Arriving in Adelaide and having lunch with my sister, I made a bee-line for the Wheaty to get myself prepared to the big event. The only other keg of this beer to be tapped on mainland Australia was at Beer Delux, which I sampled after having a few beers beforehand at the Microbrewery Showcase in March '10. To replicate that tasting, I decided to have a few beers to get my taste buds in the mood. Seeing the Font of Darkness was under wraps (literally covered by brown paper bags) I had a Mikkeller Cream Ale (which only proved to me that I don't like cream ales...reminded me a little of our recent Milo brew experiment) and a bottle of Weihenstephaner Dunkel (hmm banana and caramel). While in the beer garden I had been reliving my trip to Europe and watching the movie of the Berlin boys tasting the beers I left behind for them, so really enjoyed having the German dunkel. As I finished it my sis and some of her friends arrived and we geared up for the unveiling...
Right on 6pm, the paper bags were withdrawn, and dark beers flowed forth from the Font of Darkness. Grabbing a Renaissance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, a 'Moo Poo', and one taster from each of the Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout kegs (while one of the Wheaty Staff took photos of at the 'Font' to put on Twitter), we began...
I remember having had the Renaissance Chocolate Stout previously, and enjoying it much more on tap than out of the bottle, and once again, it proved itself with dark chocolate flavours and a lovely velvety texture. Seeing the last time I was at the Wheaty for a chocolate stout, it was great to have another good chocolate beer to try out here. Interestingly, I normally sense vanilla to help sweeten the cocoa in chocolate beers I enjoy, whereas this time I was getting sweet chocolate but without the use of vanilla. It was impressive to see, and only hoped that they were able to do as well with the bottle version. I guess it is a usual chocolate stout thing that it just has to be tasted on tap to get the most from it. Actually, I think my sister has since gone back to try this beer again, as she has been texting me to ask where she might be able to find it.
The well titled 'Moo Poo' did not actually include cow dung (something I am quite familiar with having grown up on a farm), but instead was a combination of the Moo Brew Stout (standard, not the Imperial or the Vintage Imperial) and Kopi Luwak coffee (well known [and priced] as coffee extracted from beans, which themselves are extracted from the manure of a South American animal). With 250g in the Wheaty's hop infuser, the coffee flavour is quite dominate, but with much of the bitterness seemingly reduced (maybe it was stripped by going through the animals digestive tract or possibly the malt in the stout sweetens the coffee flavour), it was actually a flavour I could enjoy, even though I am not a coffee drinker. This combined with the texture of the beer helping coat the tongue and carry the coffee flavour across the tongue made it a very enjoyable beer and a great experiment for Jade to attempt.
Ok, now for the main event. Jade had somehow gotten her hands on 2 kegs of the Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout 2010. One was to be tapped regularly, while the other was to be put through the handpump. Having just received my our allocation of the bottled version of this beer, I took one of them with me to Adelaide, meaning we could then taste the beer 3 different ways, probably the first time this had ever happened. The beer has definitely decreased in the amount of alcohol with each year (which probably says more about the tax issues breweries have in Australia than the beer itself), and has lost some of its warming alcohol effects to be reduced some since first tasting in '08, and definitely did not bring the amount of mellowness that completely overtook us when we tried the '08 on tap. The other difference I noticed overall was a slight spiciness that seems to come from the use of french oak barrels Moo Brew have started using for this beer. However, what hasn't changed is the quality of this beer. It may not be the '08 I fell in love with, but the depth of malt character with that slight red wine touch brings it back from the '09 that disappointed me slightly with the carbonation issue it had. Interestingly, the bottle version seem to contain a good level of flavour, and where I could pick up most of the spicyness, which brought a sense of refreshment from the beer, which is a little strange for a beer of this sort, but enjoyable all the same. I found I was torn between the flavourful bottle version and the texturally amazing handpump version that just coated the tongue with that classic malt body.
The regular tap version seemed to be inbetween the two others, which meant I could enjoy each version equally for different reason. In terms of alcohol, with carbonation from the keg and bottle, these seemed to hit my head a bit more, whereas the handpump made an almost cleansing aspect of it, with the 'watering' alcohol cutting through the rich mouthfeel of the malt body. I look forward to seeing how this beer ages even further, and for finding anymore kegs of this beer going around. Anyone know where it may be on in Melbourne?
Overall, I am very happy with the latest edition of the amazing beer from Moo Brew, and am extremely thankful to Jade and the Wheaty once again for the effort put in to source these sorts of beers. Unfortunately this time my brother could not join me for the first taste of this year's edition, but now he is back in Melbourne, we will be trying it together soon.
PS: I also took over our own home brew of Imperial Stout to taste against. As I have said before, I think ours carries itself quite well in comparison with other Imperial Stouts. However, I did take a bottle that had quite a lot of sediment in it so there was a definite yeasty character. Cheers to the Wheaty and a couple of the patrons for giving it a try from some feedback.
PPS: Now for a drink at some place called the RAB...