White Rabbit Dark Ale

Total Score: 6.9/10 BrownSugar1DarkFruits1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Next up on my cavalcade of star Australian craft beers: White Rabbit Dark Ale! A brew I am well fond of, being sometimes the only craft beer sold in certain bars worth its salt (when compared to the CUB’s, Toohey’s and XXXX’s of this world *boo-hiss*). Upfront, just to spoil my review, I like Dark Ale more than White Ale, though neither are that great: They’re half-decent, wishy-washy craft brews for the masses… but by all means continue reading my review, that is what you came for.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents itself as the beer equivalent of Coca Trademarked-Beverage – with a hazed cola-coloured body and a thin beige head on top. Not much carbonation action going on inside the glass – suggestive of a heavier bodied Ale. 7/10.

S: Big on dark fruits with a prune/raisin/plum & grandmas pudding nose, throw in some molasses (as most grandmas are likely to do) and you cap off a festive fruit ester driven English Brown Ale that isn’t really lacking in much, without being spectacular – it’s just plain old good. 7/10.

T: Flavour is alright – it pushes all the buttons you expected above, with a touch of herbal hops in the finish. Again it isn’t spectacular, simply good and nothing more. There’s a promise of so many rich bold malts that are leaving me wanting, I imagine a version of this beer at 6% ABV and go “Fuck yeah!” to myself, this is the thing that would make Dark Ale stand out from the fast swelling ranks of awesome Aussie craft beers – and there are some real corkers out there these days. But I digress. 7/10.

M: Body a slight let-down: Mid to light, watery with a light carbonation. 6/10.

D: Another easy drinking brew from White Rabbit that hopefully lulls more and more unsuspecting [insert alcoholic beverage here] drinkers into drinking craft beer and thus increasing the exposure and markets for craft beer so we can all bask in the future glory of decent affordable ales for all! At least that’s my less pessimistic line of thinking these days – bring craft to the masses so the brewers can theoretically brew more tasty beers for Doc. Truth is craft beer is getting more expensive as it gets more popular, or inflation’s a bitch, one of those two things causing me to question the value of these mild taste-vacuums* on the market. 7/10.

Food match: [insert that classic stew reference from Arrested Development here].

*”Too harsh brah” or “burn!”? You tell me.

Standard

Rusty Water Dark Malt Burnt Toffee Ale

Total Score: 6.3/10 Caramel1Nut1BrownSugar1Nonicpint1

Rusty Water Brewery, you’ve probably never ‘eard of ‘em, neither ‘ad I until my lovely folks bought back a mixed 4-pack of their brews from their trip to Phillip Island (aka “the place where motorcycles go round and round”). In any case I’m always up for reviewing any beers anybody sends/gives me (saves me from buying them) so I thank Ma & Pa and dedicate this review to them… not that they’ll ever read it… cheers anyway!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Clear caramel brown body with a foamy beige head on top that soon disappears. Dark malts ahoy me mateys! [I haven’t done the pirate jokes for a while – they’re next on my crap humour rotation, apologies to all]. 6/10.

S: Burnt toffee they say? It might be splitting hairs but the aroma is more unsinged caramel with a hint of peanut… you could say this is the peanut brittle of beers – I do enjoy a good brittle! Touch of brown sugar in there as well. Expecting some decent malt complexity *fingers crossed*. 7/10.

T: Light smokiness comes to the fore, followed by mixed nuts, caramel, brown sugar and an earthy toasty hop finish. The sweet/bitter balance is good, you might even say excellent, however the flavour is too muted – when one wants the bombast of an American brew one is left wanting for more with this Rusty Water. 6/10.

M: Mid to light, a touch on the watery side, with a light carbonation. More body and flavour = yes please. 7/10.

D: The label says “a BIG BOLD beer” – I wouldn’t call it big or bold but it is drinkable, especially as a heady caramel take on the English Brown Ale style. Unfortunately the understated flavours prevent this delightful peanut brittle beer from taking off. Just as well as I will never likely see this brew again unless my MotoGP career takes off [hey it could happen – if I was 20yrs younger and 30kgs lighter :P]. If you do get a chance to find it while you’re down Phillip Island way I say give it a go, but obviously don’t go out of your way to find it (it’s not trade-worthy). 6/10.

Food match: Cheese platter with the creamier cheeses, or roast beef/lamb, stews and hearty soups are also a winner.

Standard

Cavalier Brown Ale

Total Score: 6.5/10 Wood1 Nut1 Earth1 Nonicpint1

Cavalier Brown Ale, which I think I’ve had several times before (and spoke highly of), is the next head on my chopping block… sometimes I feel like a beer-executioner, donning a black hood and wiping clean my glass of Ale with the conviction that I am serving some sort of beer justice with my pen [which is actually a keyboard]. I almost feel like my reviews are a community service to beer-drinkers around the world, but then I remind myself that taste is highly subjective and my 10 out of 10 is another man’s trash… here’s to wishing Cavalier the best of luck 😉

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents a rich hazy mahogany body with a beige half centimetre head. It’s always great to see a truly brown Brown Ale (some of these Brown Ales do push the gamut of their namesake). 8/10.

S: The aroma is as rich and exciting as a Brown Ale can get with notes of: Wood and earthy/nutty hops, followed by hints of chocolate and toffee. A touch of spring water lingers on as well, letting you know that Cavalier haven’t skimped on water quality for their brews. Phantasmagorically exceptional Brown nose! 9/10.

T: Flavour is a step backwards, followed by a Three Stooges comical trip over… there are notes of the above flavours (woody/nutty/earthy hops) but there isn’t enough of a sweet malt base to carry it through. Far too watery as well. Finishes with a tinge of bitterness from the earthy hops. Lacklustre taste abounds with this Brown. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a decent enough dense carbonation… but that wateriness distracts in the feel. 6/10.

D: Needs way more malt sweetness, and maybe a few more hops, to make it exceptional. As it is this is an average Brown Ale – a missed opportunity for Cavalier to assert itself in a market that is becoming flooded with great craft brewers (especially the exponential growth of the Australian brewing scene, which is spectacular!)… I really wanted this to be the Cavalier brew I loved but forgot about all those years ago, oh well – the hunt continues then. 5/10.

Food match: The nutty/earthiness of this brew made me think of an Indonesian dish: Gado-gado, which would suit this beer well.

Standard

Burleigh Brewing Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer

Total Score: 5.1/10 Malt1 Caramel1 Coconut1 Nonicpint1

There is probably no point posting this review because: a) It was a limited release from Burleigh Brewing 3 years ago and b) [SPOILER ALERT] It’s average at best. But I’m going to post it anyway, it will soon be one of many when I reach 500 bruviews. *In my creepiest voice* One of many, one of many, one of many… etc.

Poured from a 650ml “tallie” into a pint glass (not all of it obviously – we’ll see how I go).

A: The body poured a nice golden brown, much like the ANZAC biscuit it aims to imitate. The head was a very minimal white lacing but overall I was pleased with the colour of the Ale more than anything else. 6/10.

S: Light dusting of vanilla with a burnt coconut base. There is a malty grain scent underlying the whole operation here but otherwise this Ale is as advertised on the bottle. 8/10.

T: Really quite a letdown – and I’ll tell you why; the bottle makes grand claims of vanilla, rich coconut and a creamy mouthfeel and I’m getting none of that, just a ho-hum run of the mill malty brown Ale with no real excitement or exotic flavours to speak of. Yes if this were a cheaper Ale I would be mildly impressed, but at its price point and factoring in all the crap they wrote on the side of the bottle I am disappointed. What does it taste like? A grain driven malt with a back note of toasted caramel and ne’er a single hop to speak of… if I close my eyes and try really hard I can conjure up a minuscule hint of coconut. 4/10.

M: Slightly flat, a little creamy bordering on watery. 6/10.

D: I had my rant above, yeah if was cheaper (and there weren’t fine options like LCPA or Stone & Wood available) I would drink it. Would I session up with it? Not really, it’s a bit dull and insipid to be frank. My advice: spend your money on Little Creatures or Cooper’s Dark Ale (if you want a more appropriate Australian brown Ale experience). 4/10.

Food Match: Something light in flavour to match the Ale’s uninspired taste… Tofu! In a salad! Without dressing! Maybe also some sort of cottage pie will do… no sauce though, you won’t even taste the beer otherwise.

Standard

4 Pines Keller Door Imperial India Brown Ale

Total Score: 8/10 BrownSugar1 HopFlower1 Nut1 Nonicpint1

4 Pines Keller Door is like the East Coast [Australia you knuckleheaded Yanks!] version of Little Creatures Single Batch… only not as good… but I have a feeling that 4 Pines may be on to something with this oddly named Imperial India Brown Ale (which initialises as IIBA). Let’s stop and have a look at this bizarre etymology: Imperial (from Russian Imperial Stout, high ABV beer made for the Czars), India (from India Pale Ale, high ABV beer made for British troops in India) and Brown Ale (we know Brown Ale). The peculiar part of the name is having “Imperial” and “India” together – which both denote higher ABV brews, and this is only 8% ABV, not exactly challenging for someone who drinks Belgian Tripels for breakfast [I wish!].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazy dark chocolate bodied with an ample enough 2cm beige head. 8/10.

S: A pleasing mixture of spices (allspice and pepper), dark berries (blackberry, currant and mulberry), a hint of vanilla, and a bold floral hop back note. Quite a tasty full aroma, in fact I sat for a moment simply taking a couple full whiffs before proceeding. 9/10.

T: Flavour brings out brown sugar, dumps it on your tongue, with that floral hop finish. There is some nuttiness in there as well, along with pine/citric hops, and the dryness of the dark berries plays out as well. Fruity, nutty, berry interesting and complex, this is by far the best Keller Door release yet… unless the ESB was a Keller Door release, that was cracking too. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with an almost flat carbonation. 6/10.

D: I’m impressed by this solid effort from 4 Pines, proving they aren’t just a 4 trick pony (Get it!? Get it!?). This is one brew I could sip sitting by a fire in my wingback chair [I do actually own a wingback chair] and quietly while away the evening puffing from my Meerschaum pipe [I don’t actually own a pipe]. One criticism – the price is a bit of a swift kick in the man-plums, 4 Pines really need to reign in their penchant for sailing around in elaborate gold plated yachts and reduce the price of their brews a little. 8/10.

Food match: I could really imagine drinking this with a delicious Beef Rogan Josh or a Chicken Korma, maybe that’s why they put “India” in the name? More likely I’ve been sub-consciously railroaded into thinking about Indian food because of the name, either way.

Standard

Abita Turbodog

Total Score: 8/10 Chocolate1 Caramel1 Barley1 Nonicpint1

Beer from Louisiana? Why not! This is my first Abita brew and the entry-level pricing of $19.80 for a six-pack makes me apprehensive, however I wanted to get a nice dark winter beer and the label made it sound like something that would fit the bill nicely. Plus I like brews that pack in pale, crystal and chocolate malts, the more the merry I say. Well here goes beer adventurers. If I’m not back in five minutes please notify the authorities.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents well with a deep (clear) seal brown body and a generous 3cm khaki head that soon reduces to a thick half centimetre foam. 5/10.

S: Milk chocolate, brown sugar and hints of sweet malt all combine to create a luscious fragrance. As intoxicating as it is there is a notable lack of anything that can be described as hops (i.e. all aboard the malt train people). 7/10.

T: Quite excellent! It is as expected (a malt dominated Ale) but the amount of malt characters it manages to pack in is impressive. There are notes of: milk and dark chocolate, caramel, toffee and roasted barley. The finish is dry with the tiniest hint of herbal hops. After taste brings more sweetness. There is a light metallic twang as well but we’ll forgive it. 9/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with slight wateriness and light carbonation. 5/10.

D: Well, I like it. I like it a lot. It fills a gaping malt-shaped hole in my tongue, if you can imagine it, and is perhaps for me the most interesting English (American) Brown Ale I’ve had to date, primarily due to the lack of hops and the tastiness of the malts. Also there is a decent amount of complexity for what is essentially a cheap beer (not here but in the USA). Would I buy it again? Yes. Does it fill a fridge door niche of malty goodness? Yes. Should I stop asking questions and just get it? Yes. 9/10.

Food match: Borderline dessert beer we have here, but savoury is also a good pick: It’s stew-time baby!*

*See what I did there?

Standard