Garage Project Day of the Dead

Total Score: 7.45/10 Chocolate1Chili1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Garage Project, more like “Expensive Project” due to how much they charge for their brews, amirite? Nevertheless, on more than one occasion I have been roused to muster my wallet (which generally contains various moths alongside my well-worn debit card) to purchase yet another Expensive Project beer based on the ingredients listed on the label. They know this. That is why they can get away with being so pricey – because as a craft drinker I’m drawn towards a brew that has chipotle, agave syrup and cacao nibs like a macro drinker is drawn to flavourless beers and flannel shirts.

Poured from a 330ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Impressive petroleum black body with a nice half centimetre beige head that sticks around for a while. At 6.7% ABV that’s a reasonably solid head, and for a Schwartzbier this is one of the blackest I’ve seen, so kudos GP. 9/10.

S: Smoky chipotle chilli, dark chocolate and an earthy coffee bean note round out an aroma that is OK but could have a bit more kick to it. However I’ve often found myself with brews that have a great bold aroma but muted flavours, and vice-versa so you never can tell sometimes. 6/10.

T: Toasty-tasty-roasty bonanza right here! Begins smoky with a light chilli touch that helps intensify the dark chocolate/earthy coffee bean characters, then follows through to a spicy bittersweet finish. Agave syrup gives the chocolate notes a kick so that the lingering aftertaste is a sweet (and spicy) chocolate. Flavour reminds me a little of Stone Xocoveza (though obviously not nearly as audacious as that amazing beverage – think of this as Xocoveza Lite). 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel, although in line with what a Schwartzbier should be, is mid to light bodied and slightly fizzy. More body would be ideal, but they did go with a lighter Lager style, so yeah, different strokes. 6/10.

D: This is one of the better GP beers I’ve had, up there with Death From Above and Cherry Bomb in terms of sort of grasping at what the bottle/can label says without fully realising its goal. That’s the bit that always disappoints me with GP beers – I want to have a party in my mouth with the ingredients they describe but it usually comes across half-hearted. This is exactly why out of NZ brewers my list goes: 8-Wired, Yeastie Boys and Tuatara (then maybe GP or Epic). 8/10.

Food match: Not quite a dessert beer here, more of a “let’s char-grill a steak to perfection” kind of beer.

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Burleigh Brewing Black Giraffe

Total Score: 7.45/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Caramel1Stein1

I could have sworn that I’ve had Black Giraffe before, in fact I did swear I said “Shit, I’ve had this beer before!” but for whatever reason I didn’t write up a review. Then again I don’t always write up reviews for every beer I try, Sean Penn’s character in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty put it (in the most succinct line of the film): “Sometimes I don’t [review beers – in his case take photos of Snow Leopards]. If I like a moment, I mean me, personally… I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera [in my case mobile phone]. I just wanna stay, in it.”

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a stein.

A: Obsidian cola body, 1 inch cappuccino khaki head that soon drops away leaving a half centimetre lace, what’s not to love? As an aside – judging dark beers is getting harder and harder these days – they all seem to coalesce into one black gumbo of delight… anyway… 7/10. Done.

S: Aroma is a mixture of cold drip coffee, metal and roasted cereal grains – not the best aroma in a coffee beer but it’s all in the taste is it not [at least 40% of my scoring is]. What is it missing? Could use less metal for a start… aside from that – remember FBS didn’t ‘wow’ me with its aroma but dropped a truck load of flavour on my tongue and said “Ere you go guvnor!” so let’s not dismiss BG yet ppl. 6/10.

T: A bit of dark fruits upfront (think prune/plum) with a toffee hint, ripe unroasted coffee bean, and cold drip coffee. Thankfully the above noted metal character is a lingering hint the background here, and the finish is a Helles Lager dry with a touch of earthy coffee bitterness. You really get a sense of that unroasted coffee cherry from the aftertaste and I think the Schwarzbier (a Lager beer) plays into that quite well – long sentence short: Coffee + Schwarzbier = Tasty. 8/10.

M: The body could use a little heft: Mid to light and slightly watery with a medium carbonation, but otherwise it feels to style, though a bit weird like a coffee flavoured soft drink. 7/10.

D: I feel like some bacon and eggs now – high praise for a coffee beer of any calibre – what Burleigh have done well here is take two seemingly disparate things: Coffee & Lager, and combine them into a brew that is sure to warrant a second tasting. I’m not the greatest fan of Burleigh, however this Schwarzbier is a tasty drop (and I love coffee, especially single origin) front of the class Burleigh. Did you do your homework? Burleigh: No. Me: Back of the class. 8/10.

Food match: Full English this brew.

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