Tag Archive: Australia


Starward: Ginger Beer Cask #6 (Australia Single Malt Whisky: 4 Years?: 48% ABV)

Visual: Dark copper to bronze, with reddish touches. Very slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Ginger. Menthol. Peppermint. Dessert wine. Toffee touch. Rose wine touch. Dried apricot. Rose petals. Water adds more menthol, more ginger and burnt brown sugar.

Body: Smooth front into a lightly burning strength. Sour red wine. Tannins. Butterscotch, Ginger. Vanilla. Fatty butter. Dried apricot. Apple. Water makes slightly waxy, but smoother. More ginger. Even more water brings out a strawberry touch.

Finish: Fiery ginger bread. Sweet ginger beer. Grassy. Dry oak. Tannins. Bitter red wine. A waxy remaining air. Water adds lots of ginger and fatty butter comes out. Sulphur candles air. More water makes peppery.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get it out of the way quickly. This is, obviously, heresy, but is it tasty tasty heresy?

Well, it answer that I will first examine nearly everything else I can, because I am an evil shit. Like a lot of warmer country aged whisky this is thick and chewy, with an unusual texture, that reminds me of whisky that has been directly gas heated (from the few times I have had a chance to try whisky described as such anyway) . Anyway, this has a distinct feel that I can best describe as slightly like the fluffy feel of a steam beer, but not. I am good at this words lark honest. Despite the higher abv and being younger whisky it is fairly smooth initially, the alcohol does become noticeable fast, but never painful and easily dealt with by adding some water.

The base whisky has a rose wine air to it, with more red wine like notes around edges. Early on it feels more towards the red wine, but even a few drops of water soothes it towards the more rose style. That lighter wine touch seems to allow a lot of room for lighter, menthol like notes to roam around over everything.

A lot of the evident character is in the feel, as well as that lightly gassy fluffy touch mentioned before, there is a waxy sheen at the end and a sulphurous candle touch in the air and feel, heck even a kind of fatty butter touch. The quicker ageing in a hot climate really gives it some feel. On that is a lightly sweet, red and rose wine touched whisky, with some more traditional sweet vanilla and such notes as well, but a lot is in that mouthfeel.

So, ginger beer finish eh? The ginger is very evident, as you can probably tell from the main notes above. The ginger thankfully doesn’t overpower the whisky but I is very clear indeed. Lots of spicy ginger early on, with sweeter ginger beer touches mixing into that vanilla style as it integrates into the whisky, then out into a peppery spice dryness in the finish. While the ginger is clear it feels like the edges fade nicely into the whisky making it feel like a coherent whole. It doesn’t feel out of place, it stands out as a dominant element, not an alien one. It is worth noting that it is far more integrated with a drop of water, being a tad more fiery neat, but still never an issue.

So, conclusion, tasty heresy. Now I will admit I hope, tasty though it is, this doesn’t become a popular trend in whisky – a craze that the bigger distilleries copy – as I am enjoying very much here as the exception, not the norm, and also as I feel a lot of the less heavy whiskies would not cope half as well as this does with it.

As is, while I am not as crazy about it as a lot of its fans, this is definitely tasty heresy.

Background: Starward has been on my radar for a while, then Independent Spirit did a comparatively recent Starward tasting, where I got to enjoy a good chunk of their line up, It was a very good night. There, lots of people were raving about a whisky that was not in the line up though. A Starward that had been finished in Ginger Beer casks. Now that sounded like a horrible mess to me, but everyone was so enthused about it I decided, when it turned up, to give it a go and see if it was worth the hype. First thing I noticed is that it is in 50CL bottles, which is an odd choice and always makes the bottle look like it is slightly further away than it really is. The whisky was distilled 2017 and bottled 2021, so is somewhere around 3 or 4 years in age. Whisky in hot countries always seems to age very differently, and requires less time to become quality, if very different, whisky so I was confident this would not taste as young as that sounds. It is a mix of Apera (Australian Fortified wine) and red wine aged whisky, that then,as the name suggests was finished in ginger beer casks – the distilleries own ginger beer casks in fact. So lots of very different elements from a Scotch or Irish whisky there. I went with Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero as backing music, the fact this concept album was initially set in 2022 seems far too accurate these days.

Kaiju!: Cthulhu On The Moon (Australia: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Creamy inch of a brown head.

Nose: Nutty. Bitter chocolate. Bitter hop character. Lightly earthy. Bitter raw coffee.

Body: Earthy bitterness. Chalk touch. Sour cream twist. Bitter cocoa. Tofu. Light charring. Light toffee/Choc Toffee.

Finish: Earthy. Greenery. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Pepper. Sour cream. Kiwi.

Conclusion: This is a take on the black IPA style that I was not expecting. Most BIPAS I’ve seen either go the hoppy stout route, or in the fruity smooth way with chocolate backing. This feels like a black IPA take on an earthy English style IPA. Intriguing.

The base is quite stouty and on the harsher end of the stout scale, showing more raw notes from the bitter cocoa and coffee. There’s even a chalk touch and a slight sour cream twist under that, which would act as a grounding notes in most beers, but here just pushes it further into the heavy, slow drinking style.

Onto that heavy base the earthy, bitter hops are another weighty layer – peppery, nutty and earthy. This brings none of the fruity high notes that I usually expect of a black IPA.

So, not a showy beer, instead a slow, heavy beer. There is the slightest touch of toffee sweetness in the mid body, and slight kiwi that rises in the finish. The offsetting notes are used sparingly to make the heavier notes more manageable. There are hints main body of similar green fruit, but it never fully develops, instead keeping to the more earthy bitter notes.

It is not one I would have often, but it is a solid one. It reminds me of a Best Bitter, mixed 50/50 with a British style IPA, the kind of drink you could drink a few slow pints of with in mates in a traditional pub, near a warm fire.

Not a must have, but an interesting take and solid enough.

Background: So, I’m kind of partial to the Kaiju movies, if not a massive dedicated fan – loved the recent Shin Gojira so that was a good start for this. Big Lovecraft nerd, so a Cthulhu reference is my jam. This is from Australia, and I haven’t tried many beers from there, so always a chance to expand. Finally not had a good BIPA for a while – so yeah, out of the Kaiju! Beer stuff that turned up at independent spirit, it was almost inevitable that this would be the one I’d grab. I did miss a trick on music though – just put on some Anti Flag out of generic annoyance at the world today, when I had perfectly good Lovecraft themed rock from Darkest Of Hillside Thickets right there and I didn’t use it. Shame on me.


Nomad: Saltpan Desert Gose (Australia: Gose: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Large white head over a hazy and still body.

Nose: Sulphur. Sour dough. Lime cordial to squeezed lime. Buttery shortbread. Straw. Flour. Butterscotch.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Lime. Buttery shortbread. Light salt. Light chalk note. Butterscotch.

Finish: Soft lime. Shortbread. Light salt. Key lime pie. Slight meringue. Flour. Butterscotch.

Conclusion: First up – yes I know butterscotch is generally considered to be an off note in beer, but here it is awesome, so I’m not complaining about that at all.

What this does right? – well for one it avoids the ultra salty, sweaty sock like interpretation of a gose which is fine by me. It instead goes for a softly sweet wheat interpretation that reminds me of the varied gose of Goslar. It has soft buttery shortbread, vanilla toffee and such notes (oh and butterscotch) that give a nice, but not heavy nor sickly, sweetness.

The sweetness is counterbalanced by a light lime character that gives just a slightly fresh character alongside a slight salt – showing the gose style without ramming it down your throat. While none of the flavours are heavy, it has what feels like a kind of lactose thickness – it is still easy to drink from the lime notes, but that extra grip just makes everything much more evident without being more intense.

Together, the light tartness makes it refreshing, the thickness gives it grip and the sweetness (again, including the butterscotch – I will defend it to the end!) makes it flavoursome and complex.

This is both a good call to the traditional gose, and good at adding in that lime twist. This is like a fresh, salted, lime covered piece of shortbread. On of the best gose I have had – easy to drink, yet full of flavour and grip. Lovely.

Background: I’ve been split on the gose style – a slightly sour wheat beer made with salt and spices. Some are awesome, some taste like sweaty socks. Having travelled to Goslar last year, I found that their interpretation was much more mellow than most other ones I had run into, being much more wheat beer like than most. Anyway, saw this – from a brewery in Australia I had not tried before, made with pink salt and desert limes, and I thought this might be one to my tastes. It was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bayley and Shinsuke Nakamura’s theme songs on loop. No I did not get bored of them. They are awesome.

Pirate Life: Mosaic (Australia: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to apricot skin. Mild haze to the beer but mostly clear. Good sized sturdy white head. Some small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Dried apricot. Gentle nutmeg. Moderate hop character and some bready bitterness. Stewed fruit – both rhubarb and apricot stand out.

Finish: Peach melba. Dried apricot. Good hop character and bitterness. Custard. Light mint and juniper berries. Crushed love heart sweets.

Conclusion: Now this is what I like – a bit of body to my IPAs. This has a lovely creamy and fruit syrup thick body to it while avoiding that artificial syrup crystallised sugar feel. Instead it just has that oozing fruit styling, and bringing similar fruity notes with it. It takes a very thick, stewed fruit set of notes from apricot and even rhubarb, mixed with lighter peach melba like notes.

The body, while thick and creamy, feels comparatively flavour neutral. It feels like a weight attached to the hop flavour, deliberately trying not to be a flavour entity in itself – it is just happy to be the foundation and let the fruity hops do their thing.

Unlike the current trend, this also shoves up the hop bitterness to go with the hop fruitiness. Initially fairly gentle at first, letting the fruit do all the work, it rises to a good intensity while never eclipsing the juicy fruit flavours.

This is full, fruity and sense tingling with the hop kick. It really makes full use of its abv, not by showing it as burn or boozy character, but instead giving that thickness to really let the flavours grip in a way that only a higher abv beer can. A genuinely enjoyable ipa – I love it as a beer in itslef and a a brilliant Mosaic showcase. Now please don’t ruin it InBev!

Background: This is why we can’t have nice things in life. About a week or two after I bought this, InBev go and buy the brewery. Now it is possible they won’t fuck it up – however I am not holding my breath. Anyway, an Australian brewery! And one I have not previously encountered. Mosaic is an awesome hop, and I love IPAs, so this seemed like a good beer to use to check them out. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went for an absolute classic of the gloomy metal genre for listening music – Paradise Lost – Draconian Times. Bloody love that album.

Murrays: Heart Of Darkness (Australia: Imperial Stout: 9.6% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black with a thin brown rim.

Aroma: Roasted nuts. Old wool blanket and oats. Dry liquorice. Some fruit sourness – red grapes maybe. Brambles.

Body: Liquorice. Burnt wood. Milky chocolate and slight peanuts. Quite frothy texture. Still some red grape sourness. Black cherries.

Finish: Lots of milky oats and some bitter chocolate, somewhat like a bitter cocoa pops influenced milk.  Red grapes again. Long lasting roasted feel.

Conclusion:  Nearly every good beer has its distinctive quirk that stands out when you first try it. Notable many bad beers also have quirks, if you count seagull vomit flavour as a quirk and not a breech of the Geneva Convention. This thankfully comes under good beer quirk, as for a Belgium style imperial stout it has a red grape influence that gives it that distinctive character.

The main element of the beer is more by the numbers, with lots of bitter chocolate and roasted touches and a powerful heavy duty aroma. Strangely it has a much less viscous body that you would expect.  Despite being slightly thinner than usual it does bring a lot of force main body, especially in the chocolate elements. It does keep the Belgium smoothness though, into a nice chocolate dust finish.  The aforementioned grapes only come out occasionally, but for all its subtlety of use it is that element that makes it most distinct, even though it is far from the most prominent touch.

Without this touch it would but a fun beer, but not particularly expressive. With it you get a light sour freshness and a fruitiness that keeps your attention with its light dusting across the main flavour.

A public announcement, despite being more open to chilled beers these days, don’t do it to this beer, it sodding butchers it.  Which does make me wonder how they drink it in the Australian heat.

So, a good beer, very tasty. Far from the top of the Imperial Stout game, but hey it’s a hard race these days.

Background: Picked up at the great British Beer festival.  I originally thought it was a New Zealand beer until my sister corrected me.  I would be embarrassed at the mistake but I’m more proud that I have a sister who knows both good beers *and* geography, whilst I only know beer.  A Belgium style imperial stout, using Belgium yeast to get the distinctive effect.

%d bloggers like this: