With winter upon us, Black Hops look to offer warming comfort in two very different ways with this pair of now-canned limited releases. In the case of Chair Force One, they take a pretty traditional cooler months approach: the beer is a chocolate coffee stout, with the latter adjunct coming courtesy of neighbours at their Brisbane brewpub, Fortitude Coffee Roasters.
Initially, the coffee they've supplied serves up aromas of the fresh espresso kind before things take a turn to cocoa once the pillowy liquid hits your taste buds. As it warms, the beer develops a presumably coffee-derived berry fruitiness too, adding layers to what's a texturally lovely stout.
When it comes to Mega Hornet – comfortably the biggest of their Hornet series of IPAs – it's left to the 11 percent booze content to do the warming. It still just about looks like a West Coast despite a slight viscosity that makes the movement of the bubbles through the copper liquid look more like wading than bubbling. Stick it to the nose and it’s akin to an American barleywine. Sure, the hops are there but smothered by a sticky toffee blanket that sees them come across more spicy than fruity in conjunction with the alcohol. It might have a jet capable of great speeds on the can but Mega Hornet is more likely to act as a nightcap than accelerator for you.
Both beers are also in their latest edition of the brewery's Home Guard packs, sent out every couple of months and featuring a mix of core and limited release beers, plus a tee in your first and collectible stickers after that. As an insight into what's on offer, the boxes containing four-packs of these also features a four-pack or Pale Ale and a can each of four of their past GABS beers.
Kill Patrick stout from 2015 has peaty / campfire smokiness dominating and enhancing the roast malts, while the other adjuncts no doubt contribute – the clove and pepper especially – without standing apart. I do know I wanted an oyster to wash down with it, though. The fabulously-named Assault Trifle followed the next year, and remarkably considering the wild range of non-traditional ingredients tastes pretty normal by today's standards. Sure, it's like a mixed fruit jelly’d pale ale swirled with a touch of creamy coconut vanilla, but the passage of time and, arguably, the kaleidoscopic aromas and flavours many new hops now offer without the need to add fruit or vanilla or sherry mean such things aren't as GABSy as they once were.
GABS 2017 saw them debut Band Wagon – a spin on Wagon Wheels – which pours so dark and with such a robustly brown head the shock of the raspberry jelly on the nose is quite something. Lactose, vanilla and marshmallow aid the creaminess of the darker malts and the texture too, while red berries in stouts just work and that's no different here. Last up is 2018's Trolley'd In Tijuana, a sangria-mimicking spiced cinnamon and orange peel sour. Maybe it’s the vibrant red colour, but it had my palate thinking sour cherries as much as the cinnamon and peel. Imagine a table red that's had one of those Christmas pomander balls crushed into it and you're close.
Published June 2, 2022 2022-06-02 00:00:00