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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Stone Megawheat Double IPA

Total Score: 8.1/10 Orange1Bananas1Orange1Tulipglass1

Yet another Stone brew enticing me towards it with a brash label and (as usual) heady alcohol content (8.4% ABV with this one). Then I had a read of the label: Motueka, Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria hops – yes please! I’m well acquainted with Motueka (which gives IPAs a real orange juice vibe) and Mosaic (mangos very prominent with this hop) however Mandarina Bavaria is a new one for me, I’m guessing mandarin notes [let’s not get ahead of ourselves Doc]. Added to what will no doubt be another fantastic Stone brew is wheat… so yeah, banana and clove flavours too? Sounds like a bit of a fruit salad in a glass, I’m looking forward to it!

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy, with visible yeast particles, orange body with a billowy white head on top. Very much looks more like a Hefeweizen than a DIPA, but I guess that’s the point when you add wheat to a beer. 8/10.

S: Bit of a fruit salad as expected: Orange-flavoured Starburst, banana, orange juice and hints of, yep, you guessed it; Mandarin. Overall it’s a pleasing, if overly sweet, melange of an aroma, one which makes me eager to dive right in to the next bit (my favourite bit) the tasting. 8/10.

T: Headstrong hopping upfront and all over – Stone do nothing by half measures, and for this we – the craft beer collective voices – thank them. Starts off syrupy with banana/mandarin, then mid-palate hits with a biscuity note, follows through to fresh orange juice/Starbursts, and finishes with a pithy orange moderate bitterness. The balance is on par with what we expect from Stone – that is to say excellent, with just the right amount of sweetness, it’s rather a little too easy to drink for 8.4%, but that’s how Stone rolls [needed a pun in there somewhere]. 8/10.

M: Wheat gives this a nice creamy medium bodied consistency, and the carbonation is spot on – dense but not too gassy, hard to fault here. 9/10.

D: Too drinkable for its own good IMO! This is the Stone you bring round to meet your parents (if your parents happen to be avid craft beer drinkers, mine are not appreciators of the fine art of brewing sadly). Aside from being exceptionally easy to drink and tasty the only question you need to ask yourself (apart from: “Do I feel lucky punk?”) is: Are these flavours that I love? Personally I’m not a huge orange fan, if you asked me to list my top fruits orange would be like 10 or 12th on the scale, however I do love bananas… so conflicted right now. 8/10.

Food match: BBQ ribs with slaw and a brioche (if I want to turn the hipster up to 11).

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Fixation The Fix Double IPA

Total Score: 7.8/10 HopFlower1Earth1Coriander1Nonicpint1

The name of this brew conjures up a beer version of the “O Captain! My Captain!” scene from Dead Poets Society, in this version the setting is a beer garden with bearded men chanting “O Fixation! The Fix!” and standing up on tables with nonic pints in hand. Anyhow, Fixation has been for a while a one-trick pony in that they only make a single beer – their IPA. Which is decent but not amazing. So when I spotted The Fix in my local it was only a matter of seconds before I would ‘ave at it, knowing that this brew containing Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops (3 of my favourite hops) would no less be a decent drop than their original IPA. O Fixation! My Fix!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Surprisingly clear golden body with a thin white head – this could easily be mistaken for a Lager if there was not a pervading aroma of hops coming off this brew. I do like my DIPAs to have a bit of cloudiness, and I’ve noticed the more hoppier DIPAs to be cloudy, so not sure what to expect now. 6/10.

S: Full piney/cannabis hop notes straight up and in your face (in a good way). Earthy/green herb and a hint of unripened mango rounds out this big bag o’ hops. Judging by this aroma it’s going to be one tasty West Coast DIPA, this is very much one of those “smells like a bag of hop pellet” type brews, and I’m looking forward to getting my quaff on. In fact it’s hard to tell if there’s any malt behind this wall of hops [not a complaint!]. 8/10.

T: It is reasonably sweet, so there’s definitely malt in there. Flavour hits with hoppy goodness: Pine resin, earthy green herbal notes and light papaya/green mango characters. Towards the finish bitterness ramps up but never becomes as imperious as some US DIPAs can be – it’s a mid to high bitterness, with the aftertaste a scorching whip of rocket (arugula) pepperiness. Very fresh hop character in a slightly rough around the edges package (if this was a homebrew you would be pretty proud of yourself, but as a proper craft brew it needs a touch more balancing). 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation and detectable hop oils on the palate, just a little bit more carbed than it needs to be but otherwise fine. 7/10.

D: Better than Fixation IPA, and I can imagine drinking plenty of this on tap, however us Aussies are quite a lucky bunch these days with DIPAs like Blackmans Angry Reg and Pirate Life IIPA, The Fix falls slightly short of these brews. It’s still quite good though… this is a top Aussie DIPA in my books. 8/10.

Food match: Am I going to say Thai? Nope, maybe… ok you got me again: Thai.

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To Øl DIPA Underground

Total Score: 7.5/10 PapayaMango1Pineapple1HopFlower1Tulipglass1

To Øl, gypsy brewers from Denmark who I’ve (surprisingly) never reviewed a beer of before, come almost as highly regarded as my favourite Danish gypsy brewer: Mikkeller. So it has been a while for me to get to To Øl (who I’m going to pronounce as “to-ol” because I have no idea what that O with the slash through it is and I’m too not-Danish-enough to find out) however I’m finally there with one of my favourite brewery-introductory styles, the ever face-punching American Double IPA. How will they fare versus Mikkeller or my favourite DIPA (Victory DirtWolf)? Watch this space to find out… err, or read the review just below this line… yep, just a little bit further down… there you go.

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Caramel-tinged hazed amber body with a decent (for 8.5% ABV) half centimetre off-white head that sticks around for a while, leaving lace scrawl as it recedes. One of the more impressive DIPAs I’ve seen in a while, though just a touch on the brown side colour-wise. 9/10.

S: Hop resin to the fore with a real piney/cannabis that mingles with green mangoes – ahh, my old friend Mosaic! Underpinning this solid hop hit is a caramel/biscuit malt base. Overall this is a proper West Coast DIPA aroma – clean with a bold hop character and some caramel goodness to balance it all out. 8/10.

T: Intriguingly flavour comes through with East Coast sweetness and tropical flavours: Mango, papaya, hint of pineapple. Piney/earthy notes along with the caramel base are there, however this is a West Coast DIPA that has done a U-turn on US Route 20 in Oregon and headed back to New England as some sort of flippant statement (not that I’m complaining). Apart from the almost candy-truck sweetness there is almost a lack of any of that 8.5% ABV – most impressive. Bitterness is very mild given the style. The only thing holding this beer back is sugar: Too much. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, bit cloying because of that aforementioned sugar, with a light carbonation. 7/10.

D: Well my first To Øl brew and I would put it in the “not-great but also not crap” pile. Compared to Mikkeller so far it beats Cream Ale (which I thought was as boring as a yacht race in a lake of solidified jelly). It’s just not different enough to warrant the $13/can price tag here in Oz, if it was cheaper it would be alright (though I don’t think my pancreas can handle more sugar). 8/10.

Food match: Chargrilled beef to cut through that sugar, with grilled vegetables.

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