Sample Lager

Total Score: 6.25/10 Peach1Barley1CutGrass1Stein1

Another free sample of a Sample Brew, this one a Sample Lager, sample, sample, sample… now that is a lot of samples in one sentence. So I’m not really looking forward to this as their Sample ¾ IPA was watery, ergo: Shit. However it is a free sample, and I do review beers, so what the hell, let’s do this! The label says it has Enigma hops – which apparently give this beer “flavours and aromas from raspberries to Pinot Gris, delivering a truly palatable finish… I’ll believe it when I taste it, if it’s anything like the ¾ IPA I’m going to need a tastescope (a device not yet invented which amplifies taste much like a microscope amplifies a view) to taste this brew.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a stein.

A: Slightly hazed golden body with a generous three centimetre white head that slowly dials itself back. Looks rather much like a Lager in all regards, I like that they don’t use preservatives in their beers – that’s one good thing about Sample Brew at least. 7/10.

S: I’m getting a prominent peach aroma from this, notes of grain and light malt syrup as well as an overall sense of Lager dryness… not bad, a touch on the muted side and lacking complexity, but nowhere near as bad as the ¾ IPA so far. 7/10.

T: Paradoxically heavier and less watery than the ¾, but we’ll get to that next… the peach is there with hints of grain, cut grass, and dry crackers. Finishes reasonably dry with next to no bitterness – yep, classic Lager territory here. Flavourwise it definitely needs a bit more ‘oomph’, however apart from that it’s not terrible and drinkable in the least. These Enigma hops have piqued my interest now. 6/10.

M: Mid to light, a touch watery, with a thin carbonation underlying this brew. It’s nothing to write home about but it gets the job done. 6/10.

D: Well at least Sample redeemed themselves somewhat in my eyes with this rather OK Lager. There’s a few foibles, as noted above, overall if you like peaches (the flavour, not The Stranglers song), which I don’t (the flavour that is, I quite like The Stranglers song), then give this a go. Otherwise there are much better Lagers out there to vie for your attention – here’s some off the top of my head: Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, Balter Pilsner, Weihenstephaner Original, Kozel Premium, or Moa Methode (although the Moa isn’t a typical Lager – it’s a bit special). 6/10.

Food match: Baked kingfish with steamed vegetables and a light cream sauce.


Pirate Life Mosaic IPA

Total Score: 9.2/10 HopFlower1CutGrass1Coriander1Nonicpint1

“Pirate Life, f**k yeah! Coming again to save the motherf**king day yeah!” – is, in lyric form, how I feel about cracking open this sexy 500ml can of goodness right now. You see dear reader – I had a complete dud for my last review (Sample ¾ IPA) which tasted like a big glass of grain-flavoured soda water. So it’s great to have a brewer like Pirate Life to lean on, as I know that despite their lacklustre Throwback (mid-strength) IPA there’s a talented crew on board that big old galleon singing sea shanties and searching for booty [no comment]. Not only is this an IPA brewed by my favourite Aussie IPA brewer, but it’s a single hop IPA showcasing my favourite hop: Mosaic. My taste buds are palpable with excitement.

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed golden-yellow body with a rather boisterous (though I did hard pour it) one inch white head that leaves fancy lace scrawl as it recedes – top notch looking brew. My preference for cloudy IPAs is well known, but this is one handsome beer right here. 8/10.

S: Dirty and full of fresh Mosaic hops, as any brewer will tell you: this truly is a wonder hop that can take on so many different characters depending on how it is utilised (my own brewing experience always led to mango flavours/aromas). In this case the hops have an almost aggressive slant with: Spicy/herbal and cannabis characters upfront, hints of orange and pine notes in the background, with not much on the malt side, but it’s in there somewhere. 8/10.

T: This is a real winner of an Aussie IPA: Bold grassy/spicy/herbal and cannabis hops throughout, hints of pineapple, with a solid but yielding biscuit malt base that allows the hops to really shine. The remarkable thing is how they’ve managed to hop the absolute s**t out of this without having an assertive bitterness in the finish. This is smooth, drinkable hop slamming goodness. Bit like a New England IPA in that regard. I’m loving this Pirate Life! 10/10.

M: Medium bodied with extra viscosity from abundant hop oils – tasty s**t, carbonation is light but dense. 9/10.

D: There was a slight apprehension approaching this that Pirate Life might actually balls it up, but no – this is dead set my new favourite IPA [until it runs out]. Mosaic all the way motherF**KAS!!! I’m really impressed with the finish too – bitterness this mild is remarkable in a full Aussie IPA, great stuff! 9/10.

Food match: SE Asia is a dead cert, other cuisines like BBQ or German will work too.


Sample 3/4 IPA

Total Score: 3.75/10 Barley1Honeycomb1Lemon1Nonicpint1

I’m back from my self-imposed liver break (though it wasn’t really as I drank a beer or two here and there… guess it was more of a review break). Today’s brew is an interesting one to categorise: Sample (whom I’ve never even heard of) ¾ IPA – so ¾ as in, not a mid-strength IPA, but still in the Session IPA range. But who cares what is in the can as long as it delivers amirite? I’m not going to hold my breath for a few reasons though – the label on the can is bland and looks pseudo Pirate Life-ish, which works fine for Pirate Life because what’s inside the can is lip-smackingly great – also I’ve never heard nor seen anything about this “Sample” brewer before, and they don’t rate well on that app whose name escapes me… something-tapped… bad omens indeed.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Clear AF, not a great sign in an IPA, maybe in a ¾ IPA that’s fine though. Golden body with some crazy carbonation action going on inside the glass. Sea foam white head that drops back to a half centimetre. Sample certainly isn’t winning any IPA beauty pageants anytime soon. 4/10.

S: On the malty side for an IPA, even a session one, aroma comes off more like a Lager with hints of grain, honey and a twist of lemon… looks like a Lager, smells like a Lager – Sample are you trying to pass off a Lager as an IPA??? That’s one ballsy move right there! 5/10.

T: If this is ¾ an IPA I can’t imagine the full IPA being any good at all – watery grain husks, dash of honey, hint of lemon, but mostly it tastes like plain old tap water. That this is so devoid of flavour makes me wonder how it even measured up as 4.2% ABV, I’ve never in all my years of drinking encountered a brew with this ABV tasting so piss weak, that must have been a challenge on its own. 3/10.

M: Non-existent mouthfeel, watery, light AF, with an excitable carbonation – even the mouthfeel is a fail. 4/10.

D: What a brew to come back to after Cantillon – which managed to pack in so much flavour in 5% ABV… I’m glad I got this Sample ¾ IPA as a free… what’s the word I’m looking for? [sample?] As this brew was an absolute underweight… makes me wish I had a can of 3.5% Pirate Life Throwback IPA to completely drown out this non-event of a brew. Damn I’ve got a free Sample Lager as well 😦 4/10.

Food match: Unflavoured rice cakes with cottage cheese – be careful not to add salt! You might overpower this beer.


Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio

Total Score: 9.1/10 WhiteWine1GreenApple1Pear1Tulipglass1

Review #850!!! Told you I was saving up something special: Doc’s first bottle of Cantillon! I’ve been waiting 6 years to get my hands on a bottle of this – the hype train has turned into a blimp, a giant golden blimp that is headed right into the sun where it might possibly crash and burn, but what a blaze of glory to go out on right? So why exactly is Cantillon so highly sought after? Some call it “the champagne of Belgium”, others like them whales because they are so damn rare – like a single case of this gets to Australia every year, or it could be that this is a blend of one, two and three year-old lambics (spontaneously fermented) beers – a perfection of Belgian brewing in a glass… I’m about to find out what it is that makes Cantillon: Cantillon.

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

A: Cloudy deep orange, like a dying sunset on a beach somewhere in Belgium [they have beaches there right?], body with a nice off-white splotchy head that leaves some lace on the side of the glass, top-shelf. 9/10.

S: Funky grape with a mead-like scent, yeast-driven brew, colognes struggle to smell as good as this! Hints of apple/pear esters, earthy notes, more musty character than you can poke a stick at. If you’re into your Saisons/Gueuzes/Lambics/Flanders Oud Ales then then Cantillon is music for your nose. Sets the bar high here. 10/10.

T: Brett funk, tart grapes/lemon/apple/pear leads into a honeyed mead-like centre, finishes with an acidic cider vinegar note and an oak-driven woody dryness. Quite a multifaceted flavour – hits the tongue with sour/sweet/bitter/dry all at the same time. Herbal bitterness in the background. Flavour is a bit more sour than I like, but I can totally appreciate the overall complexity of this fine Gueuze. 9/10.

M: Mid to light, bordering medium bodied, with a light/dense carbonation – all works well, more body wouldn’t go astray if I had one thing to pick about it. 8/10.

D: Well it was quite a whale, not quite my Moby Dick (that would be Heady Topper), but nonetheless a BIG tick off my bucket list here. What did I think overall? Amazing aroma, TBH it smells much better than it tastes, the sourness and acidity is borderline more than I can stomach, still this is a benchmark Gueuze that everyone should try at some point – doesn’t need to be a daily purchase, and the flavour of Saison Dupont is more up my alley anyhow. Glad I finally got my hands on a Cantillon though, good times! 9/10.

Food match: Would pair perfectly with a hard cheese platter – truffle pecorino especially. Also brasserie cuisine – Cantillon was made for this.


Kona Brewing Hanalei Island IPA

Total Score: 7.3/10 Passionfruit1PapayaMango1CutGrass1Nonicpint1

Hmmm, an American IPA that’s 4.5% ABV?! Bit suss about this, shouldn’t an IPA be between 5.5%-7.5% ABV? [consults BJCP 2015 Guidelines]… yep: 5.5%-7.5% ABV… bit of a misnomer there Kona. Apart from that I’m slightly excited by the addition of passionfruit, orange and guava (mostly about the guava – don’t think I’ve had a beer with guava in it before). Ironically this Hawaiian brewer actually has their beers brewed on the continental US in Portland, OR, and Portsmouth, NH, two states which have a totally different climate to Hawaii… I wonder why Kona do that? Seems a bit odd to me… that said Sapporo is brewed in Australia under licence by Coopers so I guess it’s no different in that sense.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: It’s got a Tequila Sunrise look to it – cloudy orange with a splash of pink in the body and a light foamy white head that settles to a lace ring… interesting, wonder if the pink from guava is giving off that hue? Alright regardless. 7/10.

S: Upfront passionfruit and guava characters give it the impression that it is heavily hopped – well played sir. There’s a grassy note in there as well. Not really picking up any orange, though I’m not fussed and frankly I’m getting over orange flavours in APAs/IPAs. Not really detecting any malts, but that’s no biggie in an IPA – the “hop” flavours are there, that is what’s important. 8/10.

T: Guava comes through with a surprising tartness that works well with the grassy/passionfruit characters. Malt isn’t really there, apart from a hint of dry cracker. Finish has an almost Lager crispness with light bitterness. It’s light on flavour for an IPA, which both makes it quite sessionable and not really an IPA at all – kind of the antithesis of an American IPA really [IPAs should be in yo face]. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is expectedly light bodied and needs a little bit more weight IMO, carbonation is slightly gassy as well. 6/10.

D: This would be an excellent hot weather beer – it’s the middle of winter in Brisbane atm (not that it ever gets too cold here) but you can tell this would be a cracker of a brew on a hot day – I’m picturing a Hawaiian summer luau right now and I could probably scull a litre of this in that circumstance… as it stands now: I need something big, dark and malty. However I liked this better than I expected to – there’s always a bit of trepidation with fruit-addition beers but this one did it well and subtly enough not to overcompensate for a crappy brew. 8/10.

Food match: I did mention luau above – go the luau, no poi!


Bacchus Brewing Deathstar American Barleywine

Total Score: 6.05/10 Caramel1Passionfruit1Biscuit1Tulipglass1

Yet another reason to celebrate: It’s my 15th Bacchus review! Yay!!! Bacchus, and by extension head brewer Ross Kenrick, are Australia’s answer to Mikkeller, i.e. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, Denmark’s answer to Bacchus. I’m pretty glad that Bacchus began bottling their gold and selling it to my local Black Sheep bottle shop, as it has given me the chance to taste these weird and wonderful (and occasionally not-so-great) creations. This one: Deathstar American Barleywine, contains the following (as head brewer Ross must not be a fan of the Reinheitsgebot): Water, barley, candi syrup, passionfruit, dextrose, hops, and yeast. Oh and there’s a Star Wars theme with this brew in the hops: Galaxy, Falconers Flight, and Orbit – Rad!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Fizzy head – straight off the bat – very fizzy… it’s like pop rocks in a glass [80’s reference, sorry kids… you shouldn’t be reading this anyway]. Caramel coloured body, with a head… when it was there… that had an off-white, almost yellow tinged, colour. Bizarre stuff. 4/10.

S: This beer is decidedly caramel/toffee/molasses and whatever malt flavour you can throw at it. Not much in the way of hops – admittedly my fault as I’ve had this beer in my fridge for some time (brew date is: 23/12/16) – again my fault, I should have got into this much much earlier… oh well, I’ll re-review the next batch. Weirdly not getting any passionfruit aroma though – passionfruit doesn’t fade does it? 5/10.

T: Flavour is a remarkable step up: Passionfruit is there, along with a big caramel/biscuit base. The whole thing comes across like a glass of Pavlova, or a passionfruit meringue – pretty tasty. The 12.2% ABV is pretty well hidden, though there is a bit of warmth in the oesophagus. Missing the hop flavours though, bit of a shame I left it in the fridge so long, lesson learnt. Sweet/bitter balance is pretty even, with sweetness winning out just a touch. Aftertaste has a touch of herbal bitterness. 7/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied, flat carbonation – again I’m expecting that this was due to how long it’s been sitting in the fridge, mea culpa. 5/10.

D: I’m keen to get my hands on a fresh batch of this as, even though it aged terribly, the flavours were on point, and it was hard to tell where the alcohol went as I soon succumbed to a tipsy state without even noticing (though bkazxm, skdhjfb) [exactly!]. I hope Bacchus experiment more with this style. 6/10.

Food match: Fried Wookiee with a side of Sarlacc chips.


Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout

Total Score: 8.25/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

Getting close to #850 I found this Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout that had been sitting at the back of the fridge since last year! I had been meaning to review it for so long however new beers kept popping up and it consequentially got pushed to the back. I’ve heard good things about this Dutch brewery, named after a village in one of the low-lying areas of the Netherlands that got flooded and disappeared off the maps, this Russian Imperial Stout being one of the most vaunted of their brews. I must admit the weather is primed for this 11% ABV RIS – being a chilly (for Brisbane at least) 16 degrees Celsius atm… so time to sit back, pop open a nice RIS and sip it slowly from my Duvel tulip, ahhh, life is good!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep and rich mahogany body, hmmm, not bad, with a centimetre of dense khaki head. It’s a surprise that a beer this strong can even maintain a head, let alone one as luscious as this, excellent work. Lots of yeast clumps at the bottle of the glass, normal for a beer that has been in the fridge for about a year. 9/10.

S: Smells a treat too! Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, dark chocolate and an almost floral perfume round out the aroma. Hint of earthiness in there as well, this brew has definitely benefited from a short cellaring in the back of my fridge – when an RIS aroma is this good you just want to tuck straight in. 9/10.

T: The above characters: Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, and dark chocolate come through well. Then it takes a decidedly dark fruit slant and throws dates and raisins at you. Touch on the sweeter side – though nothing out of the ordinary given the style. Finish is has a sharp espresso bitter note, a slight detraction from an overall splendid flavour profile. The 11% ABV is hardly noticeable as well, though I suspect this would not be the case with a fresher bottle. 8/10.

M: Decent but not perfect, mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation – the only real room for improvement with this brew (oh and the bitterness in the finish). 8/10.

D: Top shelf stuff this! That bitter note, and the thin carbonation were the only things that let Emelisse down. As far as I’m concerned (aware) this is the best RIS I’ve ever had from the Netherlands – a country not well known for Stout styles, however one that I will revisit in future when I spot another Stout from there. Lol, some American reviewer noted that there wasn’t enough bitterness with this brew… maybe I need to get my tongue checked? 8/10.

Food match: Roasted red meats, also chargrilled, with veggies to match, and cigars.