Clown Shoes Galactica Double IPA

Total Score: 7.3/10 Caramel1HopFlower1Biscuit1Tulipglass1

It’s been a while between drinks for me and Clown Shoes, having tried Clementine and Chocolate Sombrero back in 2014 and liking both. Well fast forward to 2017 and Galactica Double IPA popped up in my local bottle-o (Black Sheep Newmarket). I usually avoid East Coast IPAs now due to the length of time spent in transit to Australia and my 1st hand experience with ‘hop fade’ (Google it). However this Clown Shoes is in a can, and I believe cans stay fresher for longer than bottles, I’m sure there’s some sort of science behind that theory. Armed with this (fervent) belief I eagerly cracked open the can to find inside: Beer! That delicious amber fluid I suspected I would find, yay! PS: Watch this space as I am coming up to a milestone review (#950) and I always go BIG or go home for those [I chose BIG again].

Poured from a 473ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy deep amber/orange body with a boisterous beige head that sits tall at an inch and remains resolute for some time before dropping back. Didn’t even give it that much of a hard pour either, just a bit of agitation… a jibe or two (“yo wort so ugly even hello kitty said goodbye” that sorta thing). 7/10.

S: Hmmm, piney, caramel, toffee, biscuits, earthy note, hint of passionfruit… yep, that there’s your standard West Coast Double IPA aroma, she’ll go from 0 to 60 (IBUs) in under 3.4 seconds, with a top IBU of around 105, whilst doing about 3-4 malts per gallon (of wort). Tasty drop that. 8/10.

T: Reminiscent of SN Torpedo and Founders Centennial, though armed with the knowledge that there was hop fade in both those brews when I originally reviewed them I’m now less impressed with this DIPA from Clown Shoes. Flavours are pretty malt forward (caramel, toffee, biscuits) with a piney/earthy hop presence, and if I close my eyes and try really hard to picture it there’s a touch of passionfruit in there as well. Finish has a medicinal herbal hop note with a medium bitterness. Little indication of the 8% ABV as well. This is a decent DIPA then. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel could be better with peers like Founders (of course!) crushing this area, Galactica has left me wanting more with a medium body and a flat dense carbonation. 6/10.

D: Overall I might sound a bit harsh, and now spoiled by ‘hop fade’ facts and all the great beers out there now, but this is a middle-of-the-road brew from Clown Shoes, who are not known to play in the middle-of-the-road. 8/10.

Food match: Gourmet pizza – rocket, walnut, prosciutto and truffle pecorino… yeah?

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Stone Fruitallica Double India Pale Ale

Total Score: 8.45/10 Orange1Kiwi1Chili1Tulipglass1

Strangely enough I almost didn’t buy this Double India Pale Ale from those masters of mayhem: Stone Brewing, in collaboration with Beavertown and one of NZ’s finest: Garage Project. It struck me as an odd cacophony of flavours, however last time I thought that was Stone Mocha IPA, and we all know how well that went with me [pretty, pretty good]. Then I was speaking with one of the bar tenders at Bloodhound in the valley (Brisvegas of course), and he rated this brew very highly, so who am I to refuse another awesomesauce brew from Stone? Here’s a bit of the bottle blurb: “… with a power trio of kiwi, yuzu and habanero. Yuzu and habanero, sure, but who knew kiwi fruit could be so metal.” Well I kinda always suspected kiwi to be a little bit metal, have you seen a kiwi fruit before? It’s like a shaved head.

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

A: Cloudy orange sunburst body with a nice meaty cream-coloured head that slowly drops back leaving a bit of lace on the sides of the glass. Looks pretty standard, I happen to like my DIPAs cloudy, so thanks there Stone. 8/10.

S: Aroma is BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto] and bold with a sharp citric stab no doubt provided by the yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit that is sorta half-lemon/half-grapefruit in flavour). Hints of kiwi, piney notes, and a dash of habanero round out this juicy DIPA fragrance – so looking forward to the next part. Any criticisms? Perhaps the kiwi and habanero could be a little more elevated, but it’s a minor critique. 8/10.

T: Wow, yeah! Old mate from Bloodhound wasn’t kidding – this is an absolute ripper of a DIPA! Very citrusy, that yuzu comes through well along with orange juice and pink grapefruit. Kiwi is adds a slight background sweetness, and habanero a slight background spiciness, both of those flavours could use a dial up. Piney/tropical fruit (bit of the old pineapple chunks) come through as well. Finishes a touch on the sweeter side with a reasonably mild earthy bitterness (some hop fade is noted here). Once again Stone have nailed a big juicy DIPA. Ahhh, the habanero comes through as some heat in the aftertaste. That 8% ABV is barely registered too. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a dense and creamy/light carbonation. 8/10.

D: Once again Stone have shown themselves to be the masters of their domain, the kings (& queens) of their castle, which is brewing great big beers that taste interesting and go down waaay too easy. Once again I must tip my hat to Stone. Cheers you big old Wookie Greg Koch! 8/10.

Food match: Malaysian or Mexican, both would work well with this.

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To Øl D’Juicy IPA

Total Score: 7.9/10 Caramel1Pineapple1Peach1Tulipglass1

Next from To Øl its D’Juicy IPA, which I imagine is the juiciest DIPA To Øl have ever crafted! EVA! Erhm, yes, so I’m curious if that means the NEIPA craze has reached Denmark, and thus the globe. It’s like beers version of Beatlemania – NEIPAmania! Or it could be that D’Juicy IPA is a standard West Coast DIPA… I did some googling and came up with this: “Our version of a juicy DIPA – citrusy citra, fruity mosaic and well rounded centennial, BUM!”… so inconclusive. Damn you and your tiny beer descriptions To Øl! The label description is interesting though: “The funky colours of the sunset gradient contrast the hazy appearance of the plant. The design tries to inject some nostalgia and longing into to this juicy and fruity IPA”. Juicy.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed, almost cloudy, golden-amber body with a massive 1 inch off-white head that leaves bits of lacing as it descends. Looks rather like a beer, yes. Like the golden hour sunrise colour of the body. Aroma-time commence! 8/10.

S: Straight away I can tell there’s a bit o’ the old hop fade going on [my arch-nemesis]: malt-forward caramel with a piney/citrus hop hint the background. Not a great start, also not To Øl’s fault this beer got to me too late to appreciate the hops – thems the breaks on a vast sea voyage. Hint of peppery spice character in there as well, not a total loss then. 7/10.

T: Damn! This would have tasted soooo fresh canned (or gotten to me earlier). Flavours are moreish enough even with a decent dollop of hop fade – solid caramel base, hints of canned fruits in syrup including pineapple, peach and mango, slight piney/herbal character. AND! Annnd! Hardly any noticeable alcohol (apart from that provided by a dump-truck of sugar) at 8.5% ABV. Actually reminds me of Victory DirtWolf with a different flavour, and that’s my favourite DIPA right there – high praise indeed! 8/10.

M: Mid to heavy syrupy bodied with a thin but dense carbonation and plenty of oiliness to boot. Slightly cloying as a result. 7/10.

D: Damn. I can tell this is a real cracker of a beer even with hop fade, it certainly lives up to the D’Juicy name, and in answer to NEIPAmania – it has commenced now that Denmark is brewing a NEIPA in this D’Juicy IPA [because that was the only criteria for NEIPAmania: Denmark had to produce a NEIPA]. To Øl seriously need to can this liquid gold so we can all enjoy it in the southern hemisphere. 9/10.

Food match: Look, I know it’s an old favourite but: THAI!

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Brewski Conan DIPA

Total Score: 7.1/10 Passionfruit1PapayaMango1Coriander1Tulipglass1

I realise going in to this review that there’s like a 50% chance this is going to be another dud, by dud I mean: another over-fermented brew, from Brewski. Whom I happen to like, despite the problems I’ve had already with Mango Hallon Feber and Pango IPA. I chalk those gone-bad brews down to luck of the draw and move on. So next up is Conan, then I’ve got their Barbarian IPA… wait, Conan and Barbarian? There’s some cultural reference to be found there… Anyway hopefully this will be another Donkeyboy, Donkeyboy was pretty damn tasty – I ended up getting a 2nd bottle of that and downing it along with a bottle of Omnipollo Texas Vanilla Ice Cream Pale Ale… I should have cooked up some Swedish meatballs too, oh well.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy AF Goldenrod body with a thin white cappuccino head on top, looks heaps less excitable than the bad Brewskis I had above, so fingers crossed. These guys definitely like the NEIPA style too. 8/10.

S: Fresh ripe passionfruit tap-dancing all over my olfactory senses, really nice, and explosive passionfruit aroma! Grassy hop note and hint of mango towards the back. It’s difficult to get past that massive passionfruit fragrance though. 9/10.

T: Well my fears have been allayed! This bottle is OK! Flavour is a sweet, almost confectionary passionfruit with hints of mango, pear esters and a slight herbal bitterness towards the finish. It’s a bit sweet with very little to balance it out though, unlike Donkeyboy which had a razor-sharp balance. Which is a shame because you could see where they were going with Conan – NEIPA styled as it is, however it really needs a bit more hop character to balance out the sweetness. At least the bottle is fine, hopefully Barbarian has also survived the long sea voyage to Australia. 6/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice compact carbonation, sits right in that “sweet”-spot in flavour (literal) and mouthfeel (figurative). 8/10.

D: Were parting not such sweet sorrow, this Brewski DIPA finds itself in a bit of a weird zone for categorisation, being both a DIPA and a Dessert Beer with all this sweetness on hand. If it had a bit more depth to it I might have been a fan, but it’s just a singular minded passionfruit affair, with a few minor other flavours. Overall I’m still glad I bought these Brewski beers with their cute labels, each one has been a different adventure into flavours expected and unexpected. This however is a brew for someone who is more a sweet-tooth than I. 7/10.

Food match: Roast turkey with a cranberry and quinoa salad.

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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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