Pannepot Special Reserva (2014 vintage)

Total Score: 8.75/10 RedWine1Clove1Vegemite1Chalice1

Yay, been looking forward to this for soooo long! Pannepot Special Reserva: A version of Struise Brouwers Old Fisherman’s Spiced Ale, barrel-aged for 4 years in a Bordeaux oak barrel from France. Funny they aged this in wine barrels from France because this is the beer equivalent of a very fine aged wine. In fact it reminds me of that Black Books episode where they try to recreate a bottle of wine reserved for the Pope by using a cheap bottle of red, vanilla essence and an oak twig (probably my favourite episode of Black Books) #goodtimes So what exactly can one expect from this 10% ABV beauty? Something smooth, yet spicy, with a long oak finish? Your guess is as good as mine (if that was your guess, otherwise hard luck old spice).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into an Orval chalice.

A: Dark brown with a burgundy-red tinge, quite an active mocha-coloured head that fizzles down as fast as it came leaving a faint ring of lace. Looks like a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (as opposed to the Quadrupel it’s listed as on BA), reminds me of Gulden Draak, which is not golden despite the name. 8/10.

S: Very much like the original Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale (cardamom, cinnamon, mace, dark fruits, brown sugar and yep: Vegemite/Marmite) with a solid red grape must vinous note from the barrel. Here’s hoping that Vegemite/Marmite character from original Pannepot has settled down a little, although I know if I had it today – 4 years after my original Pannepot review – I would have rated it higher than a respectable, yet slightly paltry: 8.05/10. 9/10.

T: As expected “It’s a party in my mouth, and everyone’s invited!” (God bless you Ken Griffey Jr.), with a flavour profile so explosive I’m surprised a glass bottle could contain it: cardamom, cinnamon, mace, dark fruits, brown sugar, VegeMarmite™, yes yes, some mid-palate oak wood tones, touch of vanilla, red grape must, yeast? Did I mention yeast? VegeMarmite™ is a yeast paste so that counts, and a dry spicy finish. Next to no alco-burn. This is a true sipper right here. 9/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied, the minimal carbonation comes across as a bit prickly for some reason, detracts a touch from this otherwise world-class brew. 7/10.

D: It’s hard to go past this Pannepot Special Reserva, some of the edges I found too rough with original Pannepot have mellowed over time, along with that chaotic nature, and the barrel has given this brew a subtle face-lift, enough to leave a refined sipper that has a slight wild side – top stuff Struise! 9/10.

Food match: Gotta be some fine French ‘haute cuisine’ for this puppy… puppies too.

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Stone Saison Du BUFF Red & White Wine Barrel Aged

Total Score: 8.8/10 Coriander1Flowers1WhiteWine1Tulipglass1

Stone, I love Stone [not getting stoned – not into that, sorry!]. Damn their beers can be expensive though – this corked and caged 500ml bottle cost me around $36, that’s halfway to the most expensive beer I’ve ever bought ($60 for a 330ml bottle of Westvleteren XII), anyway you get what you paid for, and Barrel-Aged beers are expensive in general. The main drawcard for me with this brew was this: rosemary. I’ve been wanting to try a beer brewed with rosemary for ages. Also parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme “remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine” – who doesn’t love Simon and Garfunkel? Probably people born this century, but really what do they know? Yeah!

Poured from a 500ml corked and caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Fairly hazed pale orange body with a rather active white head that fizzles out pretty quickly leaving a thin lace ring. It’s no contender for best looking beer, but it looks drinkable nonetheless. 7/10.

S: Dry and musty Brettanomyces yeast upfront provides a decent barnyard funky hay-bale Saison credentials – this is definitely a farmhouse ale, there’s no disputing that. The rest of the aroma is dedicated to herbal and floral notes, with a bit of bubble-gum thrown into the mix. Yep, this is one of those beers I could sit in the corner and sniff for ages [as long as no one sees me acting like some sort of beer-sniffing lunatic]. “Sensational aroma!” is what I could have said more aptly. 10/10.

T: Flavour is a complex mix of the above: dry/musty and spicy Brett yeast, dry herbal centre with hints of sage and thyme, white wine grapes, hints of floral notes and bubble-gum, capped off with a looooong dry herbal finish. Flavours overall of a crazy complex and exceptional brew that is a little too yeast-driven and missing the rosemary, parsley and red wine barrel characters, however this was going to be a hectic brew and those flavours have no doubt been drowned out in the sheer cacophony of ingredients. 9/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a dense and prickly carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew more than anything reminds me of Trappist brews like Orval – herbal rich, dry and spicy – and apart from the above noted flavours being pushed out by other flavours it is bang on what I was expecting. Oh yeah, and 9.3% ABV – doesn’t taste anything near that! Another admirable effort from Stone, though a bit too many Brett strains, go easy on the yeast next time Stone. 8/10.

Food match: Roast chicken with a herb salad and roasted veggies.

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Sierra Nevada/Mikkeller Thai-Style Iced Tea

Total Score: 7.1/10 Clove1Orange1Tea1Tulipglass1

Look I’m a sucker for anything Mikkeller makes, and Sierra Nevada too for that matter – these are two brewing Gods in my pantheon and there’s nothing better than a crazy collaboration (if it works!). This beer from the “around the world” 12-pack immediately caught my eye and wouldn’t let go: 2 of my favourite brewers – check! Crazy set of ingredients including tamarind and star anise – check! 7.2% ABV – check! Brewed with black tea and lactose – check! What could even remotely go wrong with this one? Well, yeah, you’re right: everything… but hell you’ve got to give it to that ballsy Mikkeller bastard for going for the maddest ideas he can come up with (which are pretty mad TBH) and Sierra Nevada for providing the gypsy brewer with Beer Camp equipment. Salute!

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazed with floaty bits and an amber-coloured body with a rather large hard-poured 1 inch off-white cappuccino foam head that slowly drops back leaving latticework lace in the glass. I wonder what the floaty bits are, I’m hoping it’s spices and such, I do enjoy spice: it’s the spice of life. 7/10.

S: Star anise and sour tamarind upfront and bashing the nose repeatedly. Well it is what I asked for, so thanks Mikkeller & SN. Hints of tannic black tea and a touch of orange peel rounds out what must be said is one of the most odd beer aromas I’ve ever encountered. Not sure if I 100% like it but it’s certainly interesting. 7/10.

T: Spicy, funky and malty – in that order. Flavour is dominated somewhat by star anise, with funky tamarind and orange playing minor roles, and black tea rounding it all out. Finish lays down more tamarind funk (if you’ve never tried tamarind before you can get it in paste form at the supermarket – I use it in my yummy Pad Thai, but it’s a secret… oh wait, it was a secret, shhh!). Overall flavour profile is a bit confused, and IMO doesn’t come across with enough tea flavour to pull off the “iced tea” moniker. Still it is tasty… tasty and funky in equal measure. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied and fairly smooth – a decent mouthfeel here. 8/10.

D: Definitely one of the oddest beers I’ve encountered (and I’ve encountered a fair few beers now!). The flavour is all over the shop, like other Mikkeller swing-n-miss brews. He doesn’t always get it right and this brew is one of them. More tea and perhaps lemongrass would have pushed this in the direction it needed to go. As it is I didn’t actually mind it, but I wouldn’t bother getting it again. 7/10.

Food match: Busy thinking about my Pad Thai now, mmmmm.

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