Prologue: Craft beer is on the up and up. We all know that, and there is no truer sign that this is true than the fact that the two bully boys of the brewing world are increasing their craft beer offerings:
CUB’s offering is led by Matilda Bay, a kind of mainstream craft brewer, producing fine brews for sure, but they play in the shifting mainstream brewers over to craft beer with friendly gateway beers like Fat Yak, Redback and Beez Neez. A noble cause without doubt but not the sort of stuff beer wankers get excited about.
For excitement you need to look to Lion Nathan. They have a number of ‘craft’ offerings. These include Knappstein, makers of one of the best lagers out there. They also own the Kosciuszko Brewing company, which has the gimmick of brewing in a ski resort and New Norica which claim to be Australia’s only Abbey brewed beer. Both sound like marketing wanks to me.
Lion Nathan also have a significantly stake (somewhere around 40%) – in Little World beverages, makers of Little Creatures. Little World in turn own White Rabbit.
And of course there is the most mainstream of their craft offering James Squire, which much like Matilda Bay concentrate on picking off mainstream beer fans. But James Squire are a little different because they also manage to produce something for the beer wankers like you and me. And that is the Mad Brewer’s range.
And this beer is the winter release from the Mad Brewers. It’s the Stout Noir.
I must point out that James Squire obviously thinks that us beer wankers are a dumb lot because the press release for this beer does explain that Noir is French for black. Seriously.
Packaging: I really like this label, it’s contemporary. The graphic has a real comic book/film noir (that’s French for film black) feel to it, the font, the scribbles they all scream madness to me. Brilliant.
Appearance: Very Noir (French for black), so noir in fact that I can see my reflection in it, which makes this a very good looking beer (with a beard).
Smell: The smell is roasted malts.
Taste: A soft silky drink, full of flavour and very warming. It is well balanced, with sweet malty flavours in the front of the sip and then they melt away to a slightly bitter, slightly acidic, aftertaste.
The press release also bangs on about liquorice and even manages to claim medicinal purpose (and trend in beer marketing I thought went out about 90 years ago), at the start of the drink I failed to taste this, but as the brew sat around on the table it warmed up and these wonderful Aniseed flavours came through, mixed with the sweetness this made it taste like a liquid black cat (Candy not pussy, oh I feel like Mrs Slocombe) This is also why you shouldn’t drink your beer too cold.
In conclusion: A seriously good beer. The liquorice overtones make it one of the best stouts around in my opinion.
Ranking: A Jug Please
Six Degrees of Norm: Where we prove that all beers canbe linked back to George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) in 6 easy steps:
- The Mad Brewer of this beer is one Dr Chuck Hahn (head brewer are Malt Shovel brewery who make James Squire)
- And Chuck was a TV series which starred Zachary Levi as Chuck
- Who also played a bellboy in an episode of Curb your Enthusiasm
- Which is a program that Ted Danson appears in regularly as himself
- And Ted also played Sam Malone, owner of Cheers
- Where one Norm Peterson drank.