Moon Dog Black Lung VI Starward Whisky Barrel-Aged Smokey Stout

Total Score: 7.4/10 Smoke1DarkFruits1Earth1Tulipglass1

Even more of a mouthful than our last reviews name! I tried Starward Whisky [apparently the correct spelling!] for the first time the other day and it is a unique dram of the water of life that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys their single malts but is looking for something a little different. It has a smoothness of flavour due to the use of the Solera process of fractional aging. This should definitely have a bearing on the overall flavour of this Black Lung – Moon Dog’s yearly Barrel-Aged release – which has so far had a blend of different barrels used from: Whisky and fresh oak to Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels. The one thing I’m hoping is that the peated malt doesn’t take over the flavour too much – I love peat but I want to taste the Starward barrel as well.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Zooush! Out the gates like a clapper this one (i.e. this is a ‘pour slowly’ drop). Dark brown, almost obsidian body with a 2 inch khaki head that slowwwwwly drops back. I did my taxes in the time it takes for this beers head to dissipate. 6/10.

S: Peaty like a glass of Ardbeg – borderline OTT (and I love Ardbeg!). Sherry/dark fruit characters intermingle with a whiff of nail polish (Methyl Acetate) and an earthy/dark chocolate note. This is a big smokey stout that demands your immediate and undivided attention. 7/10.

T: All of the above: Peat, sherry, dark fruits, nail polish and earthy/dark chocolate notes. It’s everything but the patio furniture! Even though there’s a great deal, almost a cacophony, happening on in the palate it’s still pretty decent. The Starward whisky providing that sherry/dark fruit overtone to this Black Lung. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Not for everyone… in fact I think only a small subset of craft beer and single-malt whiskey aficionados would enjoy this brew, but you’ve got to admire Moon Dog for going all-in… yet again! I’m curious to try other Black Lungs now to work out how distinct the flavour from the barrel is compared to previous attempts. I suspect there would be a notable difference between this and the other Black Lungs. One thing that didn’t do much for me was the peated malt – I felt it detracted rather than added to the overall flavour profile, jus saying. 7/10.

Food match: The skull on the bottle has the best suggestion: 6 corona cigars, smoked at the same time, whilst wearing a suit and tie.

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Wolf Of The Willows JSP Johnny Smoke Porter

Total Score: 7.75/10 Bacon1Earth1Chocolate1Nonicpint1

Tonight on I Hate Macros watch as Doc struggles through another beer review – searching for humorous metaphors to describe beer flavours and more! Follow Doc, and his self-deprecating inner voice inserted cleverly in square brackets [like so!], as he continually mocks himself for our entertainment! Witness the general meandering shambles of Doc’s thoughts captured online for all to see! Only on I Hate Macros *theme song plays* The beer: Wind in the Willows JSP Johnny Smoke Porter – I like the fox on the label – I think that will be my new avatar on BA. Done!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Dark and dirty reddish-tinged brown with a thin tan head on top – this is one pleased fox in a dinner jacket with a meerschaum pipe right here. Although, if one were to nit-pick, the head is a wee bit miserly… just saying. 7/10.

S: Beech wood smoke up front, lingers around like that characteristic Schlenkerla bacon sandy (Oztralian for “sandwich” – we abbreviate every word we can in case you hadn’t noticed). Earthy tones and some light chocolate malt notes give off a scent of sweetness as well. 8/10.

T: Yep, it’s Australia’s answer to Schlenkerla! Smoked bacon, earthy/chocolate sweetness and a light medicinal bitterness in the finish – this is one damn tasty Rauch Porter! Much like Schlenkerla’s brews the smoke lingers on like a dying campfire in the aftertaste. Flavour could be a touch more amped up – but that’s coming from someone who used to drink a steady supply of the mighty Schlenkerla Urbock – so I do have somewhat a dense Rauch palate. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a thin(ish) carbonation: This is the lowest point of the JSP experience – if we’re comparing JSP to the Schlenkerla brews (and let’s be fair that’s like comparing a young up-and-coming country wrestler with Hulk Hogan) JSP definitely needs more body and a creamier carbonation. 6/10.

D: Overall an impressive effort of a Rauch from an Aussie brewer, it’s amazing we can put up a brew like this in a style the German’s have been brewing since Roman times. It just goes to show how decent Wolf of the Willows are as a brewer – they’ve definitely got street cred in my books… plus JSP can tide over my Rauch cravings until I find a Schlenkerla stockist here in Brisbane 😉 8/10.

Food match: Bayrischer Krustenbraten mit kartoffel und Dunkelbier soße.

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Killer Sprocket Bandit Peated Pale Ale

Total Score: 6.8/10 Smoke1Coriander1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Not sure how this, what will no doubt be a delightful, peated Pale Ale escaped my attention. Especially since it is from Killer Sprocket: One of the more exciting of the recent explosion of new Australian craft breweries. In any case this is an intriguing sounding beers currently out there: A peated brew that isn’t a Scotch Ale, but in fact done in an American Pale Ale style, you know the one with the hops… I’m curiously as to how the smoky peat flavours will blend with piney/citric hops, there’s only one way to find out and it doesn’t involve Sudoku.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Fascinating cloudy caramel/copper body with a tight-packed cream coloured head on top which leaves some faint lacing on the side of the glass as it drop down. Quite a murky look for an APA, if we’re going off the BJCP style guidelines it is a bit too dark, but I don’t mind – it’s obviously due to the peating “I’ll allow it”. 7/10.

S: Smoky peat Phenols give this brew a bit of the old leather shoe aspect you would find in a glass of Ardbeg or Laphroaig – which is to say “as advertised” expectation-wise. A light caramel malt note, along with a spicy and earthy hop rounds out a decent but not “wow” aroma. 7/10.

T: Great peat characters upfront (smoke, leather, dirt) lead in to herbal/spicy/earthy hop notes, some caramel malts in the background, finishes with an odd combination of medium bitterness, smoke and a palate drying effect. This is certainly an interesting array of flavours to say the least. Aftertaste is a lingering herbal bitterness. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a nice light but dense carbonation – it’s one of those light but highly textured brews. 7/10.

D: This is a tough beer to rate – it’s great in some ways (as a Single-Malt Scotch Whiskey fan I love that nice peated taste) but the hops are too bitter with that astringent herbal bitterness that undoes all the great work the rest of the ingredients add. To put it another way – I couldn’t relax drinking this brew because the bitterness in the aftertaste was off-putting. Maybe it’s something to do with mixing peated malt into a hoppy style, I don’t know, but whatever it is this brew bounced off me a little, though I still liked parts of it. 6/10.

Food match: I feel like this is a good beer to match with a nice rare rib-eye steak, a light potato mash, asparagus and salsa verde.

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Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew

Total Score: 7.6/10 Smoke1Wood1Coriander1Tulipglass1

This will, appropriately/sadly, be my last beer review for a while – reviewing beers seems to have added a solid inch or two to my waistline over the last five years and I plan to work hard to get those inches back. In the meantime I will still be posting old reviews on this blog regardless. So Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew is a heavy hitter 11% ABV smoked Barleywine from the venerable Norwegian brewer, it is fitting that I go out with a bang, and here it is.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Dark chocolate brown body with a firm packed half centimetre tan head. Appears as formidable as any big beer. The head soon reduces to a lace ring as high ABV brews usually do, still tasty I say. 8/10.

S: I like my smoked beers as geräuchert (German for ‘smoked’) as they can get and this Sunturnbrew throws down a real peaty gauntlet, bravo! Behind the veil of spruce campfire smoke is a thin veneer of sweet toffee malts and dark fruits (plum mostly). There may also be a hint of pepper spice in the background from the rye, it’s hard to tell with this much smoke… mmm, rauchy. 8/10.

T: Quite syrupy, but we’ll get to that in a second, flavour is quite peaty and spruce-like with some mid-palate toffee/plum sweetness and a bitter herb liqueur finish: More Pelinkovac – a Croatian/Serbian bitter herb liqueur – than Jägermeister (which is much sweeter). Aftertaste is lingering smoke and slight herbal bitterness. The flavour is bold and uncompromising, as expected. 8/10.

M: Now to the body which is a heavy very sticky and viscous sensation… possibly the most gooey brew I’ve imbibed, which you would think is a good thing but it really detracts on the palate IMO. There is too sticky and this beer is it. Apart from that a light/almost flat carbonation rounds it out. 6/10.

D: I love single malt Islay whiskies (Ardbeg being my perennial favourite) so theoretically I should love Sunturnbrew, but it’s too much viscosity and a tad too much bitterness towards the finish that distracts the scotch drinker in me and reminds me this is in fact a beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that [not at all!] however I really wanted to get a better balance from this brew (without needing a good tongue scraping afterwards). 7/10.

Food match: Smoked meats obviously. Salmon, herring or venison if you want to go the whole Norwegian hog… hog would work as well.

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Exit #007 Smoked Stout

Total Score: 8.6/10 Wood1 Smoke1 Earth1 Nonicpint1

Who doesn’t love a Smoked Stout? Probably salmon because it reminds them of where they may end up if caught [that is in a smokehouse, not a Stout… that gives me an idea for a new beer style – Salmon Stout… patent pending! Anyway, carry on me]. Err, yes me. *whispering to reader* Geez that was awkward, that guy gives me the creeps. *end whisper* So yeah, coming to Exit – as you may or may not recall their Milk Stout (the creatively named “#003”) was très bien to put it lightly or a f**king sweet! (to put it not so lightly just in case you needed a second option on the putting of it). Seeing as how every time I praise a beer it mysteriously sells out at Plonk I decided to give their #007 James Bon, err, Smoked Stout a try.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Pours a deep dark inky black, like a squid took a defensive manoeuvre in my glass, with an 8mm (yes we are measuring in millimetres now, wow us) tan head that quickly fades away to a thin lace ring. Should this be packing a head of some sort? Yes. Do I care? Not really. 7/10.

S: Why oh why did I shave and put aftershave on before this review? Oh well. Even through the dense thicket of my manly aftershave with the tiger on the bottle I can still pick up hickory smoked wood, sweet molasses malt and an earthy/peaty note in the background. 8/10.

T: Hell. Yes. This is the stuff that log cabins with embers slowly dying in the fireplace are made of: big hickory smoked wood, hints of sweet molasses to shore it up and that lingering earthy/peaty note. It even has hops in it as well, providing that classic counterpoint to sweetness; they add an earthy Australian forest floor flourish, sort of like the flavour you get in most US IPAs only less piney. But the star of the show are the smoke characters – they’re big and uncompromising as they should be. 9/10.

M: Medium(ish!) bodied with some dense but light carbonation. 8/10.

D: I thought the Milk Stout was damn good and this is almost as good as it. Though it is down to my personal preference of sweet over smoked flavours (that said I do love me a good Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock) this was the biggest deciding factor, and whilst this has a good earthy/peaty/smoky character it is miles behind the smoke complexity of a Schlenkerla brew. Final word? Continue buying up all the #003 Milk Stouts you can mysterious person who lives in Canberra and happens to like all the beers I rate highly – I’m a coming for those brews! 9/10.

Food match: Whatever food you can find in the pantry of your log cabin.

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HaandBryggeriet Norwegian Wood

Total Score: 7.9/10 Smoke1 Nut1 Wood1 Tulipglass1

Time for some Norwegian Wood, which would sound a bit X-Rated were it not for the novel by Haruki Murakami with its title based on The Beatles song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. HaandBryggeriet are actually a Norwegian brewer, so I guess in this beer the reference has come full circle (as this brew is smoked with actual Norwegian wood).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: A pleasing hazy deep auburn body with a massive 3 inch tan head that soon settles to a thin lace on top. HaandBryggeriet are (for me) renowned for their explosive heads – their Kreklingøl ruined my last keyboard (which is why I always open beers in the kitchen now). 7/10.

S: Smoke notes give this brew a burnt sesame oil aroma, followed by toasted pine, hints of pepper, and a thin malt base, expecting little but smoke in the flavour now – a bit too much for my liking. 6/10.

T: The flavour, thankfully, is delightfully sweet, smoky and nutty. There is a dry Juniper berry finish and more nuts than you can poke a squirrel at. The burnt sesame oil flavour lingers on well into the aftertaste and is right on the border of being overbearing. 9/10.

M: Mid to light(ish) bodied with a classic HaandBryggeriet explosive carbonation that strangely does not give me the hiccups like most fizzy drinks. Perhaps a touch watery is the biggest criticism with this beer. 5/10.

D: Well this is quite a departure from any other beer I’ve ever had. Even a Rauchbier like Schlenkerla Urbock tastes different to this Smoked Beer. I give it big points for being so far out there and unique, and despite it being a bit watery/gassy, I fully endorse this brew – if like me – your tongue is seeking new challenges in the beer world. One of the best HaandBryggeriet brews so far, and I would recommend this first before you attempt to topple the tipple (Odin’s Tipple). 9/10.

Food match: The sesame oil smoke in this brew made me long for fried egg noodles in sesame sauce.

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