… not quite – it’s almost there, it’s heavy bodied, but it’s more Jay Kay smooth [whereas FBS is Marvin Gaye smooth]. Still pretty f**ken soulfully-smooth nonetheless. Spotify “Talulah” if you doubt me. 9/10.

D: No doubt Omnipollo are FBS fans – they’ve studied the Founder’s playbook well: simple coffee flavours, just the right level of sweetness, oily/chewy body and nary a hint of Alcoburn™ to slow you down… yep, these Omnipollo peeps know how to breakfast up a Stout, but there is only one FBS [answer: FBS]. 9/10.

Food match: Much like FBS it’s hard to imagine food with this – just drink it FFS.

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Blackman’s Brewery Mervyn Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.2/10 PapayaMango1Caramel1Barley1Nonicpint1

Mervyn……. Merv… Mervyn…..? I like it, oddly enough, it’s got a ring to it that name. Ahem. Yes. Mervyn is the latest semi-probably-limited-but-they’ll-no-doubt-add-it-to-their-core-range-because-hell-who-doesn’t-have-a-pale-ale-in-their-core-range-these-days-plus-it-plugs-a-gap for Blackman’s Brewery, who really have nailed it with Reginald IPA and Angry Reg DIPA – West Coast styled brews as good as almost anything I’ve tried from the States. Can Blackman’s continue this A-game chicanery with this modest 4.6% ABV American Pale Ale? I certainly hope so, if only because I like the sound of Mervyn, and perhaps the cut of his jib too – which is a nautical term FYI: it refers to a triangular sail set between the foretopmast head and the jib boom. There: you learnt something new today. Thank me later.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Crisp golden body with possible flecks of hop… hop stuff… floating around. It’s not yeast is what I’m saying. 1 centimetre off-white sea foam head that leaves lace that presents itself as a world map (Mercator projection, of course). 7/10.

S: Pineapple, mango and jackfruit – the major players in the tropical fruit flavours realm – come together for a corroboree within in Mervyn, lovely chap that he is. Not much in the way of malt… or anything else, this is a tropical Pale Ale FTW here. 8/10.

T: T’salright this one – slanted towards those tropical fruits in the aroma (just to recap: pineapple, mango and jackfruit) but the flavour gives a bit of slack to a buttery/toffee malt character and a touch of grain, finishes with a very restrained bitterness. This to me is more sessionable than a “Session ___” like Stone’s Go To IPA – and it has an even lower ABV! The only thing is that I feel this could use a bit more of my favourite adjective: OMPFH. Yeah, bit of that. Solid otherwise. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation – works for the style, perhaps a bit more body and a touch more carbonation would lift it to the next level. 7/10.

D: Nice tropical burps from this one too – glad the gf isn’t here to hear them though 😉 Overall Mervyn is one laid-back SOB, he doesn’t demand anything, but you don’t want to mess with him – he’ll muddle you up if he has to. Yet again Blackman’s has bought out a solid brew, though by default of being on the lower end of the ABV spectrum this brew does “wow” me less than all the others – I guess the older I get in this beer review game the more I need flavour: bags of it. Sad but true – a sign that my tastebuds are on the way out perhaps? 7/10.

Food match: Green papaya salad or anything else that has a tropical fruit slant.

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