To Øl Mr. Pink 2018 Edition

Total Score: 7.8/10 Earth1RedApple1Peppercorns1Nonicpint1

Yep, another of the To Øl Reservoir Dogs series, this time it’s Mr. Pink 2018 Edition. I’ve really enjoyed the innovation Mr. To Øl has put into these brews, so far they’ve been intriguing and tasty drops, with Mr. White being a beer I would love to get again – that’s the biggest shame with limited release beers like this: sometimes you never see/taste them ever again. So what’s Mr. Pink all about? Well it’s an IPA brewed beetroot. Bit of an East Coast meets Eastern Europe vibe going on. I’m not a massive fan of beetroot (I find the combination of root vegetable and overbearing sweetness a bit unsettling), though I am interested to see what shade of pink Mr. Pink will be. Plus it’s a beer from To Øl, it’ll be good (if not great).

Poured from a 500ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Holy shit! This thing looks exactly like beetroot juice (opaque-purple) only with a massive 1.5 inch pink head that slowly falls back. It’s not often I’m flabbergasted by the look of a beer but To Øl got me here, well played sir! 9/10.

S: The usual NEIPA suspects: tropical-accented (pineapple) citrus hop notes, mingle with beetroot (of course), earthy/spicy/peppery tones, and a floral finish. The aroma character is sweet, delicate, earthy and spicy – it’s quite a fragrant aroma, I could get this in a cologne if Calvin Klein would just return my calls already. 10/10.

T: Well… it’s definitely a vegetable beer, no compunctions about that. Flavour profile is beetroot all over: earthy/spicy and sweet. NEIPA notes come in with a touch of pineapple, hints of grapefruit, and apple – yep, that’s right: apple. I suspect the interaction between the beetroot flavours and the NEIPA flavours is giving off a touch of apple, it’s not something I normally find in IPAs or Pale Ales, so there you go. Finishes earthy dry with a mild herbal bitterness. Look flavour-wise this is going to be a polarising beer, I’m not a fan but I can see how others might dig this. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is decent: Medium bodied with a medium/dense carbonation… slightly gassy, but not OTT. 8/10.

D: Like I said this beer is a polarising one. I’m not a huge fan. The aroma was fantastic though. Just the flavour of beetroot – that earthy/sweet mix that plays tricks with my tongue – also it doesn’t blend well with NEIPA flavours IMO. Maybe if it was a straight beetroot beer it might have been less disharmonious, who knows. Still I wasn’t disappointed I tried it – I’m always happy to experiment when it comes to beers, and this was an interesting experiment to say the least. 7/10.

Food match: Earthy dishes with mushrooms and beetroot will pair well with this.

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3 Ravens Moussey Juicy Chocolate Milkshake NEBIPA

Total Score: 7.8/10 Chocolate1Nut1Orange1Nonicpint1

Wow this one sounds like a Frankenstein’s monster of a brew: 3 Ravens Moussey Juicy Chocolate Milkshake NEBIPA (New England Black India Pale Ale). Yep, it’s exactly what you were thinking: regular Juicy (which is a NEIPA) mixed with chocolate, vanilla, lactose (for body) and pectin (also for body???)… don’t forget triticale (hybrid wheat/rye) and oats. This is going to be a chewy beer then. So I guess 3 Ravens haven’t run dry on ways to milk their Juicy series, they’ve already released: Juicy, Extra Juicy, Lemon Juicy, Citra Juicy, Yuzu Juicy, etc… all they need to do now is add: Cherry Juicy, Lime Juicy, Atomic Juicy… well they really could go on forever, although I’m not a fan of the idea of Durian Juicy, it is indeed possible.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Almost spot-on chocolate brown with a firm-packed mocha head that leaves some patchy lace on the side of the glass as it goes down. Looks as chunky as I imagined from the ingredients list – this should be good if the flavours work. 8/10.

S: Roasted cacao and dark chocolate notes mingle with an orange hint and a sweet sugary caramel malt base. They could probably have named it “Jaffa Juicy” if that orange comes through like I’m expecting it to. Now I remember what pectin is – it’s used as a gelling agent in jellies – this has a very dessert jelly-like aroma to it (for better or worse). 7/10.

T: Roasted cacao and powered chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate leads the palate, mid hop orange citrus character has a look in but the chocolate is the master of this domain. Nutty and slight caramel malts bring in a bit of sweetness. Finishes more dry than anything else. Aftertaste is powdered chocolate and dry. Overall this isn’t as crazy a flavour profile as expected and reasonably well-balanced too – I would buy this again. 8/10.

M: As expected Moussey Juicy has a nice creamy mouthfeel, medium bodied with a dense carbonation. Considering the ingredients though I feel like they worked hard for a texture that is thinner than it should be. Still good though. 8/10.

D: Weirdly, even though I originally thought this beer might crash and burn it hasn’t, in fact I could drink this as a decent, chocolate-driven Black IPA in winter. It fits the bill as something not-quite-but-almost-a-stout and a good halfway between the usually citrus-driven IPAs and chocolate/roasted coffee Stouts. Not sure what they pulled off but 3 Ravens did pull off something here. 8/10.

Food match: Banquet roasted meats and medieval style cuisine springs to mind.

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Black Hops FIENS

Total Score: 9/10 Clove1Vanilla1DarkFruits1Tulipglass1

Been looking forward to this Black Hops FIENS, or French Imperial Egg-Nog Stout, since it came out while I was on vay-k. Black Hops, inspired by brewers in the 1800’s, brewed a single Eggnog Stout version of this as their very first beer back in 2015. The Imperial version of said beer has never been released until now. FIENS is brewed with brandy, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and French Saison yeast – this is going to be an 11% ABV Imperial Stout to be reckoned with methinks. For a brewer that was kick-started only 3 years ago and can now be found in bottle-shops all over Brisbane and possibly elsewhere in Australia, it’s been a bit of a fairy-tale ascension in the vein of Pirate Life, time will tell if they sell up (out?) too.

Poured from a 375ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents a deep murky black-hole of a brew, with a dense-packed khaki foam that compacts and leaves lace-work inside the glass. I know I’m a sucker for Stouts but the head retention of this 11% ABV Imp Stout is fantastic. 9/10.

S: Woah! [that’s a Keanu Reeves “woah” BTW] BIG (Bearing Immense Gusto) brandy/vanilla/cinnamon/nutmeg aroma really drives home the eggnog aspect of this Imperial Stout. The sweetness in the aroma leads one to think this will be more on the dessert side, but aromas can be misleading. Overall a nice sweet, floral and spicy fragrance – perfume-like even. 9/10.

T: Sooo good! All of the above flavours: brandy, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and floral notes mingle with a dark fruit sweetness and a long dry spicy finish from the Saison yeast. It’s a bit in-your-face, scratch that: it’s tap-dancing-all-over-your-face with flavour, and a slight boozy brandy burn towards the back of the throat. But it is oh-so-good… it’s hard to not like what Black Hops have done here with this flavour profile. The booze does come through a bit in the aftertaste though. 9/10.

M: Heavy-bodied with a velvety carbonation, up there with Founders in the mouthfeel department, though body like this is to be expected at 11%. 9/10.

D: Intense and spicy with a floral/boozy touch of brandy – the genius here is in mixing eggnog flavours with Stout – it seems so obvious when you’ve tried it: it just works. This is a classic high ABV sipper beer right here. Let’s talk about innovation in Australia: we invented the black box, handheld electric drills, Wi-Fi, penicillin, Ultrasound, and now Eggnog Stout – I’m flush with pride right now: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Something-something-something! [Oi!] 9/10.

Food match: Food is a good idea… Coq au vin with crusty bread this for sure.

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Omnipollo Hilma

Total Score: 8.1/10 Tea1Lemon1Bread1Nonicpint1

This next review has to be one of the weirdest/original ideas for a beer: Omnipollo Hilma Vanilla Flippin’s Burgers Fries India Pale Ale. It’s got actual hamburgers and french fries as ingredients – no joke! Once again Omnipollo have stepped up and given us a crazy AF brew, regardless of whether or not the burgers/fries flavour comes through it’s already off to a cracking start… man, how nuts are Omnipollo, I love it! Makes Mikkeller seem pedestrian when it comes to beer flavour ideas, and that’s saying something. Also there’s a lot to be said about the novelty factor when it comes to beers like this – I’m pretty much sold as soon as I hear that there’s something weird being thrown into a mash tun, I’m a sucker for novelty, cheers Omnipollo!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy golden body – like a golden hour sunset, with a nice dense cream-coloured head that quickly drops back leaving lace splotches and a thin creamy blanket. Nice looking IPA here, very inviting. 8/10.

S: Lemon and vanilla upfront, bit like Omnipollo/Buxton’s Original Ice Cream Pale with the aroma profile, with a touch of salt and a hint of bready character (must be the addition of the burgers/fries). Aroma-wise it’s just a nice sweet IPA with a little sumptin-sumptin. Another whiff reveals a tea-leaf note… actually this is more complex than I first thought. 8/10.

T: Funky right off the bat. Flavour hits with that tea-leaf and bready/salty combo, it’s a bit more burger-influenced than I was expecting, least if that’s where the tea-leaf character is coming from. Other flavours that come in are: Lemon, vanilla, hint of piney hops, and a long dry floral finish. An odd fellow of a brew to be sure, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Omnipollo. It’s not all good news: that lemon comes through a bit artificial, and the aftertaste is… unsettling. However I’m splitting hairs – this is a decent IPA overall. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice creamy/dense carbonation that stands out from the crowd of (sometimes) weak/thin IPAs. I suspect this has oats/lactose for body. 9/10.

D: A solid IPA, and it’s saying something that this is one of my lowest rated Omnipollo beers to date [yeah it says I’m a total Omnipollo fanboy, lol!]. The burger/fries addition is subtle but ever-present, I’m looking forward to what weird/wild direction Omnipollo goes in next, always entertaining! 8/10.

Food match: It’s obvious: Burgers n’ fries yo (plus a vanilla milkshake).

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Buxton/Omnipollo Original Popsicle Ice Cream Pils

Total Score: 8.4/10 PapayaMango1Vanilla1Flowers1Tulipglass1

Brewed in collaboration with Buxton Brewery in England, I have in front of me yet another ice cream beer. I’m hooked on these ice cream beers – just seeing them triggers a Pavlovian response, I must try them all! This time Buxton/Omnipollo state: “An icecreamification of a pilsner and attempt to bend your mind. Brewed with mango, milk sugar and our favourite hops.” I’m really not sure what mad-science goes on in those breweries to produce such insane beers, but whatever they’re doing it’s working – I’m hooked and want more (even ended up buying a couple more bottles of the Original Ice Cream Pale after reviewing it)… I’ve got goose bumps pouring this Popsicle Pils into my Duvel tulip, yes, I need to get a life.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Nice Jonquil-coloured cloudy body with a thin white head that quickly drops back to lace splotches on top. That colour is great – that light cloudy yellow is so appealing for some reason. 8/10.

S: Freaking nailed it! What a smashing aroma: sweet/creamy vanilla with hints of mango, jack-fruit and floral notes. Is this a Pilsner in any sense of the word? Not really no. Do I care in the slightest? Hell no! This is the Buxton/Omnipollo Ice Cream beer collaboration at it’s greatest: a total disregard of beer styles for the sake of an awesome dessert brew, and I love it. 10/10.

T: Intriguingly not as crazy as I was expecting (or as Original Ice Cream Pale was) with a prominent mango note upfront, less sweet/creamy vanilla than expected, potpourri character, a slight grainy wisp, a touch of herbal character, and a long dry finish with hints of bitterness. Much less sweet than the aroma (and my prior experience of Omnipollo as a brewer) would leave me to believe. Still it’s an interesting brew, and it gets better as it warms, I was just expecting a bit more of that ice cream sweetness – more dessert, less refreshing crispness. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, almost medium bodied, with a fairly creamy carbonation and a bit of fizz. 8/10.

D: Not the best in this series, but nonetheless a decent brew. I thought Original Ice Cream Pale was a bit one of a kind and this proves it to some extent. Makes me wonder if the difference between Ales and Lagers is at play here – Ales are generally more sweet and full flavoured, was the yeast the reason for Popsicle not popping with me? Only Buxton and Omnipollo know… 8/10.

Food match: Chicken dishes with thyme and lemon spring to mind.

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Stone & Wood Pilot Batch Wilderness Honey Cream Ale

Total Score: 7.15/10 Clove1Honeycomb1Peppercorns1Nonicpint1

My pet peeve with beers #647: Brewers that get the hype-train rolling out of the station (i.e. the social media barrage of information about a limited release beer which gets every craft lover frothing at the bit weeks before said beer is even released) only to produce a minuscule amount of supply to meet the demand that is already at the station, newspapers in hand, waiting to board a train that will never arrive for them because a bottle shop manager has to ration out single bottles to a select customers *and breathe*. Stone & Wood is guilty of this sin (along with many other Aussie brewers I could name but for brevity’s sake). This Stone & Wood Pilot Batch Wilderness Honey Cream Ale – was literally the 1 bottle I could get my hands on, let’s see if it’s worth its weight in honey [cream ale].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed pale straw body with a fluffy white cappuccino 1 centimetre head on top that slowly compacts. My own experience with the Cream Ale style is rather limited (I’ve reviewed 1 so far: Mikkeller Cream Ale) so I turn to the 2015 BJCP for guidance: it says: “Pale straw” – bingo! “Brilliant, sparkling clarity” – oh dear. 8/10.

S: Surprisingly spicy/peppery on the nose, with a hint of honey, some smoke, dry crackers and a light floral/earthy tone throughout. This is not what I imagined when I signed up for “Honey Cream Ale” (I was picturing a beer that would put a grin on Winnie the Pooh’s dial), but it seems interesting nonetheless. More honey, and the sweetness that generally accompanies it, would be nice. 7/10.

T: Look, this is an odd… beer. Flavour profile bounces all over the place, not really knowing where to land – spicy clove, ginger and pepper notes, drrrry cracker centre, hints of wild floral and earthy honey that touches briefly on smoke, wood character, grainy tinge, back to a long dry finish, and not much else: boing, boing, boing = flavour profile. As the label states “Dreamt up by an artist, a local inventor and a wild chef…”, uh-huh, “death by some sort of crazy committee” I say. 7/10.

M: The base beer in this Cream Ale is similar to S&W’s other brews – mid to light bodied, medium carbonation, to style if not tedious. 8/10.

D: Far from the best in the S&W oeuvre, I liked the promise, the bold visionary ideals this brew embodies, but the execution, and let’s face it: the whole artist/inventor/chef collaboration was probably never going to produce a mind-shattering beer anyway, is lacking overall. Which is a shame. 7/10.

Food match: I would pop a kangaroo steak on the grill for this one – keep it Aussie.

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Van Dieman Hedgerow 2016 Barrel Aged Sour

Total Score: 6.3/10 Wood1RedWine1Earth1Tulipglass1

Next in my sights from Van Dieman is their Hedgerow 2016 Barrel Aged Sour. The label speaks for itself: “Brewed with sloe berries, hawthorn berries and rose hips from hedgerows on the brewery farm, then aged for 1 year in French oak barrels, and blended with 2 & 3 year versions”. Yep, pretty much an instabuy with those ingredients and barrel-ageing, I do enjoy sloe berries in gin, so I suspect this will be a dry and moreish brew. Thus far the beers that I’ve had from Van Dieman have been pretty decent, both have rated around the 8.5/10 mark for me (which is what I would consider to be excellent, 7/10 is good, and 9/10 is world class – I’m still yet to give anything a 10/10, who knows – maybe something amazing is still yet to come).

Poured from a 375ml corked & caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Man that cork was a tough bastard to get out! Not the best first impressions in the glass either – seems almost inert with carbonation. Body is a deep dark amber/brown, with no head. None. Right from the start it’s not looking good. 4/10.

S: Luckily it gets better from there! Aroma is right up there with Rodenbach Classic, full red wine, grapey character from start to finish, tart sloe/hawthorn and forest berries also adding a distinct forest floor earthy/woody character. This is an aroma that evokes the best of American Wild Ales, with a Flanders Red Ale spin. 8/10.

T: Mouthfeel is the biggest shocker (see below). The flavour is alright, sloe/hawthorn comes through with a tannic dryness, earthy, woody and hints of grape character. Finish is dry and a touch tart. Missing a bit of flavour profile complexity, there’s little sweetness, and no bitterness, just that sour hint. I’m beginning to suspect that this is corked actually – I’ve had this same thing happen with wines where the cork is totally dry and the flavours have oxidised. 6/10.

M: Yep, completely inert on the carbonation – this is as flat as a tack and missing out on coming across as a beer at all (it’s more like a berry liquor in that regard). Body is mid to light, yeah it’s no good here. 4/10.

D: What a mixed bag – look and mouthfeel were a complete disappointment, however aroma and flavour were excellent and alright respectively. I’m definitely thinking that I had a corked bottle, which is a shame because apart from the problems I’ve listed there’s an interesting brew in there somewhere – one that would reward a bit of aging. Plus this now puts a blip in my ratings for Van Dieman, they were riding high before now. 7/10.

Food match: Cuisine that goes with red wine, gourmet pizza is my pick.

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