Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale

Total Score: 6.9/10 Honeycomb1Biscuit1Lemon1Nonicpint1

After the surprisingly able Hanalei Island IPA (though not really an IPA is it now?), I’m looking forward to seeing/tasting what Big Wave can do. That said: Golden Ale, cold(en) weather, not the best mix, also my nose is a bit out of sorts due to a surgeon scooping a chunk of cancer out of it and stitching in a skin graft… it’s pretty horror show, and it means I’m a nostril down on my olfactory senses – so don’t expect much description in the aroma section. Also don’t expect mere facial surgery to slow me down, nothing slows me down, expect maybe a swimming pool filled with molasses… of course you would have to trick me into diving in first, no easy feat. Oh yeah, thanks go out to the Kona rep (a lovely Kiwi lady whose name escapes me) for this free sample.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Pretty much as advertised: Hazed golden body with a white cappuccino foam head that drops back from 1 centimetre to a light lace blanket. Looks like a refreshing brew, dammit – it’s too cold for a refreshing beer [checks thermometer] 16 degrees. Well, I guess I’m a Queenslander now – complaining about non-existent cold weather. 7/10.

S: Honey biscuits, like those Greek desserts, mmmm… [FOCUS DOC!] hint of floral hops and a light touch of dark Caribbean rum as well. Overall aroma is definitely skewed towards the malt, pretty standard with a Golden Ale really. 7/10.

T: Yep, honey biscuits, bit of a lemon note on the hop side – less floral than noted above. Flavour is on the weak side, expected with the 4.4% ABV, however this is one beer that could definitely benefit from a boost in flavour. Finish is dry with a mild citric bitterness. 7/10.

M: Mid to light, a bit watery, with a light carbonation – works for the style: Light and refreshing summer beer – but more body wouldn’t go astray either. 6/10.

D: I see what Kona are going for with this brew, the Hanalei Island, and I’m guessing more of the same from their Lager (which is the last of the samples I have to review). Great to have a light, easy drinking beer when it’s bloody hot outside, for now though brews like this make me feel like a nice BIG Russian Imperial Stout, or a Quadrupel. However let us not digress: Kona Big Wave is an entirely drinkable hot weather brew, though I personally like the flavour profile of the Hanalei Island better. 7/10.

Food match: Bring on the luau!

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Old Golden Hen

Total Score: 7/10 Caramel1 Honeycomb1 Orange1 Nonicpint1

Time to drink some hen, Old Golden Hen to be precise. Note this brew contains one of my favourite (and a very versatile of) hops: Australian Galaxy, so in theory I’m going to enjoy this beer, but then again it’s a Golden Ale and I’ve never been the biggest fan of Golden Ales as they’re the bland trouser wearing cousin of American Pale Ales and as such they drive brown Volkswagen Passats and clean their spectacles with their shirt sleeves whilst listening to The Beetles, this is a very specific personification of a beer style but a valid one nonetheless.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Would you be surprised to know that it has a clear golden body with a thin wispy half a centimetre white head? No? Neither was I. A standard by-the-book Golden Ale appearance then. 7/10.

S: That’s Galaxy for you – always with the passionfruit notes upfront, not that I’m complaining – it’s a great aroma for any beer to have, just saying. Along with this are floral, toasted malt and orange blossom characters – the overall aroma is a dynamite combination and British restraint and assertive Aussie hops and I quite like where this is going. 8/10.

T: The flavour is remarkably not what was expected with a bold toasted malt/toffee/honey hit upfront, some lemon/orange notes in the middle, and a light medicinal hop bitter and dry finish. The malts in this brew have somehow managed to overtake the Galaxy hops and I for one am surprised – I’ve brewed a Mosaic/Galaxy dry-hopped beer before and the Galaxy hops hold up pretty well against the powerful Mosaic hops – kinda expected a hop-forward brew here. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light English pub carbonation – suits this malt-forward ale nicely. 7/10.

D: One thing I noticed as I got to the bottom of the glass is how the hops sneak up on you with a bitter aftertaste. In the end I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of this brew precisely because it doesn’t showcase the Galaxy hop as well as it could. It’s a half decent brew at 4.1% ABV (which is borderline mid-strength territory) however it needs better balance between the malt and hops (less malt and more hops) to really put it up there in the pantheon of great beers. The big question, the one that I ask myself again and again: Would I buy this once more? The answer is: Perhaps… pear hats. 6/10.

Food match: A light mild curry, maybe a Tikka Marsala, with Biryani and Naan.

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Murray’s Moon Boy Golden Ale

Total Score: 3/10 PapayaMango1 CutGrass1 Lemon1 Nonicpint1

Another Murray’s to tick off my list and it’s a Golden Ale – beer code for a light-flavoured Ale. Last light-flavoured brew of theirs I had, Rudeboy, was alright (though it was nothing to write home about… unless home was a beer blog and you were writing a beer review), fingers crossed this one isn’t a big pile of average, with average sauce on top. What!? 4.5% ABV! My average beer alert has already been tripped.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Wow, this looks more like a glass of dirty hazy brown river water than a beer – absolutely no head either. This is the saddest beer I have ever seen and I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t look like this, something has gone awry here. 1/10.

S: The aroma is a bit more of an improvement (how could it not be!?) with notes of papaya, lychee, cut grass and sour lemon. Still there is an odd taint pervading the aroma, it’s almost as unsettling as the appearance. 4/10.

T: Above flavours, as noted, with a finish that is more sour than bitter, this in of itself is strange for the style. I’m convinced this is tainted batch, but it’s not light-struck (it doesn’t have the characteristics for this). I believe it’s just been on the shelf too long, and when you purchase from a major chain you’re bound to get the occasional out of date “shelf-sitter”, oh well. 3/10.

M: Totally flat, mid to light bodied, nothing going on here. 2/10.

D: One of the weirdest beer experiences of my life. It actually tastes like my first ever homebrew batch – which was an unmitigated disaster. I will have to give this beer a re-review in the future – not unlike the Delirium Tremens of which I had purchased from the same major liquor chain – I really shouldn’t buy anymore beer from that chain. 3/10.

Food match: I really can’t recommend any pairing based on this review, besides I’m 99% sure this is a tainted batch – check back for a re-review.

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