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This beer can be put directly into the “what the holy fuck?” category. It goes beyond “WTF”, trust me on this one. I bought this (thankfully, only one!) knowing nothing about the style - apparently it’s ancient, venerable, and nothing like the beers we know of today. On the label it’s billed as a “15th Century Dark Sour Ale”. It fits that bill. It’s dark, it’s sour, and it tastes like it’s been around since the 15th fucking century…
At first, your interest is piqued. There’s no head, of course - being an heirloom style, there’s no carbonation. Okay, fine. The nose is interesting. Actually, the nose is pretty amazing. Herbs of all types, faint honey all over a smell of fermented grapes. But the taste is disappointing at best, and just plain wrong at worst. It’s like a lemon came up and beat the crap out of your tongue with its lemon girlfriend. Honestly, that’s all you can taste - an acidic, sour flavour bomb. And I mean bomb. In less hyperbolic terms, it’s like someone took mead or another type of spiced wine and took whatever’s good out of it, called it beer, and bottled it.
This brewery, known as Red Duck, puts out some real quality brews. It’s also released some absolute shite. This is up there with the shite. Now, I’m being overly harsh - they were probably trying to be faithful to the style, and it does settle down a bit once you get used to the pummeling weirdness of the taste. But all I can say is, if this was the beer they were drinking in the middle ages, it goes some way towards explaining why it’s considered a miserable time in human history.
Now, I had high hopes for this for some reason, so I paired it with one of the finest doom metal albums released in the modern era. Lord Vicar is the band made up ex-members of Reverend Bizarre and Count Raven, and this album is doom metal at its finest. I’ll be the first to admit that it took a while to grow on me (almost three years, to be honest!) but one day, it finally clicked. Guitarist Kimi Karki takes his chops from the ol’ Rev Bizarre and applies them here, creating bludgeoning, mystical, almost droning, repetitive yet astounding riffs that just scream atmosphere and are perfectly backed up by the plaintive, broken old man wail of Christus. This is powerful, melancholic, painful traditional doom metal at its finest. And yes, it took me three years to get into, and I’m still recommending it to you if your tastes run in any way to the slow, the mournful, and the heavy as fuck.
Updating this at work is, i imagine, probably not the wisest thing to do. But oh well. It beats doing actual work. Only problem is, now I’m craving beer.
Anyway, I’m not a great authority on hefeweizens. I’ve never been entirely won over by the style, but I am beginning to appreciate them more than I used to. Obviously, the summer weather helps this, as drinking beer that’s reminiscent of banana and citrus in the cold is never that fun. Regardless, I’ve rarely come across an Aussie version that I think has truly captured the style. This one comes close though. Burleigh continues to confuse me with their mix of great to good to middling to what the fuck, and this one is probably in between the good and great categories. From my notes, its aroma was no great shakes, but the taste was refreshing, banana and clove flavours throughoutfinished up with the refreshing citrus that is characteristic of this brew. Again, not the kind of beer I’ll make a habit of but definitely one of the better Australian interpretations. I’m not sold by the marketing though - and I’m pretty sure the man himself would be more than a little confused by the porn moustache. Actually, what am I talking about - he’d probably love it. He’d even dress it up in a little smoking jacket…
Anyway, the album behind it is another of those retro-doom-reloaded outfits, Jex Thoth. Like Blood Ceremony, another female-fronted doom band, but as much as I love Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth blows that band out of the water in many ways. True occult-laden 70s-style proto-doom stylings with meandering, melancholy passages, psychadelic arrangements, and Jex Thoth herself, who has to be one of the most charismatic frontwomen ever. Her silky, beautiful yet menacing voice just make this record, and apparently her stage presence is even better. Not that I’ve ever had the good luck to see them live. And unless airfares get remarkably lower in price, I’m unlikely to. Digression aside, this is very worth picking up if you like your doom occult, melodic and melancholic.
Like the mob in the previous post, Little Creatures have a thing for creating limited-run beers under the moniker “Single Batch”, which I’m assuming is actually true. I’m usually a much bigger fan of their normal output (although nothing tops their flagship pale ale), and this is no exception. A better-than-workmanlike foreign export stout which didn’t really hit any exceptional note, but was definitely worth the drinking time. Acceptable roasted malt flavours and a little chocolatey bite as well.
Blood Ceremony are one of those newish old-school doom bands that have popped up on the scene. Hailing from Canada, they take the best of Sabbath, the best of Jethro Tull (yep, including the flute!), occult themes and a smokingly sensual frontwoman with a voice to die happy to and explore dark lore. This is their first album from ‘08, reissued, and it just kills. If I were more of a smoker, I’d happily get maggoted to this little baby routinely. Beer does a good job of replacing the herb, though.