Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Nail Brewing: Clayden Brew (Imperail Porter)

(One-off batch release).

Beer Deluxe, Federation Square (Melbourne)

An accidental masterpiece.

West Australia’s true pioneers of craft beer Nail Brewing created an absolute monster of a black beer by combining two brews; one of which was (reportedly) a resounding failure, the other half being the award winning Clout Stout.  The end result proved to be a thing of utmost beauty; so named to honour John Stallwood’s son, Clayden (John being Nail Brewing’s head honcho).

Clayden Brew’s aroma is nothing short of striking as it touches on sugary sweet, boozy, fig, coffee and chocolate notes.  I found myself taking it in deeply for an extended period of time before proceeding with the first sip.  Suffice it to say that the experience that follows is no less intense.

Without any shadow of a doubt, I have enjoyed few beers this year that have offered up such a delightfully complex, multi-faceted flavour profile. There is more than a hint of maple syrup up front here. Delicate coffee and hop bitter notes follow; at once the coffee rolls forth upon the palate, before resurfacing later as the ultimate finale; partnered with a chocolate/cacao profile that covers the spectrum as the flavour tapers off.

The complexity of Clayden Brew is such that it is difficult to describe in mere words.  Each flavour aspect attacks and fades upon its own cue, however this is not a poorly coordinated improv performance we are talking about.  Lemon zest, lemon meringue, toffee, toffee apple, molasses, barley sugar and even bitter pineapple (rounding out on the side palate) notes burst forth with theatrical enthusiasm. The finish, once the brew has warmed sufficiently, is somewhat oleaginous and deeply woody. Meanwhile, the mouthfeel is big in its syrupy character with just enough carbonation for it to be satisfying and drinkable without being overbearing.

Bloody Nora, Clayden Brew is far and away one of the most complex and hearty brews I have sampled; not just this year, but ever. I am left feeling all the more privileged to sample the spoils of craft beer's golden age, and to think this was a happy accident of a beer.  Doubtless Nail Brewing will need a new trophy cabinet at this rate.

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