New England Brewing Co Puska Australian Sahti

Total Score: 7.05/10 Earth1Clove1Wood1Tulipglass1

First Doc bruview for a New England brew. I’ll be honest: I’ve tried most of their beers and I haven’t reviewed any of them yet because I’m just not a fan of their house style. Their yeast is all wrong, it’s not a good strain that they’re using, and consequentially all their beers are too dry and musty for me. However when I saw Puska Australian Sahti I was too intrigued not to buy n’ try it. The idea of an Aussie version of the Finnish, non-hopped style of Sahti proved impossible to resist. Credit where credit is due: this is a great idea for a beer. Utilising eucalyptus branches (instead of juniper) as the mash filter, wattle seed, pepperberry (and hops it seems), this beer from New England will hopefully not be as dry as the Simpson desert and musty as my bedroom book shelf.

Poured from a 500ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy deep amber body with a 2 centimetre cream-coloured head that dissolves leisurely leaving a sticky lace inside the glass. The amber colour of this beer, and the slight haze, is spot on for looking like something that might trap an ancient mosquito – quite mesmerising. 8/10.

S: Aroma smells dry, with a eucalyptus thumbprint all over it, but not much else. There’s some earthy dry notes with hints of pepper as well as woody/nutty tone. Sweetness is hard to detect, this is definitely following the New England pattern for brewing desert dry beers, however in this instance and given the style I’m not so bothered about it, i.e. 7/10.

T: Certainly an interesting beer to say the least! Profile comes across vinous in flavour (and mouthfeel) with the above notes of: eucalyptus, earthy, dry, hints of pepper, woody/nutty. There’s a touch of dark fruit malt sweetness, though just a touch – the other flavours bully it into submission. Hints of cardamom come into play on a third sip. The finish is of course: bone dry [saw that one coming]. At least there’s no heavy-handed yeast jumping around saying “look at me!”. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, fairly viscous, with a light carbonation giving this more of a wine mouthfeel than a beer one, works though. 7/10.

D: Apart from the eucalyptus (which actually detracts IMO) there’s note much to suggest anything uniquely Australian, but hey it works regardless. My usual complaint about NEB’s beers being too dry still applies, but overall this Australian Sahti experience has been OK. Decent even. 7/10.

Food match: Game meats, make it the Oz coat of arms and have roo/emu steaks 😉

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Stone SCRÜ WIT

Total Score: 7.8/10 Coriander1Clove1Bananas1Tulipglass1

As you all well know – my modus operandi when choosing which brew to review generally goes like this: “What is the craziest beer that I can get my hands on?”. The answer once again lies in a Stone beer (these guys can’t seem to hold themselves back now can they?), in this case SCRÜ WIT, which is a delightful sounding mixture of 3 of the most random and my favouritest styles: Sahti, Gruit and Belgio Imperial Witbier. Yes, it sounds like a party in my mouth that SCRÜ WIT is invited to. Now if you are yet to try the styles of Sahti or Gruit (both of which date back to the middle ages before hops were used in brewing) my suggestion is to seek them out as they are the bomb.

Poured from a 650ml “bomber” bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy amber body with a few suspended particles of what is probably yeast, and a thin off-white lace ring (which is pretty acceptable for an 8.% ABV brew). Looks pretty tasty, interestingly very amber for a Wit though. 8/10.

S: Aroma of pickles (I kid you not!) comes through on first whiff. Second whiff is definitely more in Wit territory with clove and cardamom spice, a touch of banana bread as well. Dry cracker and pepper notes come through with further whiffs. That pickle note is one of the oddest aromas I’ve ever detected in a beer, and I’m guessing it must be from the wormwood. 7/10.

T: Juniper and wormwood come across with a green herbal flavour that carries throughout this intriguing palate. However a bulk of the flavours are typical Wit flavours: Clove, cardamom, banana bread, dry cracker and pepper. The finish has a light but sharp bitter herbal character that balances out all that Wit sweetness. There’s some nice fruity esters coming through too. Damn there are almost too many flavours vying for my taste buds here, enjoyable though it be. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a nice creamy carbonation – excellent body that works well but also makes the sugars in this brew cloy a little too much. 8/10.

D: Bizarre and herbal with a strong Wit base, this is indeed quite an idiosyncratic brew from Stone that manages to showcase why they are up there with the best of craft brewers – because they take risks. They could easily rest on their laurels and churn out the same stuff again and again, but no: They throw three disparate styles together and say “drink this!”. Granted, the Wit flavours dominated the other styles, however this is still a beer I would try again. 8/10.

Food match: Pickles! Or hamburgers with pickles (not Maccas you heathen!).

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