BentSpoke Red Nut

Total Score: 8.45/10 PapayaMango1Earth1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Next up is this delightful Red IPA from one of Canberra’s favourite breweries: BentSpoke! How do I know it’s delightful you say? I’ve already smashed a 4-pack of these, and I made it my mission to get a 2nd 4-pack so I could review this charming brew. As noted after review #1,000 I will be trying lots of new beers and reviewing less, I’m getting a bit more selective these days. In regards to BentSpoke I wasn’t the biggest fan of their other beers I’ve had (Barley Griffin, Crankshaft IPA), however I was willing to give Red Nut a try because I do love a good Red IPA, and who knows maybe it could topple my favourite Red IPA – the mighty Modus Former Tenant? Spoiler: it wont.

Poured from a 375ml can with one of those “the-entire-lid-lifts-off” tops that Colonial Brewing brought to Aus – I love those lids – into a nonic pint.

A: Attractive clear caramel-coloured body with a tan cappuccino foam head that leaves patchwork lace on the side of the glass as it goes down. This is one tasty-looking Red IPA, up there with Modus FT at this point. 9/10.

S: Spicy pepper and papaya/grassy hop notes upfront, earthy middle, caramel/biscuit malt base: it’s all just a checklist for an excellent Red IPA right here. Complaints? None really… a heavier version of this would be something I would definitely be on board with, and I suspect in comparison to Modus FT this battle is going to come down to who has the bigger flavour profile, still it’s a great start from BentSpoke. 9/10.

T: Flavours as above: pepper/papaya/grassy hops – not quite as big as in the aroma, earthy centre takes over in classic Canberra fashion (Canberra craft beers tend towards being quite earthy for some reason) caramel/biscuit malts make an appearance as well. Finishes with a pretty spot-on sweet/bitter balance, mid to mild bitterness. Aftertaste is earthy… as expected. Doesn’t pop or have those BIG hops like Modus FT, but it’s a smooth drop for sure, and tasty as Odin’s pancakes (Odin does flap a mean jack bro). 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a medium/dense carbonation, slightly more gassy than it needs to be, but otherwise good. 8/10.

D: One of the best beers out of Canberra. Not that there’s a great deal of breweries in Canberra. Regardless this is a well-balanced Red IPA that goes down a treat, and I can’t wait to see it again at my bottle-o for more times = good. 9/10.

Food match: Rump steak with pepper sauce, forest mushrooms and celeriac mash.


Capital Brewing Co. Evil Eye Red IPA

Total Score: 6.9/10 Earth1Biscuit1Lemon1Nonicpint1

Canned Canberran beer in Brisbane!? What the what?! We never see Canberran craft up here, there’s something reassuring about seeing hometown beers in another part of the country that is now where you call home. It’s a comforting reminder of another place you once lived. Plus Canberra has a killer craft scene: Wig & Pen, Bentspoke, Transit Bar, and of course my old haunt (also a place I once worked) The Durham. One of the things I’ve noticed with Canberran brewed beers is a predilection towards heavier, malty/earthy Ales – I’m thinking mainly Wig & Pen brews like their fantastic Sequoia American Amber Ale, and similar Bentspoke brews. In any case I’m expecting Capital Brewing Co. Evil Eye Red IPA to carry on that “Canberra beer taste” tradition.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy mahogany brown body with a tan cappuccino foam head that compacts quickly leaving some decent lace scrawl inside the glass. Pretty brown bodied for a Red IPA, less brown more red would put it in the same league as Modus Former Tenant, however this is OK. 7/10.

S: Interesting malt selection gives the aroma a dusty/earthy character along with milk chocolate hints, and slight citric lemon notes. Very much on the malty side for a Red IPA – again in contrast to Former Tenant (my benchmark Red IPA). That said I’ve definitely had more malt-driven than hop-driven Red IPAs, especially from the States. 7/10.

T: Interestingly sharp citrus tang upfront, following this is a mid-palate earthy/biscuity/chocolatey/caramelly broad malt base, finish is again with a citrus tang (less sharp but ever-present). Aftertaste is a bit moreish – I definitely wanted to keep drinking Evil Eye [perhaps I’ve been hexed?]. 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is probably the only thing close to disappointing (i.e. there’s nothing inherently wrong with this beer but the texture is the weakest link) – mid to light bodied with a rather prickly carbonation. 6/10.

D: Evil Eye Red IPA reminds me of a beer with a bit of an identity crisis: “should I be bitter? No, I’ll be sweet… wait, no I’ll be bitter then, ahhh f**k it!”, pick a direction and go that way or blend this sweet/bitter dichotomy better Capital Brewing. Other than that the flavour grew on me – it’s essentially an overtly earthy easy-drinking IPA, which I can dig, nothing wrong with that. 7/10.

Food match: Forest and earthy flavours – think mushrooms, truffles, etc…


Bacchus Brewing JAFF the RIPA

Total Score: 6.3/10 Caramel1DarkFruits1Coriander1Nonicpint1

Juicy As Fuck India Pale Ales latest cousin: Juicy As Fuck Fuck (???) the Red India Pale Ale has arrived from Ross, aka Bacchus Brewing, the purveyor of some of the maddest and coolest fermented beverages ever created on these shores of ‘Stralya (aka Australia). Am I excited? Well, yes, of course I am! So what is Juicy As Fuck Fuck the Red India Pale – otherwise known as JAFF the RIPA? JAFF the RIPA is both a pun name based on possibly the most famous serial killer known, and a New England style Red IPA. So think Modus Former Tenant with a ton of yeast in the glass – only this time it’s been filtered… perhaps the second ‘F’ in the name stands for ‘Filtered’? Only Ross knows…

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Still cloudy, despite the filtering, though it’s not totally opaque – there’s a visible side to the bottom of this glass. Deep caramel red-tinged body with a compacted beige head that lingers for a while. 8/10.

S: Toffee/caramel notes upfront… I must admit this was bottled in July 17, hence the probable lack of hops due to hop fade – sorry Ross, I had a backlog. Fruit cake and medicinal notes, I can’t imagine this was as intended, and unfortunately the nature of modern American IPAs, and indeed American Red IPAs, is that they need to be drunk as close to the brew date as possible – quite an irony when you consider that English IPAs were designed for long sea voyages. 6/10.

T: Toffee and caramel. In spades, with hints of fruit cake, medicinal herbs and a funky mango character. I can only dream of what this would have been like when it was first brewed: Glorious. Now that the hops have faded it is a malt shell of toffee and caramel, a husk of fruit cake and medicinal herbs, upon a bed of evaporated visions. Shame, but I know now this stuff happens when hops fade. 6/10.

M: Body is good though – medium and textured with a medium dense carbonation backing it up. 8/10.

D: As it currently is, is it drinkable? Not really. However I will preface that NEIPAs do not bode well with aging. Less so than any other IPA style. This is probably the reason why The Alchemist’s Heady Topper isn’t shipped from the state of Vermont – it wouldn’t, rather ironically, survive the voyage outside the state. Fresh is best, the dilemma of the bottleshop owners across the globe. For me, this is one funky ride I wouldn’t sign up for again – the next JAF I have will be fresh. 6/10.

Food match: Can’t match this in its current state, sorry peeps.


Mismatch Evil Archie’s Red IPA

Total Score: 7.9/10 HopFlower1PapayaMango1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Red IPAs. I love ‘em. At the moment Aussie brewers are standing tall on the shoulders of giants like Modus Former Tenant, Prancing Pony India Red Ale, and KAIJU! Hopped Out Red Ale to name just a few. There’s certainly no shortage of great Red IPAs here. Mismatch is the latest to throw their hat in the ring with Evil Archie’s Red IPA – an evil twin to Archie’s Red Ale. I haven’t been blown away yet by Mismatch’s brews, head brewer Ewan Brewerton obviously has talent… and an appropriate surname, however I get the impression that he’s holding back. Which isn’t ideal when you’ve got locals like Pirate Life and Prancing Pony – you need something BIG to go up against them. Here’s hoping Evil Archie is that BIG beer.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Hazed rust-tinged amber body with a sticky beige head that leaves latticework lace on the side of the glass and provides a nice compact blanket on top. Looks pretty damn tasty – as most Red IPAs do. Love the latticework lace – good proteins right there. 9/10.

S: Piney/floral hops mingle with a touch of papaya and a solid caramel/biscuit base. Not quite as earthy as other Aussie Red IPAs. The aroma is full and tantalising with plenty going on. There’s little to detract from/critique with an aroma this good… let’s move on then. 9/10.

T: Piney hops, a touch of papaya, mid palate caramel/biscuit malts, finish is has a herbal bitter note. The aroma had a bit more going on than the flavour presents, it’s a solid brew but not as complex as my above noted favourites (the Modus, Prancing Pony and KAIJU! Red Ales). Aftertaste is herbal/piney. Not bad, just needs a bit more hop complexity. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied with some hop oiliness and a dense, almost creamy carbonation, great job here Mismatch! 9/10.

D: Mismatch’s best brew for me – and their biggest thus far (see Mr. Brewerton… still can’t get over that name… anyway, BIG beers are the key – to my heart at least). Flavour needs a touch of adjustment, it’s almost there, maybe a dry hop with some Mosaic or Amarillo will get it up towards Former Tenant greatness (oh and another 1% on the ABV… but then Mismatch lose the joke in the name, tough call there). I’m pretty tempted to get another 4-pack of this – it’s Red IPA season here. 8/10.

Food match: I’ve got a fetta, rocket, walnut and prosciutto pizza in mind for this.


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.


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.


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!