Wolf Of The Willows Wolf Blood Red IPA

Total Score: 8.15/10 HopFlower1Earth1Biscuit1Tulipglass1

“YES!” He cried emphatically, another Australian craft brewer had taken up the mantle of brewing Red IPAs. This time in collaboration with Bloodhound bar Brisbane, one of Doc’s favourite craft bars. The anticipation was palpable as he gazed upon the little brown bottle. His hand darted out and grabbed the bottle and he proceeded triumphantly to the counter. Whilst waiting for another customer to be served Doc admired the bottle label depicting the Wolf of the Willows Roman she-wolf with its head decapitated and blood spilling from it “Clever marketing!” he thought as the cashier took his money and proffered a bag. “No” said Doc, we must save the environment after all. One bag at a time.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Amazing colour on this one: Almost ruby red, deep copper clear body with a few yeast particles floating around and a dense 1 centimetre beige head that slowly disintegrates leaving a blanket on top. Look at this beauty! 9/10.

S: Piney/earthy hops straight from the off, like a forest floor in a glass. Citric hints struggle to wrest this brew from the soiled grasp of its earthy features, yet for once I am more than happy to encounter a total redwood forest of a brew. Pretty spectacular example of a Red IPA aroma here, I really can’t get past how fresh this brew is. 9/10.

T: In typical WOTW fashion this is a more subtle beer than you were expecting. Flavours favour that piney/earthy combo, with citric notes, dry cracker middle, spicy herbal notes, and tannic dry/herbal bitterness finish. In comparison to Modus Former Tenant, which I know is exactly what you want to hear this being compared to (being the GOAT Aussie Red IPA), it is missing quite a bit of sweetness, yet this is still great – just a different angle to the Modus. 8/10.

M: Nearing medium bodied, some hop oils and a thin but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Yep, WOTW as always have managed to put up something unique – at least this is probably one of the piney/earthy/spicy and tannic takes on a beer I’ve tasted, and bizarrely it reminded me of the first time I tried Orval – it’s a beer that makes you go “What the ..? Ok… now I get it” and it continues that whole WOTW wine/beer dichotomy that they began with ISA, and throws in that XPA aridity to boot. Frankly it’s hard to imagine WOTW approaching this style any differently than they always do – which in itself is different, cheers to that! 8/10.

Food match: Cheese platter this baby all the way.

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KAIJU! Beer Hopped Out Red Ale

Total Score: 8.6/10 Earth1Caramel1HopFlower1Nonicpint1

My peeps all know how much respect I have for KAIJU!-we-only-brew-expensive-beers-Beer. As such it is pretty amazing that I’ve taken so long to get around to Hopped Out Red Ale, being that I am somewhat besotted by Red Ales or Red IPAs in the guise of favourites by Modus Operandi and Prancing Pony (off the top of my head). I guess I was just waiting for a local (bottle-o) to chuck it in their fridge before being drawn to their ludicrously colourful flat-design labels [which judging by my BeerAdvocate profile photo I am a fan of]. So now it’s time to see if KAIJU! can beat the likes of Modus and Prancing Pony, in my eyes, at this Red Ale game.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Love the colour of this: Deep hazed auburn-almost-burgundy body, with a nice thin beige head that slowly dissolves to a splotchy covering. 9/10.

S: Here’s where Red Ale/Red IPAs come to the fore for me: Hop/malt balance. Which, if done right, is spot on. Hopped Out Red Ale is no exception with a luscious gooey caramel/biscuit malt centre, and some borderline-aggressive jammy-marmalade orange and piney hop characters to balance it out. Sweetness wins out ever so slightly on this epic aroma. 9/10.

T: Flavour throws that interesting, and very KAIJU!, spanner into the works with an overall earthy taste that softens the blow of both the malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Surprisingly in-your-face and balanced at the same time. Flavours are: Earthy, caramel/biscuit malts, piney/orange hops, with a finish that exudes more earth and viscous hop oils that linger on in the aftertaste, which is fairly bitter. Considering this one is the lightest in ABV out of the Modus/Prancing offerings, at 6.5%, it is surprisingly BIG. 9/10.

M: Rather decent, mid to heavy bodied, with those aforementioned viscous hop oils sliding all over the palate. Carbonation is dense but quite thin and lacking. 7/10.

D: Another really top shelf beer from KAIJU! Beer, but that is expected from those guys/girl (all 3 of them!). So yeah this gets a hearty recommendation from me and once again adds to the list of truly epic Australian Red Ale/IPAs from some rather intelligent and hardy craft brewers. If you love hops [like me], and you love malt [like me], then Red IPAs are where “it” is at. If I had to place the biggest point of difference between this, Modus, and Prancing’s offerings it would be that earthy character KAIJU! are known for [with me at least]. 8/10.

Food match: Something meaty/earthy, like a steak that has been rubbed in dirt.

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Prancing Pony India Red Ale

Total Score: 8.6/10 Caramel1Lemon1Flowers1Tulipglass1

Guess what? After reviewing 2 shit/average beers I was like “stuff it – I’m going to review something I reckon’ll be good”. I didn’t want to go to bed tonight wishing I had reviewed something nicer, and I’m not gonna dammit, I’m gonna crack open this lovely bottle of Prancing Pony India Red Ale, and I’m gonna enjoy it! FYI this averages 4.43/5 on BeerAdvocate so I reckon I’m in for a tasty bit of grog… although it is up against a pure thoroughbred in the Red IPA stakes with my favourite brew being Modus Operandi’s The Former Tenant – surely one of the best Aussie craft beers out there. This may be a battle of the titans in the making: Modus versus Prancing Pony, who will win? The excitement is palpable!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite red, more of a brown, guess “India Brown Ale” sounds less impressive. Cloudy caramel brown body with a nice beige 7.5mm head that retains very well indeed. It’s a great looking beer with somewhat of a misnomer name. 8/10.

S: Fantastic aroma upfront with bold lemon and floral characters. Caramel and biscuit base. Hints of herbal/cannabis hops lingering in the background, and some light earthiness as well. The aroma hints of big things ahead, and I’m ready as ever for a facepunch-worthy amount of hop silliness. 9/10.

T: Interestingly more hop restrained and syrupy than expected. Above noted hops (lemon, floral, herbal, earthy) remain, however this is all married to a large caramel/biscuit/toffee malt base. The balance slips between sweet and bitter on the palate, at the fore caramel/biscuit/toffee sweetness borders on imperious and towards the finish comes a herbal/piney hop bitterness that also (almost!) overthrows it all. This is of course a rather exciting and complex flavour profile – which is exactly what my tongue was savouring for. 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel is probably the best of any Australian brew I’ve encountered, and right up there with Founders for gooey goodness [the old “GG”], with a mid to heavy body/viscosity and a light but dense carbonation. 10/10.

D: Rather difficult choice deciding between this and Modus FT… they’re both rather special, and both good in their own way… however Modus has on balance (for me) a better flavour profile and flavour will always win out in the end – it could be the worst looking, stinkiest brew with a paper-thin mouthfeel, but if it tasted like angels shat on my tongue it will always be a winner. 9/10.

Food match: Pad Thai: Yes! Anything Thai? Also yes!

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Modus Operandi Former Tenant Red IPA

Total Score: 8.8/10 HopFlower1 Caramel1 Clove1 Nonicpint1

I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed Modus Operandi – I know I’ve had this Red IPA once before and loved it, but then again I don’t review every beer I try, especially when I’m out with friends (I don’t want to be that person who spends more time nose deep in their phone than catching up with mates). Anyway this time I had a window of oppurrtunity [something cat related] at Ye-Now-Olde Archive in Brisbane and I was determined to give Modus Operandi a good going over – with my tongue [nope, bad imagery]… how about – with my (taste)buds! [better, still needs work though].

Poured from tap into a Schooner glass (aka 425ml Australian pub glass).

A: Presents a clear deep copper/ruby body with a thin cream coloured lacing on top. Great, I love the look of a good red ale, especially when it comes “red” as advertised. Nice work MO! 9/10.

S: Prominent floral/citric/herbal hop characters, upfront and all over the aroma – you can tell straight away this one is going to pack a punch! In the background lingers notes of toasty malts, an earthy mid-palate, and hints of ground peppercorns… yes please – I will ‘ave at it. 9/10.

T: ALRIGHT. All of the above noted characters with an added hint of lychee. The balance is BIG sweet cara-malts with equally BIG floral/citric/herbal bitter/aromatic hops. Complexity: Check. Flavour: Check. Balance: Check. This brew demands your undivided attention (or first born child – pay heed – it doesn’t care which one it gets) and I commend its gutsy no nonsense approach. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied with a thin but nonetheless creamy carbonation… could do with a bit more body/chewiness for a 7.8% ABV brew – it’s a minor imperfection on an otherwise awesome Red IPA. 7/10.

D: What a beer! If I could brew as good as Modus Operandi did with Former Tenant I would be set (my latest homebrew batch is a disaster – never cut corners people!). The only other problem: I’m the designated driver tonight :-/ If you’ve been following me on BeerAdvocate or on my blog you’ll know that my tastes do gravitate to bold flavoured brews and this one is damn good – get it. Now… hypnotoad commands it. 9/10.

Food match: Chargrilled BBQ meats, beef steaks, spare ribs and chilli sauce in a big bowl, oh yes.

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