Total Score: 7.55/10
Total Score: 6.6/10
So Little Creatures are not the same brewer that they used to be what with now being owned by Lion/Nathan, which is owned by Kirin – it’s like being bought by a macro that was bought out by a macro – I’m sure that there’s a little-fish/big-fish/even-bigger-fish analogy in there… anyway, point is: When a powerful brewer that makes its money from margins buys you out you are now beholden to their “making money from margins” philosophy – it’s totally anti-craft. Craft beer is about quality at almost any expense. So how does this relate to this “Hotchkiss Six”? I guess we’ll soon find out [spoiler: not well!].
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Presents with a deep opaque cola body and a foamy tan half centimetre head – for something brewed with oats it is suspiciously thin overall – not even close to looking as good as any other Oatmeal Stouts I’ve tried (have a look at a Samuel Smiths or St-Ambroise and you’ll see what I’m talking about). 5/10.
S: Aroma is more laudable with notes of coffee cherry, dark chocolate and chicory upfront – this is right there in Stout territory with roasted goodness. Hints of smoky/earthy notes too – not bad at all – though still detectably thin. 8/10.
T: An easy going Stout with almost no challenge whatsoever – a far cry from the original Dreadnaught [seriously just bring back original Dreadnaught already f*^kers!] – flavour is a sort of nebulous sweet/sour/bitterness that is difficult to describe due to the lack thereof. It’s like death by a thousand hints of chocolate/coffee cherries/chicory with a floral/earthy/tobacco hop kiss – which sounds awesome but it’s really not because of all the wasted promise. 7/10.
M: Wow, no detectable oat texture – a wafer-thin (alright mid to light but given the style wafer-thin) body with a flat UK pub carbonation. 4/10.
D: Little Creatures have, as expected by their macro overlords, played it safe with this one. Too safe? F#&k yes! Really it is to be expected by a craft brewer being bought out by a macro brewer but nonetheless disappointing because (on a personal level) Little Creatures Pale Ale was the craft beer that got me into craft beer – without it I may never have written an incredible 265,000+ words on the subject of glorious beer, and yet here we are: 2016 and Little Creatures are releasing this pile of average on us, seems a shame to see the once-mighty reduced to a macro mediocre. 6/10.
Food match: Roast beef, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and Yorkshire pudding.
Total Score: 6.95/10
This is a new one for me from a brewer I’ve never heard of: Lobethal Bierhaus Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – they hail from South Australia, which apart from Coopers isn’t renowned for its craft beer scene, but who knows Louis? I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship [insert walk off into a foggy night]. Seriously though I do like my Oatmeal Stouts – so this is a real tester for whether Lobethal has the right “stuff” for the discerning drinker in me [trapped inside layers of beer gut, screaming to get out but I won’t let him, muahahaha!].
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Presents an opaque [insert random brand name] cola coloured body with a generous wispy 1 inch tan head which soon recedes to a half centimetre on top. Looks a bit weak in the head department if I’m being honest [am I ever not?]. 6/10.
S: At least the aroma is bang on the money with vibrant sweet milk chocolate, vanilla and nutty/earthy characters. Not so much with dark roasted espresso characters, but they are needed not in a Sweet Stout of this calibre – balancing the sweet notes with a bitter/sour/dry foil becomes crucial here. 8/10.
T: Hits that chocolate/vanilla/nutty/earthy spot well, and as it turns out there is a hint of smoke too. As far as Oatmeal Stout/Sweet Stout flavours go this is one middle of the road yet tasty nonetheless affair with a classic Dry Stout finish to cap it off. Flavour is overall nothing “WOW! Megabucks!” nor is it also “Meh!”. 7/10.
M: Mouthfeel, for an Oatmeal Stout at least, is way too thin – mid to light bodied with a light/nearly flat carbonation. Compare this to the king of mouthfeels: Founders Breakfast Stout – and this is indeed, 5.8% ABV taken into account, lacking sorely. 5/10.
D: I’m sorry but after reviewing the awesome Hardtail Henry Oaked Stout from NZ brewer Panhead my taste buds have been ruined for Oatmeal Stouts. Yes, yes, I know there’s a bit of a difference between a 5.8% and a 8% ABV Oatmeal Stout, and we can’t always be drinking 8% ABV brews because some of us have to drive home after Soccer practice, but really: Fuck Soccer – a tasty brew like Hardtail is more important than being fit [Warning: Being fit is definitely more important than a tasty brew – disregard Doc’s advice on this matter]. 7/10.
Food match: Rich casserole/stews and crusty bread with this bad boy.
Total Score: 6.85/10
Looks like I’ve finally made my way round to reviewing a Nail brew. Why has it taken me this to get around to reviewing a Nail you ask? Simple answer – the label is a massive turn-off for me, looks like a first year graphic design students assignment, plus the quote on the label, whilst being a bad pun (which FYI is craft brewer par for the course) “hammer down a nail” promotes sculling of the beer, which is something I never do with a decent craft brew – I like to take my time dammit, don’t rush me! However I have been told that their beers, despite my judging the book by its cover, are quite good. I’ll be the judge of that… technically I’ll be the pre AND post judge of that.
Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Obsidian-black-hole black body with a thin tan lace ring where the head should be, oh well, better than a kick in the teeth (or even a nail in the teeth). 6/10.
S: Ripe unroasted coffee beans upfront with a flourish of roasted barley, hint of vegemite and old engine oil – Valvoline 10W-40 to be precise. This certainly has aroma boldness in spades – though I suspect it may be a heavy-handed Oatmeal Stout. 8/10.
T: Nope, not heavy-handed at all, quite a reasonable chap this Nail actually. Drinks like a Coopers Best Extra Stout with less smoke and a touch more sweetness. In that sense it is an Aussie take on the style all the way, which could benefit from a bit more nuance as the American Stouts generally do. Flavours of: Ripe unroasted coffee bean, roasted barley, dark chocolate and oil at the back. Finish is of light bitterness and a touch of metal. 7/10.
M: Medium bodied with an overly aggressive (medium) carbonation given the style, there’s another Aussie beer trait for you – over-carbonation. 6/10.
D: I can see where they were going, Nail, and it’s not bad but truth be told I’ve had better homebrew Stouts than this [not my own homebrew obviously] and at this level of competition given the market saturation of craft beers you really need to be at the top of your game with a product that (pardon the pun) nails the opposition, and Nail doesn’t do that. This is an average Oatmeal Stout that I will not be getting again – I have enough tasty Stouts to whet my aleppetite with, e.g. Samuel Smith’s [INSERT ANY OF THEIR STOUTS HERE] or Exit #003 or Founders Breakfast Stout or Rogue Chocolate Stout… you get the picture. 6/10.
Food match: Chargrilled BBQ meats with chargrilled vegetables.
Total Score: 8.85/10
Not only am I about to consume an Oatmeal Stout for your reading (and my tasting) pleasure but this is none other than Samuel Smith’s much celebrated and widely known in all the counties of England and further ashore including Ireland, the Isle of Man and Jersey Islands invigorating, energising and revitalising Oatmeal Stout†. Or something along those lines – the label did look like it had been designed in the 1850’s. And you know what? Frugality like that (i.e. not paying for rebranding in over a hundred years) is rare these days and Samuel Smith has it in spades, cheers Mr. Smith!
Poured from a 550ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Well I accidentally hard poured a khaki head of 2 inches… looks good though with its deep dark cola body. Can’t wait to dive in… yep *taps fingers*. 8/10.
S: Espresso coffee notes mingle with hints of dark fruit and a melange of roasted barley and rolled oats… possibly the most porridge-like beer my nose has inhaled. I like it when my Oatmeal Stouts have oat aromas, like a big glass of breakfast! 8/10.
T: Damn tasty. More on the dark fruit side than coffee/chocolate with those oats really coming in to play with flavour and body. They (the oats) take on dry/tannic qualities towards the finish and there is an amalgamation of bitter/dry/sour/sweet characters that really make this fine Stout shine. Did I mention this is ‘damn tasty’? Oh… right… well this is Stouts finest hour. 9/10.
M: Medium bodied with a fairly lively carbonation. Oats = Chewy. 8/10.
D: Again I’m a big fan of the Samuel Smith’s ales, they’ve all so far been like getting inside a time machine and going back to the 19th century where men were men and women were men too (everyone was a bit hardier back then overall). If you want a real damn tasty and luxurious Stout then look no further. 10/10.
Food match: Back in 1852 when you had to work 16 hrs a day you would generally eat gruel and drink 18 pints of Stout, people wore hats that contained small anvils to help strengthen their neck muscles. Today however beef stew is a better option.
†Thesaurus Nazis will have noted that the three words ‘invigorating’, ‘energising’ and ‘revitalising’ all mean the same thing, congratulations‡. *slow clap*
‡Syntax Nazis will have noted that I used the ‘dagger’ character BEFORE and instead of the ‘asterisk’ character for my footnote, congratulations. *slow clap*