Mornington Peninsula IPA

Total Score: 6.45/10 Earth1Nut1HopFlower1Tulipglass1

I was sure that I had tried most of the Mornington Peninsula brews until I realised I was actually thinking about Prickly Moses for some reason [and I was probably drunk]. Regardless the aptly, some would perhaps say: boringly named, IPA has recently found its way into my tiny new housemate’s fridge where I can only fit a maximum of 3 cans/bottles at a time lest I upset demons unbeknownst to God and man, which is coincidentally a good way to lose weight (I call it the “tiny fridge diet – Patent Pending”) so it’s time to add to my Mornington Peninsula repertoire with this: their “I-really-need-a-clever-pun-name-now” IPA.

Poured from an oddly 330ml (in Australia the land of 375ml) can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents a hazed brown-tinged amber body with a foamy 2 cm off-white head which scales back to 1 cm leaving some decent lacing on the side of the glass. Head bubbles are a bit OTT but the rest is good. 7/10.

S: Tropical fruit: Pineapple and papaya spring to mind, along with some chewy caramel centre and earthy notes towards the finish. A touch of dustiness comes across from the earthy hops and the whole aroma tends to take on a dirty/earthy/dusty vibe for better (or worse – I happen to not mind my beers and martinis dirty but it is an eclectic preference for others). 7/10.

T: Dirty/earthy/dusty with some nuttiness thrown in – almost a Brown Ale/IPA hybrid, however the tropical hops noted above take a real backseat here, and some punk-ass piney characters drop in towards the finish to give it that “hey it’s an IPA mate!” assertive bitterness. The whole balance is all over the shop like an angry rhesus macaque with a chainsaw causing insane amounts of property damage whilst upsetting the shopkeepers pregnant wife causing her to go into premature labour [phew that was one of my most elaborate metaphor capers yet!]. 6/10.

M: Almost medium bodied with a thin/light carbonation, nothing exciting. 6/10.

D: So the TL;DR (the take-away point if you will): If you want an IPA these days there are a plethora, no a MULTITUDE of excellent choices so I wouldn’t go out of my way for Mornington Peninsula’s IPA, though it is not bad by any stretch, it is by this experienced IPA drinkers opinion an average at best representation of the style. Also possibly the dusty-dirty-earthiest (as if dirt was literally scoped into the fermentation vats during brewing) IPAs on this planet – if that’s your kind of thing I say “Do it!”. 7/10.

Food match: Moss or lichen? Seriously a hearty stew with mushrooms will do.

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Shepherd Neame India Pale Ale

Total Score: 6.1/10 Caramel1 BrownSugar1 Coriander1 Nonicpint1

Well, well, well, well… (well) what do we have here from Shepherd Neame, aka “The Other SN” or “Not Sierra Nevada But Its English Cousin”… an India Pale Ale with a fancy old school label that was first introduced in 2012 – how’s that for anachronism from Britain’s oldest brewery? Pretty good I say. Anyway what I’m expecting from this English style IPA (as opposed to the now default American style) is a malty forward ale with what I hope are English driven hop flavours such as: Earthy/floral and if we’re lucky – tea leaf characters… well here goes something.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into nonic pint.

A: Presents a clear spot-on SAE/ECE amber (think turn signals on a car) body with a decent tight 1 cm Ecru head, which dissolves slowly to leave a thin lace cover on top. A decent head for an English beer to be sure. 8/10.

S: Aroma is a mixed bag – strangely has the aroma of Gin up front followed by sweet toffee candy malt, a grainy centre and a hint of light earthy floral hops in the background. Nothing leaps out at you, just a pubish (like that of a pub, mind out of the gutter you) English IPA “Move along sonny” *in my best Pommy cop accent*. 6/10.

T: Sweet toffee/caramel malts are almost in your face but not quite, the mid palate is a bit ‘meh’ there’s not much going on past the malt, finishes with a slight medicinal herb bitterness. The whole flavour profile could do with an added hop character – something more floral or tea-like, as it is there’s nothing exciting enough to warrant a second purchase [wow I’m really getting snobbish with my beer recommendations these days]. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, a tad watery for the style, with a light English pub carbonation – TL;DR Body weak, fizz good. 6/10.

D: Well it started out good with the appearance… too bad that’s the lowest weighing in my scores… otherwise TOSN* has done little to impress this almost outright beer snob, aka me [now]. Which is a shame because I usually enjoy TOSN brews, just felt a bit short changed by this soulless cash-grab of a brew [wow I’m really becoming a complete cynic these days]. Recommendation: Get Spitfire instead. Spitfire is great. 6/10.

Food match: If-I-had-a-son-I-would-name-him Stew.

*Read my introduction ppl.

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Cricketers Arms Captain’s IPA

Total Score: 5.05/10 Caramel1 Biscuit1 Lemon1 Nonicpint1

We meet again Cricketers Arms. Last time it was your Lager which I remarked at the time was as “drinkable as a glass of cold water in Antarctica”, granted that was a while back and I was a bit more scathing in my reviews and had wittier banter (probably from all the Witbiers I used to drink) in any case my reviews have softened so perhaps you stand a chance of not being burned like a school fete sausage in the seventh circle of hell… wait that was fairly witty, sorry Cricketers Arms *cracks knuckles*.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Caramel-tinged hazy ochre body with a pockmarked half centimetre cream coloured head. Looks aiight then, like the caramel tinge in the body, makes me think of caramel and the acquisition of said caramel. 7/10.

S: Floral and citric hop notes with toffee and biscuit notes. Certainly well within the bounds of a decent English IPA without being exhilarating in the slightest (and how English is that of a brew?). Could be a bit light in hop flavour judging by the aroma. I hope not. 7/10.

T: Sweet and malty upfront with those toffee/biscuit characters, then the hop notes come in and go “don’t forget we’re here!” with a muted floral/citric bitterness towards the end. At this point you’re thinking “not bad”, then comes the aftertaste which is oddly chemical, funky with a touch of astringency that feels out of place. Also even for an English IPA there isn’t enough hops balancing out the malt, which if this was a Belgian Tripel – not a problem in the slightest, but because of the aftertaste… well, not good. 4/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, lighter and more watery than it should be, with a slightly gassy carbonation (Aussie brewers strike again with the CO2). 5/10.

D: I think Dr. Frankenstein would be impressed with the mishmash nature of this brew: An elbow from here, a toenail from there, bingo – Frankenbeer’s monster. I on the other hand am not rapt with having my tastebuds taken for a ride on some bizarre roller-coaster… also gassy beers? Go away 1980’s, 90’s and early 2000 – I don’t need you anymore – I’ve got my power laces, hoverboards and tasty small-batch beers to keep me sated. 5/10.

Food match: Gaviscon liquid or dual action – that should help settle the stomach so you can move on to a better beer.

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Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Total Score: 8.35/10 Wood1 Caramel1 Earth1 Tulipglass1

Yes, yes, Hitachino Nest! This time I’ve got my hands on their Japanese Classic Ale, done in an English [read: less hops, more malt than an American] India Pale Ale. Once again Hitachino Nest brings a unique Japanese craft brewers eye to the classic English IPA style by introducing American Chinook hops, German Munich malt, and in a日本人 twist: Maturing in cedar barrels. Well I’m sold. Let’s see if Hitachino has maintained its remarkable sense of idiosyncrasy along with exceptional quality and flavour [yes I have little doubt this will be anything other than outstanding].

Poured from a 330ml into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy, dotted with yeast particle deep tangerine body with a thin cream coloured lace for a head. Because yeast particles and I get along my score for this is perhaps higher than it should be. 8/10.

S: A big toffee note on this one, with hints of wood from the cedar, earthy tones, the toffee is quite sweet with nuttiness as well… again Hitachino cannot be accused of being ordinary. Cedar is awesome, I’m surprised it isn’t used in more brews. 8/10.

T: Complexity is again Hitachino’s strong point – the notes of sweet nutty toffee mingle with cedar wood, earthy/piney Chinook hops finish with a hint of bitterness… then throw in a hint of black pepper. Yes this one has characters of an English IPA but with a smattering of other tastes to elevate this to a new level. If you don’t like this brew or you think it needs more hops – you need a tongue transplant, because damn this is fantastic! 9/10.

M: Mid to light, borderline medium bodied with a nice creamy carbonation. Body is good, not great. 7/10.

D: So the big question, for me at least, is how does it compare to other Hitachino Nest brews? Well it’s up there with their White Ale, Red Rice Ale and the Celebration Ale, but again it is a different (quite woody) take on a classic style, so they’re really all “must try” brews – if you, like I, have tried hundreds upon hundreds of beers and you haven’t had a Hitachino brew – then expect the unexpected… but not too much – I don’t want to overhype the beer [you should never overhype the beer: I guarantee I’ll be disappointed with my first Westvleteren XII now]. Get this beer. 8/10.

Food match: I know I have a habit of recommending cuisines from the same country as the beer but this would really hit the spot with green bean and shiitake tempura with ponzu mayo, kampai!

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