Black-Black, Wattle-Wattle

Black Wattle Superior Wattle Seed Ale (5.8% ABV bottle)- Herbed/Spiced Beer- Barons Brewing Company, AUS
Grade: C+

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

     Pours crystal clear brown with ruby notes with a moderate off-white head. Sort of looks like a cross between a brown and an amber. Not anything special in the nose. Generally ‘beery’ with unidentifiable grains, vaguely herbal, and some sweetness. At first sip there’s malty sweetness with a touch of bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is thin and a bit watery with a fair amount of carbonation. It made me think of a generic brown ale. Lurking in there is an herbal taste that is too vague to really put a finger on. I’m guessing that would be the wattle.

     Overall Black Wattle is kind of different, but generally unremarkable. Sort of a cross between Newcastle and JW Dundee’s Honey Brown. If that sounds appealing or you just want to say you’ve had an Australian beer other than Foster’s have a go at Wattle Seed Ale. As for myself I don’t envision the need for another of these for a while.

Cheers! –John

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Looks Great, Tastes… Not So Good [Bombers Away! #2]

The other week when I got shut out of NERAX on the first night, I went home to drown my sorrows in a big old bottle of Taras Boulba that I’d traded my friend Alan for about a month ago. It had a goofy cartoon on the label and was Belgian so I figured how could I go wrong.

Let’s take a look, yes?

Taras Boulba (4.5% ABV bottle)- Belgian Pale Ale- Brasserie De La Senne / De Zenne Brouwerij, BEL
Grade: C+

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Nice 2 inch head of rocky white foam. Sticky lacing all the way down as the glass drains. Cloudy golden yellow. This is a damn good looking beer. Basically, when I think of beer this is what I see I my head. The mouth waters.

Smell: Not a whole lot going on in the aroma department. Mild hops in the background some floral hints, but mostly it’s just kind of grassy.

Taste: There’s astringent hops bite mixed with an sulfurous tinge. Dry finish with sharp metallic bitterness in the end. Makes me think of the unpleasant tang of mainstream Euro imports like Heineken, Pilsner Urquell, or Stella Artois. They are completely different styles, but as soon as I took a sip of Taras Boulba the off skunky flavor made me think of those three.

Mouthfeel: Thin but not watery on the tongue with a decent amount of carbonation. Crisp, dry finish. All in all a slightly above average feel to it.

Drinkability: Not a compelling beer, average at best.

Overall: I don’t see myself seeking this one out again. Taras Boulba isn’t awful, but it’s not what I thought it would be. I was not expecting the sulfur/skunk tang of it. It looks great and feels pretty good, but to me the flavor just wasn’t good at all. I have to wonder if the problem is my lack of familiarity with the style given the high rating of this on Beer Advocate. Maybe I got a light-struck bottle, but I think the reality is that this is just the style. I actually chose to trade for this because it is supposed to be an near top shelf example of a Belgian Pale Ale. I must be missing something, though because for me this was not a reassuring introduction to the style.

A Word Of Note To NERAX Attendees

     If you are planning to hit any of the remaining nights of NERAX at the Dilboy VFW in Davis Sq.  I highly reccomend getting there atleast 20 minutes before the door opens especially if you don’t already have tickets. Advance/Will Call ticket holders go to the head of line –which makes sense, that’s why you bought the tickets early, right?– and once the Dilboy reaches capacity they cut off the line until people leave and they can let folks in.

     That’s what happened to me. I got in line a bit late and I was about a dozen people from the door when they hit capacity and that was at the very beginning. I decided since there was a good chance I’d be waiting quite a while before I got in I decided to call it a night and head home. I needed to make it an early night anyway and having to wait that much longer would have shrunk the time I had in the event to an hour if I was lucky.

     Now, unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me the chance to get back there while it’s on, but that shouldn’t stop you! NERAX is a great event and a great cause that needs the support.

     If you are going I found this gem of info on the NERAX website this morning:

          “Line Status Hot Line

           If you want to check to see the status of the line to get into the hall after a session starts, please call (207) 615-9660. This number will only be monitored during the session, so please do not call outside of the festival hours, listed below. “

Session Times and Festival Admission Prices
     Thursday (5/1) 6:00 – 10:30 p.m. $15
     Friday (5/2) 6:00 – 10:30 p.m. $15
     Saturday (5/3) 12:00 – 7:00 p.m. $5

Cash Bar Prices
     Imperial Pint (20 oz) $5.00
     Half Pint (10 oz) $2.50
     Quarter Pint (5 oz) $1.50

     So there it is. I hope if you have the time you do go. A friend who was smart enough to buy an advance ticket for last night said there were some amazing beers.

Cheers,
John