Shorter than usual beer reviews, determined over a stubby’s worth of the product in an authentic, if not particularly picturesque, session setting.
Opinions subject to being subsequently rephrased, revised and reviled. Come on, I was drinking at the time.
All containers are the (unfortunately) standard 330ml cheater stubby, unless otherwise indicated.
All impulse numerical ratings on the LLL “one better” scale, i.e. out of 11.
3 RAVENS BLACK (Stout) (Thornbury, Vic, 5.5% alc/vol)
Not ’orrible at all, but to me, much like most people and product lauded in popular music over the last 20 yrs, it was lightweight and watery. 5/11
KIRIN FIRST PRESS STOUT (Japan, 5%)
Yeah, a stout, who knew. “The deep and creamy taste enriches your precious time” they acknowledge on the label, clearly having studied us closely and determined that our time is – much like the vast majority of people who watch political stuff on the ABC and blather about it on the interweb – tremendously precious.
It’s like the last one, only better – enough body to be recognisable as a stout, enough flavour to get the deal done, and ultra drinkable, like regular beer. 6.5/11. Maybe 7.
ANDERSON VALLEY INDIA PALE ALE (Boonville, CA, 355ml, 7%)
These guys get far too excitable on the can artwork and put too many non-informative naming words for the beer, which I’ve left off here for coherency purposes. *
This balances the usual hop slalom yee-haw of the strangely obsessive craft beer age with a malt balancing act and restrained sweetness around the edges – hoping you are the same – to arrive at a pretty smooth gargle of the IPA type. Less distinctive than effective. 7.5/11
* (Beware when you’re buying their stuff. All the three or four I’ve seen here have the same kind of colourful cans and gimmick names and it can be difficult to remember which is which. One of the three varieties I’ve seen here from them is a vile sour infusion which should never be taken internally, but may be of some value in clearing stubbornly blocked drains.)
3 RAVENS DARK (Smoke Beer) (Thornbury, Vic, 5%)
What they mean there is that it’s a dark ale with the malt cooked to give the smoke flavour. It’s a style as polarising as any going around in beer-dom. I love ‘em. For me, the smoke flavour is understated here. But it’s there, and the dark ale base is dutiful and ok, if undistinguished. Like most of the 3 Ravens roster it does what it says on the label. 7/11
DRAKE 1500 PALE ALE (San Leandro, CA, 355ml, 5.5%)
This is weird, in the sense that they clamour on how they dry-hopped this one like an IPA so it’s massively pine/citrus hops in the kisser (i.e. like everybody else’s since the craft beer nerdolution) but they’re actually underselling it. It’s got plenty of flavour but doesn’t fuse your tongue to your throat with face-crumpling sour-taste overdrive. It’s effective, but mild-mannered and pleasant company in the fine Clark Kent tradition. 8.5/11
CHIMAY BLUE (Baileux, Belgium, 9%)
Hadn’t had this old standby in a while. A lot of the bigger-hitting Belgian beers, flavour-wise, resemble a massive New Year’s fireworks display, if fireworks were made out of rich multi-coloured cream cakes. The standout about this one is that, with all that alcohol, and all the flavour punch it packs, it pulls somewhat in another direction, and stops short of firework Armageddon and goes for almost something ‘dry’ and relatively restrained on the finish. There are more distinctive beers in the jurisdiction but this is a fairly attention-getting one, in a quiet way. 8.5/11
3 RAVENS TURKISH DELIGHT (Thornbury, Vic, 4%)
They bill this as being part of their “Little Raven” line which is apparently the more experimental homey-brewy end of the roster. I’d want a get-out clause too. It’s meant to be an English Ale, according to the label, and include some non-standard beer ingredients such as cacao, rye, Rose, and maybe Rose’s old stockings as well. Anyway, it’s watery, vaguely cloying and vaguely everything for that matter, and, in my personal estimation, no particular good can ever come of it. 3/11