Moon Dog Mack Daddy Dark Ale

Total Score: 5.8/10 GreenMelon1Biscuit1Earth1Nonicpint1

Yes, my fridge is currently backed up with beers to review so next up is Moon Dog (those nutters!) Mack Daddy Dark Ale – which will, for better or worse, be directly compared to the last brew I reviewed: Moo Brew’s Dark Ale. I’m quietly confident for Moon Dog as they do have a habit of releasing interesting and sometimes OTT beers (Breakfast Of Champions Bloody Mary Red Ale anyone?). So yeah, if they can maintain that subtle craziness with Mack Daddy I’m sure I’ll like it. If however this is a bland, lifeless Dark Ale I will have to set my repartee to: Stun w/ biting critique [yeah we haven’t seen that old chestnut much lately *sarcasm intended*].

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents with an almost opaque russet body and a thin wispy tan head. Lace on the side of the glass is of an OK level given the ABV of 5%. Looks fairly moreish this Mack Daddy. 7/10.

S: Hmmm, interesting aroma for a Dark Ale – quite upfront with stone fruit and melon, mixed in with earthy roasted malt characters. Balance from the aroma definitely airs on the earthy/dry spectrum – so hopefully there’s a bit more sweetness in the flavour (I’m personally getting over every 2 beer I review being dry these days). 7/10.

T: Melon hits the palate straight off, leading towards a biscuit/earthy/roasted malt base – hits with an unexpected citrus sour twang as well, almost lemon sherbet in character – was not expecting that! Finish is dry *sigh* with an earthy overtone. Overall balance is towards the sour/bitter/dry spectrum without any noted sweetness. Not my cuppa unfortunately. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, definitely needs a more luxurious mouthfeel, with a slight fizzy carbonation. 6/10.

D: Yawn! This is a rare hit and miss for Moon Dog – who are generally known for being outrageous with their brews (case in point: Marmajuke Marmalade Double IPA and Bjorn To Boogie Watermelon Weizen). Granted this is one of their cheaper beers, and it shows, so I’m guessing they’ve dialled back on ingredients somewhat to make it financially possible. Still, it’s a disappointment to see the mad scientist creating a rational brew – I’m not too keen on trying their other normal-priced beers now (Love Tap Single Lager and Old Mate Pale Ale) as I’m guessing it’s more pedestrian stuff… I need a Double IPA now! 6/10.

Food match: Beef stew with melon… no wait prosciutto-wrapped melon slices.

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Moo Brew Dark Ale

Total Score: 7.1/10 Caramel1Chocolate1BrownSugar1Nonicpint1

Another free sample from a rep for me to review – living the high life brah! This time from Moo Brew – look I wasn’t a fan of their Belgo, and their Hefeweizen that I previously tried had some funky problems going on (I’ve since had a sip of that one during a tasting and it was a perfectly fine Australian Hefe, aka not as good as a German one). Anyway fresh start for Moo Brew, as it is for any brewer when I try their new beers – I save my judgements for the column labelled ‘T’. So here goes with their Dark Ale (wish me luck or something else; say I win a million in a lotto I never entered, that would be nice, and interesting, yeah wish me that instead).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Almost opaque mahogany body with a thin half centimetre khaki head that is leaving some gnarly lace on the inside of the glass. Looks good, nice and dark without being oppressive. Head fades away to a wafer thin blanket. 7/10.

S: Brown sugar and thick molasses upfront pounding the nose with sweetness – which is all fine with me. Hint of milk chocolate… kinda reminds me of the molasses chew in the Whitman’s Sampler box – it’s a molasses/chocolate/malt extract bonanza (for better or worse). 8/10.

T: Yep, just as expected with brown sugar/molasses/chocolate/malt extract flavours coming through… but wait! What’s this?! A note of roasted coffee towards the finish: which is a light earthy and coffee bitter riposte. Not bad, flavours could use a wee bit of amping – and I am drinking this close to room temp too. The flavours are actually quite well placed, but dare I say it? This needs more sweetness and heft. Aside from that this is the best Moo Brew I’ve reviewed yet. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, more body would be nice as noted above, and a slightly gassy carbonation. 6/10.

D: I could easily imagine this as a 6.5% ABV knock out Dark Ale – one that is big, chewy and almost as sweet as a bottle of Leffe (pick any Leffe – they’re all sugar bombs). However what we have here is a lighter – wistful Dark Ale that doesn’t do a great deal to excite, or disappoint, this now long in tooth craft beer drinker [I’ve seen things and tasted stuff man!]. That said I can see this going down well with punters, and it’s probably a great deal fuller on tap, as all beers tend to be, so if I was in a pub I might give this another look in one day. 7/10.

Food match: *gone off to buy a Whitman’s Sampler box as that shit is G*

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Bacchus Brewing Lamington Dark Ale

Total Score: 7.1/10 Chocolate1Coconut1Earth1Nonicpint1

In case you’re not Australian/Kiwi or aware, a Lamington is: A sponge cake square that is dipped in a chocolate sauce and coated in desiccated coconut. The best ones come with cream in the middle. Invented right here in sunny old Brisvegas (I didn’t even know that!). Anyway Lamingtons are a very Aussie dessert, and years ago when I first tried this beer it was an exemplary liquid version of a Lamington… I remember afterwards wishing I had taken notes, but now that Bacchus have released bottled versions of Ross Kenrick’s magical fluids I have an opportunity to right past wrongs, bless you Ross!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Chocolate brown body with a reasonably dense beige head that quickly reduces to a lace ring. Alright, it’s not very heady, but it’s almost the exact same colour of the chocolate sauce you would find on a Lamington, so it’s got that going for it. 7/10.

S: Coconut flesh upfront on the nose, dark chocolate and cocoa mingle in there as well. Exactly as it says on the packet – can’t get more Lamington than this aroma (unless you actually, you know, were eating a Lamington at this very instant). 8/10.

T: Flavour is pretty much as expected: Coconut, dark chocolate and cocoa, with a hint that the coconut is going a little funky (it’s been sitting in the cupboard too long Mum!). There is a touch of brandy hiding in there as well. As far as the ‘dessert beer’ moniker applies this brew isn’t overly sweet, more dry. Finish is light bitterness in the vein of dark chocolate. Not as bold as I recall it, and not quite the quintessential liquid Lamington either… oh yeah and it’s thinner bodied too [see next]. 7/10.

M: Yes, mouthfeel is quite thin… last time I had it was on tap and it had a bit more heft to it, carbonation is a little on the gassy side too. 6/10.

D: This is not how I remembered it. Not to say it isn’t good, but I remember at the time thinking “Pwoar! This is Bacchus’ best brew!”. Today however – it most certainly is not their best (I would say Snickers Chocolate Ale has it beat – though I’ve yet to try their Sex, Drugs & Rocky Road and I am a sucker for rocky road – watch this space). That said I will definitely buy the Imperial version of this if I ever see it (appropriately pun-named “Lamingtonne”: it’s 10% ABV, get it?). Keep up the dessert themed beers Bacchus! 7/10.

Food match: Need we dance around the obvious? No, right: Lamingtons of course. Also not being a hugely sweet beer means mains would work too – try stew.

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Modus Operandi Caribbean Queen

Total Score: 8.7/10 Chocolate1Coconut1Vanilla1Tulipglass1

Modus Operandi is 2 years old, hooray! I remember when Modus was a little tyke – I rolled in that first keg of Former Tenant Red IPA at The Durham thinking “Huh, Red IPA, that sounds tasty” – now look where we are 2 years later with Caribbean Queen staring back at me. The label really it sells it though: “A sumptuous Dark Ale brewed with coconut, lactose and milk chocolate. This decadent lady tastes like a lamington and brings the fat child out in all of us”. Damn, there’s about 10 words in that description that excite me as a beer drinker.

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Rich dark mahogany body with a 1 centimetre beige head that sticks around quite well and leaves some lacing on the side of the glass. Well… this is going to be quite good to say the least. 9/10.

S: Coconut and milk chocolate come to the fore, as advertised. Hints of vanilla and brown sugar, the subtlety of which (you think/know) belies a great big bear-hug of a brew. Other than that not much else… again this gives the impression of a sleeper beer – one that has a muted aroma followed by a sucker punch of flavour. 7/10.

T: This is a chocolate beer for the ages! The greatest impact of this brew being in the mouthfeel due to an obviously large quantity of lactose [we’ll get to that next] but overall it hits home with an exceptional milk chocolate flavour that provides IMO just the right amount of sweetness. Following this with some light vanilla, cacao nibs and brown sugar. Finishes with coconut and a light bitter espresso coffee note which doesn’t distract from the flavour. I want more. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with an opulent lactose driven silkiness to the body/carbonation which really puts this brew up there with Founders on mouthfeel – and that is high praise indeed! 10/10.

D: It’s pretty close competition between Russel Brown and Caribbean Queen for my beer of the night but I must say I am a sucker for a decadent chocolate beer and this is pretty close to La Sirène’s Praline for my favourite chocolate beer OAT [work it out for yourselves] so Modus gets that award. Again the same biggest criticism between the 2 beers I just reviewed: They are limited release beers when really they should be brewed… well not year round as they’re winter beers, but at least seasonally and in the very least: Again! Modus has excelled here. 9/10.

Food match: Chateaubriand steak in demi-glace with shallots, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts.

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Burleigh Brewing Dream Date

Total Score: 7/10 DarkFruits1 HopFlower1 Clove1 Tulipglass1

Ironically* this was one of the next beers in my fridge to be reviewed [I have a fridge-door beer review system, it’s one of those “chaos=order” type deals]. First thing that grabbed my attention about this limited release was the Roy Lichtensteinesque styled label. Then I saw that it’s brewed with dates, double intrigued it made its way to my chaotic fridge-door TBB (To Be Bruviewed) shelf. Oh yeah and the just-above-dad-joke-level pun name completed the trifecta.

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Dream Date presents with a clear copper body with an off-white head that settles to a thin layer of lace on top. Could be a little darker for a Dark Ale. 5/10.

S: The dates provide an intriguing over-ripe dried fruit and fig ester, and there is a broad caramel malt base, along with citric hops as well. More hops linger on in the background giving it a touch of a floral quality. Originally was expecting to be overwhelmed by sweet aromas but it is balanced out well by the hops. 8/10.

T: Remarkable, it’s not at all what was anticipated, for one it’s not sweet at all, more hop driven than you would think, and using dates has given it a dry fruit-middle eastern spice feel to it. The flavours are: Dried dark fruits, citric/piney hops, cardamom and vanilla. Finish is long and dry. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation. 6/10.

D: Again I was really expecting some sweet cloying date characters, something you would expect in a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but it really hit me as more of a restrained American India Pale Ale. In a way I’m disappointed by its lack of “dateness” however it was still smooth and enjoyable. Was it a dream date? No, but that’s only because my dream date would involve me with a fine lady, not a beer [beat that for a dad joke!]. 7/10.

Food match: An exotic middle eastern spiced lamb kofta with tagine roasted vegetables would go down quite well with this brew.

*Directed to Claire at Burleigh Brewing.

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Coopers Dark Ale

Total Score: 5.4/10 Malt1 Bread1 Earth1 Nonicpint1

This is the black sheep of the Cooper’s line of Ales (no pun intended). It’s not easy to get and is generally glossed over by regular Cooper’s pundits, however I thought I would give it a go.

Poured from 375ml stubbie into a Guinness pint glass.

A: The Ale fizzed a bit on opening (must have been shook beforehand). A 4cm tan head dropped to almost nothing. The body is a deep earthy brown… perhaps an earthy Ale taste will follow. 4/10.

S: Hmmm, interesting aroma – promises of toasted biscuit from the malted barley, baker’s yeast with grassy hops, but the malt is ever present. 6/10.

T: All of the above; toasted malt dominates the flavour, with a light sourdough mid-palate (classic Cooper’s bottle-conditioned yeast) and a finish with some grassy hops… very earthy (toasted earth that is). 6/10.

M: Biggest letdown for this Ale; it’s thin and overly carbonated… apart from said minor qualm everything else is pretty good. 3/10.

D: This is an Ale that could do with a more intense flavour. The taste itself is good, however the wateriness and low ABV lets it down when this Ale could be a real winner. I did find as I let the Ale warm a bit towards the end that the flavour became more intense – I’ll take note for when I crack open another. 5/10.

Food match: Meat pie with mushy peas (classic Australian fare!).

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