Stone & Wood Pilot Batch Wilderness Honey Cream Ale

Total Score: 7.15/10 Clove1Honeycomb1Peppercorns1Nonicpint1

My pet peeve with beers #647: Brewers that get the hype-train rolling out of the station (i.e. the social media barrage of information about a limited release beer which gets every craft lover frothing at the bit weeks before said beer is even released) only to produce a minuscule amount of supply to meet the demand that is already at the station, newspapers in hand, waiting to board a train that will never arrive for them because a bottle shop manager has to ration out single bottles to a select customers *and breathe*. Stone & Wood is guilty of this sin (along with many other Aussie brewers I could name but for brevity’s sake). This Stone & Wood Pilot Batch Wilderness Honey Cream Ale – was literally the 1 bottle I could get my hands on, let’s see if it’s worth its weight in honey [cream ale].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed pale straw body with a fluffy white cappuccino 1 centimetre head on top that slowly compacts. My own experience with the Cream Ale style is rather limited (I’ve reviewed 1 so far: Mikkeller Cream Ale) so I turn to the 2015 BJCP for guidance: it says: “Pale straw” – bingo! “Brilliant, sparkling clarity” – oh dear. 8/10.

S: Surprisingly spicy/peppery on the nose, with a hint of honey, some smoke, dry crackers and a light floral/earthy tone throughout. This is not what I imagined when I signed up for “Honey Cream Ale” (I was picturing a beer that would put a grin on Winnie the Pooh’s dial), but it seems interesting nonetheless. More honey, and the sweetness that generally accompanies it, would be nice. 7/10.

T: Look, this is an odd… beer. Flavour profile bounces all over the place, not really knowing where to land – spicy clove, ginger and pepper notes, drrrry cracker centre, hints of wild floral and earthy honey that touches briefly on smoke, wood character, grainy tinge, back to a long dry finish, and not much else: boing, boing, boing = flavour profile. As the label states “Dreamt up by an artist, a local inventor and a wild chef…”, uh-huh, “death by some sort of crazy committee” I say. 7/10.

M: The base beer in this Cream Ale is similar to S&W’s other brews – mid to light bodied, medium carbonation, to style if not tedious. 8/10.

D: Far from the best in the S&W oeuvre, I liked the promise, the bold visionary ideals this brew embodies, but the execution, and let’s face it: the whole artist/inventor/chef collaboration was probably never going to produce a mind-shattering beer anyway, is lacking overall. Which is a shame. 7/10.

Food match: I would pop a kangaroo steak on the grill for this one – keep it Aussie.


Sixpoint Sweet Action

Total Score: 8/10 Lemon1 Biscuit1 Peach1 Nonicpint1

Hats off to Shane at Sixpoint – soon after I posted my review of Sweet Action he got in touch and advised that in producing 5 million cans of Sweet Action they had never had any reports of infection, and that the export cans were pasteurized, so theoretically an infection is impossible. I felt like I owed it to Sixpoint (as I have high regard for their beers) to get a can from another batch and give it a re-review, and as it happens I found a fully enclosed and air conditioned bottleshop in Brisbane who sold it. Not only that – the can had been in the fridge the whole time with a BB of 01JAN16: Score!

Poured from a 355ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Straight off the bat this looks different to the previous can I had with a clear deep amber and a billowy 1cm cream coloured head, very promising. 8/10.

S: Mild but sweet toasted biscuit malts, floral and citric hops. This is indeed less interesting than the funked-up (what I now suspect was a heat damaged) can, but in this instance, and given the Cream Ale style – a mild and slightly uneventful aroma is definitely the better direction to take. 8/10.

T: Citric hops upfront followed by a solid (but not at all sweet) biscuit base and some floral hop notes in the finish – which is a mid to light bitterness. Hint of peach in there as well. Balance is more bitter than sweet, the overriding sensation of this brew is how smooth and easy-drinking it is, especially at 5.2% ABV – goes down like a 4% session ale with a refreshing thirst-slaying aftertaste. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied with a nice creamy carbonation… smooth work Sixpoint, Joe Camel smooth… 8/10.

D: After that last can of Sweet Action this is a pleasant surprise. In a nutshell: This is an easy-drinking, smooth Cream Ale that has a touch of hop bite towards the finish whilst still remaining sessionable. I like it. I like it a lot! I probably won’t get it again as my tastes now have gravitated towards “BIG” beer styles like Russian Imperial Stouts, DIPAs, Barleywines and Quadrupels [never say never Doc] however if you’re seeking a nice easy going ale, or you’re just over DIPAs (you crazy mon!) then Sixpoint Sweet Action will not disappoint you. 8/10.

Food match: Light BBQ fare – grilled chicken breast, potato salad, coleslaw, or really anything bird related – quail, pheasant, pigeon – Sweet Action has all the fowl bases covered.

The old review below:

It has been a while since I reviewed a Sixpoint brew, and that is a shame because I do admire their dedication to brewing and Shane from Sixpoint, who makes more than regular appearances on BeerAdvocate and whom I personally met at a beer festival in Sydney – it’s rare for a brewer as big as Sixpoint to have such a personal connection in the craft scene. Also their efforts to revive long lost styles such as Lichtenhainer, a smoky/sour ale from Germany, are to be respected. These guys really are passionate about craft beer. Anyway time for some Sweet Action!

Poured from a 355ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Amber body, hazed with yeast particles floating around (BB is 07MAY15 – got to start pulling Plonk up on their out of date beers) with a 1 inch fluffy cloud cream-coloured head that holds up quite well. Apart from the yeast particles, which I don’t mind but others do, this looks good. 8/10.

S: Sweet caramel and corn, bready middle, and some Jackfruit/pineapple hop characters at the back. I know corn seems like the odd aroma out but this is a Cream Ale and corn is a perfectly fine brewing adjunct IMHO. 7/10.

T: Wow, this brew is either infected or there is an intentional sour twang, either way the upfront sour note gives this beer an intriguing angle. Following this is a caramel malt and bread centre, and it finishes with a citrus/herbal hop bitterness. If this is brew is infected it is certainly a fortunate infection because the sour blends well with the sweet and bitter… although it is still odd nonetheless. 7/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied with a light creamy carbonation. 7/10.

D: Yep it’s infected – the more I sip the more the sour note grows along with a big astringent aftertaste… will have to get this again to give it a proper review as I don’t think this infected can is doing Sweet Action justice… plus I imagine there is a nice, creamy session ale hiding in there amongst the infection. Still this is one of the better infected brews I’ve encountered – sort of a Lambic styled infection. I even finished the whole can! 4/10.

Food match: Null and void as this beer is infected.

Keep an eye out for the re-review in future, aka: watch this space.


Mikkeller Cream Ale

Total Score: 6.95/10 Malt1 Lemon1 Pineapple1 Nonicpint1

Mikkeller Cream Ale is unparadoxically: a Cream Ale, which a style of beer that originates from the US of A. Cream Ales were also produced by Canada during the prohibition era as a style that gained popularity amongst sneaky American drinkers, and further refined after prohibition, which ended when Al Capone was sent to prison for killing Sean Connery’s character in Stanley Kubrick’s seminal film ‘The Untouchables’ (which Kevin Bacon was awesome in BTW). It is a style that is brewed with Ale and Lager yeasts and usually contains adjuncts like corn and rice. This is my first ever Cream Ale. Ever. Srsly.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Pours a hazy saffron yellow body with a wispy white 2 cm head that sticks around for a while. I do generally like the look of Mikkeller’s brews and this one is no exception. 9/10.

S: Sweet notes of malt, lemon and a distinct pineapple note. Aroma is almost as delightful as the bright yellow bottle label which appears to have been drawn by a kindergarten student. The balance of the fragrance hints at a sweet/malty Cream Ale. 8/10.

T: So this is a Cream Ale – easy to drink but not very exciting – there are sweet malts forward, then lemon citrus and floral hops lead to a light(ish) bitter finish. If you’re looking for big flavours you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, it really lives up to the word “cream” in the style with a creamy carbonation though. 8/10.

D: It’s like the original creators of the style were aiming to make a beer that’s easy to drink… easy to drink?! Beer?! I scoff at these olden days American beer style creators. That said I think my palate has been destroyed by years of American IPAs… either way I have American brewers to blame for my current Cream Ale predicament, damn you AMERICAAAAAN BREWWWAAAS!!! Overall I would have loved this beer 5 years ago, today = pass. Oh yeah, and because this is a Mikkeller beer it cost me an arm and a leg…… I got better*. 7/10. Total: 6.95/10.

Food match: Continuing the reference if you’ve skipped ahead to my footnote and still didn’t get it: Newts. Seriously though: Mild cheese platter with artisanal breads.

*Python reference – haven’t had one of them for a while now have we?