Minoh Stout

Total Score: 7.6/10 Earth1Barley1Coffee1Nonicpint1

This was a gift from a craft beer drinking friend who regularly goes to Japan and we have similar taste in beer (we both like NEIPAs and decent Stouts). Out of the many Japanese Stouts he has tried this is the best he’s had. I take a recommendation like that pretty seriously, so yeah I’m going to give it a red-hot review. I’m kinda hoping it’s not that great – as there doesn’t appear to be any way of getting it in to Australia. The label is cool. In typical Japanese style it has “STOUT” written in massive letters, jeez Japanese brewers aren’t subtle with what’s inside the bottle. It’s got some pedigree too – winner of the World Beer Cup Dry Stout award in 2009, 2014, and 2016. Says “exceedingly moreish!” – I’ll be the judge of that thank you Minoh.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Opaque jet black body with a sizable 3 centimetre mocha coloured head that reasonably dense (think latte foam). The head slowly disintegrates with large bubbles forming and popping, leaves a reasonably sticky lace on the way down. Felt dense and creamy on the pour, this looks pretty-pretty good. 8/10.

S: Earthy character, roasted barley with a hint of filter coffee, there’s almost a soft sake note in the background, I wouldn’t be surprised if some rice had been used somewhere in the brewing process. Aroma is a mix of Western and Japanese characters, like an Irishman in a kimono. 7/10.

T: Yep, as noted above: earthy character, roasted barley with a hint of filter coffee, and that soft sake note in the background. Finish is well balanced between sweet/dry/bitter with a slight herbal/tobacco note in the finish. It’s fairly moreish, I could definitely go another, though there are other Dry Stouts I would classify as “exceedingly moreish!” over this one, e.g. … no wait, there’s really not many Dry Stouts that I’ve rated highly, this one wins by de-fault, the two sweetest words in the English language “DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT!”. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a dense but soft carbonation, it could definitely benefit from more body and texture, though it’s nowhere near as watery as today’s Guinness. 6/10.

D: So yeah, let’s hear it for winner by default of the “now Doc’s favourite Dry Stout” award of 2017: Minoh Stout. It’s tasty, it’s got a nice Japanese twist on a Western style, and it’s difficult to tell that it’s 5.5% ABV. Yay Minoh! 8/10.

Food match: Wagyu tataki with a blob of wasabi mayonnaise.


Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout

Total Score: 6.7/10 Caramel1 Coffee1 Malt1 Nonicpint1

Apparently this Stout has been around for a while now… never seen it before and thought it was a brand-new Mountain Goat release – and I do enjoy their brews (though mainly when they’re at their wackiest with the Rare Breed single batches). Well, their web site doesn’t even have this beer listed – maybe I’m imagining it? Perhaps it doesn’t really exist, like in some sort of beer matrix, or “the beertrix” – damn that sounds like an awesome film idea starring Keanu Reeves as a Craft Brewer also known as ‘Faro’, he finds out that the macro beer world is an illusion and ends up leading the craft beer revolution! [note: there is no spoon].

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Clear cola coloured body with a beige cappuccino foam 2 cm head that leaves a decent lace on the side of the glass… good marks here. 7/10.

S: Caramel-tinged sweet and roasted malts greet you upfront, not used to caramel notes in a Stout but what the hell Mountain Goat, with hints of earthy coffee and spring water in the background. Aroma, apart from the caramel, is pretty much in the ball-park for a classic Irish Dry Stout. 7/10.

T: Exactly as above: sweet caramel/roasted malts, earthy coffee and spring water. Finish is dry, toasty with a touch of coffee grind bitterness. The flavour does have a hint of metal my fillings are telling me, however from a can it is to be expected, in fact it would be weird if it didn’t have a metallic aftertaste. Could definitely benefit from a bit more flavour but that is the Russian Imperial Stout drinker in me talking. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, a tad watery, with a lightish carbonation. Heavy beers have really killed my appreciation of lighter bodied beers, oh well. 6/10.

D: Well it is certainly not Mountain Goat’s finest hour. It is also not their worst either – I think their Summer Ale holds claim to that title – this is simply put: Middle-of-the-road, and when you’re a brewer like Mountain Goat that has some solid beers on offer (hell their Steam Ale introduced me to the Steam Beer style) you have the ability to create a better Stout than this. Overall… those things you wear… sorry, bad joke, Mountain Goat can do better, and so can I (as a consumer – probably not as a brewer, still haven’t made a Stout yet) so I will stick with Samuel Smith’s or Founders Breakfast Stout or Old Raspy or Coopers Best Extra, etc… no lack of good Stout options out there. 6/10.

Food match: Tinned Irish stew with crusty white bread or a Ploughman’s lunch.


North Coast Old #38 Stout

Total Score: 7.35/10 Coffee1 Chocolate1 BrownSugar1 Nonicpint1

All aboard the North Coast Old #38 – next stop: anything but a train-related joke. Please have your tickets ready [Dammit Doc!]. I like North Coast, especially their Old Rasputin RIS (which is a DSM or a ‘Doc’s Stout Must-haves’ not to be confused with the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ or ‘The Other DSM’) so it’s only natural that their Old #38 Stout – North Coast’s take on the Irish Dry Stout style (e.g. the one that Guinness is) and I should cross paths for a good old fashioned review. In case you were wondering what the Old #38 is North Coast’s web page has the answer young grasshopper: “Named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine on the Fort Bragg to Willits run through the Redwoods”. Goody.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Rich black opaque body with a delightful 1 cm mocha head that beckons the drinker to sip and be merry. The head soon reduces to a thin lace but my appetite remains. This beer on nitro tap would be a force to be reckoned with. 8/10.

S: Classic Stout aromas – coffee and cocoa make a smell-pearance, along with brown sugar and some toasty smoke-char. “Hey you wanted a classic Stout, you got it!” says North Coast as it lays down the aroma gauntlet to Stout-lovers worldwide. 9/10.

T: The coffee characters take on a ripe coffee berry flavour, merging with powdered cocoa and topped off with a hint of brown sugar and that smoky roasting note towards the finish, which is a balanced juxtaposition between dryness and coffee grind bitters. The aroma does perhaps oversell the flavour a little as it has a watery/metallic aftertaste that detracts from the overall taste. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, slightly watery, with a light to flat carbonation. Certainly not winning any awards here. 6/10.

D: There is a damn good brew in this Stout that is marred by aftertaste and body, which is a shame because I do enjoy nearly all of North Coast’s brews, it just feels as if this particular North Coast Stout was brewed on a Friday afternoon. How does it compare to Guinness? Well I would say favourably, but then again Guinness borders on water for me with all the drops in ABV it has had over the last decade – Old #38 fortunately doesn’t suffer from the mid-strength handicap of today’s Guinness, yet in some ways I would take a Guinness over this any day (it’s a lot cheaper for starters, and the nitro-cans beat bottles). 7/10.

Food match: The perfect match for a Irish Dry Stout is still Beef & Guinness pie.


Guinness Extra Stout

Total Score: 6.65/10 Coffee1 Caramel1 Smoke1 Nonicpint1

Had this once many moons ago… I remember the ABV being 6.9% and now it’s 6 even, and brewed by the boys at Fosters (boo/hiss) under licence… here’s hoping it doesn’t taste like anything else they brew!

Poured from a 750ml “tallie” into a tulip Guinness pint (obviously not the whole tallie).

A: Appearance? Who doesn’t know what a pint of Guinness looks like – jet black (technically deep ruby) body with a bone white head that sits thickly atop… actually, the head is different to the classic “draught” pint in that it sinks back down to a thin lacing like a standard (non-nitrous) brew. 6/10.

S: It smells like the draught except a bit more pronounced; roasted chicory, malt grains and hint of caramel. 8/10.

T: The chicory is quite up front and personal with this brew. There’s a bitter note like burnt coffee and the caramel malts line the rest of the palate. Another thing that stands out is a smokiness that you would normally expect from a smoke beer. This is Guinness, but it misses the more refined flavours of its draught cousin. 7/10.

M: A flavour-heavy stout that is also quite watery. The carbonation reminds me why the nitrous primed draught is so much better; there’s no smoothness here. 4/10.

D: Overall an interesting in some ways (flavour, aroma) but lacklustre in others (mouthfeel, lack of balance) vacation from Guinness draught that once again proves to me that they don’t make it like they do in Ireland. It’s worth a try and is still not bad, but the watery body is a major disappointment for me – with these flavours I would expect the viscosity of an engine oil. 6/10.

Food match: For compatriots; Vegemite on toast. Everyone else; spit roasted pork or beef casserole with potatoes and gravy.


Guinness Draught

Total Score: 7.05/10 Barley1 Coffee1 Smoke1 Nonicpint1

My goodness my Guinness! It’s the beer that started it all for me back when I was 18. Before then beer was Toohey’s or Victoria Bitter and tasted like regurgitated vomit (still does for me in regards to VB). I’ve been holding back on reviewing this since my ancestors are Irish and a piece of me never left Dublin back in 2001 but I feel it’s time to be objective and rate this as it should like every other beer.

Poured from a 440ml nitro can into a 568ml Guinness pint glass. Now I want to make one thing clear: Guinness is at its best when served from a tap, very slightly chilled, in a local pub in Dublin – outside of this, as is the case here, you end up with a shadow of the glory that is Guinness.

A: Deep ruby red body that appears jet black for all intents and purposes. With a 1.5cm white head that leaves rings as it goes down, Guinness has the appearance of a quintessential Irish Stout. 10/10.

S: It’s a very faint smell of roasted chicory, grain and just a hint of caramel. 7/10.

T: Very much in line with the aroma we have a front note of roasted chicory, the barley comes through mid-palate, and finally some bitter coffee back notes. It’s not a big stout for body or flavour though as I’ve always found it easy to put away a pint in two big gulps. 7/10.

M: Watery, much more than I remember it to be from years back… I think somewhere along the line in the last 10-12 years the recipe has changed and as a result the mouthfeel has suffered. Very low on the carbonation scale. 6/10.

D: Still quite easily one of the most drinkable beers on earth. I’ve had many a nights misspent in Irish pubs during my formative years taking down pint after pint till my wallet was sore and I do not regret a single bit of it. Yes it has changed somehow over the years and isn’t as good as it used to be but I still love the “black stuff” [the ABV going down over the years has definitely affected the flavour profile – when I first began drinking Guinness it was 4.8%, then it went down to 4.4%, and now it’s 4.1% – I’m docking it a point overall for this shameless cash saving technique]. 7/10.

Food match: Irish stew, potatoes and indeed Guinness pie goes down a treat too.