Nøgne Ø Gammel Jo

Total Score: 7.85/10 Caramel1DarkFruits1RedWine1Tulipglass1

Been awhile since I’ve reviewed a Nøgne Ø beer (July 11th 2017 to be exact), so I’ve been saving this Gammel Jo, which sounds like another name for “Grandma Jo” but is probably something else entirely in Norwegian, for some time. That time is now – only 2 beers away from the Everest that is #1,000. I’m a big fan of Old Ales too. Last one that really won me over to the style was Bacchus King of Denmark, which was amazing and I still have a bottle of it in my cellar – that will be an interesting bottle to open in a couple years indeed! Back to Nøgne Ø, I’ve always been a fan of their stuff, they rate as my second favourite Norwegian brewer after Haandbryggeriet, and their Imperial Brown Ale is hands down the best I’ve had of theirs – they’re definitely a dark beer brewer (brewing IMO better dark than light beers).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Rich chocolate brown with a hint of cola hazed body, thin khaki head that immediately dissipates leaving a lace ring. Dense bubbles on the surface. Not really expecting much of a head but the way it disappeared so quickly, hmmm. 7/10.

S: Interesting lactic (think yoghurt) note upfront, mingles with toffee and caramel, decomposing red grapes with dark fruit character (date, fig and plum). Overall the aroma reminds me of Medieval banquet [yes I have a time-machine, not made out of a DeLorean, I went with a Mazda 6 – my flex capacitor only needs 60kph to activate the time circuits – true story, don’t try to independently verify it]. 8/10.

T: A rich tapestry of malts! Like the Bayeux Tapestry… only with malt (which I imagine would be rather sticky, and instead of “no photos” signs around it, it would have “no licking” signs). Flavours include the above: toffee, caramel, hint of red grape botrytis, date, fig and plum. Finishes a with a sticky date pudding sweetness and a slight hint of burnt bitter caramel. 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel is rich, medium/heavy, a bit cloying because of the sweetness, with a creamy/dense carbonation. It’s a bit of a rich beer all round it seems. 7/10.

D: Ouch! I think I just felt a stabbing pain in my pancreas, oh well – better keep drinking. Gammel Jo is a rich, luxuriant feather in Nøgne Ø’s hat. The only thing really holding it back from greatness is the sweetness – it’s sliiiightly overboard on the sugar content, and the East Kent Golding hops are barely enough to keep it in check (noble hops?! You need some mid-alpha range hops to balance out that sugar). Otherwise it’s game on Medieval-banquet Kong. 8/10.

Food match: I’ve said it like 8 times in the review: Medieval banquet!


Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Sherry Cask

Total Score: 6.8/10 Smoke1Bacon1Wood1Tulipglass1

I’ve been a fan of Harviestoun since 2001 when I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked in a bar that sold Old Engine Oil on those awesome bicep-building pull taps (I could have sworn that beer used to be 9% ABV). Fast forward to 2018 and sitting in front of me is a lot of memories packaged neatly in a 330ml bottle. This is Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Sherry Cask. A Black Ale aged in Highland Park sherry casks. The bottle no. is 25937, and the date on it is April 2015, so it’s had over 3 years in the bottle (including 6 months in the cask). I’m also a big fan of Highland Park whiskey too – though I’m a bit wary about the aging in sherry casks: Highland Park is already soft and sweet enough, hopefully the aging in the bottle will have mellowed out my preconceived sweetness somewhat.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite black, more like a “she sips a Coca Cola, she can’t tell the difference yet” coloured body, with thin tan soap bubbles where a head would normally reside [at least this one is carbed bro!]. Looks alright though, a classic 7/10.

S: Woah. More smoky bacon hickory goodness than an American BBQ Association get together. Actually just Googled if such a thing does exist – American BBQ Association – and thank the internet it does. Really hard to get past those smoky, charry, bacon and hickory notes – at this stage I’m predicting the little info-gram pics above to be: Smoke, Bacon, Wood. Pretty singular stuff. 7/10.

T: Flavour takes the above: smoky, charry, bacon and hickory – and then it dumps peat all over it… and I mean ALL OVER IT. Profile is peat from start to finish, he’s a nice guy but jeez Peat get over yourself! Look if I had to guess I would say the original, non-peated, version of this has a delightful dark fruit and brown sugar character and finishes sweet with a slight medicinal herb bitterness [which is my go-to description of many a Dark Ale]. However there’s very little room for anything else in this peat bog of a brew. Smoky = this. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is also a bit of a letdown coming from Harviestoun [who I know can produce great textured beers] with a mid to light, thin bodied and thin carbed feel. You can do better Harviestoun! 5/10.

D: With a BB date of 11/18 maybe I’m cutting it fine? All I know is this is one smoky brew, and peaty AF, plus it’s one-dimensional. It’s hard to have any dimension when peat is involved, which is why I respect + love Ardbeg so much. 7/10.

Food match: Sipping this with cigars, maybe throw in some dark chocolate too.


Bacchus Brewing King of Denmark

Total Score: 9.2/10 RedWine1Wood1Vegemite1Tulipglass1

Yet another Bacchus to wet my whistle (my whistle gets dry a lot and for some reason beer is the only thing that will successfully lubricate it… I sometimes drink the stuff left over once my whistle is wet too). Anyone who follows my reviews might think I have some sort of love affair with Bacchus (I’ve reviewed 17 Bacchus beers so far), but Head Brewer Ross Kenrick just seems to keep pumping out interesting brews, so who can blame me? This one is an English Old Ale brewed with a +200 yro yeast strain from Harley’s brewery in Sussex, England. The beer has been barrel-aged (as Old Ales typically are BA’d) for 12 month in oak. Some Old Ales are blended but in typical Ross fashion this is unabashedly a straight-up 9.5% beast.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Wow, almost tepid looking black goop with a khaki head that rapidly recedes. The most amazing thing is the powerful aroma wafting straight out from the second the bottle was open – even before I saw this beer it was bitch-slapping me with aroma! Ominous looking in the way that Mikkeller Black Buffalo was… I’m scared, please hold me… 8/10.

S: That aroma! It’s really grapey, like a good Flanders Red Ale, but dialled up to 11. There’s no getting around how in my face this beer is going to be. If I could articulate this pervading fragrance better I would say: Red wine grape must, woody oak character, hint of vegemite, and a touch of decomposing fruit… yes, it’s the beer equivalent of stinky cheese and I love it. 10/10.

T: All of the above: Red wine grape must, woody oak character, hint of vegemite, and a touch of decomposing dark fruits. As far as flavour types go we’ve got: Sweet, bitter, sour and umami, which would sound like a real discordant clash of flavours, however the balance here is symphonic. This isn’t just a beer – this is an experience. Wow, again for emphasis: Wow! 10/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a peculiar carbonation that is almost non-existent yet also quite prickly and gassy – I suspect this carbonation is down to the crazy-old yeast strain (though Weihenstephan have much older yeasts strains in their brews). 7/10.

D: This is a beer that, like a Flanders Oud Bruin/Flanders Red Ales, blurs the line between beer and wine whilst taking a piss on everything else and setting it all on fire. A challenging beer indeed, but one to be savoured. 8/10.

Food match: Wow, I’m savouring this beer alone, but a cheese platter if you wish.



Founders Curmudgeon

Total Score: 9/10 Caramel1 Butter1 Wood1 Tulipglass1

Founders Curmudgeon, are you as amazed as I am that I haven’t reviewed you yet you misanthropic old geezer? … didn’t think so. Well anyway here we are. I decided long ago I would make my way through the hundred odd beers that Founders brews and this is number 5 for me. Never has knowing you’ve got a mountain to climb looked so fantastic from the bottom, and with that thought – Founders Curmudgeon, an Old Ale, brewed with molasses and oak aged? Brilliant move Founders, brilliant move, time to see if that move pays off (he said knowing it will).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy russet body with a caramel-tinged half centimetre head that dissipates to a light lacing. The fact that it even has a head at all at 9.8% ABV is surprising enough (in a good way). 9/10.

S: MO-LASS-ES! And plenty of it on the nose, don’t think I’ve ever whiffed so much molasses in a brew before. Aroma-wise there’s not much more to say – this could be another FBS where they give you a single aroma and pack in a massive face-punch of flavour – I hope that’s what Founders is doing right now with this curmudgeon. 8/10.

T: And that is precisely what Founders have done. This is one creamy gooey molasses and caramel extravaganza, with characters of: Molasses, caramel, butterscotch, brandy with a dry/earthy hop and woody finish (it’s in the oak, yo). There is a decent amount of booze knocking about giving off a fusel (hot) alcohol note that the sugar, try as it might, it cannot hide. However it is still a tasty Old Ale with more complexity as it “opens” up. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied, quite viscous, like some sort of molasses-flavoured beer molasses, with a light but very dense carbonation. This is a beer that wants to coat your tongue in its sticky-gooey majesty. Bring it on I say. 9/10.

D: What Founders have done with this, and FBS and Centennial IPA and FIS, et al. is craft a distinctly heavy-rich brash-bold in-your-face experience with every style they seemingly encounter. Not yet have I had a Founders beer and gone “that’s a bit average/bland” they seem to know where the envelope is, how to push it, and extract the maximum from every beer, and I man-love* the bastards for their no-compromise outlook on brewing, cheers Founders! 10/10.

Food match: Roast pork, roast vegetables, ROAST EVERYTHING!

*Which consists solely of a well-timed fist bump.


North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale (2014)

Total Score: 8/10 Caramel1 DarkFruits1 Coconut1 Tulipglass1

Old Stock Ale doesn’t sound like it would be very appealing to new-beer-comers, but to an old hat like me it sounds: f__king-fant__tic! I have thus far enjoyed every single… no wait, ALMOST every North Coast brew on offer (their Brother Thelonious Belgian Strong Dark Ale was a bit of a disappointing sugar-bomb). North Coast’s Old Stock Ale is up against Doc’s favourite Old Stock Ale: Theakston Old Peculier, however I think at nearly double the ABV (11.8% versus 5.6%) I think North Coast has it in the bag… although let’s not forget Thelonious, which I just mentioned [duh!].

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Nice deep hazy reddish/brown greets me with a “How do you do sir?”, I do very well North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale 2014 vintage thanks for asking, with an ecru head that soon fades to a lace ring, mmmm. 7/10.

S: Boozy as a fruit cake that was dosed in Long Island Iced Teas, set on fire, extinguished with brandy, and reignited with Bacardi 151°… yes, it is a boozy-alcohol laden aroma. There are dark fruit and brown sugar notes in there as well, you just have to get through the spirits to reach them. Hints of Vegemite as well. 6/10.

T: The flavour profile is multifaceted – caramel, butterscotch, coconut, dark fruits, hints of wood, brandy, each sip recalls a previous sip like some sort of total-sip recall “Get ready for a surprise!” *fat lady mask explodes in the soldiers’ faces*… Quaid escapes… digging these flavour nuances… finish is dry with hints of medicinal bitters. Not nearly as boozy as expected. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a liquor-like density that betrays the carbonation and makes it feel light and denser than it really is. 8/10.

D: Well this certainly got a whole lot better after warming up… and likewise I’m feeling warmed up like I just downed a pint of hot Glühwein… this is a big Old Stock Ale that hits hard when it hits, YHBW (You Have Been Warned). This is definitely (if you’re in to this sort of thing – which I am not, not that there’s anything wrong with it if you are – leben und leben lassen) a beer that you can cellar and see results with – the slight alcohol burn will be lessened after a year or two and it will become a great deal more refined than it already is. 8/10.

Food match: A nice juicy steak with a rich mushroom and brandy sauce, celeriac mash and olive oil roasted asparagus spears.


Daleside Morocco Ale

Total Score: 5.55/10 Vegemite1 DarkFruits1 Clove1 Chalice1

Straight from Harrogate, the most harrowing of gates (???) in England comes Daleside’s Morocco Ale. First off – Daleside – I haven’t reviewed any of their beers yet… I’m genuinely surprised as I figured I had already tried all the low hanging fruit (i.e. beers) at Dan Murphy’s including the well-seen and noted Daleside Old Leg Over, apparently not. ANYWAY Morocco Ale drew my bionic million dollar eye first with its fancy heraldic label, then with the fact that it is a spiced Old Ale with some billion year old recipe that was developed by God or some todger in Cumbria, either way I was having at it.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Chimay chalice.

A: Hazy rich mahogany body; “beer gravy” as I like to call it, with a beige soap bubble head that reduces to a thin lace ring and storm cloud patterning on top. Not a fan of soap bubble heads – they lack the appeal of a nice thick protein-rich head, but it’s OK apart from that. 6/10.

S: The aroma is a collision between Vegemite™ (Marmite™ to my English readers, or Weird-Over-Salty-Yeast-Spread™ to my US readers) and dark fruits, specifically fig, prune and dark plum. It certainly is one opulent aroma. Preparing for gout now. 7/10.

T: Yep. Vegemite™, fig, prune and plum, with a really noticeable metallic twang in the finish – I can taste my mercury fillings now… I hate that taste. There is a slight port/brandy note as well but the overall flavour profile is lacking compared to other Old Ales such as Theakston Old Peculier or Olde Suffolk English Ale. Lacklustre, that’s it! 5/10.

M: Body is thin as well for an Old Ale, with the much expected light UK carbonation. Still, thin body, not good in an Old Ale. 6/10.

D: Well I was expecting so much more from this brew, I guess that’s what you get with bionic million dollar eye fuelled hype – disappointment. I even warmed it up a little to help release more flavour but couldn’t get past that metallic taste, what is that? Is it the result of an odd combination of spices in the wort creating that, or is it a result of the fermenter, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Hopefully Old Leg Over will be a better drop. 5/10.

Food match: You could almost spread this Vegemite™ flavoured Ale over some toasted white buttered bread and get your VM™ fix. Otherwise cheese platter yo.


Adnams Broadside

Total Score: 7.6/10 DarkFruits1 BrownSugar1 Nut1 Nonicpint1

According to me [I don’t trust that guy] I have previously had Adnams Broadside. I don’t remember this… or they changed their label design… either way it shows how reliable I am as a witness*. IIRC their Bitter is pretty damn tasty (I rated it 6.95/10 which is just below above-average for my rating system – granted I was a harsher critic back in those days – I’ve become much more forgiving in my old age) so I’m expecting a solid gold turd of a brew here [‘solid gold turd’ being an honour I bestow on only a few beers – the crème de la turd].

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents a clear deep maroon body with a 1cm beige head that sticks around quite well, I like. 8/10.

S: Quite plum driven with macerated fig and brown sugar rounding out the biggest aroma characters. There is a bready yeast centre with notes of cream sherry and tea leaf in there as well. A broad English canvas from which Adnams provide us with a decent broadside of a brew. 8/10.

T: Dark English ale in its essence – plum, fig, brown sugar – fruit cake in a glass… similar to Theakston Old Peculier but lacking the finesse of Theakston’s Old Ale. There is a slight medicinal herb bitterness with a metallic note at the finish. Hmmm, a roasted nut character in there as well. Not bad… not knees of the bee either though (bees do have a lot of knees – you can’t compete with their knees, don’t even try). 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a thin/flat carbonation. 6/10.

D: I can see where Adnams were going with this English Special Bitter-cum-Old Ale, and it is surely a top drop, not ‘solid gold turd’ good, more a ‘cat piss respectable’… which is still quite decent. I know what you’re thinking – why do my beer approval terms contain “piss” and “turd”? Simple – I’m Australian. Everything here degenerates to urination/defecation terms of endearment… I’m not taking the piss: This is a tasty brew from Adnams. 7/10. Total: 7.6/10.

Food match: Rack of beef, roasted with all the trimmings (aka gravy, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding).

*Note: if you were going to murder someone, and I suggest not doing this in the first place, but if you do it in front of a witness hope it was me (as the witness of course – I’m not into the whole being murdered thing).