Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar Anti-Imperial Red Ale

Total Score: 7.85/10 GreenMelon1 Peach1 Caramel1 Nonicpint1

Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar Anti-Imperial Red Ale – Now that’s a mouthful (so is the beer) *punchline drum roll* So turns out Noisy Minor are from my former hood of Brisbane, possibly the best city in Australia… after maybe Melbourne… forget about Sydney (not even close). Anyway I’m always big on supporting my local craft brewers so when I spied this in the hallowed grounds of The Durham Arms I must admit I was quietly chuffed that a small Brisbane brewer had got a keg on tap in Canberra. The beer itself is described as “not an IPA, just a big hoppy red ale”, hence the Anti-Imperial part – although the “I” in IPA stands for “India” not “Imperial”, minor quibble Noisy Minor.

Poured from tap into a Schooner.

A: Hazy deep amber almost red body with a thin beige head. I’m impressed it managed a head at 8.5% ABV – that’s a challenge and a half with a big beer (being a homebrewer I know this from personal experience) and it looks damn tasty. 9/10.

S: Melon, tangerine notes with peach and a grainy but sweet malt. Well the hops are an interesting blend, they used Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops, which accounts for the fruitiness of the aroma, honestly those are two of my favourite hop breeds so they chose well. 8/10.

T: Again melon, tangerine notes and peach jump out, followed by sweet caramel malt, some grain notes and an oddly placed white wine spirit aftertaste in the finish, which is well balanced from bitter to sweet. So it’s a Red Ale with IPA hops thrown in, which is a little bit chaotic in the flavour profile but nonetheless reasonably nice. Pretty well done too considering it’s up there ABV-wise with greats like Duvel. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a carbonation that is a tad bit too light, a few more bubbles would have livened this up… still I like the body. 6/10.

D: Overall it’s got some nice big flavours. It tastes more like an IPA than a red Ale so not to style but otherwise it’s decent and enjoyable. Plus I occasionally like it when a beer “weirds” me out a little, not too much, but this is a perfect example of being “weirded out a little” by a beer. If I saw this on tap again I would certainly get a glass and down it quicker than Admiral Ackbar could say his immortal line “It’s a trap!”. 8/10.

Food match: Borderline between sweet and savoury and I’m not used to recommending dessert with an IPA hopped beer, you can play it safe with a cheese platter, go for spicy Thai fare or tackle a chargrilled steak – an all-rounder then.

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Six String Dark Red IPA

Total Score: 7.05/10 Earth1 Caramel1 Grapefruit1 Nonicpint1

Today’s bruview is from a new Aussie brewer (for me at least) whom are based on the NSW central coast, a place called Erina (between Sydney and Newcastle), which makes them sort-a local to me (being in Canberra). Anyhow, me being me I went directly for the most challenging brew they make: A Dark Red IPA – based on a West Coast Red Ale, this one promises hops and I hope to soon nod my head in agreement of said hop promise.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Body is more a cloudy dark brown than dark red, I’ll forgive it though as I just got a whiff of a nice big floral hop bouquet, yum! It presents with a boisterous beige 1 inch head that soon subsides to a foamy centimetre head. 6/10 – that’s for the false advertising.

S: Lashings of floral hops with some tropical notes as well (papaya mostly), some citrus characters along with a sweet caramel base. Quite a nice hoppy aroma, that is lacking juuust a little bit more punch for a perfect score. 8/10.

T: Definitely a Red Ale (with West Coast hops!) – classic Red Ale notes of earthy/nutty/roasted malt with a hop hit towards the finish, less papaya and more citric/grapefruit. The aroma promised bolder flavour than received… a bit disappointing considering the 6% ABV. Finish is also a little too bitter for the subdued hop characters you get. I suspect however this IPA would warm up well. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a nice dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew is lacking a bit of finesse, especially with that overtly bitter aftertaste, hence the overall score. If this is Six String’s signature beer I probably won’t end up getting around to their other brews (too little time, too many beers I’m afraid). Aside from my quibbles I think the style and idea is cool (I’m currently brewing a Stout with Mosaic hops – a new hop variety used in IPAs) so I can appreciate the blurring of style lines, I just expected a bit more from this Red IPA. 6/10.

Food match: I would approach this with the same food that you would normally pair with an IPA – Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese are all winners here.

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BentSpoke Crankshaft

Total Score: 7.2/10 HopFlower1 Lemon1 Caramel1 Nonicpint1

BentSpoke is the latest micro-brewery in Canberra, Braddon to be precise. After having recently moved from sunny Brisbane with micro-brewers popping up everywhere I was a bit disappointed to find in Canberra a very marginal craft beer scene that is thankfully growing, not unlike my beer gut (the two could be related but I’ve now since dismissed thought as ludicrous and unfounded by any evidence).

Poured from tap into a “schmiddy” (something between a schooner and a middy, it looked about 300ml).

A: Presents a hazy safety orange/amber with a 1cm off-white head that stands up well. The appearance is right in the ball-park for a good Pale Ale, as for IPAs they do vary between amber and rust colours. 7/10.

S: Fruity/citric hops with hints of a caramel malt base. It’s not a FULL-ON hop aroma but it does present a decent balance. As an APA it would be perfect, as an IPA, and from my personal experience of drinking hundreds of American IPAs it does lack a little in hop flowers, still I can’t wait to dive in (not literally of course). 7/10.

T: There’s some good upfront sweet caramel malt notes followed by a little burst of citric/floral/fruity hops. The flavour is clean and well balanced. Finishes with a restrained hop bitterness. Again it could definitely benefit from a little more hoppiness however this can be said of most Australian IPAs. The aftertaste has a herbal note as well. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light creamy carbonation that has a touch of bite, at least enough to let you know it’s there. This mouthfeel is right on the money, and illustrates why tap beers always beat bottled brews – I could drink these all night. 9/10.

D: A good entry level IPA, i.e. before moving on to some of the US/NZ hop monsters, and quite well balanced for 6% ABV, I for one am impressed. I had a sample of one of their experimental brews too (Choca Hop – a Pale Ale with choc-mint notes) however I thought it would be best to review one of their mainstream Ales first. If this beer is any indication of what to expect Canberra (and my beer gut) has a good micro-brewery future ahead of it. 7/10.

Food match: Their menu has a heritage breed beef burger with beer braised onions, beer fortified barbecue sauce, cheese and Cajun potato skins that sounds like a corker and a good match for this brew.

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