Stone 21st Anniversary Hail To The Hop Thief Double IPA

Total Score: 8.7/10 Orange1Peppercorns1Peach1Tulipglass1

Wow Stone Brewing is now 21 years old? That’s the legal drinking age in ‘Merica [the majority of the world is fine with 18 – for a country that is appallingly liberal with firearm ownership, among other things, it seems like an onerous restriction to have on civil liberties and freedom]. Anyhow, politics aside, Stone do manage to surprise me again and again with their brews, and this Double IPA is no different with a hop bill that includes: Magnum, Mosaic®, Pekko, and an odd little number called: Hopsteiner Exp 06300 (they’re really running out of hop names so they’ve resorted to using numbers as well now). So Mosaic® and Magnum? Had ‘em, love Mosaic®. Pekko is a new one for me, and Hopsteiner Exp 06300 – ??? Umm, yeah.

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

A: Nice ‘n cloudy with hop residue floating around – great sign for a DIPA! Body is a perfect safety-orange colour with an off-white head that slowly settles leaving splotches of lace on the side of the glass – she’s a looker this one! 9/10.

S: Orange peel, peppery notes, earthy/floral character, hint of mango, and a light caramel malt base tying it all together. The hops aren’t fresh (or they’re lacking in that “green” hop character) bottled in late July – that figures, so 2 months on it. Still there is enough hop character in this to still be noticed, and noticed well. It’s a solid West Coast DIPA aroma then. 8/10.

T: Eminently drinkable DIPA from the second it lands on the tongue till the very last sip (2 mins later) – what Stone have done here is what Stone almost always manage to do: Brew a great beer. Flavours are bountiful with: orange peel, peppery notes, earthy/floral character, hint of mango, light caramel & biscuit malt base, nectarine, and a slight piney note (there you are old piney). Balance is almost a perfect trifecta of dry/sweet/bitter – it doesn’t feel like it tips far in any of those directions. 9/10.

M: Medium to full bodied and creamy, tasty as brah! 8/10.

D: This is NOT a big hop onslaught of a brew – Stone has settled down a little in old age (for a craft brewery 21 is old). The fact that they haven’t gone for an all-out assault of hops shows that Stone are a dynamic brewer – they’re able to remain trendsetters because they don’t rest on their laurels. Even if that means pissing off some “hop heads” that seek more of the same, I say bravo to Stone for stepping back from that one-hop-manship machismo. Oh yeah, I also just realised this is 9.8% ABV: WTF are you hiding that alcohol Stone?! Seriously?! 9/10.

Food match: This is one versatile DIPA – steak, curry, chicken, etc…

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Green Beacon Uppercut Imperial IPA

Total Score: 9.25/10 HopFlower1PapayaMango1Biscuit1Tulipglass1

My, my, Green Beacon have been busy little beavers lately – The Whaler, Sad Rude Future Brew and now Uppercut Imperial IPA. It must be said however that The Whaler and Uppercut are in fact brews that they’ve been doing seasonally for a while but are only now available in can. Of course I could try them all at the brewery – it being only 7-odd K’s from where I live, but then that would involve having beer drinking friends… or friends at all [insert: smallest violin here]. In any case they did it! They canned some of their delicious mojo so I don’t need any friends, I can get drunk in the privacy of my own home, HUZZAH! PS: If you live in Brisbane, and you live/breathe beer (I believe some sort of beer gills would work best), please PM me.

Poured from a 375ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Surprisingly clear golden amber body from GB – the kings of pale straw brews, head is a chalky off-white cappuccino foam affair that subsides to a thin blanket – impressive at 8% ABV. Not much lace on the side of the glass though. 7/10.

S: BIG facepunch of an aroma: Piney/citrus hops, hit of lychee and paw paw as well… wow, this is in-your-face stuff, I love it! Sweet to the point of a large pile of sugar which you must guard from angry angry bees, and there’s a hint of spirit in it as well, but those are minor detractions from an otherwise superlative aroma. 8/10.

T: Damn GB know how to balance a beer! That facepunch aroma translates well into the flavour: Piney/citrus/lychee/paw paw hops with a nice (that knows where it needs to be) caramel/biscuit malt base. The amazing part is the balance – not too sweet (as I was expecting) with a mid to light bitterness in the finish. There’s that tingly feeling on the tongue that I get from heavily hopped beers as well, which shows that GB didn’t skimp on anything. TBH this flavour beats out epic brews like Pirate Life IIPA and Blackman’s Angry Reg – it’s such a well-crafted hop punch. 10/10.

M: Medium bodied with a decent heft of hop oils and a thin but dense carbonation – right on the money, though a bit more body wouldn’t go amiss. 8/10.

D: Easily Brisbane, possibly Australia’s best IIPA: I’m calling it. Flavour is hop heavy as the best American Imperial IPAs are, but the balance is where it deserves the most commendation – and I think they nailed it with the ABV at 8% – whereas Pirate Life and Blackman’s have theirs at 8.8% (which is a bit too much) – this is the most sessional IIPA I’ve had in a long time (coming from someone who has reviewed 30 IIPAs FYI), bloody bravo to Green Beacon, you total legends! 10/10.

Food match: Green papay… I’m not going to say it. Spicy Thai dishes. There.

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Deep Creek Lupulin Effect Double IPA

Total Score: 7.8/10 Pineapple1HopFlower1CutGrass1Tulipglass1

This is a new brewery for me from that land of the long white cloud: Aotearoa, better known to many as New Zealand. As is my custom with reviewing a new brewer I went straight for the most imperial thing I could find, in this case a Double IPA. On the label it tells an interesting story of how closely linked cannabis and hops biologically (no wonder I sometimes get cannabis notes in the aroma of hop-driven brews, and before you ask: No, I didn’t inhale). This lupulin effect, that is the effect of hops, can help one feel relaxed (opines the label). Well I definitely get the lupulin effect after a hard day’s work… sometimes after no days’ work too! Here’s hoping this be one fine hopped ale to parch my non-existent thirst.

Poured from a 440ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed with tiny hop particles is this amber coloured brew with a respectable 1 centimetre white head that slowly descends leaving a lace blanket. Some splotchy lace on the side of the glass as well. Looks rather tasty hey. 8/10.

S: Less cannabis notes than expected – it’s not green with hops, more of a tropical scent (think pineapple, hint of mango) with a slight piney character as well. It’s not as brash in the aroma as I expected given the 8.5% ABV and pictures of hops all over the label… though it could be a sleeper aroma waiting to pounce in the flavour – for some reason NZ DIPAs tend to be big in the aroma but lacking in flavour – let’s hope this brew flips the trend. 7/10.

T: Syrupy canned pineapple forward, gives way to a herbal “green” hop note (there it is!) piney hops, an unobtrusive biscuit malt character, and a finish that has a grassy assertive bitterness. Overall balance is pretty good here, a touch more hop flavour might help to cover up an ever-so-slight ethanol note, but otherwise this is a straight 8/10. 8/10. [see, told ya!]

M: Medium bodied, syrupy and slick with hop oils, and a fairly sedate carbonation lead to a beer that wants you to focus on the hop flavour more than anything. It’s sticky but doesn’t cloy – which is nice. 8/10.

D: What a solid DIPA Deep Creek have made! It’s not a socks blown off sort of brew, so my take so far is that Deep Creek are no Garage Project/Yeastie Boys with the craziness… nor do they intend to be – they strike me as just wanting to hone a semi-decent craft brew, something to sit back and sip. That ethanol note became ever-present as I got to the bottom of the glass – a slight distraction. 8/10. Total: 7.8/10.

Food match: Thai is my go-to standard with a DIPA of this nature.

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Stone Mocha IPA

Total Score: 8.85/10 Coffee1HopFlower1Earth1Tulipglass1

Best of both worlds or total disaster? I want you to do me a favour: Go out and buy this beer. Don’t question me! Do it! When you get home BEFORE you crack open the bottle and pour that delightful amber fluid into a glass I want you to open your Spotify/iTunes/Google Play/Whatever and cue up a little old [ahem: new] ditty by a band called The Killers, track name “The Man”. Once the track is cued and those speakers are turned up as far as you can without waking up your neighbours you’re ready to crack open Stone Mocha IPA and pour it into your favourite beer glass. Press “play” and begin by inhaling that intoxicating oxymoron of an aroma… take your first sip. That’s right: You’re The Man. The Stone Mocha IPA Man.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed copper-amber body with a tasty big 2 centimetre off-white head that leaves sci-fi landscape lacing on the side of the glass as it recedes. Great head retention for a 9% ABV, this brew looks almost completely innocuous… it begins! [said in my best Barney Gumble voice]. 8/10.

S: This is a beer where I thought “No way is that going to work – coffee and IPA hops? Nope, not going to go down well at all”. Well in this case I am more than happy to be proven wrong – Sharp herbal resin/cannabis hops, roasted coffee bean with a touch of cold drip coffee and a hint of cacao nibs, MWA! *Italian kissing of fingertips sign* Stone definitely struck on something with these overly earthy aromas – it’s reminiscent of a Red IPA, but it’s got a little sumptin-sumptin going on. 9/10.

T: It’s just like Ruination and Xocoveza had a child! Though before you get too excited – this is the lesser sum of one parent, and that parent is Xocoveza, the flavour never quite reaches the glory of Xocoveza (yes, I love Xocoveza). Profile is: Roasted coffee bean upfront, mid-palate piney/resin/cannabis hops, hint of citrus, leading to an earthy/bitter cacao nib finish – which has a fairly restrained medium bitterness. The character of this brew is intriguing and warrants multiple sips. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied, reasonable amount of carbonation… almost a little too much, with a slight creaminess (more creaminess would be ideal). 8/10.

D: Damn tasty, damn easy-drinking for 9% ABV, and damn (damn)! This brew really put me in my place – I’ve long scoffed at coffee IPAs, now I have seen the stony light, and it is goo-od. *presses play again on The Killers The Man* 9/10.

Food match: Cigars and spicy Thai cuisine unite!

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Nøgne Ø Rød Jul

Total Score: 8.75/10 DarkFruits1PapayaMango1Coriander1Tulipglass1

Looks like it’s finally time for a Naked Island Red Yuletide – or Nøgne Ø Rød Jul as it is otherwise known. So this is Nøgne Ø’s Christmas beer, and listed on various beer reviewing sites as a Double IPA, though no doubt it will have some crazy Nøgne Ø Norwegian twist on the style. I’ve had 4 beers from Nøgne Ø, and so far their Imperial Brown Ale has been the stand out, though I still like HaandBryggeriet’s experimentality if we’re talking breweries in Norway, Naked Island have stepped up their game in this regard over the years I’ve been drinking craft beer – they’re neck and neck now. Anyway let us crack on with Red Yule, I’m keen to see where this one goes.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy caramel body, tinge of rust in it, with a tan head that sits nicely on top given the 8% ABV. Stalactite lacing inside the glass as well – this certainly is a very Rød Jul… that is: good proteins in this brew. Noticed yeast clumps in the pour. 8/10.

S: Fruit esters aplenty – dark fruits, juniper berry and lychee. Lingering caramel malt touches, this is a great aroma – bit of everything going on here. Touch on the sweet side I suspect, however my suspicions will soon be de-suspected… yeah I reckon I can get away with making up that word. 8/10.

T: Not overly sweet actually… quite spot on… above flavours: dark fruits, juniper berry and lychee with a nice caramel malt base. Finish is long and drying with a hint of herbal bitterness. Aftertaste is a lingering dryness. Balance is… great! This is Norwegian brewing at its most Norwegian: A Scandinavian take on an American style, with juniper dryness complimenting juicy lychee – skål Nøgne Ø! 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a dense, almost creamy carbonation, noice work Noggs. 9/10.

D: Beer of the night… and quite possibly the best beer of the (action packed holiday time!) week… *checks stats* close but Feral Finn Diesel wins that honour (it was a pretty special week here) but Nøgne Ø Rød Jul comes in as 2nd best beer of the (action packed holiday time!) week! YAY Nøgne Ø! TBH the only reason Feral beat this brew was a personal flavour preference thing – I’m not a huge fan of dry brews, however I can see the technical brilliance at play here from Nøgne Ø, and for me they keep going from strength to strength, keep it up you Naked Island people. 9/10.

Food match: Cheese platter or festive food, you decide.

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Nomad Supersonic DIPA

Total Score: 7.2/10 Lime1Caramel1Coriander1Nonicpint1

Back in the Double IPA saddle with this latest Nomad: Supersonic DIPA. Warning: Native finger limes were harmed during the brewing of this beer. So the last DIPA I reviewed was *checks blog* last night! Well, I’m going to have to slow down again, I’m building up to something big for #850 and it’s got me drinking more than usual – so yeah: rein it in Doc! Back to Nomad – who have been a bit miss and miss for me (having only tried their Choc Wort Orange and Freshie Salt & Pepper Gose). I decided as ever to put Nomad through my classic DIPA litmus test to see if my original thoughts about them being not that great are actually wide of the mark – using Australian finger limes in their DIPA is a pretty good idea too.

Poured from a 330ml can into a nonic pint.

A: YEAST CLUMP ALERT: There are yeast clumps floating around in this brew. Can be a cause for concern – some of the bad brews in my past had yeast clumps floating around, it’s a sign of secondary fermentation. So fingers crossed this cloudy brown-tinged amber bodied off-white head brew hasn’t turned as well. 5/10.

S: Smells fine though, good in fact, with a zesty citric lime aroma and caramel malts. Aroma is a bit lime riddled, however who doesn’t love lime? Even Coronas love a lime wedge, stop being such a stick in the mud you imaginary lime hater. Touch of earthy character too. Overall balance between sweet/bitter smells about right. 8/10.

T: Tastes pretty limey, with a broad caramel malt base, some earthy tones, and a touch of rocket herbal pepperiness towards the finish. The sweet/bitter balance is reasonably well done without outright impressing me – it’s quietly humble in that regard. Finish has a medium bitterness, fairly easy drinking DIPA for an IPA-lover like me. If I was to compare this to a Pirate Life IIPA or Blackman’s (Angry Reg of course!) I would say Nomad is playing it a little too safe here. 7/10.

M: Not so great: Needs more body for a DIPA – almost medium bodied but it should be heavier and smoother overall. Carbonation is light but dense – OK there. 6/10.

D: So glad this beer hadn’t turned – I love a good DIPA, and Australia needs more of this style. However apart from the limes this is a bit of a paint-by-numbers DIPA that is holding back a bit in the flavour department – it could be bigger, it could have more body, it could challenge this DIPA drinker. It is pleasant – don’t get me wrong – but so is a warm bowl of soap on a cold winters day, and you don’t have soup every day unless you’re my brother (he sure likes his soup). 8/10.

Food match: I’m going to throw this out there and see if it sticks: Wood-fired pizza.

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Brouhaha Brewery Double IPA

Total Score: 8.1/10 PapayaMango1Earth1Caramel1Nonicpint1

As you all know by now my style yardstick for a new brewery (if they have one) is the venerable Double IPA. As a style it is eminently easy to get wrong, it’s the beer equivalent of a train wreck when it falls to pieces. This isn’t the first beer I tried from Maleny (a place in Queensland, Queenstra… Australia) brewer Brouhaha, I had a sip of a wheat beer of theirs. It was average. However I give every brewer a second chance, and when I noticed this DIPA at my local Black Sheep Bottle Shop – I thought “give Brouhaha another go”. Plus every good brewer has a love of puns and this beer looks like it says “Double DIPA” on the label… double dipper, genius! How could I resist? (no I’m not a Dad, why does everyone keep asking me that?).

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Slightly hazed caramel-amber body with an exceedingly big cream-coloured 1 inch head that took a great deal longer than expected to subside… I mean I was able to type that entire sentence and still had time to read today’s news before I had a sip. It was all about Trump again “I’m so sick of that guy” *Dr. Nick Riviera voice*. 8/10.

S: Jackfruit – big Jackfruit (tropical/bubblegum if you’re unfamiliar) notes straight off. Settles into a papaya/caramel hop/malt combo, bit of resin/green hop notes as well… surprisingly this is a real contender up against the likes of Pirate Life IIPA, Modus Zoo Feeder and Blackman’s Angry Reg. I haven’t had PL IIPA for a while but I reckon this out-Jackfruits that Jackfruit heavy brew. 9/10.

T: Noice! Reminds me of Victory DirtWolf in all the right ways – flavoursome without being overbearing: check. Tropical fruit forward: check. Sweet/bitter well balanced: check. Aftertaste not crazy bitter: check. So this is more of an East Coast IPA then. Flavours are: Jackfruit, papaya, earthy, caramel with a hint of pine resin. Very easy-drinking for 8.5% ABV. Odd cardboard character in aftertaste though… cracks begin to appear… still it’s a good DIPA. 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel is a bit of a weak point: needs more body TBH. Medium-ish bodied with a thin carbonation. 7/10.

D: Look I was going to say “for a Maleny brewer this is surprisingly good” then I realised I would have to explain my whole rationale for that statement and frankly I couldn’t be bothered. It’s good. Get it. Enjoy it. Wonder what that cardboard note in the aftertaste is all about. Forget that and enjoy it some more. Drunk-text your partner. Polish off the glass. Get another [it’s sold out] 😦 . 8/10.

Food match: Vietnamese lemongrass beef salad is a solid DIPA go-to of mine.

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