On The Shelf – Sierra Nevada Brewing 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout

By The Gentleman

Before I begin I just want to say that anyone who doesn’t like annoying, kind of funny, repetitive Internet songs that get stuck in your head for a decade should probably stop reading right now…okay are they gone? Good, then let’s begin.

narwhal

I want to take you back over ten years, to a time before YouTube, when finding hilarious online videos usually involved a trip to Newgrounds or some other Flash video portal. During this time there was one particular Flash cartoon creator who was like the Devil incarnate for catchy Internet videos : Jonti Picking and the Weebl Stuff website. Picking had a gift for creating repetitive songs that could drill deep down into your brain. Years after seeing a video you’d still find yourself humming along to Magical Trevor, Badger, Badger, Badger, or the Kenya song. Once you heard one of these songs it was impossible to forget it. Someone starts talking about Kenya (or Norway…more like Snoreway!) and all I can see is little dancing Lions and Tigers and all I can hear is an Englishman singing “Come to Kenya” with a really annoying trumpet accompaniment. Basically the point of this is the whole time I was drinking the Sierra Nevada 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout all I could think of was “Narwhals! Narwhals! Swimming in the ocean causing a commotion coz they are so awesome”:

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I’d like to talk about the delicious thick, creamy, brown head and the big, rich, roasted coffee and chocolate flavour of this Imperial Stout, which smelt just as good as it tasted and went down surprisingly smoothly with little bitterness or over the top boozyness despite clocking in at a beastly 10.2% ABV, but really all I can think about is Narwhal’s and how they are so awesome. Did you know they are the Jedi’s of the sea AND they invented the shish kebab? Looking at the bad-ass Narwhal on the Sierra Nevada label it’s easy to believe these things. They look like a creature that doesn’t mess about and just gets straight down to the business of being awesome, much like the Narwhal Imperial Stout.

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Apparently the Narwhal Imperial Stout is a beer that gets better with age, but I don’t think I’d be able to have it in the house for any length of time. Every time I see it I’d just start thinking about Narwhal’s and singing that damn song, it would slowly drive me insane. No this is one to drink as soon as you can get your hands on it.

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On The Shelf – Evil Twin Brewing Yin Imperial Taiji Stout

By The Gentleman

Do you know what’s fun? Standing around an open bonfire feeling its warmth while roasting marshmallows. That is until you realise you stink of smoke and your clothes are covered in little flakes of ash. God damn ash. Drinking the Evil Twin Yin Imperial Taiji Stout went a long way in replicating that experience without all that annoying ash. Winning.

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Evil Twin is another of the new Danish gypsy brewers who produce all kinds of crazy beer that are regarded as some of the best new beers in the world. I have to admit I’d seen gypsy brewer mentioned in regards to a few other labels and had no idea what it means. This time I looked it up and it means the company do not have brewing facilities of their own. Instead they collaborate with larger brewers that have excess production capacity. It’s a pretty crazy, but also reasonable idea when you think about it. Not everyone has ‘dat brewery facility money’. The Yin Imperial Taiji Stout, which has a simple but eye-catching label, is brewed at Two Roads Brewing Co in Connecticut and is actually meant to be consumed as one half of a Black and Tan with the Yang Imperial IPA making up the other half. I only had the Yin, but it was damn fine on its own.

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The Evil Twin Yin poured pitch black with a slight mocha head that dissipated very quickly. The beer smelt so smoky with a definite woodiness to it. I almost thought Smokey Bear was going to pop out and ask where the forest fire was. Seriously, I thought the smoke was just going to overpower everything. It was pretty damn intense. Luckily the more you drank it, and the closer it got to room temperature, the more you could pick up on the dark chocolate and more of a roasted flavour in amongst the smoke. I expected some creaminess and maybe a bit of vanilla, but it had quite a dry and bitter chocolate finish, although the last few mouthfuls were a bit smoother. The dry, bitter chocolate finish was definitely pleasant and quite long-lasting. You don’t really scull your way through this beer. It’s more something you sit back on a cold and windy night to enjoy slowly as the booze (and it had a heavy kick to me) tricks your body into feeling warm.

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I’d definitely be interested in getting the Yang to try the Black and Tan. The Yin is pretty bold so I’m really curious to see how the flavours interact and what gets enhanced/toned down. On its own though Yin was pretty tasty and gets bonus points for evoking those bonfire nights. Word of warning though things are still going to smell pretty smoky. The first thing The Lady said when she walked into the room was “it smells like beer…and smoke in here”. You may not be able to get rid of the smell, but at least you’ll have beer and won’t be covered in ash.

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On The Shelf – Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

By The Gentleman

After a short hiatus The Lady and I are back and boy have we come back in a big way with the Kaiju! Beer Double IPA another shining example from the growing Australian craft beer scene.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

During our time away from The Cocktail Challenge we kind of got a little bit obsessed with the instant restaurant portion of My Kitchen Rules. The show is just so trashy and awkward, but it’s also quite unintentionally funny. We love Pete and Manu’s serious eating faces where they kind of just stare off into the distance while they are eating the contestants dish and then they turn and look each other longingly in the eye. It’s riveting stuff. When you’ve sat through a few weeks of My Kitchen Rules all the buzzwords and sappy stories about food start to blend into one. One of our favourites is the contestants promise of “big, bold flavours”. A close second is “hero of the dish”. I’m pretty sure you would get rather drunk if you played the My Kitchen Rules drinking game where you had to take a shot every time someone said “big, bold flavours” or some other incredibly cliched food saying. It’s ridiculous. Drinking Kaiju! Beer’s Double IPA we couldn’t help but think that if the beer appeared on My Kitchen Rules the contestants and judges would trundle out the “big, bold flavours” claim. Funnily enough, in this case it would actually be a pretty damn accurate claim.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

Kaiju! Beer, who used to be called Monster Mash until a certain energy drink company made them stop, have crafted a monster of a beer. The Double IPA clocks in at a ridiculous 9.1% ABV and 140 IBU and comes in a 500ml bottle. It’s big and it’s damn well bold. The Kaiju on the bottle reminds me of some sort of hop monster, which is really fitting for the beer. It’s a fun and eye catching label that really makes a statement on the shelf. The beer itself pours with an attractive and thick creamy white head and the body is a dark cloudy amber colour. Taking the first mouthful the beer really wallops you right in the back of the throat with flavour. You get some malty caramel flavour and a bit of a bready taste. Really though the beer is all about the hops. They are the ‘hero of the dish’ and they’re big, they’re bold, and they’re bitter. Your whole mouth just gets swallowed up in bitterness that really pushed me to the edge of my tolerance for bitter beer. I was sure this wasn’t going to be The Lady’s cup of tea (or pint of beer), but after getting knocked about on that first sip she settled into it like I did. There is a touch of sweetness in the lingering bitterness to just help things tone down a little. It also makes you feel damn warm from the alcohol content. I’ve had a few high strength beers that didn’t feel too heavy and boozy, but the Kaiju! Beer Double IPA is a pretty heavy and boozy beer.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

Now it’s time to crack open another Kaiju! Beer Double IPA and experience some of those “big, bold flavours” while laughing at the latest awkwardness of My Kitchen Rules. Don’t forget to take a shot on every cliche.

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On The Shelf – McCashin’s Brewery Stoke Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale

By The Gentleman

Stoke Bomber

Nelson’s McCashin’s Brewery is one of New Zealand’s oldest craft brewers, but I only stumbled across it after one of my recent searches for beers with interesting design and flavours. The prospect of trying a Kiwi Pale Ale in a simple yet effectively designed package was just too good to pass up.

Stoke Bomber

The Bomber range of McCashin’s Stoke Beer represents the breweries experimental and crazy side. It’s the sort of flexibility that make craft brewers so fun, they can throw together flavours that interest them and see what happens while we get to drink the often tasty and always different results. The Kiwi Pale Ale is one of five current beers in the Bomber range. The beer gets its name from the local Wai-iti hops that are used, making it a truly local brew. Impressively, the brewery also sources its water from a 14,000 year old Paleo water source that is 350m below where the brewery stands. I never thought I’d write that sentence, but there you go. At least you know the water is up to the task.

Stoke Bomber

The whole Bomber range has a really clean and simple design that is highly effective. The bold white and yellow text on the big 650ml amber bottle invokes a bygone era. You could imagine bottles of Stoke Bomber waiting in the Officer’s Tent after the latest mission. It doesn’t need to be flashy or edgy to stand out that’s the job for what’s in the bottle. It’s a real testament to the power of damn good typography. I’m also disappointed that I only ordered one bottle because the carton for a case of six beers is really cool with a picture of two members of a bomber crew decked out in full kit looking rather intense.

Stoke Bomber

The Kiwi Pale Ale is said to have strong caramel, biscuit and marmalade notes. The caramel and biscuit are definitely there and give the beer quite a thick mouthfeel, but not too thick to be cloying. The marmalade is there also, giving a little bit of fruitiness and sweetness. The caramel and malt dominate the aroma. The beer pours with a reasonable head and lacing and the colour is quite a dark, almost murky, amber brown. It’s not overly bitter with the caramel providing a creaminess and softness to the finish. It’s a slow drinking beer that is quite still, with low carbonation, and gave me a more than expected buzz despite being a reasonable 5.5% ABV. I did notice a bit of sediment in the head and I wasn’t sure if that was intentional, like the Cooper’s Pale Ale.

Stoke Bomber

The Stoke Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale was an enjoyable beer. The bottle is great and the beer has enough flavour from that really nice caramel that sipping it throughout the evening is a pleasant experience. Plus, in a 650ml bottle there is a lot of it so you can sit back, relax and forget that it’s the start of a new week.

Stoke Bomber

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Now Serving – Mr Black’s Dream Date

By The Gentleman

Mr Black's Dream Date

Today’s post again gives you, our readers, two recipes for the price of one. Last week you may remember we experimented with Mr Black’s Coffee Liqueur and also sampled a rather delicious date flavoured beer from Burleigh Brewing, the Dream Date Dark Ale. The Lady and I enjoyed both of these so much we just had to have more of them and then the crazy idea hit us, how about we combine the two for some simple but hopefully incredibly tasty beer cocktails. So we once again went a little mad scientist and mixed up a few experiments and the results, well, an interesting thing happened. Out of the two drinks we made, both were quite nice, but The Lady really liked one and I really liked the other so we present to you, The Lady’s Dream Date and The Gentleman’s Dream Date. Enjoy!

 

The Lady’s Dream Date

15ml Ginger and Cardamom Syrup

30ml Mr Black’s Coffee Liqueur

Burleigh Brewing Dream Date Dark Ale

In a fancy glass, mix together the syrup and liqueur. Top with beer then stir to combine. The syrup is really easy to make, just combine one cup of sugar to half a cup of water and then add ginger and cardamon pods to your liking. We chose ginger and cardamom as they are flavours that are meant to pair well with dates. I only had powdered ginger on hand (as usual this was a last minute decision and something I had to make RIGHT then) and used about a teaspoon and a half of ginger to six cracked cardamom pods for a more ginger heavy syrup.

The Lady's Dream Date

You can definitely add more ginger syrup if that’s how you like it as the drink can definitely take it. We were concerned the syrup might make it too sweet, so that’s why we kept it on the down low, but it didn’t. The Lady described the drink as having a flavour reminiscent of those hard boiled ginger sweets your grandparents would always have and everyone knows grandparents only ever had the best food to constantly fatten you up so this is definitely a good thing. The ginger sweet flavour was at the top of drink, what you captured with the first mouthful. As you drank more and dug deeper into the flavours and the aftertaste the strong malts and hops of the beer became more pronounced. The coffee was definitely a subtle flavour, adding a slight bitterness along with the beer and combining with the syrup to give the drink an almost medicinal, herbal sort of aftertaste which left a very pleasant flavour in your mouth.

The Lady's Dream Date

The Gentleman’s Dream Date

45ml Mr Black’s Coffee Liqueur

1 tablespoon Fee Brothers Chocolate a Bitters Spiked Whipped Cream

Burleigh Brewing Dream Date Dark Ale

Pour liqueur and cream into a fancy glass. Top with beer. Stir to combine. The cream is similar to what we used in the Red Wine Chocolate Cake, just without the Mork cacao powder.

Gentleman's Dream Date

This was my favourite but also the one we were most unsure of at first. Cream and beer isn’t exactly a new thing but it is usually only used in conjunction with a dark stout, like a Guinness. The Dream Date Dark Ale is certainly no where near as heavy or creamy as a stout, but we thought the flavour of the beer combined with the coffee of the Mr Black would work, sense be damned! Luckily for us, it did. The Lady felt the drink was almost too sweet and this is why she preferred the less sweet, bitter, herbal flavours of The Lady’s Dream Date, but I really enjoyed this drink. For me that sweetness, combined with the dates in the beer and the coffee of the liqueur, made the drink taste like a like a creamy, caramelly iced coffee and not just the kind made over ice (which are lovely as well), but the really over the top kind that’s made with heapings of ice cream as well. The beer causes the cream to foam up immensely, it almost overflows, which gives you the same awesome creamy foam that you would get with a spider or float. Not only is the foam delicious but it gives the whole drink a creamy flavour. The Lady’s drink also generated some foam, from the syrup, but that simmered down over time whereas the cream meant the foam on this badboy stuck around the whole drink. The drink itself takes on a real caramel colour and the beer and cream don’t overpower the coffee. The drink still has a really strong coffee smell and the coffee and hops do give it a slight bitterness so it’s not all sweetness.

The Gentleman's Dream Date

Both of these drinks aren’t really for everyone. Even The Lady and I had our clear favourites. Still, each drink has some really interesting flavour combinations going on that beg to be tried out so you can see for yourself. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised , especially those of you who are fans of iced coffee or ginger lollies.

The Gentleman's Dream Date

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Dream Dates

On The Shelf – Burleigh Brewing Co Dream Date Dark Ale

By The Gentleman

Dream Date

After sampling several rather good looking and extremely tasty New Zealand beers I challenged myself to find more Australian beers that could go toe-to-toe based on style and flavour. I was sure there was some out there just waiting to be found. Lo and behold there were and the first one that I found comes from Burleigh Brewing Co.

Dream Date

Burleigh Brewing Co is a Burleigh Heads, Queensland based brewer. It is the Gold Coast’s only craft brewer. Burleigh Brewing have built their brewing philosophy on marrying the brewing traditions of the past with a sense of adventure that allows them to experiment with new combinations and styles. They push this philosophy to the limit with their ‘A Bit On The Side‘ line of beers. Nothing seems off-limits here with interesting flavour combinations released in small batches. It was one of these Bit On The Side beers that really caught our attention, the Dream Date.

Dream Date

As you can imagine the Dream Date features dates. Crazy I know. The story on the bottle goes, the Burleigh Brew crew sampled a rather delicious, smooth, sticky date liqueur and just had to have more. Doing what they do best they married that sweet date flavour to a dark ale. The beer blends a shed load of dates with select medium and dark malts, as well as aromatic hops, into a big 5.7% ABV, 50 IBU package.

Dream Date

The label is very cool. It’s right up my alley, mixing comic book style artwork with some crazy, vibrant colours. The bottle shows a classic image of two lovers, but the bright colours make it modern and fun. It also has a very Roy Lichtenstein, pop art style to it. The Lady and I could imagine the label hanging on our wall. Coupled with the whole narrative of falling in love with the date liqueur and having their breath taken away, the name and art all really work well together. It certainly makes an impression and plays well with the idea of being different and experimental.

Dream Date

The Dream Date, as expected, pours a quite dark amber colour. The Lady showed off her beer pouring skills and was able to get the Dream Date to pour with a good sized head, which had a slightly caramel tinge to it. I couldn’t pick up much in the aroma, just some faint sweet notes and the undertone of malt. I was also expecting it to be a heavier beer than it was. The other day I had the Little Creatures White Rabbit Dark Ale, which was a very heavy, intense sort of beer. This was a lot lighter and didn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. By virtue of being lighter it was actually quite refreshing, like going on a blind date and realising the other person is actually a normal human and not all the crazy things your mind thought up during the day. The beer tasted sweeter than I expected, but The Lady felt this was an appropriate level of sweetness and I’d have to agree. It had a really nice caramel and toffee flavour from the dates, with a few hints of vanilla and spice that finished with some hoppy bitterness. This left a rather pleasant bittersweet aftertaste, but I’m not going to relate that to dating because The Lady may get angry with me. The Dream Date gave off some interesting flavours, but those accustomed to dark ale may be a tad disappointed by the lightness, sweetness, and freshness of the Dream Date. Personally, The Lady and I were a fan of this experimental blend of dark ale.

Dream Date

It’s early days but already my quest to find cool, good looking and interesting Australian beers has been a success. The Burleigh Brewing Dream Date Dark Ale was not what I was expecting at first, lighter and sweeter than other dark ales, but very tasty and draped in stylish Lichtenstein-esque design. Dream Date? Close enough.

 

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On The Shelf – Liberty Brewing Company Yakima Monster APA

By The Gentleman

Yakima

My fondness for interesting looking labels is well known and for my birthday I was lucky enough to receive a wide variety of beers with interesting labels from The Lady. One of those beers was another New Zealand number, the Yakima Monster, this time from Liberty Brewing Company. I’m starting to think these New Zealanders are on to something when it comes to pairing good beer with cool labels.

Yakima

Liberty Brewing, like most good craft brewers, started from a passion for beer. There was also the added caveat of not having ready access to good beer in some of New Zealand’s more out of the way locations. Home brewing was the first course of action before the unexpected opportunity to take over a home brewing supply company, Liberty Brewing. In a move to show how much Liberty trusted the gear they were selling, and to stand out from the crowd, they started brewing beer made with the supplies they sell to showcase how good it was. The Liberty stuff was so good that it was soon in demand all across New Zealand, and made it’s way across the Tasman to Australia.

Yakima

The Yakima Monster is an American Pale Ale made with hops from Yakima, Washington. Yes I know, I was also conjuring up the very images of Japan and all sorts of Godzilla-esque monsters the label specifically warns you against. It’s not an overly bitter beer, with a 45 IBU, but it’s listed as their ‘Strong APA’ at 6.0% ABV. I’d actually been eying up another beer in the Liberty range, the Sauvignon Bomb, based purely on the label. Most of the labels we have featured on here are stylish, elegant pieces of design, but the Yakima Monster is just downright cool. It brings back all sorts of memories of zombies, monsters and ghouls from old TV shows and video games that I used to watch and play as a kid. It also gets bonus points for the dripping blood font. Everyone knows the best monster films, shows etc use the dripping blood font. It’s the calling card for awesome monster horror. The Yakima Monster is just a cool, fun label.

Yakima

The Yakima Monster was also a bit of a special tasting as I finally got around to buying some proper beer glasses. I feel like less of a failure as a drinks blogger now that I have more glassware. Pouring it out it had a relatively small head and a rather hazy orange, gold colour. The aroma was not as strong as I was expecting but you still got a good hint of fruity flavours, quite a tropical scent really. The taste was very fruity with a bit of pine herbal flavour as well. It provided a slight numbing sensation although not as strong as I’ve had before. Liberty certainly weren’t lying when they said they’ve created a beer that anyone can go ‘Wow that tastes fruity’, but there are some other more complex and intriguing flavours. The overall herbal flavour was really interesting after the really bitter beers I’ve been drinking and provided a nice contrast to the sweet fruits. The aftertaste was slightly bitter but not overwhelming. It quickly went away to give a sweet finish. It also didn’t feel like a heavy or overly strong beer. That finish and the lack of an overly bitter taste made the Yakima Monster a really drinkable beer.

Yakima

On The Shelf has had a decidedly New Zealand flavour recently, and will hopefully continue in the future with the Sauvignon Bomb, but as an Australian this experience is concerning. We can never let New Zealand do anything well, ever. So, this means I’m going to have to try extra hard to find some awesome looking and tasting Australian craft beer to set things straight. In the meantime, I’m more than happy to sit back and enjoy Liberty Brewing’s Yakima Monster.Cheers!

 

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