Bridge Road Mayday Hills Thursday

Total Score: 8.1/10 Earth1Coriander1Wood1Tulipglass1

Yes the brews I’m reviewing are getting more experimental and possibly more barrel-aged coming up to the big #1,000 (this review is #986 for those counting). So you will see a lot more stuff like this Bridge Road Mayday Hills Thursday, which is a Belgian Dark Ale brewed with native gin botanicals and fermented in foeder oak tanks with Brettanomyces yeast. Sounds remarkable for the many reasons just noted, with a reasonable 7.5% ABV heft to it as well I’m expecting a BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto] beer with an earthy/herbal/juniper slant. Last Mayday Hills brew (named simply “T”) has so far been my favourite Bridge Road beer of all time – it was noteworthy due to the flavour being quite white wine vinous and definitely leapt to mind when I bought this one. Here’s hoping for more of that good stuff.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Quite dark, almost opaque, cola brown body with a nice and creamy looking 1 centimetre khaki head that slowly drops back leaving faint wisps of lace on the side of the glass. This all looks rather impressive old chap [you can tell that when I revert to my proper English gentleman mode of speech]. 8/10.

S: The funk is strong with this one! Funkalicious… most funkalicious, owww! *that’s my Darth Bootsy impression wait-till-I-pull-out-my-bass-guitar voice* This is one of the most difficult aromas for me to describe as there is so much going on inside the glass – there’s a herbal/earthy/juniper dry slant as expected, but there’s the Brett and oak influence giving this brew some dusty/woody notes too. I think EARTHY (in capital letters) really jumps out the most. Hints of burnt caramel and brown sugar as well. A dash of smoke… I could go on. 9/10.

T: Again: Sooo much going on inside this glass: Earthy/herbal/juniper botanicals provide a big dry base, burnt caramel, brown sugar malt centre, Brett funk, woody notes, hint of smoke, hint of red wine character. Frankly it’s all getting a bit too complex – there’s so much steam-rolling over my palate that I’m playing catch up in my head “what was that? Juniper? WOOOSH! Earth… caram… no wait: long dry finish”. Yep, they brewed off more than I can chew here. Still tasty though. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a thin carbonation, bit too thin all round. 7/10.

D: Don’t get me wrong though – this was a BIG flavoursome adventure (reminded me a bit of Bacchus King Of Denmark actually), but yeah, too much going on to make this a real delight. Keep the Maydays coming though! 8/10.

Food match: Herbal and earthy dishes, mushroom, truffles, that sort of thing.


Mornington Peninsula #tinnage005 Russel Brown

Total Score: 8.5/10 DarkFruits1Bread1Bananas1Tulipglass1

FML! So many great limited release beers coming out this winter (I live in the southern, aka: correct hemisphere readers) that my liver is having a hard time keeping up. Well anyway, screw my liver, let’s crack open Mornington Peninsula’s latest #tinnage005 the previously tap-only Russel Brown. This brew is listed as a “Belgian-style Brown Ale” and lately I’ve had so many Brown Ales my world is beginning to take on a chocolate hue. Nonetheless “More Brown Ales” I say! Hopefully Russel Brown will be as tasty as Dog’s Bollocks… err, their last #tinnage brew FYI.

Poured from a 330ml (non-nitro’d sadly) can into a Duvel tulip.

A: The contents of my glass are a cloudy and hearty chocolate body with a reasonable khaki blanket for a head. Appears quite dark and moreish. Very little more to say as I really want to tuck into this brew. 9/10.

S: Dark fruits (plum/fig/date) prominent nose with a whisper of vanilla and a touch of sour bread yeast… and banana!? Yes, my old friend banana makes a Phenolic appearance in this brew – suggesting that maybe wheat made it in to malt bill (or that I need to get my nose checked!). The overall aroma has a banana bread whiff about it, mmmmm. 8/10.

T: Shit yeah, this is tasty! Begins with sweetness from the above mentioned characters: Dark fruits, banana, vanilla – then it throws in a bready centre, follows through with a touch of smoke, and finishes with a slight medicinal herb bitterness. Balance here is up there with some classic Belgian brews, top marks. Aftertaste is a touch persistent with medicinal herb bitterness, but that can’t be helped always… perhaps more sweetness is needed. Also has a nutty note when it warms up. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice creamy carbonation. 8/10.

D: Clearly I have a thing for Belgian ales and Russel Brown tickles my Belgian taste bone [which is so a thing]. This is my favourite Mornington brew and I see little reason why they shouldn’t add this to their regular beer list – for an Australian brewery to pull off a Belgian beer style at this level is superlative, and other than La Sirène I can’t think of another Aussie brewer emulating the Belgians this well. The only downside is that this is sold out at my local stopping ground: Black Sheep Bottle Shop in Stafford City. Where will I get my Russel Brown fix now? 8/10.

Food match: Beers like this deserve a complex cheese platter or filet mignon.


La Sirène Imperial Praline

Total Score: 8.5/10 Chocolate1BrownSugar1Nut1Tulipglass1

Well this is almost it – review #699 – and I decided that it called for something special after Pirate Life’s IPA, something BIG (Bearing Immense Gusto), a real corker of a brew, and what could be better than the Imperial version of my favourite Australian chocolate beer (aka La Sirène Praline)? Not a thing good sir. So here it is – a large 750ml capped bottle sitting on my desk waiting to be opened and enjoyed – Can we say “Cheers!” in six different languages? Santé, Cin Cin, Kanpai, Skål, Zum wohl, and Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo – you bet we can!

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: [Easy on the pour there Doc!] Well I’ve gone and done it – in foolish zeal I’ve poured a 1 and a half inch mocha brown head into the glass, damn my unbridled enthusiasm (and obscure Seinfeld references)! Luckily the head is dropping down faster than I can describe the colour of the body which is an opaque deep cola brown. More of the same if you liked original Praline. 9/10.

S: The aroma is a thick chocolate syrup concoction with vanilla and a touch of molasses – this thing is so saccharine smelling I can almost taste the sweetness with my nose! Aside from overbearing sugars and a dense chocolate syrup note there’s not much else. 8/10.

T: Amped up Praline. I’m going to copy/paste my flavour description from that review as it’s pretty much the same: “Smoky/roast notes of chocolate along with multifaceted flavours including: Cacao nib bitterness, caramelised sugar, hazelnut and hints of dark fruit.” The only major difference is the alcohol notes which are more prominent in this version (ergo a little bit distracting). 9/10.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with a dense and creamy carbonation that suits the brew quite well – the original was good on tap and this one from a bottle is (surprisingly) even better. 10/10.

D: As I noted in my review of the original Praline “Not a drink I would go more than two or three Schooners per session though, perhaps a bit too interesting and flavourful in that respect…” this brew is even greater in the sense of being maybe a bit too big for its britches, nevertheless I still enjoyed it, though given a choice I would get original Praline in future as it is less prone to BBF (Big Beer Fatigue). If you’re looking for the biggest chocolate beer though they don’t get much bigger than this – it’s like the Jaws of chocolate beers. 8/10.

Food match: Now that we’re hitting dessert beer territory: Chocolate tart.


La Sirène Belgian Praline

Total Score: 9.05/10 Chocolate1 BrownSugar1 Nut1 Tulipglass1

So this brewery, La Sirène, has kinda popped up out of nowhere doing beers in the style of the country I love best for brewing: Belgium. I must say I was shocked to say the least when I first tried this Belgian Praline, I real contender for my fridge door (if I can ever get my hands on it again) courtesy of The Durham Arms in Canberra – the home of an endless rotation of weird and wonderful craft beers. Anyway I’m jumping the gun on my review revealing this is in fact an excellent brew [yeah, WTF me?!].

Poured from tap into a Schooner.

A: Deep dark, dare I say it because the word will be spread quite liberally throughout this review; chocolate coloured body, with a khaki 2cm head that retains extremely well for a 6% ABV brew (it held for nearly the entire review – and I take my time writing these too). 9/10.

S: Off the bat there is a strong note of crème de cacao giving it a chocolaty/spirit aroma. Throw in some almost-burnt caramelised sugar and you have this brew in a nutshell. Seems like the nose is hiding some expected complexity but we’ll see hey? 8/10.

T: Damnmmm (a portmanteau of ‘Damn’ and ‘Mmm’) this has to be quite possibly the most chocolaty beer I’ve ever encountered. I love it. Smoky/roast notes of chocolate along with multifaceted flavours including: Cacao nib bitterness, caramelised sugar, hazelnut and hints of dark fruit. This is easily one of the best dark beers I’ve had. Chocolate praline in a glass. 10/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a nice velvety carbonation, though I think I have the tap to thank for this excellent body. 9/10.

D: Interesting flavour profile, and interesting = excellent to me. Not a drink I would go more than two or three Schooners per session though, perhaps a bit too interesting and flavourful in that respect, but as a chocolate beer this one rules the roost and I give it the Doc hops seal of approval – you can only find this on products which meet the high personal standards of Doc the beer-connoisseur. Looking forward to trying La Sirène’s other brews now. 8/10.

Food match: This is a brew that would feel right at home with a roast rack of beef with a heavy gravy or a chocolate pie – this is one versatile chocolate Ale.