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.

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Bacchus Brewing Snickers Chocolate Ale

Total Score: 8.4/10 Chocolate1Nut1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Whilst this is the first beer I’m reviewing from Capalaba based Bacchus, it’s not the first beer of theirs I’ve tried, I’ve happily gorged myself on: Maple Coffee Stout, Lamington Dark Ale, a Scotch Ale I forget the name of, and their award winning White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner – however most of those were consumed before I begin reviewing beers you see (and I didn’t keep any notes dagnabbit!). If I did I would have praised their beers for being “wildly inventive – an Aussie version of Mikkeller if you will”. This is about to change as I’m finally going review Bacchus Snickers Chocolate Ale, and Snickers being my 2nd favourite chocolate bar of all time (after Twix, duh!) I think this Bacchus and I will get along just fine.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into nonic pint.

A: Ruddy brown, slightly hazed complexion with a fulsome 1 centimetre Ecru head that slowly recedes to a thin layer of goodness. Looks alright hey, not spectacular but moreish… and the smell wafting off it is incredible, but I’m jumping the gun [again!]. 7/10.

S: Chocolate: Shedloads of it. I can’t get over how chocolatey this beer is, I want to lie in a bath tub full of this goodness. Hints of peanut and salted caramel make a pop in but damn, DAMN that chocolate! 9/10.

T: Bacchus just nails it. Nails. It. This is exactly what a Snickers would taste like if you could melt it down and ferment it in a vat for 3 weeks. It’s got chocolate (in spades), caramel, a hint of salt, peanuts and the finish is a slight earthy bitterness to keep the almost rampant sweetness in check. Oh yeah – it’s pretty sweet too, but it’s a beer done in the style of a chocolate bar, FFS what did you expect?! 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel once again is the weakest link in the experience: Medium with a slightly sharp carbonation – I’m splitting hairs here but if it had the body of a Founders brew I would be in some sort of gooey Snickers heaven. 6/10.

D: This beer is due to the fervently unchecked imagination of one Mr. Ross Kendrick, and this flight of fancy into a world where a popular candy bar becomes a delicious alcoholic beverage has paid off in my books. It’s not all roses though – although perfect as a dessert beer it’s a bit on the sweet side meaning a night of hard Snickers beer devouring is off the cards for a pre-pre-diabetic like me. Also: MOAR body! Those niggles aside this brew is one Snickery delight. 8/10.

Food match: Need I mention Snickers? OK, yeah we got that already. How about a chargrilled beef steak with a mole negro sauce and grilled vegies? Sweet!

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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.

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