Prairie Bomb!

Total Score: 8.6/10 Coffee1Chili1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

Ironically this is a beer, I am told, that lives up to its name: (the) Bomb! This 13% ABV American Imperial Stout has an assortment of ingredients that conjure up images of a deep, shadowy and impressive brew that the Gods themselves might sup on within the mighty halls of Valhalla: Spaceship Earth roasted coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and ancho chilli peppers – yep, that’s a recipe for “awesome-sauce” in any legitimate definition of said word (which I borrowed from ‘Parks and Recreation’). Indeed I’ve never had the urge to waffle less in one of these preambles than I do right now: the desire to crack this dark temptress open and imbibe the black ooze within is a powerful aphrodisiac that I am too weak to resist *crown cap pops* [still managed to waffle though – the waffle is strong with me].

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep opaque inky black nightmare of a body with a chocolate brown dense head that sticks around impressively well and belies that 13% ABV that is waiting to consume me soon enough. 9/10.

S: Earthy AF, roasty AF as well… verdant roasted cold-drip coffee mingles freely with vanilla and coffee cherry hints, a lingering sweet roasted malt base, then a bit of smoke and dark chocolate. Not getting much in the way of the ancho chilli peppers, but as we [I! The Royal “we”! You know, the editorial…] know that chilli in beer tends to come across more in the flavour profile (and generally in the back of the throat). 9/10.

T: Flavour profile hits with that pervading earthy AF/roasty AF character noted above and follows through to a broad mid-palate coffee/dark chocolate sweetness and a good sweet/bitter balance IMO (maybe a tad towards the dessert side if you’re not a fan of dessert beers though). Hints of vanilla and smoke come in towards the finish, and yes there’s a chilli bite at the back, though I reckon Bomb! could get away with more chilli. Balance is pretty sublime – a real Imp Stout sipper right here. Bit of booze in the aftertaste that detracts a little though. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied and a bit too sticky and cloying here – less of that please. 7/10.

D: Apart from a mouthfeel that requires a good old tongue scrapping, this is a solid Imp Stout that puts Prairie on the map for me. It’s like a halfway between Founders Breakfast Stout and Omnipollo Selassie, with the chilli adding a nice touch of heat to the proceedings. Price is a sore point at $23 AUD a bottle, yep. 8/10.

Food match: Something dark and spicy: Mole Poblano with rice and black bean.


Evil Twin Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break

Total Score: 8.25/10 Chocolate1Vanilla1Chili1Tulipglass1

Well this one certainly takes the cake [break]! Evil Twin Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break. Which is a collaboration with Westbrook, and a bloody big one at that! This 10.5% ABV behemoth is brewed with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and habanero peppers, which reminds me of #11 on my all-time beer list: Stone Xocoveza… that is a damn good thing to be reminded of. Lately my reviews of Evil Twin have been interesting to say the least – I bounced off Imperial Biscotti Break somewhat (it was way too thin body-wise), however Even More Coco Jesus was so good it’s made it into my top 50 (currently at #43)… not sure what to expect with Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break, I’m assuming by the name that it’s brewed with the Biscotti Break recipe, here’s hoping it’s got body.

Poured from a 650ml US bomber-sized bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Poured hard and as viscous as Texas tea (that’s oil son) into the glass, foaming up with a nice dense mocha head and a body black as the ace of spades “there goes the neighbourhood” to quote Monty Python. The head settles to nothing, leaving an inky black brew… ominous stuff. 8/10.

S: Dark/bitter 80% chocolate, vanilla, smoky char, a hint of tobacco and roasted espresso. Not much in the way of cinnamon or almond, and the habanero only comes through in smoky notes. TBH I thought this would be an aroma assault of the senses but its very restrained and comes across as a simple American Imperial Stout. Hoping the flavour kicks me in the groin [just a little]. 7/10.

T: There we go! There’s a lot to parse in the flavour profile – dark chocolate and cacao nibs upfront, hints of cinnamon and vanilla centre, coffee and char late palate, burnt sugar sweetness gives it a cakey feel, and the finish adds a nice kiss of habanero chilli. This is a BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto] flavour profile that leaves nothing to the imagination – it’s hard to imagine anything while you’re being kicked in the face with multiple flavours. Also while all this flavour-face-kicking is going on I’m getting 10.5% ABV into my system whilst barely noticing it, yay. 9/10.

M: Heavy and viscous with a creamy/almost-flat carbonation, fairly smooth but could be thicker (e.g. Even More Coco Jesus had better body). 8/10.

D: This was one “don’t mess with me motherf__ker!” brew. Hats off to Evil Twin, who managed to bring a shopping list of ingredients together without the beer tasting overwrought. Still prefer Even More Coco Jesus though. 8/10.

Food match: Have a cigar and prep the stomach pump.


Garage Project Day of the Dead

Total Score: 7.45/10 Chocolate1Chili1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Garage Project, more like “Expensive Project” due to how much they charge for their brews, amirite? Nevertheless, on more than one occasion I have been roused to muster my wallet (which generally contains various moths alongside my well-worn debit card) to purchase yet another Expensive Project beer based on the ingredients listed on the label. They know this. That is why they can get away with being so pricey – because as a craft drinker I’m drawn towards a brew that has chipotle, agave syrup and cacao nibs like a macro drinker is drawn to flavourless beers and flannel shirts.

Poured from a 330ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Impressive petroleum black body with a nice half centimetre beige head that sticks around for a while. At 6.7% ABV that’s a reasonably solid head, and for a Schwartzbier this is one of the blackest I’ve seen, so kudos GP. 9/10.

S: Smoky chipotle chilli, dark chocolate and an earthy coffee bean note round out an aroma that is OK but could have a bit more kick to it. However I’ve often found myself with brews that have a great bold aroma but muted flavours, and vice-versa so you never can tell sometimes. 6/10.

T: Toasty-tasty-roasty bonanza right here! Begins smoky with a light chilli touch that helps intensify the dark chocolate/earthy coffee bean characters, then follows through to a spicy bittersweet finish. Agave syrup gives the chocolate notes a kick so that the lingering aftertaste is a sweet (and spicy) chocolate. Flavour reminds me a little of Stone Xocoveza (though obviously not nearly as audacious as that amazing beverage – think of this as Xocoveza Lite). 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel, although in line with what a Schwartzbier should be, is mid to light bodied and slightly fizzy. More body would be ideal, but they did go with a lighter Lager style, so yeah, different strokes. 6/10.

D: This is one of the better GP beers I’ve had, up there with Death From Above and Cherry Bomb in terms of sort of grasping at what the bottle/can label says without fully realising its goal. That’s the bit that always disappoints me with GP beers – I want to have a party in my mouth with the ingredients they describe but it usually comes across half-hearted. This is exactly why out of NZ brewers my list goes: 8-Wired, Yeastie Boys and Tuatara (then maybe GP or Epic). 8/10.

Food match: Not quite a dessert beer here, more of a “let’s char-grill a steak to perfection” kind of beer.


Stone Xocoveza

Total Score: 9.4/10 Chocolate1Chili1Clove1Tulipglass1

Sometimes you find a Christmas beer that you can’t wait to open – much like a little liquid Christmas gift to yourself – Xocoveza, Stone’s take on a Mexican hot chocolate with added chilli, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, cinnamon and nutmeg is indeed one of those brews. It’s been sitting in my fridge all ominous but tasty-looking for a fortnight and like an impatient hobbit turned into a foul twisted creature I’ve eyed it off every day thinking “soon my precious!”.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Quite dark, almost black, a chocolate brown body: Like a black man that follows me everywhere, I call him Leon, he’s about half as tall as I am, depending on what time of day it is. He likes to play the timpani, and he is a watercolour. The head is nothing more than a tan lace ring though, still tasty. 8/10.

S: Spicy chilli-cinnamon-nutmeg-oh-my-god-my-brain-is-about-to-explode-with-delight goodness… also noted is dark/milk chocolate with a cacao nib smack down: Damn this whole situation is about to get real chocolaty now, in a good way – nay the best way possible, bring it Xocoveza! 10/10.

T: F%^k yeah!!! Stone have brought the flavour train to tastebud central! I don’t normally get so giddy about a beer but f*#k this is every adjunct listed on the bottle in sublime harmony creating a flavour tour de force. If you wrap your mitts around one chocolate beer this year make it this. All flavours listed on the bottle FYI are all present and accounted for: Cocoa, coffee, chilli, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg – throw in dark/milk chocolate, dark fruit and a woody touch towards the finish. Is it all too much? Surprisingly: No. 10/10.

M: Body is a slight let down, medium though I feel given the style it could use a little bit more creaminess and heft. Carbonation is mid to low and ever-present. 7/10.

D: The most disappointing part of Stone Xocoveza? Finishing the bottle… would love to have had this in a US Bomber (22 oz or 650 mls), all good things must end as they say, however I noted a few more bottles left down at The Archive – a stay of execution perhaps? In summation: I love this beer and want to drink it all year round. Disclaimer: I do love a good Mexican hot chocolate. 9/10.

Food match: Anything Chipotle – chipotle steak, chipotle pork, chipotle cat, chipotle baby panda, chipotle small children, chipotle Apple II computer, chipotle plesiosaurus, chipotle daily-planner – this will do it all.


Browar Amber Grand Imperial Porter Chili

Total Score: 5.05/10 BrownSugar1 DarkFruits1 Chili1 Tulipglass1

Uh-oh: Browar Amber, brewers of the delightful Koźlak Bock-that-is-really-a-Doppel (and the soul crushingly bad Grand Imperial Porter) are the ones who brewed this Chilli Beer, and the base it would seem is their Porter that-isn’t-really-a-Porter-but-don’t-tell-Browar-Amber-because-that-would-make-them-sad… well looks like it’s time to set my beer-review-phasers to disappointment [if such a piece of technology existed] which is a shame because the bottle appeared to be one of my all-time favourite flavour mixes – chocolate and chilli, and we all know Browar Ambers track record for their beers tasting NOTHING like what is on the label.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents a deep brown-black body with a nice 1 cm khaki head that slowly drops back to a thin lace covering – for an 8% ABV brew that is not bad at all. 8/10.

S: Chilli spice on the nose, so there’s a chilli aroma in this “Chilli Beer”, I’m somewhat surprised by this odd turn of consistency between the bottle label and the beer contained within by Browar Amber. From there it’s all truckload of dark fruits, brown sugar and bread… well that’s what we were actually expecting Browar Amber *clap-clap*. 5/10.

T: Painfully sweet upfront, my teeth ache under the weight of all this sugar, with wow – an actual slight chilli kick (though it could be bigger) and those classic BA GIP flavours: Brown sugar, fig, dates, raisin and bread, yes, yes, like some kind of Polish fruit-cake in a glass – we’ve seen it all before Browar Amber… from you funnily enough. The finish is piccante with a hint of bitterness that struggles to contain all that sugar. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, slightly watery, with an almost flat carbonation [I literally copy/pasted this from the Grand Imperial Porter review]. 4/10.

D: Well it is exactly Grand Imperial Porter, with a hint of chilli… though I will rate it more highly because of its inclusion of chilli, and because I happen to like chilli, it is still a highly flawed beer that really should be forcing Browar Amber to look up what a Porter actually is lest I shout at them: “FOR F__K SAKE JUST BUY SOME TINS OF COOPERS STOUT AND DO A BATCH OF THAT ALREADY!!!”. If you haven’t already tried Browar Amber’s Grand Imperial Porter – I will say: DO NOT TRY, and in the case of Grand Imperial Porter Chili – I will say: do not try [see how it’s in lower case]. Another Browar Amber miss to add to your collection. 5/10.

Food match: I really hope you saved your Insulin shots from the BA GIP review.


Rogue Chipotle Ale

Total Score: 7.75/10 Chili1 Smoke1 Caramel1 Tulipglass1

What a tasty treat – Doc’s first Chilli Beer review! And it’s Rogue Chipotle Ale! And I need one more thing to exclaim to make it 3 in a row – BEER! Beer indeed, that nectar of Ninkasi, that provider of awesome feelings (i.e. tipsy-drunk) and lubricant of society, we hail you – Ave! *awkward pause* So yeah, this isn’t actually the first Chilli Beer I’ve had (I’ve had maybe 3-4 of this style before) and I do have a pretty high tolerance for chillies – had a ghost chilli in my curry the other week – so I might enjoy this muchly [not really a word], oh yes. Side note: Today we’ll also find out if Doc can complete an entire Chilli Beer review without saying “¡Ay, caramba!”.

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents an alluring cloudy deep amber body with a tight 1 cm khaki head that slowly dies down to a light lace covering… tasty as bro! 9/10.

S: Upfront a hickory smoked chilli is complemented by touches of sweet caramel and a hint of milk chocolate – very nice but the smokiness overpowers the other characters, as smoke has a tendency to do, otherwise this is quite an appetizing aroma. 8/10.

T: First off: Chipotle = yum! Rogue has crafted an intriguing and complex Chilli Beer here that only hints at the heat of a real jalapeño, with notes of; Hickory smoke, jalapeño, caramel, pepper and earthy hops. Finish is slightly bitter and the hops almost go unnoticed in the melee of flavour types (sweet/spice/umami/bitter). There is an odd effect of the mouth drying out in the aftertaste… not sure what that is but it doesn’t detract any points for me. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light but dense carbonation, alright. 7/10.

D: OK for me being a bit of a fresh-chilli-in-my-Vindaloo* fanatic the spiciness of this brew is definitely lacking – I mean your customer base for this beer are people who can handle a bit of spice so really Rogue could have amped up the chilli a bit more. Other than that it’s simply another decent Rogue beer – goes down well. I like it. Sure as hell beats their Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale which was surprisingly boring. Oh yeah, ¡Ay, caramba! [Dammit Doc!] 7/10.

Food match: It’s in the beers name – black bean and rice burrito with chipotle sauce.

*Yes, I am insane.