The Great Northern Hotel, Carlton North (Melbourne)
Tasmania’s MOO Brew has completely wowed me on more than one occasion this year. There was, of course, their Velvet Sledgehammer (featured in a previous review) and another imperial stout (not barrel aged and whose time stamp escapes me) that blew me eight ways from Sunday with its gratuitously sumptuous chocolate aroma and character. Could they possibly top both of these experiences? With the brewery’s 2007 barrel aged imperial stout, the answer is a resounding “equalled, but not assailed.”
Breweries like to “borrow” things in much the same way as Homer Simpson “borrows” certain items from neighbour Ned Flanders. In MOO Brew’s case, they might never have returned the chardonnay barrels as lent to them by a neighbouring winery. So, in went MOO Brew’s already amazing 2007 imperial stout for barrel aging. Seven years on, we are treated to the spoils of outright thrift and ingenuity.
On the nose, MOO Brew Barrel Aged Imperial Stout bounds forth with boozy dense, chocolate, bitter plum, mocha, banana, grape must and, contrary to the barrels in which the beer was aged, single malt scotch whisky. What follows this already extravagant and complex experience is simply stunning.
The mouthfeel here is the most unique of any beer I have ever sampled. It could (loosely) be described as being fluffy, almost cotton-like; carbonation, meanwhile, is on the moderate side. The whole thing rolls across the palate like distant thunder over hilly countryside.
Coffee wallops the front palate. Wine-like tannins boldly accentuate the beer’s flavour profile. Much like the aforesaid Velvet Sledgehammer, there is approximately zero sweetness to this beer. Earthy notes of peat, ash and what one can only assume to be Tasmanian Oak come through; overlapped by strong and enveloping fruit notes of dried prune, date and mulberry. Finally, rounding off this sumptuous beer drinking experience is a contrast between bitter astringency and an almost milky undertone on the finish.
Rather unfortunately, my phone was on charge during the drinking of this beer, hence there is no accompanying photo. Suffice it to say that approximately 350 words will have to do in painting the picture within your mind’s eye. Consider yourself lucky if you experience any form of synaesthesia.
If you live in Melbourne, make absolutely sure that you get down to The Great Northern Hotel (644 Rathdowne St Carlton North) to sample this wonderful beer before the keg runs dry. Opportunities to sample beer of this calibre from the tap only come around once in a good while. MOO Brew has well and truly equalled its finest brews to date.